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Image Licensing Rights With No Contract


My long-time restaurant client plans to publish a cocktail book showcasing their cocktail recipes, all of which I have shot. She asked me about image licensing rights because I was so green when this started and did not send them contracts (I know, big fail). Ideally, I would like to send her a new contract for the images she’d like to use in the cocktail book, and I was wondering if this was the best course of action.


The root of the issue with no contracts is how you and the client were both green. Uncontracted clients may assume they own the copyright without needing your usage approvals. The overall solution is to follow up with all uncontracted clients before an issue arises, verifying your image ownership and assuming usage rights. Talk to your clients, make this a two-way conversation asking what they’d like to use the images for in the future and become part of their long-term solution… for a price, of course.

Low Rate Job


I shot an event for a startup event company at a very low rate and included a “no third party usage” term in the contract. A top five ad agency working with the new alcohol brand requested rights for unlimited usage in perpetuity for the images. What is the tactful, business-savvy way to respond?


You hit the jackpot! The goal of shooting a low-rate “favor” job is to have it open doors leading to a higher payoff. 

Business savvy responses:

  1. Use this opportunity to develop a long-term relationship by warming it up with a phone conversation.
  2. Position yourself for shooting future projects for this client by asking if they’d like to negotiate a recurring package standard rate deal. 
  3. Clients asking for general usage like this will often reciprocate your offer by reducing their requests to bring your costs down. Prepare for that by starting with higher prices and optional cost groupings (amount of images, duration of usage, etc.).

Video Usage

Be Aware: A usage term getting overlooked right now is VIDEO usage. It’s standard to see “no broadcast usage,” but we cannot assume that means no video or motion usage. 

The two are no longer interchangeable. Price accordingly.

Exciting Job, Low Budget

When offered an exciting job for a low budget, you can always offer your time and usage licensing for a discounted rate while having the client handle all production. If you feel you can create high-quality images, these jobs require clear terms of what you are and NOT including. 

Sample Negotiation:

Client: How much would it be to shoot this?

You: I don’t have enough information to give you an accurate price. What is your budget?

Client: We have $2000. 

You: For a $3500 discounted rate, I would do this for one month of social media for four final images within an 8 hour shoot day, and that does not include any production expenses only my time. 

Licensing Term

Include the number of final images into your licensing term as a safeguard setting the tone that your usage fee increases if they add more images. 

Client Work Posted Without Permission


I’ve had a lot of my client work posted in articles like Hypebeast, WWD, and Complex without my permission or crediting my name. How much do people charge for usage like that? How do I deal with charging if clients keep getting my work up on big-name articles like this without consent?


I am surprised these sites would not require your permission to show your images. They are taking quite the risk themselves in doing that. Depending on your relationship with your client and these sites, you could go after payment including a penalty fee. The normal chare for these is probably in the $200-$500 range. I am not in this type of business so I am not exactly sure about the prices but that is my guess. You could go after both of them threatening legal action and demanding more but that may damage your relationship. Perhaps talk to the client first to get this settled fairly. 

Usage Rate For A Client’s Social Media Content


I’m being asked for the usage rate for a client’s social media content – organic vs. paid. How are we scaling the value difference between the two for usage fees?


Social media usage for organic (or owned) on their social media needs to be much higher than “paid” ads usage based on the significant increase of viewers. Rates depend on many elements like the number of images, amount of posts or usability duration, and the type of images. Paid social media should run at least triple the price of organic. 

Paying For Usage Rights


A client hiring me for a shoot was confused about paying for usage rights. Is there any foolproof way to educate clients about image licensing and why photographers should be paid what they deserve?


Explaining licensing usage rights to clients means you are dealing with clients who are not used to paying much for their photography. Know what you are getting into, and keep close supervision once paid duration ends. APhotoEditor has an easy-to-understand explanation we can use to help educate these types of clients-



When asked to bid on a job for Vegas attractions, I was told they want a BUYOUT for billboards, taxis, video walls, and ads for Vegas, but this entire campaign is unexpected and isn’t even in their budget. How in the world do I price something like this when they say something like that?


When I hear this from a potential client, I hear, “We are looking to get a good deal with the lowest bidder.” This is a sales tactic that gives you a sense of what they are looking for. If you have any “down & dirty” ideas that will get them more bang for their buck with less of a production, this is that type of photoshoot. My warning in this situation is to have your estimate terms clearly state what IS and what IS NOT included in your bid. No surprises!

Instagram Influencer Photoshoot


On a local Instagram Influencer photoshoot, I allowed the local hotel to use the image on their Instagram feed only and made it clear that any other use would incur usage fees. I recently found another property under the same corporate chain using the image and tagged the Influencer. Was my consent to have the local hotel use it on their social media my mistake since they are a smaller hotel owned by a larger global hotel chain?


Influencer social media posts lead to unclear third-party usage that we should be getting paid for. I’ve temp-repped these situations by explaining to the negligent part how licensing needs to be granted by the photographer and not the Influencer. The challenge for us is we have Influencers giving away our usage rights as they often believe they own the images. Originally our terms need to be clearly stated on a signed estimate and explained, so all parties are clear. After that, we can go after them to get paid, which is often a process of educating everyone involved. One company I’ve heard to help photographers get paid for their images used without permission is