Negotiating Fees and Rights – Protect the Value of Your Art

Negotiating fees and rights for your photography is key to getting jobs and retaining clients.  Increasingly, buyers and clients are looking for more usage options in a broad range of applications for print, the web an a growing number of mobile devices.

Successful negotiation is not possible unless both you and your clients clearly understand what is actually being bought and sold.  As the creator of your work, you own the copyright.  Many buyers may not grasp this concept, so educating them is a key aspect in the negotiation process.  Clear, concise licenses in writing, outlining what you are selling and the terms you agree upon, are a benefit to both sides in the process.

While fees and rights are often talked about together, they should be considered separate items in the negotiating process.  One part is the present and the other part is the future.  The fee you charge in the present to make the image is for the production part of the job, which includes time, materials, overhead, and the profit due to you for your experience and talent in creating the image.  The rights fee is what you charge for future use of your image, or the profit you make over the life of the image based on how a client will use it.  It may also include the money you can make selling that image as stock photography once the license has expired. for the original usage.

Photography or Creative Fees

Your day rate or fee for the work is something you need to set before you enter into any negotiations, and it should take into consideration several factors such as what you are shooting and production costs.  This is referred to as the creative fee.  The key is to come up with your bottom-line fee, your costs of doing business, plus the percent of profit or margin you can live with, and stick to it.

Rights or Usage Fees

Rights fees tot he work you own are another key element in the negotiation process, and how you assess these should take into account several factors which can range from a one-time limited use included in the creative fee to a full buyout.  This charge can be called the usage fee.  The fee should increase as the usage does.


The Negotiation Process

Being flexible is important but you must apply clear limits and stick to the success of your business.  It’s okay to bend a little but don’t take it to the break-even point.


Resources, Forms, and Templates

Once you’ve closed the deal, getting it in writing is the final piece of the process (other than getting paid!).  The agreement becomes a contract and license between you and the client and will require proper legal forms.  There are several online portals that have both free and paid forms for this purpose.  Most of these forms are generic but will give you a starting point to customize.


Professional photography associations such as the Professional Photographers of America (PPA), American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP) or American Photographic Artists (APA), also provide these forms and support to members.  These are specifically designed for selling and licensing the photography you create and sell.


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

18 − eleven =