Hong Kong Photographer Stock Photography Royatly Free vs. Licensed

by Sean David Baylis - Date: 2007-01-20 - Word Count: 659 Share This!

There are two types of licenses for the reproduction of photographs. One is called Traditional License the other Royalty Free. Traditional License means that a license is sold that allows an image to be used in a specific way. The license will stipulate the media of reproduction (book cover, magazine, newspaper or web), the number of copies, the geographical area and the time limit for usage. The license is for a one time usage and any additional usage of the image must be negotiated under a new license. Traditional license allows the photographer to control how their images are used and gives the buyer the added knowledge of knowing where an image they may wish to buy has been used previously. A buyer may wish to obtain complete control of an image and this is known as a buy-out. With a buy-out contract the photographer sells complete copyright of an image.

The second type of license is called Royalty Free and as its name suggests gives the buyer freedom to do with an image as they please. Once a buyer pays for an image they may then reuse it as many times and in as many places as they see fit. The photographer or agency get a one time fee and have no control over repeat use of the image. The only limitation are that the buyer may not resell the image or make reproductions solely for the purpose of selling, like putting it on coffee mugs or Tee shirts.

If a photo buyer knows they can find an image in Royalty Free, either in a CD 'clip art' disc or from a subscription stock website, why would they want to pay a higher fee or hire a photographer to shoot what they need. If everyone keeps selling Royalty Free there will come a time in the not too distant future when stock photography will cease to be a viable business. Traditional License is under threat. With a great number of RF images available buyers will start to think that all images are RF and will expect RF rights with all purchases. A photographer who indiscriminately sells RF is selling himself and all his colleagues short. Unfortunately many photographers do sell RF and some even make some money from it. However it is short term one shot money. RF is killing the goose to get to the golden egg. If you want to sell RF and many photographers do, it is custom practice to submit your seconds or outtakes to RF. Do not give your best material to RF. One of the reasons RF exists is that for every good photo created the photographer had to shoot at least 30 others that were not so good. It is these 'not so good' photos that end up in RF. Again RF is not good for the photography business. Also if your selling RF don't put travel images in, the volume of sales will never make them work and you will only hurt the next guy.

MICRO SITES AND SUBSCRIPTION SITES - these are sites that sell their images at way below the market value of a photograph. Sites that charge $1 per download and give the photographer $.20 of that. Ask yourself, is my photograph, all my hard work, worth only $.20 Photographers who submit to these sites have no idea of the true value of their work and are selling themselves and the entire industry short.

The average sale at a legitimate online stock photography website is US$100-US$150. How many .20 does it take to add up to that. The highest Stock Sale in recent memory was US$42,000...

That is my word on Micro-sites. As a professional photographer with an eye on the future, one can see that Micro sites have only a limited future before the novelty wears off. People will soon realize that pennies a photo ain't the way, when they can have ...

Up next which agencies to work with, which to avoid...

Hong Kong Photographer Sean David Baylis is a full time commercial and event photographer in Hong Kong. Coming soon lesson 3 in our series.

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