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Appropriate Fee for photo usage

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Ed CilleyAppropriate Fee for photo usage
by on Apr 16, 2010 at 2:39:47 pm

Cross posted to Web Design

What is an appropriate rate/fee I should expect to pay someone for use of their photographs? If someone has images posted on the web (copyrighted) and I contact them regarding usage, what should I expect to pay?

This would be for a commercial website.

Any advice would be great.


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walter biscardiRe: Appropriate Fee for photo usage
by on Apr 16, 2010 at 2:54:43 pm

Whatever they deem is appropriate. They own the image.

I generally use and their rates run from around $2 to about $60 per image. Getty Images starts around $400 and goes up very quickly per image.

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grinner hesterRe: Appropriate Fee for photo usage
by on Apr 16, 2010 at 6:42:59 pm

Whatever they want for it.

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Nick GriffinRe: Appropriate Fee for photo usage
by on Apr 18, 2010 at 6:00:18 pm

Grinner and Walter are correct. Before iStock came along there were a few sources of buy-out stock (mostly on families of CDs) but the majority of the business was large stock houses offering "rights managed" images for bucks deluxe. Many of them have long ago merged into (been bought by) Getty, but some may still be around.

The long and the short of it is the REALLY great, rights managed shots can cost a LOT of money and are only bought by national advertisers / magazines who can afford them and demand their quality of imagery. In print advertising a typical rights managed deal would be something like "Image of 1/2 page or larger, use in 3 national magazines with total circulations not to exceed 2,000,000, 4 insertions (ads) in total, $8,000, renewal for additional use required and to be negotiated."

Rights managed can also grant exclusivity within certain industries or in general and you REALLY pay for that.

Now with the internet anything is possible. Some stock sellers take the attitude that on the internet it's conceivable for a billion people to see their image so they want an even higher set of fees. The opposite end of the spectrum is also true: dirt cheap images, some of which are decent, but none of which are usually what you'd call "great."

While I believe iStock was one of the first on-line sellers -- and was MUCH cheaper before they were bought a few years ago (by Getty, I believe - no irony there) -- these days there are a few "subscription" sellers of stock images where you sign up for as many of their images as you can use in a period of time, say a year, for a few hundred dollars. Some will also sell you "credits" so you can buy fewer images but for more money each.

Check out:,, as a start.

Back in the rights managed world, I can recommend from experience the folks in the archives at National Geographic. Hardly inexpensive but the shots are National Geographic awesome.

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Nick GriffinAnd... Appropriate Fee for photo usage
by on Apr 18, 2010 at 6:56:41 pm

It should be pointed out that because most of us work in video, we are typically buying/renting images MUCH smaller than those used in the print world. The pricing on many of these newer "royalty free" sites is based on size so the same image which would be 1/4 page in a magazine fills an HD frame with image to spare. That is unless you plan to do large moves, ie.- an After Effects zoom in.

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