Using FotoQuote to Price Stock Photography Sales
Real photographers don’t sell photographs, they license them

Pricing Stock Photography

A few months ago I received an e-mail from an advertising agency in Lithuania asking about the use of my "Gulls" image for a single page in a monthly calendar. I have been putting my photography on the web for a few years and I’m finding requests for stock usage of my pictures are increasing. I decided to ask for $200. That must have been below what they were prepared to pay because they agreed immediately and asked about purchasing exclusive rights to the image. That started me thinking about how often I may have under priced my work, and how much money I may have lost over the years by not knowing the real value of my photographs.

Added August 26, 2013
The advertising agency never paid. If you're going to negotiate with for
eigh companies, make sure to get paid in advance through Paypal or wire transfer. I licensed an image of Pelé for a bank in Spain and didn't provide the digital file until I had received confirmation of the wire transfer into my checking account.

Doing a web search for stock photo pricing wasn’t very helpful, and browsing other stock photo sites quickly showed that pricing was rarely posted. Each usage request brings different issues to the table, and there is what seems to be an endless amount of variables to take into consideration for pricing. Factors such as how the image will be used, what medium it will be printed on, size of the image, length of time it will be used, size of the run and purpose of use are just a few of the elements professionals consider when fairly pricing a stock photo sale.

My research eventually led me to a program called FotoQuote™ from Cradoc, a name I remember from my years of shooting stock photographs for submission to The Image Bank. Cradoc sold a slide labeling program that I had purchased for my first computer. Since they’ve been connected to the stock industry for years, I decided to check the program out.

FotoQuote™ sells for $149.95 for the CD version and $139.95 for the download. The fotoBiz price is $299 and includes the new fotoQuote stand alone 5.0 for free.

Both are available in Mac and PC versions. Because stock sales are a small but growing part of my photography income, I was primarily interested in using FotoQuote as a reference for quoting prices when requests for stock usage came in.

A screen capture showing some of the many factors that go into pricing stock

Version 5.0 lists over 2000 recommended prices for image use in 218 categories, making it easy to quote an appropriate fee for use of a stock photograph. The prices in fotoQuote come from reviewing actual sales records from stock agencies to the individual photographer throughout the US. This is important because questionnaires and surveys are often "wish" prices and not the price the photographer is actually getting. The prices in fotoQuote are based on US prices. The adjustments have nothing to do with the country that the image will used. The currency converter simple lets you convert the prices in fotoQuote into the Canadian, Australian or New Zealand dollar, the British pound or the Euro.  And, because not all price/usage quotes are set in stone, FotoQuote has a feature called “Stock Coach” that gives tips on negotiating. In addition to its stock photo pricing calculations, FotoQuote has a feature that helps photographers quote prices for assignments. This includes tips on how to deal with clients that want all rights to the images you shoot while on a job for them. The RightsWriter™ feature helps build a licensing agreement by selecting terms from drop down menus. The licensing terms you have selected are added automatically to your quote before you print it.

Real World Pricing
So how does FotoQuote work when put to the test? As I mentioned earlier, my stock photography sales are growing. Within a week of receiving FotoQuote, I had a request for a stock sale from an advertising agency wanting one of my New York City skyline photos for a full-page ad in the New York Times. The price they quoted me was in the middle of the range that the program recommended for the specified usage, leading me to wonder if they were also using FotoQuote. Knowing the range of possible prices allowed me to negotiate a fee at the upper end of the price scale. To complete the sale, I only had to upload a 20 megabyte file of the requested image and we had finished the deal in about 15 minutes. Isn’t technology wonderful?

Thinking back on the image that I licensed to the Lithuanian company for one time use in a calendar I wondered how much I lost by not knowing the going rate. Plugging the variables into FotoQuote brought up a recommended price of about twice what I asked for. Properly pricing my photograph for that single sale would have been more than enough to pay for the FotoQuote program.

If my photography business were more commercial and less fine art, I’d look into using FotoBiz as a full time business aid to organize my photography sales. It provides all the forms necessary to keep a paper trail of submissions. The latest version of fotoBiz will not be out until summer 2004. As with all software development it seems to take much longer than planned. It will also deal with modern capture and submission technology like shooting digitally (no film) and submitting image files electronically.
A list of published images on the press page of a new web site I built to attract commercial photography buyers. There are a lot more of my older published sports photographs on BermanSports.com
Cradoc Corporation
PO Box 1310
Point Roberts, WA 98281
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