Business Topics

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What You Need to Know About Flying Drones Commercially

There's been an awful lot of news coverage lately regarding Unmanned Aerial Systems -- UAS or UAV(ehicle) -- more commonly called drones. Since I've loved flying and been a licensed private pilot for more than 30 years, and an aerial photographer for the past 15 years, I've been paying attention to these fast-moving developments. Many of my clients are asking me about using drones for their aerial photo needs, so let me tell you what I know up 'til now.  Please use this post only as a reference and a startng point for your own research.  It is every pilot's individual responsibility to know and follow all relevant safety regulations to keep the skies safe for all of us.

Old Drone Regulations

Previously, private hobby drones fell under the FAA designation of model or hobby aircraft and as such were not allowed to be flown commercially -- for economic benefit.  The exception to this was known as a Section 333 Exemption, named after the relevant FAA regulation.  With a Section 333 exemption drones could legally be flown for commercial uses if several factors were met, but getting that exemption was a cumbersome and potentially expensive process and still required that drone operators by licensed pilots.  Until very recently, only a few dozen firms throughout the US had gone through the proper channels to obtain a 333 Exemption, mostly in the film and television industry.  Previously, anyone flying drones commercially without a Sec. 333 Exemption was not only breaking FAA regulations, but was also subjecting themselves and their clients to potentially huge liability.

New Drone Regulations

You've probably heard that the FAA regulations covering small drones have recently changed.  Effective August 29, 2016, there are new FAA rules in place governing both the commercial use, and non-commerial use, of small unmanned aerial systems (drones)These are known as the Part 107 Rules.  Part 107 Rules modify the previous rules as they apply to small drones flown for either hobby or for commercial purposes.

Flying a Hobbby Drone

As explained on the FAA's website here, "You do not need permission from the FAA to fly your UAS (aka drone) for fun or recreation, but you must always fly safely.  Before you fly outside you must:

  • Register your UAS if it weighs more than 0.55 pounds and less than 55 pounds
  • Label your UAS with your registration number
  • Read and understand all safety guidelines

You must also be:

  • 13 years of age or older (if the owner is less than 13 years of age, a person 13 years of age or older must register the small unmanned aircraft)
  • A U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident.  Visiting foreign nationals must register their UAS upon arrival in the United States (online registration serves as a certificate of ownership)."

Flying a Drone Commercially

The FAA's website here explains that to operate a drone commercially, such as for aerial surveys, aerial photography, or visual inspeactions, pilots:

  • Must be at least 16 years old
  • Must pass an initial aeronautical knowledge test at an FAA-approved knowledge testing center. (However different rules may apply for a person who already holds a pilot certificate issued under 14 CFR part 61 and has successfully completed a flight review within the previous 24 months.)
  • Must be vetted by the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA)

Also, the aircraft must weigh less than 55 lbs., and it must be registered.  Finally, the pilot:

  • Must fly only in Class G airspace unless permitted from Air Traffic Control (ATC)*
  • Must keep the aircraft in sight (visual line-of-sight)*
  • Must fly under 400 feet*
  • Must fly during the day*
  • Must fly at or below 100 mph*
  • Must yield right of way to manned aircraft*
  • Must NOT fly over people*
  • Must NOT fly from a moving vehicle*
  • * all these regulations are subject to waiver

The FAA publishes a helpful table explaining the requirements and limitations of hobby flying vs. commercial flying of your drone, which is reproduced below:

Lastly, I would add that while not an FAA requirement, anyone operating a drone commercially should also carry the proper, drone-specific insurance to protect themselves and their clients in case of a mishap.  How much do you think the local power company charges to fix the mess when your drone hits the power lines or you accidentally crash it in to an iconic monument?


If you're interested in becoming a commercial drone pilot, the best place to start is undeniably the FAA's website for Unmanned Aerial Systems.  Here you'll find all of this basic info, as well as more specifics on Becoming a UAS Pilot, Where NOT to Fly your drone, even How and When to Report an Accident.

Many photographers and hobbyists have been rushing out to buy these increasingly affordable drones and are studying up for their new Part 107, Remote Pilot Certificate exams in hopes of starting their own drone-related businesses.  But regardless of the regulations and training involved to fly legally, when it comes to aerial photography there are still clearly some limits to what drones are capable of.  Much more on that, as well as  impressions from two seasoned aerial photographers, in a coming post.

Until then, fly safely!

Andrew Buchanan is a 20-year professional architectural, aerial, and landscape design photographer based in Seattle.  He photographs roughly a dozen aerial projects every year.  View some of his aerial photography on his website here.

Glossary of Photography Terms

Contract Terminology for Photographers

Please note: these terms are correct and complete to the best of our knowledge but are intended for educational purposes only and do not qualify as, nor should they substitute for, professional legal advice.

"All media known or unknown"
A contract term designed to escape paying for every use of a photograph. It is acceptable to have one fee that covers several media, such as print and Web, or Web and CD-Rom, (see "rights package") but each use should be specifically listed. To claim the right to use an image in any media format NOT specifically listed conflicts with the Copyright Law's intention (see "copyright" below). To claim the right to reproduce the photograph in a media format as-yet-undeveloped is just silly. Why would a photographer ever want to grant that right away?

"All rights in perpetuity"
A contract term which equates to work-for-hire (see below). Work under a contract which uses this clause, and you are agreeing to, in effect, share your ownership (copyright) in anything you create while being paid by your client. Your client will have equal access to, and use of, your images. Not only can they do whatever they want with your images, without additional payment or even permission, but they can even compete with you by reselling your images for a lower price than you would charge.

An agreement between a photographer and a client whereby the photographer shoots to the client's specifications and agrees to certain uses of the image(s), in return for a fee plus reimbursement of expenses. All assignments should be confirmed with a contract (see below).

Business Plan
For the small business owner, a business plan is a set of documents that describe who you are, what you do, how you intend to do it, and what you need in order to accomplish your goals. Financial institutions or independent investors use business plans to evaluate the potential for success when you come to them for loans. More importantly, a business plan should work like a road map for your future.

A legal document that lays out in writing the obligations of each party signing the contract. In order to be most enforceable, a contract must have three things: 1) it must be a "meeting of the minds" in other words, both parties must agree to the terms. If one party is pressured into signing, it is labeled a "contract of adhesion" and can be argued to be invalid; 2) there must be an exchange of goods or money in return for services rendered; 3) both parties must sign the contract. By implication, every contract must be negotiable. Otherwise, it is a one-sided contract and, therefore, a contract of adhesion.

The legal concept that once an original expression of a creative process is fixed in a tangible medium, that expression belongs to the creator (not the person paying the fee) who has the exclusive right to control and authorize its reproduction, distribution (by sale, rental, lease, or lending), public display or performance, or derivation. (US Code, title 17, sec. 106)

Copyright infringement
A use other than one specifically authorized by the copyright holder.

Copyright registration
The act of paying a small fee and submitting a copy (copies) of your work to the US Copyright Office for registration. The copies are kept on file and in the public record to reference for any future disputes and for assessing any penalties.

Cost-of-doing-business (CDB)
This is the amount of money that is required for you to operate your business, regardless of your number of clients and is generally expressed as an amount per day. To find your CDB, add up all of the factors that make up your overhead (see below), and divide by the number of days you are "open for business" in a year. 250 days is a standard number (5 days x 52 weeks - 2 weeks vacation), but not very generous. Remember, this is what it will cost you EVERY day and may or may not include your salary (depending on how you figure your overhead), yet you cannot expect to earn income every day, unlike a salaried employee who earns a regular paycheck.

Creative fee
This is the fee that a photographer charges for concepting and creating images and takes into account creativity, experience, the degree of difficulty, specialized equipment, and perhaps usage (although usage may be a separate line item). This term reflects photographer's desires to be paid based on our experience, our ability, and on the benefit gained by the client from using the fruits of our creative processes, rather than simply on how long we work.

Day rate
An out-of-date term that use to signify the minimum amount a photographer would be paid when shooting for an editorial client, with additional money owed if multiple images were used or if images were used particularly large (see "space rate"). The term has come to mean the flat rate that photographers are offered for shooting for a publication, and disregards experience, ability, the degree of difficulty, and benefit gained by the client. When being paid solely for our time, it can also lead to arguments over full and half days, and even hourly rates. Most day rates are barely enough to cover our CDB (see above), never mind make a profit. As professionals, we should be compensated for our creativity (see creative fee above) and for the benefit gained by our clients from using our images (see space rate).

Delivery memo
An important part of the paper trail (see below) that should accompany any image that leaves your files. It officially places your image(s) in the care of another person and binds them to abide by your Terms and Conditions (see below). It also enables you to keep track all of your images and know their location at any given time. (see also the EP Forms section for sample delivery memo EP Subscription required)

Embargo periods
A period of time often requested by publishers during which you agree not to re-license an image. Embargoes can be complete, meaning no re-sales whatsoever of the image or any similars, or they may be limited to only competing publications, or by geography, for example. Limited embargoes are a legitimate request for assigned work (see above), especially for news and event coverage, but embargoes for stock sales (see below) are simply trying to claim exclusivity (see below) that should instead generate additional compensation for the photographer.

A status that for photographers means you do not own the copyright to your images. Most, if not all, employment contracts stipulate that because the employer is paying your salary and all of your expenses, they own the copyright to any images you create while working for them. However, in exchange, you do receive a regular salary, with benefits, sick days, paid vacation, and a retirement plan - all options not available to you as an independent contractor (see below).

Another important part of the paper trail that lays out, in writing and before the shoot, the exact parameters of a prospective job, the ultimate usage of the images(including size and number of insertions, media format, circulation or print run, any geographic limitations, exclusivity, and length of use), and the fees you will be charging. If both parties agree to and sign the estimate, it becomes a contract (see above).

A description of rights granted which refers to your ability to re-license the image to another client. If you grant your client exclusive rights to an image, you are agreeing not to re-license that image to anyone else. Exclusivity can have limitations of time, geography, or topic, for instance, but in all instances, any grant of exclusivity should receive additional compensation.

Fair use doctrine
The part of the US Copyright Law which states that certain uses of otherwise copyrighted material are not considered infringements. These "fair uses" cover the free-sharing of information for scholarship, research, teaching, and news reporting, among others, but also must take into account the use's effect on the "potential market for or value of the copyrighted work" (US Code, title 17, section 107).

The most complicated form of doing business, but worth the additional trouble and expense if your business generates enough income to make the services of an accountant and lawyer worthwhile. Incorporation can provide some tax advantages to small businesses. The business is taxed separately from the owners and/or stockholders. Incorporation can also provide a "corporate shield" against personal liability. Corporations must be registered with your state government.

Indemnification clauses
These clauses within contracts ask one or both parties to release the other party from responsibility should a certain act occur. Indemnity clauses usually read, " ...agree to indemnify and hold harmless..." As with warranties (see below), we need to be very careful that what we are indemnifying against we actually have control over. When signing a contract, you never want to pledge yourself to a certain action in response to another action or event over which you have no control.

Independent contractor
A non-employee (see employee above) who is hired by a company for a specific project or time-frame, to complete a certain task. Unless stated otherwise in the contract between contractor and company (see work-for-hire and all-rights below and above), the independent contractor retains the copyright to all works created while working on behalf of the company, per Copyright Law. Independent contractors do not get the benefits of being an employee of the company, such as access to insurance and benefit programs, paid sick or vacation days, or even regular paychecks. They do, however, set their own hours and make their own business decisions. Therefore, as independent contractors, freelance photographers need to maintain control of their copyrights in order to maximize income and to offset the added expenses of being self-employed (see below).

Invoices are requests to be paid for services rendered. They are the last step of the paper trail and lead to the conclusion of the contract. Standard business practices are to pay all invoices within thirty days. Many photographers request payment sooner, within 21 or even 14 days, while many businesses try to pay on 45, 60, or even 90-day schedules. As with all parts of a contract, the amount of time to pay is negotiable, but should be stated clearly in your Terms & Conditions (see below).

Liability clauses
A clause in a contract whereby one party agrees to accept responsibility, legal and/or financial, for a certain action(s). As with warranties and indemnities (see above and below), we want to be careful not to accept liability for any action over which we have no control. Then, because accidents do happen even when we have control, smart businesspeople, especially sole proprietors (see below) have liability insurance to protect them financially in the event of a mistake.

License (noun)
Because we as copyright holders have the sole right to control the distribution of our work by, "sale, lease, rental, or lending", a license is a contract which grants the right to use an image in a certain way, in a certain place, for a certain period of time, to someone else. A license should specifically state how large the image may be used, how many times, in what specific media format(s), and for how long. It should also state any exclusivity (see above) restrictions, or should state "non-exclusive". All rights not specifically granted remain with the copyright holder, and a clause to that effect should also be a part of any license.

License (verb)
To license an image is simply to grant a license (see above) for its temporary use. As photographers, we should license images for use, not sell them outright.

Model release warranties
A warranty (see below) that, in effect, asks us to guarantee that the client will never be sued for using an image of a person or thing. As with any guarantee that is beyond our control, this is an unreasonable request. As part of a contract, we might reasonably be asked to provide a signed release from the subject on request, and even to testify on the client's behalf should a case go to trial (provided we are compensated for our time), but we should not be asked to warrant that over which we have no control.

To compromise; the process of each side giving up something in return for another. All contracts (see above), by definition, must be negotiable or they are considered one-sided and a "contract of adhesion", and can be invalidated.

The sum of all expenses you generate to operate your business, regardless of the number of clients, and includes rent, utilities, inventory, equipment and repairs, advertising and marketing, business loans, travel, labor, insurance, training and education, etc.. Keeping overhead manageable is a critical part of operating an efficient and competitive business. As a sole proprietor, you may choose to include your own salary in your overhead or not. If you do, then any money left over after covering your overhead is profit (see below) to use to grow your business. If you do not, then money left over would be considered net income, not profit, and must be divided between paying yourself and growing your business.

Paper trail
The collection of all documents generated for a given job. At the very least, the paper trail for assignments should include: estimate, contract, delivery memo, invoice and usage license, proof of payment, and terms & conditions (see above and below). A paper trail for a stock sale (see below) would omit the estimate, and the contract and usage license might be one and the same as you are not providing a service, merely licensing the use of an image. Appropriate pieces of the paper trail should be signed by both parties (contract, delivery memo, invoice) and the accumulated paper trail for every job should be archived for future reference.

Partnerships are like sole proprietorships in that income is reported through the individual partners; the partnership business is not taxed separately. Liability is also similar. The only reason to have a partnership is to create a stronger business, by combining resources, than you can alone. Good communication is absolutely essential, and all business related issues should be resolved in writing before the partnership is created. Bookkeeping, accounting, and tax returns will be more complicated and costly. You should consult a small business lawyer before entering into a partnership agreement.

Profit is revenue minus all expenses, including salary. Profit is that portion of your revenue that should be used to grow your business. Profit is usually generated as a percentage mark-up on expenses and billable items. For example, if you mark up a $10.00 item by 30%, the client pays $13.00. The three dollar profit, minus any taxes you will have to pay, is money used to grow your business.

Reprints are magazine articles that are reprinted and repackaged by the magazine on behalf of the subject and then used as advertising by the subjects. Publishers charge many thousands of dollars for reprints as they understand their value to the subject client. As photographs make up a valuable part of any story, photographers should be partially compensated for this use as well. Future reprint rights should be excluded from any editorial assignment contract between publisher and photographer and should be negotiated based on the higher rates for advertising use that they represent.

Revenue is your total, or gross, income. It includes creative and licensing fees, billable expenses, and mark-up. If you are a sole proprietor, and will be filing a Schedule C with the IRS, the gross income from your business, minus business expenses and all allowable deductions, is totaled with any additional income from other sources. It is very important that you can compute, at any time, the revenue of your business and be able to distinguish profit and salary from each other.

"Right to assign, transfer or sell"
Terms of a contract that allow a client to pass your photos around, or even to sell it in direct competition with you, to affiliated or non-affiliated publications or clients, without compensation. These terms are most common where a publication has multiple editions, say in other countries, or where a publisher wants to share images among many of its magazines, or even into its book division. However, photographers should realize that the right to distribute their images rests solely with them, as per the US Copyright Law, and should charge additional fees for each added use. Offering to bundle multiple uses of the same image into a rights package (see below), is an alternative to this clause.

Rights package
An offer to bundle multiple uses of one or more images into a single fee, usually at a discount from purchasing all the rights separately. For instance, if you would normally charge $600 for a print use and $300 for Web use, you might offer a rights package that charges only $750 if the client purchases both at the same time. Rights packages are a valuable negotiating tool, as both parties give something up, but also gain in return.

Rights transfer (copyright transfer)
A term which means you are relinquishing all your rights in an image(s) and turning them over to someone else. You are giving up your copyright to, all control of, and the right to profit from, your image(s). Some contracts try to claim that by allowing the printing of your image by XYZ, or by being paid for a day's work by XYZ, you are executing a rights transfer to your work. Nothing is further from the truth unless you sign a contract that says you will. Unless XYZ is willing to (very) generously compensate you for all lost future income from the rights transfer of that image, you should refuse to accept this term in a contract.

Salary is the money you pay yourself and/or your employees and is generally derived primarily from creative and licensing fees. Salary determines your standard of living. If you include profit in salary, you are depriving your business of the money it needs to prosper. If you dedicate profit to your business, but your salary is inadequate, you need to examine the creative fees you are charging clients and/or the number of jobs you are completing.

A term that indicates that you are your own employer and are responsible for your own overhead and salary (see both above), both the employee's and employer's share of all applicable taxes, as well as any liability incurred by your actions. If you are self-employed, and you are hired by another company to complete a project, then you are an independent contractor (see above) in relation to that company. See also work-for-hire.

Sole proprietorship
The most common form of small business ownership. Revenue, minus business expenses and other allowable deductions, is passed through your individual federal income tax return on a Schedule C. The business does not pay separate corporate income taxes, but neither can it protect you from liability. Defaulting on business loans or expenses will, therefore, be a mark on your personal credit history. Adequate liability insurance is also a necessity. You will still need a business license and might pay other forms of business taxes to your city, county, or state.

Space rate
A rate of compensation tied to how much space (1/4 page, full page, etc.) our photos occupy and preferred by photographers as compensation is directly tied to the benefit gained by a client from using our images. Editorial assignments all used to be billed with the day rate (see above) as a guaranteed minimum against the space rate. In other words, if the day rate were $650, but the publication ran one photo at half page size worth $500 and a second photo at quarter page size worth $300, then the photographer would be due an additional $150 (500+300-650=150) upon publication. In a system where advertising rates are billed based upon how large an ad runs, it is only fair that photographers also be paid for how large a photo runs. If a client gets more benefit by running the image larger, then the photographer should be compensated accordingly.

Abbreviation for speculation, as in "shooting on spec" and means agreeing to create images to a client's specific terms, without a contract or a guarantee of payment. While there is nothing wrong with shooting images to build a stock library (see below) and submitting those for consideration, photographers should not allow a potential client's current requirements to dictate the shoot at the expense of variety and potential future sales, without a guarantee of payment (see "assignment" above). If a client wants or needs specific images badly enough, they will give out an assignment. Shooting on spec rarely turns a profit as the photographer must also cover all the expenses, rather than being paid an assignment fee plus expenses as a minimum against space rate (see above).

Stock sale
The licensing of an image from a pre-existing collection of images, or stock. Stock images may be generated by shooting assignments, or they may be created by the photographer specifically for building a stock library. Residual income generated from stock sales is one of the primary reasons for photographers to retain the copyright to their images. A single image may be re-licensed again and again over the years as a stock image, thereby resulting in thousands of dollars for the photographer.

Success means operating your business in an ethically profitable manner and earning the profit you need to grow your business and maintain your standard of living. It means realizing your potential as a business owner and as an image maker. It means enabling you to make a contribution to your community and to your profession, and earning the respect of your peers.

Terms & Conditions
This is the "fine print", the collection of conditions under which you agree to do business with other parties. Your Terms & Conditions should be clearly stated and included on all parts of the paper trail (see above). Therefore, by signing and agreeing to your contract, for instance, a client also agrees to various conditions such as paying within thirty days or being responsible for your original images while they are in their possession. (see also the EP Forms section for more details and sample forms you can customize for your business. EP Subscription required)

Unauthorized use
The use of an image for which a specific license has not been granted. Remember, a use must be specifically granted, otherwise, it remains with the copyright holder. The law is very clear: it is up to the end-user to obtain a license to use a copyrighted work before doing so, otherwise the use is unauthorized.

How, where, and for how long a copyrighted work has been licensed to an end-user by the copyright holder.

These clauses within contracts ask one or both parties to pledge that some act or circumstance will or will not occur. These clauses may or may not be reasonable when the acts or circumstances are within our control, for instance when we are asked to warrant that the photographs will be original and that we are the exclusive copyright holder. This protects the publisher from an unethical photographer who steals another's work and then sells it as his own, for example. However, if we are asked to warrant against anything that involves a third party, for instance, "...will not infringe upon the personal or proprietary rights of or give rise to any claim by any third party", we may end up being held liable for something we could not control and we should not be asked to guarantee that.

A contract term which signifies that all work being done under the contract becomes the property of the person paying for it, not of the creator. It converts the creator's status from independent contractor (see above) to employee. It is an "employee-for-a-day" status, yet almost always fails to compensate us for self-employment expenses such as employment taxes and liability coverage, and for missed employee benefits like insurance programs, bonuses, and retirement programs which the photographer must continue to supply for him/her self. Being self-employed and, therefore, responsible for all of our own overhead, as well as our own insurance and retirement programs, freelance photographers need to retain control of our copyrights to provide future income and should therefore think carefully before agreeing to any contract which stipulates work-for-hire, all-rights, or rights transfer (see above).

How-to Guide for Stock Photography

A How-To Guide For Stock Photography

by Seth Resnick

Definition of stock photography.
Stock photographs consists of existing photography available to buyers for their specific needs. The photographs become a commodity available through either an individual photographer or through a stock agency. Under most circumstances the images are not actually sold but are leased with a licensing agreement.

Where is stock photography available?
Today stock photography is applicable in every conceivable market which utilizes photography. It is routinely used in advertising, editorial, brochures, multimedia, catalogs, annual reports, record albums, television commercials, posters, calendars, greeting cards, credit cards, AV shows, and most recently it is widely used on the World Wide Web. The market for stock photography is expanding at a rapid pace with new uses every day.

How is stock photography produced?
Stock photographs are produced in two basic ways. Photographers retain rights to the images they produce on assignment for clients and turn those images into stock photography or they actually fund elaborate productions to generate images specifically for stock.

What are the basic benefits of stock photography?
WYSIWYG or what you see is what you get. In traditional assignment photography a photographer is hired to illustrate an idea or capture some event. There is a creative fee to pay which can be in the thousands per day and there are expenses including: travel, assistants, film & processing, talent, stylists etc. The cost can be downright prohibitive and there are NO GUARANTEES. Stock photography offers the guarantee. The user can see the an image without paying for the cost of the whole shoot.

The other big benefit of stock photography is the ability to for an end user to see images fast and in some cases immediately. For today's fast paced society many times there is simply no time to wait for a particular image to be photographed and stock offers that solution.

For the photographer the benefits of stock photography are enormous. Over time many images will generate far more income than did the actual assignment. Many images have a long lifetime and will generate income for years to come. A decent collection can not only double a photographers annual income but can also continue to generate income even after he or she is retired.

What are the pitfalls of stock photography?
For the client the biggest pitfall to stock photography is that the images may not be exclusive to them and in fact may very well have been published many times before. It is possible to buy stock images with exclusivity but the cost will be far greater and may or may not be available for a specific image.

For the photographer the are several issues which become pitfalls with regard to stock photography. If the photographer sells through an agency it usually takes months after a sale before the photographer gets paid. There is also the basic fact that most agencies take 50% on a stock photography sale and more if the image is sold overseas through a sub agent. There is a great deal of time spent getting images ready for sale including captioning, categorizing , key wording etc. If the photographer produces images specifically for stock there are no guarantees the images will ever be sold and it might take years just to receive enough income to cover your expenses.

Where can stock photography be found?
As new buyers continue to discover the benefits of stock photography, the sources for stock continue to multiply. Traditionally, stock photography has been available from an assortment of large agencies. Today stock photography is available from many sources including CD ROM both in the form of clip art and licensed images, direct from photographers, source books and stock catalogs, and from the internet.

Stock photography - Steps-issue-standards for buyer & seller regarding traditional stock photography.

  1. The first step is the request for images. This is accomplished via phone call or fax or E-mail. In addition publishers will routinely provide want lists and there are subscription services which, for a monthly fee, will supply want lists via fax or computer.
  2. If you are the person requesting the images it is vital to be as specific as possible. In addition to specific information about the photographs you are requesting, you should also supply the researcher with specific stats regarding the image use. Both parties should discuss use fees, research fees if applicable, method of delivery, the time needed to hold the photographs, liability for loss & or damage. Our office will routinely fax a sample delivery memo to new clients for them to sign, prior to sending out images. Remember that proper paper work and discussion of terms and conditions ahead protects both parties and eliminates problems in the future.
  3. After the request a researcher or photographer must locate, caption and prepare the images for delivery. Many people charge a research fee which commonly ranges from $50.00 to $100.00 which helps to cover the costs associated with time intensive tasks. Some agencies and photographers waive the research fee if the images are used, while others do not apply to usage and some do not charge any research fee. If you request images make sure you check out the suppliers research fee policy and if you are selling images make sure you indicate that you do charge a research fee in advance.
  4. Delivery of the images. You are most likely going to receive original images. Although the exact value of photographic images is a topic which constantly surfaces and resurfaces in the courts, it is safe for both parties to assume that the images are, for all practical purposes, worth $1500.00 each or the stipulated value on the delivery memo. With this in mind images should be sent via a courier service which can track the package at any given time. Some agencies and photographers will actually list the courier service that the images must be returned with on the delivery memo. The delivery memo will list vital information about the images and their use. Make sure you read the delivery memo and understand the terms and conditions. At the very least make sure that the count on the images you receive matches the count listed on the delivery memo. If the count is different it is important to notify the sender immediately that there is a discrepancy. The delivery memo will also routinely list the intended use of the images the fee for use and the date that the images are due back to the agency or photographer.
  5. Use of the images. If an image is going to be used it is vital to notify the agency and or photographer prior to final use. Most delivery memos will state that no rights of any kind are granted until payment is received in full. Further if the intended use is slightly different either in size or placement than that listed on the delivery memo you will want to have the power of negotiation with the photographer and or the agency. If the image is used and than the agency or photographer is notified the user may find that the amount the photographer or agency is charging is way beyond there means, yet they will have no choice but to pay the bill or they risk the consequences of intentional violation of the copyright statue.
  6. Returning the images. Typically all images are due back within 21 days. Many agencies and photographers charge holding fees if the images are held longer than 21 days. If as the client you need to hold the images longer than the stipulated time on the delivery memo than it is pertinent to notify and discuss the situation with the agency or photographer.

Stock photography: Steps and issues regarding electronic stock photography.
The new digital frontier poses new problems and new resources for the photographer and the photo buyer. Although there are many uses in the electronic field the area with the most hoopla and the most concern is the World Wide Web. In the last 4 years the Web has grown from a small collection of sites to literally millions. In fact, each day there are nearly 3,000 new sites on the web many of which are using stock photography.

Benefits of the web.
For the buyer of stock photography the Web offers real time viewing and buying of images from an ever increasing source of providers. The Web allows the buyer to deal in with electronic delivery of film thus eliminating the liability of originals and the expense of couriers and time delay of couriers. For the provider of stock photographs the Web allows even the smallest providers to reach worldwide without the need of sub agents. Original files can be kept in the library and allowing the same images to be sold over and over without worrying about damage. Providers can even collect money via credit card and eliminate the hassles of collection or they can provide their bank account numbers for deposit information to the buyer and when the deposit is made they can send a digital file to the buyer.

What are the pitfalls of the web?
Clearly the area of the most concern is theft of images and copyright as it pertains to intellectual property. The less someone understands this issue the more they are concerned. Yes the web does have security flaws and yes people can steal, but any buyer of originals in today's marketplace can do essentially the same. Original images can be scanned and kept on file. When an image is delivered in digital format on the Web there is a benefit and a protection system that is unavailable when dealing with original images. The sender can attach file information using Photoshop which will be permanently attached to the file. The information could contain not only copyright information but also rights granted and extended caption information. In the near future graphics will be able to employ holographic type signatures which would embed hidden tags enabling illicit copies to be traced. Right now a user can search for his own images with the free aid of Alta Vista a web search engine. If someone steals an image and posts it to their own web page it can be found simply by searching for the image which takes less than 1 second. Clearly the benefits of the web out number the pitfalls.

Low end and hight end use on the web.
The Web has become more and more defined. There are essentially five categories of buyers on the web. It is important to look at each category to determine the proper pricing structure for photography. As the web develops it is revealing surprising similarity to traditional print format in terms of how to price. The size of the image on the page, the placement of the image i.e. home page or linked page, length of time for display, the size of the company and the average number of "hits" or viewers should be taken in to account for accurate pricing. In my own opinion companies selling photography on the web and not differentiating the clients is doing an injustice to photographers and to themselves. Some companies are pricing photographs for the Web based solely on the digital size of the image. The fact is that screen resolution only supports 72 dpi so large file sizes are irrelevant.

The following is a description of each of the six categories of buyers on the web with some added stats about each category:

  1. Commerce Sites: A commerce site is typically a National or Multi-National Corporation which is using its web site as a place to physically transact business.
  2. Content Oriented Sites: These are sites that are not engaged directly in selling on the web but are large corporate sites providing all kinds of information from consumer information, marketing information and possibly downloading of software and products on a slightly smaller scale than a true commerce site. They are large sites that are updated on a regular basis.
  3. Promotional Sites: These sites are specifically designed to act as a form of advertising and promotion for a company but do not allow the viewer to actually buy anything directly on the site. The size of the companies range from small regional companies to large multinational companies and are clearly a marketing tool.
  4. Basic Site: Basic sites refer to companies which have a web site to be part of the electronic revolution but they haven't really developed the site for much other than an enhanced phone book type listing.
  5. Educational and Not-For-Profit Site: These sites disseminate information but operate on a very limited budget.
  6. Personal Site: The last type of site listed on the web are the personal sites. They range in all types and sizes and this is the largest area for copyright infringement to occur and for photo sales on the very low end of the scale.

Pricing stock for the web.
According to a recent report by Forrester Research of Cambridge, MA The average price to a company to develop a commerce site is now $3.3 million dollars. Further maintenance of the site requires a web master which costs in the neighborhood of $50,000 per year plus there are continual upgrade costs. In addition they report that a basic promotional site costs $300,000 and a content oriented site costs $1.3 million dollars. A separate study by International Data Corporation confers on this numbers and pegs the overall average business site between $300,000 and 1.5 million.

Many of the Commerce and Promotional sites either accept advertising or advertise themselves on other commerce sites. The price of the ads are substantial. In fact, there is a web site that lists every web site accepting advertising and the cost. For example, ESPN Sports Zone charges $30,769 a month for a small ad. Further, it is also imperative to understand the cost per 1000 consumers for the web compared to other traditional forms of advertising in determining cost of stock photography. Again, Forrester Research, Inc. reveals some interesting statistics. A 30-second television spot on network news costs an average of $65,000 for and reaches 12,000,000 people at a cost of $5.42 per 1000 consumers. A full-page color ad in a national weekly cost an average of $135,000 to reach 3,100,000 viewers at a cost of $43.55 per 1000 consumers. A full page ad in a mid size city newspaper costs $31,000 to reach 514,000 people at a cost of $60.31 per 1000. The world wide web for a one month one inch by one inch ad in an online magazine costs $15,000 for an average audience of 200,000 which raises the cost per 1000 consumers to a whopping $75.00.

When companies are willing to shell out millions for development of a web site, spend thousands to advertise and spend nearly 14 times the cost per thousand of television to reach viewers, it is clear that there are budgets in place to pay traditional pricing stock photography on the web.

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Fri 28th Nov, 2014

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