Camera Stupid has a fantastic community of photographers over in the Official Facebook Group. We have over 5,000 members now and it’s a great place to share your photos, get feedback, or ask questions. If you haven’t joined yet we’d love to have you.
Greg Grayson recently posted the following question in the group and I decided to repost it here as it’s a great topic that many photographers could benefit from.
I’ve been contacted by my city’s tourism agency. They want to discuss purchasing some of my images. I have not spoken with them, yet. Mostly because I’m too green about what is involved. I’d like to at least go into the conversation knowing what is involved. My main questions are:
1.) if I sell images to them (or others for that matter) for their use, am I giving up my rights? Do I retain my copyright? Even if let’s say they buy my images for use for 3 years? Am I losing my rights to sell or use my own image for that time frame?
2.) What are some “gotcha” phrases to look out for in legal jargon?
3.) What are some phrases that I need in the contract to protect myself?
The following are some bullet points from my response:
- Everything is negotiable, but its likely they already have some terms that can act as a starting point. Communication is key. I’d recommend having a meeting where all you do is ask questions. Make a list before hand with every little question you can think of.
- It’s fine to not give any prices or commit to anything in the first meeting. Generally you can charge more if they want to do a “buyout” meaning that you won’t license the images to anyone else during the term.
- I would recommend maintaining your copyright, unless they are willing to offer you a very larger sum to buy the copyright.
- It’s rare that a photographer will sell their copyright. The license terms can be exclusive or non-exclusive, meaning that you can negotiate the right to license the images to someone else even though they are currently licensed to the tourism agency. They may want exclusive license meaning you wouldn’t license to anyone else during the terms.
- Prints would be another consideration. Again, communicate your desires for the usage and see if they fit with what they want.
- Find out every place they plan to use them. This first meeting is a good opportunity to up-sell usage. Do they want them online? What about a potential mailer or billboard? Make them a package deal that covers all their potential usages.
- Depending on their experience, you may have to educate them a little as to how professional image licensing works.
- Remember that everything is on the table until you sign a contract. It may make sense to add stipulation to usage, such as your photo credit must appear in certain usage cases. The key is communicating and negotiation until you’ve reached an agreement that is a win for both parties
Do you have experience licensing or selling your photography? Add your tips to the comments below this post!
Here are a few books on the topic of selling your photography: