Stand your ground: know the value of your images

Note: Since I will here explain in details a recent negotiation I had with a client, I will keep in the dark the client name, the photo we where negotiating, and even the type of photo that was discussed. All that is important for you to know is that the image has some kind of uniqueness factor. If you are not familiar with those concepts, you might first want to read Wikipedia’s entries for Royalty free, right-managed (that’s how I sell my stock) and microstock.


I got the call recently. The photo buyer wanted to buy a particular photo from my stock library he saw online.

He tells me that his company wants to use the photo in [big daily newspaper] and asks how much it will cost. I tell him it would be X$. The price sounds good to him. However, while the conversation continue, I understand that the usage will not be editorial, as I first thought, but as part of a publicity.

That is where it become interesting

I tell him that the price will then not be the same. I quote him a significant higher price.
He answers me that the first price was within his allowed budget, but not the new one. He would have to talk to some people. All of that, of course, on a tone that could mean “I don’t think it’s going to work”.

At this point, I could have said, “well, I guess it’s OK for [the first amount agreed]”.

It was even more tempting to say that when the buyer added that he would also have to call this particular photographer who might have something. And I KNEW this other photographer had tons of similar photos. He was actually probably the only other photographer who could have those.

But I stood my ground. “No problem. Call me back if you are still interested.”

It did not take long to have a call back. The buyer asked me if the price would be the same if they would also use the ad in two other newspapers. “Unfortunately not. It would be [even higher amount]”.

After some second of hesitation, he says that he would call me back.

And so he calls me back soon, inquiring about the price for just one paper, but not as big as the first one. So I quote him a fourth price.

“And we might want to use the picture again in May. Will we be able to do that?”

Again, I decided to do it “by the book”, at the risk of losing an important sale.

“Unfortunately not. The price is for a one-time use. Another license would have to be bough if you want to re-use the photo. Or we can agree on a new price for a broader license right now if you want.”

Since he was not sure they would need the picture later, he decided to accept my last quote, telling me that he might call me back in a few months for a second license.

So at several point during the negotiation, I could have surrendered to secure a sale, fearing that the client would walk away. But by sticking to the value of my image, I ended up with my biggest license yet (actually probably more money than most micro-stock photographer make in a year) with the opportunity to re-sale the same image to the very same client later.

Comments (8)

  • Good for you! I’ve refused 4 weddings this year for a difference of $200.00 to $300.00 in each case. I’m no longer interested in working just for salary with no profit because of these « high rez » DVD requests. I’d rather stay home.

    I agree with Antoine. They probably know that there are price differences for different licence use, and they try to wear the photographer down.

    (On another not, when are you going to give that information about your light stand, and carry bag?)

  • Intéressant!

    Beaucoup d’acheteurs savent comment subtilement faire plier les photographes, quelquefois en prétendant ignorer certains concepts (type de publication et type d’utilisation de la photo, royalty-free, publication unique ou non, etc).
    Tu as bien tenu ton bout. Bravo! (pour les principes ET la vente)

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