Often times an ad agency will seek to obtain a license to use a photo (or a model’s image) and describe that intended usage as, “One year, consumer print advertising”.  That seems fine and dandy but if the model’s agent or the photographer has no clue as to what publications the client is intending to use, it makes pricing that use problematic.

Each publication features a particular demographic. The demographics are broken down by every conceivable factor imaginable including but hardly not limited to: income, age, race, gender, marital status, homeowners, multiple home owners, business owners, retirees, classic car collectors and every conceivable political or social viewpoint.

Some publications attract readers who buy Jaguars, BMWs and Lincolns while others have subscribers who have just enough to money to put a down payment on a Ford Focus. A home may have a value of $10,000 or $10,000,000.  A room at The Red Roof Inn down the road is likely priced lower than one at the Beverly Hilton.

None of this is being brought up here to demonstrate that we are somehow incredibly adept at pointing out the obvious. Rather as a negotiating point whether you are a model agent or a photographer, remember that not all “consumer print publications” are equal just as not all cars are equal.  Just as the licensing fee you would charge Joe’s Hardware Store on Main Street would be different than the fee for the very same shot for Home Depot or Loews, the nature of the publications and their reach affect your fee.

A majority of photographers – unlike model agents – are very reluctant to even inquire as to where exactly the photos are likely to be run. They say “consumer magazines, one year” and photographers say “great”. You need to consider not only the circulation, readership and exposure your photo will receive but where it is being run. You may even determine that it is in your financial interest to charge less because the image will be running in publications where you want your images to be seen. Model agents aren’t embarrassed to ask where.

In any event, you want to get as much information as humanly possible in order to negotiate the best possible fee for yourself. If the advertiser intends to make a media buy to run ads in every issue of say, Sports Illustrated, ESPN Magazine, Outdoor Life, Men’s Health and Maxim for the next six months, then it damn well ought to have some real money to pay for the photos that comprise that ad.

Ed’s cliche is, “You can’t say there’s no room in the budget for the photographer when the budget is big enough for everyone else”.