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How to Price This / Negotiate a Price -- Photos in a 5-part BBC Documentary

astrostu 8 9 United States
29 Oct 2009 5:32PM
Hello, all. I'm new to this board but not to photography. I've been posting actively on The Photo Forum for a few years and I've been a hobbyist for about half a decade. As my name may imply, I'm an astronomer by training and I do a decent amount of astrophotography. I've sold photos before and been a consultant before for astrophotography. For some reason, for the past 2 years, I've been contacted in October about either selling or consulting.

This week that trend continued and I was contacted by a woman working for the BBC's Vision Studios and they would like to use some of my work in an upcoming 5-part 1-hr/each documentary on the solar system. They want to use 20 of my photographs of the moon (highest resolution I have) and string them together in a sequence in order to show the moon's wobbling (we can actually see nearly 60% of the moon's surface from Earth because of this).

They are asking for: "All media, all rights worldwide, including North America, digital (i.e. VOD, DTO, mobile phone etc) and DVD. You would of course keep the copyright for all of the images, but as our programme is due to be broadcast not only in the UK, but on other channels around the world we need to clear it for the rights I've noted above." I think that's fairly standard.

However, I have no idea what a standard charge is for something like this. I looked at Corbis at some of their stock lunar photos and I tried to price them as close to the usage as I could. I came up with $250-550 per image ... since my sequence is 20 images, that would be $5,000-$11,000. I figured I would be happy if they offered me anything above £2,000 (about $3,300). My only previous sale of this type was to Elizabeth Arden who used 4 of my moon photos in a worldwide 1-year ad campaign across all media (print, web, etc.). For the 4 photos, I received $3000 USD.

To see the sequence I'm talking about, you can click here . It's a 1.5-MB file which is why I'm not embedding it.

Today, I received an e-mail that stated: "That animation looks fantastic, thank you so much for sending that through. My Producer loves it too, so we'd like to discuss using it within the programme please. ... I'm not sure what you usually charge for image use, but would you be happy if we paid £200 (approx $330) to use the sequence of images? We would of course credit the images to you at the end of the programme."

Now, to me that seems REALLY low. I wasn't expecting £10,000, or really even for her to offer £5,000. But only £200?

Can anyone PLEASE help me on how much I should actually reasonably expect from this, and how to actually justify/negotiate it? Any help (and FAST) is appreciated!

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uggyy 12 2.1k 9 Scotland
29 Oct 2009 5:46PM
Fantastic set of images but as for the rest, sorry I got no idea.

Good luck...
User_Removed 11 2.2k 3 United Kingdom
29 Oct 2009 5:51PM
If they think they're that good then squeeze them. Don't undersell yourself. You could state your previous sale and say you expect something similar.
ARJones 11 103 3 United Kingdom
29 Oct 2009 5:56PM
Firstly let me say I have no experience in these matters and hopefully someone will come along with more knowledgeable advice.

Putting a value on work can be difficult - a balancing act between what you think it is worth and what someone is willing to pay. That said you can set an amount and I would reply stating that your images are GBP300 each and as the sequence is of 20 images this would work out at GBP 6000. They may not wish to proceed but it does at least give a starting point for negotiation and you could set yourself a figure below which you will not go (say GBP 4000)

It seems that your work is fairly specialised and the indications are that they really like it so I think you need to be quite firm. Ultimately if they decide not to use your images you have lost only GBP 200.

Good luck with it (I can't comment at all on the media rights side)

roxpix 14 2.2k 11 Scotland
29 Oct 2009 6:08PM
I wonder if the disparity is due to the 20 images essential being the ‘same’ (you know what I mean) & animated so that it actually resembles a short piece of footage

I guess you reply with your normal costs per image for this type of usage and then throw in a hefty discount to bring the figure down to whatever’s acceptable to you (due to it being the same shot & that any one image may not be suitable for their purpose & therefore wont attract 'normal' rates)
astrostu 8 9 United States
29 Oct 2009 6:21PM

Quote:I wonder if the disparity is due to the 20 images essential being the ‘same’ (you know what I mean) & animated so that it actually resembles a short piece of footage ...

That's kinda what I was thinking may be running through her mind (other then "let's see how low we can go"), since the price seems pretty close to what a single image would go for on a stock photo site. She may just be thinking that it's "one product" and hence subject to pricing like that.

In order to get that animation, I had to be on a 25-hr/day schedule for 1 month, since that's how long a lunar cycle is. I had to be at the telescope for at least a half hour and then spent at least an hour processing each phase. And then about an hour stitching it together. Charging a minimum of £10/hr right away is £450.

I was thinking of taking the Corbis price for 20 photos at $250/photo to get $5,000, and then doing a "bulk discount" to $3000-4000, which is about £2000-2500, and then I'd be reasonably happy with £1000. But that's just so much more than what her offer was that I'm not sure how to go about negotiating up, and if I should shoot for something even more under the expectation that she'll try to take a middle ground.

And just how to negotiate this in general, and whether or not that I mention in the previous two paragraphs is a reasonable amount.
29 Oct 2009 6:38PM
Just wondering if Darren Lyons could advise on this? Mr Paparazzi is his website.
(that's with a dot com added!)
astrostu 8 9 United States
29 Oct 2009 7:00PM
Okay, I just spoke with my Aunt (a graphic designer) who suggested that I first clarify the usage to get a better idea of if they'll be on-screen for 30 seconds or 30 minutes. I can do that in my next reply to the woman because she also asked me about file sizes and resolution.

After that, my Aunt suggested that I state something along the lines of, "When I've done this in the past for licensing a single photograph for this kind of usage, the range would begin at £600" ($1000USD). And then see how she replies from that point, basically not naming a figure but putting out a larger expectation, and then she'd likely say something of either, "Well how about [insert larger number]" or "We don't have the budget for that ..."

Do you think that's a good approach? And a reasonable number? As I said before, what I had in mind was hoping for >£2000, but I'd be happy with £1000.
Chris_H 14 1.5k 1
29 Oct 2009 9:18PM
Its pretty normal for companies to come in very low, most companies try it on with photographers and it's normall practise to negotiate up quite a bit from there.

I cant say how much to charge as that depends on your circumstances and how much effort you put into getting your pictures, if sounds quite specialised though so this will work in your favour.
arhb Plus
10 3.4k 68 United Kingdom
29 Oct 2009 9:34PM
Sounds to me like you have something quite unique, and given that the BBC have taken the trouble to find you, means you have something desirable to them.
Your Aunt has the right idea about negotiation - just make sure you come away from the table with something you're happy with.
It might be worth trying to find some other parties that might be interested in your images, as this could be used for a negotiating tool.
Good luck.
mark_delta 10 1.3k
29 Oct 2009 10:16PM
I run a News image agency, but the first thing we consider when looking at price is exclusivity
this is tricky
They will pay if they want it, however what limits this is the fact that it can be re-created on a budget.
A average BBC splash screen fee is £500 for exclusive content and £250 for non.
The fee looks a little short, but the way we work is that each licence requires a separate fee, so i would haggle for £250.
she will agree, then you introduce a new word
each, ? yes £250 each licence, one country, one licence, one format one licence, ill let you do the maths.
fstopshere 8 43
29 Oct 2009 11:01PM
My opinion is that this offer, to you, is derisory, especially given your knowledge and expertise, not to say time needed to do it. How much would it cost BBC to do it from first principles? To add insult they are requiring you to essentially sign away all rights to subsequent possible revenues! They are probably banking that you will be so 'honoured' to have your work 'on the telly' that they are offering , essentially, nothing. Along the lines suggested by mark delta, a (much) higher initial fee and additional fees for other markets and uses, you can rest assured the BBC would never sign themselves up to the sort of thing they are offering you!
collywobles 14 4.0k 10 United Kingdom
30 Oct 2009 10:59AM
I have no knowlege about what you should charge but I presume your equipment must have cost you thousands so price enough to get some of that back. As a start it shpould be in the 5 figure range. I paid £1600 for 4 professionally done photo's of our family - so there's a start. Good Luck
lemmy 11 2.7k United Kingdom
30 Oct 2009 5:33PM
I'd have thought that £500 to £1000 - say £750 would be sensible and realistic for the sequence. They are not asking for exclusivity from what you say.

Mark is talking about news pictures, content unobtainable in any form from other sources. On his calculations, you'd ask 20x250x10 (if they were showing the pix in 10 countries, £50,000. If the BBC had a budget like that for one set of pictures, I'd be astonished.

If their first offer is £200, I do not think they are likely to be prepared to multiply it by 10, let alone 250.

But in the end, there is no set price and if you feel you want £5,000 for them, ask it. As in any negotiation, if you're not prepared to walk away, you are not negotiating but simply testing how far backwards you can bend over.
astrostu 8 9 United States
30 Oct 2009 5:46PM
Thanks for the information and help, folks. In the latest e-mail I received this morning (though afternoon, her time), she stated that the sequence would be on-screen for only 6 seconds. That's really fast, and I think it's then highly unlikely that £2000+ is negotiable.

After some advice on another photography forum where someone who at least seemed like he knew what he was talking about in terms of rates replied, I'm planning on sending her this:

Quote:Normally, when I have sold a single still photograph in the past for commercial work, the range would begin at approximately £600. For television broadcast, my typical license fee for a single image begins at £550 for a minimum of 10 seconds with a steep discount applied for time beyond that. DVD distribution for the same time begins at £450. This is due not only to industry standards, but also the tremendous work involved in capturing a high-resolution sequence of the moon for a full month.

Given that your plan is to animate all 20 images and only show them all for a total of about 6 seconds, the normal per-image charge for a minimum of 10 seconds seems fairly excessive ((550+450)x20=£20,000). I'm willing to offer a fairly steep discount because all images will only be on screen for a total of 6 seconds. However, I think that a figure closer to £1000 would be more appropriate than £200.

This way I've still left it open for her to claim her budget can't support that much but they'd really like to still work with me, or for her to just step up and give me the minimum I was actually hoping for originally.

What do you folks think?

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