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How and When to Charge Usage

Usage charges or license fees (depending on where you live) make up the majority of a commercial photographers income. However, most of us either don't charge it when we should or simply do not charge enough. Let's look at how we should be doing this.

In the commercial photography world, a photographer's fee is broken down into a few different sections. Day rate, staffing, studio or location use, equipment use, retouching, delivery, and finally usage fee, which is a number calculated from your day rate. The usage fee is always the biggest line item on the invoice and makes up the majority of mine and many other photographers incomes. 

However, most people are worried about charging this, stating that clients will simply go else where (some certainly will) and others are unsure as to how much usage to charge and to whom.

In this video I cover when and how you should charge a client usage as well as exactly how to calculate this and negotiate the fee. I also talk about when not to charge this and what to do about those smaller clients who may not have the budget for usage fees.

How do you calculate usage for your clients?

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2 Comments

Zelph Young's picture

"Day Rate " sounds nice and for some projects actually works.
Asking the Media Buy budget makes more sense when doing a photo shoot for advertising use - and you charge a percentage of the total media buy.
Try it and you may discover you have been way undercharging clients.

Eckhardt Kriel's picture

Great informative article - thank you.