Photo Usage and License Fees Explained

The majority of a commercial photographer's income does not come from their day rate, but from their license fee and usage. Let's explore this.

When I started out in photography, I had no idea how professional photographers could ever even consider buying exotic glass, digital Hasselblads, and Broncolor lighting. The numbers just didn’t seem to add up. I knew what some of their day rates were, but what I was missing was the license fee, which is also often referred to as usage. 

In this video, I go over how I came to the realization that I was grossly undercharging for my photographic work by asking for a day rate only. I also go on to give the link to the calculator that I use for all of my commercial work to give quotes from as well as showing you exactly how a common usage quote would be made and what it would be worth.

What is worth noting is that a lot of photographers complain about the clients refusing to pay this additional fee. A license fee is something that is only applicable in the commercial world, and a lot of smaller clients simply wouldn’t have the budget to pay such fees. This leads to the tricky point that your work therefore has to be of a high enough standard for the larger companies to justify paying such a sum of money. 

How do you calculate your usage fees?

Log in or register to post comments


Deleted Account's picture

Great and useful content as always, Scott.

It makes from a refreshing change from "why I changed from..." and "5 reasons you should..."

Scott Choucino's picture

haha, sadly these don't get as many views.

Deleted Account's picture

Truth. On a related note, I miss Ted Forbes' Artist Series.

Anyway, keep it up (please) some of us appreciate your efforts.

Scott Choucino's picture

Yeah his videos are great.