Seeing great, fresh work never fails to inspire. It’s especially gratifying when that inspiration gets delivered from young artists and emerging talent. Benaroya Hall provided the perfect setting for Art Institute of Seattle to host their quarterly portfolio show where this semester’s crop of graduates got to showcase their work to the general public hoping to connect with future employers, agents and producers. I was deeply impressed with the high caliber of work that is consistently being produced by all the artists.
Some standout talent that I will certainly keep my eye on and recommend you should too:
Nothing revolutionary here, right? But when you look at pricing policies of almost every stock photo library on the planet, you would think that in fact all images are created equal. Bring up a search result for a still life of a coffee cup shot against a white background and then an image of a young couple (model released) in a cafe (property released) drinking coffee and the price is identical. Identical. Yep.
Beyond the subjective, often arbitrary and elusive valuations that often get attached to commercial art of all kinds there are some basic truths about the disparity in value of these images as it relates to price: the cost to produce these two images. Models, props, wardrobe location fees, not to mention pre-production costs to arrange for a shoot with all of these components are far greater for one than the other.
How did this happen? Well it started almost 20 years ago when royalty free images entered the market and pictures started being sold by the pound. Rather than evaluate how an image was used and pricing it according to the intended license (aka Rights Managed Licensing), agents and photographers flattened the prices for image licensing and established fees based on the file size – not the cost to produce the image OR the relative value of the image to the project.
Now, we’re not suggesting the entire industry go backward and return to the days of complicated pricing formulas where specific fees are calculated based on the plethora of possible licensing / producer / production value combinations. But we do think a more evolved strategy for pricing images of un-equal value can help both Creatives or Photographers get what they want: great images at realistic and fair prices.
One approach is to classify images based on production value and assign a premium– or discount– as appropriate. Compare the pricing calculation for these two images:
This image by Patrik Giardino features 17 models and comes with both model and property releases giving the image added value for commercial projects where model releases are a requirement. The fee, calculated in three clicks, for one year commercial use in both digital and print calculates to one time licensing fee of $1858 USD:Compare that to the price for this image by photographer Roberto Westbrook. Also an urban street scene at night, the photographer captured just a single model in the frame. While this image too is model released, the cost to commercially produce the image is far lower and hence deserves a fair, but lower price than the image produced by Giardino with a cast of 17. For the same use, Westbrook’s image gets priced at $1270 USD: Now, let’s compare these two images to a still life – no people, no model or property release, yet with intrinsic value all its own: a beautifully composed still lifeby Francis Vogt that would set any campaign or project apart. The fee for one year, commercial, print and digital rights computes to $1155 – a $700 and $115 lower price respectively from the higher production-value and intrinsically more expensive shoots to produce depicted above. All images are not created equal. What would be the fun in that?