There Are No Free Lunches

This is a quick update to my last post. If you didn’t read it, go get caught up. I’ll wait.

[insert Jeopardy music]

…and we’re back. After a sternly worded email to Gate 3 Design and copied to Applebee’s marketing department, they came back and offered me $100 for 3 images. That amounts to about $33 for an indefinite use of my images. Paltry when you consider commercial photography licenses go for thousands of dollars. Don’t believe me? Photographers billed NBC’s Syfy channel $3,500 for each of 9 images the network allegedly used without permission. Article here:

Or check out this sample invoice for a commercial shoot: Here’s the short version:

Considering the use, size/prominence of the client…  I set the fee at 8000.00 for each of the four portraits and 4000.00 for each of the candids. I bundled it all together as an overall licensing/creative fee of 48000.00. Blinkbid’s bid consultant provided a range of 9450.00-13,500.00 per image, or 226,800.00-324,000.00 for all eight. Corbis quoted 17,500.00 per image for the first year. Fotoquote suggested 30,976.00 per image for the use.

Yeah, that’s how commercial photographers make a living, They charge for the work and they charge license fees for usage. So the next time you see a billboard, think about how much the image(s) cost.

Anyway, I’m torn about what to do. On the one hand, I am inclined to accept the offer because it was never about the money for me, but rather the principle. I took those images for personal use and never intended to sell them. If my professional work, which is interior and real estate, was in question there would be no debate and I would refuse. Honestly, if they had offered me a gift certificate for a free appetizer it would at least have been a gesture acknowledging that photography has value.

On the other hand, I am inclined to refuse because I want to know that they are also compensating everyone else. Am I the only person who objected and therefore the only person being offered the money?

It boggles my mind that this company sat around a table and came up with this idea and set a budget of exactly ZERO dollars. They just assumed people would be flattered to have their pictures displayed in a restaurant and hand them over. Sadly, I suspect many people did just that.

So what do you think I should do? Leave a comment and let me know what you would do.


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