How To Make Money from Photography Licensing

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How To Make Money from Photography Licensing

| by JP Danko | blurMEDIA Photography | Toronto Commercial Photographer |

If you’re a photographer with your photography online, you have probably experienced a request or two to use your work for free.

In this article, I will discuss three tips that you can use to make money from photography licensing requests.

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Really!?  You think you’re going to get this photo of me for free?

Honest Free Photography Use Requests

Before we get into tips to get paid, I think it is important to note that not all requests for free image use come from a desire to rip off photographers.

I usually don’t have much of an issue with honest small scale image use requests.  You can usually tell pretty quickly if a potential buyer is honest about asking to use your image for free, or if they are trying to take advantage of you (or if they’re just legitimately clueless).

But, even when I give someone permission to use my work for free, I always send them a detailed licensing agreement so that they know in the future that there is a legal framework in place when it comes to licensing photography.

How To Make Money from Photography Licensing

1.    Know The Market Value of Your Work

I have used FotoQuote for years, and I find it invaluable for matching an intended image use to a benchmark licensing fee.

That’s not to say that you have to respond with whatever number FotoQuote tells you.  Living in Canada, I often find FotoQuote’s numbers are a little higher than my local market will bear – but it gets you in the ballpark for a legitimate negotiation.

2.    Have Somewhere to Sell Your Photography Online.

If you have some sort of online retail outlet that you can direct freebie inquiries to, it really helps to convert honest free usage requests into paid sales.  This could be a Smugmug account, enabling the 500px market, a stock portfolio or your own personal internet retail store.

I think that this approach works because it takes negotiations and arguments about value out of the equation.  The store price is the store price and you can’t change it (weather that’s really true or not).

3.    Be Prepared to Walk Away

It can be really hard not to capitulate and give your photography away for free.  After all, it is very flattering when someone approaches you to use your work (especially the first few times it happens), and there is some (small) merit in the exposure argument.

But are you really losing anything if you refuse permission?  It might feel like it if you quote a $250 licensing fee and they respond with $50 – I mean you’d be losing $50 that you wouldn’t otherwise have.

But to effectively negotiate, you have to be prepared to say no.

Your Photography Is Valuable

One final note on the value of photography – it is too easy to discount the value of a photograph.

Especially, if it is a mundane image that as a photographer, you wouldn’t be particularly chuffed about – like a snapshot of your cat, or a picture of a vacation sunset.

But if someone wants to use your photograph – then it has value to them, and you deserved to make money from photography licensing.

Have You Been Able To Negotiate Payment From A Free Use Request?

Leave a comment below and let us know how you negotiated a cash payment instead of credit for use.

Find Out More

This is an abridged version of this article first published at  To read the entire article, click here.

About the Author

JP Danko is a commercial photographer based in Toronto, Canada.

JP can change a lens mid-rappel, swap a memory card while treading water, or use a camel as a light stand.

To see more of his work please visit his studio website blurMEDIAphotography, or follow him on Twitter, 500px, Google Plus or YouTube.

JP’s photography is available for licensing at Stocksy United.



blurMEDIA is located near Toronto, Canada. Please use the contact form to get in touch. For immediate service please text message the number below.

Toronto, Canada

905 818 5711

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JP Danko


JP Danko is an active lifestyle photographer based in Toronto, Canada. JP can change a lens mid-rappel, swap a memory card while treading water, or use a camel as a light stand.


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