Print Utopia No. 6, Volume 2: Modest

You have performed the wallet biopsy and confirmed: sudden-wealth syndrome will not be your worry with a particular client. As cookie-jar budgets become increasingly common you find your assignments - should you decide to accept them - have you looking at new options. The following outlines considerations for photography.


  • When we asked professional photographers how designers could keep costs in check, they agreed planning ahead is an important first step. It gives the photographer the opportunity to negotiate with models and save on travel dollars if the project requires a location shoot. Also, let your photographer know your budget. Some charge royalties - are you purchasing a complete buyout or a specific use? You might get a surprise if you decide to use an image in packaging or a TV campaign and that use goes "beyond the original intent."
  • Consider what you might be able to do yourself even though there's a professional photo studio involved. For instance, can you research and supply the props? What about the raw files? Can you clean the digital images yourself? Keep in mind your photographer is proud of his or her work too, so if you make this request, make sure you're up to the task.
  • Stock photo houses had good advice too. Many will work with you on pricing if you ask. Some discounts are standard for stock houses - for instance, regional versus national coverage and a smaller image size are two options for narrowing usage to lower exposure and costs. Others are at your rep's discretion - for example, quantity discounts for good customers or multiple image buys for the same client to be used in the next three months. Discounts are often available for nonprofit use. And, offering a credit line for the photographer and the stock house can sometimes help.
  • Stockhouses suggest you be "specific". Royalty-free is less expensive than rights-managed. But royalty-free can be even less expensive if you order a smaller file size. For example, if the image will be reproduced on a billboard or in a paper promotion where clarity is critical, the largest file size will be required. But what about the newspaper ad? Also, to get a lower price on a rights-managed image, consider a shorter time frame. By rote, many people request a year's license even though the use is a three-day tradeshow.

Can you shoot the job yourself? Before starting a new career in scanner photography or cell-phone art, research what you can and cannot shoot without stepping on someone else's rights. For example, visit websites such as (American Society of Media Photographers). Make books such as Tad Crawford's Legal Guide for the Visual Artist part of your library. Find a lawyer who has expertise in "art law" or specializes in copyright law. Always get a model's release. When in doubt get permission.

For a copy of Print Utopia No.6, Volume 2, Order Samples.