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“The business of professional photography is broken into three main categories of use. Commercial refers to photography that is used to sell or promote a product, service, or idea. Editorial refers to photography used for educational or journalistic purposes. Retail refers to photography commissioned or purchased for personal use.

The difference between these categories is not in the type of photography, but in the use of the images. Commercial, editorial or retail, photographs are intellectual property. Unless the photographer is an employee or they have contractually transferred ownership, the photographer becomes the owner of this property when they create an image. Licensing this property for specific uses is how a photographer’s business generates gross income.” – ASMP

Copyright gives the photographer the sole right to decide who can use the work that has been created. US Copyright Law, Title 17 of 1976.

  • You create it — you own it. Copyright comes into existence automatically when the original image is captured.
  • Any person or business must have permission (a license) to publish (reproduce) images in any medium, physical or electronic.
  • The photographer does not have to register the work with the US Copyright Office to acquire copyright.
  • The photographer’s name and/or the copyright symbol does not have to appear on or next to the image to have copyright protection.



Licensing – How it works.

  • I choose to license photos to each client, respectively, in a format determined by a length time of usage, and placement or media buy.
  • My images are licensed to my clients for a fee based on how broadly the images will be used, weighed also with the potential value the images are to each prospective project. The price for licensing will be discussed during the estimate phase of pricing a particular shoot.
  • My licensing packages generally do not include third-party rights, meaning a client may not license images to another business or person for their use. Any magazines, contractors, or manufactures should be referred to me in the interest of purchasing a license to the images they are interested in. Reputable publications understand these rights, but may need to be reminded to contact the photographer to request permission to purchase and publish a photograph.
  • Multiple-parties on a photo shoot will be able to save money on the Production Fees and Creative Fee by splitting those costs (fees described below).
  • Licenses will then be sold to each client, based on their separate needs.



Glossary* of Licensing and Contract Terms:

Buy Out — An imprecise term used to describe acquisition of broad usage rights to a work, sometimes in a particular market or medium.

Buy Out is a slang term, often misinterpreted as a transfer of copyright ownership of a work from the copyright holder to the client or client’s agent. In the absence of a specific copyright transfer agreement executed by the copyright holder there is no copyright transfer. If this term is used, an additional, precise list of rights granted or transferred should accompany any license.

Creative Fee — A charge by a creator for his or her efforts to complete a project, which is not based on time alone. Factors may include compensation for trade experience and special capabilities, or for any creative effort, contribution or process required to complete a project.

Note — Some photographers separate Creative fees and Licensing/Usage fees, while others combine them into one number.

Exclusive License — A privilege that, when granted, limits how a copyright holder (and other parties permitted) can offer a work to a third party for reproduction.

An exclusive license may be broad or specific. The rights grant may provide the licensee with exclusive rights to use a work singly or in any combination of: a specified media, industry, territory, language, time period, product and any other specific right negotiated by the licensor and licensee.

License Fee — The price charged by a licensor to a licensee in exchange for a grant of rights permitting the use of one or more images in a manner prescribed in a license. A variety of factors, such as circulation, the size of reproduction and specific image qualities affect the determination of a particular license fee.

Non-exclusive License — A grant of rights issued by a licensor to a licensee that does not preclude the licensor from granting the same rights to other licensees. Unless otherwise negotiated, licenses are non-exclusive.

Postproduction — Everything that happens to a visual work after production, typically after images (either still or moving) have been recorded to film or digital media. Postproduction might include editing, color correction, etc.

Preproduction — Work on a project or job that is related to preliminary preparations. Includes all planning and the making of any arrangements necessary to enable or facilitate final production. Typically billed as time plus any costs expended.

Production Fee — A charge related to the preparation, planning, setup, props and styling, gaffers, grips and assistants. After production, it is related to post-processing and delivery.

Unlimited Use — A broad grant of rights that permits utilization across all media types and parameters. Can be restricted in any usage type or parameter, singly or in groups; can include all uses, all media, all time.

Usage Fee — A charge made for a work to be shown in a specific media, based on terms in a license or contract agreement.

*Source: ASMP Terms You Need to Know


Copyright Notice for this Website
The images on this website are © 2015 Joseph Ferraro, and may not be reproduced, copied, projected, used, or altered in any way, alone or with any other image(s), by use of computer or other electronic means, without specific permission from Joseph Ferraro Photography.

NOTE: Always read, sign and date an estimate from Joseph Ferraro Photography as soon as possbile, or within 15-days of receiving a price quote to ensure the prices and availability are locked-in and to enter into a contract agreement. This protects both you and the photographer, and gets the ball rolling on a project with peace of mind for all parties.