Over the past several years, my husband and I have carefully refined our approach as a photography team to align with both our professional standards and collaborative spirit. In this article, we’ll walk through the framework we’ve developed step-by-step.
The focus, as the title indicates, is explaining our non-usage photography fee. You may also see this referred to as a privacy fee, image restriction fee, release restriction, or loss-of-opportunity fee. While the terminology varies, the core concept remains the same.
By outlining our reasoned process and fee structure transparently, I hope couples will gain clear insight into how we aim to make each photo session, elopement, and wedding a personalized, meaningful experience.
The process from conceptualizing a shoot to the actual capturing of images embodies not only a photographer’s time but also their expertise, creativity, and the resources deployed. Each photograph taken is a fusion of artistry and commercial value, representing a piece of work that holds value beyond the simple act of capturing an image.
Imagine a scenario where a photographer is restricted by a couple from displaying their art, due to their desire for privacy concerning their photos.
This scenario parallels a professional photographer who is not permitted to showcase their work on their website or in exhibitions due to a couple’s disagreement with the standard policy allowing photographers to display their photos, and a painter who, after creating a portrait, finds themselves unable to display their art in a museum. Both scenarios underscore the intrinsic and extrinsic value of artistic works and the nuanced challenges artists face in sharing their craft, whilst respecting individual agreements and privacy considerations.
For this very reason, a Non-Usage Fee comes into play. But what exactly is it, and when should you discuss this with your photographer?
The Non-Usage Fee is essentially a mechanism to ensure that the photographer’s creative efforts are compensated. We usually agree upon this fee before the hiring process. This sets a clear expectation between the photographer and the client regarding the financial acknowledgment of the photographer’s work.
Some clients wish for their images to remain private, a request we wholeheartedly respect and uphold. However, when such restrictions are requested, we apply a fee to ‘counterbalance the loss of marketing possibilities.’ (please read the article link here for more info)
We offered our clients the opportunity to approve images before posting them online. However, this approach fell short as clients, after receiving their pictures, often ceased communication with us. We introduced a non-usage fee to compensate for the loss, but many clients didn’t see it from our side. They primarily focused on obtaining their pictures without appreciating the work that went into them. We take immense pride in our work and vision and naturally wish to showcase it to couples. Consider this: the images shown here exist because they didn’t restrict us from using our own images containing their likeness. If everyone opted out, you’d never have come across 4Karma Studio and this blog wouldn’t exist.
Our inability to share certain photos has cost us jobs. Prospective clients often request to see specific photos, which we are unable to share due to privacy agreements. If restrictions prevent us from showcasing our capabilities, it provides a valid reason for them to consider hiring another photographer. Why? If we’re unable to share our work, it essentially renders the engagement, wedding, or elopement invisible in our portfolio. It hampers our ability to craft a visual love story with prospective clients, fellow artists, and fans of our art.
However, another challenge presents itself. Our true desire is to aid couples and families in obtaining not just a photo, but a memory captured with a unique perspective, our art.
We always prioritize working collaboratively with clients to find solutions that meet both of our needs. Please feel free to ask any questions or share particular concerns you have. We’re happy to have an open discussion to ensure we come to an agreement that works well for you and aligns with our photography business needs. Our goal is to maintain a transparent relationship focused on communication, understanding, and compromise when required. We value each of our clients and making sure you feel respected throughout the process is extremely important to us.
We typically capture engagement sessions, family portraits, City Hall weddings, elopements, and larger weddings at iconic, often public venues such as the Palace of Fine Arts, San Francisco City Hall, Baker Beach, and historic San Francisco neighborhoods. These places draw tourists and photo enthusiasts who frequently snap pictures and selfies. It’s worth noting that you might unintentionally appear in the background or foreground of someone else’s shot because people adore capturing moments like adorable babies, joyful families, and newlyweds.
When you express the desire for privacy, consider opting for an exceptionally secluded location, such as your home, a remote spot in Yosemite, or a rented farm away from crowds.
Saying “I don’t want my image online” nowadays is akin to chasing a shadow. From sources like a high school yearbook, an old vacation photo, or candid shots taken at a recent party a face can be reconstructed with AI. Our work may be the least of your worries.
Please understand why it’s crucial for us to have the option to share a few photos of your engagement, family, or wedding.
As a boutique husband-and-wife photography team based in San Francisco, our small-scale enterprise thrives on the visibility garnered through showcasing our work. It isn’t merely about marketing; it’s a lifeline for our survival among our competition. Without the engagement and visibility that emerges from sharing our projects, we risk veering off the competitive grid, propelling us towards an unsustainable business. A lack of visibility could swiftly translate to a loss of business, nudging us out of the market.
Our blog posts, featuring real weddings, are key to building our website’s domain authority, helping us connect with potential clients through organic Google Search. This is known as creating ‘evergreen content’ in content marketing, a strategy more valuable than merely posting on social media. The ‘content’, which is the images of our work, is essentially what we offer to our clients. Hence, it’s vital to be compensated for the marketing opportunities lost when we can’t showcase certain projects.
Our artistic endeavors are a journey we undertake with each couple, telling their stories through our lenses. Hence, striking a balance between our artistic aspirations and the commercial essence of our profession is not just about sustaining our business, but about honoring the trust, the emotions, and the beautiful human connections that our clients entrust us with.
We’ve structured a Non-Usage Fee of 15% for weddings and elopements, and a range of 25% to 35% for engagements, family photos, and portraits. It’s crucial to note that this fee isn’t just an added upsell.
Interestingly, we often advise our clients against opting for it. Why? Because the marketing value we extract is vastly superior to merely 15% of the project value!
Ideally, we’d propose a Non-Usage Fee of 2X for a wedding, should the couple wish for the images to remain private. However, we comprehend that such a steep fee could be quite a stretch for many.
Our aspiration is to serve numerous couples while ensuring our business remains viable. Through this approach, we aim to balance our commercial needs. Wedding photography in San Francisco is very competitive.
We understand the reasons to keep images offline – and we’ve got solutions!
If you’re worried about…
Worry not, you won’t incur a non-usage photography fee if this is your concern.
We avoid using last names in blog posts, file names, alt text, metadata, and everywhere we post images. If you have unique first names, we can refer to you as “M & L” to prevent Google searches.
Not a fan of social media tags? That’s perfectly fine! We do not use tags on Instagram.
No need for the non-usage photography fee, just inform us if you’d rather not have your wedding submitted to any wedding blogs. Totally cool with that.
We want you to know that we won’t deliver images we find unflattering or inappropriate. We all have quirks and insecurities, including us. Please share yours before or during the shoot. We’ll strive to capture you at your best in-camera, rather than relying on post-processing fixes. Once again, don’t worry about it and don’t pay the fee.
No worries, we just need a few photos to show online and we can choose those without your guests. Just let us know.
There’s a marked contrast between friends and family sharing photos casually and a professional photographer’s necessity to showcase their work for their livelihood. It’s vital to underscore this differentiation to your loved ones: their sharing is personal. Our business relies on showing our work. In this case, we recommend not paying an extra fee but just allowing us to share a few photos.
It’s a foundational aspect of our professional photographer-client relationship. We pour our heart and creativity into our work, requesting only your trust in return. Rest assured, we won’t showcase any unflattering moments from your wedding, nor a makeup mishap during a family session, or overly intimate moments from your engagement session. Our sole ask is for a few photos to enrich our portfolio.
As a committed husband-and-wife photography duo, we assure you that your cherished wedding images will never find their way to third-party platforms like iStock Photo, Shutterstock, or Getty Images. The use of these images is only showcasing our work to prospective wedding photography clientele.
Note that any image release restrictions or Non-Usage Photography Fee agreements are applicable to the couple as an entity, and not to individuals separately. A mutual agreement is essential when deciding on endorsing or abstaining from such terms.
photography And Videography by willy and hilly prescott - 4karma studio, san Francisco + design by WILLY AND HILLY PRESCOTT - 4KARMA STUDIO, SAN FRANCISCO + ALL RIGHTS RESERVED ©4karma studio 2023 - san francisco
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