Should I expect payment for use of Flickr photos by businesses?

I have a whole lot of travel photos on Flickr, and occasionally get contacted by someone wanting to use them. Ordinarily it’s just a info website or clearly for personal use, but this time someone from wants to use a shot (with full credit) in a product that they will sell from this site.

I don’t really mind the use, each of their walking tours is only $3 or so so I can’t imagine they make a whole lot of money from this, but I wonder whether the offer should have been made to purchase usage rights for a nominal fee or something, given they would have to pay to get a similar photo from Lonely Planet Images, iStock or similar.

Anyone been in the same position - what have you done?

I’m not sure the cost of each walking tour should be your main criterion for making a decision. Sure it’s only three bucks a go, but for all you know they could be selling tens of thousands of the things.

Look, it’s your photo and you can do what you want with it. If you like the little buzz you get from seeing your picture get more publicity, then go ahead and let them use it. But read any pro photographer website or message board, and you’ll see that this sort of thing has been the bane of professional photographers over the past decade. With so many millions of people posting images online, many companies now try, in the first instance, to get images for free from some amateur who’s flattered by the request. Of course, this means that people who do this stuff for a living see their potential income shrink.

I’m not arguing that you should feel morally obligated to stick up for professional photographers, but i do think that if a for-profit enterprise wants to use your image, then they should be willing to pay. If these guys are making money, and they want your picture to help them do that, then i think you should ask them to pay for it. You don’t have to ask much. Hell, licensing an image for use on a website like this wouldn’t get you much anyway. But i think there’s a principle involved.

Cool - I haven’t responded yet because it didn’t sit right with me (I work in marketing and am familiar with sourcing photos for work, although it’s normally print based). What would be a reasonable figure to ask for? Normally for print work this would depend on the size of the image and the circulation volume but I have no idea on either in this case. Perhaps I’ll ask her those, but more than likely she’ll just move onto another Flickr user.

For uses like this I’ve always asked for $50, it’s enough to be worth my while but usually not enough for them to decide to go elsewhere or use it without my approval. Publications are a different matter, but for web use this has always worked for me.

A friend of mine had a photo used with his permission recently in a fairly low circulation magazine and they paid for his FlickrPro account for a year… Don’t recall how much that is.

Use the Creative Commons feature, readily findable on flickr, to license your photos for reuse, or restrict rights - it’s up to you. The default is “all rights reserved,” but you can make your photos available for others to use non-commercially, commercially, with credit, etc.

My personal feeling is that the business that contacted you is being very honest and upright - let’s face it, chances are they could get away with using your photos for free (with or without credit), and you’d never know. I’d be inclined to let them use the photo(s) for free as long as they gave proper credit, and I would appreciate the fact they had contacted me.

I license my photos for free re-use an have been amused and gratified to see how they’ve been used - one is on the home page of a French human rights website, another is available as free cellphone wallpaper, another is part of a consulting firm’s PowerPoint presentation on management techniques. To me, seeing how my photos have been picked up and shared is infinitely more rewarding than going through the hassle of trying to collect a few bucks.

On the other side of the equation, as the editor of small publications associated with development agencies, I frequently look for photos I can use from flickr, Wikimedia, online photostock agencies, etc… I always respect photographers’ wishes and I never use photos without permission/proper credit. I’ve been known to pay, but it’s rare. There are so many good photos available for free now that I generally don’t go through the hassle of paying someone for a photo. I ask, and if they request payment I respect that decision - and find a free photo.

This may be out of the range of this thread, but I don’t think this is a good argument at all.

Professional photographers’ income is shrinking because their work is becoming less valuable due to the lower price of good equipment, the increase in talented hobbyists, and the internet. But cheaper photography is a good thing in general, although it sucks for some people in particular. Every time technological change reduces the price of some service, people who used to provide that service at a high price suffer and can no longer make as much money as they’d like, but that’s the way of progress.

The OP shouldn’t feel any moral imperative to try to prop up the institution of high-paying professional photography.

What a great point! It’s amazing that no-one has said something similar in this thread already!

Oh, wait…

If they are making money, they should pay you. Something the market says is fair and the market actually values your work more than you do.

Your photo, for whatever reason, spoke to the person doing the work. If it is taken from some touristy walking tour, then I bet there are hundreds if not thousands of images similar to your work but your photo was chosen. That is special. That is worth something. At least ask for the 50 dollars.

Exactly. Make whatever business decision you feel like, but I think asking at least 50 dollars for those usage rights sounds reasonable, especially if they are using it in a commercial application (your image is adding value to or helping sell their product, so they should pay something for it, unless you feel it’s a reciprocal arrangement that helps you, too.) It all depends on the business, the size of the photo, how long it will remain on the website, etc. but I generally charge $200+ per image for web usage of images.

I’ve sold the rights to use a few of my Flickr photos for $50 each. In addition, I got a bit more for the use of one on the cover of this map. (The original Flickr photo is here.) I’ve also responded to requests for commercial use with a suggestion for payment,then not heard any more …

I think that’s what’s going to happen here! I have asked for the $50 (thinking it would basically cover my Flickr Pro account for the next year which is about to expire) and offered a high res version of the image, but haven’t heard anything back. Out of interest, the shot they were after is this one of a cathedral in Port Louis Mauritius.

Those are great photos, Giles and Girl From Mars, representing valuable work on your part, and you should be compensated for their use in someone else’s for-profit endeavor. It’s nothing to do with the “institution of high-paying professional photography”–don’t sell yourself short.

Interesting. I just got a similar request for use of a picture of my kitchen remodel. I hadn’t even thought about the fact that companies are using Flickr as a way to avoid using a professional photographer.

That’s a pic worthy of a travelogue. To echo other posters, ask for at least $50.

If you are interested in selling your pictures, my friend has been using this site, sell my music online. It is great media site for selling music, photos and other media formats. You might be surprised at how much money you could make off your pictures.

Since they are using Flickr most likely to get around paying for images, it seems to me more likely that if you charge them, they will look elsewhere. They’ve already decided that using a professional photo is not worth it.

There just are too many people who would have let them use it for free. As companies realize this, getting money for your photos is going to be harder and harder.

I was contacted by a similar company for one of my travel shots. I did let them have it for free.

I am right now asking the same question about my account on Flickr which also holds a lot of travel photographs, and citing the same firm as you are.

Having had over the past few years folk from time to time making such requests of me:

I have decided where I am being asked by a local museum, or the local council who use my work in their free-bees and so gain no profit. I ask them if they will send me a copy of the publication where my work appears, and would also ask for a guide book of their town, or similar in cards, as a token for my work;

But such as this particular firm, whom from my contact with them, or rather vice versa, I just kinda get the feeling that they take it for granted that they can have my work and are just being polite enough to tell me, but beyond that they don’t want to go. I am myself looking for guidance on this one, and indeed over the last day or two I have e-mailed them for some sort of explanation.

In becoming a Professional Photographer by taking the BTEC in the UK, the subject of selling rights of ones work was touched upon. As this is actually goodbye to your work forever even for your own use elsewhere, we were strongly advised not to go down that road unless a good sum in cash was agreed upon.

Does that help you?

Just an update - I checked their site today having heard nothing back - they have published their tours without using my photo. So while I would have appreciated a ‘no thanks’, at least they are respectful enough to move on and find another photo to use.