Do I Really Need A Commercial License For My Branding Photos? - Bernadette Marciniak

I hate talking about money. It’s kinda icky to me. But a little part of my soul breaks every time someone tells me my photography is too expensive to them.

“That’s insane. I have a photographer in town who will do it for three times less!”

Sigh.

Look, I get it. Even if we’re seven-figure business owners, we have budgets for our businesses. Counting pennies (or benjis if you’re lucky enough!) is necessary.

Every business owner has structured their pricing with a strategy behind it. But here’s why branding photography is different than the traditional photography structure.

The Commercial License
I often hear potential clients ask, “Well can’t you do the session without selling me a commercial license for the photos?” And the answer simply is, no.

Both traditional photography and branding photography have purposes and roles that extend past the session and delivery of photos. Traditional photos live on as memories and heirlooms for years to come. Family portraits hang on your walls and bring smiles as you walk by. What a great feeling that is.

There were a few moments from Marike’s Raleigh personal branding shoot that could look great on the walls!

There were a few moments from Marike’s Raleigh personal branding shoot that could look great on the walls!

And while I fully believe that the price tag on happiness is priceless, here’s the big difference — these photos will not make you any money.

Branding (aka commercial) photos on the other hand are by nature intended to make you money. You are using them to promote your brand and your business. They are a tool that will help your business make money. And their shelf life to do so extends as long as your business is alive.

Take this example:

The woman who drew the famous Nike “Swoosh” symbol back in the 1970s got paid only $35.

Thirty. Five. Dollars.

Now, to be fair, in today’s time, that $35 is more like $220, but that’s still PENNIES when you consider what that symbol stands for almost five decades later. Today, that logo is one of the most recognizable symbols in the world and Nike is valued at $120 billion.

The dreams for your business should be as big as the Charlotte skyline.

The dreams for your business should be as big as the Charlotte skyline.

The same goes for photographs — branding photographers need to be paid accordingly for the photos that will help your business become iconic.

There are photographers who have structured their businesses where they will sell a commercial license for individual photos and that may be a great system for them and their clients, but here’s why it doesn’t work for me OR you.

1) The markup on licensing out one picture is likely going to be a lot more expensive than purchasing one for a package of pictures that I’m going to give you.

2) You don’t have time to keep track and let me know every time you’ll use the photo and I don’t have time to police your social accounts, newsletters, emails, courses and marketing materials for usage of it either.

With a commercial license, you are free to use the photos to market your business, use them in promotional materials and edit them as you see fit for your business. That is a package deal.