Two-Tier Pricing System Allows Pros To Capitalize on Small Uses

Posted on 3/22/2010 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (5)

If stock photography as a profession is going to survive, we are going to have to find a way to develop a two-tier pricing system. One tier would be for commercial use of images, and the other for personal and small use.

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Copyright © 2010 Jim Pickerell. The above article may not be copied, reproduced, excerpted or distributed in any manner without written permission from the author. All requests should be submitted to Selling Stock at 10319 Westlake Drive, Suite 162, Bethesda, MD 20817, phone 301-251-0720, e-mail: wvz@fpcubgbf.pbz

Jim Pickerell is founder of, an online newsletter that publishes daily. He is also available for personal telephone consultations on pricing and other matters related to stock photography. He occasionally acts as an expert witness on matters related to stock photography. For his current curriculum vitae go to:  


  • Maggie Hunt Posted Mar 23, 2010
    This is a well-thought out and potentially viable concept. The biggest issue would be ensuring compliance - which could probably be achieved via PicScout and others (although there is a cost). In a way, Getty's $5 licenses are already offering this option. Worth exploring further.

  • John Harris Posted Mar 23, 2010
    We sell quite a lot to non-profit (and some religious ) organisations at NUJ rates from the UK - they pay for their electricity etc and can pay for pictures, so it would be quite wrong to undermine the position.

  • Jim Pickerell Posted Mar 23, 2010
    What are NUJ rates? Certainly, the purpose of this suggestion is not to undermine rates. There can also be a variety of rates for non-profits depending on size of the organization. The trick is in figuring out how to define the breakdowns.

  • Mark Turner Posted Mar 23, 2010
    The overall concept is good, but as we know the devil is in the details. Here are some suggestions ...

    Personal blogs ... limit to individuals or locally-oriented business less than 5 employees.

    Non-profits ... substantial discount only available to those with low employee costs, meaning those that are primarily volunteer-run. I'm willing to make great deals also with groups that I personally believe in, but that's hard to do through automated systems so I'd err on the side of higher prices unless they can prove they deserve otherwise.

    Powerpoint presentations ... if for individual use before small audiences then that's a microstock use, but if its anything corporate then it wouldn't qualify.

    Personal wall art ... I don't see selling rights for this through an online venue. To me, this is a photographer-direct product that is sold ready to hang at a substantial price. It doesn't belong in your grouping at all.

    Ezine ... with the expected rise in electronic publishing coming with the iPad I think we need to be very careful here. Circulation should be the major factor, just as it is with licensing for print magazines.

  • Jim Pickerell Posted Mar 24, 2010

    Thanks for the comments. Very useful. As to powerpoint presentations, what about use of a powerpoint on a web site where it is hard to anticipate the audience size? And what is a reasonable corporate price? What would you charge my church which has an audience of about 2,500 for each presentation?

    As you say the devil is in the details but under no condition do I think we want to get into negotiating such uses because the time taken to negotiate will make it impractical to make any small sale. If we're going to get into negotiation I think the minimum fee has to be in the $50 to $100 range to make the effort worthwhile.

    I may have not made it clear that I think the prices for each of these groups should vary and maybe there should be some divisions within certain groups like powerpoint.

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