Is your Royalty Free stock photo pricing in the ballpark?

Pricing of my stock photography is something I am continually thinking about … am I too high? …  am I too low? …  am I using the correct licensing model?

Reviewing the pricing of my images recently, I searched for a solution that would indicate if I was even in the ballpark.

First I had to determine the licensing option to use … Rights Managed (RM), Royalty Free (RF) or microstock.

There is always a lot of talk and confusion on the internet surrounding pricing and licensing models. Browsing around iTunes I came across two episodes of the Photonetcast Photography podcast that helped make some sense of the issue.

  • PhotoNetCast #31 – Stock Photography and different Licensing Models (April 2009) – Takes a look inside the business models of stock photographers Rich Legg and David Sanger . They discuss  their respective choices, advantages and disadvantages, marketing their photography,  and compare licensing photography with a Royalty Free or Rights Managed  model.
  • PhotoNetCast #49 – Revamping the pricing model for Rights-Managed Licenses (March 2010) – A discussion with Jim Pickerell covering an alternative to Royalty Free and Rights Managed  licensing models.

Many of my new images are configured for Rights Managed licensing, and pricing is handled automatically by fotoQuote software integrated into my Photoshelter based website. I find this very useful as the software is based on industry rates, and can supply the buyer with the best price for the usage they require. (This price is often lower than the Royalty Free equivalent).

I also have a number of images that have been sold through various stock sites in the past. This limits me to selling them with a Royalty Free licensing model, as you cannot use a RM  license for an image once it has sold as RF.

Configuring the Royalty Free pricing profiles on my Photoshelter site, I am required to specify the individual prices for each size of image.  To try and establish a market rate, I looked around at other photographers sites and found the pricing varied widely.

Taking a more scientific approach to the problem, I decided to analyse a couple of the internet agencies that sell Royalty Free stock images, and settled on Alamy, Getty Images, Corbis and Ozstockimages.

The bigger sites have collections that are priced differently, so I sampled images from various collections, and also some underwater images to make the selections relevant to my own photography.

RF stock photography pricing comparison
Figure 1 – Royalty Free stock photography pricing comparison (1USD = 1 AUD) – click to enlarge

Each agency was assigned a colour (e.g Alamy is red), and different collections are represented by different line types (shown in the legend).

All samples except Alamy are priced in Australian Dollars (AUD), and Alamy samples are in US Dollars (USD). At the time I did this comparison the exchange rate was 1USD = 1 AUD.
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