Why? Commercial Product Photography and Usage Rights.

Commercial product photography and usage rights. Why? Because it provides customers with clean imagery designed to help promote and sell commercial goods. Investing in commercial is not a luxury of business, it is a necessity!

Hello photography enthusiasts, professionals and buyers. Are you interested in commercial photography?

This is an article to help you understand and find the price points, costs and why It is important to protect the work that helps you sell a customers items/goods. For buyers, most of what you need to know about the process is found here.

Marketing is an essential aspect of business. It is the key investment that helps to present and promote products for sale. An image has the power to make people buy it or walk away.

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Strong image development starts with a team skilled in color theory,  knowledge of design, mastery of lighting, body language, psychology and a lot of other skills on how to market and create visual branding. Why is it expensive? Expensive seems to be a misused term these days. It is relative to many factors, explained shortly.

I prefer to use the word value. The value of commercial photography is a tiered system calculated by the amount of time and energy spent in developing an image used to highlight the features and functions of a product being marketed to buyers for consumption. The secondary factor is how many eyes will fly by its location, whether in print ,ona billboard of as a commercial television slot.

It does not make sense to spend 1000 dollars to take a picture of a bubblegum ball that sells for a penny any more than it makes sense to spend 100 dollars on a picture that sells a million dollar yacht. It goes the other way as well. A photograph that is 10 X the value of a million dollar yacht is far-fetched, but we are not selling million dollar yachts on the shelf to everyone either. It has to do with how many items will generate a sale. A picture of an item is what gets the consumer to want it. A picture gets the consumer to start looking for it. A picture helps the consumer identify it. A picture helps the consumer locate it. Pictures can tell a story that triggers all of this consumption.It can convey cheap or it can convey quality.

I won’t spend any time on the cheap road.I suggest to avoid it. Commercial photography is not valued as cheap by those who are serious about their business.

In many cases customers will invest upwards of ten times the value/cost of one individual piece for properly crafted images designed to help consumers be attracted to the piece. Well crafted pictures add value to the product that can not be generated any other way. Not all commercial photography is expensive, but it can seem that way if you don’t understand the value. Some customers might fall out of their chairs when they hear this.  I would ask them:  “If this is only for a local or regional product advertisement or catalog, why do you need the rights to China, or Mexico?  Or anywhere else, for that matter? helping them understand is part of the negotiations.

A well designed image will attract potential customers better than a snap shot photo can, in more ways than one. A well developed image will show their product, it shows its features, it shows its textures, it hides the flaws, it removes the dust, it makes it shine, it makes it look expensive and well made. The list goes on!

For those on tight budgets, there are cookie cutter image farms who create basic images for those who are on a budget. Stock agencies also carry standard items that can fill  their needs. However, if you sell custom products or things that are not average, they will require technical imagery to convey the piece to the customer.

My recommendation is to find a skilled photographer to make your product stand out from the average.

Things to think about when looking for a photographer to shoot your product;

Textures, shapes, edges and 3 dimensional perspective. They all play important factors in what an image should convey.

What your product shares space with, in an image, is also important because using your product with other branded products can cause copyright problems. I.E. You sell and app for cell phones and using branded cellphones to sell your app can require releases. A photographer who knows the legal situations can help keep the customer from ending up in a bad place.

Can a story be told that incites buyers to want what you are selling? A good photographer will research the product and know how to tell its story best.

A good photographer will have an understanding of color theory and how it relates to selling things. Miss-represented colors, bad styling and cheap flat lighting can turn a high-end buyer away. Remember, you are investing in polished work that comes at a cost. The cost can raise an eyebrow, but it also makes the person who knows style and elegance, take notice. Quality reigns supreme!


Now that you’ve found your photographer,  you will want to understand the fees. This stuff has already been figured out for you by professionals who have been at this for decades. Find those who know what they are doing.


How to charge or pay for USAGE?

I have found a great article that helps to describe the process and will share it here with you because it is a great read and pretty much covers it all.



Here is a secondary resource of information from a professional across the US by Richard Quindry Photography.



It is rather easy to find a pre-made image at any of the world’s stock image sites. Here is an example.

It is easy to find out what one could expect to pay by using these sites. Just check the usage terms, select the ones that apply to your marketing and hit find charges.

In walks a client who designs bluejeans and is looking for an all digital contract to cover their web commerce and  digital editorial marketing.

Start  with a photo of the product (bluejeans)  Tic the all digital platform contract for one year, follow the other instruction and it will generate the cost. In this case it is 1160.00 dollars for a media shot with blue jeans that might be used as editorial image to promote the product for all digital media. Price and Rights managed including legal protections.

Featured image

Here are a few more to study.

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Pay close attention to this next one for the potential of what is being given away with out a contract!  An all in buyout for an already made image for exclusivity.

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Take a look at the blue jeans in this picture, but notice they are not your brand?  Stock images might show blue jeans, but does the picture show your brand of blue jeans?

Lets assume your designer brand will be selling in a specialty market for 300 dollars a pair. If you required a designer image to help promote the sale of your 300 dollar pair of jeans, you should be prepared to pay for the value of a well designed image that helps to get the price…

It’s a marketing investment. The people who pay that price are not gonna be shopping at Walmart for your 300 dollar jeans, so please don’t use an image designed to sell a product for 30 bucks to sell your designer Branding… That will kill your image and mislead customer about the quality. Buyers see value , they see quality and they will pay for it. I.E. put a Porsche next to a Pinto.

Finding a skilled and trained image designer is also a skill that is not to be over-looked. Branding identity starts with a team that is skilled in color theory, mastery of lighting, knowledge of design, psychology, body language and a lot of other skills on how to market and create visual branding. Portfolios tell a lot about clients and craft. Learning how to tell the difference between Vogue magazine as compared to Maxim magazine will help you to find your market value.

The photography alone in these magazines is the clue and the thing that will make your head spin. Ads are a great way to decipher quality of an image. Cheap looks cheap and quality looks inviting and delicious. Ask yourself why McDonald’s hamburger ads look better in pictures than they do on the plate in front of you?

Cheap is not a word that I use to sell design and high-end products. If it should ever enter a negotiation, I walk away. Value has its levels and there is a reason for this.  It is natures way of revealing style, craft and quality.

Invest in your style and it will attract people to invest in your product. Here is a link about stock standard and extended license information.



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