Photography Licensing Terms and Usage, Oh My!

This image was used by Patagonia at the ISPO outdoor convention in Munich Germany.

A common question I hear, as a photographer, is: “Company X wants to use my image, how much should I charge them?”

Well, it depends.

Licensing and usage terms are muddy topics (especially in the outdoor industry, where many brands are notorious for offering products in lieu of money). 

So, this is my attempt at providing some transparency on the issue so that other creatives can have an example to reference. The topic is not black and white. It truly does depend on a multitude of factors. The more creatives talk (and educate each other) about licensing, terms, usage, and usage fees, photographers will increase their leverage during negotiations with large corporations.

  • Basically. It comes down to how many eyeballs will see your image. How long the image will be used for. And how the image will be used (print vs digital or both).

But it also depends on…

What the yearly revenue of the brand is? 

Is the brand an international company? 

How many employees does the brand employ? 

What is the revenue-to-employee ratio? 

These questions help us determine a usage fee and licensing terms for the use of the image. (Photographer will retain the copyright/”ownership” of the image. The photographer is simply allowing the brand to use the image for a given period).

Now, there are instances when the brand does not allow the photographer/creative to negotiate. As with this case involving Patagonia and the usage of this image. Patagonia set the terms and it is a take-it-or-leave-it situation for the photographer.

The more photographers provide transparency of usage & licensing, the brands & the photographers will understand how usage rates reflect the value the brand generates off of photographers.

I am sharing this information for your reference only. Each case is different which makes negotiating fun! Getty Images can be used for reference. Additionally, Fotoquote is an industry tool used to price out licensing and usage rates.

Brand: Patagonia (international)

Revenue: 209+ million annually (2 billion dollar company)

Employees: 1,000+

Ratio: $209,090/per/employee


Usage: Print Only

Duration: 1 Print For Display - Flat Fee

Region(s): ISPO Tradeshow Only, Munich, Germany

Medium(s): Print in a tradeshow display

Sizing: Over 36”x 24”

USAGE FEE:   $500