Licensing Guide: Commercial Example – Jim Cavanaugh Notes

Commercial Example

Due to anti-trust laws, ASMP cannot set or suggest prices, but we can share information provided to us by our generous members. The ASMP Paperwork Share provides a look at the terms, licenses and pricing details of actual jobs.


Jim Cavanaugh’s notes on pricing and rights

I am a “one man shop” with an office in my home. My business model is based upon 50 photography production days a year. My work is 75% architectural interiors and exteriors and 25% aerial photography. This is the type of work I enjoy most. Most of my work is local and within 400 miles driving distance of my home. The “glamour” of hauling fifteen cases of equipment through airports faded long ago! These limited shooting days and minimal travel are lifestyle choices as well as business choices.


Being located in Western New York State (near Buffalo) presents me with the economic challenges found in smaller markets. However, it also provides me with the lower business costs found in smaller markets. It’s a workable, but challenging, business model. My fees are often less than some of my contemporaries in major markets. However, my local clients let me know, in no uncertain terms, that my fees are the highest in the region. Currently, I lose about 60% of all the assignments that I estimate due to budget. However, I do find enough clients who value the aesthetic quality and service I provide to keep my small business running profitable year in and year out.


  1. As a working architectural photographer for 32 years, my policy for licensing rights for architectural clients follows the long established “practice of the trade” to give this specific class of clients unlimited use of the images for a clearly defined blanket of marketing uses. I include all the images created on the assignment under the license.I will acknowledge that there is a growing trend by some architectural photographers to limit the license in terms of years or number of views. There are also a small but growing number of architectural photographers who are using an advertising licensing model that licenses each specific image created for a specific use or set of uses.I do restrict any third-party use of my photographs. Also, all of my images are registered with the U.S. Copyright Office within 60 days of the assignment.


  2. I break out my creative fee into a Production Fee and a License for Reproduction Fee. This allows me to negotiate the fees on a time of production basis as well as a usage basis. The production fee is a fee per day and is simply based on my fixed overhead divided by the average number of days a year that I shoot. The license fee varies by the use or uses.
  3. The Digital Post Production Fee covers the downloading of RAW files, addition of metadata, renaming files, basic image adjustments in Adobe Bridge, editing and creation of a web gallery for the client’s review.
  4. Assistants are billed at $200 per day each (local) for 8 hours. Over 8 hours at 37.50 per hour.
  5. Archive Assignment Files covers the cost of backing up the RAW files on hard drives and CD-ROM in the office and a set of hard drives stored off site.
  6. Write Files to CD-ROM covers the cost of writing the web gallery to one CD for the client.
  7. Miscellaneous Supplies covers simple expendables like bulbs, tape, gels and batteries. It also covers office expenses such as telephone calls or faxes and the shipping (by USPS) of the web gallery. It also includes mileage for the first 100 miles of travel. (Additional miles at $0.50 per mile.) It also covers lunch/snacks for the crew. For out-of-town or overnight assignments, travel, meals, lodging and other expenses are billed at cost plus 25%.
  8. I do not include any final files or prints on my original estimates or invoices. These are billed separately on another invoice. I charge $60 to convert each raw file selected by the client to a high-resolution RGB 8-bit TIFF file. This includes color and density correction, perspective correction, cropping, burning and dodging, light retouching (spotting etc.) and sharpening for the client’s intended use. Additional retouching is billed at $125/hour in quarter-hour increments. The average cost for post production work on a typical assignment is $750.

ASMP is not responsible for any of the specific content of the material provided by individual photographers for the ASMP Paperwork Share.