Client care: Photography licensing question Locked

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Steve BB Junior Member • Posts: 42
Client care: Photography licensing question

I hope this is in the right forum?

I did an interiors shoot for an interior decorator recently and all went well. Since then they have said that the owner of the house would like access to the images for their use. In my contract to the interior decorator (which to be honest I copied and altered from seeing templates etc) it states that they have a license for use, but any 3rd parties would need to contact me to obtain buy a license for their use.

But I'm just thinking ahead of this conversation, and trying to find the right way to explain to someone who wants to us the images why they have to pay to have their own separate license and its not a case of her being given them by the interior designer, or 'chipping in' with their costs to share the images.

It's not a situation like Getty images, where totally unrelated parties will want use of the images for totally different unrelated reasons. Inmy line of work for interiors, usually all of the people who may want to use the images have some connection to the project (carpenter, owner of house, designer, furniture maker etc)

How do you approach this and explaining to clients?

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bodeswell Senior Member • Posts: 1,262
Re: Client care: Photography licensing question

Steve BB wrote:

I hope this is in the right forum?

I did an interiors shoot for an interior decorator recently and all went well. Since then they have said that the owner of the house would like access to the images for their use. In my contract to the interior decorator (which to be honest I copied and altered from seeing templates etc) it states that they have a license for use, but any 3rd parties would need to contact me to obtain buy a license for their use.

But I'm just thinking ahead of this conversation, and trying to find the right way to explain to someone who wants to us the images why they have to pay to have their own separate license and its not a case of her being given them by the interior designer, or 'chipping in' with their costs to share the images.

It's not a situation like Getty images, where totally unrelated parties will want use of the images for totally different unrelated reasons. Inmy line of work for interiors, usually all of the people who may want to use the images have some connection to the project (carpenter, owner of house, designer, furniture maker etc)

How do you approach this and explaining to clients?

Sounds tricky. You have a contract with the interior decorator, but you didn't take pictures of the interior decorator's house. You took pictures on the private property of the homeowner. What's your legal status with respect to the homeowner? Does the homeowner's contract with the interior decorator address the homeowner's rights with respect to any commercial pictures taken by the interior decorator's subcontractors?

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Mark S Abeln
Mark S Abeln Forum Pro • Posts: 19,442
Re: Client care: Photography licensing question

Steve BB wrote:

How do you approach this and explaining to clients?

Usually I think about the value of the photos to potential clients and their ability to pay. If someone basically just wants a photo for their Facebook feed, then I don't bother with asking for a payment, as long as providing them the image requires no work on my part. For nonprofits that I approve of, I may even do a bit of free work for them, such as providing a full resolution image, but I ask for attribution.

If they plan on using the photos for commercial advertising or otherwise for profit, then I'll look at the prices as offered for similar photos on higher-end stock agencies, and match the price for an identical use, and send them a contract.

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mrdale Regular Member • Posts: 416
Re: Client care: Photography licensing question

What are the use stipulations with the decorator ?  Unless third parties are mentioned in that contract the homeowner has no right.  This assumes there is a contract between the home owner and the decorator.  If the home owner just wants pics for personal use I would just charge them a fee for the pics.  Always safer to consult a lawyer.  CYA.

dale

Gato Amarillo Veteran Member • Posts: 9,193
Re: Client care: Photography licensing question

Generally, I would not charge the owners for photos of their own house, so long as no real extra work was required -- just an upload or email of files you processed already. If they want processing on additional files then I might charge.

(From your post it sounds as if you have the right to sell or give the images. Am I right on that?)

For other business I would generally charge a usage fee according to the size of the business and proposed use.

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Michael Fryd
Michael Fryd Forum Pro • Posts: 15,935
Re: Client care: Photography licensing question

Steve BB wrote:

I hope this is in the right forum?

I did an interiors shoot for an interior decorator recently and all went well. Since then they have said that the owner of the house would like access to the images for their use. In my contract to the interior decorator (which to be honest I copied and altered from seeing templates etc) it states that they have a license for use, but any 3rd parties would need to contact me to obtain buy a license for their use.

But I'm just thinking ahead of this conversation, and trying to find the right way to explain to someone who wants to us the images why they have to pay to have their own separate license and its not a case of her being given them by the interior designer, or 'chipping in' with their costs to share the images.

It's not a situation like Getty images, where totally unrelated parties will want use of the images for totally different unrelated reasons. Inmy line of work for interiors, usually all of the people who may want to use the images have some connection to the project (carpenter, owner of house, designer, furniture maker etc)

How do you approach this and explaining to clients?

What is your goal here?

Generally, it's good business practice to sell clients the product they want to buy. The interior decorator wants to be able to use the images, and wants the homeowner to be able to use the images.   If you aren't selling him that right, then he is going to keep looking for another photographer.   It might be to your long term advantage to include that right in your contract with the interior decorator, and price accordingly.

In terms of any agreement between the interior decorator and the homeowner, that's only indirectly your concern.  You are probably not bound by any agreement between the decorator and the homeowner.

In the USA, property generally does not have rights of privacy nor rights of publicity.  Therefore you probably don't need the homeowner's permission to legally use the photos.

Legality is not the whole story.  Customer satisfaction and your reputation is also important for business success.  Even if you have the legal right to the images, that's not the whole story.

.

My bottom line advice is to figure out what your client wants to buy, and then sell that too them.

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bodeswell Senior Member • Posts: 1,262
Re: Client care: Photography licensing question

Michael Fryd wrote

In the USA, property generally does not have rights of privacy nor rights of publicity. Therefore you probably don't need the homeowner's permission to legally use the photos.

In the USA there is a complicated morass of local laws, so I would not go with such a blanket statement. There have been cases that upheld a photographer's right to take pictures through open windows where the scene photographed was in any case visible from a public place where the photographer was entitled to stand. But in this case it sounds like the photographer was perhaps inside the house taking pictures of things that could not be seen from the street.

As regards the OP it might be a better business strategy not to irritate the homeowner  or the interior designer unnecessarily unless you have made the licensing requirements clear to both parties up front, before the question arises.

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OP Steve BB Junior Member • Posts: 42
Re: Client care: Photography licensing question

Hi everyone,

thanks for all the different opinions on this. 
I agree that if the homeowner just wants copies of the images because she’s proud of her newly decorated house and there’s no commercial use for them then I would just give them to her for free.

if she wants to use them commercially then yes I would work out a separate license. 
But I guess I’m trying to figure out generally how it is one justifies charging more the more parties are involved.

I copy and pasted from another photographer’s T&Cs which says if other interested parties want a license to the images they can opt in for an extra 25% of the photography fee.

Can someone remind me why it is, that we, as photographers, don’t just charge for the job and then let all the parties involved share?

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Mark S Abeln
Mark S Abeln Forum Pro • Posts: 19,442
Re: Client care: Photography licensing question

Steve BB wrote:

But I guess I’m trying to figure out generally how it is one justifies charging more the more parties are involved.

Because presumably *you* own the intellectual property; they are yours to sell as you see fit.

I copy and pasted from another photographer’s T&Cs which says if other interested parties want a license to the images they can opt in for an extra 25% of the photography fee.

Haven't heard of that before.

Can someone remind me why it is, that we, as photographers, don’t just charge for the job and then let all the parties involved share?

Because you can instead sell to unrelated parties.

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Jessica M Regular Member • Posts: 278
Re: Client care: Photography licensing question

Since you are a professional photographer,  never give away your images without some legal documentation.

It could be a simple half-page licensing agreement, even an email with a reply as confirmation.

It could be free of charge.

But who ever receives your images needs to be clearly informed that you are the copyright owner, and they are not entitled to your photos just because they feel so.

This protects you, it protects the homeowner, and helps strengthen the photography industry.

Michael Fryd
Michael Fryd Forum Pro • Posts: 15,935
Re: Client care: Photography licensing question

bodeswell wrote:

Michael Fryd wrote

In the USA, property generally does not have rights of privacy nor rights of publicity. Therefore you probably don't need the homeowner's permission to legally use the photos.

In the USA there is a complicated morass of local laws, so I would not go with such a blanket statement. There have been cases that upheld a photographer's right to take pictures through open windows where the scene photographed was in any case visible from a public place where the photographer was entitled to stand. But in this case it sounds like the photographer was perhaps inside the house taking pictures of things that could not be seen from the street.

You are correct in that the law is complicated. At best, the web can provide guidance on the general case. The specifics of a particular situation can result in quite a deviation from the general case. When it comes to legal advice, always consult an attorney.

But let's get back to the general case.

In the USA we frequently need a model release from a person as various state laws give a person certain rights of privacy and publicity in their likeness. While I may be in a situation where I can legally take your photo, I probably need your permission in order to use that image to promote goods and/or services.

This is not the same as making money from the photo.

For instance, suppose I take a photo of you sitting on a bench in a public park. it's a public place, so you have no expectation of privacy, and it is likely that it is legal to photograph you.

I generally would not need your permission to sell that photo to a newspaper to be run with an article on those park benches being replaced. I probably would need your permission to run that same photo in the same newspaper in an add from the manufacturer of the benches.

The first is "editorial" use which generally does not need a release, the second is commercial use which generally does.

Editorial use does not give you carte blanche. A release would be needed to run that image along with a story about child predators lurking on our parks. Such usage would "paint you in a false light" in that it would imply that you were a child predator. I would need your permission in order to falsely imply you were a child predator.

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On the other hand property and things, do not generally enjoy rights of privacy and rights of publicity. Thus, if I have legally photographed your home, your pet, or your belongings, I generally do not need a release to use that image in a commercial manner.

The key here is "legally photographed". In situations where you have a reasonable expectation of privacy, it may not be legal to photograph you. So if I am across the street, and use a long telephoto lens to invade your privacy through a crack in your curtains, I may have broken the law by taking that image. In some areas there are specific laws against taking certain types of photos. For instance "up skirt" photos, or photos taken in a bathroom, changing room, or locker room.

I am not aware of any issues where there was an issue taking photos through in open window, where there were no people in the photos. So while I may not be able to stand on the street and take a photo of you through a crack in your window, I probably can take a photo of your pet through the window.

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There are also contractual issues here. A private home is private property. The owner of private property can place restrictions on photography on the premisses. For instance, I can give you permission to come on my property to take photos, but only under the condition that you will refrain from taking photos of certain objects, will give me copies of the images, or will use the images only in a limited fashion. If you agree to such terms then you are bound by them.

In the OP's situation, given the facts we have, it does not appear that the homeowner placed any a priori restrictions on photography. We have not been told of any contractual restriction between the photographer and his client (the designer). Therefore (given the facts that we know) it is likely that the photographer has the legal right to do whatever he wants with the photos. This includes requiring the designer to pay an additional license fee for the additional use of allowing the homeowner use of the images. The photographer may also negotiate with the homeowner.

Again. The above is a discussion of the general case. I make no claims that it applies to the OP's specific situation.

As regards the OP it might be a better business strategy not to irritate the homeowner or the interior designer unnecessarily unless you have made the licensing requirements clear to both parties up front, before the question arises.

We agree here. There is a difference between what the photographer is allowed to do, and what is best for his business.

On one hand, he may not want to give away his work. On the other hand it's generally bad for business to annoy clients.

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But let's turn to the practical side here. Assume that the photographer decides to charge an extra fee to let the homeowner have the images. What do we think the likeley outcome will be?

Possibilities include:

  • The designer says no to the fee, and gives the images to the homeowner anyway. The designer starts to look for a different photographer who isn't a pain.
  • The designer says yes to the fee, and starts to look for a different photographer who isn't a pain.
  • The designer says no to the fee, and the homeowner doesn't get the images. The designer starts to look for a different photographer who isn't a pain.

None of these seem very good for the photographer's long term business.

My suggestion is to assume that in the future the designer will let the homeowner have the images.   Increase your fee to accommodate this.    Everyone is happy.

I find that my customers are much happier when I quote them a fee that covers everything.   They are very happy that the fee I quote is the fee they end up paying. Sure, they may have paid a little more or a little less if I nickel and dimed them for every little thing.  But there is a lot of customer satisfaction when the fee they end up paying is the one you originally quoted.

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mandm Senior Member • Posts: 1,015
Re: Client care: Photography licensing question

If they state they only want the images to email to friends, I send them low rez images at no charge with a note that they are email ready images.

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Jessica M Regular Member • Posts: 278
Re: Client care: Photography licensing question

mandm wrote:

If they state they only want the images to email to friends, I send them low rez images at no charge with a note that they are email ready images.

Sure, but wouldn't email-ready images also be good enough for websites?

Perhaps an online photo sharing app would solve all these issues?  OP can grant access to anyone of their choosing.  Licensing terms are taken care of by the portal.

mandm Senior Member • Posts: 1,015
Re: Client care: Photography licensing question

Yes, they could use the images for other than email to friends. They must sign an agreement that states the images are only for emailing to friends and are not to be used for any other purpose. I charge $20.00 if they pick the DVD up or $25.00 if I mail it, it's a reasonable price.

If they want higher rez images for a website, that cost more.

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Joe Bagadonuts Contributing Member • Posts: 654
Re: Client care: Photography licensing question

I am an architect so I see both sides of this. I can’t believe you didn’t work this out beforehand. Did you not think the owner of the house would want pics of their own house they let you shoot in? I would think your fee would include both parties, as it’s a little ballsy to now ask the homeowner to pay again for the pics. Like someone else said, the homeowner isn’t making a profit off your pics.

Nobody like nickel and dimers. Good luck collecting. The interior designer will probably just give them a copy anyway. You’ll never know. If you try and double dip off these two parties, it’ll be the last job that designer ever gives you and your reputation may take a hit. In this industry it’s not a good look, especially if you never discussed it and are now just pointing to contract clauses.

thinkinginimages
thinkinginimages Senior Member • Posts: 2,060
Re: Client care: Photography licensing question

Steve BB wrote:

I hope this is in the right forum?

I did an interiors shoot for an interior decorator recently and all went well. Since then they have said that the owner of the house would like access to the images for their use. In my contract to the interior decorator (which to be honest I copied and altered from seeing templates etc) it states that they have a license for use, but any 3rd parties would need to contact me to obtain buy a license for their use.

But I'm just thinking ahead of this conversation, and trying to find the right way to explain to someone who wants to us the images why they have to pay to have their own separate license and its not a case of her being given them by the interior designer, or 'chipping in' with their costs to share the images.

It's not a situation like Getty images, where totally unrelated parties will want use of the images for totally different unrelated reasons. Inmy line of work for interiors, usually all of the people who may want to use the images have some connection to the project (carpenter, owner of house, designer, furniture maker etc)

How do you approach this and explaining to clients?

The interior decorator did not provide the clients with images?

Technically, you're out of the picture (no pun intended). The home owner didn't hire you. They need to contact the interior decorator for copies/access. Or - the interior decorator has to authorize you, on paper, to release limited rights copies.

There's a wonky work around but it's tricky. The home owner hires you to photography the property for insurance purposes. That's legit. The value of the home has increased - capital improvement.

I don't know what is in your agreement with the interior decorator.

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Ellis Vener
Ellis Vener Forum Pro • Posts: 18,455
Re: Client care: Photography licensing question

“Can someone remind me why it is, that we, as photographers, don’t just charge for the job and then let all the parties involved share?”

It is your work and your income so you can structure your fees and to charges however you want.

The reason to charge anyone else is that you need to think about additional and third party usage the same way bankers think about money: as capital you want to have making money for you. The photos have commercial value and your job as a business owner is to create a profitable business.

Letting someone else exploit your hard earned skillset, experience, time, and tools for their commercial gain without compensating you for it is a dumb way to run a business.
It also needs to be said that there can be  financial value in extending “good will” towards a client, that capital is best user by extending  it towards clients you already have a relationship with, not towards  strangers you have no relationship with.

Also in a more global sense, it devalues your work and you have your client paying for the other businesses advertising efforts.

If all the homeowner wants is copies of the photos for their own enjoyment, and you don’t want to charge, that’s great but make sure you write up a contract for them that says that. You don’t want them giving photos to some other business.

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Michael Fryd
Michael Fryd Forum Pro • Posts: 15,935
Re: Client care: Photography licensing question

thinkinginimages wrote:

Steve BB wrote:

...

The interior decorator did not provide the clients with images?

Technically, you're out of the picture (no pun intended). The home owner didn't hire you. They need to contact the interior decorator for copies/access. Or - the interior decorator has to authorize you, on paper, to release limited rights copies.

There's a wonky work around but it's tricky. The home owner hires you to photography the property for insurance purposes. That's legit. The value of the home has increased - capital improvement.

I don't know what is in your agreement with the interior decorator.

In the USA, without a written transfer of copyright, the photographer, not the client, is generally the copyright holder.

If I understand the OP's situation, he is the copyright holder, and has granted his client (the designer) a limited license to use the images.  The license is not transferable, and does not allow the designer to provide the homeowner with images.

If that's the situation, then the designer does not have the legal right to provide the homeowner with images.  If the homeowner wants images, someone would need to negotiate with the photographer for the appropriate rights.

Now if the agreement with the interior decorator provided the decorator with exclusive use of the images, then he would also need to give permission.

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I am curious as to what the license to the designer actually says.   If the designer is allowed to use the images to promote the designer's business, then he can "promote" his business by using these images to advertise to the homeowner.    If the designer is allowed to make prints, he can make prints for the homeowner.  If the client is allowed to use the files for electronic or web promotion, he can target the homeowner.   I would be very curious to see a license that allows the designer reasonable use of the images, but doesn't allow the designer to use those images to market to the homeowner.

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OP Steve BB Junior Member • Posts: 42
Re: Client care: Photography licensing question

Joe Bagadonuts wrote:

I am an architect so I see both sides of this. I can’t believe you didn’t work this out beforehand. Did you not think the owner of the house would want pics of their own house they let you shoot in? I would think your fee would include both parties, as it’s a little ballsy to now ask the homeowner to pay again for the pics. Like someone else said, the homeowner isn’t making a profit off your pics.

Nobody like nickel and dimers. Good luck collecting. The interior designer will probably just give them a copy anyway. You’ll never know. If you try and double dip off these two parties, it’ll be the last job that designer ever gives you and your reputation may take a hit. In this industry it’s not a good look, especially if you never discussed it and are now just pointing to contract clauses.

Wow, that's an unnecessarily angry response. Never underestimate the internet to allow people to vent at total strangers. Also for someone who sees both sides of this, you only seem to be taking one side, LOL.

My agreement was with the interior designer, as that's who is commissioning the photos. I asked beforehand if anyone else would want a license / use of the photos and the response was no. But after the shoot, a third party has come forward wanting usage, although it is unclear at this stage if the usage is for any type of commercial use or just 'I want to have the nice pictures of my lovely home'.

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Michael Fryd
Michael Fryd Forum Pro • Posts: 15,935
Re: Client care: Photography licensing question

Steve BB wrote:

...

Can someone remind me why it is, that we, as photographers, don’t just charge for the job and then let all the parties involved share?

A lot of it is historical. In the days of film, the big money in retail photography was in selling physical prints an albums. This allowed the photographer to quote an affordable up-front fee that covers his costs, and them make a profit by selling prints, albums, etc. People understood the concept of paying for a print, as it was a physical object, and therefore it cost something to produce.

In terms of commercial photography, it depended on your relationship with the client. If you were an employee, staff photographer, etc., then you got paid for your time, and the images belonged to your employer. If you were an independent business, you would negotiate a licensing fee. People understood that photography required specialized skills, and the those with the ability to reproduce images understood the concept of licensing and copyrights.

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Today, the product is usually a digital file. Retail clients don't automatically accept that they should be paying for bits. Retail customers don't understand copyright, and think that if they have paid a photographer to take a photo, then the client automatically owns the photo. This isn't how it works in the USA.

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In today's world, retail clients still don't understand copyright and licensing, however they now have the ability to easily reproduce and publish images. This makes it far more difficult to track and license use. In the old days, the client would need to come to you for additional prints. Today they can make those prints without your knowledge.

At the high end, clients still understand the concept of copyright, but there aren't as many clients in this class.

In the middle, we have the small business customer (like the OP's designer). They don't really understand licensing and copyright, but they do have many uses that would traditionally require separate licenses.

Some photographers are still trying to use the old model, and many have moved on to new business models.

One business model is to estimate the uses that the client will make of the images, and then charge a flat rate fee based on your estimate for an unlimited license (or even a transfer of copyright). If on average, your estimates are correct, you make the same revenue. I know a number of businesses that have been very successful with this model.

It turns out that many large clients love the idea of not having to track licenses. They don't mind paying a little extra in up-front fees, if they no longer need an employee dedicated to tracking usage rights.

Of course, this business model depends on the types of images you are shooting. If they are images with a limited useful lifetime, then it works well. If they are images that you think will have decades of value for many years, you may want to stick with limited licensing.

For instance, I shoot produce photos for a local swimsuit manufacturer. Experience tells me that 90% of the swimsuits won't be sold after a year. Experience tells me that 95% of the images will appear only in catalogs and on e-commerce web sites. I know a few of the images will end up in advertisements, trade show displays, etc. What I don't know is which images fall into what category.

I could individually license the images. I could require add on licensing for the few swimsuits that carry over to next season. I could require additional licensing every time they want to use an image in an ad, or at a trade show.   But that would make a lot of extra work for me, and a lot of extra work for the client.  It's just easier to figure in the amount of usage I expect as part of my initial fee, and then not worry about it.  Everyone is happier, I do less work, and make more profit.

Now, I am taking a risk.  It might be that one of these images somehow becomes incredibly  valuable.  In that case, I would lose out on any additional licensing fees.  That's a risk I am willing to take.

For this client, my business model is an upfront fee, and the client does whatever they want with the images.

Not all clients are the same.  If I am working as an "in-house" photographer for a large event or awards show, they will want full, and exclusive rights to all the images I take.  I get paid well for my time, and they get the images.

If I am taking photos of homes for a designer, a lot would depend on whether I saw a secondary market for the images.  If I see a secondary market, I am more likely to give a limited license for the images.  If there is no secondary market, I would give an unlimited license for the expected uses (and price according to those expected uses).  Even if I saw a secondary market, my initial license would include the uses that the designer is likely to need.  That would include providing copies to the homeowner for the homeowner's personal use.  (I would also guide them to use me as the vendor should they want prints).

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What business model you use is a business and marketing decision.  What segment of the market are you targeting?  Does a particular pricing model give you an advantage over your competition?  On average, does  that pricing model increase per job revenue, decrease it, or is it revenue neutral?  Does the pricing model increase or decrease your costs?

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I know a very good photographer who has amassed an amazing library of photos over a career spanning many decades.  Among other niches, he has established relationships with some of the top rock and roll performers and bands.  He has published a number of books profiling the various groups.  His plan was to retire, and live off the licensing revenue from his library of images.

The reality is that his library generates very little revenue.  People just aren't willing to pay for images the way they used to.  He still has to work ti make ends meet.  When he isn't working, he and his wife spend time searching the web for unauthorized use of his images, and sending cease and desist letters.   His library creates work for him, and doesn't bring in the income he hoped it should.

 Michael Fryd's gear list:Michael Fryd's gear list
Nikon Coolpix AW130 Canon EOS D60 Canon EOS 7D Mark II Canon EOS 5DS Canon EOS 5D Mark IV +16 more
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