Im an university student in Europe. I already had some experience with professional photography. I did multiple shootings for businesses and some for hotels. I also sold one of my images as a cover photo for a small magazine. But those successful jobs are very occasionally since Im not 100% focused on professional photography. Most of the time I take wildlife images just for my own pleasure. But those small jobs actually helped me to afford some high end camera gear over the years.

Now the press department of our university came across one my images and they asked me to sell a picture I took too them for online and print usage. The image is a HDR image of one of our main buildings at sunset. It is taken with a tilt shift lens and has decent quality (Mike Kelley is my idol). So it is not an image taken with a smartphone with a skew horizon. In my eyes it is a much better photograph than the picture of the same building they are currently using on their website. They asked me to tell them how much I would charge for that image and I actually have no idea.

Of course I would like to sell that image but I would prefer to take a few more images for them. Not necessarily to make extra money but to expand my portfolio instead. It would also be a personal achievement for me to say that I worked for my university as a photographer rather than having sold a single image to them.

I have seen their archive of images they are typically using for online and print usage and Im sure I could take much better images than they currently have. What would a good way to ask for that? I dont want to blame them for their images. The fact that Im currently a student at this university and that I would not charge the same amount as a full time professional could be an argument to make.

Also: How much should I ask for if they let me take more images? And how much should I ask for the one image they already wanted too buy if they dont want me to take more images?

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    \$\begingroup\$ You don't really want to sell them the image, you want to license it to them. That way you can keep licensing it to them or others in future. \$\endgroup\$
    – Tetsujin
    Jul 8, 2022 at 11:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thats true. They said they want to have my image in their archive for online and print usage at different occasions. That means unlimited usage right? \$\endgroup\$
    – Arji
    Jul 8, 2022 at 11:42
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    \$\begingroup\$ It's all in the contract details - for which you'll need a specialist or a lawyer. I don't know enough to answer. \$\endgroup\$
    – Tetsujin
    Jul 8, 2022 at 11:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ Effectively; don't sell the copyright. Which is another way of saying what @Tetsujin said. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 8, 2022 at 20:28

1 Answer 1


A couple of guidelines from a business perspective on pricing:

  • The minimum you can get is always 0 (They can choose not to license the image)
  • It's often better to talk rates rather than per piece when dealing with a press department, as it plants the seeds for future sales
  • Set your rate high enough that you are happy with it, but low enough that they are happy about it to
  • There is a gap, sometimes a large one, between what you can get them to pay for this image, and what they are willing to pay for images in general. Setting your rate too high might not cost you this sale, but might cost you many, many future sales
  • Have multiple rate scales depending on use, for example (going up in price): single use, time limited digital, unlimited license, exclusive rights (with a clause in the agreement that you can use it in your personal portfolio)
  • Have commission rates ready to go (hourly)
  • Certain types of institutions are used to getting discounted rates, so set your rates with that discount in mind

The rates you've charged for images previously are a good starting point. I recommend not overtly going for the future sale until after you've made this one, but keep it in mind when you make your offer.

My personal sales script for something like this is pretty simple.

My rates for licensing images are --enumerate the rates--. But for a university, I'll offer them to you at 20% (or 15% or 10%) off my normal rate. Which type of license are you interested in?

Remember that this is frequently a negotiation rather than a traditional sale. Read the customer, sometimes it's better to not offer the discount rate until after they react to the normal schedule. Sometimes I offer them 10% off and let them talk me up to 15%. Sometimes they agree to the full price on the spot.

Trust in the quality of your work and reasonable rates to make the next sale. Have your rate schedule printed out so they can have a copy, and include your commission rates clearly on that sheet.

Finally, have a proper release drawn up by a lawyer in your jurisdiction, enumerate the rights for each license. A lawyer will also be able to advice you on any specific laws governing licenses in your country.


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