Having a long-term contract with a photolibrary is a bit like having a long-term lover. You’re both able to understand and adapt to each other’s needs and negotiate on price (although price, hopefully, rarely enters into an enduring loving relationship).
For the photolibrary the benefits are obvious. For the users of the service, especially newspapers and publishers, the main benefits of a long-term deal are as follows:
As a regular customer, you can be assured that you will have a close working relationship with one contact at the library – usually an account executive – to make sure that your needs are a priority and that someone, who is familiar with your image requirements and taste is instantly on the case. Consequently, a long-term contract speeds-up the process.
A contract doesn’t mean that you are tied to that one particular photolibrary. If your library doesn’t have a suitable image, you are free to go elsewhere.
On the whole, long-term contracts are more appropriate for newspapers and publishing houses, which have a fixed budget for the next year and need images on a daily or set periodical basis. For example, if your media schedule is established at the beginning of the year and you know how many pictures you are going to need and what your allocated budget is, establishing a long-term contract for that period, will guarantee costs (possibly including a discount), deadlines and volume.
Ad hoc dealings are better suited to small design consultancies or individual designers, art workers or art directors who are unsure where their next job is coming from and what their future requirements for photographic images will be.
If, as a client, you do decide to take on a long-term contract, the deal will contain details of the number of pictures required and how often they will be used over a set period.
Another factor which will be established is the specific use of the image – whether it will be used in a UK-only magazine, a range of packaging that will be sold overseas or if it is for a global ad campaign. If it is for repeated use, advertising or overseas use, the chances are that the price will be higher.
You will also have to consider whether you want exclusive rights over the image and for how long, and negotiate a fee. It is also worth seeking insurance to cover images in your possession against loss or damage if you have regular dealings with a library.
Whether you opt for a long-term contract or occasional dealings with a photolibrary; the library’s terms and conditions remain the same.
Loss and damage charges will almost certainly always apply. Check with the library first if you intend to manipulate the image in Photoshop, for example, or change it in any way. You may be infringing copyright. The odd tweak is one thing, but substantial change is a greater issue.
Respect the photographer; there is a good reason why the photographer took this shot and has had it licensed by a library.
Finally, do not loan the material you receive to any other person or company. Photolibraries may well have further copies of the image to supply to other clients.