“There are always two people in every picture: the photographer and the viewer.”

Ansel Adams

The Base Usage is the primary use for which the creation of an image is commissioned and is limited to use within the borders of the Republic of South Africa (one territory), for one year, in two media, or two years in one media, or once off use in one edition in the case of editorial use.

A Base Usage Rate can, and should, be established for images sold individually, from a photographer’s archive or image library as well.

Base Usage Rates (BUR) include the photographer’s overheads and creative fee but exclude specialised camera equipment (including digital), lighting, studio, materials and production costs. These should be recorded separately in the cost estimate, as required.

The use of images commissioned by the client should transfer to the client on receipt of full and final payment, with the use of the images specific to the purpose the images were commissioned for.

The Base Usage Rates (BUR) are allocated time constraints for the sake of ease of management, a standard day being nine hours, that allows for a one hour break for lunch. Editorial days are based on an eight hour day, including a lunch break.

The BUR is based on the use of the image(s) in South Africa only. Should the images be used outside of South Africa then the photographer is entitled to charge the applicable usage.The BUR consists of the photographer’s day rate and creative fee combined. Photographers creative fees will differ according to their level of expertise and experience, as will their overheads. As such photographers BURs will differ from one another. These differences in rates can be confusing to a client who requests a number of photographers to price a job. Your thorough understanding of how you calculated your BUR will assist you to motivate it to your client.

South Africa is a free market system and as such there are no prescribed rates for photography. The Professional Photographers of South Africa (PPSA) released this downloadable PRICE AND USAGE GUIDE in 2007. The guide can be used, taking annual increases based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI), as a reference point for recommended rates.

‘EXPOSED – The Business of Photography’ by Deryck van Steenderen offers detailed information on how to calculate your BUR applicable to your business.

“To leave the world a bit better… to know that one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson


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