The community of creatives discovering the addictive process of creating cinemagraphs is growing fast and I'm seeing some seriously talented photographers, videographers and designers bringing their unique style to the format every week. This article is for them but if you're here with an interest in buying stock or getting custom work done this will definitely be of interest too. So the question coming from many Cinemagraph artists now is "how do I sell my cinemagraphs?"
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Stock licensing is a complicated business if you're new to it and there are people with all levels of experience on both sides of the coin... both client and creative. I try to give as much information up front as I can to clients and to be as transparent as possible throughout the process so everyone knows where they stand.
So lets look at stock first and then we'll look at custom Cinemagraph contracts. Think of stock cinemagraphs as sitting between traditional photography and video stock. Video is traditionally valued higher for a number of reasons and a single still photo nowadays can be relatively inexpensive. User generated photo services like Snapwire mean clients as big as Google can be buying photos from non-professional photographers through these services for a fraction of what it would cost from pro photographers through agencies or stock sites like Shutterstock. Google Inc. recently listed hundreds of requests on Snapwire for locations around the world, paying as little as $25 per successful submission... but the positive is for hobbyists to make a little something on the side and take on interesting photo challenges. It's certainly shaking up the industry but that's nothing new... it's constantly changing.
Cinemagraphs have the flexibility of a still photo in terms of their placement, as a standalone image that has no start or end. Video of course has a time limit so it's uses are more limited. The fact that a Cinemagraph can be looped as many times as you like gives it greater value and flexibility for editors too. Video is often priced on length of the clips and cinemagraphs can be as long as you want them to be!
LETS TALK MONEY
Now that we've covered the value proposition of cinemagraphs... lets talk money. I'm not going to give a definitive answer because there are so many variables. Don't be disappointed you'll have a much better sense of what to charge shortly.
Firstly, consider the production value of your finished work, are you producing quick cinemagraphs shot on mobile and edited with an app like Flixel Cinemagraph Pro for iOS? Nothing wrong with that... there is a market for simple and fun cinemagraphs which are more illustrative and quirky or have the look of natural 'user generated' photos. However many companies are likely to give that a go in-house and it won't achieve such a high value for you as a creator.
Are you shooting on professional cameras, using lighting and processing your video with detailed colour grading, compositing other elements into the shot and blending in raw still photos before masking and looping in software like Flixel Cinemagraph Pro for Mac OS? This kind of work is a much more involved process and therefore the high end finish will command a greater value.
The best way to find a dollar value is to see how much others are charging, research your competitors. I have the jewellery shot above listed through Come Alive Images and their partner site Glasshouse Images. They price work on a detailed set of usage options such as placement, license term, industry, territory. The following gives you an idea of the range of prices you might get on the same image, from a basic license for website usage through to TV.
Web Banner Ad
Time: 12 months
Price: $480.00 USD
Industry: Apparel & Jewelry
Time: Up to 1 Year
Price: $7920.00 USD
You can see all the full set of options by clicking on the 'Usage Calculator' here.
Another really useful site to visit for reference on pricing is Gallereplay, I don't have my work listed with them at this stage but I really like what they've done specialising in cinemagraphs and how nicely they present them. Again you can calculate prices online, they offer less specific usage options and their pricing works out a little lower in most cases.
Then you can see the prices offered by the big sites such as Shutterstock who now list cinemagraphs. Personally I think their pricing is a bit low for the work that goes into cinemagraphs... however they have a much bigger reach than boutiques like Gallereplay and Come Alive Images. The work you'll find through boutique agencies is often more unique, less 'stocky'.
To conclude on Stock, I'll give a very general ballpark... I would say for small to medium size businesses you should be charging anywhere between US$350 minimum up to US$750 per stock Cinemagraph. If you want to keep it simple, make that worldwide rights for digital only. For each other type of usage, i.e. out of home digital such as display screen for retail & billboards then charge the same again. For TV at least triple the amount. When you start talking out of home screens and TV it's moving into bigger companies and you need to break it down by region/territory and charge that rate per territory. Digital for small to medium size business is ok to license worldwide because their single website is usually serving a global audience and they'll have one main Facebook page etc. If it's a big brand with individual country sites and separate social media accounts for each territory then you need to consider charging digital/web per territory.
(The first paid Cinemagraph I did - for Live Lokai)
CUSTOM CINEMAGRAPH WORK
If I'm totally honest there's not a huge volume of licensing going on for stock cinemagraphs... yet. I know that from talking to many of the top artists and they're mostly doing custom work but there are lots of big opportunities coming though for stock cinemagraphs so don't ignore it.
Come Alive Images and Gallereplay are doing a great job with their stock cinemagraph offers but I get the sense they've ended up much busier facilitating custom Cinemagraph work for their artists... if you're wanting to get in the game, that's where it's at right now!
The criteria we looked at for stock licensing is just as relevant to custom work, like the photography industry, the standard is that as a photographer you deliver the agreed finished work for the client which they are paying to license from you. The photographer still own the copyright but you can't do much with it because you've licensed the images exclusively to the client. Case in point is an email sitting in my inbox right now requesting pricing on a shot in my portfolio which I actually for a client. I'll quote on the price to shoot something like it but I can't license that shot to anyone else. I always include a clause in my contracts that allows me the rights to use the work for portfolio promotion. That means I can feature my work on my website and social media if it's serving the purpose of promoting what I do. Occasionally big brands will not allow that but mostly it's fine. If I can't get promotional rights it comes at a cost because there's value in the ability to promote my work... the email I just mentioned being the perfect example.
Clients may also ask to 'buy out' or take ownership of copyright. If that's the case they must be willing to pay a fairly decent fee. The easiest way to achieve the same for clients is to negotiate usage in perpetuity, meaning there is no time limit and for worldwide use across all mediums. In other words the photographer still technically own copyright and ideally promotional portfolio rights but the client effectively gets the same as full ownership. I won't go into that level of pricing now though.
Most people wouldn't do this but I'm going to share my ratecard! What I'm not giving away however are details on how my contracts are structured but I will say... always have a written and signed contract, it's for the benefit of both parties.
Currently I base my pricing on a day rate of US$1500 but that's just a base rate and not all cinemagraphs take a full day. I also use that as full price for one off jobs and reduce the day rate to $1000 for bulk or ongoing contracts of 10 cinemagraphs or more. If someone wants to take 5 I would negotiate a rate somewhere in between.
This rate gives full license for the work in perpetuity for Digital Content that covers Websites, Social Media, email marketing and apps. It does not apply to TV & Digital Out of Home (i.e. OnDemand, Broadcast, LCD screens or Billboards) which are priced on request and may be subject to pricing per territory/region. Where multiple international regions are required the same day rate is applied for each extra region but a Worldwide license can also be negotiated to make it more cost effective.
Based on the day rate I estimate a project cost on the complexity of the cinemagraphs required... to make it simple I often categorise them as follows:
0.5 - 1 day / $750 - $1500 (one off) or $500 - $1000 (bulk rate)
1-3 days / $1500-$4500 (one off) or $1000-$3000 (bulk rate) *
Standard cinemagraphs are shot as a single video clip, with post production mostly in Flixel Cinemagraph Pro. These are not composited with raw still photos or colour graded through Photoshop or After Effects and involve little travel or setup time. The jewellery shot above is an example of a Standard Cinemagraph, fairly straight forward setup and edit, little travel time or planning required. My wife makes a great hand model so that helps too.
Complex cinemagraphs require multi-step workflow through the likes of Photoshop and After Effects to composite raw still photos and additional elements before final render through Flixel Cinemagraph Pro and/or more involved shoot setup and location requirements. Can include graphics supplied by client for overlay. The Live Lokai bracelet shot above is an example of complex work and took 1 day (half day shoot and half day edit) it involved remote location with travel and a detailed edit for mid-air compositing and grading.
Talent, locations or props required to meet a client brief are always quoted separately to the rates above.
For bulk purchase & ongoing clients I’ll occasionally shoot additional content spur of the
moment either during a shoot or day to day if the product suits a moment. I offer these with no expectation but if usable can be licensed for a much lower rate i.e. $350 (standard) - $700 (complex) due to the fact no extra planning or setup is required.
FINALLY: HOW TO GET FOUND!
None of this matters if you're not being found. I'll go into this in greater detail on a separate article but here's some pointers.
Flixel: no article about cinemagraphs should go without mentioning Flixel, they are seriously driving the growing interest in the format. They have built up a really great community of artists and regularly share our work through their site and social media channels. Because they have become the voice of high end Cinemagraph work they have a great deal of ad industry watching them and clients keen to learn how they can use cinemagraphs in their campaigns. If you're on Flixel make sure you share you work to their hosting cloud and set it to public and there's a good chance if you're making nice work they'll feature it in the galleries and through social media. That will get you noticed. I'm lucky to be a regularly featured artist by Flixel and one of their named 'Flixel Wizards'. I credit them with driving a lot of interest in my work.
Instagram: I always ask clients who get in touch where they found my work. Instagram is off ten mentioned. Instagram is an extension of your portfolio nowadays and the perfect place to display your work by the fact it auto loops and autoplays. Engagement on Instagram is way better then other platform too so get out there and engage with other cinemagraphers. I got very lucky last year and the shot above of a time-lapse street shot got featured on the main @instagram account and blog to 50 million followers! How did they find my work? I regularly entered the Weekend Hashtag Project run on the Instagram account... you just never know.
Behance: If you use Adobe then I'd recommend starting to publish projects of your cinemagraphs on Behance, Adobes portfolio site. If you're listed there you are seen as a professional and many clients are browsing for potential creatives, with cinemagraphs being well under-represented on there it's a great opportunity to catch some limelight.
Websites and Facebook Pages: Harder to get found or gain much reach in the early stages but as always the more places you are listed the better your chances of search engines connecting the dots and raising you in the rankings.