What to Charge for Instagram Photos

What are the average rates for a branding photo license on Instagram?

If you’re asking yourself this question or about social media photography pricing in general – you’ve come to the right place! We’re going to tell you exactly what to charge for Instagram photo use. But first, we’ll tell you the story that inspired this article!

Last summer, the article on Peta Pixel: “No, You Can’t Use My Photos on Your Brand’s Instagram For Free” got a lot of attention. Max Dubler is a professional photographer who specializes in downhill skateboarding. A small longboard company used one of his photos without permission in their instafeed – and Max contacted them asking for them for payment.

When we read this part of the article:

Not having any prior relationship with this company, I sent them a message to let them know I charge $25 for social media use of my photographs and they can pay me via Paypal or Venmo. (I know this price is very low and I should ask for more to make a point, but I do like to actually get paid sometimes.)

We couldn’t help but think – we should help Max and everyone else figure out what to charge for Instagram photo use.

So here’s a quick article to help you understand what type of use Instagram feeds are – and where to start with social media photography pricing!

First thing – you need to understand what kind of use they are requesting. Usually, it is one of two things:

If they want to use your photo to post it on their Instagram account then it would be considered “branding > social media”

If they want to use your photo and have you post & tag it in your own account – then that would be considered “advertising > commercial web”

What to charge for Instagram Photo Use

So according to the FREE price-a-photo app, for social media use the industry average rate for a 1080px file would be 6 cents a pixel or $64.80 per use. The industry range is 4 to 12 cents (per pixel on the longest side of the image) or $43.20 to $129.60

If it was for advertising use (on your feed or a feed that is not the company’s), then the range would be $410 to $982, with the average being $691.20 (Think “Influencer”). Keep in mind these rates don’t include any value for your time (you can use numburu to help you figure that out!)

How do you figure out where in the range your rates should be? Well, just like with any other type of commercial use (when your photo is used to make someone else money) with social media photography pricing you should consider the following:

    • Circulation (how many copies will be distributed?)
    • Distribution/geographical area covered by publication/advertisement
    • Quality of publication (whether print or online – Ex. Small independent local rag vs. national geographic)
    • First time client or long time client?
    • How original is the photograph? (Erupting volcano or water drop on a leaf in your backyard?) (Lens, angle, light etc.)
    • Small local business or National Corporation?
    • Is the client purchasing one file or multiple files?
  • How long does the client want to use the file? (one time, one month, three months, six months, one year, 5 years)

(We crossed out the lines that wouldn’t really apply to Instagram use)

Then you’re going to want to make sure you have your client sign off on an image release form (so that you can stipulate things like: no filter use on your photos without written permission – ugh!). If you want to learn more about image licensing and get an example release form – we wrote an article on that here for you!

Okay – so we know what some of you are thinking…

Are brands really paying for photos on Instagram?

What to charge for Instagram Photo Use? Copyright Melissa Welsh

The answer:

Hells Ya!

Not only are they paying for photos – they’re also hiring photographers on contracts to be the sole producers of their social media imagery.

Social media is a crowded space and the only way these brands are standing out is with original, dynamic imagery…produced by pros! And it’s not just the big companies – small local companies need to stand out too!

So we think, you should get your social media photography pricing in order..and then go out there, research brands and influencers in your niche and get yourself a few social media contracts. Don’t forget to read How to Price a Commercial Photography Job!

And if for whatever reason, you’re not really into making money and don’t want to charge for social media photography…then do your colleagues a favour: Suggest doing a trade for product for the value of the photograph you’re releasing…because if everyone keeps letting brands use them for free…eventually, everyone will just think that our photos have no value!

Side note: We think Max Dubler is a hero. Imagine the state of our industry if all photographers had the confidence to stand up for themselves and demand payment for their work!


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