Ask an Agent / Usage Fees for Apps

Ask an Agent is a regular monthly column answering your questions about the business of photography– the photography industry’s first Agony Aunt! If you have any questions you’d like to ask a photographers agent please send them to Questions can be on anything to do with the photography business, such as photoshoots, marketing, professional practice, pricing, contracts, legal stuff – anything!

This month we had a question on usage fees for photography being used within an app.

Dear Ask an Agent,

I have been asked to quote on a job with the usage just being apps. I have no idea where to place this, is it the same as above the line usage or below the line, or shall I just call it online, any ideas?


Annika Larsson


© John Garon / Interflora

Thanks for writing in Annika!

That’s a good question and it seems you are pretty genned up on the subject of usage. As you know, usage fees are based on the extent of exposure of an image. So, a daily rate for a Press and Poster campaign plus Online would command a higher fee than Printed Leaflets and Online, for example; the former including a lot of above the line (ATL) usage and the latter more predominantly below the line (BTL). For the record, I feel it’s better to roll the usage fee into the shoot fee for a number of reasons, not least to make it simpler for the client.

Whilst I agree that putting usages into 'boxes' can be beneficial just to find an initial ball park in terms of fees (i.e if it’s in the BTL ‘box’ the fee would probably be lower than ATL), I would certainly advise against it just to give the usage a category for the sake of it. If the client has asked for ‘apps’ usage, just state that on the usage licence/estimate etc. You don’t need to get bogged down with above or below the line or any other neat little category, blanket terms can often cause more problems than they solve. You don’t even need to be considering full online usage, as this is more extensive that they are actually asking for.

One of the reasons above the line demands a higher fee is because there is usually a media budget and strategy attached, i.e billboard or press advertising space. The same with online usage, banner ads for example, whereby the client has had to buy space, command a higher fee than straightforward use on a website.

So, bearing all that in mind, I’d say call it Apps (as your media, and add in the territories and time period as usual ) and base your fee somewhere a little lower than you would for general online or digital usage or paid for digital use.

Hope that makes sense! There’s a useful list of usage definitions on the Photo Agents London website.



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