Abstract photo of top of building


Starting with the basics, cost-sharing is when multiple contributing parties join forces to split the cost of hiring a photographer to capture a project. Each party would have provided a certain service or benefit to the project which would be relevant and visible in the final images. This can include any of the following: The owner, interior designers, landscapers, architects, contractors, consultants, product manufacturers, engineers, etc. 

Before we get too deep into this concept we need to first make sure you understand what licensing is in terms of image use. (See full article here) A photo license is an agreement entered into by the photographer and client granting specific rights to the client to use the image(s) in a commercial environment. The client is allowed to use the images within the parameters of the photo license which can be negotiated in advance of the project. Photographs are considered to be “artistic works” in the current federal law that governs copyright in Canada – the Copyright Act. 

Due to this law, photographers own their work and license commercial use to their clients, as many other design-based industries do. To better understand this idea, let’s use an architect as an example. An architect designs a building, in the end, the design is always owned by the architect, even though someone else hires the architect, purchases, and owns the building itself. The building owner does not have the right to go around selling the building concept/design/blueprints but, has the right to use the existing building. As photographers, the principle is the same. 

Now that you have a brief understanding of what a photo license is, we can move forward with explaining “Cost-Sharing”. Cost-sharing is when you share the cost of the project by splitting with multiple parties contributing to the project. 


We start by creating a quote for the project based on the principal client. This is the person/company in charge of initiating the cost-sharing agreement and providing us with location and required photo requests. Oftentimes, this task falls on the architect, however, any of the contractors involved in the build/design process may decide to initiate based on their marketing needs. 

Once we have the initial quote and we identify the other contributors. We charge a licensing fee of 25% of the total for each, then divide the total fee by the number of parties involved. In the end, each party receives financial discounts and quality images for their marketing portfolio. Cost-sharing only works when organized before the project is shot. Each party will be presented with the same usage license of all images retouched. 

Parties who don’t want to participate in cost-sharing, but want to license images after the shoot will be charged a per image licensing fee which is equal to 10% of the total shoot cost before cost-sharing is applied. Individually licensing images can add up very quickly to exceed the original total, however, we understand that some contractors may have had less involvement in the project and may require only a few of the images in which case, this option is the best fit.

For those of you who prefer to see this broken down into numbers – Let’s do some math! If the total project costs $3,500.00, for each additional contributor $875.00 would be added to the invoice. Let’s say the original client found another 4 contractors to participate in the shoot. The subtotal would be $7,000.00 but there are 5 parties involved so the total per party would equal $1,400.00 ($7000 / 5)  instead of each person paying $3500.00 to have the project shot. That is over 60% savings while also creating mutually beneficial relationships for your preferred business partners. 


Now that you understand how cost-sharing works, you know there are monetary savings for each person involved. By sharing images, you also have more control over how the project build and design are presented in the marketplace. There is nothing worse than having all your hard work horribly displayed online with a crooked, grainy, or colour skewed image taken by one of the parties contributing to the build. All that image does is poorly reflect everyone involved. We understand that quality work deserves to be presented in its best light. 

Let’s say we are shooting an office, and each contractor hires their own photographer, the people working in the office now have to accommodate multiple shoot dates and will likely deny the time or access we need in order to best achieve a well rounded final product, not to mention similar images which do not match or flow together creating a divide in the online perceived version of space itself. In the end, cost-sharing is the best solution for everyone. Also, let us think of the potential. You are now working as a unified team with consistent images and elevating each other’s brands. Why not include tagging details or even compose ideal hashtags to share amongst the posting? Suddenly you see an increase in recommendations and virality based on your team posting and sharing in a unified structure.

There are endless examples we could provide but ultimately we challenge you to start the conversation with your team, your suppliers, and see if cost-sharing would create a smarter marketing investment plan for all. We are available to field any questions you or your potential “cost-sharers” may have. Message us on our contact page here.