What is a Photography License?

Under U.S. copyright law, the photographer of a photo is its sole owner, unless rights are sold or specifically given away.

Real estate photographers retain ownership of all photos and media, and sell their clients a license to use them. Licensing terms can vary depending on how the media is used, the length of time for its use, and the intended audience.

Licensing for realtors

Real estate agents purchase a limited-use license from Showcase Photo Tours that allows the associated media to be used only for the immediate sale of a specific property.

To purchase a license for agent use, clients must have a current MLS number for the property.

The license for media is considered expired when the sale of the property is complete, or after one year — whichever comes first.

Any further use of media beyond the advertisement of the specific property as noted above requires an additional license.

Due to the nature of real estate photography, photographs are plentiful, yet their licensing has a short life span. This is how and why rates are most often lower than other types of photography.

Licensing for stagers

Licensing for stagers differs from licensing for real estate agents. 

Stagers that have set up a property for a client of Showcase Photo Tours may share photos of the listing on social media. Please tag us on social media posts using the following tags:

Instagram: @tammyloverdos
Facebook: @showcasephototours
LinkedIn: @tammy loverdos

Stagers who wish to use our photography to promote their business should contact us to purchase an extended license. Prices start at $25/photo.

Stagers who would like to purchase the full set of photos for a listing should reference the Cost Sharing section below. Please be sure to specifically request cost sharing prior to the shoot.

Contact us with any questions.

Commercial licensing

Commerical licenses are designed for properties that do not currently have an MLS number.

These licenses may differ, but generally allow for use of media for an unlimited amount of time. There are also fewer restrictions on photo use, whether it be online, print, etc.

Photos with a commercial license can continue to benefit your business for years to come.

Examples of typical commerical use include hospitality (hotels, bed and breakfasts), retail (restaurants, shops), commerical buildings (offices, condo buildings), design and build businesses, interior designers and contractors.

Saving money through COST-SHARING

Cost-sharing allows multiple parties to split the cost of a single photography project.

Contibuting parties may be realtors, designers, stagers, landscapers, architects, contractors, product manufacturers, etc.

All parties must sign a licensing agreement prior to the photo shoot. This agreement will clearly define the project deliverables for each party involved.

The more parties involved, the higher the savings for each.

The following video explains how we license and copyright images and the difference between MLS and Commercial licenses (created by The Washington DC Region Real Estate Design And Architecture Guild).