Have you been charging loading fees?

Written by Loud Kitchen LLC

Loading fees are an important component to your fees that many new photographers fail to include.

Here, we break down what it is, how it will affect your photography business and your creative rights.

What are Loading Fees?

Loading fees are a standard billing component for most, if not all, commercial photography assignments.

Like royalties paid to musicians, loading fees serve to ensure fairness and equitability in payouts for the creative contributors of commercial works like print ads, TV commercials, bus ads, point-of-sale materials, direct mailers and even free gifts or premiums.

These commercial works are broadly categorised as either Above-the-line (ATL) or Below-the-line (BTL) advertising.

How to determine the value of my Loading Fees?

In advertising, the better the coverage (estimated number of people that the ad will reach), the more likely the advertisement will create sales eventually.

Of course, there are other major factors that contribute to the effectiveness of an ad, however, for professional photographers, talents, writers and other creative professionals, advertising coverage is the usual basis on which to charge loading fees

In a nutshell, the number of people that will see the image you create for your clients can determine its commercial value.

Loading fees are much higher for above-the-line works due to their wider and higher coverage.

Besides coverage, loading fees also include the:

  • volume of media,
  • number of countries or territories and,
  • the duration of usage for the assigned images

Should I charge Loading Fees if my client wishes to reuse my images?

First Usage:

If the photographer is quoting for a new assignment, the photography charges should be calculated to reflect the types of media that the images will be used in.

Charges would be higher for ATL usage compared to BTL due to higher coverage. Apart from ATL/BTL usage, charges should also reflect the number of different media, number of countries included and usage duration. 

Charges for these items may be included together with the photography fees as a single sum in the quotation, but can also be placed as separate items, as some photographers prefer.

Repeat Usage:

If the client chooses to use the images again after the first assignment is delivered, a new quotation and invoice should be generated to reflect the extended duration as well as coverage for the number of media and/or usage of the images in the countries it’s going to be used.

These items can be billed under the heading of Loading Fees or Re-usage Fees. Photography Fees no longer apply.   

‘Above the Line’ vs ‘Below the Line’

The following are some examples of media types commonly classified by Ad Agencies:

What are ‘Above the Line’ advertising?

Electronic Media

  1. Free-to-Air TV Commercials
  2. Cable/Satellite TV Ads or similar
  3. TV Mobile
  4. Cinema Commercials
  5. Video Wall
  6. Website/Online
  7. 3G Mini Drama
  8. Public Social Media Posts

Mass Print Media

  1. Press (Newspaper)
  2. Press (Magazine)
  3. Electronic Posters
  4. Posters/Banners/Murals in Retail Stores
  5. Light Boxes (Dura Trans)
  6. Overhead Bridge Displays
  7. Escalator Panels

Outdoor Print Media

  1. Billboards
  2. Building Banners and Signage
  3. Life Size Standee
  4. Phone Booth
  5. Posters in Tunnels
  6. Hoardings
  7. Window Decals
  8. Lift Decals (Interior/Exterior)
  9. Bus-Stop Posters and Light boxes
  10. Vending Machine Ads
  11. Other print media which are highly visible by the public

Transit Media

  1. Airport/Ferry Terminal/Train Station/Subway (MRT) Station/Bus Terminal:
    • Banners
    • Light Boxes (Dura Trans)
    • Posters
    • Murals
  2. Bus Panel – Interior and Exterior
  3. Bus – Wholly Painted
  4. Bus Stop Dura Trans
  5. Car Park Dura Trans
  6. Taxi Bumper Decals
  7. Taxi In-Cabin
  8. Taxi Top Dura Trans
  9. Taxi Wholly Painted
  10. Train/MRT:
    • In-Cabin Ad
    • In-train Doors
    • In-train Floor
    • In-train Panels
    • In-train
    • In-train Poles
    • In-train Seats
    • In-train Windows
    • Station Doors
    • Station Dura Trans
    • Station Floors
    • Station Pillars
    • Station Posters
    • Station Seats
    • Station Walls
  11. Train/MRT Wholly Painted
  12. Out-Stations (Outside Entrance Displays/Ads)
  13. Private/Commercial Vehicle Wholly Painted – eg. Delivery vans, Private Buses, etc.

What are ‘Below the Line’ advertising?

Electronic Media

  1. Train/MRT Platform Video
  2. 3G Video
  3. Automated Teller Machine Video (ATM)
  4. In-house Video
  5. In-store Video
  6. In-Flight Video
  7. Roadshow / Exhibition Video
  8. Q Video
  9. Corporate Video (Outdoor)
  10. Corporate Video (Internal)
  11. e-Direct Mailer (EDM)
  12. Email Blast
  13. Moving Spotlight (In-store/Out-store)
  14. Private or Closed Group Social Media posts

Print Media

  1. ATM/Credit Cards
  2. ATM Displays
  3. Application/Contest Forms
  4. Booklets
  5. Brochures
  6. Buntings
  7. CD Rom
  8. Calendars/Pocket Calendars
  9. Catalogues
  10. Carrier/Shopping Bags
  11. Decals
  12. Direct Mailer (DM)
  13. Direct Mailer Pack*
  14. Flyers
  15. In-store Posters and POSM**
  16. Leaflets
  17. Newsletters
  18. Packaging
  19. PR Kit*
  20. Phone Cards
  21. Sample Prints
  22. Stationery – eg. Envelopes, Letterheads, Memo Pads, Note books, etc.
  23. Stickers
  24. T-Shirts
  25. Take-ones
  26. Tent Cards
  27. Transit Cards
  28. User Guides
  29. Postcards

*Direct Mailer Pack / PR Kit – normally contains leaflets, brochures, inserts, booklets, application forms, etc.

How much Loading Fees should I charge?

For photographers, loading fees are normally charged as a percentage of the shooting/photographer’s fee.

For example, if the shooting fee is $1000 and the loading fee is determined as 150% of shooting fee, then loading fees would be calculated as $1000 x 150%, or $1500.

The percentage used is determined by type of media, media volume, number of countries or territories as well as duration of use. Thus, it is important to get this information from clients before preparing a quote.


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