Web Design: Should You Charge For Image Sourcing?

Beautiful Lake Padden in Bellingham, WA.

Beautiful Lake Padden in Bellingham, WA.

In addition to web designer I am also a photographer and as such have a vast library of photos from around the world and of various subjects, textures and moods. My dream is to build a bespoke library just for my business that I or clients can easily refer to and use to search for appropriate images. However, when you have 1000s and 1000s of images across various photo management databases (Aperture, iPhoto and now Photos) on different computers this is a rather daunting task and I have yet to start on it. 

In the meantime I rely heavily on Instagram and my old Flickr account to find photos. I offer my clients free use of my images but searching for the right ones can be quite time consuming. This became especially apparent during my last project, a local hotel site that wanted a photo gallery for the area and its attractions. They provided their own photos but there were not enough and I knew that my own images would be a good fit for the look and feel we were aiming for. I have a lot of pictures of Bellingham and surrounding areas so this turned into quite a time consuming endeavor as it meant browsing 100s of photos in my Flickr and on various hard drives. My client absolutely loved the result and I am also very happy with how it turned out. I did not charge them extra for the photo searches even though that pushed the hours spent on the project over its limits.

Here is the thing: I even have a paragraph in my contract that mentions additional fees for photo searches! But the client never specifically asked for this and I just got carried away with it and did not feel that it was appropriate to bring this up after I had already done it. In the end I didn't exceed the limit too badly and like with all my other project I use this as a learning exercise to evaluate the image needs of a site before I get too stuck into it and to communicate any potential extra charges to my client in a timely manner. 

Here are a few sites that use my images: