Monday, August 27, 2012

Major Publication Wants Free Photos Yet Charges $155,000.00 For One Ad

It is becoming way too frequent of an occurrence where you hear about photographers (and writers) being offered nothing of very little for their work. The title of this post is copied from another Blog (link below) I just stumbled across and tells of another one of these stories.
Major Publication Wants Free Photos Yet Charges $155,000.00 For One Ad
I have always been a proponent of charging what you are worth knowing your time, technical and artistic skills and your investments in equipment are all worth something. Why would anyone give that away for two minutes fame? Note that 'who you are', the years of growing up (or not growing up in my case), the years of mistakes and experiences all make up who and what you are and all play an influential role in your art or photography. Why would you just give that away?
In November 2010 I had an image appear on the cover of Popular Photography. I Blogged about it here: First Magazine Cover. This was an accident as the image was 'sold' to be published in the magazine. The image did make the magazine inside and took up about a half a page. I was surprized to find it on the cover, not just because it was my image but in this particular case it was an image of me.

The point here is that I sold the image. I was paid for my time and my work. Not only did I spend the time making the image, photographing it over two days (the planet and my portrait), renting a fisheye lens (I have now purchased one), and spent hours of editing time, I also had to spend time negotiating, dealing with several e-mails, had forms to fill out as it was purchased in the U.S. and I am in Canada and then had to resize a final image and digitally send the image.
I didn't make thousands on it, but I did get paid. In the end, my hourly rate was probably below the minimum wage laws but I did get paid. This image was seen in Popular Photography and then another magazine, a British publication picked it up and again I was paid.
It has always been a struggle for photographers, the getting paid part. There are always those that will work for free (shame on you) and those that will work for next to nothing looking for their first big break. The problem is if and when you get your first big break and you think you will be able to now start making money, you will not get paid because other photographers will be giving their images away (like you did) and the client will opt for the free stuff like they did with you.
If ALL photographers stopped giving away their images, publications that do not know or understand the value of paying for good photographers, would have to pay and would. Years ago they all did but now with the popularity of photography and the relatively cheap and abundant equipment there has been a huge influx of new photographers and an even larger group wanting 'their big break'.
In the Fine Art Photography world it is no different. I charge $300 or more for my un-framed images. Many photographers ask how I can sell images for so much. I ask them how can I afford NOT to and then I wonder why I do not charge even more.

I have recently taken a two day workshop with famed B&W Long Exposure artist and photographer Michael Levin ( The biggest reason for taking the workshop was not to learn how to do long exposures, that’s easy, but rather to hear the second day of the workshop stuff on the business aspect of being a photographer. Getting a better understanding of the Fine Art Photography business, how many images should you have in a Limited Edition series, how to price your images and why, how to approach a Gallery or other avenues of income and so on . . . was way more important for me. I learned a lot on that day and some of my thoughts and ideas on business aspects were also re-affirmed. Knowing I am headed in the right direction and on the right path helps. Oh, and I did learn a few more things on Long Exposure. Bonus!
When someone asks you ‘How much?’ or ‘What would you charge?’ don’t sell yourself short. Don’t be tempted to do it for free as a learning experience. Sit down and spend the time required to decide what your images should sell for and what your time is worth. This should be a valuable exercise and remember, 'You only get paid what you think you're worth.'
One thing I have learned over the years also is that by underpricing yourself, you let the other party know you are in-experienced and you may lose jobs because of it. Generally if clients ask ‘How much?’ it’s because they are interested and usually willing to pay. A

In response to the blog post should we as Photographers boycott Travel & Leisure Magazine? How do we deal with this on-going issue of photography being de-valued and the trend of companies not paying for images. Then there are those companies under the guise of ‘Photo Contests’ that get thousands of submissions to get FREE access to use submitted images whenever they want as often as they want, but then let’s not go there right now as that’s another rant for another day.

© 2012 Jean-François Cléroux

(Version 1.10 - August 2012)

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- Francois Cleroux