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Thread started 08 Mar 2005 (Tuesday) 16:11   
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IndyJeff
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There have been countless threads on this forum from people asking for a price for anything from a single photo to be published to how much to charge for a shooting assignment.

Some say they don't want to make any money from this photo just a few bucks. Others say they don't want any pay at all just a photo credit to get their name out there or to see it in a paper with their photo credit.
Quick tell me the name of the photographer who took the last shot you saw in your local paper that made you say WOW!!What a shot! Can't remember his name? Nobody will remember yours either


There are also threads which talk about using some of these online stock agencies, which pay next to nothing.

Now consider this, if you support one of these online agencies by supplying them with images or, if you are willing to give your images away just for a credit consider the ramifications of those acts.

Let's say that a year down the road you and the little Mr/Mrs decide you want to buy some lake front property for a weekend home and possible to retire to in the future. How can you afford this? Hey I know, I can start selling my images instead of basically giving them away.
So now you start looking around for someplace to represent you, a stock agency or a photo agent. Hmmmm, your having some trouble finding one now. Why? Because editors have used Istock or some of the other give away stock agencies and have found that they can find something on there which will meet their needs. Why pay another agency $800 for that stock photo when they can get one for $4.00?
You finally get in contact by telephone with an editor at The Best Damn Stock Agency in the World. You explain you have quite a collection of great images. He asks if you have ever sold any of them. "Yes, lots of them on istock.com" CLICK "Hello? Hello?"

Now you decide that maybe you will call the paper that ran your hs football shots for the last 4 years and see if they would be interested in hiring you to cover the local hs sporting events, nothing major in the way of pay. Maybe $75 a game. Guess what? They would love to have you do it but, it doesn't pay anything. Why should they start to pay you now. You have been doing it for 4 years at no charge. You won't work for free anymore? Fine, Johnny Gotshots has a new camera and has been bugging them for the last 3 months with wanting to submit his shots from the hs game.

Maybe you can contact a calendar company and see if they would be interested in taking a look at your landscapes and wildlife shots. Nope, they don't accept submissions anymore. All their images come from istock or a similar agency. Sorry but we have stockholders who are now making $35 a share instead of $2.00 and they love it.

Oh there will always be sources which will pay "pro" rates but, they will have a strict list of people whom they accept images from and you ain't on that list now nor will you be on it in this or anyother lifetime. Because of your actions in the past there is no longer a market for your photos that will pay you. Your work now has no value and the freebie agencies and photo credit only guys are where you can look to to see why the market is gone.
So you have to tell the Mr/Mrs that there is no way we can afford that lakeside cottage, sorry dear.

One thing you have to understand, any image you create has value. Some more than others. If someone contacts you and wants to use that photo for X use, it has a value. If they are not willing to pay you for it's use then it has little value, to them at least. They will find something suitable for their needs and some other schmuck will be thrilled that his photo was used. Guess what? You both got paid the same....nothing!

Now consider this, remember the shot of President Clinton shaking hands with people and Monica Lewinsky is in the crowd with her little beret on? How much revenue did that single photo generate? My guess would be close to $100,000 and I would be willing to bet that when the photo first ran, nobody knew who Monica Lewinsky was.
How about the shot of Jack Ruby sticking his gun in the belly of Lee Harvey Oswald? Oswalds mouth open showing the agony of pain from that gun shot. How much revenue did that generate? Probably more than 1/4 of a million $$$.
Ok so those were both newsworthy events, you don't ever shoot stuff like that. Everyone has seen a shot of the NYC skyline, the Jefferson Memorial at night reflecting off the water, how about a shot of a palace guard at Buckingham Palace? Not really newsworthy really but, still anyone of those images have raked in enough money to buy the entire line of Canon L lenses.
Can you afford to give away a single image that may turn into one of those once in a lifetime shots?
Give away your copyright, sell it for .20 a download over the internet, sell it for a photo credit and then think of how you will feel when all of a sudden you see that image which you have hanging on your wall and are so proud of being republished everywhere. In magazines, on TV programs, billboards, ads in magazines and newspapers.
When you get that sick to your stomach feeling because you gave that image away and now you realize that one image alone, made more in the last 6 months in revenue than you will make working 40 hours a week for the next 10 years, put the gun down and send ol' IndyJeff and email. Let me know that image is yours and you wished more than anything in the world you would have heeded the advice given by KennyG, VWPilot, RFMSports, Bloo Dog, myself and countless others to charge for your work because you now realize.....IT HAS VALUE!!!!!

Post #1, Mar 08, 2005 16:11:28


On shooting sports...If you see it happen then you didn't get it.

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KennyG
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Jeff, absolutely excellent points. I have just told a major publication to take a hike. They called me to say they have found someone to give them work for free this year and want me to now do the same. They can stew in their own juices as far as I am concerned and their biggest competitor had a call from me a few minutes after (a deal was struck).

I had one image earn me over $3,000. You would be amazed how many calls/mails I received wanting it for free. Most were very offended when I refused. I loved one comment "Well, it cost you nothing to shoot other than pressing a button". I rolled around on the floor laughing at that one for hours.

Cheap or for free stock agencies can only survive as long as there are people sending them images for nothing. Unfortunately there appears to be a lot of people prepared to prostitute themselves just to see their name in lights and some agencies are quite happy to act as their pimps.

A friend of mine earned $150,000 from one motorsport picture over three years. It was bought over and over again and he still expects some income from it this year. You just never know when you have that 'golden goose'.

Great post, I enjoyed reading it and hopefully some of it will sink in with other readers.

Post #2, Mar 08, 2005 16:52:15


Ken
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FlipsidE
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I hope this doesn't come across as a stupid question, but what about those shoots for very close friends and family in which you just give them a CD with images and let them print as many as they like? I have at least one shoot lined up with the above terms. Of course these photos are worth money, but at the same time, I'm also getting some good experience under my belt (being the amateur I am).

So, to all you pros out there, what do you think of this kind of situation? Does it cause damage like what Jeff talked about? Or are these just worthwhile freebies to help out good friends or family?

Thanks

FlipsidE

Post #3, Mar 08, 2005 19:18:59


FlipsidE

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Vegas ­ Poboy
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Jeff that was very well put & hopefully everyone who ever decides to sell a photograph will read & understand the REAL value of the images they capture. In school they tell us if someone wants it then it has some value & never sell yourself short & never give up full copyrights unless they pay you at least four + figures.

Post #4, Mar 08, 2005 19:25:21 as a reply to KennyG's post 2 hours earlier.


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Vegas ­ Poboy
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FlipsidE wrote:
I hope this doesn't come across as a stupid question, but what about those shoots for very close friends and family in which you just give them a CD with images and let them print as many as they like? I have at least one shoot lined up with the above terms. Of course these photos are worth money, but at the same time, I'm also getting some good experience under my belt (being the amateur I am).

So, to all you pros out there, what do you think of this kind of situation? Does it cause damage like what Jeff talked about? Or are these just worthwhile freebies to help out good friends or family?

Thanks

FlipsidE

Of course family & friends & children sports has some limitations to the pricing. Myself friends and family gets charged regular rates - 1/3. I explain to them its a business & they may be taking time from full paying jobs.
I believe Jeff is writing about the photographers who wants to see thier name in publication & giving the work away that could bring in big dollars. Companies know the real value of a photography to market thier products and will hire in house or fly by night photographers to save $$$. I found out this week that a full page ad in Time magazine cost around $300,000.00 per week. Now why would you sell a photo for $100.00 when a company will pay that much for a one week ad?
This is info that floats around in our photography classes :)

Post #5, Mar 08, 2005 19:35:32 as a reply to FlipsidE's post 16 minutes earlier.


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IndyJeff
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Flipside about 4 years ago I attended a family reunion/grandmas (85th)birthday party. I took a group shot of all 53 of us. Everybody wanted a print. No problem I kept saying. Well before I know it, people are wanting 5x7's and 8x10's. Needless to say it got pretty expensive.
So last year for the annual party/reunion I took photos again. This time I posted them to my website, gave everyone a card and said go buy all you want. One cousin said your going to charge us for the pictures? I explained that after the 85th party, I spent about $75 on prints and postage. She couldn't believe it.
I priced them so as I covered the print cost, commission for hosting, credit card transaction but didn't make much more than a few cents per print. One cousin ordered about $28 worth.
Nobody complained and all were happy they were able to get the prints so easily.

The point being, yes there are times when you are acting as uncle Fred snapping off shots of a family gathering or helping out an old friend by providing photography of his kids party etc. But how much money are you willing to put out to provide your service?

I have actually done 2 weddings. Neither one was a paying job. One was for friends of mine who couldn't really afford a photographer and it became my gift. The other was a family friend who was getting married and they too couldn't afford a photographer. I did this as a favor for the grooms mom & dad. In each case had I not been willing to do it, there would have been no photographer to shoot the weddings.

Recently I was asked to do two jobs, one a wedding (the spirit of bloo dog was calling to me) which I declined to do. These people have parents which could have afforded to pay a photographer but they thought I would do it for free. I hadn't even received an invitation to the wedding when they asked me, still hasn't come in the mail and the wedding was in November.
The other was to do a family reunion this memorial day weekend. I asked the guy what kind of budget he had in mind. His reply was, "Oh hell I didn't think you would charge me." Then I explained that weekend on Friday I would be at my son's hs graduation, Saturday I would be at parties for him and my two nephews who are also graduating, packing up and heading into the track after midnight. Sunday I have the Indy 500 to cover and on Monday morning I would be back at the track for the winners photo shoot about 9am and be there until maybe 11am. After that, I planned on sleeping a good portion of the day as has become the custom in the last 11 years. I would be willing to forgo any of the aforementioned events except the graduation but, the price would be steep, very steep for missing the 500 and even steeper for missing my day of rest on Monday.

There comes a point where you stop being uncle Fred and become a photographer. Only you cna make the determination of when that happens. There is nothing wrong with being an uncle Fred as long your not being taken advantage of, and that will happen.

Post #6, Mar 08, 2005 19:52:22 as a reply to FlipsidE's post 33 minutes earlier.


On shooting sports...If you see it happen then you didn't get it.

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FlipsidE
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The shoot I have lined up is for one of my absolute best friend's six week old daughter. This was something I volunteered to shoot, for free, way back when I first started to learn photography. And, while I may do some clean up work, I intend to probably just hand her a CD (preferrably offer a ZIPed or RARed download from my site) with all the shots on it and let her print them as she sees fit.

Since I will do no printing myself, the only money out of pocket for this shoot will be the money it takes to buy gasoline to drive to her place and drive back (probably a 10 minute drive)...that and the money for my time if you go by the "my time is money" saying.

Thing is, I could get some good experience from this and possibly add some photos to my portfolio. On top of that, I could make a good friend happy. I would make sure, though, to tell her that this is a one time thing and that I would not be doing this for free for her friends.

Am I missing the real point by doing this? Or are these types of things generally acceptable?

FlipsidE

Post #7, Mar 08, 2005 20:06:54


FlipsidE

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Vegas ­ Poboy
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I have done that type of work in the past to build my portfolio & gain experience, just make sure you explain the limitations of doing this and it won't be repeated for others.

Post #8, Mar 08, 2005 20:35:34 as a reply to FlipsidE's post 28 minutes earlier.


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IndyJeff
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Flipside I would be disappointed in you if you were doing anything but shooting your friends daughters party for free. Your playing the part of uncle Fred and I would hope that you do so every year that girl has a birthday.

I wouldn't go into this looking for or expecting to get anything out of it, not something for the portfolio or any experience. Just do it for the fun of it.

There is a time when each and every one of us is not looking to make a buck but, just a guy with a camera taking some pics for a friend. You have to know when that is and when you need to be charging for your work.

Post #9, Mar 09, 2005 04:47:48 as a reply to Vegas Poboy's post 8 hours earlier.


On shooting sports...If you see it happen then you didn't get it.

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FlipsidE
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Good advice Jeff. Thanks!

FlipsidE

Post #10, Mar 09, 2005 05:26:12


FlipsidE

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IndyJeff
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Ok here is a real life situation involving family and photography. My aunt & uncle will be celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary June 4th. It is a small affair at their place on Kentucky Lake. Only their brothers and sisters and of course their 2 sons will be there. I am the only nephew who will be attending. They have asked for me to be the photographer. There was never any mention of money, except that they will be providing me with a motel room that weekend.
I will do this and not charge them a dime. I will also give them one 8x10 print. If anyone else wants prints or wants a portrait done, I will do it and post it online and they can buy it there. I will reduce the cost of their prints so I make virtually nothing off of them but, I am not spending anything more than gas to get there out of my pocket.
I won't lose money, I won't make money. My relatives are not rich but they can afford to pay for their own prints if they wish to have them. I will gain some portrait prints for my portfolio and make some people very happy. That is a win win situation for everyone involved.
There are times when you do work pro bono...without the thought of making any money off it. Thing is you have to know when to do it free and when to charge.
Since they live 5 hours away, if they were to call and ask if I can come do this again for a family portrait for Christmas or something then the first words out of my mouth would be....What kind of money to do have budgeted for this project? I have several package deals which may suit your needs. Of course there will be a charge of $200 just to drive down there on top of the actual photo costs.
I can be had for free but, I won't be taken advantage of, even by family.

Post #11, Mar 09, 2005 10:16:38 as a reply to FlipsidE's post 4 hours earlier.


On shooting sports...If you see it happen then you didn't get it.

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primoz
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And once again I can only agree with Jeff. Sport photography (or photography in general) is not my main business and my main income, so I could actually fall into group of people, who are best "candidates" for "I work for free or for credit only". And to be honest most of those "work for credit only" guys come from other areas. Before it wasn't really that much of stuff like this, since with film noone bothered to do much. Afterall it wasn't really cheap to shoot 5 or 10 films at one race, not to mention normal people didn't have chance to get them developed and scanned or sent in 10 or 20 mins after race. But with digital everyone can be photographer and since it doesn't cost anything (yeah dream on... camera, lenses, computer, driving expenses etc. are paid by who??? ) everyone can send photos to newspapers for free. Afterall it's cool to brag around "Look my photo was printed in this and this newspaper". Right? And when you get salary from something else, then you don't need to worry how you will by bread and milk on end of day, even if you gave your photos away for free. And to be honest most of photos like that are so crapy they will never bring anyone some bigger money so they won't be feeling stupid for giving those photos for free.
But personally I don't do stuff like this because of of reasons, which others should consider too. First I need to buy my equipment (unless if I get it from agency I work for part time). And this thing is not really cheap. Second it doesn't feel fair to take someones bread because, if I work for free, he or she will be without job for sure no matter how crapy my photos would be. Since I work for same money as they do, I don't have any bad concious for "taking their money". For same money they don't hire me because I would be cheaper. And third... if some newspaper, magazine, or any other client will earn money with that photo, then I'm entitled to get my share too... no matter if this is not my full time job. Why noone of those "yeah but we don't have budget for photos" doesn't ask print house to print their newspaper for free? Because it's normal everyone pay for such service. Just as n my mind it's normal to pay for photos too... afterall it's all same thing, just different perspective.

Post #12, Mar 09, 2005 12:03:04


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KennyG
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I know one couple who have spent getting on for $50,000 between them for camera gear - MK-II's, 300 and 600 lenses, etc. They tread all over working photogs territory and give away their work for free. Their work isn't that good (good gear - no talent), but when it is free you can imagine everyone wants it.

One danger about giving work away for free is you could be taking bread out of the mouth of people who need to earn their living from it. If you want to do something for free, just be aware of the impact on other photographers, if there is any. You could find yourself a pariah, just like those above.

Post #13, Mar 09, 2005 15:47:15


Ken
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300 2.8L IS, 500 4.0L IS, 85 1.8, 50 1.4, 1.4 & 2.0 MK-II TC.

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tbfoto
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Jeff, this thread has really hit home for me. Although I work part time as a sports photographer for a local studio I have found myself wanting to get out and shoot even more. When I'm all caught up with my sports I find myself sitting at home wishing I was at a game somewhere. I've been thinking about contacting several newspapers about covering events for them and thought that I would be willing do it for almost nothing because quite frankly I really enjoy this line of work. It really is a tough spot to be in. In order to have something worthwhile to shoot you have to have access to the events. Not just anybody can walk into an arena and go to the floor and start shooting. You have to have permission to be there. In order to get that permission you have to be "working" for someone. Sure I love to get paid for my skills... and do, however there are times when you have to do a freebie or two to get other "paying" doors to open as well. I've done the free weddings and done the free family gatherings as well. I just love to shoot and sometimes it tough to find events worthwhile to shoot. You can only take so many shots of birds and flowers.


Tom

Post #14, Mar 09, 2005 18:20:15 as a reply to KennyG's post 2 hours earlier.




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IndyJeff
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Tom I am sure Kenny, VWPilot or RFM will back me up on this, if you contact an editor and ask if he needs coverage of a local event and ask what his pay rates are, he will take you more seriously than if you are willing to do it for free. You, more than likely, will not be the only phone call he gets that week offering free work.
Each racing season I get about 10 emails from people who have found my racing website. Usually they say they would be interested in working a race for me if I need help. Two things most of these emails have in common is they offer to do it for free and have a website for me to see an example of their work. At least 4 times last year I emailed back something like this......I am sorry but after looking at your website I have to be very frank and honest with you. I couldn't under any circumstances ask for a credential for you as what you have shown me as some of your best work I would consider as stuff I would have deleted. Keep practicing and if you have any questions I will be happy to answer them.
I have gotten to the point of when I see, "I will work for free" I don't even go to thier site. I just send an email and say thanks but I don't need any help now.

I can't vouch for Kenny or Jim or VW but, when I cover an event and it is over I am sore, tired and aching all over. Last year after a football game I stopped by a friends house who lived near the game to visit with him. I came limping in like a 90 year old man. Sat down like I was about to break in half. He laughed and asked what the hell was wrong. I said it was like this after every game. He asked why I did it and I said because I love doing it, even with the aches and pains afterwards. I move, sqaut, kneel, stand, run from one end of the field to the other and trust me when your 47 years old and a guy runs a interception back for a TD and you get from one end of the field to the other in time to get set up to cover a 2 point conversion and get it from the linebackers view, your sore. It ain't all fun and games. When I get done shooting a game, be it softball, football wrestling or even hockey, I am hot, sweaty, sore and tired. It is work.

If you want to do it for free just to open doors, don't count on them ever paying you. My suggestion would be ask if you can cover a game as a stringer. If they use your shot you get paid, if they don't then they aren't out a single dime and all you have invested is the 3-4 hours you spent at the venue. Just remember, if your local paper gets used to having people work for free covering events, they come to expect that and you will never be able to get paid for shooting a game for them

Post #15, Mar 09, 2005 21:57:40 as a reply to tbfoto's post 3 hours earlier.


On shooting sports...If you see it happen then you didn't get it.

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