Old 06-27-2007, 06:34 AM   #1
DelmonteX
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I am negotiating with a client who wishes to use one of my photos on the cover of a widely distributed document. They do not want exclusive rights to the photo.

I'm aware of someone who has sold a photo, with exclusive rights, for a little over a grand.

So I was wondering if I can get some input on what a reasonable price for my photo might be.

Your input would be appreciated!!!
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Old 06-27-2007, 08:19 AM   #2
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How many people are going to be seeing it? Out of curiosity, what photo?

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Old 06-27-2007, 10:07 AM   #3
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Here in the UK magazines, especially railway ones are not that generous with photo payments.

There is a UK site that gives pricing guidance for use of their own work, may be helpful.

http://www.scenicbritain.co.uk/Fees_Guide.html

A friend of mine contributes a lot of work to UK magazines, his comment is "Your won't get rich"



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Old 06-27-2007, 04:58 PM   #4
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Alex:

I think it best that while I'm still negotiating with my client that I not disclose that information.

It is not, however, a magazine. Which is sort of the reason for the post. I've had a couple of shots published in magazines and I've been pretty much left to what the mag is willing to pay.

In this case, I'm being asked how much. Of course, I want as much as I can get, but I also don't want to price myself out of the deal.

Steve
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Old 06-27-2007, 05:44 PM   #5
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I have no experience (so stop reading!), but it would seem if it's a rare or unique shot (as opposed to a telemashed shot of a BNSF H2 Dash 9 rolling along the plains) that the publisher would have a difficult time finding elsewhere, you're in a better position to set a price.
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Old 06-27-2007, 05:52 PM   #6
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Pricing is primarily dependent on the image, the buyer, and the usage.

If a photograph is a once-in-a-lifetime shot it should be priced higher than something you can go out and duplicate next week.

If the buyer is a large national corporation with deep pockets, they can afford to pay more than a local nonprofit organization.

If the photograph is being used to advertise a product or service (as in: they make money off your work), it should sell for more than a non-commercial image (a pretty picture).

$1000+ is just about the minimum for exclusive, lifetime rights. You may also find this to be helpful: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stock_photography

It would be easier to suggest a dollar amount if I knew the variables, but this should point you in the right direction. Good luck with your sale.
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Old 06-29-2007, 08:50 PM   #7
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In this day & age of everyone owning a camera, if you can get more than $50 for it, you did well. Unless it is a very unique image that someone absolutely could not duplicate.
For a cover shot I'd probably open with a $125 offer.

Good luck...
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Old 06-29-2007, 09:22 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill
In this day & age of everyone owning a camera, if you can get more than $50 for it, you did well. Unless it is a very unique image that someone absolutely could not duplicate.
For a cover shot I'd probably open with a $125 offer.

Good luck...
I second the $!25-$150 for the cover. Most of us take photos without the thought of selling it (maybe int he back of our minds) but it is not a priority. It's good to make a large profit, but any profit for me is worth it.

Now IF you really wanted to get into pricing the photo. You could calculate price for gas, a portion of the equipment, etc. That's a lot of work instead of just saying, eh, $150 will do.

I'm always afraid of scaring away potential buyers since I shoot for fun selling one is a major perk!
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Old 06-29-2007, 09:41 PM   #9
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I have to wonder about the future of professional photography. Why would anyone hire a pro to take shots of trains at this point? Any RR could post an announcement - we need a picture of train X, stat - and in no time their inbox would be flooded with submissions.

Seriously, I wonder about the future of pro photography. There will always be weddings and pro sports, but in some of the other categories, I think prices will plummet; maybe they already have. I've been meaning to read up on microstock agencies (to inform myself on changes in the marketplace, not because I think I have anything worth selling ) and get a sense in general of the future of commercial photography. I know it isn't an especially lucrative line of work.
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Old 06-29-2007, 11:18 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JRMDC
I have to wonder about the future of professional photography. Why would anyone hire a pro to take shots of trains at this point? Any RR could post an announcement - we need a picture of train X, stat - and in no time their inbox would be flooded with submissions.
And how many of those submissions do you think would be worth publishing? Very few I bet. If the purchase is only $150, I'm sure that amount is worth the savings in time and effort for the company.
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Old 06-30-2007, 05:27 AM   #11
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In this day and age, truly superior photography still commands a high price.

The current stock photography market revolves around the concept of "microstock," photographers who upload their photos and sell them for $.25 cents. As an example of how this works, someone can upload a photo of a smiling couple on a porch swing, cuddling and eating yogurt. Some marketing employee at Yoplait will see the photo when he searches for "yogurt." He'll buy the photo for $5, then structure a multimillion dollar marketing campaign around it. Does the photographer get the true value of her photo? Absolutely not. But that's how the game is played.

However, this pattern doesn't always extend to every niche of photography (thank God for small favors). Railroad photography is one of those niches. Because the average Joe Blow photographer uploading to microstock websites doesn't care about trains, designers needing railroad photography are forced to look elsewhere. They usually hire commercial photographers and pay tens of thousands of dollars for a few photos. Or, as in Steve's case, they can browse railpictures.net.

One think to keep in mind is that commercial photography is usually dramatically different from railfan photography. Railfans shoot trains, whereas there's usually some greater driving purpose behind commercial photography. It's selling something or conveying a message. If you think the screening process is stringent here, try working with art director.

I work part-time as a professional photographer and spend considerable time working one-on-one with an art director. If something isn't on file, I have to go to lengths to arrange for models, set up a shoot, and spend hours working with lighting. She'll often come in with an idea in her head of what the photo will look like. Sometime it matters whether the photo is on the top or the bottom of the page, and sometimes it all comes down the dominating shapes and colors in the photo(s) on the opposite page.

I used to think that commercial photography was like some sort of trained-monkey business. When I started doing it, I was totally overwhelmed and underprepared. Producing "perfection" to fit the demands of someone else is driven by a mixture of stress and adrenaline that left me physically and emotionally exhausted at the end of the day. It's all worth it because getting the perfect shot can convey more about a product or service than thousands of words of explanation.

When we railfans shoot trackside, we're out shooting for ourselves. When you go out to shoot commercially, it's not about shooting for yourself. Your first responsibility is to the requirements of the client and some of your "vision" gets to take a back seat.

It's a rare shot that is both "flawless" and "marketable." A railroad recently asked me to round up some shots for them to review. I started by discarding all the photos that didn't show the their operations in a pleasing setting. Then I removed the photos that didn't have perfect lighting. Then I dumped everything with mixed up locomotives. Then I started picking nits ... graffiti, smoke, or a dirty pilot was cause for elimination. When I had narrowed it down to a few dozen, I removed the ones that just didn't have a "spark" to them. Out of well over 2,000 photos of this railroad in my collection, only 12 were anywhere near suitable.

Putting out an open call for photographs would probably just produce a vast flood of junk. The odds of picking the "perfect shot" out of a stack of submissions is quite low, especially if the art director has his notion of what "it" should look like.

There are a number of exceptional photographer with work on railpictures.net who have the talent and skill to produce salable photography. This caliber of work isn't going to exist on microstock websites because the photographing public-at-large pays no attention to railroads. Like it or not, railroad photography is a highly limited market. As such, it's fair to price this material at a rate that recognizes the time, effort, and skill involved in producing it.

If you've got a "flawless" and "marketable" shot, don't be bashful about asking a four-digit figure. Most large clients who are serious about using your work won't even blink. They know they'd have to pay five times that amount to recreate the shot themselves. They also know that superlative photography sells a product or promotes a service.

I have a glossy marketing publication on my desk with one of Steve's photos in it. Congratulations to him, not only for shooting a gorgeous shot, but for making the transition from railfan to paid professional.

http://www.railpictures.net/showphotos.php?userid=7787
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Old 06-30-2007, 07:14 AM   #12
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John, thanks for that overview.
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Old 07-01-2007, 01:49 PM   #13
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If this is for something other than a hobby magazine cover, you can probably get a lot more than $125 for it. I have sold photos for trade publications and for other corporate uses and for a full cover shot $125 is too cheap.

Also if you can avoid it or unless your client wants to pay you LOTS of money up front, NEVER give the right to use the photo for any use. Always negotiate for a specific use. Then if they want to use it for something else, they have to come back to you and negotiate again. I once sold a photo to NBC to use in an episode of Dateline NBC. Their lawyers tried to get me to sign papers that basically said that they could use it as much as they wanted and could be used by any of their other networks around the world. I said no way. The story that was on Dateline NBC was also re done for the National Geographic Channel and for some of their foriegn networks. Each time they did that, they had to come back to me and negotiate each use.

Here is an example of one of my shots on RP that I sold. The agreement was for a one time use for a single trade show and I made much more than $125 on this one.

http://home.comcast.net/~r.silagi/KONI.jpg

This is the original photo:

http://www.railpictures.net/viewphot...=69396&nseq=22

I don't mind giving my shots away for hobby type publications and books which are usually more a labor of love than money makers, but for large corporations who are going to use my photos to help sell their products or services, they need to pay.
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Old 07-02-2007, 09:09 PM   #14
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Personally I don't really care about the monetary aspect of the thing. I shoot trains for fun, sure it has cost me in terms of my camera, lenses, and countless gallons of gasoline, but I still enjoy doing it.
Recently I was asked for permission to use one of my photos on the cover of a for-profit timetable. I was more than happy to let them use it in exchange for a free copy of two or the publication, although I probably could have asked for money as well.
http://www.thomascookpublishing.com/...es&book_id=319
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I guess in the end all that really matters is what you want to get out of it, I wasn't interested in getting money at that time (although it certainly isn't a bad idea to get paid for your hobby). For me I was giddy enough with the thought of getting my photo on the cover of something, but hey, money is nice too!
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Old 07-27-2007, 04:17 PM   #15
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Steve, Did they use your picture? Is it on page 28 by chance?

Terry Tabb
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Old 07-27-2007, 04:49 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by terry434
Steve, Did they use your picture? Is it on page 28 by chance?

Terry Tabb
Yes that's the one.

It will be on the cover of the Winter Timetable as well, and whereever else it's "needed", as Amtrak bought exclusive use.
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