Am I INSANE for letting a magazine publish a photo?

Discussion in 'Business of Photography' started by bill_burke|1, Jul 9, 2012.

  1. I was approached by a marketing rep from Southwest Airlines Spirit magazine via email (through a friend of a friend) about a piece they're doing on a Vermont Lake. This lake is a bit of a hidden gem and although beautiful, not very photographed. I've been going there all my life and many photo's, hence the inquiry. I do weddings and family portraits on a part time basis, but never got into publications. I was so excited about the possibilty I gave her a couple of photo's to use. Now one of my images is in their July issue of Spirit on a double spread headlining the article of "Inspiring Places" (I thought it would be a postage stamp size on the back page.) Now I'm thinking about the circulation numbers and the size and what I've read about pricing calculators. Did I just do something in the record-setting-stupid category? Not that I plan to do anything about it - I'm still jazzed about having an image in a real magazine.
    Bill
     
  2. Bill, you might have been able to charge some money for the photo, but having it published unsolicited in such a magazine is marketing money can't buy.
    You might consider capitalizing on it in your promotional material relating to your part time weddings and family portraits business. Getting a few gigs as a result of it will exceed what you would have gotten from Southwest.
     
  3. "Bill, you might have been able to charge some money for the photo, but having it published unsolicited in such a magazine is marketing money can't buy." --nor a cup of coffee!
    These things rarely lead to anything but can give one some bragging rights. Don't sweat it, but remember next time to just ASK what they normally pay for the use they are contemplating. You would have been published, gotten whatever Michael is referring to and been able to buy more than a couple of pounds of coffee....Oh well!
     
  4. Assuming you also do weddings and family portraits for free, what's the big deal?
     
  5. I hope they gave you a prominent photo credit.
     
  6. I once received an unsolicited email from a woman after she browsed through my portfolio on p.net. Turned out she wanted an exclusive licence for one of my pictures for 1 year to be used in a Christmas greeting card across 5 countries in Europe.
    I accepted her offer of a few hundred dollars for a full-rez original from my (then) 3MP camera.
    As John said, it gave me bragging rights and a few nice dinners, but if I was pursuing photography as a business, this would have been a good starting point perhaps leading to other opportunities had I bothered to explore them.
     
  7. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    Assuming you also do weddings and family portraits for free, what's the big deal?​

    There's a huge difference between providing a service and selling photos that you happen to have taken. The latter is more like a stock deal and typically wouldn't pay very much anyway. Given what magazines are paying for non-commissioned photos these days, it's ridiculous to compare to service-based shooting.
    These things rarely lead to anything but can give one some bragging rights.​

    While I don't recommend just giving images away, I have gotten a lot of work from a set of tear sheets (or whatever we call the online equivalent.) I got paid for them, but at editorial rates, and got quite a bit of work from some of them. When I've been on the other side of this, buying images, I never asked what someone got paid, but a portfolio of tearsheets was always easier to sell to whoever was publishing.
    What nobody has brought up is the apparent lack of licensing agreement. Was there one? If not, you have left yourself open to regular re-use, including in advertising where the rates should be significantly higher, without compensation.
     
  8. it

    it

    You might be insane for thinking it's insane. Getting published is one of the best things you can do for your part time business, as long as you know how to leverage it.
    (I'm assuming you aren't this Bill Burke btw, one of my favorite photographers of all time.)
     
  9. "Given what magazines are paying for non-commissioned photos these days"? Zero is not a payment. A two-page spread should have earned him $200-400. No, it's not a king's ransom, but some poor wretch trying to make a living in editorial photography is groaning and chugging a bottle of Pepto-Bismol. The monetary value of yet another photo has been determined in the marketplace to be zero.
    Photos for editorial use should not be given away for free, and Bill has illustrated another excellent reason why. Look how jazzed he is to see his picture printed in a magazine. Having your picture printed in a magazine is special. It *would* give you bragging rights -- if you didn't let on that you gave it away for free.
    On the bright side, a photo buyer at the Southwest Airlines magazine is earning her wings.
     
  10. I've got my photos on a book (to be published this September) cover (low run academic book, a few thousand copies that students are no doubt going to be required to purchase for college classes), on a city tourism brochure, and on postcards at state parks. I've charged for all of them, and to my knowledge have never received a referral from any of them, although I am prominently listed with photo credit in all cases. Not sure you get a lot of referrals from these types of things, so might as well make a bit of cash on the side for photo use. A couple hundred bucks for the limited use rights isn't asking too much, in my opinion, and I have never been turned down yet when someone has come to me asking to use my photos.
    Of course, bragging rights are very nice....congrats, feel good about your photography, nice to be recognized!
     
  11. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    to my knowledge have never received a referral from any of them​

    As I pointed out above, and I think Ian also suggested, it's not about the referral, it's about how you use the publication. Two completely different things.
     
  12. Jeff:

    Certainly, no argument there, just a passing comment is all...certainly 'just having it out there' is of limited benefit.

    My best success has come from posting my photos strategically on different Facebook pages. I have developed a nice business relationship with some of the Indiana State Park camp / lodge stores (they are run independently from the state), most have come from me simply posting photos of some aspect of the state park on their Facebook site, and in some cases a follow up email. Really simple, and they get nice feedback for themselves as they can see how many people 'like' the photo on Facebook before they order. Same with the relationship I have taking some photos for the city I live in for tourism and promotional brochures.

    And yes, ALL of my clients sign a rights managed image license agreement. That is non-negotiable, although I have never had anyone even blink at signing the agreement.
     
  13. Would Southwest be thrilled that you rode on their plane and give you a seat for free just for the bragging rights? I seriously doubt it.

    What I'm surprised by is that they didn't offer you a contract of some type and at least some token payment if only to estalbish that they had the right to use the photo.

    It's a little late to negotiate. But you might shoot an email to the contact saying you were very pleased to see the photo in print and asking what their standard payment is for usage of that size and when you can expect a check. No guarantee it will work but you've got nothing to lose.

    As suggested above, every time a photographer gives away a picture for the "thrill" of being published, it hurts everybody trying to make a living at photography. You've got to remember that this is the way many people put food on the table and a roof over their heads.
     
  14. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    it hurts everybody trying to make a living at photography. You've got to remember that this is the way many people put food on the table and a roof over their heads.​

    It is the responsibility of the photographer to look after him or herself, not the rest of the photographic universe. If someone wants to undercut, right down to free, that's their right. Nobody is looking after me except me and suggesting otherwise is playing to something that isn't there.
     
  15. I don't think the question was about what others would do or protecting the industry, but rather should he have asked for money and the answer is that yes, he should have done so. All he had to do was ask and he would have gotten paid, it is just an opportunity lost.
    Anything you get printed can help as often designers and art directors like to know what the work looks like printed or in context. But asking for money doesn't preclude getting the image printed, if they call you, they want it and don't expect to get it for free.
    One issue not addressed is the fact that the images was of something rarely shot--as I remember anyway. My photos have been on book covers and in magazines, work that I have shot for myself or on assignment for someone else--editorial and otherwise. If the work is something they want--and in all of those cases they have seen the image through some other source than direct solicitation--they will always offer their minimum/standard fee and that is rarely what they can pay. I have never agreed to the minimum/standard up front and if I know it is a unique image--or already chosen by an author--I often double the "standard" but ask for it while leaving it open to negotiation. Pricing is a skill you learn over time but more often than not, they will increase their offer--most people are just afraid to ask. Why we let them dictate price is beyond me, if they call you, they want your image and they have an approved price range but their job is to get it for as little as possible. Just be nice and ask for more even if it is just "can you do a bit better than that?". They most often will-at least that has been my experience.
     
  16. but rather should he have asked for money and the answer is that yes, he should have done so.​

    The answer is only yes if the OP wanted it to be yes. It seems that this was more important:
    I'm still jazzed about having an image in a real magazine.​
     
  17. Now I'm thinking about the circulation numbers and the size and what I've read about pricing calculators. Did I just do something in the record-setting-stupid category?​
    Steve, this is what he asked, it it stupid?, well, I don't think that it was, but I think the inference was that he wants to know if he should have asked, and yes, he should have--let's not just argue to argue.
     
  18. david_henderson

    david_henderson www.photography001.com

    Are you insane? No but you were naive.
    I would have responded along the lines of "great, what rate do you have in mind, and what rights do you expect for that?" Their answer may have been that they just don't pay for photography, but at least you'd have been faced with a clear proposition rather than having your enthusiasm dampened a little by the fact that you may have supplied for nothing what the magazine might well have been happy to pay for and that the other photographers whose work is featured have been paid for. My betting is that had you asked, you'd have been paid. Maybe not a huge amount, but you would have got something IMO.
    Any value the use of your photography by this mag. brings along with it is certainly not diluted if you get paid for it.
    I'm surprised that the Agency concerned did not ask you to grant their client a licence. Maybe you're not the real amateur here. Or have they really published a photograph without having anything in writing that gives them the right to do so?
     
  19. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    I don't think the question was about what others would do or protecting the industry​

    It wasn't. Someone answered indicating that it should be.
    should he have asked for money and the answer is that yes​

    I don't think anyone disagrees with that.
    Why we let them dictate price is beyond me​

    For assignment work, I think this is true. However, with the state of the publishing industry and the availability of infinite numbers of stock photo, it's changed a lot, and the publications either don't have the money or know they can get something almost as appropriate for their price. It takes having truly unique images to dictate pricing to the publishing business these days, at least in my experience.
     
  20. Your first question should have been, "What are your usual rates for this kind of usage?"
    When I have been approached similarly on a number of occasions in the past, asking this question has resulted in some cases in substantial payment, as well as repeat, assigned photography, and additional compensation for future, different uses of the same photo(s) by the same client.
    If their answer is zero, then it's up to you to decide what their request is worth. Whether that is zero dollars, or a three or four figure payment, the decision is yours.
     
  21. Jeff, I just sold an image to a publisher for a book cover and got 2/3's more than they offered. In fact, I don't know that I have ever accepted the "offered" price. On assignments, I generally negotiate a rate for the creative fee but accept the space rate, which only guarantees me a minimum that is acceptable for the nature of the project.
    I get several of those "call for images" from several magazines and I think if you submit to those, you do it for their standard fee, but when they call you about an image they have "discovered" there is room to negotiate. I don't think you can't negotiate even when you submit images, but it is a bit different and it probably isn't in your interest over time to negotiate a higher price if you want to submit images in the future. It is a bit of a game, but you have to feel out every situation, sometimes there is no room, but asking for more is never an issue if done in a positive manner while indicating that you want to work with them.
     
  22. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    It is a bit of a game, but you have to feel out every situation, sometimes there is no room, but asking for more is never an issue if done in a positive manner while indicating that you want to work with them.​
    I don't disagree with this, just saying that my experience with publications is that they are strapped. Music magazines in particular are paying $10 - $25 for a spot now and there isn't much you can do. A cover assignment is different, or a feature article that requires going out to shoot, but the spots just don't cover it. I find right now that I get the best per image pay from a) Europe and b) specialty magazines with limited circulation.
     
  23. Am I INSANE for letting a magazine publish a photo?​
    I wouldn't say "insane," but I would never give a picture away for free to a publisher. If it is worth publishing it is worth paying for. A magazine like Southwest Airlines Spirit would probably only warrant charging at most a couple of hundred dollars for an inside shot from my experience... maybe a bit more for a full spread. Editorial doesn't pay much, but you have to charge or these multibillion dollar companies will get used to getting stuff for free. If you truly had a unique hard to get shot giving it away is not a good idea.
     
  24. I've been licensing images for 20+ year, of which nearly a decade was spent managing a niche stock agency for a respected photographer. Likely you gave away about $600-800 worth of cash, which is a fairly standard DP rate, which are often equal or close to a cover rate because of the prominent use. You *may* be able to squeak some promotional value out of it if you work it, but in 20 years, I've probably gotten 2 or 3 unsolicited queries because of a credit line; out of thousands of images licensed.
     
  25. "Am I INSANE for letting a magazine publish a photo?...This lake is a bit of a hidden gem and although beautiful, not very photographed. I've been going there all my life." Well, to take this in slightly different direction, I'm hoping for the sake of your own mental and spiritual well being that you were vague with respect to captioning and location. This has been my policy for years, unless it's a location that is widely known and recognized. And on the matter of charging a licensing fee and nailing town the terms of use, yeah, you should have done that. Lesson learned.
     
  26. I hope you are at least getting attribution and a tear sheet.
     

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