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Transcript of Pricing your-work-photojournalism
- TABLE of CONTENTS PART I 5 Introduction PART II 7 What types of clients do photojournalists work for? 9 How can I connect with prospective clients? 13 What fees and terms should I expect to see and what questions should I ask? 15 To what extent are rates and terms negotiable and is it worth trying? 16 What are some examples of fees, terms, and contracts? PART III 17 Conclusion 18 Resources for photojournalists 20 About Bill Cramer and Wonderful Machine 2014 PhotoShelter, Inc No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, scanning or otherwise, without the prior written consent of PhotoShelter, Inc. The logos of the companies described are the trademarks of their respective owners. No endorsement is implied. PhotoShelter, Inc. makes no representations or warranties with respect to the accuracy or completeness of the contents of this work and specifically disclaim all warranties, including without limitation warranties of fitness for a particular purpose. The advice and strategies contained herein may not be suitable for every situation.
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- Part I Introduction elcome to the third installment in our series of articles about pricing your work from PhotoShelter and myself, Bill Cramer from Wonderful Machine. The first two guides, Pricing Your Work: Magazine Photography and Pricing Your Work: Corporate and Industrial Photography share insights to help you profit from assignments in those respective fields. In this one, well be taking on the turbulent world of news photography and share tips to help you connect with prospective clients, plus set your expectations for fees and contracts youll typically see in this area. First, whats a photojournalist? A photojournalist is a photographer who tells contemporary stories with pictures, in an objective and unobtrusive way. They depict life as it is, not as a corporation or political party would like you to believe. Photojournalists are best known for covering breaking news stories like natural disasters or wars. But they also cover school board meetings, field hockey games, celebrities, and hot new restaurants. They work for mainstream news organizations like newspapers and magazines, but there are other types of organizations that use photojournalists to cover news events, like associations, nonprofits, and NGOs. Photojournalism is one of the easiest ways to become a professional freelance photographer, but it's also one of the hardest to sustain. The barriers to entry are low. All you need is a camera, a decent eye, a bit of news judgement, and a willingness to respond to an assignment on a moment's notice. But unlike doctors and lawyers who gain valuable experience and respect with age, the perceived value of photojournalists seems to plateau before their hair turns gray, making them vulnerable to younger, cheaper replacements. The excitement of the news business ensures that there will always be more applicants than positions. And even though most consumers spend more time looking at photos than words, there continues to be a bias against the value of professional photography, because "everyone's a photographer." Combine all that with the advent of the internet and camera phones that make citizen journalism possible, and the mentality that you could just have the reporters shoot the pictures (as seen with the Chicago Sun-Times), it's enough to wonder whether there's a future for professional photojournalists at all. But just as changes in culture and technology have shifted the playing field for photographers, they're also providing them with unprecedented opportunities. Inexpensive still cameras now have the ability to capture high-definition video, and the internet and the tablet offer photographers a platform to display their images in ways we could not have imagined a short time ago. As some clients are using less professional photography in predictable ways, others, like CNN and NPR, are using still photography in unpredictable ways, presenting full bleed images in creative storytelling formats. Some photographers are even combining still photos, sound and motion, creating a whole new genre of multimedia storytelling. A Look back at my career My own photojournalism career began in 1986, when I was sent to shoot a Rotary Club luncheon for the Montgomery County Record in suburban Philadelphia. Back then, the Record paid stringers $15 for the first picture published, and $5 for each additional. (Stringer is a term to describe newspaper freelancers.) Since I had to provide my own film, processing and prints, I figure Pricing your Work: PhotoJournalism 5
- I II III my profit on that first job was approximately zero. Luckily, I was soon able to secure an assignment from the Associated Press (AP) at a rate of $50.00, plus they provided me with all the film I needed and a darkroom to process it in! A year later, I thought I had attained nirvana when I started working for The New York Times for $200.00/assignment. Though it was only a couple of years before I gave up news photography for more lucrative magazine, corporate and advertising assignments, I'll never forget the thrill of having a front row seat to history and seeing my pictures on the front pages of a some of the biggest newspapers in the country. But if you can't already tell, I've always been as interested in the business of photography as the art of it. Just as assignments were a game of cajoling my subjects into doing what I wanted for my camera; in the same way, the game I played with clients was to get them to pay me as much money as possible for my pictures. When I was at the AP, I was surprised to discover that I was their only stringer who had an actual agreement specifying the assignment fees and expenses. The others simply turned in their mileage and hoped for the best. That didn't seem right to me. I figured that if I was going to grow as a photographer, I was going to have to learn how to grow a businessman too. At the same time, I recognized that there were inherent limitations to the amount of money I was going to make as a photojournalist. I knew that there was a long line of photographers who were ready to step into my position if I stepped out. And with declining revenues, newspapers were looking for ways to trim budgets, not expand coverage. And while I often drove a hard bargain, I was careful not to push clients over the edge until I had greener pastures waiting for me elsewhere. With these lessons learned, in this guide, well take a good look at different types of news clients and publications (print and online) photojournalists typically work for, fees and contracts you can expect to see, negotiating tips, plus resources to help you establish yourself as a photojournalist and make money in this field. Lets get started. Photo: Andy Colwell Pricing your Work: PhotoJournalism 6
- Part II What types of clients do photojournalists work for? here are four main types of clients photojournalists work for: newspapers, magazines, wire services and online publications. As a freelance photojournalist, youll need to make it your business to understand all the general types of clients that might need your services, then learn about specific clients within each category. National (U.S.) Daily Newspapers The three biggest newspapers in America, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and USA Today regularly use freelance photographers all over the U.S. (and to a lesser extent, abroad), in part because they have a significant readership nationally. The other big city newspapers have more limited original reporting (and readers) outside their area, opting to use wire services (these are described more in depth below) to provide their national and international news coverage. The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times are the only other big metro papers that I know of that regularly hire freelance photographers outside of their area. And for one-off assignments, instead of maintaining relationships with individual photographers around the country, many newspapers have the Associated Press or other wire services provide "special" coverage when they need it. There's also Metro, which is a free newspaper, published Monday through Friday, in over 100 cities around the world. The Guardian in London also hires freelance photographers all over. All of these publications have online as well as print versions. Local Daily Newspapers Most newspapers hire freelance photographers to help with their local coverage of news, sports and features. They're also eager for spot news coverage (whi