My first published photo, don’t make this mistake

Broken Spoke - Austin, Texas

Broken Spoke – Austin, Texas

Yesterday, as I walked down memory lane, looking for photographs I took with the Canon Rebel XT, I came upon this. I took it with my Canon 20D, back in 2010. This photo is significant because it was my first photograph ever published in a magazine.

It was several years ago. I was excited to get my picture in a glossy magazine — a nicely done, local Austin publication. I told my readers not to sell yourself short, but I have to admit that I did just that. It was the first and only time for a commercial publication — I gave my work out for free. I did ask for payment but they said that they didn’t pay for non-commissioned work. It was probably just a line to get my stuff for free. I didn’t care. I was seduced by the chance to get my work validated.

It was fun to show the magazine to house guests. It made me feel like a real photographer. But I got it out of my system. I realized that giving your work away helps no one, especially the pro photographers. Commercial publications, yeah they can pay for the privilege. I responded to future inquiries with a price. I may negotiate but the era of getting something for nothing was over.

I look at this photograph, not with regret, but as a marker of my maturity. Sure, I still like to see my stuff in print, but not without demanding my fair share. In the age of rapidly declining value for creative content, I may be waging a losing battle. But that’s okay. Because I now realize that what I produce has value.

I’m part of a community of content creators and we should look out for each other. My boys, 14 and 10, actually buy their music, as do I. There is no free downloading in this household. At least while I have some level of control over my boys.

Yeah, musicians. They too need all the support that we can give them, as do photographers, authors and even bloggers.

Click on the photograph to see a larger image and hover over the photo to see the exposure detail.

11 thoughts on “My first published photo, don’t make this mistake

  1. Very cool article. I hope everyone on the web reads it. I pay for all the content we use. It’s the right thing to do.

  2. Being only a photography enthusiast I would have no idea what to charge for a photo should anyone make such a request. Do you have any guidelines to offer?

    1. Allen, photo pricing can be complicated and there are certainly may factors. Cover photos of high volume publications are certainly different than a one off print to an individual.

      There are books and websites out there that talks about pricing but to keep it really simple, I do something similar to what Pete Talke describes above. For web only, small images, I generally start at about $125. Prices for print publications are higher (at least $150) as is high volume publications and the uniqueness of the photo. If they want it for a cover I would charge more.

      I have also discounted photos if they license multiple photos, with price breaks for 3 or more, 5 or more etc. I go down about $10 – $15 per photo for volume price breaks.

      I’m not saying my pricing is perfect (it’s simple), and there are more elaborate ways to do this. If anybody else has pricing suggestions, please share.

  3. Yep. I could have written this exact same story. The secret here is that we get to set the value of our work; no one else does. And when someone does not value our work as we do then we have to have the balls to walk away.

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