Building Communities

Posted on 6/5/1999 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)



June 5, 1999

The Internet is enabling photographers with common interests to build

communities and become much less isolated than they have been in the past.

This may change the dynamics of the relationships between agencies,

publishers and photographers.

Forums are becoming easier to set up. The service is often free. The

companies operating the list servers make their money through advertising

and the advertising on these forums is often very transparent. Editorial Photo uses and the TSI shooters group uses to manage their sites.

The disavantage of such sites is that they are unedited. It is easy

to waste a huge amount of time digging through comments of little value

in order to find the few nuggets of useful information. Some sites are

much better than others. I have found that the more focused the user

group the better the site tends to be. The trick is to train yourself to scan

material quickly and skip over subjects of little interest. The most efficient

way to receive this information is usually via a once-a-day digest rather than

each message as it is posted.

Editorial Photo

We reported on the Editorial Photo Forum in early May. It now has over

400 members. It is a password protected site, but is available free to

photographers currently supplying work to the editorial market. You must

be approved by a moderator to be on the list of subscribers. Subscription

requests should be sent to:

The focus of the discussion with this group is the business of editorial

photography -- contracts, day rates, copyright, etc. Often there are 25

to 30 new posts a day on these issues.

So far the detail shared relative to specific experiences with specific

publications has been phenomenal. This type of information puts every

photographer in a better position to negotiate with publishers. It also

helps photographers spot trends when they might have thought their

specific experience was a unique and isolated instance.

Highlights of some of the information shared so far include:

1 - Reprints can be a big market for many editorial shoots, including

portraits. Seth Resnick gets $1,000 or three times the total space rate

whichever is greater for up to 5,000 reprints. Higher volumes are

negotiated. Many publications offer much lower fees for reprints, or pay

nothing, but will pay more if challenged.

Several photographers have reported getting the reprint fee raised through

negotiation although few achieved the fees Resnick is getting.

Forty-three percent of the re-use fees Resnick receives are the result of

reprints. Reprints are advertising, not editorial use.

Many publications fail to report reprint use unless they are asked.

It is recommended that photographers call the reprint department after

each assignment to determine if reprints were requested. Get to know the

person in charge of this department, not just your picture editor.

Establish the principle that you set the price for such uses, not the

publication. One photographer sends his promotional pieces, particularly

those someone might want to hang on their wall, to the people in the

reprint department as a may of cementing a relationship.

2 - Photographers have reported that they are earning an average of

between 50% and 200% of the assignment fee in reuse fees. Obviously, this

can vary greatly, but it points out the importance of retaining the stock

rights to images produced on assignment.

3 - The importance of presenting the publication with "your written

terms". Present your contract, don't wait for them to send their

contract. Seth Resnick and Joseph Pobereskin have supplied sample

agreements that they use. We will post these on Selling Stock within

a couple of weeks.

4 - Several photographers have been receiving $500 day rates from TIME, but

have never been asked to sign the addendum allowing on-line use. They

believe that because they have not signed their pictures will not be used

on-line. Moreover, if an on-line use is made they believe they are

entitled to additional compensation. While technically this may be true

their position would be much stronger if they had submitted to TIME their

own written conditions for doing the assignment, instead of working without

a written agreement. Such written understandings can also be submitted

with the work. Courts are likely to decide that Time's "standard practices"

are operative if there is no written understanding, signed or unsigned, from

either side. If a photographer routinely sends his or her own paperwork to all

publications it greatly strengthens the bargaining position.

It has also been reported that there is an unofficial policy at TIME that

those who don't agree to the extra $100 for web use don't get called for


5 - There is no "industry standard" day rate as many major publications

try to pretend. Some publications pay more than double what others pay.

There are also lots of variation on how they calculate the a day, and the

rights expected for the fee paid. It is important for the photographer to

carefully examine what he or she needs for the particular job rather than

trying to establish a standard "editorial day rate."

6 - Be careful to retain foreign rights and follow up on use. One

photographer pointed out that many computer publications have hundreds of

foreign editions.

7 - Those who get the best fees tend to not have a standard "day rate" and

negotiate the "creative fee" very carefully on each job. The publication

may have a "day rate", but the challenge for the photographer is to work

with the picture editor to find ways to adjust the publication's standard

practices so the photographers receives appropriate value on his or her

work. Many photo editors are willing to work with photographers if the

photographers only ask and offer creative suggestions for meeting their

needs. One photographer said he gets higher fees 50% of the time when he


Some creative suggestions picture editors have agreed to inclued:

  • Get paid for an upfront agreed upon time, regardless of the actual time

    it takes to shoot the job. (When using this technique it is important for

    the photographer to be sure he can shoot the job in less time than he is

    being paid for.)

  • When portraits of two people at the same location are required, the

    publication pays for two days even though both people could be shot on the

    same day.

  • When the half day rate is greater than half of the full day rate

    (i.e. $275 for half day and $400 for full day) get an agreement that you can

    bill for two half days instead of a full day.

  • Get paid for travel days.

  • Get paid a cover rate.

  • The creative fee is a guarantee against space. (Many photographers

    seem to have given up worrying about space rate, but those who pay

    attention to this issue and get the publication to commit up-front to

    space fees, tend to earn more money.)

  • Get paid extra for assignments that go longer than eight hours. Time has

    paid an extra half day for any part of the first four hours over an 8 hour

    day and a full extra day if the assignment goes more than 12 hours.

  • Get advances for out of town trips.

By using these techniques some photographers are averaging between $550

and $650 for an assignment fee for each actual day worked for editorial


The important thing to remember is that even when publications have a day rate

there are still points that can be negotiated and such negotiations can result

in a larger overall fee for the shoot.

TSI Shooters

The driving force behind the growth of the TSI photographer's forum was the

release of the TSI contract last summer. Photographers discovered that

they needed to compare notes as they began to negotiate this very

difficult document. Developments showed that those who shared and worked

together ended up with a much better deal than those who tried to handle

everything on their own. After the contract issues were settled the need

for continued dialog became obvious. Now there are two TSI photographer

forums - one in the U.S. and the other in the U.K. Most photographer post

on one or the other, but follow the discussions on both. You must be a

current TSI photographer to gain access to these groups. TSI management

is not given access to these sites so contact a fellow TSI photographer to

get access.


Another useful source of stock photo information is the Stockphoto Network

forum. It has been in existence for several years. The URL is

This forum is open to everyone and is a

good source for more general information about stock photography. It tends not

to deal as well, or in as much depth, with issues that relate to

specific agencies.

To subscribe to this service send a message to The

message should read: SUBSCRIBE STOCKPHOTO First Name Last Name. To

receive the postings once a day in digest form send to same address above

another messsage that should read: SET STOCKPHOTO DIGESTS.

At Selling Stock we expect to see more agency oriented forums open up as

photographers recognize that they can benefit from the experiences of

others who are represented by their agency. There will always be

certain levels where photographers compete with each

other, within an agency. But there are issues in most agencies where

photographer cooperation and sharing is useful.

Copyright © 1999 Jim Pickerell. The above article may not be copied, reproduced, excerpted or distributed in any manner without written permission from the author. All requests should be submitted to Selling Stock at 10319 Westlake Drive, Suite 162, Bethesda, MD 20817, phone 301-251-0720, e-mail: wvz@fpcubgbf.pbz

Jim Pickerell is founder of, an online newsletter that publishes daily. He is also available for personal telephone consultations on pricing and other matters related to stock photography. He occasionally acts as an expert witness on matters related to stock photography. For his current curriculum vitae go to:  


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