gig-shots blog – concert photography from mike gatiss
You Get What You Charge For

A friend of mine was tweeting about a shot of hers being used for a magazine cover and was rightly very pleased with herself.  I was pleased for her as well as covers are among the most profitable sales you can get for a photograph so tweeted back that it would be a nice little earner and that’s where it went pear shaped…

Those magic words came back across the tweet-o-sphere:-

Unless a mag have specifically asked you to go and shoot a band for them, they won’t pay. Even the big ones like NME or Kerrang:(

Now in this case the magazine was a small independent magazine.  They, like many other small magazines, may have been hit hard recently by rising paper costs, lower revenues from advertising and like the rest of us are probably tightening their belts in the current economic climate.  So does that mean they should get their photography for free?

In some situations I will happily contribute images for free.  If for instance they’re going to be used on someone’s blog or if the band is up and coming and just want to use a couple of images for their myspace page I will often trade use of the images for links to my gallery pages.  In those situation, the customer doesn’t have the cash to pay for photography so I’ll trade use of my images for something I want – more traffic on my site.

I was approached recently by another independent magazine that wanted to use one of my images.  Musera publish the “Wessex Muse”, a free magazine that promotes creativity and the arts throughout the South West.  They wanted to use one of my Abi Harding photographs to go with an article they were writing about the Zutons.  One of their proposals was that they would write an article about me for their magazine instead of payment.  if the magazine had been based in the Manchester area, or anywhere else in the North-West I would probably have taken them up on it.  A half page article about me and my work would be useful from a marketing point of view and could have generated more work for me, so it seems like a fair trade.  Unfortunately Wessex is a bit too far for regular from my usual work area so I turned them down and asked for payment instead.  “No problem” said the editor, and by the end of the week, the mag had their photograph and I had been paid.

Hmm… kind of shoots down the argument that:-

Unless a mag have specifically asked you to go and shoot a band for them, they won’t pay.

Doesn’t it?  And no this isn’t a huge magazine with a massive budget, this is a small independent free magazine.  The only reason magazines won’t pay for photography is because they don’t have to.  There are always some suckers out there that will give away their images for the buzz of seeing their images in print.  Well that’s all well and good, but that buzz won’t pay your rent.  Let’s face it, it won’t even pay your bus fare to get to the gig, meanwhile if more people buy the magazine because your image catches their eye then the magazine is going to profit from it.

If you want to work for free it’s your call, but just remember even if you’re not making any money from the use of you’re image the magazine is.  Whether it’s magazine sales or advertising revenue, magazines are not charities, they’re in it to make money and if you don’t charge them for your contribution then they’ll just make a bit more money.  If you’re happy to buy, insure and maintain expensive equipment to help someone else make money then that’s very naive nice of you, just don’t expect anything in return.

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