Old 09-14-2010, 02:10 PM   #1
coborn35
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Default Please walk me through this sale!

A VERY prominent model railroad company has inquired to me about using one of my photos (a once in a lifetime shot) in their ad for an upcoming locomotive.
I need advice on how to proceed. Now, using the photographers pricing model, I would estimate it to be worth between $550 and $1,200 for non exclusive rights. I wont give up the rights to this photo, as again its once in a lifetime. Now to me the rights would let them use it in anything involving that particular engine.
How am I doing so far?

EDIT: I should also note the ad is going to be in MR, RMC among some others, so the circulation is going to be upwards of 1,000,000 I would think.
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I personally have had a problem with those trying to tell us to turn railroad photography into an "art form." It's fine for them to do so, I welcome it in fact, but what I do have a problem with is that the practitioners of the more "arty" shots, I have found, tend to look down their nose's at others who are shooting more "mundane" shots.
Railroad photography is what you make of it, but one way is not "better" than another, IMHO. Unless you have a pole right thought the nose of the engine! -SG

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Old 09-14-2010, 02:49 PM   #2
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Congratulations!!! ope it all works out for you. I don't know if I have any great advice to give you. All I'd say is to be very specific over what rights you grant them and what they are asking for. Also, read all fine print and ask for clarification if you need to. A company recently wanted to use one of my non-railroad shots. In the first e-mail, they said they were a small company that could not afford a big pay out. (I don't know if I needed to see that in the first e-mail.) Then they asked me if they could use the shot ina slide show. In the fine print below, they said that they reserved the right to further use the photo "in any way" they wanted to and listed magazine ads, web ads, etc. etc. I sent a reply back and thanked them fortheir interest, but I had no desire to part ways with a photograph with that kind of fine print.

One thing I try to remember when I get asked about a shot is that any money I make in the deal is more than I was expecting when I took the shot. You can look at that both ways. If they don't offer what you think is a fair price, then there's no harm in saying "thanks, but no thanks."
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Old 09-14-2010, 03:00 PM   #3
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Just got the email back. She says the company does not pay for photos unless they are historical. My thoughts here: Ok, im disappointed but I would like the recognition. I get full credit in the ad, and maybe I can weasel out a free model. I am going to wait to reply to her.
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I personally have had a problem with those trying to tell us to turn railroad photography into an "art form." It's fine for them to do so, I welcome it in fact, but what I do have a problem with is that the practitioners of the more "arty" shots, I have found, tend to look down their nose's at others who are shooting more "mundane" shots.
Railroad photography is what you make of it, but one way is not "better" than another, IMHO. Unless you have a pole right thought the nose of the engine! -SG
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Old 09-14-2010, 05:16 PM   #4
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Just got the email back. She says the company does not pay for photos unless they are historical.
Perhaps she'd like to go out and shoot the photo herself? Or maybe the company president will go out and take the picture instead? In any case, if the shot really is, as you said, once in a lifetime, then I'd say you have a pretty good argument that it is a historical shot. The point is, if they really want to use the shot, they can pay you for it. I wouldn't give them free use . . .

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Old 09-14-2010, 03:10 PM   #5
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You'll get a lot of opinions about allowing someone free use of your photography. I judge it for myself on a case by case. But still get it in writing whether it's an e-mail or what hav you. I forget if you were on the forums when I went through my copyright infringement case a year or so ago. But a small weekly wanted to use my photo for a beer ad. They said they didn't have a big budget and would credit me on the actual ad as photographer. So I said OK, but it was a one time use and if they wanted it again, we could negotiate a price at that time. E-mail was sent and returned with the other party agreeing to that.

Me keeping that e-mail cost them a lot of money a few months later when they again used my picture in an ad for a beer company without contacting me. Frankly, I should have framed that ad.
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Old 09-14-2010, 03:24 PM   #6
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Dont do it, they are making money off of you indirectly, they should pay for that right.
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Old 09-14-2010, 03:30 PM   #7
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Dont do it, they are making money off of you indirectly, they should pay for that right.
Can't really argue with that logic. In my case, I was hoping to conjure up some good will to work with them again. (They were in need of some freelancers and I was in need of a job.) In your case, I'd be hard pressed to see how that may help you. Something for you to think about.
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Old 09-14-2010, 05:07 PM   #8
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Dont do it, they are making money off of you indirectly, they should pay for that right.
I agree 100%. They are a for-profit organization and should pay for the shot. I suppose MR is supposed to offer free ad space too? A company, like any individual, will try to get as much out of you as they can for as little as possible and you'd be a fool to allow it's use without compensation. Stock photog's make their living selling shots to business, why are you expected to do it for free.

How about this, tell me who the company is and I'll ask for a free model. When they tell me that isn't going to happen, I'll explain to them how I only pay for historical models.
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Old 09-14-2010, 03:50 PM   #9
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It's one thing if it's Amtrak wanting to use a photo for a calendar, in that case you are indirectly causing them to LOSE money
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Old 09-14-2010, 04:15 PM   #10
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They want it for free? Yeah right. Do us all a favor and politely decline. Giving away a photo that you describe as rare only lessens everyone's chances of making money in the future.
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Old 09-14-2010, 04:33 PM   #11
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What if they have offered one of their new models?
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I personally have had a problem with those trying to tell us to turn railroad photography into an "art form." It's fine for them to do so, I welcome it in fact, but what I do have a problem with is that the practitioners of the more "arty" shots, I have found, tend to look down their nose's at others who are shooting more "mundane" shots.
Railroad photography is what you make of it, but one way is not "better" than another, IMHO. Unless you have a pole right thought the nose of the engine! -SG
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Old 09-14-2010, 04:43 PM   #12
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Let's see this photo
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Old 09-14-2010, 05:23 PM   #13
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Make 'em pay!
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Old 09-14-2010, 07:29 PM   #14
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Old 09-14-2010, 07:32 PM   #15
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If it's a once in a lifetime shot, it IS historical. If you have something that special that's exactly what they need for an ad (although I'm not sure how accurately your confidence is placed) they should rather pay you for it than not have it at all.
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Old 09-14-2010, 08:04 PM   #16
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I wonder if the "We don't pay for photographs" line was a first negotiating tool. I find that potential customers can be down right sneaky when it comes to what they're willing to pay. If you autoatically allow them to use the shot for free, you might actually be missing out. If they said they don't pay for photographs, you could have said, "Well, I don't give my photographs away for free."
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Old 09-14-2010, 08:31 PM   #17
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I wonder if the "We don't pay for photographs" line was a first negotiating tool. I find that potential customers can be down right sneaky when it comes to what they're willing to pay. If you autoatically allow them to use the shot for free, you might actually be missing out. If they said they don't pay for photographs, you could have said, "Well, I don't give my photographs away for free."
I had one of those once, the person I was talking to seemed genuinely surprised that I wanted money in exchange for him using my photo in for-profit advertisement...however, we came to an agreement that instead of money, I would be included in a particular tour which was worth about as much as I was asking, so I was happy - that is, until he went on vacation and missed the publication date for me.
Come to think of it, I think it's time to email that guy back and ask if he's interested in anything...
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Old 09-14-2010, 09:52 PM   #18
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If they are going to use your image to sell their product, they absolutely should pay you some amount of money. Although model railroading is a relatively small market and even the "bigger fish" in the business aren't exactly big corporations, if they can pay for advertising space in MR and RMC they can certainly pay for your photo as well. If it truly is a shot you can't get again (and if you value the rights to your photo more than some extra money in your pocket), I'd pass on their offer. I'm sure they'll find someone else's photo to use.
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Old 09-14-2010, 09:42 PM   #19
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Old 09-15-2010, 01:52 AM   #20
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Very nice. Great find Walter.
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Old 09-16-2010, 03:13 AM   #21
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Good one!

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Old 09-14-2010, 10:47 PM   #22
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I got a message on my phone a few weeks ago from an ad agency that had found a shot of mine on Flickr and wanted to use it for an ad in a major airline's in-flight magazine. When I called back and asked what sort of a budget they had in mind, she sounded shocked that I would even dare to ask; there must be a lot of folks out there that don't value their work, effort and photographic expertise.
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Old 09-14-2010, 11:36 PM   #23
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I was contacted by a large manufacturing concern about using my image in their annual report. The initial amount that I asked for was clearly massively out of their budget, so I dropped my price an enormous amount.

Got an e-mail agreeing to my new price.

A month later I got a copy of the annual report in the mail and my image was more prominent than had been described... but I figured a deal's a deal at that point, so I e-mailed and asked for payment.

A month later I e-mailed again and asked if they had forgotten.

I e-mailed one last time about a month after that.

All e-mails since they agreed to the price have been ignored and I've never been paid.
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Old 09-15-2010, 12:18 AM   #24
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A large Canadian RR asked to use a shot of mine for their annual report, but balked at my asking price as unreasonable... then insulted me by giving a little lecture on how this all works and that the annual report isn't advertising. Bullsh*t, it is the ultimate form of advertising to the shareholders, potential shareholders, lenders and customers (since most would rather deal with a winner than a loser).

Here is my take: they make several billion a year and have an operating ratio that is envied by many corporations, but feel my request for compensation was too much. Fine, pay a pro to do your PR photography if I'm asking too much, or (and more likely the case) find another idiot that'll do it for free.

I have allowed free use by not for profits (historical organizations, both RR and other) because they are not in it for a buck and I get all warm and fuzzy helping these folks out.
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Old 09-15-2010, 12:25 AM   #25
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All e-mails since they agreed to the price have been ignored and I've never been paid.
This is exactly why I always ensure that I have a signed licensing agreement in hand before I ever release images to a client; if they don't pay within the 30 days prescribed in the document, I have a legal basis for taking action against them.

Following up on what others have said: Last week I was contacted through my Flickr account by a representative from a large international geotechnical engineering firm who inquired, "We would like to obtain your permission for using this photo in our brochure, and wanted to check if you would charge a fee in doing so?" I responded by stating that before I would quote a rate, I wanted to know the dimensions of the brochure, the percentage thereupon my photo would cover, and what their distribution media and quantity would be. I use that data to determine what my rate will be; I'm not going to charge a travel agency who wants to do a run of 2,000 postcards the same that I'd charge a Department of Transportation that's using my work on their website and in brochures and posters.

Six days have passed and no response yet; at this point, I don't expect one. As others have said, it's rather shocking that these large firms expect to simply ask for permission to use photos without compensating the photographers. On the flip side, though, with the widespread accessibility that digitial photography has brought to the masses, anyone can go out and take halfway decent photos that suit the needs of these firms; Joe Average might think that simply having his name in fine print on a brochure is fair compensation, something he can show off to his family and friends, while meanwhile the company effectively pads its bottom line at his expense.

I've gotten to the point where simply having my name on the paper next to the image isn't enough; I put a substantial amount of time and resources into capturing photos, and if an entity wishes to use them I feel perfectly justified in requesting fair compensation. (I do make exceptions for not-for-profits, such as the small telephone co-op that's using one of my shots on the cover of their next phone book.) If the potential client doesn't want to pay, they're welcome to find someone else to rip off.

One last anecdote: A very, very small model-building firm contacted me this past spring asking to use a few of my photos to illustrate a brochure for their new HO scale product. They had no complaints about paying a modest fee for use of the images. This "VERY prominent model railroad company" could take a lesson in common-sense business practices from the mom-and-pop-size companies that understand what we "little guys" go through and are willing to take a small hit on their bottom line to develop a relationship with potential clients.
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