Archive for October 2010

27 Oct, 2010 | Posted by: psnotes

Pondering the photo contracts of the future . . .

When A Buyer

Wants To Re-Use Your Photo

Advance Notes: What do you say to a publisher who assumes the freelance photo they have “purchased” (i.e “rented) from you, belongs forever more to them and not to you? Unless you have signed a work-for-hire arrangement, or have a written agreement signing over all rights, the copyright law says the photo is yours. Here’s information on how to answer that publisher.

Since as photographers, we have always licensed (“rented”) our photos, it is shocking to us to find a photobuyer assuming that their payment for a photo represents both present and future use of the photo.

Unless a “work-for-hire” agreement is arranged in writing between the photobuyer and the stock photographer, payment for the use of a photo is for one-time use rights only.
By the way, the 1976 revision of the Copyright Law, enacted into law in 1978, addressed this very point. guy looking throw two piles of photos and or papers , looking sad Before 1978, it was assumed that the publisher (the buyer) owned the photo. The 1978 law declares that the photographer retains all rights to the photo unless it is otherwise stated in writing. In other words, unless a buyer gets you to actually sign a piece of paper that says the publisher owns the rights to the photo, any court of law will assume the photo belongs to the creator of that photo. It is illegal for a publisher to re-use a photo without your permission.


Some publishers are unaware of this work-for-hire provision of the Copyright Law. As an individual freelancer, you might encounter a clash with a publisher who assumes he can retain all rights to your photo. Also, in the Digital Age, publishers more than ever will want to assume all rights –even of previously published photos. Their excuse to capture all rights is that they claim distribution of photos electronically in the Digital Age will present an administrative nightmare to seek out copyright owners of previously published photos.

Here are some demands from publishers that you might encounter and some responses you can make:

Publisher: We want to retain all rights to the photos on this assignment.
You: My profits come from the re-sale of the photos in my file. After you have published the photos, they will go into my stock file. If you want to own further rights to those photos, we will have to work out an agreement as to which rights you want. The fee would be substantially higher than the contract we have presently worked out. Right now, you are buying one-time rights only.
Publisher: We need to retain rights to the photo because we want to be able to publish it elsewhere on the web.
You: And I also need to retain those rights for web publication. You may re-use the photo on the web if you pay an appropriate fee, based on type and amount of use.
Publisher: We need to have retroactive electronic rights for all the photos you have previously produced for us.
You: That would be a publisher’s dream. I would never sign a contract that says you own all of my pictures previously published with you. I licensed those pictures to you according to the prevailing agreements in the industry; in other words for one-time use only. The Copyright Law says that unless I have signed a statement to the contrary, the photos belong to me, not to you.
Publisher: Our new contract states that we can publish electronically all of your pictures previously published with us. If you do not sign the contract, we will no longer require your photography services.
You: That is disrespectful of you, to attempt to require me to sign such a contract. I was able to produce those photos on the basis that they would belong in my file to preserve my business. I licensed them to you for one-time use in good faith. If you wish additional use, we can work out an appropriate additional fee.


Publisher: We are not asking you for the copyright, only the on-line rights.
You: You are asking me to give you unlimited usage rights to my photos. There’s no telling how the Digital Age will evolve. Maybe it will be the only way photos are disseminated in the future. These photos are part of my annuity; they are inheritance for my children, and grandchildren. Apart from that, to assign on-line rights to you would be inviting you to be in direct competition with me.
Publisher: We are dealing only with on-line permission here.
You: No, you are not. Your contract allows you to re-use and re-publish these and other creative derivative works almost without limit. My compliments to your attorney.
Publisher: We are not making much money from electronic publishing. In fact, we are losing money at present.
You: Some start-up publications don’t make money for several years. Some never make money. But the suppliers along the way are paid, nevertheless. Any business start-up is a risk, a gamble.
Publisher: Our contract says you are free to sell your photos to any other buyers.
You: I could sell you all rights to this photo for $2500. But if I license this photo to you for $350, and the contract says I still retain the copyright but you have the right to use this photo any way and as often you wish, virtually an unlimited license, then I have in effect sold you all rights for $350, not $2500.
Publisher: You get to retain the copyright in your picture and sell it to others.
You: I own the copyright but you have blanket permission to use it, re-sell it, etc.--for you it’s an unlimited license, which undermines my livelihood, let alone makes my ownership in the photo essentially useless.
Publisher: Read this contract carefully. There are liability claims. We have included an indemnification clause. You will be responsible for legal fees if some profit-seeking plaintiff with no case sues us.
You: I’m a professional. That’s why you asked me to do this assignment. You have trust in me that I will do a good job. The liability issue is the risk you take. I’m not going to take on responsibility that is rightly, and historically, yours.
Publisher: We may use one or two of the photos from this assignment, but we expect to own all of the photos that you take.
You: If you’d like full control (ownership) of the photos from this shoot, I can offer you a work-for-hire arrangement, at a fee commensurate with that. Otherwise, I shoot the assignment, and you purchase one-time-use rights of the photos you want to use.
Publisher: What do I have to do to get you to sign this contract?
You: First, make electronic use of a photo payable at the same one-time-use rate as your print use, or pay five times that rate to own (unlimited) electronic rights to a photo. Secondly, I cannot sign a contract that turns over to you, at no additional compensation, electronic rights to all my photos previously published with you.

Rohn Engh is director of PhotoSource International and publisher of PhotoStockNotes.
(Note: for more information on pricing of a photo for re-use, check out the Kracker Barrel and search for “re-use.”)
If you've been asking, "How do I sell my photos?" Here's the answer:


20 Oct, 2010 | Posted by: psnotes

How To Let Buyers

Know Where To Find You

On The Internet

It might seem that an email address can be a lifesaver for the peripatetic photographer, but there are a couple drawbacks here if you’re not careful:
From time to time we are tempted by local and national ISPs (Internet Service Providers) to hook up with their email services. They dangle an alluring low fee, much as credit card companies will do, to bring you aboard. Then, be it six months or twelve
months later, they’re sure to raise their fees. Your problem: Should you switch to a cheaper company or stay with your original ISP?

Secondly, finding a stable ISP company takes some research on your part –you don't want to choose one that may be vulnerable to going out of business.

If you switch ISP's either because of price or because your ISP company folds, it means that you'll have to contact every place you've registered your email address and change it to your new address. This includes all your printed matter, such as your business cards, sellsheets, flyers, stationery, invoices, plus your Web addresses and links where you have registered your name and website.

- - - - - - - - -

“For the photographer engaged in stock photography – choosing and
keeping an email address is an important consideration. Be sure to
choose one that’s easy to remember, to write, and to pronounce…”

- - - - - - - - - - - -

Finally, when you select your email address make is easy on yourself by choosing an address that reads well and is easy to say over the phone or in a radio or television interview.

LESSON: When choosing an Internet Service Provider, pick one with a track record.

That indicates there’s a good chance they’ll be around for the next decade. We’ve all heard examples of low-fee start-up ISPs that are out of business in a few months.
Instead, choose an ISP that looks like a good bet to be around for a long time (even though the cost may be somewhat higher). In the long run, you’ll be happy you did.

You may want to sign up for private email in addition to your regular business email. A second email (sometimes called Webmail) can be used much as you would use a “non-published” telephone number. There are several dozen companies that will offer you a free email. Keep in mind however, that many of these free email sites
receive their profits from advertising. You can expect commercial intrusion to ride along with your messages.

To find free email services, go to or or use one of the search engines such as Google, BING, or Yahoo.

And finally, don’t forget Google’s Gmail. Many companies, large and small,will assign a secondary Gmail address to each of their employees to use on special
occasions and unique situations. The Gmail service is free.


Should you list your name and email address on a “people search”? If you are a recluse, a hermit, an artist who doesn’t want to be hounded by the press or be
bothered by relatives, no, don’t submit your name and email to a People Search feature at your favorite Search Engine. On the other hand, if you want to receive
attention from photobuyers and other business entities that are a part of the stock photo industry, the answer is, yes.
Sure, it’s true: you might open yourself to receiving what most of us call “junk mail” (spam). But think of it this way. You can recognize the difference between the subject matter of a junk mail pitchman and a response from a photobuyer. (“It just rings differently.”) So the choice comes down to whether to put up with receiving 24 junk mail letters that take twenty four seconds to delete, for the chance to receive one
email from a photobuyer that might lead to a lifetime business relationship of future stock photo sales and assignments. No contest.

Photographer Directories

There are a number of photographer directories on the Internet that will list you and your areas of expertise. You have probably found a few favorites of your own. In case you have not come across these –here are some typical ones.
Joel Day’s Stock Photo Site
National Press Photographers Association


With a Website address on your business card, stationery, or email signature block,you rise a few notches in a photobuyer’s estimation of your professionalism.
To find several resource guides on how to create your own website - simply and inexpensively:

Rohn Engh is director of PhotoSource International and publisher of PhotoStockNotes. Pine Lake Farm, 1910 35th Road, Osceola, WI 54020 USA. E-mail: info[at]photosource[dot]com . Fax: 1 715 248 7394. Website:


13 Oct, 2010 | Posted by: psnotes

The Marketing Quotient: A Self-Critique

When you are next out on a photographing excursion, begin the habit of asking yourself, "Is it marketable?" before you snap the picture. Gauge whether the digital file that you're making in your camera has a good chance of resulting in a sale for you.
Is it salable? That is, -is it a picture a photobuyer will need ...not one he already has access to. In other words does that picture present or reflect an aspect of a specific subject area that a photobuyer would find useful or desirable?
One photographer friend said she could not break the habit of snapping pictures of anything and everything on a photo excursion, then trying to make the marketing decisions later when she checked her LightBox.

To make the change-over, she placed a label on the back of her viewfinder that read: "Is it marketable?" It took her only two weeks to finally break the habit. The label is now removed. She no longer aims her camera at silhouettes of sea gulls against the setting sun and other such "classic" shots.

While those shots do sell, eventually, they are difficult for the individual photographer to market consistently because thousands upon thousands of similar photos are available to blue sky's, clouds, question mark shape photobuyers. These are the generic scenics and “arty” shots that you put in a stock agency to bring you a check every once in a great while, not what you can count on for your bread and butter.
Now, the above mentioned photographer focuses on specific subject matter geared to specific market areas that match her own interest areas. She found (and continues to find) dependable markets for her material by doing some sound marketing homework.

And how does she do that? Using the Google search bar, she types the name of one of her photo interests ( horse, frog, toddlers , etc. ) and then the words: magazine book publisher guidelines. The newest: lists of publishing houses and magazines which focus on that particular subject matter.


In my seminars, I offer a free critique of photos based on their marketing potential. Since many of the persons who attend my seminars are accomplished photographers, I don't comment on the artistic value of each photograph, only the marketing potential. I use what I call the Marketing Quotient (MQ), a number factor ranging from 1 to 10. (Ten equals high.)
Since there's no mystery about the MQ, you can make a self-critique of your own pictures. Here's how to start:
A key factor in selling anything is the law of Supply and Demand. If there's a great supply of something, it's not going to sell briskly (e.g. the silhouette of the sea gull). If on the other hand, the supply is limited, the demand will be great. (A volcano erupting in Washington.)
Seventy-five percent of your photo's marketing worth will have to do with supply and demand.

For example, if there's a reasonable demand for a picture, and it's not the kind of picture easily available in agencies, your MQ can start at 7. From this point, your MQ will go up or down.
Here are some of the factors that will cause your MQ to increase: 1.) You have an established track record with the photobuyer, or you are a "name" photographer. 2.) Your picture is available to meet a deadline. 3.) Your picture is: a) timely, up-to-date; b) lends itself to a publishing house's needs; c) matches the photobuyer's interest area; d) available for one-time use; e) has not been used recently by the competition; f) available for commercial use also by virtue of having a model release; g) technically acceptable; h) good.
Your MQ will decrease if your answer is a negative to any of the above.
Photobuyers make the assumption that your photos will be "good." To be marketable your photos need not be prize-winners, but they must be good.
Since you know your own marketable areas better than anyone else, you are in the best position to make your own MQ assessment. Take a weekend to go through your pictures and put any photos in your market file that come up with a low MQ into a stock agency or on a mini-stock site for those once-in-a-blue-moon checks. Put your valuable time into marketing your other, high MQ pictures.

Rohn Engh is director of PhotoSource International and publisher of PhotoStockNOTES, the newsletter for photographers who sell photos. Pine Lake Farm, 1910 35th Road, Osceola WI 54020 USA. E-mail: info[at]photosource[dot]com. Fax 1 715 248 7394. Web site:


06 Oct, 2010 | Posted by: psnotes

Begin Today

"I have a great product, and I know exactly where it can be sold at this moment. The only thing standing between me and seeing my product in national circulation is procrastination."
Have you heard this before?
By applying the same management techniques that are used by successful businesses, you can dissolve procrastination and move your stock photography operation forward. Here are some self-management principles for the stock photography entrepreneur:

ASK AROUND. Don't reinvent the wheel. There's a goldmine of information waiting for you in the neighbor or friend or acquaintance who's already been there. He or she knows the pitfalls, barriers, and obstacles, especially if they’ve experienced failure. Everyone loves to be an expert. Weigh their opinions against others’, and then come to a consensus. If you don't want to consult a local competitor, phone someone in another like-sized city who is doing what you want to do with your photography. You’ll be surprised at how much information strangers will give you.
ELIMINATE THE LOSERS. Take time to analyze what's working for your business and what's not. Parts of your business are moneymakers, others are not. Don't let sentiment or the tired phrase, "We've always done it this way," drag you down.
LOOK LIKE A PRO. Too many entrepreneurs feel that because their product is good, it should sell itself. Not so. A "better mousetrap" will not insure your product's success. You don't get a second chance at a first impression. If you want first class sales to your clients, give them first class speedy treatment. Post cards work well. Build a quality website. Invest in deluxe stationery, labels, and advertising.
PHOTO : Philo Nordlund

runner, Philo Nordlund, a girl about to start a race
GET IT DONE. It's easy to slip into the habit of narcotizing yourself with the TV evening news or a sitcom. Change your habits. Buy a $4.95 quartz alarm to beep the same time every evening to remind you and others in your household that it's "Marketing Time" -- in others words, time to devote some specific time to getting your photo marketing operation off the ground.
DO ONE THING WELL. Creative people often do themselves in because they are so damned creative! They are talented in many areas -- music, writing, painting, crafts, and so on. Choose one, and begin today to develop just one area of your creativity.
DO YOUR HOMEWORK. Jumping in with two feet and enthusiasm is fun and romantic, but unless you've checked to see if water is in the pool, you're in for some disappointments. If your enthusiasm is still high after you've done your research, you've got a winner.
UNDERSTAND MARKETING. If you are saying, “I want to sell my photos,” here’s the answer. Your product will sell if you position yourself effectively. Super umbrellas won't sell on a sunny day, but even poor ones will sell easily in the rain. Your success today will reflect not only your product's worth to a customer, but your ability to match your customer's need with your match of stock photography
SPECIALIZE. In the last century, the keyword was 'versatile'. In this new millennium, the markets are too fragmented to be able to be all things to all photography markets. Choose your corner of the photo market and develop it. Search engines will help you do this. Become an important resource only to specific targeted photo editors who are interested in the subject areas you like to photograph. Quit trying to be the all-around photographer. They are a dying breed of stock photographers.
BE BUDGET- MINDED. You'll see your product in national circulation if you have the cash flow available to pay the production, phone, office, and other bills. Don't fall into the Madison Avenue trap of buying a new car, new clothes, new office equipment, high-calorie 'goodies', and other creature comforts that are supposed to make your life fulfilling. If you donate your cash to these dollar-gobblers, you have no justification to say, "The cost of getting into business on my own is too high."
FAIL BUT DON'T QUIT. Are you afraid you are not going to make it? Fear of failing is one of the greatest deterrents to beginning stock photographers. That's why not too many succeed; they never get up after they've been knocked down. Most successful people in any field have failed many times. The difference between the winners and losers is that the winners never quit.
UNDERSTAND BRANDING. Get photobuyers to think of you when they need a picture in the area of your specialization. Develop a “style” about your stock photography - and stick to it. That includes your actual photos and website right down to your stationery. Develop a logo and a simple “catch-phrase” you can use in your promotions and advertising.
PLAY NOT WORK. There's a saying, "The luckiest people sweat the most." Yes, it's going to require long hours. But don't translate that to mean work. If you love what you're doing, it's all play. Choose your special area of stock photography interest first by asking yourself, "What area do I love most?" Then do your research and find out if there's a market for that area. If there is, it'll be all play for you. Plus, you’ll have the knowledge about your specialty that will enable you to become a consultant in that area.
CATCH UP. In today’s Internet world there’s no such thing as going to school, mastering it, and then you’re finished learning. Today, you’ll always be catching up. How? Newsletters, discussion groups, organizations, blogs, seminars. They all keep you in the forefront and constantly moving forward in the exciting world of digital.
START TODAY. Most people spend their time preparing, rather than doing. "One for the money, two for the show, three to get ready, four to get ready, five to get ready...” Instead, prepare sensibly and then jump in. Start today.

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Rohn Engh is director of PhotoSource International and publisher of PhotoStockNOTES, the newsletter for photographers who sell photos. Pine Lake Farm, 1910 35th Road, Osceola WI 54020 USA. E-mail: info[at]photosource[dot]com. Fax 1 715 248 7394. Web site: