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Photography Question 
Jillian Danielson
BetterPhoto Member Since: 4/24/2007
 

Going rate for newspapers and freelancers


Help! Was offered job as freelance photographer for local paper. What is the normal going rate for them to buy my photos? If I'm at an event on my own, and they want to use my photos, they will pay me for them. But, they also will put me out on assignment and said pay will be negotiated depending on size of assignment. If anyone can give me ideas, I'd appreciate it! Any help as soon as possible before I sign on the dotted line. :) I need to know what would be low end price of a photo, and what would be high end. They want me to be independant contractor at first, and I'm guessing if I accept it, then will get my foot in door to part/full time with them in time,, plus great experience in the photojournalism world. So, I don't want to say no, but am leary of how to do taxes with the "independant contractor" name.Also, will I lose ALL rights to my photos if I sell them to paper? Thank you!!!!


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5/10/2007 3:40:47 PM

 
Mark Feldstein
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/17/2005
  I'll help you out to some degree, but salary you're going to have to negotiate or figure out on your own. Also, I'd highly recommend that you familiarze yourself, intimately familiarize yourself with the basic rules and laws, including copyright law that apply to the biz you're dabbling in.

Independent contractor does NOT in any way, obligate you to transfer your copyright. In fact, as an independent you set your own terms and conditions of usage like any other photographer would.

"Work for hire" agreements require the Work For Hire clause to be written, it MUST be in writing and YOU have sign it along with your employer. Those agreements, and you should be extremely leary of them, require you to surrender your copyrights for a specific assignment. But it's NOT the same as being an independent contractor.

Insofar as how to do your taxes for that IC gig, at the end of the calendar year they send you a 1099 form that has your social security number on it and a copy is sent to the IRS and the state if you have state income tax. There is no witholding for 1099s so you need to make sure YOU can cover the taxes for all 1099's you've received approximately by the end of January so you can pay your taxes on or before April 15 without asking the IRS for an extension, which btw, incurs interest on any taxes owed.

Take it light.
Mark
(a working photojournalist x 33 years or so ;>)


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5/10/2007 6:02:30 PM

 
Jillian Danielson
BetterPhoto Member Since: 4/24/2007
  Thank you Mark! Any help is greatly appreciated! Is there any way I can do things quarterly?


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5/10/2007 6:27:51 PM

 
Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/11/2003
gregorylagrange.org
  You'll also have to consider the size/circulation of the paper. An everyday paper, a small town two times or even one day a week paper?
An everyday major city paper can be $100 per assignment. A small town two day a week paper can be 10-$25 per picture.
And also for taxes, you'll have to get all the forms in order and all the numbers tracked if you want to think about stuff like deducting mileage on your car.
And I would suspect, and make it clear that I say suspect, that they will want to retain the copyrights. They're not going to want the same pictures being offered to any other papers.


working photojournalist x 33 minutes or so


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5/10/2007 6:40:35 PM

 
Jillian Danielson
BetterPhoto Member Since: 4/24/2007
  Thank you Greg! I was offered $25 per photo. We are a small town (50,000 people) paper. The pay for assignment I was told will be determined on size of assignment. I think this is a great opperatunity, and don't want to turn it down. I was just making sure this is something that will be worth me doing. The experience alone will be great!!! Wishful thinking that it would include a press pass to baseball games in phoenix one day! :)


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5/10/2007 6:58:38 PM

 
Mark Feldstein
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/17/2005
  There's a flaw in your reasoning Jillian. While you may be doing this for the "great opportunity" now, in a year or two, let me tell you that $25 bucks per printed shot is going to become real old real quick. Try supporting yourself on that kind of income. It's impossible. While I'll bet you think this is fun, and to some degree I know it is, but you need to think of this as real work and business. If you joined a local chapter of a pro association, like National Press Photographers Association (NPPA) or even just went to a meeting or two and discussed fees/rates/salaries, you'd get a much different slant on the money issue and might not be so quick to settle for $25 bucks a shot. Chances are, you'll find your newspaper isn't very loyal to you in awhile if you ask them for a raise or a salaried position that pays 40K per year or more. They'll likely hire someone else who wants to work for $25 bucks per shot or less.

Also, certainly Greg could be correct in that the paper may want your copyright for the reasons he mentioned. Still, you don't have to be required to surrender it. All you need to sign is an additional agreement, a paragraph included in the original deal will suffice, that says you agree not to offer the photos they print to any other publication for a period of XYZ years and that you specifically retain all rights to the work. This is an issue we (NPPA and ASMP members) fought to win for quite some time with Associated Press. We finally did but not without numerous protracted court battles.

You can file quarterly returns and pay into your tax account with the IRS based on your estimated annual income. That makes the hit at tax time much easier to handle. Some banks offer tax impound accounts that unlike the IRS, pay interest on your tax savings, not much and of course, you have to declare the interest as additional income. :<(

Finally, don't count on press passes getting you into baseball games or other events. The way that's usually handled nowadays is the editor gets a limited number of media passes and without those, you might as well just pay the cost of buying your own seat. Besides, more often than not event passes are given to staffers rather than freelancers.
Good luck
Mark


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5/11/2007 7:53:19 PM

 
Jillian Danielson
BetterPhoto Member Since: 4/24/2007
  Thank you Mark for your help! Let me assure you though, I do take this work/business very seriously. I am just a lighthearted person and sometimes it comes across as such. I extremely LOVE what I do, and the area of photojournalism photography is a new experience for me, not photography itself. :)
I am blessed to be able to stay home with my children, which not alot of moms get to do,(but we've given up alot for me to do so) and so do not consider this a full time income. I do love new learning experiences, and am very greatful God has blessed me with this one! :)

Thank you again, for your insight, it all helps me understand the business end of photography a little more :)

Have a blessed weekend!


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5/11/2007 9:16:21 PM

 
Raymond H. Kemp
BetterPhoto Member Since: 4/2/2004
  Jillian:

While 25 bucks or so won’t get you a living, it is a great way to develop your “published” portfolio that will come in handy if you try for a staff or freelance position with another paper. You will develop a reputation as a published photographer. I started in the biz many years age just that way. I now freelance for two newspapers in St. Louis as well as a very large publisher of magazines and books, which is where the bulk of my work is now published. Magazines and books are far more lucrative financially and once you get established they will depend on you for various work and often as in my case, keep you busy with assignments.

However, let me caution you this did not happen overnight. And furthermore, I worked my photography into a specialty, which is Emergency Services. I photograph EMS, Fire and Police and as a result of establishing trust and having my work published, I’m allowed access into areas that not even the local newspaper staff photographers are allowed.

Specializing in something that not every camera toting wannabe freelancer is proficient with may help establish you into a niche market. For instance, I have a friend who started freelancing with a specialty of photographing children on location in their natural surroundings. I was amazed at how well he could capture the moment of children at play, school, etc. Well so did the newspapers and before long he was picked up as a staffer and they always use him for any stories that require a photo of children.

All of the publications that I freelance my work to have “non-exclusive” copyrights, which I have found is pretty normal in the business. This allows you to market your sold photos to other publications as I do quite often. If they want exclusive copyrights then get more money. I also found out a long time ago that other papers may pick you your work and you won’t find out about it until later. That is until you receive a check in the mail from the AP (Associated Press). The newspapers that I freelance for are AP members and when they put an image on the “wire” other member papers can pick it up and several of my images were sold just that way via the AP.

Good luck!

Ray


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5/12/2007 8:09:46 AM

 
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