What’s it worth

I got a call the other day from the PR rep of a company that just won an award related to their sales growth. They do something very well and as a result have grown a very impressive amount over the last few years. The guy wanted to be able to use the photo that I made of their CEO recently to go along with their PR blitz about said award. I asked what their intended usage is because that's how you figure price. It's about value. The more valuable the image is to the buyer, the more you charge for it. This isn't a huge company but they are not a "Mom and Pop" either. Oh and they had an over 500% increase in business in the last two years so I knew that they couldn't honestly give me the "but money is tight right now" argument. The guy wanted 6 months web and limited print use. No problem.  I had told him that I needed info to formulate a fair price and explained that I would send along a contract that spelled out the terms and rights involved. He was cool with all that but when I quoted him a very fair price, not "chump change" but very reasonable, he acted shocked.

"Oh," he said, "can you just give it to us and we will only use it for a few weeks?" Now let's be serious. This is a PR dude for a fast growing and profitable company and he balked at a very insignificant amount of money to better help him promote their achievement. How is this?

I explained as politely as I could that I do not give my work away. I am a professional and I earn my money because what I do has value. They did not get to be as successful as they have by giving their goods and services away so why should I? If my work has value to him then it certainly has value to me and I could be compensated for it. Makes sense right? Well not to a lot of people who are in powerful positions in successful companies who understand that the image of their business is important. "I want it but don't want to pay for it" is short sighted and selfish. That is the impetus for millions of people who have been hurting the music and movie industry for years with piracy.  Heck I had that one guy call me up to ask me to give him one of the images that, he admitted, he was trying to steal from my web page. Yeah, he was having a hard time ripping me off so would I be so kind as to just send it to him! Gah!

Well anyway the PR guy gave me the "I'll call ya back" and I'm pretty sure he will never call back even if he realized the logic and correctness of my position. Frankly I think that I embarrassed him and that's cool to a degree. I hope that he never tries to low ball someone who will make him and his people look good/better. It makes him look like he is the one who doesn't understand business and marketing. I know that I will have this conversation on the value of my work over and over and over again for years to come. Educating clients about how the business of being a creative person works is a never ending process. As soon as you get that one new client up to speed, here comes another one who is baffled that I'm charging real money to "just snap a few photos".

3 thoughts on “What’s it worth”

  1. Hi Jonathan,
    Same story here in Canada. They want your work for free, oh not, wait, for a credit line. Sure, I will pay my bills with a credit line! Anyway, nice reading and thank you for sharing. Did you here something back?

  2. I’m in total empathy with you on this. Similar stuff happens to me all the time, which is why I’ve been such a vocal proponent of photographers maintaining the value of their work. Education about value is a two-sided equation, because if photographers don’t learn about it at the start of their careers, how can they possibly educate their clients? Conversely, many clients have learned that they can get a lot for practically nothing from photographers that don’t value their own work, or understand the value based on use equation.
    Cheers & thanks for the good read.
    – Gary.

Leave a comment

Copyrighted Image