Friday, October 28, 2016

Pricing: An Editorial Assignment Becomes Personal Use

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Pricing: An Editorial Assignment Becomes Personal Use

Pricing: An Editorial Assignment Becomes Personal Use

This post is a part of our on-going look at pricing photography.

The Brief:

A photographer recently asked the following in a Facebook group:
“What do you guys do when someone asks for photos for personal use? I took portraits and documentary photos of someone for an editorial in a new publication, and the subject wants them for personal use. Do any of you have a pricing standard you use for this?”
Photo by Allen Murabayashi
Photo by Allen Murabayashi

How would you price it?

We asked four photographers how they would handle it.
Stanley Leary, Roswell, GA
I would create a boilerplate menu for “personal use”. Prints for walls were at one time a huge way people appreciated photos, but today I believe most want a copy to, in essence, put on their virtual reality wall: social media.
The biggest problem is monitoring the usage of your images. I believe there is a trust but verify mentality to use. Just be sure your communication that is in writing [contract] states the usage that is allowed.
You may want to do something like this (pricing is for illustration purposes only)
  • Original file (5568×3712) $250 [no watermark]
  • JPEG – x-large (4800 px)$70 [includes watermark]
  • JPEG – large (2400 px) $50 [includes watermark]
  • JPEG – medium (1200 px) $35 [includes watermark]
  • JPEG – small (600 px) $25 [includes watermark]
Todd Rosenberg, Chicago, IL
Social media such as Instagram and Facebook are today’s “house.” And depending on the person who is getting the image, their posting it can be also be beneficial to you. I can only give you my situation, but I will use the Lyric Opera of Chicago as an example. Any performer who is general cast or chorus can have access to the images for “personal use” which includes their FB and Instagram pages. I have priced it into the fee for the Opera because that is one of the ways the performance is promoted. But there is a mandatory credit. They can order prints, but they cannot use them on their personal websites. They must credit and failure to credit results in fees. Any performer who is listed in cast order can have one image 2500px wide for personal social media. the rest they pay for at a structured fee. Dancers for the dance companies I work with are able to have the images for personal use, because they cannot afford it, and usually their followers will eventually follow me. Social media isn’t going to make you rich, but it can get you work.
Preston Mack, Orlando, FL
I usually give away a few photos for personal use. I make sure I am clear about that.
I think that time is a person’s most valuable asset. When someone gives me their time so I can take their photo, I am truly grateful. When the subject is a regular person (i.e. a person being featured in a magazine story) I usually offer them a photo for their personal use. It is my way of thanking them for their time –  but I am explicit that it is only for personal use. These days, people just want it for their personal Facebook page or Instagram.
Noah Berger, San Francisco, CA
As long as I somewhat liked the subject, I always send the file stipulating no professional use (linked, professional fb page etc.) but allowing posting to purely personal fb. I figure if someone worked with me to produce the shot I wanted, it’s a nice thank you.


A photographer’s definition of “personal use” and a consumer’s definition likely don’t align. There is nothing inherently wrong with giving photos to a subject for free, but photographers do need to be explicit in what constitutes personal use and what usages would require a licensing fee. And even then, there is nuance. Does Facebook constitute personal use? What if it’s a Facebook page promoting a business? What if it’s a Facebook page for an actor in regional theatre? What if it’s for a law firm?
It also isn’t unusual for people with large social media followings (e.g. celebrities, musicians, et al) to simply steal photos and use them in their feed, while showing a profound ignorance on the subject of copyright.

What did the photographer do?

After weighing the pros and cons, the photographer told us:
“I still don’t have a blanket policy for handling these requests, I handle each one on a case-by-case basis. When I have a lot of time with subject and develop a good deal of rapport, I may send a print or two, typically 5×7. I always wait until after the story has printed and then choose something to send, many times it’s different than what published.
“I try not to send digital files, but if I do, I always send a low resolution, like 72dpi @ 1500 pixels on the long edge. And whether it’s a print or file, I tell them that it’s for personal use only, which means making a print for their home or posting to social media.  
“In other instances, where I get the feeling they are looking for a LinkedIn profile photo (like when taking a portrait of a businessperson) or something for business promotion, I tell them that I can license the photo if they are interested. They rarely are.
“I recently had a case where an athlete from a college I did some work for several years ago wanted a file. I told him I don’t sell files (which I don’t) and that he could purchase a print if he wanted. I probably could come up with a pricing plan for purchasing downloads, but that’s just not something I’m interested in.
“My main concern, like I’m sure most photographers are, is to not be taken advantage of. There’s nothing foolproof, so I just use my best judgement in each instance.”
Responses have been edited and condensed.
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This article was written by
Allen Murabayashi is the Chairman and co-founder of PhotoShelter. He co-hosts the "I Love Photography" podcast on iTunes.
There are 2 comments for this article
  1. Craig Ferguson at 9:13 am
    One thing I often do with regular people who want a personal use photo for their social media is give it to them at no charge but have them make a donation to charity. There’ve been a few times when they’ve later come to me or recommended me when they need photography for their business.
  2. david tedman at 3:45 am
    It’s a difficult one to get right especially if you are just starting out. If you are already established it’s easy to be mean, but, if you’re not it’s important to keep the bigger picture in mind.
    The questions you have to ask are “What’s in it for me as the photographer?” The second is “Can I be bothered to argue over a picture for somebodies FB page when I could be spending my time getting that assignment that’ll mean I never have to think about this stuff again?”

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Photos and Videos in Higher Ed Digital Marketing

Kristin Twiford
Kristin is the Content Marketing Manager for Libris. She covers visual storytelling trends and best practices here on the Libris blog and uses her background in television production, daily news and communications to shoot, produce, edit and publish video content for social media, marketing and sales.

Visual Storytelling

Visual Storytelling and the Future of Photos: Kaptur Magazine Founder Paul Melcher’s Take

Photos and videos are exploding online. Every day, new innovative content is capturing our attention. Marketers are taking advantage of the trend and investing in visual content. The majority of senior marketers say visual content is crucial to their business, and its importance will continue to rise in the future.
But what exactly does that future look like? How will user-generated content affect how brands communicate? Will we all be experiencing new destinations through VR headsets? How can marketing teams track their content and its performance? How will we manage all of this content, and can we avoid the content apocalypse?
These questions are exactly what we want to talk about at our upcoming event, Visual Storytelling and the Future of Photos, hosted with Startup Socials NYC on November 2 at our office in NYC. To get the conversation started, we’ve asked the panelists to answer a number of questions, and we’ll be sharing their answers here on the Libris blog over the next few weeks.
First up is Paul Melcher, who has been named one of the “100 most influential individuals in American photography” by American Photo. Paul works with visual tech startups through his consultancy MelcherSystem, and founded Kaptur Magazine. We asked Paul to share what drives him, which trends have his attention, and where he thinks the visual web is headed.

Q & A on the Future of Photos with Paul Melcher

Can you tell us about Kaptur and how it relates to the visual web/visual storytelling?

Paul: Kaptur was born out of frustration and the need to fill a void. While working at a company called Stipple, which offered in-image interactive layers, I was constantly having conversations with marketers and publishers who were clueless about how to take advantage of the explosion of photography online. So I decided to write about it.
Kaptur has three sections, one for “breaking” news, one for stats and facts, and one for commentary, analysis and interviews. In the last 2 years, we have showcased many new startups, interviewed researchers from Google and Yahoo, as well as investors, professors and marketers.
We want to bridge the gap between those who create the next generation of the visual web and those who could most benefit from them.

What is your take on the visual web and how it’s changed over the last 5-10 years?

Paul: The web has always been primarily visual, at least since the launch of Netscape/Mosaic. What has changed is the understanding of the potential of visual content.
Before we had massive numbers of engagement around photography – as illustrated by Instagram, Facebook or Pinterest – it was seen as a secondary tool. Now, there is not one publisher, advertiser, blogger, brand marketing or e-commerce specialist that can or would ignore the power of visuals online. Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Apple, Snapchat have whole departments whose sole role is to think about visuals, how they are consumed and what can be done with them.
The last 5 to 10 years have seen the visual web step out of its infancy and become a young turbulent teenager.

How has the prevalence of UGC and changes in visual storytelling affected photography?

Paul: The number one change is that we suddenly discovered that there is a lot of non professionals that are very talented. More than anyone ever thought. The presumption was that everyone that was good was a professional. Well, apparently not. This has allowed for the control of the messaging from professional to amateurs. No longer do pro photographers, art directors or photo editors have control of the visual grammar. It’s primarily in the hands of the crowd. It doesn’t stop anyone to have a strong style, but it has changed how the narrative is told.
For example, we are more and more edging towards telling a story in one frame. What a lot people call “authenticity.” In fact, what authenticity really means is that the one frame contains a beginning, a middle and an end, all wrapped in a believable context.

What are the biggest challenges that photographers face on the visual web?

Paul: Photographers face two challenges: monetization and attribution. While there is an explosion of photography online, there is, in a parallel, a rapid depression of compensation. Fees are dropping almost as fast as the usage of photography is growing.
As well, respect for authors is deteriorating, as if caught in a stampede. Images are being published, shared, reposted, without any attribution, forever breaking the umbilical cord between the image and its creator. In turn, it annihilates the chance for the photographer to ever see any compensation.

What’s one trend in visual storytelling that you see taking off? What about a trend that you see flopping?

Paul: For the trend I see flopping, I would say mutlimedia. While it was an exciting proposition to mix video, photos and sound, it required a too complex creation process for the author and too much time dedication from the viewers.
The trend I see taking off is the format. The antiquated rectangular (or square) flat 2 dimension image that was the only format during the print era is being challenged by new, boundless alternatives: Gif, cinemagraphs, 360, immersive, circular are just a few of the new available containers for photography. They offer a much wider, richer way to create and consume images. We are no longer restrained by a rigid frame, nor are we confined in static fraction of a second. The possibilities for visual storytelling are suddenly exponentially increased. The future of visual storytelling belongs to those who will master those formats.

Read More on Visual Storytelling and the Future of Photos

Be sure to join us for Visual Storytelling and the Future of Photos on November 2 for more on the future of the visual web.
In the meantime, brush up on visual storytelling and photography tips and trends with these posts:
Kristin Twiford
Kristin is the Content Marketing Manager for Libris. She covers visual storytelling trends and best practices here on the Libris blog and uses her background in television production, daily news and communications to shoot, produce, edit and publish video content for social media, marketing and sales.

Printing Museum Quality Pieces

Tips For Printing Museum Quality Pieces

WhiteWall Tips For Printing Museum Quality Pieces

Print Your Photos

Print your photos as leading museums and

galleries do

We interviewed Jan-Ole Schmidt, the product manager at WhiteWall to get his do’s and don’ts for printing museum quality pieces.

What should a fine art photographer keep in mind when it comes to printing his/her work for a gallery show?

JS: The first thing photographers should consider is what they would like to convey with their pictures, and what kind of printing, mounting and framing will underscore that message. At WhiteWall, there are over 1,000 product variations to choose from. Acrylic photo prints make colors pop and provide amazing depth. That means a Photo Print Under Acrylic Glass is really great for colorful underwater shots, nighttime photography, or even landscapes. The metallic gleam of the Direct Print on Brushed Aluminum, on the other hand, is particularly powerful for mechanical or industrial images.

Direct Print on Brushed Aluminium

Before photographers decide on what kind of print they want, they have to have a vague idea of how big they want it to be. As far as size and format go, they need to consider how pieces will be distributed throughout the exhibition space and also how close their work will be to other pictures. Often, a frame is a great idea, because it directs viewers’ attention to the image itself. An opulent frame that emphasizes the mood of the photograph can do wonders for larger works, giving them a fascinating presence. Smaller pictures framed and mounted with mat board appear very sophisticated.

Additionally, before placing an order, it is definitely important to view the pictures on a calibrated monitor so that there are no surprises with the end results. We offer ICC profiles for the file previews. These can be downloaded for free on The goal is to produce a color accurate print of the digital files. This is something fine art photographers can really appreciate!

What is the most popular photo finishing used by your fine art clients and why?

JS: Our bestseller is our premium product: the Photo Print Under Acrylic. It makes all kinds of photographs look particularly sophisticated. This mounting option enhances the luminosity of the colors, even with black and white photographs. The image itself is the decisive factor in selecting the printing options.

For black & white photographs, the LightJet Print on Ilford B/W is a popular choice, because it produces enormous contrasts. The Hahnemühle Fine Art Prints are a great tip for portraits, because the paper’s texture really brings out the artistic nature of the photographs.

LightJet Print on Ilford B/W

Print Your Photos

You recently printed, mounted, and framed some amazing lunar images taken by NASA—how did you help them decide which finishing to use to print the images taken by LROC (lunar reconnaissance orbiter camera)? What were some of the big challenges?

JS: NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera takes impressively high-resolution pictures of the moon that are fascinating to scientists and photographers alike. Since the photos are incredibly detailed, the first order of business was to make the moon’s textures all visible and also to bring out the various gray values of the black & white images. To determine which photo paper was best for the job, various proofs were created. It quickly became clear that the LighJet Print on Ilford B/W Paper was perfect for these moon photos. By mounting them under acrylic glass, the depths and details are also emphasized. Our team helped with the final fine-tuning of the image files and offered tips for the production, in order to get the most out of these works.

What does conservation grade mean? Why does it matter?

JS: When it comes to art, conservation grade means that the photographs are protected from external influences so that they last as long as possible. Nobody wants a picture that fades after a short time or blisters or breaks with temperature changes. We place a lot of value on making sure our customers can enjoy their photos for a long time. We’ve adapted our production processes for this. For example, we use silicone that never completely hardens to mount our Photo Print Under Acrylic Glass. This means it can contract or expand according to changes in the temperature, making it a lot more stable than mounting photos using conventional adhesives. The acrylic glass also provides additional natural UV protection.

Photo Under Acrylic Glass

What are the latest frame trends for gallery shows in the U.S and in Europe?

JS: Currently, the trend is classic mounting under acrylic glass combined with a modern frame. Wood Floater Frames and the aluminum ArtBox are very popular. For Documentary Photography and Street Photography, the Direct Print on Aluminum is a popular choice. The matte surface gives the images real immediacy. This kind of mounting is also suitable for exhibitions with prominent spotlights, because it cuts glare.

Aluminum ArtBox

Art Deals Brokered in the Bedroom

The artist Skye Ferrante creating a wire portrait as two models pose in an apartment in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn this month. Credit Alex Wroblewski for The New York Times
About five years ago, in a Brooklyn loft overlooking the East River, the artist Skye Ferrante was working on his latest creation, studying a nude model and twisting an elongated piece of wire to create an intricate sculpture.
Mr. Ferrante, who divides his time between London, New York and Paris, had sculpted similar nude portraits of dozens of women, many of whom worked in New York’s burlesque scene. This particular model, a Brooklyn resident who asked to be identified only as Josephine, a name she sometimes used professionally, had dabbled in high-end prostitution.
Now, Josephine had a different business proposition in mind: She suggested selling the portrait to one of her clients, a wealthy man who lived on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.
“I put down my pliers and said, ‘Please, tell me more,’” Mr. Ferrante, 43, recalled recently.
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Josephine approached her client, and soon struck a deal: The man would pay $10,000 for the sculpture, and she would split the money equally with Mr. Ferrante.
Since Mr. Ferrante learned about Josephine’s other job, several models who work as escorts, some of them mistresses of married men, have also offered to sell his pieces to their clients.
At least some of the sculptures were then displayed in the buyers’ homes, with few who saw the pieces knowing what had inspired them.
Ziad, a married man who lives in France and asked that his last name not be used, bought one of Mr. Ferrante’s wire sculptures modeled after his mistress. He said in an interview that he felt the piece was beautifully constructed. Its depiction of the woman, her hair unruly and her eyes closed, was abstract enough for anyone to appreciate, but realistic enough that he — though not his wife — could still recognize her.
Ziad, 40, said his wife liked the sculpture, adding quickly that she “doesn’t know anything about it.”
Mr. Ferrante spends about three hours on each of his wire portraits. Credit Alex Wroblewski for The New York Times
Mr. Ferrante said the models, who asked that their true names not be used because of the nature of their work, had helped sell more than a half-dozen of his pieces, bringing in tens of thousands of dollars that the women split with him.
“They have connections to more money than any of the galleries anyway,” Mr. Ferrante said, adding that he would rather share his proceeds with his models than with a broker. “By turning the model into an art dealer, we’re cutting out the middleman.”
For Mr. Ferrante, the transactions are a welcome alternative to the established art world, in which, he said, dealer representation is increasingly hard to come by, and galleries often take as much as half of an artist’s earnings.
Such exchanges, historians and local artists said, reflected a hidden but not unprecedented intersection of mainstream art and high-end prostitution, extending from New York to Moscow and beyond.
The concept of men commissioning portraits of their mistresses is far from unusual, said Andrew Lear, a former classics professor at New York University and founder and president of Shady Ladies Tours, which offers tours in the Metropolitan Museum of Art that focus on the role of sex and sexuality in art. Courtesans abound in artwork as far back as the 18th century, Mr. Lear said.
One example on display at the Met, he said, is Thomas Gainsborough’s portrait of Grace Dalrymple Elliott from the 1700s. The painting, according to the Met’s website, “was apparently commissioned by her lover, the first marquis of Cholmondeley.”
Though he had not heard of a modern-day example before learning of Mr. Ferrante’s work, Mr. Lear said the transactions provided several parallels with the past. “It’s interesting that maybe things have changed less than we think,” he said.
A 25-year-old Ukrainian woman, Olga, a name she sometimes uses professionally, who lives in Moscow, said she had been a high-end escort since she was a teenager. She said she currently had three steady clients, including Ziad in France.
Olga said she had met Mr. Ferrante about two years ago at a networking party in New York, and had posed for him since then in New York and in Paris. While in Paris with Ziad, she took him to Mr. Ferrante’s studio to see a sculpted portrait of her. Ziad bought the piece for $10,000.
“If he likes something, he doesn’t mind how much it costs, he just buys,” Olga said. “Girls like us, we are always surrounded by rich men.”
Mr. Ferrante said that working with models, some of whom also earn money as escorts, to find clients was a welcome change. “By turning the model into an art dealer, we’re cutting out the middleman,” he said. Credit Alex Wroblewski for The New York Times
Ziad, who works in real estate, said he had hung the portrait on a corridor wall in his Paris home, where he lives with his wife.
“It is a reminder of her,” Ziad said of Olga. “But it was also a nice piece of art.”
Of the roughly 300 models who have posed for Mr. Ferrante, he said that about a quarter told him that they had side jobs in “all manner of erotic and sexual work.” Dozens of his models — prostitutes or not — had helped sell sculptures to friends and acquaintances, he said.
But the women who work as escorts provide direct access to potential clients with personal connections to the subject of Mr. Ferrante’s portraits, and the ability to pay for them.
In an apartment in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn this month, Mr. Ferrante worked on another wire portrait, with two nude models precisely arranged on the bed before him, a fringed sheet draped over their bodies.
Each wire portrait takes Mr. Ferrante about three hours to complete, and he sometimes works until his fingers bleed. With one pair of pliers in his mouth, and another in his hand, he carefully twisted and wound a single continuous wire, making occasional flourishes with his hand. He took sips of rosé as he spoke about the blurred lines of the art world.
“The story that exists on the client’s wall, I don’t know anymore,” he said. “If the sale is made and I’m not asking questions, it really doesn’t matter.”
David King Reuben, a New York City artist who commissioned Mr. Ferrante to create a portrait of himself, said that Mr. Ferrante’s work reflected a convergence of representative art with modern abstract art. A sculpture, for example, is seen by many as an inanimate object of beauty in itself, detached from the piece’s subject or purpose.
“Of course that’s a reason why when a man gives it to his wife she says, ‘Oh, it’s beautiful,’” Mr. Reuben said. “But it absolutely has a purpose.”
Josephine said that her client displayed the sculpture on a wall in his apartment, which he shared with his wife.
“It’s more discreet than having a nice photo on your phone,” Josephine said. “There’s a little bit of that, like a mind game.”
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