3 sides to the same (odd shaped) coin

It's been an interesting couple of weeks in my world of photography, and it culminated in 3 things landing on my doorstep within a couple of days of each other, together which sum up my approach to making money (or not) from photography; so I thought I would write a blog about it


  • I do not earn my entire income from photography, but I do earn a reasonable proportion of it from photography related 'things', especially over the wedding shooting season. 

  • Of the money I do earn from photography the majority is not from my own 'personal' work, but mainly through commercial work.

  • Therefore my view on earning money from my own photographic work is not that of someone who needs the money to live on.


CASE STUDY 1:  Image for free (and credit and a book)

My photo, in book form.

My photo, in book form.

I had an email out of the blue a few months ago from Bennett and Slater, a company that puts together a tourism based information book about Wellington ( www.bennettandslater.co.nz ), and they were asking to use one of my images in the book, in return for credit and a copy of the book. 

After initially having the 'why should I give my image away free for a commercial publication' type thoughts, I changed my mind and thought why not let them use it; after all at least they had the courtesy to ask me and not just use it without my permission.  So I responded and said 'yeah, go for it, here are my details for credit, here is my address to send me a book, and these are the terms of use'.  They were happy and promised me a copy of the book by Christmas.

I forgot all about it until a parcel arrived in my mailbox the other day, with the book in it, with my photo credited in it.  Now I have a book to read, and I might even learn something about my old home town!


CASE STUDY 2: Images for sale

A couple of my images in use

A couple of my images in use

I had another random email from a Tremains ( a large Real Estate company based in Hawke's Bay, www.tremains.co.nz), looking to use, and pay for, images for a little calendar that they give away to their clients.  They were after a quote for the use of 2 images, with no credit, and also a quote for if they wanted to use the images for more widespread marketing uses.

I put together a price based on them being a reasonably large local company, and the potential for more images being needed in the future.  I priced it lower than I normally would have for a one off use.

They were happy with the price for the calendar photos and so I sent them through with the necessary T's & C's.

And then they asked for another price for 8 images for another calendar; again I sent through the price and they were happy and got the images.

And then they asked for the use of an image for general marketing based on the quote I gave previously, no problem, and then another for marketing, and another, and another.

None of the prices for the use of my images would match the "Getty" prices for stock images, but in the last 2 months they have purchased multiple images, resulting in a happy photographer and a happy client.

I am now going to sit down with this company to see if there is an easier way for them to license my photos on an ongoing basis...

Thanks Tremains; your support of a local photographer is appreciated. 

And of course I picked up copies of the calendars for my "scrapbook"!


CASE STUDY 3: Image for trade

"Separation of Church and the (ex) State"

"Separation of Church and the (ex) State"

I posted the photo above on Facebook and various other social media, and I got a message from the owners of the County Hotel ( www.countyhotel.co.nz ) featured in this shot.  They were keen to use this photo for some marketing and were after a price to do so.  Now I have always liked the County Hotel, and have often thought about booking in for a night just to experience it, so I responded to the email setting out what I would normally charge for an image, but suggested they could have it for free if I could spend a night in the hotel as a guest, which they were happy with, so I just need to find a slot in the calendar now...


Moral's of the Stories

So as you can see these are 3 different way's of selling images, 1 for cold hard cash and 2 in exchange for other things.  I am firm believer that the later type of sales will generate more of the former, but we will wait and see.