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How To Sell Your Photos For A Byline and a Check
by Lori Appling
(The below tips are excerpts from AWAI's Big
Bucks for Snap Shots: 53 Can't-Miss Techniques for Becoming a Money-Making
Freelance Photographer. This guide comes free with AWAI's home-study course on
travel writing http://www.thetravelwriterslife.com/kp/wfd - or you can buy the photo guide separately
It's true that sometimes a publication
commissions a professional photographer to take the photos they need. And
sometimes editors buy their photos from a stock-photo house.
But just as often, it's the writer who provides
the photographs. Particularly for smaller-market and lower-budget publications,
having photos available to an editor can make a real difference in whether or
not you make your sale.
Some publications will pay a flat fee for an
article-and-photo package. Others pay one fee for your article and another for
photos. (You'll find that sort of information in a publication's Writer's
As a writer, then, you have several
1) You can team up with somebody who can
take the images for you.
2) You can inquire at tourism offices (or stock
photo agencies) for suitable images.
3) Or you can learn how to handle a camera
The first option is an economic decision -- do
you make enough per article to share your take with a professional photographer?
If the answer is yes, this may be your best choice.
Some freelance writers will travel with a
"researcher/photographer" spouse. One does the writing, one does the snapping.
(Such an arrangement allows you to both take a "working" vacation and the
corresponding deductions on your tax returns.)
Borrowing images (option #2) means that you are
taking responsibility for their safe return (usually prints or transparencies
(slides is another word for transparencies)). If an editor loses original
material from a tourism organization, this can cost you (as the responsible
party) up to $1,500 per image, which is the average standard value of an
original commercial transparency. You can try to get it back from the editor,
but first you must cough up the dough.
Learning to take your own images (option #3) is
work -- for some people more effort than learning how to write. The good news is
that most professionals agree that anybody can take usable images (even if they
aren't great images). Here's how
** FIRST, YOU MUST read the Photo-Submission
These are usually included as part of the
Writers Guidelines, which you can typically find online at a publication's
website or in Writer's Digest's Writer's Market: http://tinyurl.com/2d99w
. Here are a few
* Frontier Magazine will review
duplicate slides only. They buy one-time rights and negotiate payment on a
case-by-case basis. Subject identification is required for review. (In other
words, the editors won't consider your photos if you don't include captions with
* The International Railway Traveler
reviews contact sheets, negatives, transparencies (8 x 10) preferred and 5
X 7 prints. They buy first North American rights and electronic rights. (Ill
tell you a little more about rights in a second.) Costs of converting slides and
negatives to prints are deducted from payment. Captions and subject
identification are required.
* Islands reviews 35mm transparencies
sent in protective plastic sleeves. They buy one-time rights for $75-$300.
Identification of subject matter is required.
** HOW -TO'S FOR GETTING YOUR PHOTOS TO AN
When you send in your article query to the
editor of a publication, indicate that you can provide photos or illustrations
to accompany your story.
Its always a good idea to mail photos and
slides First Class. If you fear losing your prints or slides, you can send them
Certified or Registered Mail. (Remember, both Certified and Registered Mail
require a recipient's signature. The only difference between the two is that the
contents in a Registered Mail package are insured.)
If youre sending in photos separately from your
article, (if, for example, youve already emailed your article to the editor)
then you should enclose a letter of explanation with your photos. The letter
should be less than a page long and should tell the editor what the photos are,
what theyre for, and whom theyre from.
Also, include a separate self-addressed label
and an envelope with sufficient return postage so you can get the copies of your
photos and slides back. Never submit photos or slides mounted in