Pricing Your Work, Tip #2: Contracts & Negotiating for Photojournalists

Pricing Your Work, Tip #2: Contracts & Negotiating for Photojournalists

This is the second in a series of blog posts exploring pricing your work from our 3 free guides written with Bill Cramer, CEO of Wonderful Machine. We’ll be sharing tips via the blog this week on how to price your magazine photography, corporate & industrial photography, and photojournalism. Get the guide Pricing Your Work: Photojournalism here.


Negotiating can be intimidating – and knowing when it’s appropriate to attempt it is crucial in order for photojournalists to stay afloat and profitable. Here, in this excerpt from our free guide Pricing Your Work: Photojournalism, Bill Cramer, founder and CEO of Wonderful Machine, walks you through when it’s worth opening the discussion.

To what extent are rates and terms negotiable and is it worth trying?

Since it’s mostly a buyer’s market, most news media clients tend not to be very flexible on rates or terms. (This is less true of magazines and even less true of commercial clients.) But that shouldn’t stop you from trying to negotiate a better deal when you feel the client is being unreasonable, or when you know you’re more valuable than the average photographer. If you find that you’re uncomfortable with the rate that they’re offering or the terms that they want, I suggest you very diplomatically express your concern about it, even if you end up agreeing to work under those terms. As you become busier, your negotiating leverage will grow, and once you establish your value, some clients will be willing to accommodate you (others won’t).

Compared to corporate and advertising assignments, news photography tends not to pay very well. Some photographers take the approach that they’ll get in and out of those jobs as quickly as possible in order to make them worthwhile. Other photographers have the philosophy that they don’t want to deliver any more quality than the client is actually paying for. Still others figure that if they’re going to take an assignment, that no matter what it pays, they’re going to make it as good as it can be. That said, you never know when another news editor may come across your work, and for that reason, you always want to put your best foot forward.

Photo by Andy Colwell

Photo by Andy Colwell

What are some examples of fees, terms, and contracts?

When you’re getting started as a freelance photographer, it’s impossible to know what fees, expenses, and licensing are “fair,” without understanding what other publications offer and what other photographers accept. As you gain experience, what other people do will become less and less important as you begin to understand your own value more and more. Thanks to the generosity of a few photographer and photo editor friends, we’ve compiled a number of contracts and pricing information from several mainstream news organizations that will help give you the lay of the land. Check out the full breakdown up on our blog at Wonderful Machine.

Let’s get started with tips for pricing your photojournalism, you can get the guide here:



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This article was written by

Marketing associate at PhotoShelter

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