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Insights & Thoughts

Who Pays Photographers? | Downward Trend For Freelancers?

By Kishore Sawh on January 18th 2015


Freelancing has got to be the single simplest way to start doing some sort of business. You set a price for a task, whether it be writing, consulting, photographing, doing taxes, washing cars, and get paid for it. In no way, shape, or form does the ‘free’ in freelancing mean working for free. It goes without saying, mind you, and we’ve mentioned more than once, there are virtues to working for free in certain circumstances; perhaps you are doing something altruistic for a charity, or you feel that it could be your foot in the door for the right kind of exposure towards something you want, but really, you do it to get paid.

This is no secret. What is often a guarded secret, however, is the paying habits of those who hire freelancers of all kinds, photographers and writers, perhaps, more specifically. There is a fog surrounding the topic, and in many scenarios, hiring parties make no mention of their rates until the planning stages have begun, or even after an agreement for work has been signed, as ludicrous as that may sound to some. There are even times when the amount to be paid isn’t finalized until after the completion of the work. Then, there are often non-disclosure agreements that are signed, keeping the freelancers from actually sharing names, figures, and experiences. This all works in favor of the hiring parties and not in favor of the photographers. But there is a movement that is beginning to change that.


Some of you may have heard of ‘Who Pays Photographers’ before,  running blog that is,

a space to list how much — and how little — magazines, newspapers, websites, NGOs and corporations pay photographers. Editorial, commercial, advertising, entertainment — any and all presented. Listing based on anonymous submissions. This is intended as an exercise in sharing, rather than shaming — but feel free to warn your fellow photogs about deadbeats.

Clearly, a spin off the ‘Who Pays Writers’ blog, a space that aims to do the same for writers, ‘Who Pays Photographers’ has been slowly gaining traction and ground, as it does so. It’s a great resource for anyone in the industry or anyone thinking about getting into it, and sure to cause more than a few eyes to widen with surprise, to see just how little many large-name clients pay out, how long they take to pay out (up to months even for a few hundred dollars), and the general lack of courtesy that seems to extend from many. Of course, it’s not all a bushel of bad apples, but it’s still surprising, perhaps more so to those who are rather green in the field.

It’s also quicker to get through than ‘Who Pays Writers’ probably due to the propensity of writers to be unable to , erm, get on with it.


[REWIND: Where Photographers Are Vs. Where The Money Is]

Nonetheless, what’s interesting to do is to start clicking back through the pages of the blog, and seeing how/if things seem to be changing from the time it began to present day. There are some posts that seem to suggest pay is actually dwindling, but this could just be from those who are disgruntled posters. Either way this could be a a great resource if more and more photographers begin to use it, and hopefully incite some change. What do you think? What are your experiences? Share and see the blog here

Images are screen captures from site

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A photographer and writer based in Miami, he can often be found at dog parks, and airports in London and Toronto. He is also a tremendous fan of flossing and the happiest guy around when the company’s good.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Tosh Cuellar

    Good article, nice to have a resource like this available

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  2. Eric Sharpe

    Bragging rights of having worked for a certain publication or company is cool, but it doesn’t pay the bills.

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  3. Gregory Allen

    Or take help of [url=]experts[/url]

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  4. Gregory Allen

    Or you can take help of

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  6. Jason Boa

    Part of being a ” professional” photographer is acting as such ie earning money ! ( as well as customer service, taking photographs being dressed appropriately etc.)
    If you accept non payment for your services then you are endorsing your work as worthless . Makes you think !! If it doesn’t don’t call yourself professional . :-)

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  7. Kim Farrelly

    Looking through that there is a lot of abuse going on. There will always be those who can’t pay, those who shouldn’t pay and those who don’t pay. It’s up to us to choose who we work with and why, so this is a good storybook of how companies treat, or try to treat, new ‘talent’.

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  8. Brandon Dewey

    Thanks for the link, I’ll have to check it out.

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