Our post on how wedding photographer Allen Ayres was able to sell one of his wedding photos for $18, 000 really got a lot of people talking. There are a lot of good comments mixed in with some negative comments.
Since then, we have learned some new information from both Allen himself and John Mireles, the business coach who helped Allen negotiate with the ad agency’s art buyer. The best new news so far is that not only did Allen earned the $18,000 for the photo, the pharmaceutical company that bought the usage right had enough success with the advertisement that they ended up renewing the license twice and has since expanded the publication usage to include Europe.
As a result, Allen ended up earning a very nice $27,000 from this one image! WOW!
Of course, given the circumstances, a lot of people began to ask questions about issues like whether the bride was notified or why the ad agency paid so much. So John wrote a follow-up article to address these questions. Here are the excerpts to some of the concerns that people have:
1. Did the bride give her permission?
According to Allen, not only did the bride give her permission, she was actually excited to have her photo used for the ad. And she was, of course, paid for the usage.
As John said, it is definitely advisable to obtain a model release for any commercial work. It’s not only in good form, but it’s also easier to do so beforehand rather than to explain to the bride why her photo is all over these ads.
Plus, editorial and commercial usages are not necessarily the same. There is more leeway with using an image without a model release for editorial purpose than using it for commercial purposes.
2. “That photo is not good enough!”
Remember, the client found Allen’s photo, not the other way around.
This goes back to John’s advice from the original article. It’s not about whether you like the image or not. If the client likes it and they offer to pay for it, why not?
“If the client wants you, it’s because you offer something special. Don’t be afraid to charge for your specialness,” said John.
John has a great anecdote about a throw away image of his dirty bare feet on the dash of his ’86 Celica. To John, the image meant nothing, but it still ended up being the photo the ad agency chose for an ad that needed a “road trip” look.
As for Allen’s final image, John mentioned that the agency did retouch the large head in the foreground.
3. Why would the client pay so much when they could have shot it for less?
Because it actually cost a lot of money to recreate this scene. The production of a scene for a commercial shoot like this involves location scouting, location fees and permits, lighting equipment rental, talent scouting, casting, hair, makeup, wardrobe stylist, producer, assistants, and retoucher.
This alone cost at least $10,000-$20,000, and this is before adding the photographer’s rate for creative fee, shooting rate, and licensing.
For me, as someone who has been involved in commercial shoots before, to see a shoot budget over $30,000-50,000 plus licensing fee is not uncommon. Just browse around APhotoEditor.com to see real-life examples of job bids totaling $100,000+ in the commercial world.
So in the end, Allen’s marketing effort with his blog got him enough visibility for the art buyer to find his image. So rather than criticize him for his photo, I applaud Allen for having an awesome pay day of $27,000.
John Mireles goes far more in-depth with each of these questions, so be sure to read his follow-up article. You can definitely learn a lot from him, too!