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News & Insight

Update to the $18,000 Wedding Photo (Now Worth $27,000)

By fotosiamo on August 24th 2012

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!

Wedding photo by Allen Ayres
Wedding photo by Allen Ayres

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 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!

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Joe is a fashion and commercial photographer based in Los Angeles, CA. He blends creativity and edge with a strong style of lighting and emotion in his photographs.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Ed Rhodes

    the photographer definitely captured a great moment, but the blurred kid in the front center is distracting. congrats on finding a buyer for it though, that’s awesome. if they love it, then that’s all that matters!

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  2. That ‘$18000’ wedding photo

    […] was worth it to the 'buyer'. The $18,000 Wedding Photograph | The Photographer's Business Coach Update to the $18,000 Wedding Photo (Now Worth $27,000) tutorial Pete Reply With Quote « Previous Thread | Next Thread […]

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  3. Felicia Lee Artistry

    I think this is awesome! Who cares if the picture is the best, it was the best to the buyer no one else matters… Although makes me wonder what I am doing wrong:-)

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  4. Appreciates success

    Good on the photographer.  I applaud him and wish him all the luck in the world. Hope he has heaps more photos that get noticed which end him giving him a hefty pay packet.  I love to see people succeed.

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  5. Atlanta Owner

    I’ve had stock images sell that were of things I’d NEVER think someone could use.  But I uploaded them and some of them have had numerous sales hits.  You truly never know what people want, need, etc.  In this case, someone just “found” the photo and came to him, so luck is heavily involved in it, too.  But either way, good news for him.  I get he gets a new camera and a lens with the money. (I would).

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  6. RSW

    You also have to remember that what makes a photo great for the newlyweds isn’t what makes it great for an ad agency.  The ad agency needs room to add text and branding over the image. If the composition fills the frame with the subject, then it can’t be used for that purpose; you don’t want to have information running across someone’s face. So once in a while, take a shot and leave a bunch of room for ad information.  And I’m sure most images will be cropped like crazy to show just what they want.  It’s a diamond in the rough to advertisers.  They’ll polish it up.

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  7. Jeff

    I am wondering if there is a link to the final commercial product? I would love to see what it looks like all finished.

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  8. Anonymous

    I don’t really get why people complain about the picture. Yes it might not be the best photo out there, but what ever. The company came to Allen not the other way around. Hell… I wouldn’t dare to promote this photo, foremost because of the large head. But if, just like Allens story, a company came to me and offered a good amount of money I would take it without thinking. 

    Allen, just like Joe I applaud you.

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  9. Tomas To-mas Halasz

    I dont understand how can somebody have a negative feelings about this story.
    He is clearly a good photographer and he wasnt stupid as most of us, and sold his picture for the right amount.
    I dont earn so much in a year, but still i am not jealous, I am happy for him.
    well done

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    • Weupzz

      Completely agree with you. We should be thanking him for opening our eyes from underestimating our values. I’m curious if the photograph is being used by the client as it is, or they’ll altered / crop some of it. That big head foreground is a big letdown to me to be honest

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    • Ada

      The article says they retouched the big head in the foreground.  I agree, it’s a great article, some people obviously have a touch of the green eyed monster ;)

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