What is the right price for a photograph?
I was recently asked by a local shop owner in Philly for a bunch of my photographs that he could print and sell. These were the numbers he offered – a large 13*19 print would sell for about $160, of which I would get $30. That’s about 18.75%.
At first, I could not believe the numbers. This was MY photograph, MY content. How could I get such a small percentage? Turns out that with the advent of digital photography, almost everybody is suddenly a photographer. It’s become so much more accessible, cheaper and easier. His argument therefore, for the small percentage, was that that’s what others are offering too. When I probed on the fairness of the price, I got the feeling that he agreed that the number was not fair, but that this is what the market rate was, and so “it is what it is”.
I guess it’s hard to quantifiably say “how much of the sale can be attributed to the content” and “how much to the shelf space”. Stock photography websites do the same – the royalty that the photographer gets is peanuts compared to what the website makes on each sale. And the reason I guess they are able to do that is because of the overwhelming supply of amateur photographers.
So, unless you’re a professional photographer with an established brand, it’s really not a great market to be in (unless you’re just doing it on the side, or as a hobby :))