Who Pays Photographers is a Tumblr site where photographers can submit their pay rates anonymously through a submission bin. Though still in its infancy, it is still an excellent resource for photographers who are just starting out with no way of knowing how much to charge for their hard work.
When working for a client, compensation can be a tricky subject. Since “How much do you earn?” doesn’t necessarily fall under the subject of small talk, it can be a source of confusion for photographers these days because there isn’t a lot of updated information on pay rates and such. Another thing is copyrights. Some clients require you to hand over all the rights at a one-time fixed rate even if they plan to sell your images to let’s say, Getty Images afterwards and potentially make money off of that. Also, when a publication makes what appears to be a fair offer, it can be hard to say no, only to find out that they only offered you a small fraction of what your work could fetch them in the bigger picture.
Who Pays Photographers was created by an same anonymous editorial photographer whereas Who Pays Writers is run by Manula Martin. As the name suggests, Who Pays Writers is also an anonymous Tumblr Site where writers can submit their pay rates. Both Tumblrs are user-based submission sites, so it might be wise to take everything with a grain of salt. Information on the rates of The New York Times, Associated Press, The Wall Street Journal, Getty Images, Marie Claire, Women’s Health and National Geographic have already been submitted, along with several other publications, websites and magazines.
In an interview by PDN pulse, Who Pays Photographers says:
I hope the site will be a resource for new and established photographers. At times, I’ve found photographers can be quite secretive when it comes to talking about actual rates. As almost everything is anonymous, I have no way of confirming the quality of submissions; the data is public on the site and I hope that viewers who care to correct the record will simply submit their info on their experience. E.g. 4 reports on working for Le Monde will provide a fuller picture and possibly also, reveal which data point is inaccurate. For sure, this may lead to false info occasionally, but ideally, the info will be self-correcting.
It’s expected that there will be conflicting accounts from people who work for the same companies or publications. A variety of factors including years of experience, international experience, number of images, daily rates and rate per image could affect one’s pay rate even if two people were shooting the same event or news.
Others mention the importance of negotiating, especially if you are handing over the rights to the photo/s. Some will concede. Some will slam in the door in your face. Some will compromise with you at least a little bit. If you have something they need very badly, you can haggle for a fair price.
What I found interesting is how many publications reportedly do not pay any amount whatsoever in exchange for posting the photo or essay on their website. I’m sure many would jump at the chance to write or shoot for top blogs and high-traffic websites even with little to no pay, but considering how much they probably earn, I think it’s time they start paying their content providers small fees in addition to the exposure.
As anonymous said on the site, “You don’t get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate. “