Monday, May 7


Something that happens about once a week:

An email arrives
“Hi, I’m Steve from XYX publishing, and we’d love to include your photo (attached) in the forthcoming book Fractures, Cracks and Tensile Strength of Concrete. The print run is 50 000. Please let me know if you can let us use the photo. Unfortunately there is only a tiny budget for the book”.

Hmm, right, I’ll just Google the company – turnover 200 million last year – should have a few quid. Let’s see what the NUJ suggested rates are. Now see what the big photo agencies would charge. Right, I’ll quote them a price much much less than that. Say 20% of what a big agency would charge.

“Hi Steve – I can licence the picture for one-off use in this book for £60. Hope that is OK.”

Deafening silence. End of correspondence.

I’m sure in the end they found a photographer who was so excited by the prospect of appearing on page 234 of Fractures, Cracks and Tensile Strength of Concrete that they just wet themselves and gave the image for nothing. But wouldn’t it be cheaper to have a decent budget for photos rather than wasting time trawling through the Internet looking for some poor sap who will give away a picture? Or do companies now employ minimum wage Flickr-trawling monkeys especially for this purpose?

I recently had an email from a university who were producing a book. Their budget for images transpired to be £0. How does that happen – pay thousands to get the book printed. Photos – erm, just get ‘em of the Internet.

Come on – print costs are massive, paying a few hundred quid for photos won’t hurt. If someone is quoting a price for a high-quality image that is a fraction of what Corbis would charge, it’s a bargain.

And many of these painful exchanges often end up being detailed on Internet bulletin boards, so it just ends up making the company look cheap and tacky. Naming no names, of course.