The Digital Journalist
Common Cents

by Mark Loundy

"Time heals griefs and quarrels, for we change and are no longer the same persons. Neither the offender nor the offended are any more themselves."
- Blaise Pascal (1623-1662), French scientist, philosopher

(More observations, one year after the institution of The New York Times' freelancer contract):

Shooter Kevin P. Coughlin says that he resisted signing the contract. "It was a tough time for myself a year ago. I was preparing to get married and I recall my cell phone ringing. It was Times Metro Picture Assignment Editor Kevin Larkin on the line offering me a job for the day. I was about to take the job down until he asked if I had signed the contract they had mailed to me. I told Kevin that I'd have to think about it, but being that it was March 28th, before the April 1st deadline, I'd be happy to shoot the assignment he had lined up that day. He said: 'I'm sorry, man. I can't use you until you sign.'"

Still, Coughlin resisted signing. "By June, a revised Times contract was hammered out and many photographers, including myself, finally caved in and signed as our financial situations were not rapidly improving. For the record, to this date - I have received but one photo assignment since signing.

Coughlin was able to see a life after The New York Times. "Today, I am a full-time contract sports photographer and an associate picture editor with the New York Post. I got to cover the entire New York Jets season for the Post, including five travel games and the playoffs. I still run my own photo assignment agency, Photostation Images LLC, and my wife and I are celebrating our first anniversary in the house we purchased on Long Island.

"There are a lot of wonderful people at The New York Times that I miss seeing and working with. I just wish things could have been as they've always been."

The Good

No Good this month.

The Bad

  • The Kentucky Press Association for featuring a Work For Hire contract as the sole sample contract in the Legal section of its Web site.
  • Brightroom's Work For Hire arrangement in exchange for about $200 per event. Sometimes they pay even less.

The Ugly

  • The 700+ freelance photographers who have affiliated themselves with Brightroom.
  • Media and sports mogul Philip Anschutz bought the Journal Newspapers in Washington, D.C., changed the name to the Washington Examiner and promptly instituted what amounts to an all-rights contract. Plus, the agreement allows the paper to re-license the work in competition with the photographers who created it.

Please let me know of any particularly good, bad or ugly dealings that you have had with clients recently. I will use the client's name, but I won't use your name if you don't want me to. Anonymous submissions will not be considered. Please include contact information for yourself and for the client.


If you still haven't popped for a copy of PhotoQuote or Hindsight, there are some free online resources for helping you determine your pricing. Photographer Abraham Menashe has his stock files online and includes a comprehensive schedule of licensing fees.

Another good list is from Odyssey Photo. Odyssey represents about 16 photographers from its Chicago base and markets their work online.

The Photographer's Index overall site appears to be neglected, but the Stock Photo Price Calculator is still good for pricing guidance.


Kevin P. Coughlin's Photostation Images

Abraham Menashe's price tables

Odyssey Photo's Price Guide

Photographer's Index Stock Photo Price Calculator

NPPA Cost of Doing Business Calculator

NPPA Independent Photographers Toolkit

Advertising Photographers of America Resource page

Common Cents Column On The Cost of Doing Business

Editorial Photographers Cost of Doing Business Calculator

Editorial Photographers Yahoo! Group

Small Business Administration

NPPA Online Discussion Group Instructions

© Mark Loundy

Mark Loundy is a visual journalist, writer and media consultant based in San Jose, California.