Photographers' work is perhaps more diverse than that of any other kind of journalist. And photographers are now under huge pressure as news and picture desks seek to harvest free images. Many photographers who want to cover news must work across the whole spectrum of publishing.
There are two main ways photographers charge for their work - either on commission, or through reproduction fees. In either case, freelance photographers are "authors" of their pictures under the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988, and are therefore owners of the copyright in their photographs; Almost always, what clients are in fact paying for are licences to reproduce your images. For convenience, however, the suggested rates are listed in the traditional categories of payments for commissioned work and for stock photos.
There is a lot of advice and information to give and we have divided it into the following sections:
Negotiating rates and rights is the key to making practical use of the figures in this guide.
Photographers working on commission charge by time, typically by the day...
For both photographer and client, digital technology can produce results that are better - but not cheaper...
Contracts are best in writing. Oral agreements are legally binding but can be difficult to enforce in court. And putting things in writing, by clarifying the expectations of both parties, can prevent conflict arising in the first place.
As the author of a photograph - that is, the person who creates it - a freelance photographer is the first owner of the copyright in it. Photographers are frequently put under great pressure to surrender this hard-won right, but are strongly advised not to do so.
Photographers can also use the services of a photographic agency to licence pictures on their behalf, for a cut of the fee. In recent years this has become less and less advisable...
Technology for finding photographs is likely to change quite fast. There are search engines that will find images resembling a given photo - but it is still often your best bet to search for text that would be likely to be wrapped round a particular photo...
Photographers have found that rapid communication among themselves has become essential - to warn of abuses, to pass on news, and to act collectively to solve problems.
Text © Mike Holderness & previous contributors; Moral rights asserted. The collection (database right) © National Union of Journalists. Comments to firstname.lastname@example.org please. You may find the glossary helpful.
The National Union of Journalists must not, can not and would not wish to dictate rates or terms of engagement to members or to editors. The information presented here is for guidance and as an aid to equitable negotiation only.
Suggestions apply to contracts governed by UK law only. In any event, nothing here should be construed as legal advice.