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A collection of photographs and stories by Invercargill photographer Rick Harvey

What Value Should I Place On My Photos

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The value of my photographs

When I took up photography again just over a year ago I really only did so as an amateur – a hobby photographer with no burning desire to make money from my images. A year on I still feel the same. I take photos and potter around with them, and post them on my website for my own pleasure.

But something happened in mid-2013 that made me ask myself “what value should I place on my photos?”

I was approached by a local printing company who had seen some of my images on an earlier version of this, my website. They contacted me and asked if they could use 12 of them for a 2015 calendar they were printing for a client of theirs. I said sure thing – having been flattered by their approach.

And here’s where my naivety kicked in…

“Oh – I am just an amateur photographer, so you can use them free of charge, provided that you put a credit to me on each image you use, you don’t use the images anywhere else, and I get a couple of calendars.”

Wrong answer! It is now mid-March 2015 and I still don’t have my copies of the calendar. Sure I got my credit on each image according to the proof they sent me, and as far as I am aware they haven’t used the images anywhere else – yet!

But I realise now that I totally undervalued what the photos that I took were worth, and therefore I totally undervalued my ability as the photos taker.

When I asked myself “what value should I place on my photos?” I wasn’t really meaning in monetary terms – but the more I conside that point, the more I realise that I should have been thinking in monetary terms.

Did the printing company who made the calendars charge their client? Of course they did! And therefore I was wrong to let them have my photos for nothing – well, no money anyway. In hindsight – yes I was naive and I gave no consideration to the fact that a credit on my photos provided me with only a small amount of exposure – if you’ll pardon the pun.

Going forward if anyone wants to use any more of my photos, then there will be a price to pay for them – whether it is for one off or exclusive use.

But the question still remains “what value should I place on my photos?”

And in passing – the image featured with this post is not one of the 12 images in question…

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