a german publisher wants to buy a flickr photo from my mom!
September 14, 2007 11:00 PM   Subscribe

a german textbook publisher wants to buy a photo from my canadian mother!

my mom got a note through flickr from someone purporting to be from a german textbook publisher, wanting to publish her photo of a waterbomber. they want to know if and how much?

it's a real publisher, but my first reaction is that they should be contacting her through official channels. however, that's not necessarily easy to do through flickr.

any advice on what steps she should take? she's retired and photography is just a hobby, but she's becoming quite good and this would be a pretty exciting opportunity.
posted by klanawa to Work & Money (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
This article is about Hamad Darwish, the chap who was commissioned to do the Windows Vista wallpapers. According to the interview:

I got a short Flickr message asking me if I was interested in selling some of my work, without mentioning the party that is interested in buying. After I replied to message saying “yes. why not”, I received a professional offer from Microsoft’s MSX Design Group. The moment I saw the Microsoft logo on the header, I didn’t know how to react! It was the most tremendous feeling ever.

Maybe you could check with him on how to proceed?
posted by Xere at 3:14 AM on September 15, 2007

Hmm. . . What are "official channels"? If she is a professional photographer, that is one thing. But if she is just an ordinary person who has posted some of her photos, the Flickr contact would be the most natural way to initiate contact.

If it were me, my response would be - a modest amount of money, a commitment to a credit and a free copy of the textbook.
posted by yclipse at 5:02 AM on September 15, 2007

I sold 2 photographs via Flickr for a encyclopedia project, I was contacted the same way. He offered, and wouldn't budge, on $50 a picture. He used two pictures for $100.

There is a lot of concern in the photographic community that pictures are becoming cheaper and cheaper and its harder for photographers to make a living because of sites like flickr. So I would encourage your mother to try to get as much as she can for her pictures. That said I ended up charging a lot less than some would have.
posted by sully75 at 6:49 AM on September 15, 2007

FWIW, your mother's experience is not, I don't think, atypical. I know our designers sometimes troll flickr for the types of photos they're looking for and then send the photographers messages asking if they can use them for a small fee.
posted by jacquilynne at 8:09 AM on September 15, 2007

Just don't give away the farm. Make it very clear what rights they are purchasing. (e.g. The german-language, 2008 edition of "Waldbrandtechniker Handbuch") You don't want them selling the image rights to others, or after purchase, demanding that the picture be removed from flickr since they now own it.
posted by kamelhoecker at 8:41 AM on September 15, 2007

Ditto on kamelhoecker's answer. Typically you spell out in the written contract that it is for example, one-time publishing rights for print versions of the encyclopedia. $50 may be an ok price for that but if you don't specify what rights you are selling they could turn that one photo into a cash cow and claim that they own it. There are some good books that deal with how to word a publishing contract to avoid getting ripped off.
posted by JJ86 at 6:02 AM on September 17, 2007

Response by poster: thanks for the answers, folks. i'll forward this to mom.

i'm a little sensitive about the effect that underselling has on the market too, so finding the right price is crucial.

by "official channels" i just meant that it would be more reassuring to communicate with someone who was verifiably an employee of the company.
posted by klanawa at 1:11 PM on September 17, 2007

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