Monday, April 11, 2005

Commercial Photographic Media

The internet serves as a powerful tool for commercial photographic media, as with instant access to the world wide web comes instant access to pictures as they are happening all around the world. Internet users will see this most notably on news web sites, such as CNN ( or the BBC ( where they often have breaking news photos to go with such events as Pope John Paul II's death or Prince Charles and Mrs. Camilla Parker Bowles' wedding. Such events demand photographs to accompany it, and many will pay top dollar for photographs from such days and times, thus, the internet serves as a way to not only get these photos to the public but also for photographers to sell their photos that much quicker, which makes commercial photographic media one of the booming industries connected to the information superhighway.

There are two types of internet commercial photographic media: Individual picture sales and photographic databases. Photographic databases, such as Getty ( or Free Images (, serve as a conglomerate of up-to-date pictures of everything imaginable, updated daily. They serve as either free or paid services that you credit, and use their pictures for newspapers, web sites and other avenues on the internet. For the most part, to get access to pictures without logos splashed across them, you will have to either subscribe to the service or pay-per-picture which could be costly for an individual. Many newspapers and other organizations have the option to pay-per-picture but if they truly like the service, they will subscribe if they expect to use many pictures from the database. These databases play home to thousands of photographers from around the world that provide pictures sometimes quid pro quo or for a fee per picture, depending on the picture, some can fetch upwards of one million dollars, though this is typically rare for the average photograph which brings in ten dollars to $25.

Individual pictures sales generally take place under the guide of freelance work. A photographer will submit pictures to internet databases, newspapers, magazines or other venues and then will be paid if the media decides to use the picture. This can be both a blessing and a curse, as much of the time the photographer will not be making much money while trying to break into the business as a freelancer. Since many media outlets take on full-time staff photographers, these freelancer's works might be put on the backburner when they can use a less than stellar shot from in-house so that they don't have to pay extra to use a photo. It all depends on the story, quality of photos and tenacity of the photographer in question. Some freelancers will eventually become staff for one or two of the avenues they are pursuing if they continue turning out quality product, and this is where individual picture sales can take a photographer.

When it comes to pictures in the media-obsessed world, the closer the better and this can be said the best about celebrity photographs. Paparazzi, those who take celebrity photographers, have a bad name in the industry, because many partake in bombardments and attacks on those they take photographs on all in the name of servicing the public. This has lead to celebrity photos becoming one of the most sought after type of photo on the market, and these photos can land the photographer upwards of $3 to $4 million each and sometimes even more depending on the circumstances and the celebrity. Thus, because of the shady tactics involved with some of these photographers, many celebrities are fighting back to having their picture – sometimes in compromising situations – splashed across the front pages of tabloids and magazines across the country, taken out of the public spotlight. Many will sue magazines that commit libel in conjunction with the pictures, and most of the time, celebrities will win the case. However, for the most part, photographers still chase the celebrities with the same fervor and dedication, even going so far as to cause celebrities to fear for not only their lives but their children's lives.

Unfortunately, this is the price they pay for being part of the media culture. Photography of this nature comes in all forms, whether it is heads of state or the latest pop star to win American Idol, nonetheless, photographic media won't be leaving our markets anytime soon. It's important to look at the impact of such media on sales, marketing and other financial relations before diving into the market itself either as someone purchasing pictures of taking pictures, because at the end of the day, photographic media is on the rise, and it's an expensive prospect to take part in if you aren't sure you want to hang in for the long run.

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