Monday, November 16, 2009

Where and How To Sell Celebrity Photos

Anyone can join the paparazzi with a camera and a little ingenuity. Have you caught a celebrity in an embarrassing situation? If you have a camera you may be able to sell the pictures for hundreds of thousands of dollars, and even mundane celebrity photos can often be sold. Whether you're a professional paparazzo or you just happen to be in the right place at the right time, follow these steps to take valuable celebrity snapshots and sell them.

Avoid crowds. Pictures of celebrities at events, such as the Oscars or movie premiers, where all the paparazzi are present, will generally be worthless because so many people have the same pictures. The really valuable pictures are the ones that no one else has--pictures of the celebrity in casual or intimate settings--and you'll need to get away from the crowds to get those.

Do some research.
Find out where celebrities hang out, what their daily routine is, and where they stay while on vacation. Reading the tabloids or entertainment news is a good start, but to get the rare shots, you'll need to do some extra investigation. Ask taxi drivers, nightclub personnel, and others who might have valuable information. Stake out the celebrity but keep a low profile.

Make your pictures tell a unique story. If you catch a celebrity in a compromising situation (cheating on a spouse, doing drugs, shoplifting, etc.), you've got pure gold. Photos of less damning activities can also be valuable. Getting the first picture of a celebrity baby, or simply catching a celebrity behaving in a way that is out of the ordinary, could earn you some big bucks when selling the photos.

Connect with someone who will buy your photos.
If your photos are big news, sell them directly to tabloids and entertainment publications. Look up their contact information on the Internet or inside a copy of the publication. If your photos are rare, but not necessarily earthshaking, you may not have much luck going directly to the publications, so try going through one of many agencies that act as middlemen between photographers and magazines. These agencies can also be found with an Internet search. Keep in mind that they will take a commission for finding a buyer.

Sell your photos as quickly as possible.
The longer you sit on a photograph the less valuable it becomes, because either others will have taken similar photos or it becomes "old news." Develop the photos immediately and get them onto the market immediately. In many cases, you are better off working with a professional photo marketplace that specializes in marking of celebrity images, e.g.

Establish ownership of your photos before sending them out. It's a tough business out there, and unscrupulous agencies and publications may attempt to steal your photos. Develop your photos and add a highly visible watermark or use a knife to score them obviously down the middle. Then scan them into your computer and e-mail them to the buyer. Once you've signed a contract, give the publisher the original photos without the watermark or score marks.

Negotiate a sale. If you sell your photos through an agency, the agents will attempt to sell them to several different publications in order to get the best price. If you want to sell the photos directly to a publication, you should follow the same approach and contact several publications to start a bidding war.

Make sure you understand the sale contract. What rights of publication are you selling to the publisher, and what rights do you retain? Will you be paid royalties and an advance, or just a flat fee? Read the fine print and make sure you know how much you'll be paid, when you'll be paid, and how your photos will be used. You may want to hire an attorney to get clarification, especially if you are selling very valuable photos or if you sell a lot of them.

Verify that your photos are being used only as agreed to in the contract. Don't let the publisher or agent cheat you out of money by reselling your photos. Check the tabloids and other such publications to make sure your photos aren't being used where they shouldn't be.

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1 comment:

  1. My recommendation is, it worked great with two of my pix from this year's Cannes FF as I happened to be at the right time at the right place.