Tag Archives: magazines

Negotiating Exposure for the freelance


This is Audrie Currie demonstrating a method of estimating the ideal kayak paddle length (you didn’t know there was such a thing as an ideal paddle length did you?) from a picture story of mine which appeared in an actual ink and paper Outdoors Magazine Special on boating and camping.

Although it is not the done thing for freelance writers and photographers to reveal how much they are paid for magazine work, I can reveal that I negotiated a fee close to $1000 for a spread of five photographs and 2000 words, which included a substantial amount for Audrie as model. We received two free copies of the magazine each as well.

This was at a time when such special interest magazines had a monthly, or total contributor budget of between $15,000 and $25,000, and sold around 8 to 10 thousand copies.

A far cry from what masquerades as magazine “publishing” today, where the dreaded words ‘payment for contributors’  is never mentioned in not so polite company, for fear of never working again.

Instead “creatives” (I think that refers to writers and photographers) submit work for the wondrous benefits of mythical “exposure” and the never to eventuate “promise of future work”, (to stroke their own vanity!) while models (they are lumped into either “creatives” or worse still “artists”), are beguiled by weasel words foremost amongst which are “it’ll be great for your folio”.

As a freelance writer, photographer and sometimes illustrator I do a yearly impromptu survey of as many magazines as possible, both newstand and online, and my research shows that of magazines of similar subject matter…outdoor recreation, boating camping, etc…(although in reality very few remain, and those which do are a mere shadow of their former glory)…none promote the need for freelance work, and those few who actually use freelance work pay in either magazine subscriptions, individual copies, or not at all.

This result seems to be typical stretching back at least ten years, and in some cases much longer.

No the era of the online magazine, especially of the vanity type, has arrived with a vengeance, and unfortunately for the majority of freelance writers and photographers, is set to stay.

And of course before this artless, directionless, poorly targeted and basically tacky shit is published at seemingly random intervals, every ‘creative’ involved has to supply a list to the publisher, of everyone who was remotely involved in the shoot, or the writing, including the pizza delivery guy, all their relatives and friends, and supposedly every person and their dog they have come into contact with, so that the “respectable publisher” can spam, bully and badger them into coughing up double the price of a newstand magazine for an ill conceived, poorly planned and hurriedly designed digital downloadwhich actually costs virtually nothing to produce.

Despite this their total sales range from less than ten for some, ( apparently no more than the writer, photographer and model and their mothers in many cases) and up to 500 or so for the better written, produced, marketed and advertised attempts.

Nevertheless, the freelance writer, photographer and model are expected to pay for their own copy.

You know the copy of the ‘magazine’ which is “great exposure for their work”!


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Monika braves the dead of winter for her art: one or two goose bumps evident, but not a fried egg in sight.


Photographers have it easy these days, especially here in Australia, don’t they?

Just rock on down to the nearest beach, model in tow, and bob’s your uncle: sun and surf, pristine beaches, sparkling seas, glistening sands, and sensationally, sexy sirens  all for the taking.

Bang off a few snaps and magazine covers, exceptional portfolios, and international awards are at your fingertips.

As one marketing monkey put it: beautiful one day, perfect the next!

Or maybe not.

While amateurs, wannabes, and fauxpros fight with searing temperatures, teeming crowds of backpackers, and shadows which would put a panda bear to shame, more seasoned shooters avoid the Australian summer and schedule the majority of swimwear and beach shoots for the more gentle light, milder weather conditions and almost deserted locations at the very beginning of spring, and during the crisp, haze free days of the autumn months.

Which brings me to today.

Shoot with a beautiful bikini babe scheduled well ahead: babe ready, bikinis ready, batteries ready.

Weather forecast checked several times over the past week or so: sunny, pleasant temperatures, chance of rain 10% falling to 2% as the afternoon went on.

It’s a go!

Woke up this morning: raining, cold enough to freeze the tail off a tadpole, windy enough to blow the prawns out of their shells, and beaches closed to due enormous seas and dangerous swells.

Frustration strikes again!

Well what to do, but stand around all day and scratch my bum.

Well at least we are more civilized now than in the past…the ‘pre- digital’ age, when due to film processing times, and long magazine lead times, all swimsuit shoots…well if you wanted nice , sparkling seas and blue skies, and fantastically great pics for summer magazine covers,… took place in mid winter when the model slipped off her parka, her ugg boots, and balaclava, just long enough to smile in her string bikini before she froze her tits off, and the photographer’s finger froze onto the shutter button.

Those were the days when men were men, and photographers and models deserved awards.

Ah well, I’ve scratched my bum, nothing else to do but roll over and go back to sleep.