Friday, January 30, 2009

She Wants a Photo, Too?

Recently a newspaper editor emailed to say she'd like to consider publishing my nutrition article for $40. Good news! However, I couldn't help getting hung up on that word, "considering".

Next came the request: "Do you happen to have any photos of the suggested treats?"

I'd read enough nutrition articles in the past few months to know they're usually accompanied by photos. However, I didn't have a photo, a professional camera, or her guarantee that my article would be published either way.

Then I got an email from a second editor, requesting the same thing. It seemed the only thing that stood in the way of getting my two newspaper submissions published, and payment, was a photo. How could I say no?

So I cooked up a batch of pancakes, borrowed a relative's 6-megapixel camera and emailed the pics. It wasn't until a recent meeting with my writing mentor Linda that I learned what I should have done.

Linda usually told (regional publication) editors that she didn't have accompanying photos, and said most of the time it hadn't made a difference. If she happened to have photos that would work, she would let them know, and then ask if they offered additional compensation. Sometimes the extra pay only amounted to $10, but it was the point: extra work should mean extra pay.

Oh, well. Click and learn!


Michele said...

Lessons like this are precious, Colleen. :-)

I recently sold a story and had submitted my own photos (guidelines requested that you submit them if you have them) and although they were the best photos I could manage to take, the editor replied and said that while she wanted to purchase my story, she'd send a staff photographer to shoot pics to accompany the story. I'm not a professional photographer. I'm a writer, and so that's perfectly okay with me!


ACW said...

Hi Colleen - As you know, this happened to me too! The famous camping story. Since I happen to love photography as much as writing (but much better at the latter) I made a business decision to invest in a camera. My friend also did this and landed a culinary spread in a regional AND was paid to provide food photos too. If your creativity expands into both realms, I'm finding it a plus to have photos, especially in this age of visual appeal.

Colleen said...


I like photography too, and have been drooling over my sister's Nikon D70 for years. Your friend's story is a good reason to invest in one of my own :)

I don't mind providing pictures if I have them(for a fee, now that I know!).

I think what got me was that I had to buy the ingredients, make the food, buy props to set it up, drive to my sister's house to use her camera, etc, etc. In the end I think I spent more money than I made! Bad decision on my part.

Colleen said...


That's a lesson that only needs to be learned once! I was thinking the same thing as I ran around trying to get stuff together to take the photos - I'm a writer.

Really I was frustrated more with myself than the editors who asked, because I let myself get pressured into it. Thanks for sharing your story, which will help me make a better decision next time.

ACW said...

Colleen - That's a valid point about being paid for the "photographer hat" too!

Looking forward to seeing you later to catch up live,.