I always sort of knew it was only a matter of time, with me so humbly submitting photos of such outstanding quality to Flickr, before I would be offered money for some of my work. Well, it finally happened. I signed over some rights to Panraven, Inc. to use ten of my photos on their website. To me, "Panraven" sounds like a Pentagon operation that you're not supposed to know about, but from what I can tell without signing up with them, they seem to provide a way for people to write up stories about their travels to various corners of the globe and provide a stock library of photos from common tourist destinations for people to include in their write-ups.
It all began back in September, when I received the following standardized Flickr message:
You've been sent a Flickr Mail from pancontent:
------------------------------------------------------------ :: Santander Images
Hi there! I'm a content editor with a new online company based in Cambridge, Massachusetts called Panraven. We help people edit, organize, share, and publish their images and stories.
We're always on the lookout for new images and content to add to our public media library, which we offer free to all of our customers (membership is also free). It's an ongoing project made possible by photographers of all levels from all over the world. Not only is it a great opportunity to educate and share with others, but it is also a wonderful way to showcase your travels and your work.
I know this may seem strange, but I came across your images of Santander, Spain and would like to know if we could include them in our public image library. We definitely offer compensation!
Please let me know if you are interested by emailing me directly at [email-redacted].
Content Editor Panraven Inc.
I asked what kind of compensation was available, and I got this.
Attached is a list of images that I am interested in (flickr urls and titles).
We usually offer anywhere from $1.50 to $5.00 an image, depending on the resolution and quality of the image. I saw that you had the original sizes on flickr, which is great - judging by their size, I would make a starting offer of $3.00 per image. Naturally, I'm always willing to negotiate - you have great images (from a location that we need immediate coverage in) and I'd love to have them!
So here's what would happen next if you are still interested:
If the photolist looked okay to you, I would then have you submit your images to our ftp dropbox - in short, you'd zip a file folder of the images and drop it onto our ftp website. Or if you prefer, I could try to manually download from flickr, since you have the highest resolution posted there.
I would select a final number of images then pass along a photo agreement for you to sign which gives us a broad, non-exclusive license to your images (excepting resale for purposes that are not related to our company and product). We request this unrestricted license because we'd offer your images for all of our users to enjoy for free, meaning they could view them, add them to their own stories, etc.
You would retain full rights to your images, and you would be credited in two places, one as a tag attached to the image, and also as the photographer name. You would be compensated on a per image basis either by check or paypal (easiest and fastest).
Feel free to ask me any questions that you might have! You can also check out www.panraven.com at any time to get an idea of what we're about.
Thinking myself a top-notch negotiator, I decided that, if we're going to haggle, I'm gonna start from the top price, doggonit!
Nice choices. I'll accept 50 USD (barely 35 EUR these days) for my ten photos and give you a link from my blog (Technorati Authority: 111).
My paypal account is the same as this email address: [email-redacted].
I got the immediate reply...
That sounds good - I'll download your images from your flickr account. Attached is a photo agreement for you to look over and sign. Please read it carefully and let me know if you have any questions.
Doh! You know you've screwed up a negotiation when your offer is accepted immediately. She sent me the document to "sign". I plopped a scanned signature on it and emailed it back to her.
Once it was over, I emailed her back.
Everybody falls for the "top of the range" price gag the first time, don't they? I'm not complaining. I think it's quite clever. :-)
To which she responded,
Unfortunately not everyone goes for our modest compensation.
Best Wishes, [name-redacted]
Unfortunately, it took about three weeks for the $50 payment to clear into my Paypal account, which is why I waited to post this. But in the end, I received a crisp Ulysses for my troubles.