PetaPixel

The Going Rate for a Time Cover Photo

Slate magazine just published an interesting article on David Hobby and his popular blog Strobist, and shared this interesting example of how the photography industry is drastically changing due to low barriers of entry:

To get a sense of just how bad things are for professional photographers right now, the story of Robert Lam is instructive. When Time needed a photo to illustrate its “New Frugality” cover story in late 2009, it purchased Lam’s image of a jar of change from stock-photo agency iStockphoto. The going rate for a Time cover had typically been $3,000 to $10,000. Lam was paid $31.50. Nevertheless, Lam declared, “I am happy”—the payment was more than he’d expected the photo to generate, and he was delighted to have a Time cover in his portfolio. Veteran professional photographers were livid, calling Lam an “IDIOT,” among other unkind words.

The article also mentions how Robert Lam earns just $4,000 from his stock photography hobby, and that the Time cover photo was shot using DIY equipment purchased from a local sign store. What are your thoughts on the changing landscape for professional photographers?