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My Web site gives photographers more than $1,000 each month

Photographers always gripe (and understandably so) about sites that publish photographs without suitably paying the photographer. I too have complained about it, especially if it’s a site that makes money from the use of those images.

A site I have helped start up and continue to work to evolve is doing something a little different. And I can assure you we are not making any money at this point!

We ask “citizen photojournalists” (or anyone who shoots photos while not officially affiliated with any organization) to upload images of news and current events around the world. The photographer is only guaranteed one thing: he or she retains ALL rights to the photographs.

However, we select the best photographs and feature them on the site’s homepage with credit and links pointing back to that’s photographer’s profile page. Each photographer can post a link to their personal Web sites on their profile page as well.

Anyway, each month, we select 30 “photo sets” as we call them and pay the photographs cash prizes ranging from $500 to $25. EACH AND EVERY MONTH! If you win, you fill out the tax forms that correspond with your country and a check is mailed to you. That’s it.

You may still scoff at this and say we should pay photographers up front, but this is the best we can do as a start up. To date, we have paid thousands of dollars to photographers from countries all around the globe. Many of these photographers just happened on a news event, snapped the photos and didn’t have anywhere else to publish them.

If you’re interested, you can learn more about this here: http://www.wesay.com/Pay_For_Photos/

Here’s a link to our site as well: http://www.wesay.com

As always, I’m open to opinions and takes on this. I’m a professional photojournalist who has already been laid off once so I do understand some of the negative opinions. I’m just trying to make a site fly and this is one of the ways we’re trying to get it up off the ground.

Hope to read some comments here.

by Jason Geil at 2009-08-07 20:13:59 UTC Chicago, IL , United States | Bookmark | | Report spam→

so, what happens to the work that doesn’t “win” anything. Are you doing anything with the images? trying to sell them? what happens if they sell?
How is this any different than a monthly photo contest?

by nick rogers | 07 Aug 2009 20:08 | Los Angeles, United States | | Report spam→
Nothing happens. The images stay on your profile page just as they do here at Lightstalkers. We do not ever sell any of the images uploaded to the site. The photographers retains ALL rights to the photographs.

We are going to merge the monthly photo contest and this pay for photos deal eventually. The contest was simply a way to create a special theme to help steer photographers to upload photos of particular themes.

by Jason Geil | 07 Aug 2009 20:08 | Chicago, IL, United States | | Report spam→
what happens if photographers don’t fill in the tax forms in 15 days?

by nick rogers | 07 Aug 2009 20:08 | Los Angeles, United States | | Report spam→
Although I have to read the small type, I commend you for trying something different to give back to the photo community. When I get some time, I will look into your site further.

by Brian C Frank | 07 Aug 2009 20:08 | Des Moines, Iowa, United States | | Report spam→
Thanks Brian. We keep all our type at about 11 px. Just kidding ;)

by Jason Geil | 07 Aug 2009 20:08 | Chicago, IL, United States | | Report spam→
i guess i’m confused. it’s a website where photographers send their images. 30 sets are chosen each month, 1 gets $500, 1 gets $100 and 28 get $25. I guess I don’t get where this site plans on going. at some point in the future do you intend to start selling images? or is it just a website where photo buyers can see the images and then contact the photographers directly? How do you see it being a profitable venture for you in the future? Are you going to charge the photographers who send photos? the potential buyers who come to the site?
Can you explain this to me?: “We are going to merge the monthly photo contest and this pay for photos deal eventually.”
I’m not trying to be argumentative. I just want to understand what the site is and how it plans to move forward.

EDIT::: I think I understand now. Your site is the consumer of the photographs, right? I didn’t get it and thought you were the middle man, hoping to move work from photographers to a 3rd party.

by nick rogers | 07 Aug 2009 22:08 (ed. Aug 7 2009) | Los Angeles, United States | | Report spam→
We’re not sure entirely how long our efforts to pay for photos will go on for. Eventually, we would like the site to be something comparable to twitter or facebook, only for photos from non-professional photographers. A snapshot of the world sort of thing. Instead of paying for a bunch of ads to promote our site, we’ve decided to pay photographers. That way we get interest in the site, photographers get some cash and hopefully the thing will eventually fly. We have many other ideas too and many revisions to the site in the future, but this is a guessing game to some extent. It’s tough to get noticed on the Web anymore. This is our attempt to get noticed and see if we can get it to snowball into something bigger. A social networking site where the language spoken is photography.

by Jason Geil | 07 Aug 2009 22:08 | Chicago, IL, United States | | Report spam→
This is written on your site: 1. WeSay is looking to work with and pay photographers who can create unique photo essays about current events such as local news, environment, sports, celebrities or something far-out. 2. If you have an idea for a photo assignment, please contact the editors"

OK, I wrote about one upcoming event a week ago. I had no answer AT ALL. Even something like “thanks, we don’t need it now”.

Very strange position.

Silence is not a right way to speak with photographers.

by Dmitry Nikolaev | 10 Aug 2009 02:08 | | Report spam→
Dimitry,
We are actually eliminating that area of the site because we were overwhelmed with responses. We are a site of only a few people. I am the only photographer/photo editor on staff so it can be a challenge to response to each and every request, but you are correct. There is no excuse for no response. I apologize if I did not respond to your email and encourage you to submit a photo set or two. You may win one of the cash prizes we offer.

by Jason Geil | 10 Aug 2009 21:08 | Chicago, IL, United States | | Report spam→
This month’s winning numbers are 6……34…..8….12……21…….. and the lucky winner of try again is number 27

by Imants | 10 Aug 2009 21:08 (ed. Aug 10 2009) | "The Boneyard 017º", Australia | | Report spam→
is this a pyramid selling scheme?? Maybe If you introduced other photogs you could get credits or cash or something?? Maybe that would be a plan!

by Stephen Mclaren | 13 Aug 2009 16:08 | Hobart, Australia | | Report spam→
Stephen, on what are you basing that accusation? JAson is actually trying to pay photographers when so many other people are trying to not pay photographers. If you don’t want to participate, fine. That doesn’t mean you have to hack on someone who is trying something new, and seems to be attempting to be a positive force in photography.

by Brian C Frank | 13 Aug 2009 16:08 | Des Moines, Iowa, United States | | Report spam→
Ha. Some funny posts here. I get it. It’s easy for me to understand why you would be a skeptic about something like this. Fact is, we’re just trying something new like Brian said. If it works and gains some steam, great. We could use the traffic and we feel like we could create a cool site. If it doesn’t work, well, we tried and we are only spending what we would have spent on advertising.

It’s tough though. If you don’t pay any money and simply ask for submissions, people blast you for that and accuse you of taking advantage of photographers. If we pay (granted it’s not much) then we are accused of being a “scheme”.

Stephen, to answer you directly, no WeSay is not a pyramid scheme. Funny thing is, if you uploaded photos to the site (just as you do here at Lightstalkers) I would think you would have pretty good odds to earn at least some cash and possibly win the $500 monthly giveaway. You’re a very talented photographer and while we have some talented people submitting to our site already, they are without a doubt few and far between.

We are paying for 30 photo sets uploaded each month. That’s just about one set each day. we don’t get that many photo sets each day. But whatever. All we can do is try and continue to adapt and evolve.

I appreciate the feedback from all sides. Good discussion. Thanks guys!

by Jason Geil | 13 Aug 2009 16:08 | Chicago, IL, United States | | Report spam→
Cheers for your positive comment’s. Although my comment was tongue in cheek, my honest apologies for any insult incurred.

by Stephen Mclaren | 14 Aug 2009 06:08 | Hobart, Australia | | Report spam→
hi, sorry i did not have much time to check the websites, but you just said
“we would like the site to be something comparable to twitter or facebook, only for photos from non-professional photographers”

so your not looking for professional photos??

nr 8 “This promotion will run from April 10, 2009 to July 10, 2009,”

so what after that, we are in august?

just some question for you Jason,

thanks dominik

by Dominik | 14 Aug 2009 07:08 | san diego, United States | | Report spam→
Does anybody know of any other websites, weblogs that pay photographers for using their photography as content??

I’d like to know what’s out there in the field..

Thanks,

by diederik meijer | 16 Aug 2009 15:08 | Amsterdam, Netherlands | | Report spam→
I think its a clever idea to offer to pay something to contributors to attract members to your site. How you judge the winning entries could be tricky in the end. On one site I know it often looks like the photo of the day is somewhat randomly chosen. I am sure this is because there is just too large a volume of work to choose from. What could be attracting in the beginning, might become a source of annoyance for your members if they do not feel the judging process is good enough. Then to hold on to them, you’d want to make sure there are other good reasons to stay.

by Andrea | 17 Aug 2009 23:08 | Queensland, Australia | | Report spam→

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Participants

Jason Geil, Photojournalism Jason Geil
Photojournalism
Chicago, Il , United States
nick rogers, nick rogers
Florence , Italy
Brian C Frank, Photographer Brian C Frank
Photographer
Des Moines, Iowa , United States
Dmitry Nikolaev, photographer Dmitry Nikolaev
photographer
(photojournalism)
St.Petersburg , Russia
Imants, gecko hunter Imants
gecko hunter
" The Boneyard" , Australia
Stephen Mclaren, Stephen Mclaren
Bali , Indonesia ( DPS )
Dominik, Photographer-Fotografo Dominik
Photographer-Fotografo
San Diego , United States
diederik meijer, Photographer diederik meijer
Photographer
(your daily dose of inspiring p)
Amsterdam , Netherlands
Andrea, Photographer Andrea
Photographer
Mumbai + , India


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