Citizen Photojournalist Sells Image For $40,000


The image was grainy, low quality and shot by a 17-year-old, most likely on a mobile phone.

And, according to the London Times, it earned the photographer £20,000 (around $40,000).

The picture was the first photograph taken of one of the cars used in the attempted bombing in London recently. It showed the Green Mercedes that had been parked outside the Tiger Tiger nightclub in Haymarket, and next to it, one of the gas canisters that the car had contained.

One of the factors in determining the price of the picture — around £2,000 a license — seems to have been the photo’s rarity. The bomb was discovered in the early hours of the morning when few people, other than nightclub revelers, would have been around. By contrast, the BBC received around 70 images of the Glasgow attack which occurred in the mid-afternoon.

We might simply conclude then that it pays to be lucky. Had more people been around at the time the car bomb was discovered, and had some of them been better at taking photos or been carrying a higher quality camera, then presumably that 17-year-old wouldn’t now have a full bank account.

And had the bomb not been discovered just as the morning’s newspapers were going to print, then presumably the media would have had more time to track down some better images.

All that may be true. The first aspect of taking a winning spot photograph is always being lucky enough to be in the right spot at the right time.

But we can also conclude that the second aspect is that quality still counts. That blurry image is hard to find now. It might have appeared in the following day’s papers but once better pictures came in, it disappeared.

A high-quality photo of one of the Glasgow attackers however, spent the best part of a day at the top of the BBC’s news site. (You can see it permanently halfway down this page.) It’s a picture that tells a story and is likely to become an iconic part of the events this summer.

Whether it made more money than the teenager’s image though would be down to the third aspect of successful citizen photojournalism: good marketing.

[tags] citizen photojournalist [/tags]


One comment for this post.

  1. shonac Said:

    how true is this article??
    Does someone have the link for it? I'm doing some homework on it.
    I thought the car was discovered by paramedics in the area, who saw smoke coming out of the car. Didn't they take cellphone pics and wouldn't those pics have sold for more money??

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