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8 hours ago, Marianne said:

 

 

 

 

First, I will say I don't think Alamy is becoming a microstock site and I hate what the industry has done to reduce the price photographers receive for their work, but Chuck & others, I feel I have to defend  Starshpinx analyses' - to the extent he is talking about the current market, and to the extent that you dismiss him as not understanding the market so harshly. You are looking at it from your experience but you fail to recognize that those of us who joined this industry when it had already become democratized and overcrowded have had a very different experience from you.

 

This should be a discussion not a bashing of other's views.

 

Each of us has to determine what works for the way we shoot, the access we have, and our own experience. To dismiss the experience of others because yours, as a veteran of a marketplace that was very different than the one we face today, does not move this discussion forward. It just discourages people from honestly airing their views. I don't believe in red marks so you won't get one, and I appreciate your experience but I'm quite discouraged by how harshly you have stated your views.

 

Like him (her?) I too have had health issues in the past decade+ that have limited my ability to consistently work on commissions, and so have turned to stock as a way to grow my business. I have had my photos in Smithsonian magazine, National Geographic books, Coastal Living, and dozens of others as well as in solo and group juried shows in the New York metro area, including at the Museum of the City of New York, so I am not a hobbyist despite the fact that I am only able to work part time. 

 

I think that what really damaged our industry was the macrostock agencies that came up with the concept of RF - compounded by a name that confuses the average person who thinks that it means these images are actually available for use at no charge. The microstock agencies then built on this woefully damaging concept by underpricing the established marketplace, But now those established agencies have followed suit devaluing our work, and so we face an industry that is very different than the one you envision. 

 

For a few years now, Alamy has been encouraging us to switch unlicensed images to RF, to upload new images as RF and they also license our RM images on terms that may as well be RF (like 25 years for a book). I have two images, one on the frontispiece and another full page as a chapter cover in a book by a major UK travel publisher that were licensed as RM in ~ 2014 and, when they showed up in the 2016 edition, which should have required a new license under the terms Alamy disclosed to me, and I contacted Alamy, I was told that the actual deal they had made permitted use in subsequent editions notwithstanding the language they had posted in my sales history (it's been in subsequent editions too). So, given that the trend in the industry is going toward RF and that the sheer number of images on here (155 million images) continues to grow at an astounding pace (I think Alamy had 8 million when I started in 2008), how can you compare what you are earning on commissioned work or what you earned for an image "back in the day" when the landscape was so different, to what people are earning today? If Alamy is making you the kind of money you feel your images deserve, why do you have such a small port here compared to what must be the size of your archive? 

 

I too have spent a lot of time defending Alamy against the microstock sites, even writing articles about it because I felt it was important to encourage people to value their work, but Alamy has encouraged microstock photographers to join and they have always said it was okay to have the same RF photos on both sites. I finally put a handful on both the microstocks and Alamy to compare and on one site alone I earned over $750 on an image which has earned me $80 on Alamy although it was on Alamy exclusively for two years longer (and before prices across the board began their decline in ~2011-2012 - and if I add earnings on other sites it is well over $1,000). Another that Alamy just licensed here for $10 last month  ($4 net with the new reduced commission) has netted me over $250 on one microstock site alone. In fact, in the last few years my top five best-selling images on a single microstock site have earned me more than all my 100+ sales here on Alamy since 2008. A  sobering reality.

 

It's easy to blame microstock sites or photographers' refusing to charge what they deserve for the state of the market, but the digital revolution, the ease with which photographers from anywhere in the world can upload their photos for sale, and the fact that stock photography is no longer a "members only" club - anyone with a good eye can enter if their photos meet the standards of the particular site they are shooting for - these all affect the market and serve to commoditize our images. Is it really foolish to earn pennies that add up to $1,000's of dollars in this new overcrowded market or is it foolish to cling to the past when reality stares us in the face? I hate to admit that for average photos the "Walmart" model of low prices is more lucrative than the "Nordstrom" model of fewer sales at high prices - but I also agree that special photos like yours of Steve Jobs that can't be duplicated, or highly styled or artistic photographs on boutique stock sites, the old model will still work, but for those of us who joined this industry when it had already become democratized and overcrowded, splitting our images between the "Walmart/micro" model and the "Nordstrom/macro" model may make sense. 

 

I see the future as finding commissioned work, applying to boutique agencies that still place a high value on special images, direct sales at reasonable prices, and average (which means quite excellent but common photographs) on 3-5 different agencies where even with low prices each image will earn its keep. My top price for a single sale on the micros was $750 earning me $375, top on Alamy $450 earning me $225. And the top 4 micros have earned me thousands more than Alamy with a portfolio of 100-350 images. I wish Alamy was my top earner. But it is not. If I had put all my Alamy images on other sites, they would have earned me tens of thousands more by now. But I also license stock directly for mid to macrostock prices, and I will not put those images on a microstock site, but I will no longer ignore the fact that I can make good money on subscription sites, and I will split my portfolio accordingly. That's my reality. 

 

I realize your experience is different than mine. There is no right and wrong here. Alamy with its 155 million images cannot change the marketplace.  So, you can't expect a single photographer to do so. 

 

Marianne,

 

First, I must say that I agree with most of what you wrote (pasted above) and I apologize if one of my previous posts seemed to be "harsh", but I come from a harsh world and I stand by what I wrote.  While I have taught photography, I am not teaching now, nor have I been asked to.  I was simply trying to point out several things that should be obvious to anyone truly involved in photography and producing images for the market. 

 

Again, If I offended any on the forum, I do apologize.

 

Chuck

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13 minutes ago, Chuck Nacke said:

Marianne,

 

First, I must say that I agree with most of what you wrote (pasted above) and I apologize if one of my previous posts seemed to be "harsh", but I come from a harsh world and I stand by what I wrote.  While I have taught photography, I am not teaching now, nor have I been asked to.  I was simply trying to point out several things that should be obvious to anyone truly involved in photography and producing images for the market. 

 

Again, If I offended any on the forum, I do apologize.

 

Chuck

 

I understand your point of view - no need to apologize.  Thanks for your response. 

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I think I can't write better than what has already been shared here.

 

I just think, there are several external factors that influence our desire for the "perfect photography world", whether talking about RM, RF, micro, macro, pricing, etc.). It's complicated to make comparisons these days, because the time, the geography of each one, the market, consumer behaviour, etc., they vary and they are constantly changing. Because the need and commercial strategy of each one is different, therefore, the parameters and points of view.

There are everyday situations and exceptions.

 

Modestly, I can only contribute, but I can't change the "photography world" from one day to the next.

What I try to do and work hard for it, is to learn every day and try to maintain a level of technique, quality and moral, to keep my conscience clear after uploading each picture, they are also bases to find new opportunities, or maybe to build a new road.

 

I hope that Alamy can continue to defend what is right for his contributors for as long as possible.
Until today, almost all my images are in the RM field, in exclusive with Alamy, but who knows tomorrow.

 

Finally, I consider that the most important is that each one can find the path that most suits her/him to progress.

 

Andre

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Posted (edited)
14 hours ago, Marianne said:

It's easy to blame microstock sites or photographers' refusing to charge what they deserve for the state of the market, but the digital revolution, the ease with which photographers from anywhere in the world can upload their photos for sale, and the fact that stock photography is no longer a "members only" club - anyone with a good eye can enter if their photos meet the standards of the particular site they are shooting for - these all affect the market and serve to commoditize our images. Is it really foolish to earn pennies that add up to $1,000's of dollars in this new overcrowded market or is it foolish to cling to the past when reality stares us in the face?

 

Interesting choice of words. Easy? No, it is not easy. It is never easy to say no to money. Never easy to say no when a client asks for much lower prices, knowing I could end up with nothing at all. Wouldn't it be "easier" to say yes and think "at least I got something"? Wouldn't it be easier to submit to every single website selling images, trying to get every single possible penny, and blame the digital revolution without involving myself in the process?

 

It somewhat makes me think of the way we take care of environmental issues. We could throw anything in the same trash bin, never think of recycling, buy things that have been produced 10.000 km from where we live just because they are cheaper than the same things produced in the neighbourhood, and still blame the overcrowded world for pollution and climate change as if we were not part of the equation.

 

I am not clinging to the past, on the contrary, I am just not willing to agree that photography as a professional activity is a thing of the past.

 

Is it foolish to earn pennies that add up to $1,000's? I can't answer this of course. Will you be able to grow your collection as fast as the entire collection of available images grows just to maintain your level of income? How will you compete with images already available for free?

 

I tell you, I prefer you get $100 form a single sale than me selling 100 images for $1 each. But of course I may change my mind one day, who knows?

 

To me, it is just a race to the bottom, and I am still not ready to be part of it, but I do not mean to be harsh, I am just expressing my own opinion.

Edited by Olivier Parent
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Nobody said photography as a professional activity is a thing of the past.

All I have been trying to say is that changes in technology have resulted in changes in the market place where professional photography is sold.

I remember growing up my neighbour - an enthusiastic amateur photographer who won all the local competitions had boxes and boxes - of slides, of photos he had taken which were great photos but nobody ever saw them and nothing was done with them - because there was nowhere easy where this could happen.   Now in the digital age my version of his images that were kept in those boxes go on stock and microstock sites because I figure its better than them sitting on the hard drive doing nothing.

If I am doing a specific shoot for a client I do not charge pennies but around £25 an hour  - yes its on the low side but as has been pointed out I am not a particularly good photographer.  Like most people here I have different streams of photographs done for different reasons.    The full on professionals are still out there and in here, still charging professional rates and still doing a professional job (and no I will never be a full on professional - my health makes than impossible) and they will continue to be around because the demand for images is as high as its ever been and is highly unlikely to decline.  


 

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3 hours ago, Olivier Parent said:

I tell you, I prefer you get $100 form a single sale than me selling 100 images for $1 each.

Yes, I would too.

But my reality is that the proportion (not the actual figures) is more like 4 for $50 vs 80 for $100.

Where would your balance tip? (Hypothetical, it's different when you see your own figures. E.g. I pulled out of the UKNS for a while, but all that happened was that I got fewer sales. My rpd went up a bit, but my overall total was down.)

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7 minutes ago, Cryptoprocta said:

Yes, I would too.

But my reality is that the proportion (not the actual figures) is more like 4 for $50 vs 80 for $100.

Where would your balance tip? (Hypothetical, it's different when you see your own figures. E.g. I pulled out of the UKNS for a while, but all that happened was that I got fewer sales. My rpd went up a bit, but my overall total was down.)

 

I already answered. I would rather find another way to make money than sell 80 images for $100.

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Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, Starsphinx said:


If I am doing a specific shoot for a client I do not charge pennies but around £25 an hour  - yes its on the low side but as has been pointed out I am not a particularly good photographer.  

 

 

WOW.

 

That says it all and that is what I do object to: people who call themselves a photographer and offer professional services just because they own kit capable of taking professional-quality pictures yet do not possess the basic technical knowledge required to take professional quality pictures. If your portfolio here is anything to go by (and yes you did ask for a critique in another thread), you have a way to go before you should be charging £25 an hour. At least learn from your mistakes (the best way).

 

I have no problem at all with people who are willing to learn the craft before they start selling their images. But not a particularly good photographer and charging £25 an hour.  
 

How about "Not a particularly good plumber only £25 an hour - I have expensive tools and I might fix your leak (if you're lucky)".  

 

WOW

 

 

Edited by MDM
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Just had a RM license “for lifetime”. Only $27. So a 25 year+ license for a relatively low fee. 

Country: Worldwide ; Usage: Editorial ;  Media: Book, print and/or e-book ;  Print run: up to 50,000 ;  Placement: Inside ;  Start: 11-March-2019 ; End: 11-March-2044 ; 
  Additional Details: License valid for the life of the book

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Just to add to the debate, I just stumbled across this YouTube video:

 

 

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6 hours ago, Olivier Parent said:

 

I already answered. I would rather find another way to make money than sell 80 images for $100.

That's fair enough.

The good thing about stock is that I can work it round my commitments (to an extent!) - there are very few other ways to earn money on super-flexible time!

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3 hours ago, MDM said:

 

WOW.

 

That says it all and that is what I do object to: people who call themselves a photographer and offer professional services just because they own kit capable of taking professional-quality pictures yet do not possess the basic technical knowledge required to take professional quality pictures. If your portfolio here is anything to go by (and yes you did ask for a critique in another thread), you have a way to go before you should be charging £25 an hour. At least learn from your mistakes (the best way).

 

I have no problem at all with people who are willing to learn the craft before they start selling their images. But not a particularly good photographer and charging £25 an hour.  
 

How about "Not a particularly good plumber only £25 an hour - I have expensive tools and I might fix your leak (if you're lucky)".  

 

WOW

 

 

Firstly it is up to the client whether they think my work is what they want or not.

Secondly, I will repeat - the work I do on here is not all or even most of what I do.  I spend about 3/4 of my time doing sports (football or soccer for the US readers) work - that is what I charge hourly for when a client who has seen what I do in that arena, seen the results, and wants that.  My sports work does not appear here - it is a completely different discipline (and yeah involves selling stuff I would rather never saw the light of day) and I was told to start charging what I charge by 2 other pros in the area who again were familiar with my work.  

I do not advertise an hourly rate and I do not actively promote - I  go to matches, shoot and sell the results. Saturdays I regularly shoot for 3 teams and can take my pick of half a dozen others if for some reason I have a spare Saturday.  During the week I cover 3 youth sides.   The £25 an hour comes when I am approached for specific jobs and when a team wants all the photographs from an entire match.  I repeat when I am approached - I do not go round offering, I have people come up to me and ask.

I mean what exactly do you think I should be doing?  I do not call myself professional and I am very clear why.  Do you think I should be giving those sports shots away for nothing because I am not a pro?  I thought the problem was photographers not valuing their work and charging too little for it?  So which way do you want this?  I get approached by someone who asks me how much to do such and such.   Do you want me to value my work and charge a professional rate?  Give them the photos for free because you don't think I am any good at it?  Or should I just get rid of the cameras and find something else to do with my time?
 

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Posted (edited)
7 hours ago, Olivier Parent said:

 

I already answered. I would rather find another way to make money than sell 80 images for $100.

 

That's the way I feel as well. I guess the microstock model isn't for everyone.

 

That said, recently I was browsing through a stock site that allows contributors to set their own prices, and I was amazed at how little most people charge, not much higher than microstock in most cases. It seems that a lot of new (and some old) photographers are now convinced that their work is worth peanuts.

Edited by John Mitchell
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Starphinx just a suggestion - as you are talking about who charges what for their work, maybe a separate thread would be appropriate😉

 

Carol

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7 hours ago, Starsphinx said:

 £25 an hour  -


 

:aghast:  -no, obviously no smiley for that. 😮 then.

I charge that for changing a doorknob.

If you think you're "not a very good photographer" what must your clients think at that rate?

You're getting perilously close to insulting the profession now. There is such a thing as self-respect.

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I cannot win here can I?  

If I put my stuff on microstock and it sells I am disrespecting the profession.

If I get approached outside of stock and I quote a price based on my abilities and weaknesses (including the very real chance that I may not be able to turn up at all or that if I turn up I may become unable to continue after 10 minutes) I am apparently still disrespecting the profession.

I describe myself as an amateur photographer - web research suggests the going rate for those in that category will be $25 to $50 an hour - £25 works out at just under $33.  I do not advertise or promote myself.  As far as possible I work on a pay on results model - because I can never ever guarantee beforehand even being able to turn up.  

The people that buy off me, the people that approach me AFTER they have seen my work - both methods and results - they seem to think I am good at what I do.  They tell me verbally and with their money.  I am totally honest with anyone that approaches me,  I do make out I can do what I cannot,  I warn I may cancel at last minute.  

I do the best I can with what I have got - and that is all I can do.  I will not stop I will not give in and I will not go back to being completely useless able to produce nothing again.  I know I cannot do what other people do.  I know it better than anyone.  Sorry if it offends.
 

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1 hour ago, Starsphinx said:

 (and yeah involves selling stuff I would rather never saw the light of day)

 

With respect, if you're taking photographs that make you feel this, for the sake of your professional reputation you shouldn't be selling them

 

Alex

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49 minutes ago, John Mitchell said:

 

That's the way I feel as well. I guess the microstock model isn't for everyone.

 

That said, recently I was browsing through a stock site that allows contributors to set their own prices, and I was amazed at how little most people charge, not much higher than microstock in most cases. It seems that a lot of new (and some old) photographers are now convinced that their work is worth peanuts.

 

A few years ago, wise photographers on this forum told me that if Alamy allowed us to set our own minimum price for our pictures, no doubt this would start the race to the lowest possible income… So true.

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4 minutes ago, Alex Ramsay said:

 

With respect, if you're taking photographs that make you feel this, for the sake of your professional reputation you shouldn't be selling them

 

Alex

Shooting a football match that ball can be going very fast -  if it goes in the net the teams want the photos.  They do not care if the bit in focus is the net the other side of the goal and not the ball.   If I do not offer them I get contacted asking for them.  Denying I took them does not work.  When I say I would rather not see the light of day I am talking from the stock technical side - at 100% focus is not on the ball - or is on the players knee not his eyes, stuff like that.  When viewed on screen or small prints they are fine.   There is also noise when I shoot under floods - some grounds are better than others but I can think of one (due to be redeveloped) car headlights would be brighter than their floods down one end.  As far as I can I keep to stock technical quality  - but certain shots will always be asked for.  If I get the scorer perfect then the chances are the ball in the net will not be.  My stuff is better than it was 3 years ago - it is better than it was 12 months ago.  I am learning all the time.  When someone says they want to pay me for something what am I supposed to say?

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22 minutes ago, Starsphinx said:

Shooting a football match that ball can be going very fast -  if it goes in the net the teams want the photos.  They do not care if the bit in focus is the net the other side of the goal and not the ball.   If I do not offer them I get contacted asking for them.  Denying I took them does not work.  When I say I would rather not see the light of day I am talking from the stock technical side - at 100% focus is not on the ball - or is on the players knee not his eyes, stuff like that.  When viewed on screen or small prints they are fine.   There is also noise when I shoot under floods - some grounds are better than others but I can think of one (due to be redeveloped) car headlights would be brighter than their floods down one end.  As far as I can I keep to stock technical quality  - but certain shots will always be asked for.  If I get the scorer perfect then the chances are the ball in the net will not be.  My stuff is better than it was 3 years ago - it is better than it was 12 months ago.  I am learning all the time.  When someone says they want to pay me for something what am I supposed to say?

Have a look at this guys website (kipax.com), he shoots premiership football but makes more money doing the local teams, hope it helps.

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Posted (edited)
7 hours ago, Starsphinx said:

I describe myself as an amateur photographer - web research suggests the going rate for those in that category will be $25 to $50 an hour - £25 works out at just under $33.  I do not advertise or promote myself.  As far as possible I work on a pay on results model - because I can never ever guarantee beforehand even being able to turn up.  

The people that buy off me, the people that approach me AFTER they have seen my work - both methods and results - they seem to think I am good at what I do.  They tell me verbally and with their money. 
 

 

I think that one of the problems is that if you do not charge the same as a professional photographer does, clubs are then unlikely to pay the going rate. Since you are a stock photographer and a news/press/sports photographer you are settting yourself up as a professional photographer and should see yourself as such. 

 

Despite being relatively new to this business, when I have been approached on a few occasions for photos I have sought advice from a couple of local professional photographers (also Alamy contributors) about what to charge. The advice is not to undersell. I have not made sales as a result since those approaching me are clearly expecting to get the photos for next to nothing, but I’d rather that than undercut the going rate.

Edited by Sally
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Posted (edited)

Wow interesting thread!

 

Photography elitism is alive and kicking amongst the Alamy contributors which is a surprise because all Alamy wants is a file that meets a simple tech standard achievable by the camera rather than the person who bought the camera.




 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Panthera tigris
change of mind
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5 hours ago, Panthera tigris said:

Wow interesting thread!

 

Photography elitism is alive and kicking amongst the Alamy contributors which is a surprise because all Alamy wants is a file that meets a simple tech standard achievable by the camera rather than the person who bought the camera.

 

Then, fortunately, we do not sell pictures to Alamy but to clients through Alamy… 😉

What a relief! 😅

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8 hours ago, Sally said:

 

I think that one of the problems is that if you do not charge the same as a professional photographer does, clubs are then unlikely to pay the going rate. Since you are a stock photographer and a news/press/sports photographer you are settting yourself up as a professional photographer and should see yourself as such. 

 

Despite being relatively new to this business, when I have been approached on a few occasions for photos I have sought advice from a couple of local professional photographers (also Alamy contributors) about what to charge. The advice is not to undersell. I have not made sales as a result since those approaching me are clearly expecting to get the photos for next to nothing, but I’d rather that than undercut the going rate.

  Again there is a reason for my pricing - and it is kind of difficult to assess the going rate when you are in a unique situation because there is not one.   What  I do and what I charge is known to several pros in the area - and they do not have a problem with it, and in fact, it was one of them who encouraged me to do what I am doing.  To the best I can tell for the level of skill I offer combined with the risks of employing me my pricing is right.  I will be clear I do not get vast volumes of work - I take a contracted gig maybe once every couple of months.

I am not quite sure what exactly the issue is - if my work is crap I am no threat.  Nobody here is telling me my work is so wonderful I should charge more what I am getting told is my work is less than wonderful but I should be ashamed for not charging more?   I mean when I go to the new hairdresser - who has only recently qualified, who is not as fast as the experienced ones, who may make more errors I expect to pay less.  Contractors whose service is limited because of any factor including disability/health tend to charge less than full steam ones.  

People also might want to consider that if you spend over a decade with no earning ability at all,  effectively being told by the government your value is around £100 a week £25 an hour is a hell of a lot of money.  Being able to earn 50% more than you are told you are worth for a whole week in just 4 hours is kind of hard to get your head around - having people shouting at you that you are being disrespectful for charging so little really does not compute.

So from my point of view, the idea is to take pictures and put them up for sale after I have taken them.   My own website is priced in line with other club photographers in my area.

If I am asked for a specific gig I quote a price based on my abilities and limitations - and the pros in the area who know me do not have a problem with it as either too high or too low.

If people think I am not charging enough do they think my work better than I do?  If people think my work is worse than I do why should they be concerned with what I am charging because I won't sell anything?  Or is the reality that people are worried that customers are actually happy with lower quality at lower prices?  In which case the whole problem is nothing to do with my prices but that I exist (in the market place) at all.    

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Starsphinx said:

I am not quite sure what exactly the issue is..... having people shouting at you that you are being disrespectful for charging so little really does not compute.

I think my point was clear, and I was not shouting at you. 

Edited by Sally
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