Selling The Mule Train Man

March 29th, 2011

I got an email from an artist representative.  This person wanted to obtain the rights to my photo of Mule Train Man so that the artist he/she represents could paint him and then sell this painting and the subsequent prints.  In exchange for obtaining the rights to my photo, I was offered a print of the eventual painting.  I thought that sounded kind of cool, so I agreed.  Then I got a contract and it contained the artist’s name.  So I googled the artist and found out that this artist sells prints on Wal-Mart dot com and a lot of other places too.  And suddenly my little mule train man photo seemed to be worth a lot more than just one little print.

So I emailed the artist representative back and told him that things had changed and I was going to need some type of actual payment for my photo and I actually asked for a very small percentage of the sales, which might seem cockeyed crazy puffs to you, but as a former songwriter, this is the business format with which I am most familiar.

And then I asked for another very small percentage to go to Kiva because I actually am cockeyed crazy puffs.

And then the representative emailed me back.

But I can’t open that email.

Because I feel like such a knife wielding lunatic!  Who am I to insist on payment for my photo?  Who do I think I am?  Who am I to ask that a portion of the profits to to charity?  Good Gawd!  So now I am freaking out about opening that e-mail.  Here is what I imagine it might say…

Dear Rechelle,

Who do you think you are?  You are clearly a knife wielding lunatic.  We are no longer interested in doing business with you.  Adios Freakazoid!


The only artist representative that will ever ever contact you ever ever EVER about painting one of your photos in a million bajillion years.

So that is my sad story of the day.

Dia de la historia de muy, muy triste… or something like that.

Regret and anxiety over the contents of my inbox (as per usual),



  • Open it and see! lol You might be surprised at what they say. Mule Train Man is worthy of painting and printing……. and payment! There’s nothing wrong with getting paid for your work. You’ve got something they want. That’s just business.

    You already know what great things Kiva does. Kudos for cutting them in!

  • You take awesome photos! And hey, what have you lost by asking? All they can do is say no. Then again, these are fantastic photos so they might just say yes. I’mma call you the negotiator. Do you mind if I get in touch the next time I need to buy something rather large?

  • Kathy from NJ:

    Open the effing email. Immediately. If they say no – DO NOT SIGN THE CONTRACT. I have a feeling they will sell many many prints.

    You have to start reading Mom101 – bloggers and artists should be PAID in real money, not a lousy free roll of toilet paper or a print. Actually, you could sell those photos yourself thru Shutterbug or one of those sites.

    Those photos are amazing, they are worth something. What happens if they sell 1,000,000 prints at $20 ea? You deserve a fair share.

  • Yep, what everybody else said. Open the e-mail, insist on a share of sales.

  • Alesia:

    I love mule train man! I think you might have to abide by your first agreement, but I hope they accept your negotiation!

    • Rechelle:

      I haven’t signed anything yet.

      • If you have to contact Mr. Mule Train Man for his permission to use his image, find out if he’s married. :-) jk

  • If the artist has enough savvy to request permission to use your photo, then you may also need to get a release from Mr. Mule Man.

  • km:

    Dear Rechelle, a male would not even think about this. What makes you less deserving??

    Don’t be a wuss. Open the email and negotiate even further.

    I help people find work. Women need to play hardball. I mentor them to ask for their true value and more. What are you afraid of?

    You are worthy and worth it (now there’s a mantra), Now go kick some ass!!

    Your friend in CT

  • DirtyKSmama - Nikki:

    Open that email!!!!

    And let us know what it said, of course.

  • Nanc in Ashland:

    I once took a photography workshop with the late Galen Rowell (and I was young and dumb and had no idea how famous he was) and he said the photos for which he is most famous are often the one good shot in an otherwise wasted roll of film (back in the day when we all used film!).

    You were in the right place and the right time and you got the right picture. You deserve to be paid. Open the email. If they say no, start thinking about how you can sell Mule Man yourself–if one artist is interested, others are, too!

    And if you end up compensating Mule Man for modeling be sure to stipulate that funds should NOT be used for shirt buttons.

  • Wee Wee:

    OMG! What the hell was that?!

    • Lee (sometimes known as Another Lee):

      Second that on forbidding buttons!

      • Nanc in Ashland:

        Forbidding Buttons would make an awesome title for a romance novel!

  • Dayem, that’s a good looking man.

  • Uhhhhm. What did you say, again? I forgot after looking at your visual exhibit.
    Is it hot in here?

    • Wee Wee:

      Yeah, what was this post about again?

  • What are they making a painting of it for, a romance novel?

    I can just see the titles now . . .

  • Lesley Docherty:

    I’m in love with Mule Man.

  • Skattebol:


  • These photos are worth big money and you NEED a fair percentage of those sales.
    Open the email.

  • All the money stuff aside- (which by the way – go for it- it’s your work!)

    It’s nice to look at Mule Train Man again…ooh la la…