Because nugget is a commodity and images are not? Commodities have unifying characteristics (i.e., gold is gold), as opposed to qualitative differences for non-commodities, i.e., "every picture tells a (different) story".
Not so. While gold certainly has a base value, anyone who sells a large nugget for the straight price of gold has been taken, and hard. Large nugggets are sold for a negotiated value, since they are by definition unique, and they are collected for those unique values. Just as in artwork and photos, every nugget also "tells a diffferent story." Depending on condition, shape, and history, nuggets can bring anywhere from 125-200% of their weight-based value on the collector's market.
"A photograph submitted to a contest usually has no easily-determinable value in the marketplace. If that photo has never been sold before, how do you determine its value? You can not even argue that it is worth the same as similar photos sold by microstock agencies, i.e., typically a few pennies, because even those agencies have admission criteria. Just because you snapped something and sent it to a contest does not mean it would be accepted by a microstock agency or that someone would ever buy it. At best, you would end up with a worth of a few pennies."
True...but if you are arguing that you have helped an organization by giving them an image which you admit, above, is worthless, you have in fact given them nothing. According to your logic, is it possible to price any image for first-time sale? If it's never sold before...it has no value because you cannot determine one for it?
"True... but if you are at a pro level where you aim to sell exclusive licenses, you should not submit it to amateur contests like these. If you are, however, an amateur firmly believing you just created a masterpiece that someone might discover one day and offer an exclusive license for it, by all means hold on to it and do not send it around ... just sit tight and wait to be discovered. "
My point is that by valuing images according to who created them (ie pro images are worth more than amateur images), we devalue photography as a whole. A nugget is a nugget, regardless of who found (created) it. Devaluing the work of an amateur *solely* because of the photographer's status does not make sense. I've seen plenty of "professionally" produced images that are crap, and plenty of work produced by amateurs that is absolutely spectacular. Images should be judged on their individual merit--which means that all iamges should be assigned some value. Granted, crap images may be assigned a value of zero, but that value should not be assumed simply because of who produced the image.
Hey, thanks for the tax-tip! Not a moment too soon to reduce my taxes for 2009. Say I have a picture I sold once for a couple of hundreds... all I need to do before year end is to submit it to a dozen contests (heck, given the number of contests around these days, why not say "hundreds") and voila!... I just created a tax deduction in the amount of tens of thousands of dollars!
Funny guy. This is actually a great illustration of why contest entries should be entries for a contest (a specific use) and not considered donations. The terms of the contest pointed out here and elsewhere essentially create a donor relationship with the photographer, with all of the benefits going to the organization and none to the artist. Donations (which, again I do not oppose) should be made and recognized as such; this requires, just as in a sale, a negotiated valuation of the work, and acknowledgement of the receipt of such value by the organization. Specific licensing is the tool we use to make sure that this remains a two-way street; and it is the absence of both of these processes which invalidates the value of the "contest entry-as donation" for tax purposes. Will a contest like this draw a bunch of crap images? Of course. Will it also draw some fine work? Again, of course it will. Which work will the organization use? By obtaining that work under shady pretenses, and for free with no acknowledgement of its value (and a defacto value of -zero-), the value of any similar work that exists--regardless of who produced it--is reduced.