Maggie Steber responds to critics of @MediaStorm ‘s new pay to view model

MediaStorm are charging $1.99 for people to access their latest films.

One of them features the work of Maggie Steber.

MediaStorm and Maggie Steber put a lot of love into their work. A whole lot of precious love.

God knows the world needs it.

Some people think $1.99 is too much to pay for that love.

Just hope you never date someone that tight.

Here’s Maggie’s response as posted on Facebook tonight.

‘It’s all about the story, and not just photography.

Look at how much people pay for cable and it’s nothing but shit and repeats.

I don’t think $1.99 is too much to ask because of the subjects…these are stories, and we should not think of them only as photography.

If you do, you are mistaken and shortsighted.

These are universal stories about life and the end of life and about how we as loved ones can be braver and more involved with those aspects of life.

If those stories and what you can learn from them isn’t worth $1.99 than we are doomed as story tellers.

We have to quit thinking that it’s only about photography.

It’s far beyond that.

And someone has to roll the dice and try to begin changing peoples’ expectations of getting something for nothing. Otherwise, in the future, there will be nothing.

Rather than debating it among ourselves, we should all get onto the same band wagon and start pushing for payment of our work, no matter the format.

We do nothing but complain about losing rights, being paid too little and then we shoot ourselves in the foot by saying something costs too much at $1.99 to have unlimited access.

That’s cheap beyond words in my book and for anyone who knows how much time, effort, expense, emotion, sacrifice, thought, risk, daring, courage, vulnerability, and innovation goes into anything like this, it is a silly discussion that needs to end because we need to start understanding the value of what we do.

You pay $2.50 for the NYT in print (in MIami), you pay about $5 for Time Magazine in print, you pay a certain amount to the NYT to get past their firewall and have daily access to the news online.

What’s the big deal about a onetime fee of something that costs less than a cup of Starbucks coffee?

We need to stop shooting ourselves in the foot and band together about getting paid for our work!

And if you are in this business and do not agree, then get out of the business!

If you could see the dozens–after one day—of comments about these pieces by people OTHER THAN PHOTOGRAPHERS and how moved and informed and encouraged they are, you would understand this is about visual narrative and if people can pay $12 or $14 for a movie, then they can pay $1.99 to see these films.

Maggie Steber

Here’s another thought.

If Brian Storm had been running any of the major photography agencies do you think they’d be in the financial mess they are in now?

Author — duckrabbit

duckrabbit is a production company formed by radio producer/journalist Benjamin Chesterton and photographer David White. We specialize in digital storytelling.

Discussion (13 Comments)

  1. Hoobloodyray for common sense. And I’ll add my voice further in a post that by coincidence I was just preparing.

  2. andrew says:

    “If Brian Storm had been running any of the major photography agencies do you think they’d be in the financial mess they are in now?”

    Yes, probably, given both the state of the world economy and the fact that Storm held a key position at Corbis at the time they went into serious decline relative to their equally odious competitor Getty.

  3. Catherine says:

    Yes – the two posts make a good pair and reinforce each other.

  4. I agree with Maggie. It’s silly and selfish to think that all content should be free, that no investment, no participation of any kind should be expected from the viewer.

    Each individual can decide for themselves whether they will pay to view her and Phillip Toledano’s movies; viewers’ rights are not being infringed on at all. How about respecting these artists’, and all artists’, rights to charge for their work?

    And though I do not think the quality of the work as any bearing on whether it’s okay to charge for it, I did see both of these films when they were screened at Galapagos on Monday and was incredibly moved by their honesty and, yes, quality as genuine works of art. The next morning, I referred several people to MediaStorm’s site so that they too could experience these movies. It’s amazing how much 2 bucks can get you these days.

    Kristina Feliciano

  5. Jim Powers says:

    It’s not about the absolute value of these stories. They are absolutely worth $1.99 each. No question. The obstacle Mediastorm is facing is abundance. There is so much free content on the web that, encountering a pay wall, must folks simply click on and find something free to look at. Unless they have some compelling personal reason to want to see these stories, paying for them, even as little as $1.99, is too much trouble.

    I’m watching Mediastorm carefully on this one. We are all struggling to find a way to pay for what we do. I hope Mediastorm will reveal how successful (or unsuccessful) this “pay per story” concept actually is.

    • duckrabbit says:


      you make a great point.

      More people paying less = same revenue, but more people reached. It could mean same people watch and less revenue, that’s where this is a test, but I don’t expect MediaStorm to release the numbers unless this is a success.

      I’m sure MediaStorm will have thought about this and will tweak the model if needs be.

      Thanks again


  6. Allen says:

    1.99 to see the film……
    I can’t even park my car at a theater for that little!

    Paywalls are here to stay, the only way to survive. The sooner everyone takes the step the faster the industry can get back on stable footing!

    What is wrong with a society that would rather have glutinous amounts of free work, most of which is junk, than pay a small fee for good work.
    It speak volumes to overall state of our society.

  7. Julian Fowler says:

    I wish the best to MediaStorm in this new venture. I wholeheartedly agree with Maggie Steber. When you think of all the work that went into her story, all the experience and skill she brought to bear after a lifetime in photography, then less than $2 has got to be the best value out there.
    Good luck to you all! julian

  8. Ask your self how much your phone company charges you pr SMS – multiply that with the number of messages you send every day, get the total. If it approximates 1.99 $ then shut up!

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