New York Times article discusses high cost of celebrity baby exclusive photos

05/05/2008 at 02:42 PM ET

People_cover_2 A new article in the New York Times gives a good overview of just how magazines turn a profit — if they manage to turn a profit, at all — after paying millions of dollars to secure the exclusive rights to a celebrity baby’s first photoshoot. 

People Managing Editor Larry Hackett tells the NYT that although he doesn’t "enjoy" shelling out exorbitant sums of cash, like the rumored $5 million his magazine paid for the first photos of Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony’s twins Max and Emme, 10 weeks, it’s often necessary in order to maintain People’s position in the marketplace.

Last year, we lost a couple of weddings because OK! magazine was willing to spend more money than we thought made sense.  [If that continues], they’re going to get traction, and I don’t want any competitor to get traction where I can stop it.

Click ‘continue reading’ for more from the interview. 

Christina_people_cover_3 While an extremely hot issue and cover can sell an extra 300,000 to 500,000 copies, that only translates into $1 million in domestic earnings — or less.  But splashing the exclusive photos on the magazine’s website can generate significant online interest, meaning a magazine can command higher advertising rates, the article states.  Also, while the magazine might take a big hit initially, that hit is lessened when the magazine sells the international rights to the photos in question. 

But perhaps the biggest motivator of all for the magazines is the notion that the best offense is a good defense.  By securing the exclusive rights, you prevent your competitors from doing the same.  Notes Paul Caine, Publisher of People,

The consumer’s expectation is if the photos are going to be available, I’m going to see them in People.  If we don’t get them, we miss that brand promise, we lose the halo that goes with that.

Though not quoted in the article, CBB publisher Danielle adds, "Due to a limited budget, we are not able to purchase exclusives, especially the ones that run in the millions. There are exclusives that go for a lot less (such as a first shot of a new celebrity baby that went for $1,000), but even so, we are not dependent on them to keep our status. We rely on the fact that our readership knows that we provide consistently good coverage about all celebrity babies."

Source:  The New York Times

Do you subscribe to a particular magazine because it secures more celebrity baby exclusives than other magazines? 

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Sasha on

Great read, I always wondered why some magazines spent so much money for photos besides the purpose of selling magazines.

Maria on

Quite honestly, I think it is madness to shell out that kind of money for exclusives. I also think selling baby photo is wrong for whatever reason. It commercialises people’s private lives and makes it more likely for outsiders to violate them saying ‘if they can make money of it, why can’t I ?’ I always said it, you cannot make back the money flashed out.

Natasha on

I remember reading that the first picture of Deacon Phillippe was worth somewhere around 3 million dollars!


I just don’t get it. These celebrities want to give their kids the most normal lives possible, sheild them from the media,and what better way to contradict that than to sell their pictures to magazines. That’s not normal. they don’t need the money, not even for charity, they have other ways other than using their kids. Just stop it.

Renee on

Tephene,it’s not the celebrities’ fault. It’s us the public that demand to see the first pictures of their children.Also, the paps are going to make money off the pictures anyway. The celebrities don’t owe us a reason why or what they do with the money. If the public wasn’t curious about celebrity children this blog wouldn’t exist. Don’t like the trend, don’t buy the magazine.

Tuni & G on

It’s great to hear that not all celebrities sell their babies photos! Here’s Usher who recently said he won’t pimp out his child for money! Check it out.

Di on

I do not understand the following the logic: the paparazzi are going to make money off of my kids so I’m going to make the money instead. Look, getting money in exchange for selling pics of your children is wrong regardless of whether the money goes to charity or into their pocket. If celebrities want privacy they to stop feeding the beast: Stop talking about your personal life in interviews; do not write tell all books or do reality shows maybe then the media will leave you alone. I agree with Usher who recently said that he was going to “pimp” out his son’s pictures to the highest bidder.

Amanda on

This whole issue is a double edged sword.

On the one hand, you have celebrities who are hounded for the first pictures of their child by relentless paparazzi photographers who will stop at nothing to be the one who gets that first picture. I think it’s understandable for celebrities to want to control the way in which the world gets its first glimpse of the baby(ies). I’d much rather sell the photos and give the money to charity than allow it to go to some sleazy paparazzi agency.

But on the other hand, you have some celebrities who seem to go completely over the top with their photoshoots. The photos appear to be all about them and not the child. Without meaning to be rude, people like Jennifer Lopez and Christina Aguilera appeared in their photos dressed up in the most fancy dresses, diamonds on, heavily made up; it was almost like they were the centre of the photoshoot.

Compare that to Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie’s shoot with Shiloh and even Angelina with Pax; no make up, no fancy clothes, no special lighting; it was very simple and nicely done.

Finally, I think that the public is just as much to blame for the ridiculous cost of baby photos as the magazines. Our obsession with celebrity, (and the growing interest in celebrity children), means that magazines will stop at nothing to outbid each other and be the ones to secure the photos.

It’s a never-ending circle that shows no sign of ending. I mean, imagine if Angelina Jolie does give birth to twins. What will be the price of those photos? More money than you, or I, will ever make in your lifetime, that’s for sure!

Renee on

Good points Amanda. I always wonder why people complain about celebrities selling their photos but yet visit celebrity sites.

CelebBabyLover on

Amanda- ITA! Even if Angelina only has one baby (which I feel is going to be the case), I’m sure the photos will still sell for a huge amount of money. While I don’t expect them to sell for more than the pictures of Max and Emme did if it’s just one baby (after all, part of the reason the pictures of Max and Emme sold for so much is because there are TWO of them rather than just one), I’ll be surprised if they sell for the same amount as or less than Shiloh’s first pictures did.

I also want to point out that some celebs probably do introductory photoshoots as a safety measure. For example, imagine if Angelina and Brad hadn’t done an introductory photoshoot with Shiloh. The paps would have hounded them like crazy for the first shot of her. Sadly, it’s almost certain that the paps would have become so determined to get that first shot of Shiloh that they would have endangered her safety as well as that of her siblings and possibly even her parents.

The same thing probably would have happened if Angie hadn’t done an introductory photoshoot with Pax. At the very least, the paps probably would have really frightened poor little Pax by trying to get the first shot of him (remember, he was 3 and 1/2 when he was adopted, so being in a different country, people that were basically strangers to him at the time, and hearing a completely different language than he was used to was probably scary enough!)!

By doing those photoshoots, Angie and Brad were ensuring the safety of the children, and getting the paps to give them a little breathing room while they adjusted to life with a newborn (in Shi’s case) and a newly adopted 3 and 1/2 year old (in Pax’s case).

All of that said some celebs, like Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner, didn’t do introductory photoshoots with their kids. However, Ben and Jen aren’t nearly as famous as, say, Angie and Brad or Tom and Katie, so they could get by with that. Angie and Brad probably couldn’t have.

Maria on

OMG, She does look like Tom’s sister as a baby.

Maria on

I can understand the logic of safety but to me I don’t see any difference between Jlo and Angelina Jolie. Sending a couple of free pictures to a magazine is enough in my opinion to ensure that your children are safe. Or showing it during an interview like Julia Roberts did. I am sure all these celebs would like to give to charity. To me charity is an excuse. It is like becoming a pimp or a robber and giving everything to charity. Wrong is wrong. Am sure brangelina have enough money not to sell pictures for charity. I can understand Tom Cruise after all the brouhaha about Suri, a single picture would never have been enough, even then, he should have released a picture early on to prevent all the circus. At least he did not sell them to VF. Ironic that they were free and sold the most copies for a newborn cover to date.

Selling pictures of your child is selling your privacy, it doesn’t matter that it is for a worthy cause. I am sure if the supply was not there, the demand would cool down.

Heidi on

Actually, judging by the flurry of craziness that seems to appear every time Suri Cruise isn’t seen for awhile, I do not believe that a lack of supply would hurt demand.

CelebBabyLover on

Maria- Uh, if selling pictures is selling your privacy, then giving your pictures to a magazine for free is giving up at least some of your privacy. Either way, you’re giving up some of your privacy.

Heidi- ITA! In fact, I remember just recently seeing a tabloid with a pic of Suri on it and the headline, “Suri…Missing!” or something similar. Underneath the headline it said that she hadn’t been seen for however many months. That isn’t the first time they’ve done that, either. The tabs have also done the same with Shiloh Jolie-Pitt (and have even gone so far as to write stories about kidnapping threats to “explain” why she hasn’t been seen in however many months).

While the “not giving the paps a supply” tatic might work for some less famous celebs, there’s no way it would work for Brad and Angelina, Tom and Katie, or other super-famous celebs.

Renee on

Clebritybabylover, I agree. People are being way too harsh about it. Also, Maria, comparing “pimping” or robbing to celebrities selling their baby photos is a little too much in my opinion. They are no where near the same and I don’t know why you would say that. I doubt you would say that to their faces. No one is forcing any of us to buy magazines with the kids on the cover or visit this site . you don’t support the idea, don’t buy the magazine.