Your photos have value, STOP GIVING THEM AWAY!
Recently I was contacted by a design company working for the Chamber Of Commerce for -insert name of city here-, putting together a “digest style brochure for tourists and people relocating to -insert name of city here, again-.”
Would you be willing to “donate a few of your –same city– themed images?”
Followed by the infamous, “Of course we will provide photo credit.”
Care to guess how many gear, software, computer system upgrades, not to mention travel expenses I can pay for with “photo credit?”
I’ll give you a hint: The number I’m looking for could be mistaken for an upper case letter “O”
I politely declined, stating that every one of the images created showcasing this town are commissioned photographs, and that it would be extremely unfair to give them away when a client has paid good money for several large prints of these images. I did however mention that I would be willing to discuss reasonable licensing fees for their use.
This was over a month ago and I haven’t heard back since. I honestly don’t expect to.
To me “Donate” implies some sort of charitable cause or organization. For example, if a local conservation organization I support contacted me seeking the use of one or more of my photos, I would gladly provide them. That IS a charitable organization. A local municipality trying to attract tourist dollars doesn’t quite fit that definition, no matter how loosely you apply it. Even less so since I don’t even live in that town. I’m also sure every single business, restaurant, etc. featured in this “digest” is paying to be included. It should come as no surprise to them that I expect to be paid as well.
Digital Is Killing The Professional Photographer.
Pretty strong statement, huh? Read on.
When I decided to try to make my photography more than just a hobby, there was one overriding consideration when it came to pricing and selling my images. Though I may never become a full-time Pro, I would never price my photos low just to make a sale. There are full-time Pro photographers that keep the roof over their heads with their photography, I was not about to grossly undercut their pricing. That cheapens my work, and hurts them.
When deciding on pricing I spent a lot of time looking at the work and pricing of other big named photographers in the nature and landscape genre. Both to compare my images to and to get an idea on their pricing. Granted, I took into account that I’m a “nobody” in the world of nature and landscape photography, so to a degree my print prices reflect that. Should I become the next William Neill, or Jerry Monkman, to name two Pros whose work I admire, my pricing will reflect that too. So if you’ve been thinking of visiting www.jeffsinon.com, now’s the time while the pricing is great! (How’s that for shameless self promotion? 😀 )
In the mean time I won’t cut their throats and blow my photos out at discount store prices. I’m not that selfish.
Unfortunately in these days of digital there are far too many photographers out there that are willing to give their images away for the brief boost to their ego and the bragging rights “photo credit” gives them.
I have recently found out from a friend that he too was contacted about “donating” images for the above mentioned project. He too declined. Sadly, they will eventually find the free images they want. Though rather than pay a fair price for high quality, professional level images, they will likely not be the best quality images available to showcase the area.
You’re Hurting Someone.
In your area I bet you’ve seen the studios of several Professional Photographers. Or passed by a gallery featuring the work of full-time Pros. Some of them might even be friends of yours. Would you still be willing to give your photos away if you knew that it was taking income away from that working professional, your friend, making it harder for them to pay their bills? What if they told you they lost out on a big sale and couldn’t make their rent this month because someone was willing to provide an image for free? What if that “someone” was you? I know I’d feel like crap.
Is that fleeting, soon forgotten boost to your ego worth it to you?
Think of it this way, how would you feel if someone equally as good at what you do came into your office and told your boss that they would do your job for free?
Win, Win For Everyone.
My art has value, yours should too.
If you’re ever asked for the use of one of your images for “photo credit,” ask yourself what you can buy with that?
If people stop giving it away, we as photographers all benefit. Whether or not you want to actively sell your photographs, wouldn’t it be an even bigger ego boost to know someone is willing to pay for them?
Get The Word Out.
I would like to urge each and every one of the subscribers to my blog who are photographers hoping to sell their work, to share this. Re-blog it, share it on Facebook, twitter, whatever social media outlets you use, we can all benefit.