For my inaugural post of 2012 I have a happy story.
A little out of character I know, but this one is good and is all about why you should stand up for yourself and your work.
****PLEASE NOTE – All the name’s have been changed to protect the innocent and I am writing this with consent of the person whose emails I will quote****
Most of us have received one of those “can we use your picture for free?” emails, and frankly recently they seem to be on the increase, to the point where I have started to get a little rude.
Below is an email I received from a well-known newspaper about a week ago:-
Thanks for your mail, which I’m just getting to now because of the time difference.I appreciate your interest in my work and interest in including me in the piece but it has left me with a bit of a dilemma.I am not really a blogger, I am a freelance professional photographer and film maker. This is my job. This is how I put food on my table.
Usually when I receive requests to use my photographs for free I reply like this:-
In response to your email I would like to ask you a question, Do you get paid for your job?
I thought so, then please don’t insult me by asking me to do mine for free.
And yes, I usually send it out word for word.
You would be surprised how many organisations suddenly find they do have a budget for photography after receiving that mail.
Of course many don’t, but one is tempted to think that the ones who never reply were not worth the effort anyway.
So here is my dilemma.
I love (Name of newspaper), a long time ago in a country far far away I used to buy a physical print copy (oh how quaint;-) at least 3 times a week.
I read regularly online and know several people who work there.
I would love to see my work in (Name of Newspaper) , or at least on the website.
I don’t really want to send you the “do you do your job for free?” mail, but I also think it is very important that photographers stand up for themselves and their work when requests like this come in.
As far as I can see there are 3 solutions to this problem:-
1) (Name of Newspaper) suddenly finds that they do have a budget for photography for this piece, even if it was a small token budget of say XX quid a picture that may very well be enough.
2) You, despite getting paid for your job, write back saying “sorry, really don’t have any money” or more likely don’t respond to this at all and choose someone else.
3) We reach a compromise as people. You are asking me for my work for free, so I ask you for something. Not you “web producer at (Name of newspaper)” but you personally “XXXXXX”.
I say that if you reach into your own pocket and donate say £XX to the Japanese Red Cross for disaster relief in Tohoku northern Japan, then I will send you 2 pictures and agree to them being used in (Name of newspaper) on a onetime limited use licence for free.
I look forward to hearing from you and I will prepare the pictures ready for sending in the hope that options 1 or 3 are your choice.