It’s been awhile since I’ve gotten on my soapbox. A recent email has set me off. A little bit of the back story first. Earlier this year Kim and I had to replace the gable vents on our house. The original ones had rotted and one was leaking significantly. So we purchased new ones on-line from a company by the name of Architectural Depot. The product we received was great and installed fairly easily. That brings us up to speed. On Monday Kim forwarded an email from their marketing department asking for images of their product as it was used in our project. Here is a copy of that email:
Hi there. We are doing a series of photo spreads in our new catalog, on our website, in our blog, and in magazine advertisements. We still need a few more photos of the exact product you purchased from us earlier this year.
Would you be willing to snap a few photographs of how you used and installed our product? I would really appreciate it.
Just reply to this email with your photos (my email only accepts files smaller than 2MB). If your picture is larger than 2MB, just click the link below and load it directly onto our website.
The more pictures you can send, the better. You will be able to see your project on one of our websites or even in our printed catalog.
There will be a winning picture selected and that person will receive a full page spread in one of our upcoming brochures!
We look forward to seeing your project and thank you very much for your help.
James | Marketing Department | xt. 7105
So the basic gist is send us your photos so we can use them to advertise our company both on the web and in print. Your compensation will be nothing unless we like it enough then we’ll use as a two page spread. OOOOOOOO! And oh yeah. We won’t even give you credit for the image. The sad and unfortunate part of this is there will undoubtedly be hundreds of people who will oblige them. Once again taking work from photographers and providing (free of charge and licensing) countless images for this company to grow their business. Maybe I’m alone on this but it strikes me that these companies should be paying for these images. This type of corporate glad-handing sickens me. As professional photographers we scrape and scrounge for every client we get. To have these companies discount our work by basically saying “We don’t need professional images. We can grow our business using Johnny Client’s images free of charge.” Makes me seriously wonder what path the commercial photography business is heading. The saddest part of this is that once started down the path of cheap photography, there is no turning back. These companies are single handedly destroying a portion of the photography business. How long before other major corporations like Bank of America, Gucci, Macy’s start down this path? Just to save a few dollars. Dollars that make up an infinitesimal percentage of the annual income generated by those images. I saw this happen in the music industry and then the film industry. All it did was generate a lot of crappy music and crappy films. It lead me to coin a phrase. “Shove crap down people’s throats long enough, they acquire a taste for it.” Sorry for the rant. I promise it will be the last one for the year.
I was trolling Craigslist today looking for any potential gigs when I came across this:
Sadly this seems to be have become common practice across the corporate world. Trying to get someone to “donate” or “volunteer” to give up their images. If you read closely they want to use the images in their “global campaign” with not even so much as a word about potential future work or compensation of any type. Sickening. In the past a job like this would have gone to professional photographer and the company would have had to pay for their time as well as the licensing for those images. Potentially costing them thousands of dollars. Now I can understand if you’re just starting or a small business not being able to afford this type of work and maybe asking for a favor. But if you’re company makes more than $1,000,000 in annual sales the .1% that images for a global campaign to grow your business should not be an issue. Besides it’s called a tax deduction. The photographer who “donates” their time gets nothing. NOTHING. Out of a deal like this. They can’t write off their time or their equipment wear and tear or any of their cost of doing business. I worked in Hollywood for a lot of years both in the music industry and the film business. The number of times I’ve seen this deal of “Hey work on this project for free and I’ll bring you all my future work.” is too numerous to count. The number of times I’ve actually seen those promises kept…………..ZERO. That’s right. NEVER. Now I know that some student or “Mom with a camera” will do this work for them. The images might even be something better than just acceptable, but as someone who tries to make a living at this there can be no forgiving the corporate shills who have the audacity to post things like this. As a professional photographer I am a business too and expect compensation for the work I perform. Sorry I’ll get off my soapbox now. I promise that my next post will have some pictures or at least be more positive.
In this post I’m going to try and not get on my soapbox, but I had a very interesting situation happen the other day. As many of you who follow my blog on a regular basis know I do a lot of shoots for a company called HotelTonight. This story begins when one of the hotels that I had been assigned to shoot contacted me. They inquired if there was a way that they could purchase the rights to the images I was shooting for HotelTonight. I had to inform them that HotelTonight was my client and that I could not fulfill their request but I would gladly put together a quote for them. I prepared a quote for them that included licensing for 20 images for web use and sent it off. Now keep in mind that this is a MAJOR, Multi-billion dollar hotel chain that will remain anonymous. The day for the HotelTonight shoot came. I was greeted by the marketing manager and was introduced to the GM of the facility. After the pleasantries we agreed to meet after I was done to discuss my proposal. So I set about doing my job and got some great shots of the facility. (Froze my butt off getting the exterior shot) As I was packing up the marketing manager mentioned that the GM was dealing with a VIP that was coming in and wouldn’t be able to meet with me directly but we could go ahead and discuss the proposal. Great! He told me that the proposal looked really good and he and the GM were very pleased and it was passed all the way to corporate. WOW! AWESOME! Or so I thought. He proceeded to inform that corporate had nixed the proposal and wanted him to find a college student who would be willing to do it for free. FOR FREE!!!! My heart sank. He said that they really needed new images of the facility and that he was going to see if they could squeeze their general operations budget for some funds to be able to hire me but they couldn’t do it at the price I had quoted them. I told him to let me know what kind of number they could come up with and I would come up with a proposal that would fit their budget. At this point you’re probably wondering what kind of wild, extravagant number I came up with. Mid 5 figures? Nope not even close. It was a mere $3200 including licensing of the images.
This kind of corporate mentality kills me. A multi-billion dollar company and they want free pictures. This is one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever heard. Putting no value on the very thing would draw people to your hotel and generate millions of dollars of income. The more I thought about it the angrier I got. These people are looking for some who would do an adequate job and be willing to give up their rights to the images so that the corporation could use them as they wanted and not worry about rights and licensing. What BS!!! Commercial photography should never be free. If your company is going to use it for advertising and generating revenue, be prepared to pay.