5.14.2014

"Hi. Will you please send us your photograph of a very famous film director, which you originally shot for Elle Magazine, for use free?"

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Oh boy! What a wonderful e-mail with which to start my day. A London-based music magazine got in touch. They are doing a "Big Feature" on XXXXXXX XXXXXX (world famous movie producer/writer/director) and they "just loved my photograph of him" and would love to get my permission to use it. Seems they were going to do a big, assigned photo shoot with him but his publicist told them that he couldn't fit it into his schedule..... "That's why we're asking you to donate for FREE!!!" (what happened to the assignment budget???).

"But we are willing to give you a credit line!!!!!!!!!!"

I'm not absolutely sure what "wanker" means but I think it might apply to the editorial staff at this particular magazine.

We love to work for free here at VSL. But only for charities that serve needy or at risk children. People who can't really make a go of it without some help from the rest of us. We don't provide free services or licenses to silly pop magazines that sell ads, monetize the shit out of their websites and otherwise make a tasty profit (apparently on the backs of struggling artists...) for their shareholders.

But----I did my due diligence first. I called my bank to see if I could make a house payment with my potential credit line. Nope. Then I printed out the e-mail and took it with me to Starbucks to see if it was worth a large coffee and a chocolate croissant. Nope. They'd go a short, regular coffee and no pastry but I didn't like that deal either...


I sported the idea of a credit line around on Model Mayhem's website but it didn't fly their either.

My advice to all you younger photographers: Have that credit line valued or appraised by a professional before you accept it in trade for something valuable. Like your photos!

28 comments:

stefano60 said...

I think wanker is more than appropriate in this case (I lived in the UK for a few years, so I am quite familiar with it!), and i would urge you to reply to them addressing them as such.

It is never ending, is it? Nowadays people EXPECT these things for free, and are quite surprised when somebody reject their generous offer of .5 seconds of 'fame' in exchange for 'just a picture'.

Maybe they should go to Getty Images, are they not releasing all their images for free nowadays?

Josh B said...

Credit line: worthless.

This post: worth its weight in gold*



* Unfortunately with electronic communications this expression loses something. Really how much does the collective of 1s and 0s weigh? Let’s just assume then for the purpose of this missive that a post's weight (as for gold equivalency purposes) is equal to the combined sum of the machines needed for the production, hosting and viewing of said post.

Patrick Dodds said...

You appear to be correct in your use of the epithet "wanker".

Jean Marc Schwartz said...

Asks of this kind are too regular in our profession. I like to answer to them this: hey, super your bentley, I need it to go on holiday by the sea this week. You indeed want to fill up and to lend it to me?!!!

Kirk Tuck said...

Just did a little digging to find out that their full page ad rate is: 6200 English Pounds.

Or a little over $10,400.

"We have no budget..."

Ann Peterson said...

Here in Oz all the staff photographers on the daily newspapers are getting sacked and readers are asked to submit their photos for publication....not for payment though. just to see their name in small print. It is mean in so many ways.

cfw said...

Tell them, "...sorry, no-can-do, but send me a final copy of your big director feature, after you've finished all the painstaking cutting and editing, and I'll think about putting it on my web site. No payment, of course, but I will give you a 'credit line'."

Mark Davidson said...

Kirk, Your post appeared in my email feed just after getting a similar email.!
Sender wanted to use my image I had taken for a magazine feature last year but they "lost their copy". I was expected to drag it out of archives and send it along as I "had already been paid for it."
I replied they had rented it and not bought it along with a photo house-boy to drag it around for them in perpetuity.
The did not pay nor did they get the picture.

atmtx said...

Yeah, I just got a request today from a high end hotel chain's magazine to use one of my Austin 6th street photos (for credit)

I said that I was happy to license them the photograph. Let's see if they get back to me.

Kirk Tuck said...

All these request are generally from people who know better. They know they don't own the images. They know they have budgets. They know they should be paying for the work. They are just cynical enough to think that we are stupid enough or vain enough to give them what they want in exchange for the most worthless of trinkets = the credit line. Which should accompany every editorial image always. Not a gift. The credit line in editorial is a right===at least here in the U.S.A.

We should be calling this people out every single time they ring us up or e-mail us in order to try and get something for nothing.

Thanks Andy and Mark. Doing the right thing.

Jim said...

Jeesh! Even you get those requests? I have one NFP I give work to regularly and occasionally others but if the asker is making $$$$, I expect to make a little too.

Racecar said...

All is not lost your readers got a good laugh out of this. You handled the cheeky editorial guy perfectly. Your rates for image publishing are just as valid as their rates for adverts. Bravo Kirk!

Paul said...

The term wanker would be appropriate as well as the related word tosser.

I had a large multi billion dollar mining company wanting me to fly up to some remote site and photograph some new piece of machinery all on my own dime for a credit line. Out of interest I costed out the flight and 4x4 hire and it came out to just under $ 4K .

Another rather large mining company wanted to prove its eco credentials to the gullible public by saying they rehabilitate the land and re-introduce wildlife and to prove it they wanted me donate several photographs of very rare marsupials to help them. Their PR company got quite abusive when I asked for payment.

atmtx said...

And people know that if they go to Flickr they have a higher chance of getting freebies. That's where they contacted me.

When people find my photos through my website/galley, there is more of a tendency that they expect to pay for the photographs.

Ken said...

Can't blame them for trying, I suppose. I think your point about the budget for the big photo assignment is a great one for starting negotiations for your licensing fee. It's a win-win: you get your fee and they have a professional provide them with the shot they want for probably less than they budgeted. Good luck... once you get past the aggravation of the request.

Joel Bartlett said...

Harlan Ellison's take on this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mj5IV23g-fE

Robert Roaldi said...

Since it's a music magazine, maybe you could arrange a barter arrangement. You let them use the photo if they do a feature on you as a music-industry photographer. You could even write the piece yourself and submit it, save them the trouble of hiring one of those pesky writers who might also expect to be paid. Actually, since you saved them the writer's fee, maybe you could ask for a cut of that savings. Oh wait, then you'd be a writer too and would want to be paid for that.

BruceA said...

Elle is a fashion and lifestyle magazine, similar to Vogue, I think. They publish a US version www.elle.com. The UK site is www.elleuk.com.

The magazine is owned by Hearst, and they have money.

You should follow the UK magazine online to make sure they don't use your photo without permission. After all, would you want to litigate it in the UK? Perhaps I am just paranoid, but I have had a similar situation where the "borrower" would not take "no" for an answer.

Patrick Dodds said...

@ Paul, above - any old marsupial found elsewhere, or a marsupial found on their rehabbed land? I'm interested in just how far they'd go to pretend they're green.

John Dana said...

Here's a great piece from the NYT by Tim Kreider titled, "Slaves of the Internet, Unite!" Of course he doesn't get paid for reposting his article, but, at least he won't suffer from irony deficiency.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/27/opinion/sunday/slaves-of-the-internet-unite.html

There are far more interesting ways die from than exposure!

Paul said...

Hi Patrick
Theoretically the animals concerned, the Bilby or dalgyte (Macrotis Largotis) and Woylie or brush-tailed bettong (Bettongia Penicillata), would have lived in that area, but they had been made virtually extinct through predation by feral animals such as foxes and cats. The animals I had photos of were in a specially built reserve protected from predators. It was a con job as the animals are the pinups for the conservation movement here and it would very good if they infer that they had reintroduced them to the old mine site.

Michael Connell said...

I had GQ magazine wanting to use a shot a while back. "It's a great shot, would go great with this article on Austin, blah, blah..." I gave what I thought was a very reasonable quote to use the photo for that purpose. "Um, well we don't have a budget for things like this but you'd get photo credit." Really? No budget? I told them to bite me in the most diplomatic and polite way I could muster. The sad thing is I bet they just kept searching on Flickr and found a sucker to give them what they wanted. It doesn't stop until we all stand up to these freeloading asshats.

Patrick Dodds said...

Paul - thanks for the clarification.

Laurent said...

Well, you can't blame them for trying, they are running a business after all. Make them a counter offer and see what they say!

Laurent

Kirk Tuck said...

Gosh! Laurent. I never thought of that. Seriously, you think we didn't send a bid? Do I come across as that scattered? Their response was that they would go on looking for a freebie.

"they are running a business after all..." Yes, well I guess business ethics only exists within cultural contexts. Perhaps it's an ethics mismatch. Or just a bunch of cheap bastards who love getting good stuff for nothing.

Nick Giron said...

I want to be a car salesman.
May I please have your car, I think I can get a great price for it.

I'll give you credit.

Ross said...

Why not just name them? By not naming them, you are complicit in letting this stuff continue.

Kirk Tuck said...

Hi Ross,
Can I borrow your lawyers?