I am going to start documenting all the requests I get from people wanting to use my photographs for free, and their responses. This is a fairly regular occurrence – usually a dozen1or so times a year – every year – I’ll get an email, mostly via Flickr. Nearly always the request starts with the same basic initial thought: “I’m so and so, and I’m working on a book or some other project, and I want to have your photograph, for free, even though I plan on selling the finished project. I’ll give you a photo credit though.”
Yesterday I got this request:
I am currently working with several photographers, manipulating their images digitally to create artistic representations for a deck of cards that I am creating & publishing. I would very much love to use this image of yours in my deck. Would you please consider granting me permission to use the image? Full credit will be given to each photographer who’s work I feature in the deck, and this deck will be sold and distributed globally to card-readers, students and collectors.
If you’d like to see the progress of the deck so far, you can do so on my Facebook Page: [REDACTED]2
Anchor Baby – the photo in question
if you are planning on selling your deck, we’ll need to work out some sort of compensation arrangement, or royalty agreement. I’ve gone as low as $800 (U.S.) in the past.
Should I send you an invoice?
I actually have gone much lower – especially if the project is good or interesting, or the requestor is polite. Occasionally I have even given away one time usage of my photograph for free, but I don’t do that often. If this is a commercial endeavor, I should be compensated for all the time I took to snap the photograph, manipulate the photograph in my digital darkroom, upload to the web, etc. not to mention my equipment, computer, software, camera, lens, and so on. Again, not to be a jerk, but if you think your work is worthy enough to sell, well then, so should mine be worthy enough. I may not make my living as a professional photographer, but I’m not independently wealthy. I like having coins in my pocket.
The requester responded, rather snottily:
None of the other photographers are asking for royalties. Credit and getting their name attached to this global project was all that was required.
No, sorry, i am not willing to pay. I have other options, many other photographs, many other photographers who want recognition… 🙂
Well, isn’t that peachy.
I couldn’t help myself, and emailed back:
Hard to pay my landlord with photo credits, thanks for understanding.
Ideally, by documenting this reoccurring request, I’ll hone my responses so they are a little wittier. I really should create a form letter that I could work off of.Footnotes: