No You Cannot Use My Photo for Free Part 89

 A/k/a Black Card Magazine wants free Photos.

Chicago Dog
Chicago Dog

I’ve gotten lazy about blogging the periodic requests to use my photos in a commercial setting without compensation. I have no concern with websites or blogs using my photos, even quasi-commercial sites like Chicagoist, Curbed Chicago, or the like, as long as these usages don’t require payment to view. In my reasoning, I get benefit from such exposure, not to mention I read most of these sites anyway, or could. However, printed use is different: the targeted audience has to pay a fee to read the magazine or book, thus I should get a slice of the pie. Does this make sense?

There have been several such inquiries since I last mentioned the subject, such as yesterday, when I received this email, marked URGENT.

I work as a writer for Black Card magazine. We are doing a feature on America’s Best Street Foods and we want to feature The Wiener’s Circle in Chicago.

They don’t have any images of their hot dogs, but I found the one on your flickr page. Was wondering if you might be willing to let us publish it in exchange for a photo credit in the article and a free copy of the magazine?

We are on an urgent deadline.


My first reaction was irritation at the forced urgency. Why do I have to rush to respond? I’m not the one who waited until the last minute to secure photographic rights for a story assigned months ago. An admission: I’m that guy on the highway who slows down when drivers tailgate me. Especially if I’m driving by myself, I’ll block irritating drivers from passing me for twenty minutes (alternatively slowing down and speeding up, as traffic changes) or longer. Unless you have a flashing siren on your vehicle, I doubt sincerely your time is any more valuable than mine, and no, I won’t get out of your way if you are rude. Of course, if Illinois caves in, and allows concealed handguns to be carried, I may alter my behavior. Probably not though. I hate being told to hurry up. I have enough deadlines of my own without incorporating yours as well.

Secondly, Black Card Magazine is a trade publication solely for the upper echelon – for instance, American Express’s Centurion Card, which requires cardholders willing to pay an annual fee of $2,500 just to have the card, plus a $7,500 application fee. Not for the peons, in other words. American Express had an operating income of $33,800,000,000 last year, I think they could afford to pay photographers if they chose to.

Wieners Circle Rages at the Dying of the Light
Wieners Circle Rages at the Dying of the Light

So I replied that I would be happy to allow one-time usage of my photograph for the fee of $800. I’m not holding my breath for a response (it’s been 24 hours).

the Wieners Family Crest
the Wieners Family Crest

Mmm Crunchy Chicago Dogs
Mmm Crunchy Chicago Dogs

4 thoughts on “No You Cannot Use My Photo for Free Part 89

  1. Frederick Nachman says:

    If they say no, you can use the adaptation of your line, “I can’t use photo credits to pay for my hot dogs.”

    I never heard back from HGTV about using one of my photos so I couldn’t use your line.

    Remind me to tell you why the Wieners Circle uses plastic condiment bottles when we meet for drinks/photowalk.

  2. GDPO says:

    And then there was the time I decided to support the arts and bought a photo “print” from a photographer to the tune of $90. When it arrived, it turned out it was printed on an Epson. The photographer assured me that the archival inks were rated to last 100 years. Dubious, and intending to find a frame that might have special protective glass to minimize fading, I put the $90 print back in its envelope and enclosed it in a dark cabinet and forgot about it. Two years later I took it out and half the photo’s inks were decisively faded (the print was undisplayable).

    Not doing THAT again. First and last photo buying experience. When you like a photo, maybe it’s better to just grab what you can and run.

  3. That sucks. I would try to contact that photographer again and get a re-print. If the photograph was supposed to be archival quality and it wasn’t, I’d be mad too. I have photographs I printed myself that are hanging around my office unframed, and they haven’t faded.

    Though to be fair, saying you will never purchase art again is a bit extreme; akin to saying because you got food poisoning at the corner deli, you’ll never go to another restaurant in your life, and instead are just going to steal groceries.

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