“I’ll Credit You…”
If you are a photographer, the chances are that at some point someone has emailed you with a fantastic, once-in-a-lifetime proposition; usually prefaced with a bit of subtle arse-kissing ie “Lovin’ your work”, or something similar, the sender of the email will then rapidly get down to business; “I love your photo of…..(me/our band/this band etc), and we were wondering if we could use it on…. ( our website/tour poster/t-shirt/album/the front cover of…etc), we will, of course, credit you”. Occasionally you will be told straight out “we don’t have a budget for photos”, but usually the offer of a photo ‘credit’ tacitly implies there is no intention of paying you.
You may assume that musicians are often to blame here, and you’d be right, but any event that you cover may well result in people wanting one of your photos…they just don’t want it enough to pay for it!
There are numerous obvious reasons not to give your work away for free: We all know that photo credits don’t pay the bills, and that giving your work away devalues not just your own work, but the photographic industry as a whole, plus the fact that decent camera equipment is expensive and they sure as shit don’t give it away. In addition to this, you’ll be lucky if you even get the photo credit you were promised in the first place unless you keep hassling for it! That said, allowing people to use your images in exchange for a credit can help get your work viewed by a larger audience than it would otherwise enjoy, which is handy when starting out, and it also gives you the opportunity to build contacts, which is never a bad thing.
So, do you say Yes or No to this magnanimous offer of a photo credit? If you’re a fan of the band in question and are happy to do it for bragging rights then, by all means, go for it. If you’re only interested in cold, hard cash, then certainly not! For me personally, it depends on the situation. How so? Well, if a band just want some live pics for their facebook page then I’m happy to provide low-res images with a small watermark on for free. However, if the photo in question is for a book, CD or DVD that will potentially turn a profit then it’s pretty out of order for anyone to expect to use one of your photos for nothing. After all, everyone else involved, from the band to the printer, will expect recompense, so why should you go without? If they’re still adamant there’s no budget then you should at least be offered generous amounts of swag!
This may sound like a bit of a rant at musicians (well, let’s face it, they’ve been belly-aching for years about people ‘stealing’ their music), but it applies to anyone who wants something for nothing. Remember, if it’s good enough to use it’s good enough to pay for!