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Author Topic: Strategies for Free Usage Requests?  (Read 6589 times)

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PaulieWalnuts

  • On the Wrong Side of the Business
« on: May 10, 2015, 13:29 »
+9
Free usage. This came up in another post so I decided to start a new topic. Seems that creatives just give work away and that's just the way it goes. But lately I've been noticing a lot more ranting and backlash about it.

http://beezlystreet.com/2015/04/28/exposure-now-legal-tender-for-photographers - Does a pretty good job of showing how ridiculous it all is
http://petapixel.com/2012/01/10/this-photograph-is-not-free
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R2a8TRSgzZY - A classic
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mj5IV23g-fE - Harlan Ellison -- Pay the Writer (NSFW)

I get contacted constantly with requests for free usage, exchange for exposure, and other usually meaningless offers. Some creatives get angry and respond angrily. Some creatives ignore the requests. Some creatives just give-in and hand over their stuff for free. I don't do any of those. I respond politely but firmly and work toward getting them to pay. I think this industry as a whole needs to stop the freebies and move more toward an exchange of equal value. You don't give unless you get. And I mean money. Not exposure or credit. Not all people end up buying but a decent percentage do. You just need to politely say no and tell them what you're willing to accept.

Now if they're willing to offer something tangible I'd consider it. Maybe it's a new local restaurant and they're willing to offer $200 in gift cards to cover my $200 licensing fee. Great! But I've had restaurant owners propose I spend thousands of dollars out of my pocket for me to put prints in their restaurant because it's a "high traffic restaurant and would be great exposure for you". Hahahaaahhaaha, no. Here's a few examples of what has worked for me and this also applies to discount requests.

[The Make You Famous] Our super well-known company would like to use your image and we'll give you credit. This will be great exposure for you.
[Me] Sounds great. Using my images requires a very reasonable fee of $XX in addition to giving me credit. Would this work?

[The Small Broke Company] I'm starting up a small business and don't have any money but would like to use your image. 
[Me] Totally understand. I'm a small business too and my fees are affordable for any budget. That image is only $XX. Would that work?

[The Carrot] We'd like to use your image. We always hire photographers and will make sure to add you to our list for future work.
[Me] Sounds great. What I'd like to propose is you license the image for a very reasonable fee of $XX now and after that we can discuss discounts for future work.

How do you usually respond and what's worked for you?





ShadySue

« Reply #1 on: May 10, 2015, 13:36 »
+3
IME, people who approach you for free work can't/won't pay, and will just look elsewhere for free work.
If it's a charity I like, I might give work with some sort of RM licence; otherwise I don't waste time on them.

YMMV.

Fudio

« Reply #2 on: May 10, 2015, 14:02 »
+2
I just lie and tell them I'd love to help out but I'm contractually obligated by my agent to charge a minimum usage fee. Thankfully no one ever asks who my agent is.

« Reply #3 on: May 10, 2015, 14:03 »
+6
I thank them for their interest and tell them I do not give my art away for free.

ShadySue

« Reply #4 on: May 10, 2015, 14:28 »
+1
I just lie and tell them I'd love to help out but I'm contractually obligated by my agent to charge a minimum usage fee. Thankfully no one ever asks who my agent is.
I have pulled the 'iStock/Getty exclusive contract' line on occasion too, when I'm refusing a 'commercial entity', when approached by an acquaintance.

dpimborough

« Reply #5 on: May 10, 2015, 14:57 »
+3
What the heck is wrong with just saying NO!?

Why do photographers wet their knickers over whether to give stuff for free?

Free doesn't pay bills  ;D

Semmick Photo

« Reply #6 on: May 10, 2015, 15:09 »
+3
What the heck is wrong with just saying NO!?

Thats just not very business like. I think Paulie has it right, I also try and get them to pay. Mostly when they see the pricing on my website they purchase the image. Everyone can afford something between 2.50 and 17.50 euro.

PaulieWalnuts

  • On the Wrong Side of the Business
« Reply #7 on: May 10, 2015, 15:27 »
0
I just lie and tell them I'd love to help out but I'm contractually obligated by my agent to charge a minimum usage fee. Thankfully no one ever asks who my agent is.
I have pulled the 'iStock/Getty exclusive contract' line on occasion too, when I'm refusing a 'commercial entity', when approached by an acquaintance.

I use that too but I also am hoping to discourage them from even asking by letting them know this is my business and supports my family.

The only reason they ask in the first place is because creatives say yes. If creatives stopped saying yes people would stop asking.

PaulieWalnuts

  • On the Wrong Side of the Business
« Reply #8 on: May 10, 2015, 15:30 »
+1
What the heck is wrong with just saying NO!?

Why do photographers wet their knickers over whether to give stuff for free?

Free doesn't pay bills  ;D

You can say whatever you want but just plain no usually ends the opportunity for getting paid unless the person really wants your image. The "thanks, but" approach probably has better chances of getting paid.

« Reply #9 on: May 10, 2015, 15:41 »
+4
I wonder why I never get these requests ...

PaulieWalnuts

  • On the Wrong Side of the Business
« Reply #10 on: May 10, 2015, 15:45 »
+3
I wonder why I never get these requests ...

You're a celebrity.

dpimborough

« Reply #11 on: May 10, 2015, 16:32 »
0
What the heck is wrong with just saying NO!?

Why do photographers wet their knickers over whether to give stuff for free?

Free doesn't pay bills  ;D

You can say whatever you want but just plain no usually ends the opportunity for getting paid unless the person really wants your image. The "thanks, but" approach probably has better chances of getting paid.

My therapist says I have anger issues  :D

PaulieWalnuts

  • On the Wrong Side of the Business
« Reply #12 on: May 10, 2015, 16:53 »
0
What the heck is wrong with just saying NO!?

Why do photographers wet their knickers over whether to give stuff for free?

Free doesn't pay bills  ;D

You can say whatever you want but just plain no usually ends the opportunity for getting paid unless the person really wants your image. The "thanks, but" approach probably has better chances of getting paid.

My therapist says I have anger issues  :D

Use my approach and you won't need the therapist.   :)

« Reply #13 on: May 10, 2015, 20:46 »
+1
I agree with the "handle it matter of fact", polite, but firm approach. No need to get worked up. We're supposed to be professionals. I recently had a free request. I thanked them for their interest in my work, said that as a struggling artist I couldn't afford to give away my work for free and provided a link where to purchase the file for a reasonable price. I thought I'd never hear from them again but to my surprise they did buy the file (smallest size, ha!).

« Reply #14 on: May 10, 2015, 23:33 »
+1
I have such requests too. Never ignore. Such people should have clear no for free usage and i have a text to paste in e-mail to not waste my time. I don't close the doors, they are invited to return, when they decide to buy. Why i do this? One person told that he will find the same image for free in internet and use it. I think one minute to send a canned answer is better than ignoring

« Reply #15 on: May 11, 2015, 19:44 »
+1
In general you should never work for free.
For me, the only exceptions can be for family or a charity I know and trust.
And even then there is a limit.
When I first started in the advertising business a lot of agencies did spec work but fortunately that has changed.
However, there are still a lot of slimeballs out there who will ask you to work for free because it will be "great exposure for you" and "it will lead to more work down the line".
Don't listen to these creeps. You will never see a dime from them.
The return per image is already low enough in Microstock. Don't start giving your work away for free.

Still unsure? Check out this handy flow chart created by Jessica Hische: http://shouldiworkforfree.com

« Reply #16 on: May 11, 2015, 19:51 »
+2
The best response ever to a request for free work is by David Thorne over at 27b/6:

http://www.27bslash6.com/p2p2.html


« Reply #17 on: May 11, 2015, 20:13 »
+4
The best response ever to a request for free work is by David Thorne over at 27b/6:

http://www.27bslash6.com/p2p2.html


This is a my favorite from David:
http://www.27bslash6.com/missy.html

« Reply #18 on: May 11, 2015, 20:20 »
0
that is priceless

i too would rather take a more genteel approach, but in this case he had already done work for free ,so he had it coming

Uncle Pete

« Reply #19 on: May 11, 2015, 21:16 »
+2
Thorne links: yaght

Time to say good-bye.

I suspect these fit the conclusion that humor and sarcasm are lost on the web. Nice work David Thorne.

Free work:

I think the answer is here from various viewpoints. Give a polite answer that you can't afford to work for free, but if they would offer a payment relative to the work and distribution, you could negotiate a fair price. Ask for details of the project so you can give an estimate of what it would cost.

If they decide to go away, it's their decision. At least you left the door open for an offer of realistic payment.

Hobostocker

    This user is banned.
« Reply #20 on: May 12, 2015, 03:23 »
+2
exposure is not the issue, the issue is that you won't get any proper exposure or tangible benefits from these fly by night operations.





« Reply #21 on: May 12, 2015, 09:23 »
+3
Exposure via paid work is better than exposure via free work. At least in my book.

« Reply #22 on: May 12, 2015, 10:13 »
-3
my reply to freebie is simple. i recall the time when i was training with a professional studio photographer from NYC who was one of those who "interned" with Ansel Adams when he was working with Polaroid . his answer was simply, when you give your skill away free, you are saying to the world you are not good enough to be paid. he also related to me how they too had simply overlooked many free seminars for the same reason. or more so, not wish to let the professionals cheapen themselves . crassly stated, "even prostitutes have more self-pride than you, if you give yourself away for free. you become like the class-slut who gives herself away free".

« Reply #23 on: May 12, 2015, 10:33 »
+5
if you give yourself away for free. you become like the class-slut who gives herself away free".

I object to the word slut. it reeks of Misogyny. In this day and age, women are just as free to express their sexuality as men.
« Last Edit: May 12, 2015, 11:06 by rimglow »

« Reply #24 on: May 12, 2015, 10:58 »
0
The best response ever to a request for free work is by David Thorne over at 27b/6:

http://www.27bslash6.com/p2p2.html


This is a my favorite from David:
http://www.27bslash6.com/missy.html


Some of those email exchanges are really hilarious. His deft skill in deflecting the point being made by the other party puts me in mind of some email exchanges I've had with Contributor Relations departments, although theirs are not nearly as clever or funny.


 

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