Monday, April 19, 2010

Pictures Have Value

Laysan Albatross, Midway Atoll

Almost daily, I am asked to provide pictures for free to non-profits and other groups.  Over the years, I have often obliged these requests, although they take time and effort, because I want my images to help save the animals and landscapes I photograph. Recently, however, the volume of these requests has increased dramatically and I have been forced to rethink this.  I now send out the following letter in response to such requests.  Harsh, perhaps, but the letter makes the necessary points:

As you may imagine, as a provider of high-quality imagery of rarely-photographed subjects worldwide, I am often asked to donate pictures at no cost to conservation groups and non-profits.  The truth is, I get FAR more requests for this type of use than from paying clients.  This is unsustainable.
 Although I often donate images for worthy causes and projects, and have throughout my career, I feel it is important that anyone that requests free pictures know several key points:

  - 90% of my work is self-financed.
2.     - I assume that 99% of those asking for images are on salary.
3.     - After working in this field for 25 years, being offered simply a credit line in lieu of payment is insulting.

 For these reasons, I must insist on a $100 service fee for ANY unpaid picture request.  This barely covers our time and overhead for scanning, delivering, and tracking images. Simply said, if your budget can’t absorb even this nominal charge, then you need to re-think your budget.  Pictures have value.  

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