Something for nothing

I don’t often post about things other than my shoots.  I just had a baby a few weeks ago so perhaps it is all these post partem pregnancy hormones that have me fired up. Who knows. A few days ago, I received an email from Tiny Prints saying they had “chosen” my image to use on their website.  “That is great!” I thought.  Then I kept reading.  It appears they want that image for free.  Wait… let me get this straight, you want to use my image for free to sell your products?

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One of my favorite memes says it best.


Let’s take this concept of “Something for nothing” and apply it to other businesses.

Could I log into the Tiny Prints website and order products for free- just because I like their work.  Or better yet, maybe my clients could order cards or photographs. I would make money by selling digital images and Tiny Prints would provide their service for free.  Well that sounds a bit crazy doesn’t it? Tiny Prints would never agree to that! They have overhead, employees to pay, and cost of goods to cover.  I am sure they want to make a profit also.

I would love to head over to the mall and walk out with a really awesome dress that I like- without paying.  I think that would be frowned upon though.  What if I went to the hair dresser and asked them give me a haircut, but of course flatter them with compliments first so they offer to do it for free.

It doesnt work this way right?  You have to pay for things you want.

I am not sure where this concept comes from.  The idea that photographers will work for free just for “exposure”.  Let’s talk about exposure for  a minute.  Very rarely does exposure lead to more business.  There are sometimes when it is mutually beneficial and in those instances, I will absolutely take advantage and exchange my skill and time.

In the instance of Tiny Prints and like websites.  It is great they will provide me credit by naming my website, however how many of their customers will live within driving distance of my studio.  To take it a step further, how many are looking for a photographer and are prepared to hire? How exactly would this benefit my business? Giving my work away for free, devalues the hours of education and hours of time that were used to create the image.

You see, every minute I am working is a minute I am not cuddling my babies or spending time with my husband.  I am running a business.  I have have overhead, employees to pay, and cost of goods to cover also. Oh, and I need to make a profit.  This little business I am running pays for groceries for my family and day care for my son. I love my job but it is just that- a job.

So Tiny Prints- sure I would love to work with you.

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Needless to say, they missed the deadline to respond.

Don’t worry though, they did write back.

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So apparently, Their budget doesn’t include paying for the photography that helps sell their products.  That doesn’t make much sense.  I would also love to know what “list” I am being removed from.  Is it the list of photographers willing to give away their work for free? If so, yes.  Yes please remove me from your list of people willing to work for free.

I don’t think I will lose sleep tonight about being removed from their “free work list”.

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As a community of photographers, we need to demand more.  We need to demand more respect and demand appropriate compensation for our work.  When we give our work away, it devalues the entire industry and gives permission for companies to send out emails like the ones above.

To quote that extremely catchy University of Phoenix Commercial -and to add my own ending.

“…Life’s short

Talk is cheap

I’ll be working while you sleep…”



I won’t do it for free.





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