06 August 2009

To Scott Berkun:

Scott Berkun, a well-known management and creative thinking guru, has asked his web readership to provide free photography for his upcoming book. He laid out a number of chapter titles, asked folks to come up with shots that match those titles.

When a small number of us complained about the "free" part, stating photographers should be paid for work that appears for commercial endeavour, he stated that "It’s a long standing tradition for unestablished artists, writers, and even designers to work for free for the credit, and portfolio building, and to have other people see their work, in a successful, published book."

Well, not really. It happens, I'll grant. But, it's something most professional organizations, including those involved in the art/business of photography, decry regularly. After all, Mark Loundy of the Digital Journalist has it pegged: "If you are doing it for free, it's just a hobby."

However, early in Scott's remarks, he also says: "Show me an amazing kick ass funny beautiful photo you’ve taken that fits my book, and then maybe you have something to negotiate with :)"

Personally, I think the posted photo here is perfect for Chapter 2: The Attack of the Butterflies. Personally, I think I might have one or two others that would work almost as well.

Will this copyrighted-rights-reserved photo be good enough for someone to say they would love to include it in the book, and for the photographer to be paid for its inclusion?

Let's find out.
[ The image displayed here is a low-res upload of a hi-res crop, just in case someone thinks this particular version just isn't large/hi-res/whatever enough ]


Scott Berkun said...

I think it's awesome you're lobbying for your photo! Rock on!

Just for the record, I spent years writing and lecturing for free before I ever got paid to do either. In fact I still do both for free if the opportunities have sufficient rewards other than cash.

You'll find the same is true for many, many, famous painters, musicians, writers and people in just about any creative field. Van Gogh, Charles Bukowski, 99% of all rock bands in history, etc.

You are completely entitled to your own standards for what you will and will not do for free, but so is everyone else.

TravelGirl said...

As you have done, I also have charitable causes for which I am willing to donate time and energy, and occasionally photography.

The line is drawn, however, for commercial endeavours, where your book definitely falls.

If you like the photo, let's negotiate. If not, that's OK, too. Not everyone likes the same things, and for that I'm grateful.

It would be a pity, though, were you to enjoy and believe the photo perfect for the chapter, yet fail to license it for fear of its unnamed (at the moment) price.

Mark Loundy said...

I posted this on Mr. Berkun's blog (So far, it hasn't appeared.):


It's a long-standing tradition for unestablished artists, writers, and even designers to work for smaller, lower-paying markets. That is far different from supporting a commercial venture with free work.

1) "Exposure" is essentially without value in a marketplace where so many outlets are looking for free images.

2) Picture buyers couldn't care less about credits. They want to see compelling images.

3) Just how much are you selling this book for if a copy of it would offset a reasonable image licensing fee?

4) To quote Ross Poirot, "That's just sad."

Mark Loundy