Something for Nothing ?

Posted: October 10, 2011 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , ,

I must say that there is a disturbing trend of people thinking they have the right to have photos completely free of charge. Like any event held in a public place, people can take photos.

There is this notion that if a Photographer requests some form of payment for taking a photo that they are ripping off the public. Where did this concept come from ?

I have been photographing the Adelaide Zombie walk for 4 years now and have put my photos in a public gallery every year for people to view. The photos have a small transparent watermark in the bottom corner and I’m more than happy for people to have a copy of the smaller resolution images with the watermark intact to use on their facebook page or to email it to friends. It’s good advertising that hopefully will get more people to see my images and consider me for their photography needs down the track that might actually be paid work

For people to get upset that I’ll charge them a very minimal fee for a High res unwatermarked image is quite absurd.

Lets take a step back and look at some of the facts.

  • The Equipment taken by a Semi proffessional or proffesional photographer would in most instances be in the order of anywhere from $3000 – $10,000 at such an event.
  • The photographer needs to insure the equipment which is another $500 per year.
  • Public liability insurance in case someone injures themselves walking into your camera gear – another $500 per year
  • There is website hosting and Domain name hosting fees ( $300+ per year ).
  • There are software costs which are very substantial if you have taken a legal approach to software and this software needs to be upgraded regularly. My Current collection of Licensed software is in the order of $3500
  • Then of course there is the time spent – This figure is HUGE in hours. What value do you put on your time ?
  • Travel and Parking costs
  • ISP costs
  • Hard disk storage ( redundancy )

Time is the biggest factor that people dont think about when they question a charge for a service. To get decent photographs the photographer needs to have lots of experience/practice. The time taken to go through photos from an event, sort and post process ( make them look decent ) is substantial.

No one is forcing anyone to buy an image. You can view the images as much as you want online and the cost to you is NOTHING.  There are plenty of other photos on the Internet that people took which you can download for Free. If there is one of mine that you like and you want it to be High Res, high quality and unwatermarked then for a little more than the cost of a few beers you can have the image for your personal use.

For the record – in the past 4 years my sales of photos from the Zombie walks isnt even enough to buy a bottle of water….. That’s Sales NOT even Profit. I attend the Zombie walk as it’s a great event with lots of Photo opportunities. I spend a considerable amount of my time processing the images and sharing the photos. I don’t go there with any intention nor expectation of any sort of photo sale.

Taking photos at events like the AZW is a major loss making exercise for those taking photos – so STOP complaining.

  1. Leif Wilson says:

    Your argument is more than valid. Rightly so you should get at least SOME compensation for the time, effort and work you put in.What is more annoying is those that choose to take you image and modify it enough so that the watermarks dont show up and then claim it as their own.
    As a newbie to photography I am finding a steep learning curve in this department, which makes me sad 😦

    Your right on the ball with this post, i couldnt have put it better. Amazing shots as always by the way. You have yet again taken shots of many of my friends, and they look amazing! keep it up mate 🙂

  2. i love your blog, i have it in my rss reader and always like new things coming up from it.

  3. Mark says:

    Very well said Michael

  4. Peter says:

    These days its too easy for people to become ” charging photographers”. I started out in film, have a degress in visual communications specialising in photography and I have seen the the damage digital photography, on a consumer level, has done. What people need to realise is that just because you buy an SLR does not automatically make you a photographer with the ability to charge. Just the same as buying a guitar does not make you a musician. There is no automatic button to make you an amazing photographer. Nor would 4 years of shotting a public event give someone the automatic rights to charge for the photo. Just because you can point and press the button does not mean you have the right to charge for a photo. Especially when some 5 year old could do the same. Let me explain in detail… I know how to dry wall. I have done a few every year for the last four years. You need some walls I offer to do them and build these walls for you. At the end of the process I ask for payment. Its not a big amount but just enough to make me a small profit. Regardless if my walls looked well built or not if you knew my experience was only 4 or 5 days in total over a span of 4 years, without formal training. You would tell me to take a long work of a short jetty and rightly so. SO with all honesty stop ripping off the community with these basic quick snap photos and go for some formal training to learn the difference between consumer and professional level photography.

    End Rant

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