First to Jacqueline who is assistant editor for Fit Pregnancy. For those of you who don’t know, Fit Pregnancy is owned by American Media, Inc. AMI owns Playboy, OK!, Shape, The National Enquirer, Star, Globe and quite a few others. They are hardly a start up or non-profit.
Dear Jacqueline assistant editor for Fit Magazine,
Just a couple of things. You say that Fit Pregnancy magazine is “unable to pay for photos at this point”. I find this to be the most interesting thing you’ve said yet! First the word. Unable. Just for kicks, Jackie, stand in front of a mirror and say it out loud, “We at Fit Pregnancy are Un-ayyyyyyyyyy-bel to pay for photographs at this point”. Did you say it with a straight face? You did? You are awesome! But is it true, Jacki-O? Is Fit Pregnancy Magazine, really “unable” to pay for photographs at this point? Because the last time I checked, your rag was chock full of professionally composed and lit photographs. You even had a photograph on the cover! So now that you know that I know that Fit Pregnancy uses real-life professional photographs, do you still want to stick with “unable”? Maybe another word would work better. Let’s see, “UNWILLING” seems to fit! You’re a writer first, Jack-jack. I checked your Linkedin account. You know more than I, that words matter. So let’s be clear. Fit Pregnancy magazine is UNWILLING TO PAY for photographs at this point.
It’s probably a fluff piece. I get it. Something to bulk up the issue without costing you any extra money. And there’s the pickle, ey Jax? So you composed this very complimentary email to me and at least one other photographer I know. How many more did you send it to? My bet is quite a few. I can only imagine how the morning editors meeting went. Here’s the dilemma: How can we avoid paying the costs of doing business? And then….. BAM! Someone came up with the perfect plan! let’s compose an email that goes something like this…..
And so, Jay Jay, you wrote to me: ”we need hi-res, professional shots, we’ve decided the best way to round up some photos would be to go through the photogs themselves.”
Allow me to do my best to translate your email, Jo Jo. Just my take here: ”I am the assistant editor to a very large and famous magazine. I know, I know. I’ll pause so you can take a deep breath and pinch yourself. [pause pause pause pause pause pause] Ok, now, we need to bulk up our issues with some fluff pieces and we need beautiful, high resolution, professional photographs. We, however, don’t want to pay for them. You understand. If we were to act professionally and go through a stock agency or a real commercial or editorial photographer, we would have to pay real money. We don’t like paying real money. So we thought a good use of our time would be to troll smaller scale portrait photographers, like you. Photographers without experience in our industry. Photographers without representation. We figure that if we copy and paste this message to enough photographers like you, someone will bite. Someone will be impressed with our very big, fancy and famous name. Really, all we need are just a few talented suckers (hopefully you) who will be flattered and star-struck enough to give us their work for free. This could be you!” (Oh goody).
Just so you know, Jeranimo, I don’t have any dreams of grandeur here. Strategies like yours aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. A sucker is born everyday. Still, I don’t like apathy, Jaycee. It’s a quality I loathe most in a person. Either you are part of a solution, or you are part of the problem. You, my dear are part of a problem. Congratulations. You made me an offer of zero dollars for my work. For my art. You and your company attempted to use your power and fancy name to take advantage of me. Do you know what this officially makes you? It makes you a step below WalMart. WalMart at least offers minimum wage or poverty wages overseas. You are offering absolutely zero. And the photographers who take you up on this offer? You are taking advantage of them. This is within your right, I suppose, but it doesn’t make you any less of a jacka__….nevermind.
Congratulations to you. Job well done.
Dear other “photog” whom Jacqueline contacted and is excited about her offer,
I won’t take up too much of your time. You are most likely a very small business, possibly a one woman/man show like me. You have a lot of work to do. It is highly possible that you do the shooting, editing, ordering, re-touching, marketing, bookeeping, and general secretarial work all while furthering your education so that you remain relevant and cutting edge. You have to make sure you’re always working enough to make enough money to support your family, plus pay for your insurance, office expenses, marketing costs, lab fees, online subscription fees, equipment, and so much more. You have a crap ton on your mind. I get it.
So real quick. If Fit Pregnancy or any other major publication wants to use your photographs in any way, this means you are good enough to be paid for your work. That is a pretty awesome accomplishment. You’re rad. Tell everyone. I mean it. TELL EVERYONE! If you read above, you know that media outlets such as Fit Pregnancy are not hard up for cash. Paying for the photographs they use in their issues is simply part of their cost of doing business. If they are unwilling to pay you, be skeptical. Don’t fall for the flattery of a very fancy assistant editor lady. It is highly likely that every other contributor in that magazine is paid along with a receiving their name in the credits. This is standard practice.
Now, if you are trying to build your business, and you need exposure, I can pretty much promise you that nobody reading Fit Pregnancy or any other major magazine is going to say, “wow, awesome photograph. I wonder who took it? Maybe I should look up their website! Oh, her website is so cool, I think I’ll call and book a session!”. I am speaking from experience here. This is not a good avenue for growing your business. No matter how cool it sounds.
You want to build your business and you’re itching to give your work away? Share it with a local kids boutique. Let them use your images with credit and a link in their newsletter. Let them use it on FB with a plug back. Build relationships with local businesses who truly like your work and you like theirs. Refer to each other. Save the free work for local non profits who truly need your expertise. Be sincere. Be generous with your time and talent. But be generous to the people and organizations who truly need and deserve you. Not some corporation who is trying to shave a little off of their bottom line.
When a company like this comes at you with flattery and then asks for you to hand over your beautiful art for free, resist the urge. It’s tempting, but resist. For one thing, you are totally worth more. You truly are. But you know what? So am I and so is the next up and coming photographer. They will never buy our cows, if we keep giving away our awesome, organic, raw grass-fed milk for free.
You are incredible and talented and an important part of this industry. Don’t ever take anything less than what you are worth. It annoys me when you do that.
Thanks for your time. Rock on.
Dear photographers, writers, illustrators, musicians and all of the other artists that Corporate America is quietly trying to screw over,
Many of us are solitary by nature, but I think it’s important that we’re not alone. Let’s have each other’s backs, shall we? I am going to continue to edit this area and add links to stories related to this topic. The more we out these corporations and people, the better off we all will be.
*Whitey’s angry letter to Betty TV
*A fun little rant by Harlan Ellison
*How Esty designers are being ripped off by a giant and unoriginal corporation
*No marketing budget for bloggers.
*Slaves of the Internet Unite.
* Grab a cup of coffee and learn. Mike Monteiro. Bravo, dude!