As a photographer, I get asked on a regular basis to work or contribute work for free. Whilst doing this constantly would be no way to maintain a successful business, there certainly are times when it can work in my favour. Sometimes there is simply no budget as it is a collaborative project but if its creative and original then I may well get involved. Sometimes there will be a trade of services and I am soon to do a shoot with a boutique hotel in return for a weekend stay there with my family. Right now, we could all do with the break so its a win win situation. Sometimes it’s an industry person with more power and standing than me and its an honour to be asked plus I get to bask in their reflected glory. However, it is quite demoralising when people take that fee free work and do not give due credit in return.
Specifically I’m talking about credits in print and online along side images that I have taken. It’s not hard to do and I don’t demand it is in humongous type, a simple “photography by Lisa Devlin” and if online a hyperlink would be super lovely too. Now much as it thrills me to see my name in print, it is also an important part of how I market myself and all goes to creating a body of work. Over and above all this, it’s just darn good manners people. It is industry standard to credit images whether they are paid for or not and there really is no excuse for not doing it. This is even more important when the work has been given without payment as the only advantage for the photographer is to get credited. I’ve lost count of the number of times that I have been asked for images with the promise of a credit that then magically gets missed. This happened to me twice this week, once on a blog and once in a high profile national magazine. Twice!!!!
Earlier this year I was asked to provide images for a book, again for no payment but the promise of a credit and a listing in the recommended suppliers section. How lovely…. Except the preview copy of the book arrives in the post and guess what? The credit was there but right at the back of the book in a large list that you have to work quite hard to decipher. The fairly comprehensive recommended suppliers section magically missed out photographers altogether yet had room for videographers. The images make up quite a large section of the content for what is a money making product. To receive no payment, listing or obvious credit despite going out of our way to provide the images and put the author in touch with the clients, feels like all the contributing photographers have been robbed. I know I worked hard on that wedding day to create the images, why on earth would I just give them away for someone else to benefit from?
It saddens me that people in this industry feel that it is perfectly acceptable to behave like this. I will stand up for myself in situations like this but what can we all do to prevent it happening across the board? Well at his talk at Farm Week back in January, intellectual property solicitor Scott Gair recommended including your correct credits as part of your terms in contracts for any commercial work. He also said that we should take it a step further and include it as a condition of giving any work to be published anywhere. After all if there is no mention of you or your business, then it will not promote you in any way. Don’t rely on other people doing the right thing as it won’t always happen. It is perfectly fine to state terms and exactly how you would like to be credited in an email accompanying image files. It is also acceptable to amend any terms that you have been asked to sign that do not include how you will be credited. Having your work printed can be a great way of promoting your services but lets get back to giving credit where it is due….