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Old 16-02-2009, 22:45   #1 (permalink)
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Question Is taking this offer stupid/morally questionable?

A slight moral quandary...

Gulf Air magazine (one of those in flight magazines that try to sell you overpriced executive toys and gadgets) wants to use one of my pictures I took while in Bahrain.

The flip side is that the want to pay me with just a photo credit.

It's not the lack of money that bothers me, per se.... I'm flattered they like the photo and thrilled to actually be in a magazine. However, if they get a photo from me for free, that means that some photographer that is actually trying to earn a living at his/her craft is going to be deprived of income. This has been a topic of discussion in many of the photography forums I frequent... I don't want to be one of those guys who drive the prices down for everyone else. That's almost as bad as scabbing.

On the other hand, I've never considered the photo to be commercially viable. It was one of the first pictures I took with my first digital camera. I don't have it in a RAW format, and there is nothing outstanding about the shot. It's just an average vacation photo (at best).

It would be nice to be published, and have this credit in my portfolio. It could drive traffic to my store (though I see that as very unlikely). I might be able to get some other work with the publishing company (Ink Publishing), since they have many inflight magazines for all over the world...

But do I shaft the photographic community by doing this?

Oh, and a link to the photo in question... the "Tree of Life", a 400+ year old tree in the desert.
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Old 16-02-2009, 23:23   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Is taking this offer stupid/morally questionable?

If you are happy with what they are offering you then I would certainly take it. There is, after all, no guarantee that they would use and pay a pro if you turned them down. From what you say they are apparently not after a totally professional quality picture anyway (although I am sure yours is very good) just something that illustrates what they have in mind the the article. Also you never know where it may lead to for yourself and if you say no you never will. Go for it.
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Old 16-02-2009, 23:35   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Is taking this offer stupid/morally questionable?

Difficult one perhaps, morally. TBH I don't see that you giving up this opportunity (to see your work in print) is going to make a fat lot of difference to the way publications continually try to get free images - it's not going to stop them doing it. And if they don't use your pic (for free) this time, then they'll simply find another amateur who will happily comply (for free). End result? You lost out, they lost a bit of time (having to look for another pic), but in the meantime did the general practice of using amateurs' work for free change? Nope. With this type of publication, they probably make next to nothing to produce it, since it's not sold on to the public; maybe if they could afford it, they would pay you.

So the answer to your question? ... Only you can make a moral judgement for yourself, one that you will be happy to live with ... but personally I don't think it would be terribly wrong for you to go for it
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Old 17-02-2009, 07:40   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Is taking this offer stupid/morally questionable?

Everything has a value & it is down to you decide what that is ..... money, recognition etc. Note though, that if you do something for free with a publisher once, it may be hard to get them to pay in future
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Old 17-02-2009, 07:57   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Is taking this offer stupid/morally questionable?

If you decide to go for it, make sure they know that you are authorising use of your image for that specific magazne only.
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Old 17-02-2009, 08:50   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Is taking this offer stupid/morally questionable?

My mortgage provider doesn't accept photo credits as payment towards my house, and my supermarket stopped accepting photo credits against my weekly shopping bill... though I can still use vouchers and coupons.

Think on it this way: Gulf Life magazine has a budget. Gulf Air, the carrier who publishes the magazine, posted a US $4M profit back on 2004 on revenues of US $1.25BN... so they're not short of money.

Photo credits are only ever noticed by

a) The photographer that took the shot, and
b) Other photographers

So in closing: yes, you're doing the photographic community a disservice if you choose to be published in return for a byline credit alone - mostly because it sends out the message that, at a certain level, photographers are happier to see their name in print than a cheque in their mailbox.
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Old 17-02-2009, 10:14   #7 (permalink)
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Re: Is taking this offer stupid/morally questionable?

If it were me I would be happy for them just to give you a credit but try and make sure its for its current issue only! I have read many inflight mags and the pictures are normaly very good but I always check on the photographer who took the picture, once your picture is in the mag and if they come back for more you must tell them that there is a fee the second time, but really you have nothing to loose by agreeing to what they want, the copyright will always be yours! and it will be another good ad for your own portfolio!
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Old 17-02-2009, 10:45   #8 (permalink)
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Re: Is taking this offer stupid/morally questionable?

I take VP's point, but here it may not be a choice between you providing a photo free of charge and a pro getting paid for it. The chances are that they'll find another free photo if you decline.

If you think that the use of this photo in the magazine will be a credit to your portfolio and therefore to you, I'd go for it on condition that it is just a single-use licence.
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Old 17-02-2009, 11:03   #9 (permalink)
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Re: Is taking this offer stupid/morally questionable?

I am not saying you should or shouldn't allow the shot to be used but for the sake of discussion and all those people saying that if you don't allow it they will just find someone else who will, the change has to start somewhere and just as if everyone says yes with no money involved the the pros are out of jobs, then if everyone says no then they will have to pay and everyone wins.

The change or rather standing ones ground on principal has to begin somewhere if you want remuneration for your work. And please remember that although its just a hobby for you, someone else who relies on the money as part of their income does get hurt at some point down the line. I don't know what work you actually do but just imagine someone going to your employer and saying I will do that job for free as long as everyone who sees the results knows it was done/made/supplied by me. I am guessing the employer would quite happily see you out of a job
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Old 17-02-2009, 11:40   #10 (permalink)
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Re: Is taking this offer stupid/morally questionable?

good point steve i would hate that,
i think i would ask to be paid im sure they pay the pros that have photos in there mags maybe as they know its your hobby they think they can get around you.. and i agree the only peopl who look at whos taken the photo would be yourself anyone you show and other photographers
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Old 18-02-2009, 00:16   #11 (permalink)
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Re: Is taking this offer stupid/morally questionable?

Steve, I hear what you're saying, but that would take a joint effort from every amateur all over the world in order to be effective, and I just can't see that kind of co-operation happening. Ever.
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Old 18-02-2009, 03:09   #12 (permalink)
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Re: Is taking this offer stupid/morally questionable?

Thank you, everybody, for your thoughts on this matter...

In the end I decided to ask for compensation, even if it means being passed over for someone not as picky. I haven't been rejected outright yet. While the editor is making remarks about how she has others under consideration that will allow publishing for free, I figure if she had a wide variety of choices we still wouldn't be talking. I've just sent her two watermarked images for her layout person to play with, since she says the flicker images were too small to work with, and I don't allow anyone to download different sizes (for a good reason, apparently...)

My decision hinged on three things. One, it didn't matter what "everybody else" might do, I was responsible for my own actions, and the rightness or wrongness of them was separate from what the next person might do. Two, as others have pointed out, photocredit is pretty much worthless, especially on a plane where the viewer was unlikely to be able to act on the knowledge in any way. Three, Gulf Air magazine apparently makes 4 million a year and reaches 200,000 people a month... Why -can't- they compensate me fairly?

I published this post in a couple of different places. One thing I found interesting was that the responses were more or less 50/50, even amoung pros and non-pros... I was expecting the people who earn a living from their photos to be a bit more hard core about "giving it away for free", but I was wrong....

I've also decided that if I -really- want to be credited in a magazine, a local publication ("Space Coast Living") is looking for freelancers...

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Old 18-02-2009, 13:04   #13 (permalink)
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Re: Is taking this offer stupid/morally questionable?

Its nice to see people seeking advice first, it also nice to see people stand to be counted, Best Wishes.
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Old 18-02-2009, 15:45   #14 (permalink)
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Re: Is taking this offer stupid/morally questionable?

Well done for standing up, you are doing the right thing, with such a large company, they are just trying it on.
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Old 18-02-2009, 15:55   #15 (permalink)
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Re: Is taking this offer stupid/morally questionable?

Good on you Shipwack
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Old 18-02-2009, 17:56   #16 (permalink)
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Re: Is taking this offer stupid/morally questionable?

I think asking for (even a small) fee is a good idea, that's what I was going to suggest. You don't say yes or no, but suggest that since it will be widely used, and a professional would charge them more most likely, that they should be paying for the image. Nice one, will look forward to hearing the result
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Old 18-02-2009, 19:06   #17 (permalink)
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Re: Is taking this offer stupid/morally questionable?

Good for you Shipwack, let us know what happens
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Old 18-02-2009, 19:08   #18 (permalink)
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Re: Is taking this offer stupid/morally questionable?

I reckon that's a good call Shipwack.
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Old 18-02-2009, 20:26   #19 (permalink)
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Re: Is taking this offer stupid/morally questionable?

Please let us know how you get on.
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Old 18-02-2009, 23:50   #20 (permalink)
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Re: Is taking this offer stupid/morally questionable?

The magazine is a "for profit" business. If they asked their printer to provide the paper the magazine is printed on at no cost - what do you think the answer would be? When I have been asked to provide an image for free and have responded with a quote to license the image, about 50% of the time I end up getting paid.
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Old 19-02-2009, 01:07   #21 (permalink)
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Re: Is taking this offer stupid/morally questionable?

The senior picture editor for Gulf Air magazine found one of the threads I started about this and has this reply/rebuttal... I thought I would post this here (since it was in a public forum) to air her side of the story:
Quote:
Ink Publishing often contacts people on Flickr. We have very small budgets and as contract publishers we do not make the huge amount of money you seem to have worked out above. We only use flickr when we are finding it hard to find the image we need on a photolibrary, so it is usually obscure things (such as your tree of life). You are under no obligation to give the image. I should point out to you however, that a photo credit, especially in magazines with as high a readership as ours, is not worthless and I have myself commissioned many a photographer by seeing a photo I like in a magazine and then googling the photographer. Also we often keep flickr photographers on file who have sent us images and commission them in the future should we trust in their standard of photography and ease of dealing with them.

hope this helps with your query
Helen Cathcart
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Despite her assurances of the possibility of future work, I still don't want to play "I might pay you on Tuesday for a hamburger today...."
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Old 19-02-2009, 01:55   #22 (permalink)
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Re: Is taking this offer stupid/morally questionable?

So nobody got anything (good) out of this, but never mind, there might be other opportunities for you Shipwack, you never know

I sympathise with the editor having to explain herself publicly - personally I don't think she should have to, but I admire her for doing so - but I do understand your reasoning for wanting to be paid; I guess I can see things from both sides of the argument. I do agree with her that a credit is not worthless + could indeed end up being worth much more than the possible 35 (or whatever) which you might've received in this instance, i.e. your published pic + credit could've got noticed by another 'tog or publisher etc. which might've resulted in paid work. And as you mentioned before, you would've had this publication on your portfolio.

As with anything that happens (or doesn't happen) in life there will always be if's and but's, and always two sides to the coin.
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Old 19-02-2009, 02:40   #23 (permalink)
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Re: Is taking this offer stupid/morally questionable?

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So nobody got anything (good) out of this, but never mind, there might be other opportunities for you Shipwack, you never know
I dunno... I personally think coming through something with self esteem and principles intact is something "good"...

Besides, nothing has been decided yet one way or another.

But I'll be at peace with myself either way.
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Old 19-02-2009, 21:50   #24 (permalink)
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Re: Is taking this offer stupid/morally questionable?

If you knew all along that it was against your principles, then I wonder why you didn't just say 'No' at the outset, instead of orchestrating drama, debate + the public humiliation of the publication concerned
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Old 19-02-2009, 22:36   #25 (permalink)
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Re: Is taking this offer stupid/morally questionable?

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Originally Posted by shipwack View Post
I dunno... I personally think coming through something with self esteem and principles intact is something "good"...

Besides, nothing has been decided yet one way or another.

But I'll be at peace with myself either way.
Good on you.
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Old 20-02-2009, 04:01   #26 (permalink)
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Re: Is taking this offer stupid/morally questionable?

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If you knew all along that it was against your principles, then I wonder why you didn't just say 'No' at the outset, instead of orchestrating drama, debate + the public humiliation of the publication concerned
I didn't say "no" at the outset because I learned long ago that not only did I not know anything, I didn't even know what I didn't know...

My gut told me that this was not a good deal for me (or the photographic community), that the request was unreasonable, and that this was not the way the publishing industry worked (in general). However, while I have a bit of experience with retail and portraiture, I have never dealt with a magazine. Hence I decided to draw upon the experience of others. I would have been happy to have 20 people tell me "Oh yeah, that happens all the time. It's how I got my break into the magazine business". Instead, I heard the opposite.

I also worried how my taking this deal would affect others who are actively making a living in photography (unlike myself, who does it only as a part time gig). My opinion that underselling my pictures would be bad for the community in general. However, I know I have a tendency to over think and worry too much, so that's another reason I decided to get some other opinions. Again, I wold have been happy to have everyone tell me not to worry, that there was so much work available in the professional market that my giving things away would not affect them in the slightest. However, I heard just the opposite.

You say I sparked off a debate... And this would be bad because...? This thread is about 25 posts long, which makes it longer than most here in the forums. This means there is a bit of interest in the subject. If Steve or another member of the Pixalo Crew thought that the topic was disruptive or unwanted, they would have stepped in long ago and deleted it and left me a warning note. If they feel this way but just haven't gotten around to it yet, I hope they accept my sincere apologies. This is, bar none, my favorite photography website, and it would bother me if I was somehow causing disruption on it.

As for "public humiliation of the publication"... Please. One of the most abhorrent concepts of the 20th century was the acceptance of the fiction that corporations should be treated as if they were people. I merely posted an offer they had made to me (which was never asked to be kept private). If the public exposure of the deal puts them in a bad light... Well, then maybe they shouldn't be making offers that put them in a bad light. I even posted the Art Directors side of the story, in her own words... How much more fair could I have been?

Bottom line, a multimillion dollar corporation is trying to skimp on a few dollars by treating me as some gullible yahoo who is willing to sell the milk cow for a handful of magic beans. If this becoming public knowledge embarrasses the people at Gulf Air magazine, maybe they need to rethink the way they do business.

I think too highly of the professional photographic community to undermine them merely for a boost to my ego. I hope that this discussion might cause some others to feel the same way.
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Old 20-02-2009, 07:21   #27 (permalink)
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Re: Is taking this offer stupid/morally questionable?

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If Steve or another member of the Pixalo Crew thought that the topic was disruptive or unwanted, they would have stepped in long ago and deleted it and left me a warning note. If they feel this way but just haven't gotten around to it yet, I hope they accept my sincere apologies. This is, bar none, my favorite photography website, and it would bother me if I was somehow causing disruption on it.
There is absolutely no problem at all with this topic being up for discussion. Its valid and is interesting to follow. As you say and can be see by the number of replies it has attracted the other members also are happy to contribute and follow it as it progresses
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Old 20-02-2009, 09:00   #28 (permalink)
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Re: Is taking this offer stupid/morally questionable?

i agree 100%
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Old 20-02-2009, 17:14   #29 (permalink)
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Re: Is taking this offer stupid/morally questionable?

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i agree 100%
I also totally agree 100%.

I am just not sure who it is I now agree 100% with
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Old 20-02-2009, 17:17   #30 (permalink)
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