Monday, 14 January 2008

Free images?

Two days ago, I received a message in Flickr from someone who requested to use my image for free. He would like to use it for his website and unfortunately he "does not have any money to spend on it". Well, my standard response to him was that he is free to use my image from my Flickr stream as long as he links the image back to my flickr page and credits me for the shot. Very typical and standard stuff. I thought he would be happy with that.

Today he responded to my email by asking for a higher res (I had the photo scaled down to 800x600) and he wanted a 800x250 banner crop to go into a small slide show. He continued to explain that he was not trying to freeload but he had no money to spend on the image.

Now this really strikes me. There have been many requests asking to me for permission to use my images from my photostream for free. On one hand, I am happy that some people like my photos to want to use them, and yet, I am uncertain if I should be more apprehensive than happy.

First of all, I would love to recover some cost that I've put into my equipment. Photography is not a cheap hobby. It is always nice if I can derive some passive income to cover even a small portion of my cost. Secondly, we have to take the photography community into account. With the advancement of digital cameras, photography has become a fairly affordable hobby and for some people and start up career for others. There are many people who rely on the income generated from photography. Hobbyists, therefore, must share the responsibility maintaining the photography "market". Giving away high quality images to someone for free is just about destroying the income professional photographers dearly depend on.

As a freelance photographer who has the aspiration of one day setting up a photography business, I do understand how money can also be a tight issue and careful budgeting is a constant struggle for start up businesses. I can also understand hobbyist website designers building their own website requiring high res images can often contribute to this situation whereby they would ask hobbyist photographers for free images and in return offer to give the photographers credits.

Well, this is sure a dilemma for me. I am struggling to come to a stand on this issue. I appreciate all comments and suggestions. Let me know what you think.


Anonymous said...

If someone requests for effort to be exerted to change a photo you put up to flickr, then u should be able to charge for it. If they want to make special requests of how the photo is used, then yeah they should be charged. I dont think its a selfish thought process because the same issue comes to doing favours for friends and so on... sure u may be a doctor but does that mean u should give free surgery cos u can afford it?

Autumn Leaf said...

Certainly I can agree with you. Often people would "expect" me to simply email them the high-res version of my photo without suggesting to compensate me even with a small token. What really strikes me is that most of these "offenders" are usually from the creative market like web developers or web masters.

I have come to the conclusion that I would not give any more hi-res free images unless I choose to give them for free and license them under the one of the Creative Commons license. I believe that I am at least entitled to a small fee if my images are used to generate other people income.