Well, with a very successful field workshop behind us, I should feel pleased rather than frustrated. But how can you not be frustrated, angry, if during two days you were, quite seriously, offered an opportunity to give the rights to use my pictures for free?
The first offer came from a nice lady who liked my ambrotypes. Needless to say, the fact she liked them was nice, really, but is this a reason to do my work for free? Ok, I was at the time shooting a free portrait but I was doing it because a) I wanted to, b) it was a portrait of a friend, c) he is an eminent photographer and photographing him was sheer pleasure. And I will be happy to repeat the experience. But lets keep things in proportion.
The second time was worse, actually because the manager of the resort we were staying in suggested that I should grant her the free right to use not only my photos but also those of all the other participants for advertising purposes (what is a website if not advertising?). It was, she suggested, obvious that if we take beautiful pictures, we will be overjoyed to see them used to advertise a resort for staying in which we paid the usual rate. It was also clear, she seemed to believe, that the pictures published on their website would constitute a fantastic, precious adertisement for each of us as they would be signed with our names (sic!). Only who will the advertisement directed to if we have just given the images to a potential client? Things would have been different if the resort, wanting our pictures as they apparently did, invited us to stay there and do our workshop, let’s say for free. A simple exchange; they give us bed and board along with a pleasant time and we grant them the right to use some of our images. That would have been a form of fair deal. But for free? As a tip or in order to boost the owner’s mood?
Many people know that I am not opposed to TFP photography. Quite to the contrary, I often encourage photographers to use this way of working. But let’s not overdo things. TFP doesn’t mean giving our work away only an exchange of services that both sides consider to be of more or less equal value. The model wants my pictures and I want her in my pictures or, for example, I want to use a building as a location for my commercial shoot and the owners want some imagery to use on their website and this is the way in which they choose to be paid for letting me use their property. But for free? And for advertising purposes too! The next time I choose to dine out I will offer to pay with a note on Facebook; I have a couple thousand people watching me – that must be brilliant advertising for the owners!