Don't shoot a gift horse in the mouth

I take a lot of pictures and half way decent ones get uploaded to my Flickr account. Sometimes I get requests to use these photos.

It’s tempting to think that I could charge for the use of my pictures. But truthfully, although sometimes I take some great pictures, I’m not consistently good enough and I’m not willing to put in the effort to market my photos. And even if I were, the market for the kind of pictures that I like to take probably isn’t that big.

So when I started to get requests to use my photos from students or non-profit projects, I changed my license to a Creative Commons non-commercial attribution license.  And then when I started to get requests from artists who don’t strictly fall under the non-commercial aspect or agencies working on behalf of local government or struggling bands or writers working on niche projects who were never going to pay me – I changed the license on some of my photos to a Creative Commons attribution license*.

Today I got a copy of book in which I have a photo credit.  It’s from a well known factual publisher and they never offered to pay me for it, although I was offered a free copy of the book.  (I was too lame and too paranoid to send them my address – I have my freaky moments).  Cool.

Pay me not for my peony

Today I also turned down the “opportunity” to have one of my photos featured in an online television show about teenage fashion designers  I was approached via my Flickr account and asked if they could use the photo with credit but without compensation – they just wanted to base some design elements off one of my peony pictures.   Fine by me.  Let me know which ones you want and I’ll let you use it.  Unless you want exclusive rights – in which case I’ll have to charge.

I’m sent a two page legal document with herefores and whereas and I have to give them my legal address (remember how I wouldn’t share my address to get a free book?).  Ummm, no.  If you want me to waste my time filling out your form, I really have to charge.  My day rate is not inconsiderable.

I get a buzz out of other people using my pictures.  But I take them because I want to.   I have no love of form filling.  I applied a Creative Commons attribution license to my peony pictures and told them there’s no way I’m filling out the form.

Use them or don’t use them.  I’m all about the gift economy and sharing knowledge and content.  But please, don’t shoot a gift horse in the mouth.

*Images of recognisable people, especially my son – I do not let people use for free.

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