Google Dennis Rito | Blog: Are you willing to shoot for us for free?

13 January 2009

Are you willing to shoot for us for free?

A staff (no, I won't name names) of a local magazine publisher sent me an sms yesterday:

Hi Dennis. This is xxxx from 100 Magazine. We got your message at Multiply (a social networking site where I sent privately my expression of interest to contribute photographs). We have a feature on F&B of xxxxx Hotel and we'd like to get you as our photographer for this. Are you willing to shoot for us for free? :) Thanks!

No, this wasn't the first time I got a similar offer. Prior to this, a regional (Asian) travel magazine contacted and asked me the same. And I wonder why they want the work done for FREE? Aren't they making profit from their publishing venture? What about the writers and editors, are they also not being paid?

Instead of feeling repulsive, I inquired further and asked a couple of questions. I wanted to know what do I gain in working for free. I was told that they provide bylines (along with the writer) and that they also provide a complimentary copy. Lastly, I inquired if I'll have the copyright to my work, both published and unpublished (assuming that I've done the work for free). I was informed that copyright of published photos belong to the magazine publishers and that copyright of unpublished photos will be mine. What?!

Obviously, it's unfair and I can see a double jeopardy - they want the job done without spending any centavo and wanted to have the copyright of published photos?! I said that I am willing to negotiate on the usage rights but not the copyright. I am aware that when I give them my copyright, it's the end of the road for me. I cannot even sell them as stock images later thus no profit shall be made whatsoever.

A day have passed and I got a reply via SMS the following day. The staff said that the publication understands my concern and that maybe they may get me for a different assignment. Now, I don't think that solves the problem.

Edwin Tuyay, a veteran photojournalist and Reggie Fernando were also kind enough to offer some insights too (thank you very much!). Edwin said this practice has kept him from shooting for local magazines. Now, I wonder how many magazine publishers in the Philippines are doing this kind of unfair practice? Is this the 'standard practice' in shooting for the local glossies?

Do you have any similar experience with (local) magazine publishers?

12 comments:

Political Jaywalker said...

Hmmmmn, they probably have takers especially those who just want their name published thus they come up with such unfair arrangement..... that is just so wrong.

roland said...

This has been a practice today with rookies in digital age. They tend to give their services for free in exchange for, they say, exposure. After that, they could not charge anymore for any follow-up assignments because of their practice for shooting FREE!

Nald said...

the nerves of this people...

Azrael Coladilla said...

they should give a better proposal...

styleanywhere said...

unfair...if all magazine publishers are like them, then what will happen to photographers, especially aspiring/amateur photographers...

Anonymous said...

That's typical of any October Eighty publication.

Anonymous said...

The person who sent you the SMS is clever enough to ask a question (Are you willing to shoot for us for free?) instead of requesting you to shoot for free. But it doesn't give any justification. This is totally UNFAIR, ONE-SIDED & LOW-BALLING! I don't understand why these publications (not all, ofcourse) care only for the outcome of their mags but care less about the contributor (photogs, writer etc..).

If they VALUE us, they SHOULD protect us and we'll STAY. If they don't, they will LOSE us.

Anonymous said...

This is totally UNFAIR, ONE-SIDED & LOW-BALLING! They only care about the outcome of the magazine but doesn't care about the welfare of the contributors (photogs, writers etc...)

If they believe in our TALENTS, it's fair enough to INVEST in our talents.

If they VALUE us, they SHOULD protect us and we'll stay. If they don't, they'll LOSE us.

Anonymous said...

I think it is better to put their names here para mahiya naman sila at hindi na umulit.

Jorge said...

if tehy dont pay contributors, then where does all thier money go? oh maybe to the inhouse pips. bad.

Sidney said...

I fear that soon most papers will try to avoid paying photographers.
In Belgium some mayor broadsheets told there photographers they were not needed anymore... (writing)journalists would need to supply their articles with matching pictures... cost saving measures...

Aaron Ansarov said...

Dennis,
After reading this blog entry I am repulsed and also not surprised that tactics of big business and their mentality that 'anybody can be had' flow globally. I have a suggestion that may take some effort from you and your readers, but may get the word out. Somebody did (or will do) this shoot for free. Maybe some naive kid or even an amateur who would be more than happy to see their picture in print, but they need to be educated. I would search through that past publications and collectively attempt to reach each photographer who is credited and offer to educate them on the fact that by them doing work for free they are hurting the industry. Show them what is a fair value of their time and maybe even help them to work out their next assignment. In the long run you are helping yourself. Wouldn't this be a great industry if we all got hired based on our talents and style rather than which one will do the job for free?