The Unsustainable Age of Sharing
I am all for the “democratization” of photography.
I am a keen teacher of what I have learned in thirty years as a photographer.
I am very glad to see an ever increasing number of people getting interested and involved in photography.
Photography, along with being the greatest passion of my life is also my job.
In other words, when I go to the supermarket to buy bread and eggs and coffee, the money I give to the cashier is earned through my photographic practice.
So I am not really happy when I come across a message like this on someone’s Facebook stream:
And this one:
Why I’m not happy ?
If you are a working photographer, like me, you should know the answer already.
If you are not a working photographer perhaps you can understand my uneasiness towards the relentless financial devaluation of photographic images (by amateurs, photographers and everybody else), reading this excerpt of a recent email exchange I had with a company who wanted to license one of my images for commercial usage:
Please forgive me, but I did not anticipate that rate.
It’s unfortunately much too high for our budget.
We are accustomed to photographers volunteering their time and talent, or purchasing from places like istockphoto.com, spending around $20-40 for a photo.
By the way, I was giving them a substantially reduced rate from current editorial rates, although their usage was commercial. Oh well, the back and forth emailing, including drafting a licensing contract etc. only wasted over two hours of my time.
Careless overproduction and unending devaluation are not sustainable concepts we can apply to any human activity. We are in the economic mess we are, globally, thanks to this very reason.
Perhaps you could think about this next time you give up your photos for a few cents to a stock image company or decide “put into practice your belief” that art should be free.
It is not true that new, easy to use technology is destroying our profession.
Instead, it is the carelessness and lack of professional business parameters in a growing mob of photo amateurs, giving away millions of images every minute in exchange for a “like” on their Facebook stream, that is efficiently helping to kill photography as a business.
Obviously, many of the very few publishing venues still alive, always hungry for new, possibly free content, are capitalizing on such free workforce and content.