There’s something that I need to get off my chest. Before I do, I want to put in a wee bit of context. As with any business / career / job, there will always be little niggles with people you work with. Why do they do that? How come they just can’t do this? Ah, they don’t understand! Would you please put the lid back on the peanut butter? Ok, maybe not so much the last one unless you live in my house. Point is, working with other people can sometimes be tough. Particularly if you feel a key element of what you do is misunderstood or not respected. For the most part life is good, there are not often major issues and people carry on.
When it comes to my job, I get to work with amazing people. I’m not talking about the couples, although, they’re pretty amazing too. I’m talking about the cake bakers, the floral arrangers, the videographers, the bands, the wedding coordinators, the DJs, the dress designers, the make-up artists, the drivers. The list goes on and on. These people, are the absolute definition of professionalism. They’ve trained and trained. Spent countless thousands on their tools and perform at their best, all the time.
Zoning in on the point now. In the examples above, each business has what could be considered a product. The dress designer’s product - dresses. The band's product is music. Florist...yup, flowers. Catch my drift? In all the examples above the professional relies on their products to make a living. That’s the idea, right? Do something really well so people want to pay for your product. Yippee, I can make a living. Pay rent, put food on the table, buy clothes. After all that, hopefully there’s enough left over to continue the business with all the expenses involved there. Not ground breaking stuff. Let me ask you this, what is the photographers product?
Photography. A photographer’s product is photography. We sell it in order to make a living. Yes? So, the question, finally. Why is it that photographers are so often asked to give this product for nothing?
I give you some scenarios
Ha, crazy right? What was the photographer thinking? Why would he expect other people to give him their product for free? Hold on a sec. Let’s reverse things.
I know, you’re thinking the scenarios above are not really equal. Let me tell you, to photographers, they are exactly the same. I know this, we talk about it. Every request for images for credit or photo copied from a blog and re-posted to your website without permission, often cropped or edited in some way. It burns us. It’s our peanut butter lid.
My wife still loves me and I love her. We photographers still love you and know it’s not done intentionally or with any lack of respect. But, you need to understand. Photography is our product. It's how we feed our children and keep a roof over our heads.
Truth is, there are loads of us wedding photographers doing different things. We all have different policies when it comes to sharing images. For me, I like sharing low res images. I think it’s a nice thing to offer (with conditions) to other weddings suppliers. They can be used on blogs, websites, Facebook…wherever. I feel it also has low level positive spin offs for my business, so I encourage it. When it comes to high resolution images for more direct commercial use, that’s another story. For high resolution images I like to know more details. Why, where, how…you know, that type of thing. Basically put, if you’re paying other people who are working on the same project for their skills, I’ll expect some form of remuneration as well. It’s not always money. I’ve had beautiful offers for accommodation, dinners and other things as a trade for photography. A night away with my wife won’t pay the bills, but it’s certainly very much appreciated and in my eyes, a worthy trade. All I’m saying, ask the photographer about their policies when it comes to image use and sharing. Not making assumptions is a smart way to approach things.
In any case, I know we photographers aren’t all saints either. We do things like handle the bouquets too rough, and walk too heavily when the false lashes are going on. I think educating others in this industry is important and sometimes a little extra thought goes a long way. So, feel free to let it out, SHOUT if you want. It's cleansing.
Above all else, I hope the above is taken in the good spirit it’s intended. Ireland is a small place. We need to support each other. Respect to those who already knew the above, to those who ask permission to re-post images, and to those who appreciate the point of this mini-rant. Photographers, spread the word and be proud. Photography is our product and it has value.
EDITED TO ADD
This blog post has gathered a little (lot) more traction than I'd anticipated. I'd just like to point out a few small things.
It was not my intention to imply that photographers should negotiate payment for images, all of the time. There are far too many variables and considerations to make such a broad suggestion. As someone points out below, better and more directly than I did, it's about mutual respect for each others craft/product.
A very important thing that I did not mention directly, and do regret, is talking more about forging relationships with other vendors (thanks Lou for mentioning this). We all have professional relationships built up over time with other wedding vendors. I have a number of them. I get excited when I know I’ll be working with these people, and love catching up. It’s like meeting up with old friends. I feel our business’s are relevant to each other and more than likely, their client personas and my client personas are a pretty close match. Of course, these are the people I want to offer as much of my assistance to as possible, to build the strength of that relationship and trust. If that’s donating a few images to use for a display table at the wedding fair, then that’s OK by me. I have a huge debt to pay to a good number of wedding professionals for their help in keeping me in business. Whether it’s directly through recommendations or indirectly from their amazing skills/products. Coincidentally, it’s mostly these people who also continually offer compensation, in one form or another. At the end of the day, it doesn't matter if I’m going to my very best friends house for dinner, or a complete strangers. I’m still going to bring bottle of red and chocolate cake.
There's great stuff below in the discussion, amazing. Thank you.