I am working on some stuff for the corporate website, which commonly prompts me to puruse the offerings of various online stock photo repositories such as MorgueFile, stock.xchng, etcetera. The majority of the photographers on these sites allow other people to use their shots in whatever fashion they like, as long as they don’t try to sell the photos themselves (as commodities), and only if such use doesn’t involve something illegal or generally reprehensible.
Some photographers, however, place a certain level of restriction on their photos: Some require attribution (e.g., “photo courtesy Sam Smith”); yet others ask that you contact them beforehand to obtain permission to use their photos.
And, that’s the whole reason I patronize these online repositories. It’s here, it doesn’t completely suck, the design will stand with our without it… and it’s free. Why not?
A Brief, Paraphrased Interaction
Me: Hi. I don’t know if I’ll use your image or not, but I’d like to get your permission to use it on our company’s website just the same. Full attribution with a link to your website will be included on any page(s) where the image is displayed. Thanks.
Him: Normally, I’d say yes. But in your case, I checked out your company website. You guys sell some pretty expensive products, so I think you can afford to pay me to use it. Let me know if you’re interested.
There are many websites out there that allow a photographer to collect licensing fees (or a portion thereof) from buyers; iStockPhoto is one. A talented photographer can even utilize various online–not necessarily photographically-oriented–services to peddle their wares. There are even licensing agencies—gasp!–that make millions of dollars off the back of talented photographers every day (Getty anyone?)… and you can be sure those photographers are compensated.
This is the natural order of The Market. If you want to make a little scratch from your efforts behind the lens, this is the route to go. Customers see something they like, check the price, and make a purchase if the two reconcile. It’s quality versus price, you see?
Further, as soon as you place your photo on a “free” sharing website, you are actively and automatically devaluing it. You obviously don’t think the photo is good enough to charge for it. What gave you the idea that someone else would think any differently?
It is beyond my professional capacity to pander to someone who first says, “Hey! Here they are! Use my photos for free!” (on a website claiming to be “the leading FREE stock photo site” no less), then conditionally adds, “But only if you don’t sell something expensive,” in effort to strong-arm someone with presumably deep pockets.
That’s some serious bullshit, man.
Of course we can afford to pay to use your photo! We regularly spend hundreds–if not thousands–on licensed photography.
Just not yours.