I am a big supporter of #naturalhair Blogs & Businesses and the #naturalhair movement in general. I don’t believe its the only way a woman can wear her hair and be beautiful, but I do believe that it signifies a distinct change in the culture and the way that culture is portraying our black women. Even if only for commercial gain in some circles, its a beautiful thing overall.
What I DO NOT support, is the way that some of these blogs and businesses treat photographers and our works. I have noticed a disturbing trend of not giving photographers credit on images for blog posts and print media, cropping our logos of photographers. You’d be surprised how often it happens and how often our work is used for commercial gain without permission or payment. Its breezed over as “sharing” an image on the front end when technically what it is doing is marketing their brand and what they represent.
Posting an image on an Instagram of a business page without credit that you neither paid for nor gave credit on is theft, plain and simple. The only reason this isn’t enforced more is the fact that a whole generation of photographers in fact don’t know their rights in regards to commercial image usage. The blogs and businesses are thriving and the photographers are struggling to make ends meet. Its a tragedy on many fronts that gets overlooked because consumers just want to see more pretty pictures, they value seeing the work but have no concept on how to value the creation of the work because the companies don’t care.
I actually had a VERY well known and popular natural hair box company approach me about wanting to have me utilize an image for the cover of the “magazine” inside of their natural hair box that they send out to paying clients monthly. Now clients pay for this box kit monthly which makes it commercial image usage as they are using my image to promote or maintain their business dealings with a base of people whom pay for their services. I gave them a very reasonable quote of $350 for commercial use of a full size image for a single time print usage under 5000 copies. They declined the offer and said that the cost was too high, that they were looking to trade my image for exposure of telling people who shot it. In other words they wanted to make money off the usage of my image and pay me the possibility of people seeing my name and utilizing my business… which doesn’t make any sense at all for a business. Even further investigation the “magazine” inside of their natural hair box doesn’t even include credit for the photographer who shot the image on the cover. You have to go to their social media to see that information… on a single post… so how much exposure are you thinking about
Some people, not familiar with photography may think that $350 dollars for a single image is unreasonable. For that crowd, lets break down how much this shoot cost.
Makeup Artist (Half Day) $400
Hair Stylist (Half Day) $400
Wardrobe Stylist (Half Day) $400
Model (Half Day) $250
Photography Assistant (Half Day) $150
Canon EOS 5D Mark 3 Camera $3500
Zeiss 85mm 1.2 Manual Focus Lens $1700
Canon 35mm 1.4L Autofocus Lens $1200
Manfrotto Tripod with Ball Head Mount $500
Studio Rental (Half Day) $500
Image Editing (Per Image) $50
So thats will over $9000 and not including my photography rate and various other variables. This particular company charges $20 a box for their clients and I personally know 300 people that purchase it, so lets JUST go with the people I know and double those numbers for the sake of a math breakdown. Thats $12000 of which $350 is about 2.9% not factoring into it parts, shipping, labor, staff, etc. The fact is, its a stupidly good deal. If you look on Getty Images or Istockphoto or any other image website, you’ll start to see the cost of commercially usable imagery is higher because its going to make companies MONEY so they have to pay money to get it
Good photography is so expensive because there are so many moving parts and so many people doing excellent work. We pay good people to do good work because they WILL do good work and that good work is shared with the good people that buy things based on the work. Hell, visuals across the world are the reasons WHY people buy things for the most part as marketing in his country is based on visual ads and selling techniques (excluding radio).
So to the blogs that crop these images and not give credit to us the photographers, its a complete slap in the face when you do this to us. Doing so allows people to enjoy your site at the cost of our effort and money and life energy and thats not a good trade for anyone involved. Often times we professional photographers understand that small business is built over time and try to support that by offering discounts and help and offering images that we shot for fun or whatever and simply don’t mind trying to see you grow… you just shouldn’t expect it.
…And also please don’t take advantage of the naiveté of the younger and newer image capturers by offering them nothing but exposure just because they don’t know how much their vision and work is truly worth in a commercial circuit. We should WANT and DEMAND to see them grow and expand and expound by paying them to allow them to further expand their vision and become the image capturers of tomorrow.
Lets start being respectful of one another and in doing so, grow and expand together :)
Andrew Thomas Clifton