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Just say NO to editorial leeching.

Published August 25th, 2011

For my first blog post here on 500px, I thought I would post a little something for you to think about and hopefully remember next time someone asks you for use of your photos for nothing.

Dear Mr. Editor

Thank you for your interest in my photography and for your generous offer to use my work for free to promote your book/magazine/website that you use to generate business for yourself. I would love nothing more than to help feed your family while mine goes hungry, because that is just the type of guy I am. Maybe I could feed them the free copy of the book you are offering me. I bet it would be tasty with some salt and pepper. I am also excited for the overwhelming exposure that I will be receiving and the vast number of customers that will be directed my way because of that teeny tiny photo credit you tried to bury in the spine of your magazine. I just don't know what to say. You have done so much for me.

Now let me tell you the truth.

Good Photography is both hard work and expensive due to the price of equipment, the cost of gas, travel, insurance and self promotion. The shot that you have requested that I give you for nothing was taken inside of a 5 second exposure. The results of that 5 second exposure came from 12 road trips taken to the same location, 26 full tanks of gas, a $5,000 camera and priceless dedication to creating a good image and THAT is just the tip of the iceberg. There is no way I could ever calculate with any kind of certainty the amount of time and energy spent getting that one shot.

But I can tell you it wasn't freaking FREE!

Now with that being said, I would love to send you a HI RES version of the shot you requested. All you need to do is make my car payment this month but don't worry, I would be happy to give you "bill credit" with your payment and would gladly send you a free copy of the cashed check!

Ladies and Gentlemen,

PLEASE do not give your work away for nothing. Luckily for me I read somewhere very early on that if I priced my work at next to nothing, it would always be worth next to nothing.

I have received 7 emails this week requesting the use of my images for free including two companies that each had 2 separate individuals email me! LOL. The Free Riders are out in full force. Please do not fall prey to these type of requests. Your work is valuable and if more people took a stand, the companies that NEED our images for their publications would gladly pay a fair price.

Remember this post and remind yourself that your work is priceless, until you give it away for free.



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Bob Betts  over 3 years ago

That is soooo true. Thank you for the reminder. I'm glad I've stumbled upon your blog.

Raed Abughoush  over 3 years ago

Well said....and I am sure this post relates to all of us, I love to see more photographers have this attitude

Edward Wade  about 5 years ago

Yeah, baby!

Patricia Davidson (inactive)  almost 6 years ago

Excellent post Aaron! Right on!

Mark Gvazdinskas  about 6 years ago

LOVE THIS! Very well written.

Sankar Salvady  about 6 years ago

Very well said, Aaron !! :)

Sangeeth VS  about 6 years ago

Great advice, Aaron! I might have provided my image for free if such a request had come to me. But now I will not thanks to your article.

Jeremy Williams  about 6 years ago

As a person that is always eager to help others, sometimes I lose sight of the costs of doing so. Thanks for these words of wisdom. Not only do they make sense, but as you well know, they are completely right.

Awesome Account
Gary Randall  about 6 years ago

The Nature Conservancy hit me up again today.

Awesome Account
Gary Randall  about 6 years ago

I owe you a hug big guy!

Drew Medlin  about 6 years ago

I agree, Aaron. Too many want something for nothing.

Hennie Niemand  about 6 years ago

Well said, I would love to see the photographs they want for free.