7 things to consider before asking me for something for free
I’ve written this post in response to the many people in the dance industry who have asked me for free images (3 of whom have done so, just in the last 3 days), but the principles will work the same for any industry. This post gives you 7 things to consider before approaching me to ask for a free image.
Sharing on facebook
You are welcome to share the images I post to facebook on facebook, although it’s illegal to cut or crop my photo or change it in any way without my explicit prior permission, and you are obliged to identify me as the person who took the photo.
Downloading or copying one of my images and using it on other sites without my prior explicit permission is theft.
This is English law and is the same for all creators of images. Changing the image in any way without the image-maker’s advance permission is an abuse of moral rights and therefore makes the theft worse.
If you haven’t already, now read this post: Open Letter.
1. Are you planning to offer me publicity in return for my image?
If you have a large number of followers, and if your followers are not already following me (you can check this on facebook or twitter quite easily), and if they will add value to what I do, I might consider it.
Before you decide to approach me, take into account the fact thefollowers I have on facebook (a total of around 2,000 at the time of writing this post), on twitter (about another 3,000), on my blog (you should be able to see the number somewhere on this page), on flickr (not sure, but I’ve had over 300,000 visitors to my images there), on my personal photoblog (about 910,000 at the time of writing this post) and my other social media followers and influence.
Now consider the other people who look at my images and read my stuff at Dance Today and at LondonDance.com and all the other places I am published and the enthusiastic photographers of all levels I teach. You’ll know to include most of this already because you’ll have read my Open Letter .
If you can offer something significant that will add to these I would be happy to talk.
2. Are you representing a charity?
I already support several charities. I chose them because I believe in what they do, in the people who run them and because they’re of a size where the help I can provide means a lot.
I charge reduced rates to smaller charities that can show me their charity number, prove their size and show me how they help dance. Larger charities have a budget so need not be assisted in the same way. I also do my best to help the up-and-coming dancers I believe in, to the extent I am able. You’ll know that already because you’ll have read my Open Letter.
I don’t know how other people divide their time between earning a living and helping other people but the following describes what I do. As well as donating to charities I have allocated a proportion of my time to helping others. The maximum proportion of my time that can be used in this way is based on what I have learned from experience. I am happy to spend time finding out what you propose provided that you’ve taken all this into consideration (add the fact that I have chronic fatigue – but you’ll know that already because you’ll have read my Open Letter) provided that you feel that you have a sufficiently good argument to persuade me to drop one of the organisations I already support and support you instead.
3. Are you representing a school?
I already support several schools. I also support several other dance related learning activities. I chose them because I believe in the activities and the people who undertake them and because they’re of a size where the help I can provide means a lot.
I charge reduced rates to some dance schools, normally where the teacher/s have impressed me as being particularly ethical, particularly devoted or particularly competent. Larger schools have a budget or their own way of doing things so need not be assisted in the same way.
I don’t know how other people divide their time between earning a living and helping other people, but the following describes what I do. As well as donating to and helping charities, I devote some time to helping others and have learned from experience the maximum proportion of time I can sensibly devote to other peoples’ causes. I am happy to talk provided that you’ve taken all this into consideration (and the fact that I am unwell myself – but you’ll know that already because you’ll have read my Open Letter ) – and if you feel that you have a sufficiently good argument to persuade me to drop one of the organisations I already support and support you instead.
4. Would you like to offer lessons instead of money?
Don’t. You’re undervaluing yourself and it’s inevitable that you’ll fall out with people like me due to inexpressed bad feelings about perceived inequities as a result. Part of my job is keeping up with over 3,000 individual dancers all over the world, in addition to the established companies that you’ll recognise as a dancer yourself. The only exception to this should be if you have agreed with me – or another journalist – that free attendance is in return for coverage (ie get you get images or words published in print, online or similar **) somewhere you think will give you an equivalent benefit to the loss of income incurred. (** news photography doesn’t work this way, but you’ll know that already because you’ll have read my Open Letter.)
If I accepted dance lessons instead of money I’d never have the time to do them all. If you offered fewer free dance lessons you’d have a little more money to pay people like me. Besides all this, my chronic fatigue means I already struggle to do all the things I’m doing (and it’s not predictable which makes organising regular dance lessons extremely challenging). You’ll know that already because you’ll have read my Open Letter.
5. You’re surprised because I’ve already visited/written/photographed you!
Surely not! You’ve read my Open Letter already so you’ll know how this all works.
6. You have another suggestion or idea
But don’t take the mick.
7. Article Research and Images
If I have taken photographs, videos or notes as part of the research for an article you are already getting value from the PR that the results will bring you. Did you know that articles, images or videos are considered worth more than the cost of advertising on the same space? Have you paid for that? If you haven’t, think very carefully about asking for free images. Whatever my intentions and whatever I say, I’m unlikely to feel motivated to write and pitch more pieces if you’re asking for even more free stuff.
Respect the conditions under which you have obtained any image. For example, if it is ‘personal use only’ and you give it to others to use without my prior permission, that is theft. If it is for use only in the UK and you then use it in Australia without my prior permission that is theft too. In fact, if you’re in doubt it’s best to contact me first.
Life is about fair exchange and if I believe in you or your product I’ll do what I can to help. I expect you to behave the same way with me. Never forget, exposure doesn’t pay the bills but a good long term mutually beneficial relationship can reap huge unanticipated rewards.
It’s up to you.