Is your gasoline free? Is your rent complimentary? No. Your photos shouldn’t be either…

Common practice in the professional photo buyer community is to often ask for “comped” photos so photo editors, publishers or ad agency creative directors can visualize whether or not your images will fit into the style/format of their publication.

Personally, I have no problem offering this courtesy to reputable individuals/entities as my own intellectual property protective measures are well-established through embedded meta-data, watermarks, de-facto copyright ownership and official copyright registration of certain images.

This courtesy is totally discretionary on your part as a professional photographer and in my experience can play a significant factor in building lasting, trustworthy relationships with professional imagery buyers.

But when it comes to giving away freebies to people intending to directly or indirectly profit from the use of your imagery, never let down your guard and give your copyrighted property away for nothing!

Sure, I’ve played the barter game in the past wherein imagery has been traded for some form of compensation outside of monetary exchange. But you can be sure I didn’t undercut my “barter price” just because no money changed hands. And these “goods barters” have become fewer and farther between as time has passed.

In fact at this point, non-monetary profit photo usages are virtually non-existent for me unless my Mom wants a photo or two for her own business (but even those shots will carry embedded information and in some way serve as a promotional tool for imagery Objectives-DiSabato Photography).

Business is business folks. The longer hobbyists and amateur photographers perpetuate the notion that photography is less of a career or somehow equitable to un-skilled labor on an assembly line, the longer photogs will continually struggle to make ends meet.

Giving away photo services or images for free cuts into your bottom-line, destroys the all-important CDB calculations that define your per-assignment break-even rate and leads to a climate of competitor cannibalism that has plagued photography professionals since long before I got started in the industry.

You will undoubtedly encounter a tiresome number of potential clients along the way unwilling to pay fair market value for the photography services you offer.

In order to re-value a grossly under-valued profession into a future flooded with sub-par micro-stock mills, being sure to charge fairly and be paid fairly — with hard currency — is paramount to your sustainable success and the sustainable success of the profession itself.


About Alpine Objectives LLC

International mountain media, marketing & education services with more than 20 years of professional experience sliding around the wintry world.
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