Day 194: The value and business of photography

Day 194: The value and business of photography

Friday, July 13, 2018

Several months ago, the principals of a multimillion dollar venture asked if I would help them with some photography. I had a free couple of hours, they set the time and the date, and I smashed out a full portfolio for them. I sent them some low-resolution files to review my work over the web, and by all accounts they were very happy.

For reasons beyond anyone’s control, the deal they were working on fell through, so there was no need for me to send the final photos and I was never paid for the work. It wasn’t anyone’s fault, it wasn’t ideal… but hey, that’s life. I didn’t hear much from them again.

Fast forward to a few days ago, I come across a thick and luxuriously textured brochure featuring their name and branding, with my photography all over it. Outrage turned quickly to amusement when I wondered why my photos looked so awful, and I realised they’d gone ahead and used the low-resolution files I’d initially supplied.

You see, I made a conscious decision to be unperturbed by handing hand out low-resolution samples of my work because only an idiot would actually try to publish them in any professional capacity.

And yet here we were: the principals of a multimillion dollar venture were demanding to know why the photos they declined to pay for looked like garbage on a brochure they’d surreptitiously produced behind my back for business prospects who questioned the integrity of their business upon seeing it.

They had the gall to demand the high-resolution files.

In a completely unrelated incident, a colleague was so taken by a photo being used in a website banner that she demanded to know where to download the original photo from for her own use. I took a look at the photo and figured out where it was taken (about five minutes away), what type of lens was used (which I happened to have on me) and the time of day it was taken (coincidentally the same time as it was now). I offered to replicate the photo and she could have it in 30 minutes if it was important enough. She declined: she only needed it in low-resolution and it should be easy to find online.

Today’s lesson?

Even when a photographer is sitting in front of them offering to take a photo for free, people would still prefer to steal it.


About today’s photo: if you squint your eyes or shrink it down to a small enough size,  you won’t realise what’s wrong with this image. The people who can’t figure it out have no technical knowledge, which I can forgive. People who wilfully fall for it anyway are lacking in scruples and good taste. 

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