About free images

I am not doing photography professionally, or, more exact, as a day job. Unfortunately, it makes me not have set opinions about the value of my images. When should I charge for them? How much is appropriate? Who should be getting them for free?

A couple of recents situation forced me to finally start thinking on all those issue. I do not have a conscize point of view on the subject just yet, but I am doing a lot of research and see how other people approach it.

Situation 1 – photos of me

I was invited to a party by a close friend. As usual at a party like that, there is a lot of cameras. Some even are dSLRs. Mine was not the only one, but the other guy made himself an “official photographer” of the event. The images are now available for purchase on a password protected (password available to me) professional photo sharing site.

Is there anything wrong with it? Probably not. After all, people consider photography a commodity, we think we are entitled to get images for free and so on. And yet, I do not like the fact and most importantly, I am not going to purchase a print of a single image with me on it. And not only because the physical prints are of no use to me, since all my family and many friends are across The Pond. I feel since he was a guest there, and was for sure not paid to take those images, he should not charge for them. If nothing else.

And now, should reconsider my event photographing policy? After all, I photograph a lot wherever I go and share freely images with my friends. But how about friends of friends? Should I also not demand images per say, but just put them on the website, and if you want an image, contact me or purchase a print?

Situation 2 – photos of mine

I was contacted by a non-profit organization just last week to use one of my images on their website. With a credit instead of a watermark, which I quickly learned will be almost invisible for a viewer- buried at the bottom of the page. I set up the price, and send them to license the image through my website. I set rather lower price, more then I would get if they licence is through any of stock agencies I put my images to, yet far less they would have to pay to the same agency. We are talking microstock here. I have never heard from them again.
I do not feel I should have given them the image. Although, adding to the issue of use for free comes the fact it was non-profit. Does non-profit makes money of their website? Yet, I am sure they will pay the person to put the image on this web site, why shouldn’t I be paid?

Where do you stand on charging for the use of your images? How much are you giving away for free, and how much you feel you need to charge for? Do you feel responsible for “spoiling it for everybody else”?

Also, if you thing sometimes on those subjects, check out those few other recent stories from around the blogosphere regarding copyright and payment for photography:
Roni Loren story of blogger learning about photographers’ right the hard way
Jean-Charles Renaud learning that persistance pays, literally for image used in newspaper
Dan Baileys advice on pricing stock images based on true story