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  • Writer's pictureChristian Gregory

"You'll Get Great Exposure"

“You’ll Get Awesome Exposure”

In today’s world of social media and “influencers”, Instagram is the new “get rich quick” scheme. While this is all mighty fine and dandy, it leaves the majority of content-creators, such as photographers and videographers, high and dry.

I started posting exclusively photography-related media on my Instagram in 2018. Since then, I’ve been asked countless times by big companies and media outlets if they could use my photographs for their own social media and websites. Most of the time I will say yes because I know if I ask for payment (like I should) they will just say, “Thanks but no thanks,” and move along to the next guy. I once had a real estate agent use my photo on her profile to promote her real estate business … without asking for my permission OR giving me any copyright credit. I sent her a very nice message and simply asked for a very small $50 licensing fee since the photo was used for promotion purposes. She simply apologized and took it down. But the damage has already been done. Her followers have already seen the photo and she already received marketing value from my photo. I'm not going to hunt her down for the measly $50 but is that what its going to take?

Most of the time, these companies and media outlets offer you “great exposure” for using your photo on their site. I don’t know about you but my mortgage company doesn’t accept “exposure” as a form of payment. Like countless other photographers, I’ve spent my time, gas money, the cost of all the photography equipment, and mileage on my car to get these photos. For large companies who I know have a budget for marketing to just offer “exposure” is almost insulting.

Today was different though. Today, I got asked by an international hotel company three different times, using the same copy & pasted message, if they could use my photograph on their social media AND on their INTERNATIONAL WEBSITES. While that’s very nice of them to like my photos that much, ARE YOU KIDDING? That’s like going to a store, taking an item and telling them, “You’ll get great exposure when I take this on my trip to Iceland.” I don’t go out and photograph landscapes and cityscapes for the purpose of being paid. I thoroughly enjoy it. With that being said, if a multi-million dollar company wants to use my photo which in turn will essentially make them money but they don’t want to pay me for it, that’s ludicrous. Imagine if I went to the front desk of this hotel and said, “I’d like a room for free and I’m going to post the room on my Instagram story so you can get some exposure.” Don’t get me wrong, I know this happens with celebrities and what not, but I’m talking about the average Joe. I’m talking about people like us.

It’s time we start making a change. We need to stop letting these companies use our time and hard work for free so they can promote their business. It’s completely unfair to photographers. Exposure isn’t going to help repair my camera when something on it breaks. Exposure isn’t going to fill up my tank to drive to the next location for a photo. Exposure isn’t going to pay my mortgage.

Have you ever dealt with anything like this? If so, please leave your story in the comments. I would love to hear about it and see how you handled it.

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