October 10th, 2008
Gwyn Headley

by Gwyn Headley

Managing Director

One of the advantages of having members in 150 countries is that there’s usually a fotoLibra photographer on the spot if needed.

We don’t market this service aggressively, concentrating on selling our archive of stock images and our Picture Call service.

But infrequently a magazine might come to us and say “We need a photograph of an interviewee in Vladivostock,” so off we send Vitaly with his trusty Zenit.

We’ve done it just three times this year, supplying photographs of individuals in Chicago, Illinois; Seattle, Washington and Bala, North Wales. Each time the photographer has been paid a good fee and we have taken a small percentage.

So when I saw a plea on LinkedIn, to which I’m a casual visitor, for a photographer to do an assignment in Rio de Janeiro, I thought that’s right up our street. We have 40 members in Brazil (invite me over, if you’re reading this) so I contacted the ones in Rio, and Humberto offered to handle the job.

All good so far, till our LinkedIn chummy came up with his offer. €75. That’s $100, or £60, to be divided between us and the photographer. In London, that would barely cover the fare on public transport to the location. So we told him to boil his head (we have a winning way with clients).

Now we will happily sell an existing image off the site for £60, providing it has restricted use, but to ask a guy to get up, assemble his kit and lighting, travel across one of the most dangerous cities in the world, meet the customer, calm him, take high quality images suitable for full page repro and then upload them to fotoLibra — I don’t think so. That’s worth more than £60, wherever you live in the world, and what about fotoLibra’s cut? We’re not a charity, although sometimes I think … never mind.

The labourer is worthy of his hire, the Bible says, and I believe photographers should be properly paid for what they do. That’s why I’m so against microstock — it offers photographers dreams of riches just like the lottery, and with a similar likelihood of getting them. And it diminishes the value of photography and photographers.

Which is why LinkedIn Chummy probably thought €75 was a helluva tempting offer.


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