Just a brief idle question. Last Friday I posted a link to "Frecklehead Goes Global," a post by English professional Chris Floyd about a personal iPhone snapshot of his, originally posted on Instagram, that was chosen by Apple's advertising agency for use in Apple's global "World Gallery" campaign, "which shows work by 41 photographers across 85 cities in 26 countries." He didn't mention if he'd been paid anything for the usage, but the general assumption seems to be that he wasn't. Probably because pros know that Apple's agency didn't need to pay for the work, and ad agencies don't tend to pay for things unless they have to. There's supply and demand to consider—the agency was looking for iPhone snaps on Instagram, so it's unlikely they were hard up for choices.
Now, I'm not judging, so don't kill me. It's a campaign using mostly amateur work, and amateurs aren't in business to be paid. Still, Chris happens to be a pro. Even so, he was clearly excited and delighted by the attention the photo received. Let's assume for the sake of argument that he and the other 40 photographers weren't paid. (Other than being covered in glory and honor...sort of the ultimate instance of the old adage "you'll get good exposure from it" much dreaded by exploited "creatives" in many fields.)
So I'm just asking—if you're a professional now or have been in the past, how would you feel about that if it were you? On the one hand, it was a personal snapshot, and yes, it's fun and gratifying to have something you did seen on such a scale.
On the other hand, your picture is being used in a global advertising campaign by one of the richest corporations in the history of the world—in a straight-up professional rights contract, that would easily be worth tens of thousands of dollars. Which Apple can certainly afford.
How do those scales balance in your head?
Reason I ask is that when I was a pro—basically from '88 to '93—I did a lot of little jobs, some of which were almost more work than they were worth, but occasionally I would score a bigger, fatter job, and those occasional "scores" more or less kept me afloat. (Although, after the still-mystifying market downturn of '91—sort of the 1929 of professional photography—those good, "rich" jobs suddenly got fewer and further between).
Again, I'm not judging. There's no controversy here and I'm not trying to manufacture one. It's a hypothetical question—I don't even know the facts. And let's not speculate about Chris per se...he posted his thoughts and he's clearly happy about the whole thing, and he doesn't owe us any insider information about his compensation or lack of it. It's just that this seems like a sort of "signature case," an extreme version of an old, old issue that photographers have been bedeviled by literally since the 1800s...rights and payment, remuneration vs. intangibles, benefit vs. exploitation.
Just curious about how you'd feel about it if it were you.
UPDATE: It appears Apple did pay for usage rights, but participants were asked to sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) regarding the particulars. This might have been because the professionals negotiated better payment than the amateurs and the agency didn't want the amateurs to know about it? (Again I'm speculating. I should stop that. But it's always troublesome when there are disparities like that.) Several commenters had more about this. —Ed.
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Featured Comments from:
Jim Bullard: "I'd want to be paid. Just because something is 'personal work' or a snapshot doesn't lessen its value to a worldwide ad program for a huge corporation. They are, in effect, making money off my work through the sales it generates and I'd want a cut. That's just fair. If I found a new iPhone in its packaging on the street that a delivery guy dropped, they'd want it back or to be paid for it. Why is my photo that they found on the web any different?"
Thomas Fitzgerald: "Apple does pay for those images. The terms are under NDA which is why anyone who was in the programme can't talk about it, although some did. (I was in the first round last year). Apple was in no way taking advantage."
Jim Richardson: "I wasn't involved in Apple's World Gallery campaign, but I was involved with Apple when they used one of my iPhone pictures (from Scotland) during the launch event of the iPhone 6. Apple paid for use of the image. The rate my agency (National Geographic Creative) negotiated was appropriate for that kind of usage. We were happy with the transaction. In the case you are talking about for Apple's World Gallery my own opinion is that of course they should pay. It's an advertising usage, multiple countries, prime display, highly valuable to Apple.
"Usage rates should always be determined by the value of the picture to the client, not the value to the photographer."
Arthur: "There's never a bad time to remind people of the classic Harlan Ellison interview on the subject of 'publicity' vs 'pay.'"
Mike replies: Yes, everybody should see that at least once. I've posted that video on TOP...and eventually decided that, given the subject, I should pay Harlan for it. I did, and I got a great reply from him. Here's the post.
David Paterson: "Speaking as a retired professional photographer lucky enough to have enjoyed a 35-year career, I doubt if there was a single year during which I was not asked several times to work for nothing, or next to nothing. The question always came from some ad agency and instead of cash there would be—as you say—'good coverage' or 'prestige,' or they might say they regard this client as a 'charity.' The calculation you had to make was not 'can the client really afford my fees' (they always can), but 'how much do I value my relationship with this art buyer or art director' (who is doing the asking). If I thought there was the potential for good, proper, paid-for work I would go along with it once, but if the same outfit tried the same play again, I would reluctantly turn down this 'opportunity.'
"The problems of obtaining payment in the modern Internet age come down mainly to supply and demand. There are billions of images out there available for free; this echelon of photography has effectively been de-monetised and all photography has been de-valued; why would any corporation pay for something they can get for nothing? Right and wrong no longer come into this; we're beyond that; it's just how things are."
Lorne Black: "According to this year-old article at Cult of Mac the photographers are paid, but sign a non-disclosure about the terms. Dunno it the same is true for this year's ad campaign."
Warren: "As you mention, 'you'll get good exposure from it' is a manipulative abuse heard in many artistic fields. As a musician who has heard this and seen it, this sort of thing makes my blood boil. Anyone who allows their work to be exploited this way does their profession serious harm, victimizing themselves and their peers. Businesses which seek to use this strategy deserve contempt and scorn. While I strive to avoid rudeness or hostility I am always blunt about rejecting such offers. I am also not shy about expressing my thoughts to colleagues who perform for hypothetical incentives in lieu of real compensation."
Richard Parkin: "Don't you think it's interesting that out of the zillions of images on Instagram they picked one by a professional photographer? I don't know how many images they are using in the campaign or whether any/all are by professionals but it tends to show that maybe the camera is not so important. ;-) "
Jake: "I'm certainly happy that I decided against photography as a profession when that option existed many decades ago but as a happy snapper today, I'd be more than pleased if Apple would use a photo I'd made with one of their iPhones. That is, if I had an iPhone."
Richard N: "Chris Floyd isn't stupid. Of course he got paid."
cameraman: "You can't eat a blue ribbon."
Bob Rosinsky: "Back in the day when I was getting commissions to photograph dogs, the Museum of Modern Art gift shop contacted me. A buyer asked if MoMA could reproduce my dog photos to insert in their new line of picture frames—the kind used for family photos, vacation snapshots, etc. I asked how many different images they wanted to use. The lady listed five or six different pictures. She added that MoMA would be marketing the frames in its catalog, so my pictures would be seen there too. I quoted $500 per photo—a reasonable price. She said they had no budget, but they would give me photo credits, and I'd be getting a lot of exposure.
"I asked if in lieu of payment, MoMA would loan me a few paintings from their collection to decorate my living room. I explained I would paste a card next to each artwork: On loan from MoMA, NYC. I explained it would be good exposure for the museum—a lot of people in central Florida are not aware of MoMA.
"She said 'forget it.' I told her, 'you're passing up a great opportunity for free exposure.'"
Tim Swan (partial comment): "In my experience as both a designer and a photographer, ad agencies and large companies are the most likely people to not use art without payment or clearly negotiated compensation. They fear copyright lawsuits, and—especially designers—know what it's like for people to want free work in exchange for the exposure."