Respect the Photo, Respect the Artist

I have had or overheard numerous conversations regarding professional photography when a person has said something like:

  • Why should I pay that much for prints when I can just take the CD to Wal-mart?
  • Or said, “I just bought a nice camera. I can just copy [photographer]’s work and do it myself without having to pay for it.
  • And also, “I found this cool photo online and ‘played around with it’ so I could use it in my [insert project].”

I am going to take the optimistic road and assume that these folks have simply not been educated in regard to the real meaning and value of professional photography, and how much goes into producing professional photographs. I am going to assume that they don’t actually intend to denigrate another person’s work and career and fail to recognize that the photographer they are talking about probably has a mortgage, taxes, and self-employed medical insurance premiums to pay.

So, in the spirit of education this morning, I am going to share the Photographers Manifesto recently published by the American Society of Media Photographers. I hope that you will read the ten points and, if you don’t feel this way already, adopt a new attitude toward professional photography. Respect the photo, and you respect the artist/human being behind that photo. Isn’t that what you would want for your own work?


#1 Photographs are Intellectual Property and therefore have value to the creator. If you are tempted to steal, that is because you recognize the value of the IP and are not respectful of the value of the efforts of the creator. That’s not right.

#2 Just because a photo is posted on the Internet, it is not free. It wasn’t put there so you can simply take it. It was put there to share an idea, promote talent, and gain attention. You can’t walk into a museum space or gallery space and walk out with whatever strikes your fancy. Cyberspace is no different.

#3 There are laws in place that protect Intellectual Property and they come with penalties. These penalties are exponentially worse than paying to use the work and acknowledging the creator. Exponentially is a lot.

#4 Professional photographers are just like you. We have families to feed and mortgages to pay. Stealing takes food off the table. Times are tough enough thank you very much.

#5 If contacted directly, a professional photographer can be very accommodating, get involved, and help you make your project better – making you and your client look better. And who doesn’t want to look better?

#6 Stealing. Not cool. How did you feel last time someone pirated one of your ideas or advertising concepts. Sucks huh?

#7 That photo you are thinking of stealing took time to make. Sure the shutter snapped in a fraction of a second, but there are years of hard work, education, and talent invested in it. Stop for a moment and consider that please.

#8 Speaking of investments. That photo wasn’t taken with an iPhone or a disposable camera. Not that the iPhone isn’t great for snapping pics of your BFF. Professionals have significant investments in cameras, lights, computers, and software. These things are costly to own, upgrade, and maintain. Remember that next time you are looking at our work.

#9 We are passionate about what we do and we hope you feel the same way about what you do. Passion brings respect. We respect that you are potential clients and future collaborators. We want to work with you. We hope you want to work with us too. By the way, if the project is Work for Hire please let us know upfront. We can’t respect you if you try to sneak one by us.

#10 Some things were meant to be free. Human beings, primo parking spaces, unsolicited advice about your love live. And yes, even occasionally photos. Just ask.

Comments are closed.