I had to interrupt my 365 days underwater with this post.
Via a fellow photographer I came across an advertisement of the Finnish branch of Hihostels (www.hihostels.fi).
They posted an ad here: http://hihostels.fi/hostellit-suomessa/vapaaehtoistehtavat.aspx
For those not fluent in Finnish, summarized this ad asks for a volunteer photographer, who will shoot pictures for Hihostel’s image bank so they can use it for marketing and communication purposes and such. There will be no additional compensation for the use of the images, and they won’t be sold forward. They state that it won’t be always possible to credit the photographer, but where they can, they will.
They offer photographing experience in “our beautiful country” as well as travel compensation up to 50 euros and accommodation if necessary (but they hope you can do it during (one of your own) day trips) and specific tasks.
They wish you to be self-reliant, have your own photography gear and skilled to take pictures of places, people and landscapes.
I see things like this come by all the time, and it always gets me off.
It’s an insult to every (professional) photographer out there.
Usually I boil for a while, let it sink and go on with my life. But this time, especially because it’s a Finnish company and I’m Finnish, I thought I’d write them a friendly email.
I contacted the marketing and communications officer as stated on the website and wrote her the following:
Dear Ms XXXX,
I would like introduce myself:
My name is Arno XXXX, I’m a Finnish professional photographer.
I have a massive library of photographs, of which a big part is shot in Finland.
If you have the time, have a look at www.stockphotography.nu
I travel around the world to try to make a living from something I absolutely love doing.
My camera equipment is worth approximately € 35,000.00.
I pay a handsome amount of money in maintenance for my equipment, as well as insurances for my equipment while on assignment both locally and globally. I spend a good amount of time editing my pictures so that they look perfect for the people who are going to use them.
That’s on top of my daily costs for existing, like apartment rent, groceries, social security, etc. etc.
Photography is what I do for a living.
It pays my bills and allows me to exist.
I read from the advertisement on http://hihostels.fi/hostellit-suomessa/vapaaehtoistehtavat.aspx that you are the marketing and communications coordinator for hihhostels.fi.
That’s what you do for a living, right?
And I reckon you have monthly costs like apartment rent (or a mortgage), social security, insurances, etc. etc.
Would you have taken your job if Hihostels would’ve offered you travel expenses up to 50 euros and a fantastic experience of working for them?
Can you understand that I take offense to job advertisements like the one Hihostels.fi is hosting on its webpage?
What you do with this is ridicule the profession (yes, it IS a very PROfession) of photography and you are undermining an already very difficult market to survive in.
Being a photographer is a hard existence and the photography market is -literally, at time- violently competitive.
With ads like these you make it even harder for professional photographers to pay their bills and exist.
Hihostels is an international corporation, which makes money. You have a marketing budget. If you budget properly, you can budget an amount for licensing photographs.
Imagine I would show up at Hihostels telling you “Hey, I’d like to stay in Hihostels for a week or two. I will pay up to 50€ for your services.”
How would you react to that?
I bet you’d start laughing and say “I’m sorry, Sir, but we can’t do that!” with a friendly smile on you face and in your head you’d think “What the hell?? Who is this idiot?”
So why should you be paid for doing YOUR job, why should your boss be paid for doing his/her job?
And why would I have to do my job basically for free?
Does that sound anywhere near fair to you?
If you are interested in licensing any of my Finland pictures, please do let me know.
I can make a very interesting package price for you.
Awaiting your response.
Let’s see if I get any response and what they will write…
Tomorrow the underwater series continues.
*** Edit to add:
Of course we will not know why, if it was because of my mail, or maybe a lot of photographers sent a mail with similar content as mine, but the page with the job advertisement is now not available (anymore).