One thing that I forgot to mention in my post yesterday was the time I've been spending on maintaining the Reasons Why Professional Photographers Cannot Work for Free site that I set up a few weeks ago.
What started as a small project to give my friends and me an easy link to send out and save time when we receive requests for free images has mushroomed into a major(!) undertaking.
There are now hundreds of signatories from around the world, representing many different types of photography, and the text has been translated into 11 languages so far. Many photographers have written to tell me that the text has already worked for them, and I know the template has been reproduced and/ or modified and posted on a bunch of major photography forums and sites.
I've spent a lot of time updating the site, answering emails, and looking through URLs featuring amazing images created by the photographers who've written in. (If you have a bit of free time, click a few of the signatory links to peruse the sites.)
From this experience, one thing has become extremely clear...the explosion in requests (sometimes demands) for free or dirt-cheap images is a global phenomenon that affects photographers in all areas (and other creative artists as well). I of course knew that this was a growing problem, but I didn't really appreciate how extensive and insidious it's already become.
I'm certainly not naive enough to believe that one template letter will fix this problem, but I'm pretty sure that it will improve the lives of many photographers.
If nothing else, it's much easier to send a link to a form letter with hundreds of signatories than it is to type a response to every request. It's also much easier to be polite when all you're doing is sending a link than it is when you're responding while feeling irritated about getting yet another request.
There are a number of recurring themes in the communications I've received from fellow photographers, but two really stand out.
First is the sentiment that: "It's much worse here than anywhere else," or words to that effect. With so many photographers all around the world telling me the same thing, it stands to reason that everywhere can't be "worse". But since so many people feel that the problem is really bad where they are, the only logical conclusion to draw is that it's bad just about everywhere. Sucks, huh?
Second is a sense of relief expressed as: "I thought I was the only one." Perhaps more than the text itself, the sense of community and mutual support arising from having a common response to this all-too-common problem is something that has value.
So basically, though this has taken up far too much of my time, I'm happy that the template is up on the web for everyone to use, and it's been great "meeting" so many photographers I probably would never have otherwise communicated with.
Oh...one additional bonus is that the site has been attracting its fair share of comment spam (all of which has been caught by Wordpress's spam filter). Most are just inane gibberish with links to libido-enhancing pharmaceutical sites and other cyberspace flotsam. Some are entertaining though.
Here's an example of a spam comment that's highly complimentary of my "substantially passion" and massive statement:
"This is a intelligent weblog. I mean it. You have got so significantly information about this concern, and so substantially passion. You also know the best way to make people rally behind it, certainly from the responses. Youve got a style here thats not too flashy, but makes a statement as massive as what youre saying. Fantastic job, indeed."
I was feeling rather chuffed after reading that (for non-Poms, "chuffed" in UK-speak roughly translates to "stoked" in normal-speak).
The risk of my chuffed-ness getting out of control escalated with the following unsuccessful attempt to use flattery to get me to approve a comment (I took exception to the "probably" qualification):
"I've been surfing on-line greater than 3 hours today, yet I never discovered any fascinating article like yours. It's lovely worth enough for me. In my view, if all website owners and bloggers made excellent content as you probably did, the internet shall be much more useful than ever before."
Fortunately, the next spammer brought my blogging ego back down to earth:
"The next time I learn a blog, I hope that it doesnt disappoint me as a lot as this one. I mean, I do know it was my option to read, but I really thought youd have one thing fascinating to say. All I hear is a bunch of whining about something that you would repair for those who werent too busy on the lookout for attention."
Whining? Who me?!