Peter Delaney wrote an excellent blog entitled "Free photographs for exposure" - please go and read it. It is an excellent blog and I agree 200% with Peter's view.
Well, for those of you who follow my blog and know my background, I was much more involved in video prior to moving into wildlife photography. Video is my background, it's where I come from, it is where I found/find my creativity.
I joined Vimeo, 7 years ago. At that time I was transitioning from traditional video camera to video enabled DSLR. Back in 2008-2009 Vimeo had a thriving community of very supportive amateur, semi pro and pro filmmakers. I've made good friends via Vimeo. I've collaborated via Vimeo. It was a great place in those early days. Slowly that community has diminished in my opinion, as Vimeo moved towards business models that were focused on their own revenue generation. I've felt in recent years Vimeo have focused on raising the bar of their platform to pro filmmakers at the expense of aspiring filmmakers. The small guys can no longer get the exposure they once used to on Vimeo and that I think is a real shame. My relationship with Vimeo has changed of late and I use it very differently today than I used to. I no longer spend time consuming content, commenting, engaging and so on. Today I use Vimeo as a platform for housing my own videos for personal viewing at home to share with friends and family.
But I still have a lot of videos that are public to view and people can like and comment and add them to their own groups as they like. If other filmmakers are inspired by some of my films then I'm happy about that. I have over the years had a number of approaches from various entities asking about my videos, including mainstream television. Some were informal enquires for embeds, others were agencies looking to "acquire" my video without any monetary exchange. I'm not that foolish.
Since my safari trips to Africa starting back in 2013, the number of enquiries about has increased. I've made 3 or 4 separate videos about my travel experiences in Africa and my journey as a wildlife photographer. These videos seemed to have gained much more interest. They are not meant to be production quality videos. At the end of the day I've been travelling to Africa for photography, so juggling a DSLR with a heavy lens, and a video camera isn't easy! However my videos are of a high quality and they are designed to give the viewer an insight to what it is like to go on safari, and what you are likely to see and experience. The video that has gained the most interest is the very first video I have made: Sabi. It's one of my most successful videos and most viewed on my Vimeo account with almost 8000 views. That is a high number of views for my profile and my video portfolio on Vimeo. What I found was the video, Sabi, had been embedded on a couple of commercial websites where it was used for promotional purposes. I have had to issue a couple of take down requests, because a) the video was never made for commercial purposes and b) they were taking without asking. And that is where I take issue: when people don't ask. Asking to use the video is ok. Because it opens dialogue and a discussion about a win-win. And it's that win-win I want to discuss in this blog, building on what Peter wrote about.
The video in question, from 2013 - "Sabi"
As a wildlife photographer and videographer, I've spend the past few years building a portfolio of images, and there is a cost associated to that. The cost of equipment, the cost of insurance and the biggest ticket item, the cost of travel. Then there is the cost of my time. 20% of making a video is when you are in the field. 80% of the work is in the edit suite. Videos don't just make themselves. Stories and experiences are crafted in the editing process. Then there is music. As a non commercial filmmaker, I use license free music. That costs me money. It isn't as expensive as commercial use music licenses, but it takes a huge amount of time to find the right music, and then you have to pay to use it. That 6 minute video you are watching and enjoying...that cost me a lot of time, effort and money to make.
A couple of weeks ago I received an email from a Travel and Tourism Magazine. The email stated that they were "...one of the world's leading travel websites and we are about to embark on a major transformation of our website"...they continued...."this <website> will soon offer a selection of high quality video content - images, information and commentary - of countries throughout the world".
Sounds good doesn't it?
Then came the pitch...
"We have viewed your work and would like to invite you to include it in our upcoming catalogue <on our website>.....If you would like to come on-board and further expose your work on Sabi, your website and your blog to our global travel audience, all we require is permission from you to do so – in an e-mail confirming that you agree to the inclusion of your video"
With this email were a range of links to their website video platform showcasing these travel videos and a copy of the latest published (paper and electronic version) magazine edition. Both of which were monetised with advertising.
In a nutshell: Free videos for exposure!
The email originator was part of the editorial team at this magazine. I composed my reply:
"Many thanks for outreaching regarding my video "Sabi". It is always flattering when someone enquires about my work. In your email there was no mention of your terms and conditions regarding remuneration for such content appearing on your website. Could you clarify that in more detail?"
The reply I got was interesting. I won't go into all the details. I had a couple of email exchanges with the magazine making my point. Finally I got an email stating that they were just a small boutique publisher and didn't have any budget to pay content creators. This was a complete turnabout given the first email I received opened with "our <magazine> website is one of the worlds leading travel websites"!!!
What I was shocked about is how many videos they have already secured via this tactic. People really are signing up for this.
But they should not!
Amateur or professional, asking for videos for exposure is not a win-win. What this is, is a magazine asking for free content for their revenue generating website and magazine. They make money, and they are not prepared to offer a share to you for your hard work in using your video content.
Don't sell yourself short. The video YOU made isn't worthless! "Exposure" will not fund your next video project. Giving these types of magazine will help them secure content and advertising revenue!
Ultimately, giving any form of your content away is devalorizing photography and videography, and I don't want to be a part of that process because there are many pro's out there who earn a living from this craft that I love.
I won't be identifying the magazine in this blog. The fact that this magazine is asking to use my video on their website means it has a value to them. I am not going to sell myself short and neither should you!