If you’re also a contributor at DepositPhotos I’m sure you also received an “exciting news” email where they encourage contributors to “expose more customers to your artistic works” by giving our work away for free.
In this blog post I’ll examine why this form of 21st exploitation not only hurts the value of your own images…but is generally bad news for the industry.
DepositPhotos’s Call to Action
Let’s break it down from Bullshit-speak to plain English, courtesy of Elijah
Please give away your work for free, in return, we will give you traffic of freeloaders who like free stuff – this is why they come here in the first place – and since they are freeloaders you can bet, they will never ever buy anything from your ‘paid collection’. We can also guarantee that they won’t even click on the link to your portfolio knowing that their stuff is not free.
We hope you enjoy our offer and will share information about it on all your social media channels thus providing us with free advertisement.
Thank you for all your hard work!
In this case, it’s even worse since DepositPhotos are asking for you to give away videos which take much longer to produce / post-process / keyword than stills. In addition, often specialist video equipment is more expensive than the same equipment for photography, as discussed by Doug Jensen in his Master Class.
They’re not the only ones asking for free work – Dreamstime
Dreamstime also has a “free public domains” program with more than 180,000 images by clueless contributors. If an image hasn’t sold on Dreamstime for something like two or three years (can’t recall), you’ll receive a notification email asking if you would like to give away that said image for free. Canstock has a similar program, although I ditched them a while back. If you recall any other agencies encouraging to submit free content, please comment below.
Reputable agencies value their contributors
No reputable agency should suggest to their contributors to act out of generosity! You don’t see Alamy, SS, Robert Harding and even iStock ask this, so in my eyes it puts them above the others that do.
Canva earned the coveted title of Golden Turd for May following their decision to partner up with free-download sites contributing to copyright infringements everywhere: Pixabay and Pexels. Here’s a link to their “exciting news” update.
If you don’t put a value on your work, nobody else will
How much is your work worth? To answer this depends on a million factors, both objective and subjective. Nevertheless, if you’ve been producing stock images for a while as I have, even the worst of my worst images still has SOME value…perhaps as little as $1 over its lifetime.
After, it took you a few seconds to compose the shot, press the shutter, then post-process and keyword. I have 100s of such “useless” works which will still provide me with a few $100s…
If you’re just starting out, hone your craft and keep charging for your work!
Fuck off Unsplash, Pexels and Pixabay scum
Which brings to my best point. As soon as reputable agencies go down the route of the free-scum agencies, it’s bad news for the industry. Don’t buy into their bullshit that “it will bring you exposure”. The only exposure you’ll get is the free kind with repeat customers wanting more free work. You’d also be contributing to an unsustainable business where buyers have less incentive to pay for work they are able to source for free.
At the end of the day, many contributors underestimate the value of their work and overestimate the generosity of strangers. There are whole factories out there profiting from others’ works, mainly based in South Asia.
Giving work for free encourages thieves
Which brings me to my next point…that some sources of free images will actually look to profit from your generosity and re-licensing said images. We’ve seen this first hand over at SS during my recent campaign to wack those moles. Many images that appeared at thieves’ accounts were lifted from “free download sites”.
Rant over. Wishing you all a profitable weekend.