Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Farewell fame, hello principles!

Having just written a post about the exploitation of our willingness to undertake unpaid labour for corporations - such as by using automated tills and thereby causing the redundancy of till operators - I've just turned down the chance of national fame.

BBC Countryfile Magazine (circulation: 60,000 or so) contacted me:

Hi we would like to use one of your photographs of Simon Armitage reading 3, on the 23rd July at Mytholmroyd, ref:4834034893_e78851aae2_o in our August issue of BBC Countryfile Magazine. 
We will of course credit you and send you a copy of the magazine once it has been printed.

Now the magazine isn't a BBC publication: it's part of a commercial group called Immediate Media, and the magazine costs almost £4.00. I'm not a greedy man - thankfully, as my earnings from photography wouldn't keep a gnat fed - and I always give my pictures to non-commercial outlets for free, such as the fencing shots I take, which grace websites and publicity releases up and down the country.

But I object to a profit-making organisation not paying for content, however flattering it is to be asked. It's not actually a great picture - conditions were awful and I didn't know what I was doing - and Armitage failed to turn up the next day as promised, so I'm conflicted anyway.

So… farewell glory.

Meanwhile, don't think of this an an isolated incident. It happens to you every time you tag a photo on Facebook or mention a brand on Twitter. They aren't charities. They sell a product, and that product is you. The buyers are corporations - and they want to know who you are and what you buy. We think of social media as leisure, but they're actually work: you're doing market research on yourself, on behalf of the company. 

1 comment:

Rohan Maitzen said...

"I object to a profit-making organisation not paying for content" -- interesting, something I was thinking about in my own latest post. Without the content, no profit, right, so it's odd that there should be so many outfits who just assume people will be so flattered that they will say yes. Good for you for deciding on your principle and sticking to it.