Abuse of volunteer photographers – Exhibit A

http://www.flickr.com/groups/assignmenthouston/discuss/72157629489723425/ has a classic example of what I was talking about.  This is one of the local forums that I frequent often.  Lately however it has turned into people posting “opportunities” for photography when in reality, they are there with hats in hands looking for someone to give them free photography.

It would be fair enough if they just said “Look, we don’t have money, but we want to get decent pictures and would appreciate it if you can help us out.  We’ll treat you like you’re a welcome guest, you can use your best judgement on what works best, and we’ll give you artistic freedom”.   As it often happens however, no good deed goes unpunished.

In this case, the Opera is getting people to donate their time, skills, and equipment on a nightly basis, show up on time, be respectful of the venue, and give them pictures that would otherwise cost hundreds of dollars.  Instead of being appreciative, the director allegedly belittles the photographer in front of everybody.

The sad part is that instead of rallying around the photographer by boycotting such free work, there is probably going to be a line of other guys taking her place and thus approving this action.   And then photographers bitch and whine to each other about how making money off photography is such a tough gig and blame new cameras and other things.

Photography and other aspects of life are not so different: If you want others to value your work, you should first value it yourself.   This is the case with your professional career and even in our relationships.

Back to the photoblog.  Here is an old picture I took with my D40 from about 3 years ago.  It was taken with a timer and I had to raise up the camera with the tripod as a boom over the fenced out part of the overpass. I think this was JPG straight out of the camera too as I didn’t do raw processing then. That D40 was a nice camera.



3 thoughts on “Abuse of volunteer photographers – Exhibit A

  1. I’m not sure I would agree with the characterization that the group has turned into a dumping ground for “free” opportunities. Most of the threads going on now have been activities that have been going on for years and are well established in our group (Opera in the Heights, Japan Festival).

    I want people to bring opportunities like this to the group because it can open up many doors. For example I was very excited to see your photo on the cover of the Candlelight Tour this year.

    I don’t agree with all the photo policies (which is why we will never have a meet up at the 1940 Air Terminal Museum again until they change theirs). I hope that when an organization has trouble getting photographers (I foresee this with Comicpalooza) because of their crappy policies they will reevaluate it. But I’m not holding my breath because there are plenty of other photo groups out there who will be happy to take their place and a million people with DSLRs.

    1. I honestly had no idea anybody I knew read this blog so glad to see someone reads it! Seriously though, I do have a lot of respect for all the hard work you do in the group so I didn’t mean to say anything negative about the group itself. My issue is that when people come to ask for volunteers, they are turning it around as if they are the ones doing the photographers a favor. I made peace with the Japan Festival doing it since they are at least a non-profit group, but it still irks me that it’s kept referred to as an opportunity. If anything, it’s an opportunity for the Festival to get free photographers.

      With the comic book convention, the they upped the anti and they’re not only saying it’s an opportunity, they want complete control over it and treat the volunteer photographer helping them like a rented mule. And then the Opera in the Heights speaks for itself.

      The Candlelight tour and the HMNS events on the other hand really are a great opportunity and they have treated us right. We get access to areas that other people don’t get access to, we are treated with respect and allowed to take pictures of what we feel makes a great picture and in return they get decent pictures and promotion and everybody wins.

      I’m just worried what will come next: “looking for volunteers to shoot my wedding. For this great opportunity, you can get the leftovers after the party has gone through the buffet line”.

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