I want to share a email that I received recently:

Hi : )

I work for an Advertising Agency in London and were looking to do a fun “happy” campaign in and around the UK – It will be to launch a range of DVD`s and could be used on posters, in store and press ads.We really love your “The whole story” image – how would you feel about us possibly using this image to inject ‘happiness’ to the public! I completely understand if you don’t want to and I hope you don’t mind me asking,

Kind Regards, (Their name)

And here was my response:

Hi (Their name),

Thank you so much for contacting me. I am very flattered you would like to use my “The Whole Story” image. I would love to sell the rights to your advertising agency for print campaign usage. I rely on my photography to earn a living and I hope you understand why I can’t give the image away for free. If you would like to negotiate a usage fee, I would love to move forward with this project!!

Hope to hear back from you,

~Jena~Now here’s the lesson: Yes, I am flattered and yes, I would LOVE to see my work used in an international campaign where it will potentially be seen by millions of people but let’s get real. If you haven’t already, you NEED to stop giving your work away for free. Not only does undermine your work, but it undermines ALL artists’ works if ad agencies and companies can find photography and artwork for free. I know this ad agency may never respond to my email (they haven’t yet and it’s been four days since I sent it), but it’s a matter of self-worth and principle. The sad part is I already know what they’re going to do next: get back on flickr and search for someone who is willing to give their photography/artwork away for free in exchange for the excitement of seeing their work in print. Don’t let this person be you. Start charging for ALL usage of your work (and if it’s really creative/unique/one-of-a-kind, charge A LOT). If all photographers/artists do this, then more people will be able to earn a living as photographers/artists. By helping yourself, you will be helping an entire industry of struggling creatives. As for the ad agency, they should know better.

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