Photographer Outs Shutterfly for Trying to Obtain Free Photos, Begins #NoBudgetNoPhotos Movement Backed by Industry Peers

Photographer Outs Shutterfly for Trying to Obtain Free Photos, Begins #NoBudgetNoPhotos Movement Backed by Industry Peers

Photographers are using social media to unite and prevent their peers from allowing global companies to use their images for free, via the hashtag #NoBudgetNoPhotos. The movement was started after one photographer revealed an international billion-dollar company refused to pay for the usage of her images.

Writing for PetaPixel, Nafa Ribeiro, owner of Judah Avenue Photography, said:

As much as I appreciate whenever someone compliments or expresses admiration for my photography, there’s no shying away from the fact that in order for this to work as a business, I have to sweat the details, the dollars, and all of the cents. Because my staff, my clients, and my family depend on this.

Ribeiro is now making public her experience with Shutterfly, who she says reached out to her expressing interest in using some of her imagery for their marketing. She did not bow to the pressure of flattery, her reply containing her license fee quote of $150 per image. Time for the eyeroll moment: the company’s reply informed Ribeiro that they currently had no allocated budget for image licensing.

She then hit back with the classic "exposure doesn’t pay the bills," also making the incredibly valid point that production costs of arranging their own shoot would run significantly higher than the fee she was seeking for her photos. She also says MGM sent a form asking her to sign away all rights to her images.

They are saving on all of these costs by crowdsourcing their marketing assets on nothing more than the promise of a photo credit and a link.

As a means of venting her frustrations, she took to a number of Facebook photography groups to examine the scale of just how often large corporations were trying to take advantage of photographers.

Emma Thurgood, a photographer based in Connecticut, said:

This isn’t unique to major brands and photographers. I’ve worked in the arts my entire life, and creatives and artists of all kinds are continually asked by businesses, municipalities, and NPOs to work for starvation wages or for free just because ‘it’s an honor to be chosen.’ It’s time for that to stop. The simple truth is that you cannot turn around without laying your hand or eyes on something that is the product of an artist’s mind and skill. Our entire way of life is influenced by the work of artists, and we need to start recognizing their value with proper compensation for their creative assets.

 Meanwhile, Cassie Clayshulte, a photographer based in South Carolina, said:

What’s important to remember is that all of these companies like Shutterfly used to have huge photography budgets. HUGE. But since they have realized that photographers are willing to give away their photos for free just because they’re honored to be asked, or because they believe that ‘exposure’ will result in clients, they have all cut their photography budgets completely.

Ribeiro concludes her piece for PetaPixel by adding that she is writing to Ellen, who frequently gives out checks on her show to people in need, courtesy of Shutterfly:

But I think charity should begin at home, and a company that gives out $2 million in charity for promotion on a nationally syndicated daytime talk show should also allot a budget to license photographs properly instead of begging for hand-outs from small business photographers who may be struggling themselves.

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67 Comments

Matthew Teetshorn's picture

We'll give you "exposure" so you can get more "clients" who also want to only pay you in "exposure" to get even more "clients"...........

The article doesn't say anything like that.

Matthew Teetshorn's picture

It's commentary on a common idea in the world that creatives should be happy to work for free to get "known" not a quote from the article. But thanks for joining a photography community to be the champion of the megacorps who are trying to devalue photography as a business.

So you aren't commenting on the article!? smh

I'm a champion of freedom for everyone. It's easy to forget, "megacorps" are made up of people JUST LIKE YOU!

Matthew Teetshorn's picture

No offence, but how dense can you possibly be? I AM commenting on the article. The larger societal impact that the entire movement mentioned "in the article" is attempting to address such that our entire profession isn't devalued into oblivion. I didn't realize that I had to restrict all comments to direct quotes and no commentary.

No offence taken. There's no indication, the events recounted in the article were part of a larger movement. In any case, Shutterfly's representative was polite and, according to THIS article, didn't appear to make the "photos for exposure" plea. The photographer's reaction, citing such was uncalled for.
And, of course, you're free to say anything you like just as I'm free to do the same. :-/

Matthew Teetshorn's picture

There's also no evidence to suggest that this "isn't" part of a larger movement, and yet you're attempting to defend the people involved. A full-time, paid employee of a giant corporation believes that it is a sufficiently valid use of their and their company's time to approach photographers asking for free work. I can at the very least 'infer' that this isn't the first nor last time this has happened. And it does speak to a larger problem which is that many (from my own personal experience) people attempt to ask for free photography services.

I had a professional organization just 2 weeks ago, when quoted a very low-mid half day rate respond with "we don't have that much budgeted for photography" and then suggest that the "$125 value" of the fundraiser ticket they were "donating" to me would somehow be compensation for my time. Selling plates at $125 a head for hundreds and hundreds of people and they couldn't budget a few hundred for photography. If I had offered any less I would have been doing a disservice to all professional photographers in my area by devaluing our services to below commodity levels.

This article "sparks a conversation" that absolutely needs to be had in 2019. And the movement IS large and problematic, the existence of the @NoBudgetNoPhotos movement tells you that we're not the only photographers dealing with this.

Benoit Pigeon's picture

Doesn't have to go into details. Pretty clear that she was contacted for free service that is not part of her business model.

And she said no. Done.

Matthew Teetshorn's picture

So, if you walked into a store and said "give me free stuff, so I'll tell all my friends how great your store is" that that's "totally ok" and that no one else should be allowed to share their opinion or commentary on the issue of people attempting to devalue their time, expertise and livelihood just because "Done.". Gotcha.

Here's the thing: I don't like that kind of thinking any more than anyone else here but, that's NOT what Shutterfly did. Why is it so difficult to distinguish between different things? Why do you people (I'm not sure who all is in that group but you know what I mean) always have to demonize people you disagree with. Hmm.. I guess I do that sometimes. ;-)

Matthew Teetshorn's picture

I'm not "demonizing" anyone. I'm merely stating, through a satirical and sarcastic comment that there exists a problem in this industry.

Benoit Pigeon's picture

"Why do you people -- always have to demonize people you disagree with"
Hilarious when this comes from someone who has to go track details on people who don't agree with him. Pathetic really!

"Track details"? I'm not looking for dirt. I just like to know something about the people I debate. Anything I know about a person makes them more human and helps me to treat them as such. You might be surprised how often I tone down my intended responses, having seen someone's photo of a beautiful scene or their child or a puppy. In your case, I've been to Roanoke and love dogs.

Benoit Pigeon's picture

Go troll locally where ever your secret place is dude, may be you'll get free work there. Enjoy!

You're really sensitive, aren't you!? Now I understand the cat pictures. The dogs must belong to someone else.

Benoit Pigeon's picture

I do like dogs and anything that go fetch and comes back under my control. See you in in a minute with your next troll post.

Now THAT was funny.

Eric Mazzone's picture

You're the one in here crying about other peoples opinions acting as if yours is the only one which matters. You are the overly sensitive one. And looking at your history of histrionics​ about whining that people aren't nice to trump, I wish I could block you.

You're in luck! Just don't read my comments or reply to my comments to others. I already, purposely, don't comment on anything you write but to not reply would be rude. You're welcome.

Douglas Turney's picture

We should all ask Shutterfly to use their products like cards and photo books for free. After all we would all be sending those cards and photo books to other people thus giving them free exposure. Wonder how that would work?

Matthew Teetshorn's picture

Email sent! ;) "I don't have a budget for this photobook right now..."

I'm may be confused, but where did they say anything about giving only credit in the email from Shutterfly? Her only response was no budget. They may be looking for a free photo to use, or they just responded with a reply of no budget, or out of budget. Unless they are flat out saying they are looking to only give "exposure," this whole article seems like a witch hunt.

Jeff Walsh's picture

They reached out to use the photograph, the photographer said, okay, I charge $150 for commercial use. They said, never mind, we won't use your photograph. How the hell aren't you seeing the issue? The problem is they want a free photo to use for commercial purposes. Commercial purposes mean, they will use it to make money either directly or indirectly.

"How the hell aren't you seeing the issue?"
You have valid points; there's no reason to be a dick about it.

Jeff Walsh's picture

Right, cause let's be kind to the person calling it a witch hunt. Let's let them be a dick and not get treated the same in turn.

It *is* a witch hunt. Those on both sides of any issue are free to do what is not illegal or immoral; the companies in question did neither. The photographers involved, and others such as yourself, don't like it and for good reason but that doesn't make those companies, the bad guys. The OP asked an honest question and your response, in quotes, was uncalled for.
I rarely take my own advice but I'm trying to read stuff like this and walk away for a bit before coming back to comment. It often modifies my POV quite a bit.

Jeff Walsh's picture

It was called for, and frankly that's subjective so there's speaking definitively on what is, and is not, called for. It is NOT a witch hunt, because the company in question wanted to profit, for free (read it again, they offered nothing, not even exposure), off of someone's work. They want to make money, and in turn not pay the people who help them do so, and last time I checked, that is immoral (and in many lines of work, illegal to do, but we can skip the legalities here). By calling it a witch hunt, it implies the company did nothing wrong, which is incorrect, and also implies that the poster has no clue what the actual point is, yet they felt the need to defend the company by calling it a witch hunt.

However, all of this is very simple, you don't like how I responded, great, but it shouldn't be surprising that I don't care. You respond to things how you will, and I'll do the same. If I want to get scolded for how I speak, I have a mother, don't need a second.

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