We have no budget for that… but…

 

I’ve had four calls or emails today with well funded NGO’s and companies asking for photographs but “we have no budget for that…”  We will give you a THOROUGH credit though…

I found a blog post that sums this up pretty well: Tony Sleep Photography in the UK

“No budget” is a euphemism for “we think photographers are mugs”. This offensive interpretation can easily be verifed by trying the phrase at your local restaurant, eg “I have no budget for dinner but I’d like to eat”. Adding a promise to tell all your friends where you ate will not deflect your head from the kerb as the manager throws you out.

Now imagine being a restaurant where most people who come through the door try this on. The answer is NO, and I am being excessively polite.

If you didn’t really mean it and your “no budget” claim was just an opening bid, the answer is still NO. I want nothing to do with greedy opportunists who try to commence a negotiation with a lie. You have already demonstrated you cannot be trusted. You probably won’t be honest about usage, and will try not to pay.

And if you were one of those promising lots of better, paid work later, if only I can help you out now, offer a contract else I’ll know you’re talking bullshit and the answer is of course NO.

You see I don’t want your stinking “exposure”, I want mutually beneficial, productive relationships with clients. I try to behave with integrity, honesty and fairness, and I expect clients will do likewise. Exposure is the end of that process, not a means. Similarly with bylines. I don’t require applause earned by being a sucker. If free matters more than good, ask someone else.

Like most people I work because I need to pay bills and support myself, my work and my family. The fact that I love what I do is why I have spent 40 years persevering whilst going without stuff most people take for granted. Vocation is not an invitation to disrespect.

Unsurprisingly I will not support parasitic business models that rely on exploiting photography, or me, to extinction. With very rare exceptions (small charities run by unpaid volunteers that I choose to support) I have no budget for subsidising other peoples’ work and profitability. Supporting my own is next to impossible thanks to the current vogue for passing off exploitation as opportunity.

When I can afford it, I will drop a few quid into a charity box or give to a homeless person on the street. I regularly work for charities at a discounted rate. I look after baby birds that have fallen out of nests. I am a generous, kind and loving human being. But I make an exception for salaried beggars who ask me to stuff a bundle of tenners in their pocket. They just piss me off. Especially when they insult me by telling me my life’s work is jolly nice but worthless.  Read more…

 

About the author

RANDY OLSON’s 27 National Geographic magazine projects have taken him to many countries in Africa, the Siberian Arctic, Abu Dhabi, American Samoa, Austria, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Dubai, Guyana, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Italy, Japan, Kamchatka, Newfoundland, Pakistan, Palmyra, Republic of Georgia, Russia, Spain, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, and the South Pacific.
National Geographic Society published a book of his work in their Masters of Photography series in January 2011. Olson was the 2003 Magazine Photographer of the Year in the Pictures of the Year International (POYi) competition, and was also awarded POYi’s 1992 Newspaper Photographer of the Year—one of only two photographers to win in both media in the largest photojournalism contest operating continuously since World War II. While working at The Pittsburgh Press, Olson received an Alicia Patterson Fellowship to support a seven-year project documenting a family with AIDS, and a Robert F. Kennedy Award for his story on problems with Section 8 housing. He was also awarded the Nikon Sabbatical and a grant from the National Archives to save the Pictures of the Year collection.
Melissa Farlow and Randy Olson are photojournalists in the documentary tradition. Their work has taken them to 50 countries over the past 20 years. Even though they are published in LIFE, GEO, Smithsonian and other magazines, they have primarily worked on 50 projects for the National Geographic Society. They normally work individually, but have co-produced National Geographic magazine stories on northern California, American national parks, and the Alps. They photographed the southern United States for a book by Collins Publishing and have collaborated on over 70 books by various publishers.