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If its good enough to be published it good enough to be paid for

© Martin Le May

16 January 2018

#Useitpayforit is the hashtag for an NUJ campaign to encourage amateurs to understand the value of the photographs and videos they provide to news organisations.

The union is asking branches and chapels to put the campaign on their agenda and take part in a month of action in February 2018.

We need to raise the awareness of the issue with amateur photographers and videographers who, by giving their work away for nothing, are undermining professional photographers and the worth of good photographs and videos. If an image is good enough to be published or broadcast, it is good enough to be paid for.

The NUJ is committed to ensuring that the right of our members to be treated fairly is upheld and that they are paid properly for their work.

To help hobby photographers, the union has put out a set of #useitpayfor it guidelines for selling pictures.

News story: Major publisher's pictures budget is less than your daily cup of coffee a week

“Whether you are an image maker or not, you need to support this important campaign to protect professional photographers and the value pictures and videos bring to news gathering and make sure that the work is paid for."
Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary

“Great pictures and videos tell a story and are essential communications tools that provide information in a way that words do not.”
NUJ Photographers’ Council

Why do we need to campaign about the value of photography?
News photography has always relied upon amateur photographs – from the moon landings to the JFK assassination – to capture images of the moment. Today, technological advances have put a camera in everyone’s pocket. It is easier than ever before to take, share, send and find images and video.

This development has been exploited by news organisations which now turn to amateur photographers and members of the public to provide them images from terrorist attacks to local fetes without payment.
So-called "user-generated content" has become a major image-gathering policy for local and national newspapers and broadcasters. They are relying on free content and when they do pay, the rates for pictures are pitifully low. The consequence has been the mass sacking of professional photographers and a diminution of the quality of news images.

Newspaper groups such as Newsquest have made so-called user-generated copy part of their business plan and are openly courting local camera clubs to provide free pictures.

#Useitpayforit is about telling media organisations and the general public that photographs and video footage have value. The campaign is about championing quality professional images and professional image makers. It is about making people aware that by giving images away, they are taking away the livelihood of professional journalists. It is about shaming news organisations which are happy to sacrifice quality by using amateur content and for pushing down rates to make it impossible for photographers to make a living.

This campaign isn't about saying it is never right to use a free image or give away an image. The NUJ wants amateur and professional photographers to make an informed choice about the use of their images and footage.

There are many examples of when ordinary people have captured iconic images that went viral around the world. If news organisations use arresting images taken by an amateur photographer then they should recognise the value of the picture by paying for it.

If you are a professional photographer or you work on commissioning or sourcing pictures, tell the image or footage producers about the possible value that their work may attract. Encourage branch members to tell the union if news organisations are paying poor rates or not paying at all. Email the Photographers' Council at


Case studies
#Useitpayforit: woodpecker picture sets the world a-twitter: read about amateur photographer Martin Le May and his amazing wildlife shot

Don't write off your rights, says Joshua Latchford, the teenage photographer who had to fight for his copyright when his photograph of a pranged super-car was syndicated by his local paper to the national press.

Tanya strikes gold by exposing Ukip leader: A photograph of Ukip leader Henry Bolton on the tube with his then-girlfriend Jo Marney was snapped up by the press and led to his demise.

What you can do to support this campaign:

  • Do not give away your images or footage. Find out the value of your work; the NUJ Freelance Fees Guide and The NUJ's Rate for the Job website are great places to start.
  •  Increase your understanding of copyright, licensing and how it all works. Freelance photographers who keep their copyright earn on average a third more than those who routinely give their copyright to clients. If you are a member of the NUJ, you can download a free copy of Help Yourself, New Ways To Make Copyright Pay


  • Make the campaign an item on your agenda and encourage members to support the February month of action using the hashtag #Useitpayforit
  • As a chapel, challenge your company's policy of not paying for images. Ask your chapel representatives to negotiate for an increase in resources to pay for images and footage used by your organisation.
  • Tell the union if news organisations are paying poor rates or not paying at all. Email the Photographers' Council at


  • Circulate this information to members of your branch and others
  • Encourage your members to sign up to the campaign on social media by following the hashtag: #Useitpayforit