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Amateur photographers should charge for published work, says new NUJ campaign

This amateur photographer's shot went viral  -  © Martin Le May

5 February 2018

Amateur photographers should charge properly for their work, say their professional colleagues in the National Union of Journalists.

#Useitpayforit is a new month-long campaign to encourage amateurs to understand the value of the photographs and videos they provide to news organisations and provide hobby camera users with the know-how and confidence to obtain proper rates for their work.

In the past decade the scope for sharing pictures, plus a voracious media appetite for free images, has made it harder and harder to make a living as an editorial photographer.

This has caused many publishers to assume that illustrating publications and websites can be done for free.

Dominic Bascombe, NUJ organiser and serving officer of the NUJ’s Photographers’ Council, said:

“If amateur photographers realised the value of their work and charged appropriately, it would stop their work crowding out that of professionals. For the vast bulk of editorial work only a professional’s efforts will do – where publishers require the legal and ethical certainty of using someone with proper experience, for example. Where someone gets lucky with a wildlife picture, or finds themselves witnessing a newsworthy event, then it is better for all of us if they charge for their photographs.”

Many professional editorial photographers have been hit by a double whammy of declining markets and rising equipment costs. Images lifted from social media and Google maps have replaced lots of bread-and-butter jobs. Increasingly sophisticated camera phones also mean there is nearly always someone on the scene to capture a shot.

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, said:

“The NUJ recognises that amateurs create a lot of fantastic images – we just don’t want them to be the first choice because they do not charge. If a photo is good enough to be published or broadcast, it is good enough to be paid for. Professionals have long used resources such as our Freelance Fees Guide and the Rate for The Job database to get the best fees; now we want everyone to have access to these resources.
"News images frame the way that most of us conceptualise current affairs – but that requires really talented photographers to be able to make a career of editorial work. Cost-cutting publishers have for too long used the naive enthusiasm of amateurs to drive down professional rates, we want to put a stop to that.”

NUJ branches and chapels have been encouraged to contact local camera clubs to discuss how they can be paid proper rates if their images are published. Members are also asked to contact the Photographers’ Council at photographer@nuj.org.uk if news organisations are offering low fees or not paying at all.

More information can be found on the #Useitpayforit campaign page on the NUJ website.

Tags: , photographers, photographers' council, #useitpayforit, freelances, pay, fee guide, rate for the job, amateur