Today's so-called "sharing economy" can be brutal on professional photographers. Exposure for no pay and Instagram's democratization of photography for the masses has made your uncle's clichéd backyard BBQ comments like "but what do you do for a living?" more real than ever before. Photographer Timothy Briner, known for his series Boonville and Sandy, is getting fed up. Over the past decade he's occasionally shot jobs pro-bono, but recently, this work-for free mindset pushed him one click of the shutter too far.
"I was at my daughter Molly's 6th birthday party earlier this week in South Brooklyn." says Briner. "It was sunny -- one of the first warm days in a while and we were having a great time. Lots of fellow photographers were there, and great cake, too! But just as I was about to post a few photos of my daughter and one of her friends to my Instagram, her friend's mom had the audacity to ask me to text it to her so she could share it on Facebook." Briner was outraged. Here he was trying to enjoy himself, on his day off, and was asked to work for free. "This woman -- a lawyer -- has just as busy a schedule as I do and is valued for her time, and you don't see me asking her for free legal advice...WTF!?"
"It wasn't so long ago," Briner adds, "that photographers were valued for their time. Then all these blogs started writing about our work -- totally devaluing it -- and now my bourgeois friends are asking for free birthday party photos. Not that I would shoot a birthday party, or Bar Mitzvah or wedding -- c'mon now -- but if I'm being asked to, I better be paid for it!" Briner luckily remembered some advice he'd read on a certain Facebook photo network about what to do in this kind of situation, and promptly texted the woman an invoice for his time.
We've learned that since this fiasco, Briner has evolved his photographic policies to apply to his own family, and will not be taking iPhone photographs on their upcoming vacation to Harry Potter World unless a contract is in hand.
By the way, it's April first, so don't take this so seriously. Of course we care deeply about photographers' rights to compensation, and you should too, but sometimes it's ok to laugh at ourselves. Check out Timothy's work HERE and read more about it HERE.