Randall Roberts and other photographers received a request from Alaska magazine for shooting tips for readers and a “courtesy photo.” In return, the professional photographers get their websites listed in the magazine.
Roberts responded to editor Michelle Theall: “While exposure is nice, it doesn’t help feed my family nor compensate for the time and effort required to create a quality package of reader tips and images, especially under a tight deadline.”
Theall wrote to Roberts and others who complained about the solicitation: “First of all, huge apologies if I offended anyone regarding the request to participate in this round up. …This is no different than a writing magazine contacting me to ask my tips about writer’s block or adventure travel writing and then asking for an excerpt of something I’ve already published to use as an example.”
Roberts tells Romenesko readers: “I think a lot of professional photographers who are trying to feed their families have grown weary of publishing companies and other organizations holding up the equivalent of a cardboard sign asking for handouts. I doubt if the Alaska Magazine staff is forgoing payment for that edition, so why should professional nature photographers do so, especially when they’re responsible for the crux of the ‘annual Alaska photo issue?'”
The editor’s letters to photographers and Roberts’ response are after the jump.
The Alaska magazine editor’s letter:
Request for you to participate in our annual Alaska Photo Issue:
We are compiling shooting tips from some of our favorite photographers to be included in the photo issue of Alaska magazine, which will come out in November. We can’t guarantee that everyone will be in the issue, but we’d love to have you participate.
Here are the categories:
2) Bald Eagles
Landscapes / Scenics:
2) Mountain Ranges / Aerials
4) Lakes / Rivers
1) Please give us three to four tips about how are readers can get a great shot in the following category or categories. You can mention lighting, equipment, shutter speed, ISO, panning, angles, etc. Give our readers a practical takeaway, and perhaps one useful tip they might not have heard anyplace else.
2) Then, tell us your favorite location and time of year to shoot this particular category.
3) Send us a hi-res photo (or two) of yours to use as a possible example in your favorite shooting category.
4) This should be a courtesy photo, so in exchange, we will list all participants’ workshop links or web sites. Please provide your link as it should be listed. We want to promote you and your work to our readers.
5) Please also send us a hi-res headshot of yourself. One or two sentence bio.
6) We need your answers and photos on or before Monday, September 1.
Sorry for the tight turnaround. Don’t worry about grammar or spelling. Your answers should be short.
Images should be send in separate emails if the files are large. Just make sure they have your information and caption/category with them. Send them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and copy Corrynn Cochran at email@example.com.
Thanks for participating!! If you have any questions or would like to send the files another way, please contact Corrynn Cochran at firstname.lastname@example.org. Again, we have to have this by Monday!! Thanks!!
Photographer Randall Roberts’ response
Thanks for the invitation to contribute free work to Alaska Magazine. While exposure is nice, it doesn’t help feed my family nor compensate for the time and effort required to create a quality package of reader tips and images, especially under a tight deadline.
I’m sure you understand that professional photographers work hard and invest significant expenses to produce a quality commercial product that adds value to the magazine or organization that uses that work.
I’d be happy to submit photos and articles in the future under standard ASMP payment terms.
Randall K. Roberts Photography
The editor’s letter to photographers who objected to the request:
First of all, huge apologies if I offended anyone regarding the request to participate in this round up. I realize that your time is valuable and your work too, which is why we work with and buy images from (or are looking to buy images from) most of the photographers on this list. Several of you have already said yes, without hesitation. I might not have been clear about why this request is different than when we contact you for a specific image to run within our pages.
This is no different than a writing magazine contacting me to ask my tips about writer’s block or adventure travel writing and then asking for an excerpt of something I’ve already published to use as an example. For an interview, I am a source. I wouldn’t expect to be paid. So, at the very least, I’d love to have a few quick tips from each of you regarding your profession. We do not pay sources or interview or profile subjects in magazines. Your tips are part of a larger article that is already written.
You don’t have to submit a photo if you are uncomfortable with that, but I think it will enhance the point you are trying to make. Rest assured, we do and will continue to pay for your images in other areas of our magazine. Likely, some of you will have paid images elsewhere in the same issue.
Hope this clears up some of the confusion and gives you a way to participate that you are comfortable with. We appreciate working with you and will continue to do so either way.