A few weeks ago there was a lot of buzz in the Instagram LEGO toy photography community because several members were asked by the “mother ship” to use their photographs. I think it is great that LEGO is supporting their fans, but as a member of the creative class, it is prudent to ask a few questions before you say “Yes”.
A recent article published by PetaPixel, is an excellent example (and a cautionary tale) of why you shouldn’t be so quick to say “yes” when a big brand comes calling. It is prudent to ask a few questions, for example: how will they be using your photograph? What might seem like a simple request to use your image as part of a small social media campaign, could actually be a request to use your image as part of a much larger ad campaign where money should be exchanging hands.
When you are just starting out with your photography career, or see yourself as a hobbyist, it is easy to get carried away by a little flattery. But in the long run, when we give away our photographs, especially to big business, we devalue what we do. Not only our own work, but the work of the entire community.
So next time the mothership (or any big business) comes around asking to use your photograph, ask them how it will be used. “Yes” may not be the right answer.