Letter to the Editor: Please Credit Photography
Please Credit Photography
This blog post is the first of what will be an on ongoing campaign to point out publications, editors, and others who seem to have forgotten that it’s photography that sells their publications – magazines, books, newspapers, web pages, and the like. For the past ten years or more I’ve noticed a trend, by publishers of all kinds, to ignore crediting the creators of the images they publish. I did a blog post some time back on this very subject titled: Selling Editorial Photography? Demand a Credit Line! The photograph below was the inspiration of that post. It was shot by Markus Varesvuo.
One of the biggest offenders are the stock photography agencies who are supposed to be representing the best interests of their photographers AND buyers. Even so, very often the agencies are accepting the policy of publishers crediting only the agency. Today, agents seem to be only interested in representing the best interests of their buyers. It has to be mutually beneficial to all or eventually everybody loses. Thankfully, the largest of all stock photo agencies, Getty Images, has noticed that times are not going well for the
stock photographer and recently put out a video highlighting this issue. This public service video they produced takes some of the problems into account, but unfortunately they say nothing about the subject of photographers needing a credit line.
For those new to the photography industry, one thing you may not know is the importance of a credit line that’s traditionally published alongside all editorial/non-commercial images. A credit line is a text attribution next to or close to the image that tells
the reader who took the photo they’re viewing. Why is this important? Quite simply, no editorial clients with the exception of Natioanl Geographic, have ever paid the money that’s required for a photographer to make a real living. Giving the photographer a credit line has always been a way for publishers to escape the real and actual costs associated with quality photography. By including a credit line next to all images or at the head of a story, the photographer receives something of
value in exchange for publication fees that are less than what producing the photograph actually costs. That something is a credit line. A credit line is a little piece of advertising for the photographer that other publishers and potential clients would look
for, thus improving the visibility of the photographer’s work. This credit line “subsidy” is generally only offered for editorial work as opposed to commercial work. For this conversation we’ll stick with the issue of no credit lines in the editorial market.
In this first post under the heading of Letter to the Editor: Please Credit Photography, I want to highlight a very small publication in Scotland called the Toun Cryer Magazine which the photographs of the pages shown above came from. I often find publications that are following this new trend of not crediting photographers as I travel around the world producing photography. The Toun Cryer is a wonderful little publication that features a series of interesting articles
about the local area. A couple of the articles that appear in the Spring issue actually do include a credit line for the photographer but there are a couple of other stories that have no credit line at all. The ones that do offer credit include Building A Dream, Words: Mairi MacDonald Photos: Douglas Gibb. Another story titled More Than Meets the Eye, also has credit for both the writer and photographer, Words: Tim Siddons Photos: Roy Summers. But there are several other pages with fabulous images that go completely uncredited. One story, Scotland on Film credits only the editor, Tim Siddons, for the words. Another story, All Natural, makes sure the writer is credited with Words: Lynn Stewart but no photo credits of any kind.
I hope this blog post will convince the editor of Toun Cryer, Tim Siddons, to rethink the magazine’s lack of credit lines for photographers. If you want to add your voice, gently ask Mr. Siddons to kindly start crediting his photographers. Mr. Siddons can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. I think if we all reach out to publications who are missing this important tradition of quality publishing, maybe we can make a difference. Remember, keep it civil wth a gentle voice and kind heart and maybe we can change the world. Below is the text from the email I recently sent Mr. Siddons.
Dr. Mr. Siddons,
I’m writing on behalf of all photographers. I recently became aware of your lovely publication Toun Cryer during a trip to Scotland where I was leading several photo workshops, teaching the craft and business of photography. I noticed your magazine is not crediting photographers for the images that grace your pages. Not all the images but many had no credit lines, such as those in the story Scotland on Film and All Natural. I find it a bit surprising the Home page of your web site promotes your use of beautiful photography suggesting you understand the benefits of quality images, yet the magazine fails to give the photographers the credit they deserve. As I’m sure you’re aware, the rates virtually all publications pay are nowhere near what it takes to produce arresting photos. Most publications offer their hard working photographers a credit line in exchange for less than adequate payment. I’m guessing your publication is no different since all magazines today are having difficult times. In a show of good faith to your talented shooters I would like to suggest Toun Cryer start leading your industry peers in crediting the talented people who help make you successful. I noticed this is the case for the writers who supply the text, yourself included. Thanks for your time and I look forward to your continued success.
PS- As a teacher of all things photographic I’ve written a Blog about the Toun Cryer to share the trend of publishers not crediting photographers with my many readers. We would love to have you stop by and join the conversation at Letter to the Editor: Please Credit Photography