Sunday, August 26th, 2012

The Real Value of Your Photography

It’s nothing new in the world of photography to receive requests from hundreds of people over the course of a year if they are allowed use your image for free on various projects. While for the novice, this might be flattering, for any even halfway serious photographer it’s the worst kind of request. "Well, aren't you glad I asked and didn't just steal it? You just have to give it to me." — No, I don’t.

Honestly, I am actually more insulted when they ask to use an image for free than when just taking it. That way, I would at least have gotten a settlement claim out of it.

From time to time, a company or advertising agency licenses an image by going through the whole process with the required professionalism we photographers are thankful for. Clear terms, fair compensation for our work. Both sides happy. Very easy.

Apparently, this method proves to be rare, even to the largest companies out there… but read on.

I was recently asked by the [company’s product] OS Partnerships & Business Development team to license my image “Firestorm” to use in their upcoming OS update as a wallpaper choice and later on, in the same ways, in the [company’s product] browser and promotional material. I was beyond excited, not because of a huge check I saw in my near future but for such a large company recognizing my work. A company I trust with my daily online searches, personal data and much more; the company that probably knows more about me than I’d like to.

Fast forward to the licensing agreement I was asked to sign: NO COMPENSATION! Way to go, [company]. While I didn’t plan on retiring after licensing an image with [company], I was expecting at least a fair amount of compensation for a “Give us your image and we do whatever the f**k we want” kind of license.

After some serious consideration and various attempts, I could restrain myself and instead wrote a, what I think to be, moderate reply stating the following:

Dear Mrs. ___________,

I am not willing to accept the licensing agreement under the terms stated.

First off, when did [company] become a charitable organization?
Last time I checked, [company]'s yearly profit for the financial year 2011 was roughly US$ 10 billion with its stock price currently being the third highest in history. [Company] is not a small family owned business thinking everything on the internet is free. They should know better. Licensing images for wallpaper use always involves compensation. Apple, as well as Microsoft, paid the photographers for wallpapers they used in their operating systems well. ( and

Why is [company] trying to claim usage rights without paying a fair amount?

I will not let my image go to a multi-million dollar S&P500 company for free. After all, it was you who approached me to license and use my photo in your browser operating system and possibly more than that, not vice versa.

[My licensing terms inserted here.]

In all honesty, would you be willing to work for free? Well, I certainly won't. Here's some further reading material, covering this exact situation:

Looking forward to hearing back from you.

To me, it doesn’t come as a surprise I haven’t heard back from them and quite honestly, I don’t expect any kind of answer. The licensing contract they sent was a slap in the face of any photographer.

I ask you, my dear readers (who didn’t have a lot to read from me lately — sorry for that), would you be willing to work for free? Disregarding the industry. I blackened out the company’s name as I do not want start a bashing campaign or anything. I just needed to vent, inform people that even the largest tech companies out there with multi-billion dollar profits do NOT value the work of photographers.

That said, don’t sell yourself short. If I have learned one thing over the years, this is it.
I’d rather have no money in my pockets than knowing someone is falsely promoting their product with my image without paying a fair amount. No exorbitant high amount, a fair compensation.

Thanks for reading my ramblings and feel free to share with your friends, amateur and professional photographers alike, your grandma who might get a kick out of this or the advertising agency of your choice.


Tuesday, February 14th, 2012

Plus One Collection Print Sale

Some great news to share today.

Ivan Makarov, a great photographer from the Bay area and avid Google+ user, recently spread the idea of creating a book for charity. The odds were discussed in various hang-outs and posts and 520 photographers from around the globe contributed images to this great project, showing the influence, value and overall great community aspects of the social media world. The Plus One Collection was born.

Fast forward a couple of weeks, countless hours of work by Ivan and 15 other volunteers working on this project and the Limited Edition of the Plus One Collection is available for order online at

193 images made their way into the final print version and I’m more than happy to announce that my image “Granite Reflections” is amongst the ones selected. Grab your limited edition till Feb-20-2012! Remember, all net profit will be donated to the charity Kiva! (Standard edition book, e-book and app will be out soon, too.)

Granite Reflections, Yosemite

That being said, I’d like to announce a special print sale of my Yosemite National Park images, “Granite Reflections” (the one in the book) and “High Sierra Santuary”. All orders 8×12 and larger will receive 25% off. The discount runs till Feb-21-2012. Contact me directly at david (at) davidrichterphotography (dot) com to discuss your options. The discount is good for all options, print only, framed prints, canvas and metal.

A great opportunity to save some cash for the Plus One Collection book! 😉

High Sierra Sanctuary, Yosemite

Prices for Yosemite images, print only.

8 x 12 (Regular: $60) NOW $45
12x 18 (Regular: $100) NOW $75
16x 24 (Regular: $160) NOW $120
20x 30 (Regular: $220) NOW ONLY $165!!!

All other images are currently 10% off from the regular pricing until the point the shopping cart system is up and running. Now it’s the time to grab ’em!

Happy V Day, by the way!


Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

We’re on Strike!

Why am I seeing this weird image on your index page?
Did I break the interwebz? What is wrong with this guy?

One might think, I have gone a little lunatic, but I am not. My mother had me tested. All kidding aside though, this topic is extremely important to me and that’s why I support #OccupySOPA.

You have never heard of SOPA?
You have come to the right place and before someone asks, no, I am, by no means, an expert in this field!

SOPA is short for “Stop Online Piracy Act”. A bill swirling around in the US Senate as PIPA (Protect IP Act) and the House for quite some time. It’s Hollywood’s last straw to grab in order to maintain profits without innovation. Nothing more. Nothing less. If you look at all the networks, TV channels and movie studios supporting SOPA/PIPA, it becomes clear what is behind all that.

But because I could never express it a such a short and informative way, I urge you to watch this short video; to educate yourself and to think about what this could mean if the US government passes the bill. Internet-based companies, start-ups, all innovation over the last decade and the future are possibly in danger. The freedom of the internet and what we all love about it – Facebook, Google, Wikipedia. Gone for good. Take action. This is serious.

PROTECT IP / SOPA Breaks The Internet from Fight for the Future on Vimeo.

For further information and to take action, please refer to one of the following websites:

Sunday, December 4th, 2011

Mono Lake Was Just The Beginning – Stop California State Park Closures

This May, California government announced to close 70 of its 278 state parks, in order to save $22 million. The parks on the closure list represent thousands of acres of land, recreation areas and wildlife reserves, which are an essential part of our ecosystem.

One of the parks on the list was the bizarre, yet beautiful Mono Lake State Reservation area, pictured below during a crisp August sunrise over the calcium-carbonate spires rising from the interaction of freshwater springs and alkaline lake water, just east of Yosemite National Park and the Eastern Sierra Nevada.

Mono Lake Sunrise

Mono Lake, which covers roughly 65 square miles, is considered one of North America’s oldest lakes with a probable age of over 1 million years. Aside from the beauty these alien-like tufa-towers provide, Mono Lake is an essential part for the well being of our ecosystem. Each year, as many as 65,000 California gulls are hatched at the shoreline of the lake, making Mono Lake the second largest breeding colony behind Utah’s Great Salt Lake. Additionally, the waters of the lake are home to 4 to 6 trillion brine shrimp – a species only to be found at Mono Lake.

So why the past tense? This past Friday, December 2nd 2011, it was announced that the Mono Lake State Reservation area was taken off the closure list. What a relief. But does it really change much? Will it have an impact? Why did this first success not go viral? How can I help?

I am not from California – heck, I’m not even from the US. So some might wonder why keeping those parks is so important to me. Well, the answer is pretty easy. Because the landscapes, historic structures and sights need to be protected for future generations – the reason they were created in the first place. I’m not here to preach, far from it, actually. It would just be sad to see these beautiful areas gone for good. The old saying, “You won’t miss it until it is gone” certainly applies here for many, it seems. There was no public uproar (at least none that I remember), it wasn’t on every station but I do believe that it needs to be, more people need to know about this, more people need to care about the lands in danger. I am sure most know everything about the divorce of Kim Kardashian though. (Add cynical commentary here.)

A Break In The Storm

Just a couple of hours ago, I came across a project that really grabbed my eye and is the reason for this blog entry. The guys behind “The First 70” require funding for their documentary film about the state park closures.

With passion and a lot of commitment, they want to show the beauty of the parks in all their glory, as they think, and I fully agree with them, the whole case didn’t quite grab the media outreach it deserved.

Without further ado, please watch the trailer below and consider helping them out by either contributing at or by sharing this blog entry, the link to the trailer and other info across the interwebs.

The First 70 Trailer from Heath Hen Films on Vimeo.

For a full list of parks on the closure list:

Thank you.

Tuesday, October 11th, 2011

Everything on the Internet is Free

I had planned to share some more images today but this idea was quickly turned down by a thoughtful post on Tony Wu’s blog that I felt needed my commentary here too.

Tony Wu is a professional underwater photographer whose work I regularly check out because it takes your breath away. Got it? Underwater photography – breath…. never mind. Anyway, I highly recommend checking out his portfolio. It oozes greatness.

While we’re at it and this is the whole reason of this blog post…

Can I have one of your images for free, Tony? It would make a great background for my non-commercial site! Thanks in advance.

The problem is right there. Everybody believes anything on the internet is free to use for any matter you can think of and to some degree, I think this is true for about anyone on the internet, me included. Hey, I am not Mother Theresa either but truth be told, a quick Google image search revealed my images on blogs in Japan, Brazil, Zimbabwe and a couple dozen other countries; most recently on a photography website in Portugal. Yes, they gave me credit – at least.

However, I can’t even count the numerous times I have gotten requests to use my images for free for whatever reason, which I sometimes felt bad to decline, but mostly was just annoyed or even amused to some degree about the impolite way of asking for it. As a person trying to make a living with photography, you just cannot live off of water, love and image credit. You need money in the bank to support your family and travel to all those fancy places you like to decorate your homepage with, you save the environment with and help a fellow of yours out for a great cause. That’s fine and all, but while you help others, you’re not helping me. Every image spread across whatever medium that I did not get paid for, is one place less traveled and photographed. Think about it. Do this a couple of times more and you might have nothing left to take for free.

Tony’s thoughtful blog post covers just this experience and the way to handle requests. There is just no perfect way to respond but Tony’s way of dealing with it proves to be a real time keeper, raises valid points for the “right-grabbers” to consider and to eventually change their habits. (Which, in all honesty, I doubt.) Read the whole response here and share with whomever you think might enjoy it. It’s free!

So let it be that, another rambling. Remember, not everything on the web is free! 😉