From time to time this just needs to be repeated so that up & coming photographers can get this idea planted firmly in their minds. If you haven't read this before...enjoy.
Dear Mr. Editor,
Thank you for your interest in my photography and for your generous offer to use my work for free to promote your book/magazine/website that you use to generate business for yourself. I would love nothing more than to help feed your family while mine goes hungry, because that is just the type of guy I am. Maybe I could feed them the free copy of the book you are offering me. I bet it would be tasty with some salt and pepper. I am also excited for the overwhelming exposure that I will be receiving and the vast number of customers that will be directed my way because of that teeny tiny photo credit you tried to bury in the spine of your magazine. I just don't know what to say. You have done so much for me.
Now let me tell you the truth.
Good photography is both hard work and expensive due to the price of equipment, the cost of gas, travel, insurance and self promotion. The shot that you have requested that I give you for nothing was taken inside of a 5 second exposure. The results of that 5 second exposure came from 12 road trips taken to the same location, 26 full tanks of gas, a $5,000 camera and priceless dedication to creating a good image and THAT is just the tip of the iceberg. There is no way I could ever calculate with any kind of certainty the amount of time and energy spent getting that one shot.
But I can tell you it wasn't freaking FREE!
Now with that being said, I would love to send you a HI RES version of the shot you requested. All you need to do is make my car payment this month but don't worry, I would be happy to give you "bill credit" with your payment and would gladly send you a free copy of the cashed check!
Ladies and Gentlemen,
PLEASE do not give your work away for nothing. Luckily for me I read somewhere very early on that if I priced my work at next to nothing, it would always be worth next to nothing.
People are happy to use you. Please do not fall prey to these type of requests. If you are so kind hearted that you feel bad about it, picture them laughing about how they screwed you over for your hard work. That should set you straight again. Your work is valuable and if more people took a stand, the companies that NEED our images for their publications would gladly pay a fair price.
Remember this post and remind yourself that your work is priceless, until you give it away for free.