Craigslist..home of the cheap... land of the free

When I first started using Craigslist a couple of years ago it was great.  It was like Ebay without the bloated shipping expenses!  I could find good deals and go pick them up instantly!  But just as ebay became filled with bloated shipping rates (really ... does it really cost $15 to ship car charger for a blackberry) and folks looking to squeeze in an extra dollar anywhere they can.

Today Craigslist has transformed from this great communication tool to a vast pool of requests for free services and unpaid internships.  As a photographer I often check the photo posting in gigs and jobs.  The majority of them are asking for photos in exchange for credit.  Let me rephrase that.. .the majority are BUSINESSES asking for photos in exchange for credit.  I've seen post for fashion designers, realtors, jewelers..MAGAZINES...you name it requesting photos FOR FREE so they can sell their products.  They don"t even brother to offer an exchange of services... just credit....why?  Cause it cost them MONEY.  The jeweler doesn't offer up $500 (or our normal rate) in jewlery cause that's money out of their pocket.  Well, giving away photos cost us money.  I know of several magazine that don't pay photographer's for photos but charge thousands for ad space.  If you can't afford to pay us cause you have budgeted all your money for that high gloss press printed paper, at least offer ad space so we could possibly get someone who can!  Because no one reads the "photos by" tag line and goes " wow how can i trackthat person down to do some photos for me!"   Or better yet, the I need an Intern with no pay.  It's not even legal because a business can't profit off an interns' labor if it's unpaid.  Recently my ASMP group had a discussion on how a major magazine is offering a photo contest but has a clause stating by entering they have the right to redistribute your photos (sell them ) to third parties.

Craigslist has become the breeding ground for these types of scenarios for photographers and graphic designers. But it's not just artist.  I saw a posting for a waiter needed for New Years Eve for $7/hr .. oh and you must own a tux.  We all know about the WIFM (what's in it for me) but how about the WIFT (what's in it for them).  So, the next time someone asked you for something ask for free ask WIFT.  If they will profit, then you should profit, you are running a business.   If photographers are expected to give photos away for free then I need to post an ad stating : "Photographer needs apartment, food, and transportation.  I can't pay but it would be GREAT advertisement for your complex for I'm sure EVERYONE will ask me where i'm staying."  (Photographers might eventually have to, because credits do not  pay your rent!)

I did find this video recently that does a great job at poking fun of the sad but true situation:

Some might ask what's the point of mentioning all this.  Well, we need to educate those that do not know and make those that do accountable for their actions.