As I go about my job as a photographer, I am often asked by the people I am photographing if they can “get a copy” of the photograph. When I tell them they can purchase anything I shoot for the newspaper at our SmugMug site, they sometimes seem a little disappointed, as though the images I make should be free for some reason. Others excitedly tell me they will purchase the image, but only a fraction of them follow through.
I have often noticed that the reverse is true: if someone makes an image of me and I asked them email it or bring it to me, even if I offer to pay for it, and even if I give them my card with my email address on it, I almost never see it. In fact, I make a point, if I want to possess a picture of myself, of having someone make it with one of my cameras. Even photographers with whom I have travelled …Robert, Jim, Greg… have been reluctant to share images they have of me.
I’m not quite sure what to make of all this, except to say that if I tell someone I will email a photo, I will email that photo.
I expect social media has something to do with it. People think that if they put something on their Facebook wall, somehow between the conspiracy memes and the deep fried cheesecake recipes, we’ll be able to find the photos we want, even though they will be too small and subject to Facebook’s brutal compression algorithms. Or maybe it’s just that most people are so poorly organized that they can’t weed through their tens of thousands of redundant images to send you that one photo you requested.
Forgive me if I sound a bit cynical, but it’s true. “Sure, I’d be glad to sent it!” really means you will never hear from them again.