Dear Shangri-La Hotel in Tokyo,
when I received a Flickr mail from your Digital Marketing Manager I was positively surprised. He wrote about how they did a guest chef event at their hotel, how the guest chef was from Firenze (aka Florence in Tuscany, Italy), how he liked my Tuscany pictures on Flickr
and how they would like to create a facebook album with a Tuscany theme, which my pictures would be a perfect fit for and if they could use my work in return for links and credit.
In general I'm not at all opposed to these sort of deals, I believe that there are a lot of occasions where both sides benefit from them. I've done my share of pro bono work and I keep doing it as long as it feels right to both sides. I trust my gut.
However, if the commercial interest on one side is fairly clear to me, I believe I have the moral right to ask for compensation.
So I replied to the Tokoy Shangri-La Hotel Digital Marketing Manager and told him that photography is what I do for a living and that therefore I couldn't just give the pictures away for free.
From here this could have gone several ways. The Tokyo Shangri-La Hotel could have made me an offer, or they could have declined.
They did the latter, but their reasoning really surprised me. The reply I received concluded with "We very much appreciate your offer, however, unfortunately we don't have a budget for this event."
Wait. Say that again. "…we don't have a budget for this event…" - No budget for the event? Really? Does that mean you can't pay the guest chef? And the waiters? And the kitchen staff? How about the sommelier? And the Maitre D'? No budget…
Luckily I did have a budget when I bought the camera and the lenses that I took these pictures with, when I spent years of my life training my eyes and gathering the experience that allowed me to take these pictures, when I bought the computer that I post-processed the pictures on, when I bought the software that I used to post-process the pictures with, when I bought the colorimeter to calibrate my computer's screen so the colors of the pictures would look pleasing, when I paid for my Flickr pro account that allowed me to host these pictures online, so you could easily find them and ask me if I would give you my photography for free.
Sorry, Shangri-La Hotel in Tokyo, but sometimes little things like this make me get up on my soapbox.
PS: when I come to Tokyo in January 2013, could I stay at your place for free for a few nights? I don't have a budget for a hotel and I believe you've got those rooms around anyway...