#NoFreePhotos Campaign Photographers are often an understated bunch of people. We mostly see their works on various trending Instagram fashion accounts, pause to admire the avant-garde fashion, two quick taps on the photo and go on our merry way. It took an unofficial anonymous group of about 40 photographers, called the “The Photographers” to step out, declaring that enough was enough. The hashtag - #NoFreePhotos – is added to photos when uploaded to their Instagram accounts.
The objective is to call out the uncredited and unauthorised usage of their photos by brands, influencers and bloggers. Those who still insist on posting without rightful permission will receive a standardised message telling them that they have infringed on the photographer’s intellectual property rights. If the influencer or brand still do not rectify the mistake, the union of photographers will respond to the post with the hashtag #NoFreePhotos, to encourage social shaming and raise attention to the issue.
Is it just another digital protest? Does it warrant our attention? Definitely.
As people behind the lenses, photographers can be easily overlooked. It is undeniable that every shot taken could have the potential to rack in a 5-figure sum that could mean loads of exposure for struggling freelancers. On the other hand, it is not all smooth-sailing for influencers. Many influencers are willing to dress themselves for free because it is a fierce competition out there, where the market of influencers is constantly evolving and dispensable. With our 21st century impressive mobile phone technology, citizen journalism has become more prevalent than ever. There is no stopping the snapping of photos when models flaunt their red carpet fashion, whether it is by street-style photographers or regular bystander.
Hence, influencers are constantly at the mercy of public scrutiny and records which is impossible to keep track of, making the argument of ‘who is not benefitting’- influencers or photographers- slightly lopsided. Influencers and photographers are co-dependent on each other, fame cannot be achieved with the absence of either party. The fashion industry, whether brands or influencers, need to be sensitive to the efforts and works of these photographers. It is not always about money, but achieving that rightful recognition and confidence that your abilities are getting you somewhere. No artist would want their works to be disrespected, just seen as a tool to promote big name brands or people.
It is this culture of taking things for granted that makes photographers feel unappreciated.
When in fact, their form of art is equally deserving of recognition like those billion-dollar artworks in galleries. In some ways, photographers are artists, and the photos they produced showcase their unique artistic flair. Even most of the approvals would first and foremost, go to the subject of the photos which are the influencers and models in their trendy gear. Only a handful would comment on the professional photography and even lesser would seek out the photographer and offer opportunities for collaboration. Hence, the fashion industry should be more conscious on how they properly acknowledge or compensate these photographers, either by giving proper image credits or deserved compensation. Perhaps, going an extra mile and offer chances for collaboration or recommend others who might want to collaborate with these street-style photographers. It may not satisfy those who are looking to take a shortcut to fame, but it would get those photographers well on their way there.