So your Mum buys you a camera for your eighteenth birthday because you think you might like to take up photography. You get it out and you read the manual and you try and understand how it all works. You spend some time doing this, your own time. You take a few pictures and you think that you might get on with this medium and you want to understand more. So you purchase a few magazines about photography and slowly you begin to understand all those crucial little bits like exposure, apertures and shutter speeds which you feel are essential to the art of photography. In those magazines there are articles about photographers and some of their images. Photographers like Cartier-Bresson, Don McCullin, Elliot Erwitt, Diane Arbus, Lee Friedlander etc etc. There are also images by newish photographers like Martin Parr and Paul Graham who are producing something challenging and new and you like what you’re seeing and the way these images communicate something to you. You buy a few books and more magazines and you enrol and pay money for a night class where you meet other photographers and you do an O level in the subject followed by an A level the next year. Gradually the standard lens you are using you feel like you’d like to add some more lenses to you kit. You can’t afford prime lenses so you save up and get a wide angle zoom and a telephoto zoom the best you can afford and to put your kit in you buy a camera bag followed a few months later by a tripod. Eventually you buy darkroom equipment and learn the skill of developing and printing your own black and whites and maybe if your confident enough, colour.
The years roll by in which you continue at much expense to expand your knowledge and experience of the subject and art form of photography while simultaneously things happen which is the rich tapestry of life. You don’t much mind the time and cost you put in because it’s a subject and medium you love. Over those years you take some good shots and very occasionally you get to show them to people who quite like them. Then one day the internet arrives and there’s an opportunity to put your work on line, because well why not ? What have you got to lose ? At the same time you’re approaching the age where you think it’s time to do something else with my life and you get the opportunity to leave the boring monotonous job which you once tried to persuade yourself was a ‘career’. It wasn’t. You take redundancy and you spend about three thousand quid enrolling on an MA in photography which two years later you pass with flying colours. Congratulations ! you’ve got an MA in photography ! You continue to produce images, some reasonably good ( you think ) and some not so good but hey that’s what it’s all about. Digital comes along and you spend more money on going digital. You think you might like to teach the subject so at more expense you take up a teaching course and after a year of bloody hard work and more expense you are now qualified to teach photography. Hello ! You manage to get a part time teaching post which on the face if it pays quite well until you factor in the time you spend putting the course together and preparing for it. The teaching goes well and your students like the way you teach the subject and the feedback is excellent. You realise that over the past thirty years you’ve gathered in that tiny brain of yours a lot of photographic knowledge and experience which is difficult to put a price on.
Then one day after all these years, completely out of the blue you get an email from someone whose seen one of your images on line and they’d like to use it for a cover they are producing for something they will sell. It’s actually nice of them to ask because if they didn’t they’d be in breach of copyright. You reply and tell them thank you your flattered but how much were they proposing to offer. A couple of days later the reply comes back and while they feel they feel I should be properly compensated they rather hoped I’d let them have it for free ?