Barter: The New Way To Pay For Photos

Posted on 7/17/2014 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)

As image users become more and more reluctant to pay much, if anything, for the images they need compensation for the use of photos may migrate to a barter system.

Recently, a photographer told me his daughter’s is attending an art summer camp tuition FREE (normally a $200 charge). His wife responded to a request on the camp’s website to “send us a picture of your child holding her artwork,” and she won a scholarship.
The weekend before his family got a free lunch from a local Mexican restaurant (about a $30 value) because his wife took a picture of their kids in front of the company’s food truck and posted the picture on Facebook using the hashtag of the company.

The week before his wife won “buddy passes” to the Pflugerville Water Park by uploading a picture to the waterpark’s Facebook page. All she had to do was take a picture at the park, upload it and they handed her 2 free passes.
    (Check out the pictures on the Pflugerville Water Park home page and consider that they were probably all supplied for free by park attendees in exchange for some free passes. Could a “professional photographer” have done a better and more effective job?)
Next week this family will save another $250 on a Karate summer camp for their son.

The photographer’s wife joined Instagram for the “sole purpose” of being able to ENTER CONTESTS. And it seems she “WINS” something virtually every time she enters.

Of course the pictures are being used extensively for promotional purposes. In many cases they may be used for years.

We suspect very few contributors read Instagram’s terms of service and understand that:
    •    they have granted Instagram a perpetual use license without any right of termination.

    •    they give Instagram the right to license use of the images posted on its site to other third parties for any use whatsoever.
    •    and the image creator is required to “indemnify and hold Instagram harmless” for any use that might eventually be made of the image.
If there is ever a lawsuit involving the use of any of the contributor’s images the contributor gets to pay all the legal fees. (See ASMP’s Instagram Papers (

If there is a growth in advertising it seems likely to be:
    (1) on the Internet and,
    (2) mostly in the small business arena.
We’re not going to see much in the way of additional expenditures by big businesses that have traditionally made up the bulk of stock photo customers. There was a time when it was difficult for small businesses to get good pictures for use in their promotions. It was too costly to hire a photographer to do a custom shoot. Now, for many hiring a photographer is no longer necessary. All they have to do is run an online contest.

The other advantage is that they get real people, not generic images, and in cases like the waterpark the people pictured in their promotions will probably be people that some of their customers know and recognize.

If you’re interested in learning more about how to build a following on Instagram, Photoshelter is running a free webinar with Pei Ketron on July 22 at 4pm. Register here.

For more information this phenomenon check out this story on 12 Brands That Captured Our Attention Through Instagram Contests?.

Entering Contests

If you are interested in a list of contests that are currently open check these links:

Hosting a Photo Contest or Campaign??

This article provides a breakdown on how to use #hashtags to organize photos around a particular theme or campaign. For a case study of how the band Deftones used tags to organize a photo contest on Instagram, please read the Instagram blog post, How to Host A Photo Contest on Instagram.

Others Sites With Helpful Information About Running Contests

Copyright © 2014 Jim Pickerell. The above article may not be copied, reproduced, excerpted or distributed in any manner without written permission from the author. All requests should be submitted to Selling Stock at 10319 Westlake Drive, Suite 162, Bethesda, MD 20817, phone 301-461-7627, e-mail: wvz@fpcubgbf.pbz

Jim Pickerell is founder of, an online newsletter that publishes daily. He is also available for personal telephone consultations on pricing and other matters related to stock photography. He occasionally acts as an expert witness on matters related to stock photography. For his current curriculum vitae go to:  


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