I’m Going to be on CNN — Well, OK, Just My Photos

CNN Health contacted me recently. They saw my State Fair photos on Flickr and were interested in using possibly three of them for an online article they are doing on fair foods. Of course, I said “YES!”

But this post isn’t about my photos being selected by CNN for publication. This post is about the fact that they aren’t paying to use my photos, just giving me photo credit. What??? you say. You’re doing a freebie for CNN! How – how – how dare you.

I know. This can be a contentious topic. “I have a photo opportunity for you that will look good in your portfolio. We can’t pay you, though, but it’s a great opportunity!”

Ever heard that? I have. Many times!!!! And I DO NOT AGREE WITH IT! I take offense to it.

So why did I let CNN have my photos for nothing more than a photo credit? I have thought about this on many occasions because this tends to happen to me (though not from anyone even remotely close to CNN’s status). I have had to understand why I don’t balk at saying yes in these situations, but still adamantly oppose “taking photos for free” with the assurance that it will be a great experience for me and one I can add to my portfolio.

Here’s what I’ve discovered.

I went to the Indiana State Fair and took photos for my own enjoyment. I had no plans, other than sharing them on Flickr. It was enjoyable for me to be at the State Fair and to find photo opportunities. No one asked me to do it. And that’s the difference. NO ONE ASKED ME TO DO IT.

CNN didn’t come to me and say, “Hey, we have an assignment that will be a great opportunity for you. Take photos of fair foods and we’ll give you photo credit only. It will be a great portfolio piece.” The fact that CNN came to me and requested use of my photos is part of the original experience…something that resulted because of something I did, not something someone else asked me to do.

So I find it to be an honor that my photos have been singled out.

Here are the three photos they requested for consideration. They selected the first photo for publication. You can see the article at CNN Health and my photo is the second photo in the slide show.

Toppings on Funnel Cakes

I remember when funnel cakes were only fried dough topped with an inch of powdered sugar or sprinkled with cinnamon sugar!

Deep Fried Veggies

This is more traditional than other deep fried foods.

Deep fried Snickers and Other Assorted Sweets

They’ll deep fry ANYTHING!


About Dezra Despain

Life is full of stories waiting to be revealed.

Posted on September 10, 2012, in An Indiana Experience, Musings and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 21 Comments.

  1. First of all, congratulations, Dezra!

    I agree that this is a tricky issue that it sounds like you may have wrestled with. It is great to get recognition for something that you have done for yourself; but at the same time this is something that corporate concerns exploit in order to get something for nothing.

    • Thanks Graham! I always appreciate hearing from you. I agree to what you said to an extent. I have struggled with this in the past and have thought a lot about how to deal with it. There is a LOT more that went into the decision than what I posted. This post is the main point, though.

      We live in a world that is rapidly changing because of the Internet and technology. More photographers are getting published because of this type of thing, and more photographers are agreeing to it. I may not like it (I don’t under MANY situations), but it’s the reality of the world today and I either need to learn to adapt or get left behind. The landscape is changing and I’m adapting as best I can.

      As to CNN, and other corporations, they look to their resources and what’s available that impacts their bottom line favorably. I understand that, also. They have all of Flickr available to them as a resource now. That doesn’t mean all photographers will give their consent, but many will. So why pay iStock if you can get it free from Flickr? I also know that if I said “no” they would have moved on to someone else, and I would have lost the opportunity to have my photo featured on their site. CNN was very gracious in contacting me and they worked with me. They were up front about what they wanted and what they planned on doing. I appreciated that, and therefore it became part of my decision.

      It really can be a sticky situation, and I think each person who faces it must come to their own decisions about it.

      • Hi Dezra. I fully understand all that you are saying and hope that you don’t think I was criticising in any way. I totally agree that everyone must come to their own decision.

        All that aside, congratulations again for having your work published.

      • I appreciate it, Graham. I got carried away in my response to your comment. There’s so much that has gone through my head about this that I couldn’t stop myself. Grrrr! 🙂

        Thank you for the congratulations.

  2. Tricky issues, esp for a musician too. I don’t envy anyone having to make the decision and wouldn’t criticise anyone for whatever they decide to do but maybe you can ask to borrow a camera for free to make a documentary?? LOL… well done though for acknowledging the issues and writing about them 🙂 The other thing is that your photos are hopefully going to be used to promote well-being and that’s a good thing.

  3. Fabulous, Dezra! I feel your pain (got really tired of being asked to drive somewhere, learn some music, and perform for a pittance) and I like your resolution. Oh, and the photos are pretty darned good too 😉 Proud of you.

  4. Nice photo Dezra. I want to die chocking on one of those funnel cakes.

  5. This is great news, Dezra! Congrats on the recognition of your talent! Well deserved! 🙂

  6. I’ll have mine with powered sugar please,and always, always, share. One is 1/2 too many. I think it is very cool that CNN contacted you, completely awesome.

  7. Your photos are amazing, and althought you are not gonna be paid I really think so many new opportunities are coming for you.
    Congratulations Dezra!

  8. Congratulations! The photos are great!
    At least you were able to get some exposure for your photos even if you didn’t get paid.

  9. You made the right decision. You did it for fun and you get some free, um, exposure. Milk it! I hope you get some good feedback and more followers, hopefully a few with looser purse-strings!

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