A while back I was contacted by someone who wanted to use a picture I’d taken and posted online. I’ll call her RJ. Here’s the picture that caught her eye:

Oyster Po Boy

It’s an oyster po boy from Domilise’s. It seems that RJ was working for an advertising firm doing a campaign for Mastercard. They’re building a website at that has a “favorite things” theme, and their celebrity guest — one Peyton Manning — had identified Domilise’s as a favorite. So they wanted to use my picture.

I said, no problem. In fact, I pointed out, they don’t even have to ask for permission, as most of my photos are under a Creative Commons attribution license. Just provide a link to my personal site at — that’s all I ask.

RJ replied that they couldn’t provide a link, and could I please sign a bunch of release forms?

Sorry, I said, no linkee no love. Links are the currency of respect on the net, and if they can’t throw me that bone I simply have no motivation.

I thought that would be the end of it, but RJ got back to me. How about if they paid me $150?

Suddenly my motivation picked up a little. I signed the damn forms and the other day I got my check in the mail.


The final irony is that when I check, I see a picture of Domilise’s all right — but it’s by somebody else. But I don’t care. I’m laughing all the way to the bank, and we sure could use some laughs around here.

I’m sure there’s a good Priceless parody here, but I can’t work up the energy.

Footnote: Apparently Miguel Pereira was contacted in the same fashion, with less favorable results but some interesting discussion regarding the implications of all this for photographers.

13 thoughts on “Priceless”

  1. I just looked at the site and now it’s your photo complete with your copyright in the corner. They must cycle through different shots.

  2. Professional Photographer? Priceless.

    Thanks for giving Domilise publicity. I’m related to her thru marriage and she is a very hard working, nice lady. And, it’s one of my favorite places to eat.

  3. I’ve been asked a few times. Sometimes they just want permission to use it, one time they offered me $50. Once I got an email from some woman at one of those “Funniest Videos” TV shows offering me $100 for permission to run a video I had up on YouTube of Liam dancing to the Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack. I said sure. She says, OK, send me the video at such-and-such an address, Los Angeles, 92666. I said, well, there isn’t a video, it’s just an AVI file and it’s small, why don’t I email it to you.

    She said, no, I should burn it on a disk and FedEx it because she needs it right away.

    Riiiiiiiight. Like I’m made of time.

    At the moment everything I have on Flickr is “All Rights Reserved”. I’m being dickish about my content because of these people. Looking forward to suing one of them some day.

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