Friday, February 24, 2012

Why We No Longer Donate Images to Nonprofits or "Causes"

Are you asking my office to donate images for your nonprofit, your good cause, etc? Here’s one example of why we no longer donate images to ANYONE.

Read on. It’s amazing how someone in the nonprofit realm will compliment us when they want something, then turn around and insult us when they’ve gotten what they want and don’t need us any more. “WE LOVE YOU, WE LOVE YOU” at first; then “how dare you question us, we have tons of photographers ready to contribute their images for our cause, so go fly a kite…”

Here's the summary: Graham Buckingham contacts me to ask to use an image of mine in his annual Bite Back calendar project. The funds raised are to go to try to stop shark finning. I support this cause. I agree on two conditions, one stated and one implied: I get copies of the calendar in which my image is used, and (implied) I get credit for my image, and if there is publicity, my name is mentioned along with the other photographers included in the calendar. This happened the first year. The second year, none of my two conditions were met. I did not get any calendars, and in the marketing, Graham and Bite Back listed other photographers in the press releases, neglecting my name. When I pointed t his out, Graham was too shocked to reply, and when he finally did reply, he basically told me that there were plenty of other photographers that he could call on to donate images. FINE. OK. I've been burned so many times like this, that my office will no longer donate our images to any "good causes." When photographers do this, somehow the organization and individuals lose respect for the photographer. I am always mystified by this.

From: "Team Bite-Back" Date: Fri, 1 Jun 2007
14:43:27 +0100 Subject: Bite-Back Shark & Marine
Conservation - Request

Dear Norbert

Hi. Hope you're well.

Your web site clearly says 'don't ask', but then I've always been told 'if you don't ask, you don't' get'; so forgive me for daring to ask you to join a select number of acclaimed underwater photographers including Doug Perrine, David Fleetham, Chris Fallows and Alex Mustard (so far) in support of the shark and marine conservation

Despite being a voluntary organisation, Bite-Back has become one of the UK's most exciting and significant groups campaigning against over-fishing and over-consumption Sˇ with some notable and groundbreaking success. In three years, Bite-Back has inspired four of the UK's six biggest supermarkets to drop key species from stores including shark, swordfish and marlin whilst encouraging a number of nationwide restaurants to stop selling identified species.

In the past week, Bite-Back has been blessed with an offer of support from a scuba diver who runs a litho printing company in the UK. After some conversations, we've developed an exciting idea that would help publicise our marine conservation initiatives and help raise some hugely needed funds for this organisation.

It is our ambition to unite the 12 most exciting underwater photographers in the world by inviting them to donate a favourite image and 80-100 words of commentary on the image and marine conservation, so that Bite-Back can produce a high quality calendar for 2008.

Not only has the printer told us that he will provide the materials and machinery to complete the project free of charge, we have managed to win the support of a top graphic design team who will create the artwork without it costing us a thing. All we need are the images.

The plan is to produce the calendar before the end of August, so that we can publicise it through the international diving press, web sites and at UK diving shows. All the funds raised will go towards developing Bite-Back's marine conservation initiatives including a landmark project that could minimise the consumption of threatened species in the UK and provide a template for international adoption.

Significantly, we will have failed in our mission to produce the best calendar without one of your images. Already you've been a considerable inspiration to millions of people in your work and promotion of marine conservation issues. If we don't get your backing, I feel the project will be flawed. I know it's a bold request, but please can we rely on your support to help add momentum to this project? I hope the answer is 'yes'.

Many thanks.

Graham Buckingham Campaign director -- Campaign Director Team Bite-Back

> From: Team Bite-Back > Date: Sun, 22 Jul 2007 19:55:04 +0100 > Subject: Re: Bite-Back Shark & Marine Conservation - Request > > Deanna > > Just following up on your email reply. I am truly keen to get Norb involved > with our 2008 calendar ... but time is pressing now. Will he join David > Doubilet, Doug Perrine, Brian Skerry, Jeff Rotman, Michael Aw, Tim Laman, > David Fleetham, Alex Mustard and Chris Fallows in making this a remarkable > stand for marine conservation? > > I hope the answer is yes. I look forward to hearing from you. > > Best wishes > Graham

************** From: Norbert Wu Date: Sun, 22 Jul 2007 16:08:26 -0700 To: Team Bite-Back Conversation: Bite-Back Shark & Marine Conservation - Request Subject: Re: Bite-Back Shark & Marine Conservation - Request

Hi Graham:

OK, you've convinced me, which is very, very hard to do in these kinds of requests. The main reason that I do not contribute to marine conservation initiatives is because I and my staff usually then have to deal with unknowledgeable and unprofessional nonprofit staff who do not know what they want. We are then faced with the task of educating them on scan sizes for publication, and sometimes we have to educate them on what one-time use is -- so that they don't give the photos to other possible clients.

This web page gives information on how to search our files, what scan sizes you may ask for, etc. I attach a PDF that may be useful.

Deanna will be in touch with an agreement that we will need you to agree to. Basically it will state that you are allowed one-time use of the selected image in your calendar below.

Because you've managed to have at least one other link in this chain donated at no charge, rather than the usual nonprofit that asks FOC use only of the lowest links on the chain -- photographers -- I can waive the $75 research fee mentioned in our PDF. If this is something you need, please tell Deanna specifically. Otherwise she will bill you for the research fee which covers staff time and expenses. BTW, mentioning that you have a printer and graphic artist donate their services is the reason I am agreeing to this.

Shark images can be searched on our searchable database at And shark images are also at these web photo galleries:

Please make a selection, send us the ID number, such as SHK0152, and we can send a high-res scan of the image.

Thanks for asking, and for realizing that other entities in the publication process should donate their services, not just us lowly pond-scum photographers, who are always the ones getting hit on by nonprofits, and always the ones getting reamed by corporations. We're the lowest of the low on the totem pole, with no power, and no time.

Norb ---------------------------------------- Norbert Wu Productions Pacific Grove, CA 93950 USA

************** From: Team Bite-Back Date: Thu, 9 Jul 2009 19:57:26 +0100 Subject: Bite-Back 2010 Calendar

Dear Norb

It’s with genuine excitement that I’m writing to ask for your ongoing support for Bite-Back, the UK based shark and marine conservation organisation.

For the past two years you’ve selflessly supported our work by contributing an image and words for our high quality calendar and for that, we're truly grateful.

In fact, the combination of breath-taking imagery and inspirational text has prompted supporters from every part of the world including Peru, Dubai, New Zealand, South Africa, Iceland, USA, Finland, Canada, Fiji, Honduras, Australia and Singapore to buy the calendar.

Each calendar sale has provided Bite-Back with funds to pioneer its retailer-led marine conservation initiative with increased success and recognition.

In the last month the Daily Telegraph and Sunday Times have both acknowledged Bite-Back’s work. It would mean a great deal to me if you'd read the revealling Daily Telegraph article

I hope you'll see that we're big on ambition and determination, even if we're small on funds. Either way, we’re in it for the long run and busy getting results.

The money raised from calendar sales has helped Bite-Back accelerate its ambitions to make Britain 'shark-free' while continuing to inspire retailers and restaurants to stop selling threatened species.

Just three weeks ago, Waitrose (a nationwide supermarket chain) finally heeded our advice and stopped selling swordfish. It’s a breakthrough for common sense and the oceans.

Given that 75% of Britain’s biggest food retailers have now been motivated by Bite-Back to stop selling identified species, we’d like to think that we're positively changing the country’s relationship with seafood.

At the same time, supporters excitedly write to tell us that they've used Bite-Back materials to encourage local restaurants and fishmongers to reconsider the sale of shark, swordfish, marlin and monkfish.

We're proud of our successes and inspired your support.

Now, in anticipation of this year's annual International Dive Show in the UK, we're planning to create a 2010 Bite-Back calendar.

We hope you enjoyed being part of last year's unique collaboration of underwater photographers and it would be very exciting to think you'd agree to be part of it again.

To bring the project together, we would need your chosen image and 150 words of commentary before 01 August [we've been bold enough to send across a checklist for image resolution, format and captions etc]. This will allow us sufficient time to work on some layouts and get them to you for approval before going to print.

Once again the design and artwork for the calendar has been kindly donated.

And, this year, to cover the cost of printing, we plan to engage with two sponsors from the world of scuba diving.

We’d love it if you’d agree to support this initiative. Please can you let us know?

With very best wishes



140-150 words on status of the oceans / marine conservation issues / call to action

**************************** Dear Graham:

Thanks for letting me know of the progress you are making. Shark finning is, in my opinion, one of the few marine conservation issues that we can really, assuredly make a change in.

That said, obviously I need to pick and choose whom I donate my time and images to.

Whenever I and my office are asked to donate time, money, or images, I do so reluctantly. If I am asked to support the organization multiple times, I must ask if the organization is accomplishing its goals, and whether the organization is smart and diplomatic enough to "give back" to its contributing photographers. Am I and other photographers being appreciated and recognized along with the organization?

One example is if my office receives a copy of the resulting calendar. A deal-killer is if your organization did not bother sending photographers a copy of the calendar. I have no memory of receiving a copy of a 2009 calendar -- and I hope you agree that the least an organization can do is to supply photographers with a copy of the end product to which they've donated their images. I could very well be wrong but bring this up since it is so important if you wish to keep photographers in your stable. I do remember receiving four copies of the 2008 calendar -- but no 2009 calendar. Our office actually keeps records of this sort of thing and a check of our database confirms my memory.

The other is whether photographers are mentioned along with the organization and the calendar during press releases, and particularly on the organization's own website, where it is quite easy (if not essential) to recognize all contributors. For whatever reason, some photographers' names were not mentioned on any websites including yours and the feature article about your work, even though the names of several of my colleagues were. I attach a screen grab of one of your web pages that illustrates this point. While I can understand that you can't make everyone happy all the time, surely you can thank all your contributors on your own web pages rather than ranking some as "legendary" and others as not worthy of mention.

If I google " Bite-Back Norbert Wu" then I see this entry from wetpixel, which lists all the contributing photographers:

> For the second year, Bite-Back has inspired 12 of the world’s leading > underwater photographers to support them in the unique Oceans 12 calendar that > celebrates the oceans and draws attention to urgent marine conservation > issues. The photographers who have donated images and an individual commentary > on the exploitation of the marine environment are (in month order) Brian > Skerry, Doug Perrine, Chris Fallows, Alexander Mustard, Thomas Peschak, David > Fleetham, David Doubilet, James Honeyborne, Michael Aw, Tim Laman, Norbert Wu > and Jeff Rotman.

The above strikes me as a very good sort of mention. I have to ask whether this above clause was sent in to wetpixel by Bite-Back, or if it was created by wetpixel.

Now, I am not refusing to contribute this coming year. But perhaps you can respond to this, decide on your own whether you want to continue dealing with someone as picky and pissy as I am, and take the above comments into consideration.

And for my Chinese relatives, along with the gigantic Chinese restaurant in Cupertino (yet only one of hundreds in the US alone) that must serve 1500 servings of shark fin soup every weekend night for weddings in the area --could you send me a flyer that I can print up to show them, preferably written in Chinese? Regardless of all the publicity and good efforts about shark fin soup, it is embarassing and saddening to me that we've hardly made a dent in this practice.

Here's my story. I was invited to a wedding banquet for a cousin at Dynasty Chinese Seafood Restaurant in Cupertino, California. All my relatives know that I ask them not to order shark fin soup for any dinner. Yet when I arrived and soup was served, it was indeed shark fin soup. See, my relatives are all older Chinese folks, and it is dang hard for them to see me as the knowledgable 48-year-old, mature person that I am, rather than some stupid kid in diapers. I did not throw a tantrum but did state that I did not want any of the soup. The older adults tittered about how Norb was doing his usual bullshit/liberal stuff, and my younger cousins asked me why I was against shark fin soup. They nodded as I explained (their ages ranged from high school to first year in medical school), then every goddamn one of them turned to their soup and gulped it down.

That was a year ago. After that, I have not been to any more family functions. I can't stand it any more.

And I have to ask -- despite the woman hanging herself from fish hooks in Paris, all your efforts, WildAid, Sharkwater, films, books, magazines -- have we really made even a small dent in the practice? And really, are we fooling ourselves to think that we are making a difference and can?

Norb ---------------------------------------- Norbert Wu Productions 1065 Sinex Avenue Pacific Grove, CA 93950 USA

************** From: fish Date: Thu, 16 Jul 2009 12:00:19 +1000 Subject: RE: Bite-Back 2010 Calendar

Hi Norbert

Thank you for writing to Graham - to an extend I can understand and share similar concern; I was fortunate to be in UK last November and picked up a copy of the calendar. I trust Graham has reverted to your mail.

Meanwhile please find enclosed text in Chinese - this is targeted to Chinese consumer and as well as restaurateurs. Indeed the battle language for the shark fins trade is in Chinese - the battle grounds are the Chinese restaurants all across the principal cites in the USA, Europe but largely in SE Asia and China. With limited resources, our focus are now with children and young couples - we educate children and appoint them as Ambassador for Sharks. We encourage young couple not to serve shark fins soup at their wedding. An average size of a Chinese wedding is 300 people in Singapore and HK - without the dish, we 'save' about 30 shark; we offer the couple at no charge glossy tasteful greeting cards to disseminate to each of their guest explaining why shark fins are not serve at the wedding dinner. With this exercise, results are measurable.

On another note I know of some campaigners for samilar cause who go around selling stickers, pictures, DVDs in Europe for $10 to $20..,whilst the intend may by legitimate, I questioned the effectiveness of the exercise....

Meanwhile, I trust Graham is making progress in the UK and insert some Chinese texts in the next edition of his calendar.

Best Wishes

Michael AW

************** From: Team Bite-Back Date: Thu, 16 Jul 2009 10:29:34 +0100 Subject: Re: Bite-Back 2010 Calendar


I don't know whether you read the article in the Daily Telegraph about the work that I do and the breakthroughs that Bite-Back has made in the UK? I'd be good if you could.

Please understand that I didn't write back straight away because, importantly, I wanted to find the right words to bring you back from the brink of saying 'no'.

However, I must admit, your latest correspondence (with Michael) has knocked me back again.

In fact it makes me really sad. I sweat to make marine conservation interesting, accessible, newsworthy and inspirational and when someone challenges what I do, or the validity of it, I find it hurtful and blinkered. I'm sure it will only serve to make me stronger.

If you read the article you'll know that I have a full time job (5 days a week, 10 hours a day) and dedicate most of my spare time to raising public opinion about the plight of the marine environment - that's how much I care! I don't take any money and no one profits from the work we do.

Your concern about 'whether or not groups like Bite-Back make a difference' is fair but, somewhat, resigned. Imagine if we didn't do anything? All of the most inspirational people in the world had one thing in common - they never gave up.

Please know too, that we sent five examples of the calendar to your office. All the photographers got copies. I'm truly sorry if you didn't receive yours.

Already we've have a long list of photographers keen to take part and I'm glad to say that it's these individuals who will help us inspire others to take on marine conservation issues with enthusiasm and passion.

We've loved having your involvement and remain extremely grateful, but if you would rather not give up an image and 120 words for a 2010 fund raising calendar, that's okay too.

Please can you drop me a line with a 'yes' or a 'no' so that we can move on from here?

With thanks and admiration Graham

************** Date: Thu, 16 Jul 2009 09:57:28 -0700 To: Team Bite-Back Conversation: Bite-Back 2010 Calendar Subject: Re: Bite-Back 2010 Calendar


We are not on the same page in terms of communication and understanding. You are going to ignore receipt of my initial email for five days while you gather your thoughts? Not even a peep, like, "I've received your email, please give me a few days to respond?" Then you are hurt when I respond to Michael Aw that I have not heard back from you?

Of course I read your article. I work just as hard as everyone else so I am not sure why your working hard has any bearing on the issues that I raised in my initial letter to you. We're all working hard out here on issues that we care about.

I'm glad that you have a long list of other photographers -- feel free to have them contribute instead of me.

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