Dilemmas and fairy tales.

I’ve got a dilemma.

I was contacted by an important and famous stock photo agency to join the club and sell my work. You can imagine my first reaction, right? (¡¡¡¡¡¡¡¡¡:D:D:D:D:D!!!!!!!!!!!) (I get excited very easily and for very tiny details, you pick me up from work or surprise me buying me a cookie somewhere nice and I’m the happiest person in the world… I’m THAT simple) So I joined in. Easy. Signed some papers. Done.

The problem issue came afterwards when I realized most of my photography they were asking for was part of my personal portfolio and I got…. “jealous”? I don’t know if that is the word. I guess it’s normal to sell your work and make money from it, but that’s why I decided to be a wedding photographer, because I love taking portraits, because I LOVE taking normal people’s portraits and it was my way to sell my work, working for someone, making them look nice and part of a beautiful photograph, and that’s it! At the end of the day I could go home and play with my own photography, my personal one, and be free with it and yet, make a living from photography. That was my plan!

(she’s also known as Cookie monster)

Selling prints in art galleries (an Art gallery is soon exhibiting and selling limited-edition prints of my work. YAY!) is ok for me because they are prints and if someone wants to hang my photographs at home I’m very happy with it. BUT. Selling one of my personal images for an ad… hmmmm…. do I want that? (and yet, can I choose?)

I know it may sound very arrogant and “very artist thought”… I know, and I apologize for that because I tend to hate that behaviour…

Since a few years ago I became very jealous of my personal photography: places I love, places that mean something to me, things that mean something to me, people I love, moments that I don’t want to forget… they are part of my personal photography and I decided no to show it any more… yet, my street photography is pretty personal, they are my children, so to speak. So when I was asked for so many of my photographs (the ones I show) and I can’t control its use 100%… I got a dilemma.

What should I do? What do you think about it? Would you sell?! (sell sell! haha this sounds like a wall street broker…)

This is not a fairy tale. This is real world and maybe I should sell and start letting my namepromote myself and run free to photo agencies?


About Emma Espejo

Graduated from English Philology in the University of Barcelona, I wanted to study a phd on Literature but ended dedicating my life to Photography. Full time teacher of English, and full time photographer (a passion can't be neglected). Working on my photography and making other people happy with my photographs makes me happy, as well as a good conversation, reading a good book and watching a good tv series. I'm a reader, dreamer, lover, photographer, writer, thinker... a little bit of everything.
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13 Responses to Dilemmas and fairy tales.

  1. An interesting Dilemma Em’ – I was thinking about this the other-day when I had a model release signed for a street photograph I took. Street photograph is my personal work, and I can imagine that if I sold it for stock that it would loose its “ART” …and the future ability to sell limited run prints… because they’re already in mass circulation 😦

    I’d say keep your personal work personal, not influenced by money. Let it grow this way.

    (who was the the stock company?)

    • Emma Espejo says:

      Thanks, Jonny! I’m going to control it pretty well and some of my models in the photographs told me to do it, they don’t mind and it helps me right now (don’t worry, I won’t sell yours! 😉 ) and the most artistic ones… I’ll decide when they choose one of those. But it’s true, kind of keeping personal work personal…. but it will always be personal, I won’t make it thinking about the money… but if it makes a beautiful cover…

  2. nico says:

    Hi em’ 🙂

    First, my compliments for all of this, that’s quite a bunch of achievements for a single post 😉
    Reading this, my first reaction was “c’mon ! be realistic !! sell !!!”… then I tried to imagine myself in the same situation… and I guess I’d like to keep the art stuff for art purpose in the end, but I’d also ask everyone’s opinion ^^

    anyway, congrats ! if it doesn’t fill your wallet in the end, it should at least fill your “artist’s ego”, which is also rather important I guess 😉

    • Emma Espejo says:

      hi nico! thanks for your part on the issue! I had a few conversations today, with my models (and friends, the main characters here!) and they told me the same (commented on the comment above), why not!? so I’m gonna try but watching from very close, I don’t want a friend’s face (or even mine!) on a strange ad 😛

      Thanks! It feeds the ego,indeed! which I try to translate in confidence ^^

  3. Remember, Emma, I told you about losing the love for photography… That happened becaused I choosed ways that everybody ´should be happy to have them offered`. I didn´t have that gut feeling (or inner voice) telling me that´s the right way for me. More the opposite. But I ignored it. Thought I have to go the way everybody would love to have the opportunity to go. Thought I would be ignorant and selfish and to blame if I don´t choose that path. I should have listened to myself. The price I had to pay at the end was too high.

    So my advice for you would be to listen to yourself. And listen real good. Go your way. Cause only that will make you happy all the way. The long run.

    Take care and be save!


    • Emma Espejo says:

      Thank you so much for your reply, Allyson. Your words really meant a lot to me. I do remember what you said…

      Listening to myself, it’s something I’ve been doing a LOT since a few years ago, maybe that’s why I “protected” my own photography, stopped showing always every single photograph I took and, especially, stopped “trusting”/needing websites like flickr, which is good, but sometimes you end depending on how many comments that photograph got and why the one you like the most has very few views. That’s why I decided that, if I was becoming a photographer, I’d do it more like a service to others, like a craftswoman. I think the most important thing is to know what you’re really doing… enjoy it but control it, because it comes from ourselves.

      The most important thing is being happy doing what we do. Isn’t there a way back for you to enjoy photography again? hope so!

      Take care, Allyson! 🙂

      • Dear Emma!

        Sounds to me like you will find your way through the jungle of opportunities! Your answers have a certain easiness that I like a lot.

        For me, there will be no way back which is not bad at all. In my heart I have always been more a writer than a photographer. Photography was second best but showed me all the ways how and how not to deal with something that´s more than a job to me. I learned great lessons. All this experience gives me strength and convidence with my writing now. It´s like I had to do the one thing first to get to that second thing which means the world to me…

        I strongly believe that things have there own very good way and if I trust that and listen to my inner voice showing me that way… things will be perfect in the long run!

        Looking forward to see more of your lovely pictures and read more of your words!

        Take care and be save, Emma.


  4. paulaturner says:

    I’m at the point where I am just having a few people start looking at my blog, friends are complimenting me on some of my photos – and yet I already can see that some photos are too personal to let go out into an unknown world. And I take shots of flowers and leaves and raindrops and insects – but I know the story behind them and I know what I think of when I see the shots – and I don’t think I want someone thinking about insurance or investments.
    Flip of the same coin, I would love to make money doing photography but I don’t want to take pictures to make money.

    • Emma Espejo says:

      Maybe that’s the idea “getting money from photography but not taking photographs to make money”? 😉 I liked that. At least with my personal photography. My job is making money for photography but, as said before, I rather feel it like a service to others, an artisan.
      Thanks for your words, hope you find the balance, too! believe me, it’s a long journey!
      take care!

  5. My Process Diary says:

    Dilemma indeed.
    As a painter it’s a little different- there is only one.
    I have similar dilemmas- not as cool as yours, I wish someone would approach me and say I’ll give you money!
    Sometimes I think we are just to precious. They are just works- and what are you going to do? Keep them to yourself forever. Maybe you should share them. Maybe you should keep them sacred.
    I haven’t helped in the least!
    I say sell. You might make millions and be able to take personal photographs all day!

    • Emma Espejo says:

      THANKS!! 🙂

      I don’t think I’ll make millions but that’d be great wouldn’t it! haha. With paintings is very different indeed!!! only one! I wouldn’t be able to get ride of one! hahaha but you’re right, sharing, letting other enjoy it, describe the world as we see it… isn’t it why we do what we do?

      I’m going to start selling some 😉 Thank for your comment!

  6. It’s a nice dilemma to have for sure. People who aren’t photographers don’t realise how much of us we put into our images. Yeah sure, I just held the camera up, pointed it, and pressed the shutter, the image I’ve taken was there for all to see wasn’t it? No, actually, it wasn’t. It only exists because I saw it, and it is only preserved because I chose to preserve it, therefore part of it’s soul is mine. I’m sure you feel the same, as you say, some of these photos are your children. Having said that, you can also say there is a genuine artistic advantage in other people seeing your work, you know how you react to it, but you have some other baggage that goes with the picture – your viewers don’t have that. Discovering what they see in the image is part of being an artist.
    I guess what I’m saying is go for it, and let others react to your work, consider their reaction as part of the process.

    • Emma Espejo says:

      Thank you very much, Malcolm, I liked your comment very much (as all the above! 😉 )
      You’re right… “go for it” “let other feel it”… it’s so true, isn’t that part of our purpose when taking a photograph? Aren’t we part of another artist’s work when buying a book or a print or loving an image?

      I’ll go for it! 😉 my work is mine already and I enjoy it!! 🙂

      (and you’re right, too. When working on an artistic field, something you create from scratch, others dare to think and tell you that it’s there to do or that it’s very easy… I get really really mad since I live surrounded by similar opinions and it’s hard to fight and say “it’s not that easy, what I do needs some work and effort!” it also applies to writing… and I’m very sensitive to that due to what I studied…)

      Thanks for your comment! 🙂

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