Good News! Professionals Are Obsolete!

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I ran across this article from a company giving its clients tips on the best resolution to upload images to its website and nearly fell out of my chair when I got to the bottom and saw the picture above with the caption: “…nor do you have to hire a professional photographer.”

Of course the image isn’t really a good example. The “before” picture is just a pixelated version of the “after” image which, I’m willing to bet was taken by a professional.

Let me share a few examples of what some of my clients have recently told me.

Client #1: “[My wife] and I can’t begin to tell you how happy we are with your
photographs. Working with a professional such as you is the only way to go.”

Client #2: “We went under contract the day after the photos were uploaded!!”

Client #3: After delivering images on a Wednesday night, the client told me on
Friday, “condo is under contract as of this morning.”

You may have already read a previous blog post I wrote which went viral and has been published all over the world about a house which languished on the market for 8 months before the real estate agent hired me to take new photos.

After Nearly 8 Months, Photos Help Sell Home in 8 Days

But hey, who needs to hire a professional, right? So the next time you need a lawyer, plumber, mechanic or doctor…just do it yourself!


My 2013 Blog In Review

I think it’s Zack Arias who says “less noise, more signal.” David Hobby’s interpretation of the phrase is “less frequency, more amplitude.” Basically it boils down to quality over quantity. That’s how I would describe my blog in 2013. I decided that instead of reposting or re-purposing interesting photography-related articles, I would focus my blog on my photo shoots or topic related to interior photography. I still post the interesting articles on my Facebook page which gets posted on my Twitter feed. So if you want to see those, please follow me there. But I figure other photographers are not my customer base or potential clients so I want to focus my blog to help attract new business.

In 2011 my blog had 14,793 visits which just blew my mind. In 2012 that number was 18,159. Considering I blog only occasionally and make no money from my blog, I think that’s pretty good. The total number for 2013 was “just” 13,303. But I only wrote 15 new posts for the year. Less frequency. More amplitude.

I’ll really try to blog more in 2014 and I hope you continue to find value in what I have to say. You can always search the archive for helpful and interesting posts.

Anyway, take a look at the report WordPress put together and if you commented on my blog in 2013 you might see your name.

Thanks for reading…

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 13,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 5 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

There Are No Free Lunches

This is a quick update to my last post. If you didn’t read it, go get caught up. I’ll wait.

[insert Jeopardy music]

…and we’re back. After a sternly worded email to Gate 3 Design and copied to Applebee’s marketing department, they came back and offered me $100 for 3 images. That amounts to about $33 for an indefinite use of my images. Paltry when you consider commercial photography licenses go for thousands of dollars. Don’t believe me? Photographers billed NBC’s Syfy channel $3,500 for each of 9 images the network allegedly used without permission. Article here:

Or check out this sample invoice for a commercial shoot: Here’s the short version:

Considering the use, size/prominence of the client…  I set the fee at 8000.00 for each of the four portraits and 4000.00 for each of the candids. I bundled it all together as an overall licensing/creative fee of 48000.00. Blinkbid’s bid consultant provided a range of 9450.00-13,500.00 per image, or 226,800.00-324,000.00 for all eight. Corbis quoted 17,500.00 per image for the first year. Fotoquote suggested 30,976.00 per image for the use.

Yeah, that’s how commercial photographers make a living, They charge for the work and they charge license fees for usage. So the next time you see a billboard, think about how much the image(s) cost.

Anyway, I’m torn about what to do. On the one hand, I am inclined to accept the offer because it was never about the money for me, but rather the principle. I took those images for personal use and never intended to sell them. If my professional work, which is interior and real estate, was in question there would be no debate and I would refuse. Honestly, if they had offered me a gift certificate for a free appetizer it would at least have been a gesture acknowledging that photography has value.

On the other hand, I am inclined to refuse because I want to know that they are also compensating everyone else. Am I the only person who objected and therefore the only person being offered the money?

It boggles my mind that this company sat around a table and came up with this idea and set a budget of exactly ZERO dollars. They just assumed people would be flattered to have their pictures displayed in a restaurant and hand them over. Sadly, I suspect many people did just that.

So what do you think I should do? Leave a comment and let me know what you would do.

Will Applebee’s Let Me Eat for Free?

Bobby Blackmon

In 2011 I attended an outdoor concert and took a few pictures of the band.

The other day I was contacted by a company called Gate 3 Design. They are designing the interior of a new Applebee’s restaurant. The contact person wants to use three of my images, including the one above, she found on Flickr for a digitally printed mural. Here’s a quote from the email:

The murals are compiled of digital images that represent the community from festivals, landmarks, events, sports, etc.

When I asked which images and what size/resolution so I could determine a license fee, she said:

We are not asking to license the image (you may retain all licensing/rights to your photos). We are requesting a one-time use. We are happy to display a photo credit with your name and website alongside any images that are selected for the final design. If you agree, please sign and return the attached photo release form granting us permission.

Uh, let me get this straight: Applebee’s wants to use my images for commercial use but is not willing to pay for them? How about I go to Applebee’s and instead of paying for the food I give them “credit” by telling my friends how great they are or maybe wearing an Applebee’s T-Shirt?

Look, I get it. It seems nice on the face of it. “Hey, let’s get pictures of the community taken by members of the community! When they come hang out at the local Applebee’s they can see pictures taken by their friends and neighbors! Cool, right?”

It’s this kind of behavior that has degraded the photography profession. People think pictures are free. Anyone with a cellphone can snap a picture. But if that picture has value to someone or a company, shouldn’t you be paid for it? It’s no different than an art buyer buying a painting for their home. Or if you go to Target or Wal Mart and buy a poster to hang on your wall. If you want the art, you have to pay for it. It has value.

The “one-time” use is a permanent or semi-permanent display of my work no matter how many times it is used. That release form, by the way, states that my photo may be used “incidentally” if a picture of the interior of the restaurant happens to show my images in the shot. Great, so my images could be used to market the ambiance of the business, which is a factor in drawing in patrons; but Applebee’s cannot afford to pay a dime.

I’m not sure if Applebee’s is to blame here or the company they hired to do the design. But that’s no excuse for a corporation not to ask where the images are coming from and it is certainly deplorable that Gate 3 wants to use images without paying for them. They “favorited” my images they want to use so I assume the other images in their “favorites” are also ones they want to use. You can see them here: It’s clear they didn’t choose crappy cell phone pictures but rather quality images taken by people with skill.

Credit is nice, but it doesn’t pay my bills. Even if you are not a professional photographer, if you have something of value that someone wants, wouldn’t you expect something in return?

Thanks for Visiting Harry Lim’s Photo Blog in 2012!

I would like to say thank you to everyone who visited my blog in 2012. The blog had almost 3,000 visitors in 2010, nearly 15,000 in 2011 and 18,000 in 2012!

That may seem modest compared to professional full-time blogs; but I think it’s pretty good considering I only post occasionally and make no revenue from the blog. I just like to share knowledge. If there’s a topic or question you’d like me to cover, just ask.

Let’s see if we can beat 18,000 in 2013!


The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 18,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 4 Film Festivals

Click here to see the complete report.

“Act of Valor” Shot with Canon 5D MKII

A few months ago I heard about an upcoming movie that was shot mostly with the Canon 5D MKII. The movie is about the Navy SEALS and the characters are portrayed by real SEALs. I grew up watching war movies and I’m a huge military history buff. So while this type of film never gets much commercial success, the recent exploits of the SEALs might give this film a boost. With the movie coming out on the 24th, I’m starting to see more buzz on the web about it.

If you watch the YouTube clip carefully, you’ll catch some glimpses of the 5D rig beginning at :36 seconds, again at :38 and check out that telephoto lens at :43. Is that the 800mm?!

I knew an episode of “House” was shot with the Mark II and a lot of independent filmmakers are using it. But this is the first I’ve heard of a feature film shot with a DSLR.

2011 In Review

I just wanted to take a moment to thank everyone who visited my blog in 2011. Some of you came by chance searching for something; others subscribe.

In 2010 the blog had 2,961 visitors. In 2011 that number was 14,793! This may not be as big as some well known photography blogs; but keep in mind, I am not a full time blogger and I make no money from the blog. I do it just because I like sharing what I learn. Honestly, I wish I blogged more often. So if you have any suggestions for topics or questions, please let me know.

Below is a report compiled by WordPress. Take a moment to look through it and remember it wouldn’t have been possible without you.


The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Syndey Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 14,000 times in 2011. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 5 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.