The story began when one of my foodie friend texted me:
I saw your photo of roti gambang in the latest edition of ******** *******,
but there’s no attribution whatsoever. Are you aware of this?
I was in Surabaya, and quite in shock. Because it’s a high profile magazine, the one whose market is upper class society, A-class readers, presented in glamorous look, on premium paper, the one you can’t just randomly find at the newsstand, for they are exclusively distributed at certain pickup points such as cafes, hotels, lounges and fancy restaurants. It has its own reader’s club –yes, with all the fancy member card and all–, mailing list and an impressive website.
Arriving in Jakarta 2 days later, I immediately headed off to Mangkok Putih in Citos (Cilandak Town Square) to get one of the magazines. And there it was, on page 16.
I called the magazine and talked to the editor who actually put the picture up. He apologized, he said he was rushed by the deadline and needed the photo badly. He searched through Google Images and found it. From his voice, I could tell he was also in shock, kinda helpless, knowing he just made the most humiliating, most avoided mistake in media industry.
He called me back after awhile, offered me a 1/3 page of space in their next issue, to be used for anything I want. “You can even put your photo on it,” he said.
I expected this. I knew they will offer me “goodies” like announcing apology slash correction, some space on the magazine page, you know, standard bribery that can make a moron jump out of his chair proclaiming a loud yes. But I don’t want any of those. I don’t want announced apology, correction, or even space on the page. Too late for a written apology or correction, no one would even pay attention to such things. I want my photo to be professionally bought, properly attributed on the actual article. Since I can’t get proper attribution on the actual article anymore, I just want them to “buy” that photo, or in other words, pay a small compensation for the unpermitted publication.
He said that the normal price is very low, around 80 thousand rupiahs for a photo that size. I said, “If it is legally bought, yes. Well, hello, it’s not. *You stole my photo, is it that hard to comprehend?* If you want to use my photos, talk to me, I give you my best work for that price, I’ll be proud. Besides, I’m not a random photographer who stocks piles of random photos to be sold at a wholesale price. I’m an artisan photographer. The process of making one photo goes way back from finding the right recipe, tested it, sometimes over and over again, until I finally got the best result, with the best texture, best crack, then styled it and took lots and lots of shots to get one that deserves a place on my blog.” We, foodiebloggers, do that. We are artisan food photographers. “I am not digging gold here. I just want to get this over with. So I can look back to all this fiasco and say, ‘well, at least they bought me some dinner’.”
He said he will call me back. It was the day before yesterday. Today, I sent them an email, asking about the follow up. Let’s wait for their response.
I remain concealing the name of the magazine because they showed a hint of cooperation and negotiation, which I respect. It wouldn’t be fair if I announce now, ruining their reputation to wider readers, while they’re probably willing to correct this and still in discussion process with their team. I wouldn’t hesitate to do so, even beyond, if they play me, though, you know that.
Thank you for all your support, I really really appreciate it. I’m not the kind of person who can deal very well with conflict. So, your support injects a huge energy to my system. Thank you so much for that.
I’ll keep you all posted.
Update on this