Cash From The Cause


It’s come to my attention that a Carnegie Library campaigner has allegedly been talking about me in unfavourable terms recently with something along the lines of ‘That Richard Baker has made loads of money’ (on the back of the campaign) but has ‘refused to help’.

Seeing as I haven’t had the chance to defend myself in person, I’d like to react here with the first accusation, that this is untrue – but with the second, that I am dumbfounded.

I have definitely not made loads of money from my Carnegie photography. Far from it. As exhibition costs climbed and despite the very generosity from the Friends to help with printing it, including local discounts, I’ve typically barely broken even.

But this misses the point.

I have indeed been offering mounted/unmounted prints which were more expensive that I’d hoped given what I thought buyers could afford. A large proportion of the cost goes to the frame supplier with another to the printer. To date – and after lots of interest – I have sold five prints and one download but as I stated at the time of the exhibition(s), the Friends will still receive a percentage of those sales. I’ve also seen a couple of online usages via Getty though it will be a while before those meagre percentages come my way (in Dollars!).

I have given campaigners free jpegs to tweet. Once I send someone a picture, it becomes orphaned (detached from its author) and while I’m happy to supply something to help the cause, I do so knowing the picture can be shared onwards without my name or copyright credit. This is something one accepts though it is common practice, at the very least, to credit the photographer – something not always practiced. The Bishopsgate Archive have also been given copies of the exhibition edit as a historical record (given gratis) so the Carnegie Occupation of 2016 and #defendtheten will remain viewable and understood long after my days are over.

I am a working photographer and choose to cover local and national events for my income so I make no apologies for trying to sell (ineptly, at times) my work. But I also empathise hugely with good causes like the Carnegie campaign and had I been approached more, would have happily given others a picture for their website or newsletter in context to the occupation. Even if I possessed the business acumen to make a pile off the backs of decent folk – I still would not have chosen to do so.

The price of a well-placed picture is not just accountable in money, of course. During the occupation my tweets were getting an audience reach of thousands – and a reach of tens of thousands on Instagram – so I’d like to think that as a sum total, they contributed in a very passive way (not to relegate the tireless work done by others) to the success of that nationwide campaign. I saw it as my role to witness and report and as such, I believe that additional exposure was the help I gave.

What I’ve learned said about me is painful. I wish that person (and potentially others repeating it) had come to challenge me face-to-face rather than talking maliciously behind my back to others who don’t know me well. If anyone has views on this I’d be pleased to read their comments.

Being considered a local spiv who exploits good people fighting an honest cause harms my character and damages my professional reputation – and as such, I consider it slanderous.

Please therefore think twice before perpetuating such falsehoods.



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