“We can’t offer any compensation…”

Today, on the day before one of last major court hearings in the long and tortured arc that is Atlantic Yards, I had the joy of finding the above in my inbox from the design firm of Nicholl & Dhyme.

(I blacked out identifying info, as I’m guessing the poor schmuck who sent this is probably pretty low on the corporate food chain, has a crazy-ass boss and is on an insane schedule, is doing his job and his boss’s job and the job of the guy they just laid off, and is worried about getting fired and losing the crappy health insurance he does have. And, he lives in Kansas City.)

As I rely on Google and flickr for all of my marketing needs, it’s how many people know about me and my work. The downside is that I get “offers” with lots of phrases like “we can’t offer compensation.” Or worse, photos are used without permission nor attribution. So, in the scheme of things, at least Nicholl & Dhyme had the courtesy (or good legal sense) to ask first, as well as to promise there just might be some fresh schwag in it for me. Sweet!


  • This guy clearly has no idea who I am. Probably didn’t have enough time to google to find out that I’d probably be the last person to let him use one of my Atlantic Yards photos in a bid for a construction contract on the Barclays Center. The construction contract must be worth millions, and all I’d get is a lousy Nicholl & Dhyme t-shirt (not to mention the neighborhood-destroying megaproject almost literally in my back yard)?
  • Nobody ever has any money to pay the photographer. Sure, we’d probably take the photos anyway cuz we’re crazy-addicted like that, but there is no Santa Claus: getting those pixels in front of your eyeballs takes time, effort, (hopefully some amount of) skill, and money. It’s one thing to let non-profits use photos for free. It’s a whole other ball game when it’s a corporation that would likely make millions constructing the arena’s “outer shell.”
  • No disrespect to Kansas City, Missouri, but… Are there no local nor regional firms that could do this work and create local jobs?  After all, Atlantic Yards is soooo all about Jobs! (Not so much) Housing! (Maybe later) Hoops! (The Nets? They play basketball?).  Maybe Forest City Ratner “can’t offer compensation,” but promised reversible Nets/<Any-Other-Is-Better-NBA-Team> jerseys and free tickets.
  • If this is the kind of outfit that’s involved in building a “world class” arena… They’re already cutting corners to slap together a proposal they’re “putting out in the next day or two to be the metal company that does the outer shell.”  Then again, are we surprised?

2 Responses to “We can’t offer any compensation…”

  1. Irene says:

    I’m amazed by this kind of thing. At some point I had the words “Unless you’re a charity organization please do not ask to use my photos for free” on my Flickr profile and these type of requests stopped…Thinking about that now, I may just put that line back in my profile. I think it garners a certain amount of respect and, at the very least, saves you the time of having to read these kind of emails. Cheers.

  2. threecee says:

    I just might add that to my profile, too. Thanks.

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