Getting asked to shoot five weddings for a massively popular Netflix show might seem like a dream opportunity, but according to photographer Megan Saul, the show’s producers weren’t planing on paying for it. In a Facebook post on May 4th, she says she was contacted by Kinetic Content (the company producing Love Is Blind for Netflix) about working with them on the show, but was told in a follow-up email that, instead of money, the company was offering the opportunity for her work to appear in promotional materials and magazines (via PetaPixel).
In her post Saul says that getting the email was “super exciting for all of 20 minutes,” until she found out that she was being asked to basically donate her time and expertise. She called the request “insulting to artists,” calling on corporations to pay contractors and artists when they want work done. “Bottom line, this is offensive,” she wrote.
Asking artists to work for free may be audacious, but common — there are entire Twitter accounts dedicated to companies and people asking for unpaid work with promises of “exposure,” or getting their work seen by others. Some people see this as an opportunity to get their name out, in the hope that a future paying client will see their work and contact them. Others say it undervalues artists’ work — would you ask an engineer to design a building for free because a lot of people might see it?
Regardless of where you fall in the debate, the producers are asking for a lot. Shooting weddings is grueling, exhausting work and Kinetic Content is asking the photographer to do that five times. Plus, as Saul points out in her Facebook post, getting her work in magazines and Netflix promos isn’t going to pay for her gear, insurance, or employees that she needs to help shoot a wedding. “It’s clearly more than my time I am donating for a major corporation to profit on my work,” she writes.
Netflix makes a lot of money, and has a huge budget for producing content. We don’t know why Kinetic Content wanted free work, since neither Kinetic Content nor Netflix responded to a request for comment.