Museum Wants My Photos

Discussion in 'Business of Photography' started by danlegere, Sep 28, 2011.

  1. Hi, I was contacted by a museum who wants to display my photos. Here's a excerpt:
    I work for the ________, a museum devoted to ________ and with over 100.000 visitors a year.

    We were hoping that you would permit us to show some of your photos, of course with mention of the maker. If so, do you maybe have high res images that you could send us, and that we can use for making reproductions? Also, what name should be used for the credit to the photographer?
    What all should I know for museums using my photos, and is there anything I should ask them? It seems simple for what they're asking. I'd be sending them high res digital copies and they would do the prints for display. I know to do a contract, and then if they're selling them in any way then I charge somehow but what if it's only for display purposes? They do charge admission fees to visitors.
  2. Does the museum have any credentials? I wouldn't be sending any high resolution files to someone I don't know just on the basis of an email.
  3. ''high res images that you could send us, and that we can use for making reproductions''

    Why would they want to do that? Red Flag! Red Flag!
    As Charles mentioned, I hope you thoroughly check them out. Credentials, past shows, references etc...
    How did they get your name? Did you contact them or did they explain where they saw your work?
    If you got an email out of the blue then I would not dare send them anything.

    I'm just the suspicious type since I found 3 local websites that are using my photos without my permission. Not sure what steps I am going to take yet because I am not sure how they got them. I think it was from a web designer that I sent them to for a magazine, but have not contacted any of them yet.

  4. Museum visitors leave money with the museum. There is nothing wrong with the photographer asking for a little amount of that money...
    Making reproductions sounds like someone will be making greeting cards, posters (perhaps,) and prints to hang on walls other than inside the museum.
  5. Total scam, ignore it.
  6. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    Zane is right. This is a scam. Delete the email and move on.
  7. If it's a publicly-owned not-for-profit museum, and particularly one that you've heard of, there would be no harm in pursuing it further. If it's a private commercial venture, generating a profit, you should share in that (unless of course you feel that the publicity for your work is enough reward in itself).
  8. Check them out. They should have, assuming they exist, a website. Then, if they're local, take a stroll down there and have a look see. THEN, draft an e-mail regarding what you would expect from that agreement. If they agree, THEN you can think about sending them digital files...
    Initially, it sounds like a scam to me - museums (and I've worked with some) tend to contact you personally by phone the first time, rather than an e-mail such as this...but then again, you never know...
  9. I definitely wouldn't just send them anything at this point. They saw my photos and contacted me through a forum and they are in another country. I know the museum is real and has a website, I'll get more info on them and replied asking them for their credentials and references. I do know the museum they are claiming to be, and can contact it directly for verification.
    I'm just wondering what to do if they are legitimate. If it's ok to send high res after that, for them to print themselves. Obviously with a contract or something.
  10. Museum visitors leave money with the museum.​
    Not all museums charge admission. Many in England and most in London do not.
  11. I get emails about sending my work to such and such at least once a week. I answer everyone of the emails with. Sure send me a contract, I would like a percentage of the proceeds, I would like to be invited to your museum so I can personally bring my work to you and help your museum director arrange my work there. You'll be required to pay for my travel and expenses while I am visiting.
    Not, one ever gets back to me. Hmmmmmm, I wonder why? Most of them I can't find anything on them, nor can I find a physical address for them let a lone a phone number to contact someone.
    You can do what you like, but if it isn't the NYC Museum contacting you with credentials I would be very careful.
  12. The fact that the museum does exist does not mean the email came from them. Someone could be spoofing the address. Write back to the same person at a different address, or to an address you get from the website. Verify that the person who wrote to you actually works there, and they did in fact email you.
  13. Given the global spread of Pnet patrons one of us is bound to be in a city/town near where your 'museum' is located so could perhaps pop in on your behalf and check if it actually exists?
  14. Most museums I've ever been in show art (including photos) from well-known, well-established artists and get their artwork either through carefully cultivated personal/professional relationships in the art world, or at least by reaching out to the agents representing those who are established enough that the museum would want their work. (The wife of a friend is a former assitant curator at the Smithsonian here in Washington, so I get to hear a little bit about how museums work from time to time.) Have you had your work on display in galleries, winning serious juried competitions, or otherwise put into a position to come to the attention of a museum? The odds that any legitimate museum would be emailing an unknown photographer (no offense) asking for photos certainly sounds fishy at best.
  15. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    I'll get more info on them and replied asking them for their credentials and references.​

    What you need to do is forward the email to a contact address from the museum's site. As someone else points out, the address could be spoofed and you might not notice that.
  16. We were hoping that you would permit us to show some of your photos, of course with mention of the maker.
    Mention of the maker? Awkward phrasing suggests a non-native speaker. That does not automatically translate into 'scam' but it may be one of those little warning signs. Asking for hi-res right off sounds suspicious too.
    In the absence of more information and some documentation of the authenticity of the request, my preliminary verdict? SCAM
    BTW, it's not unheard of for someone to assume an identity that is not theirs. Check that the email and the website are actually at the same "place."
  17. It is the Nigerian Museum of Photographic knock-offs and rip-offs. ;)
  18. I've been earnestly solicited by galleries before, but never by museums. So understand that I'm only sort of in the know here.
    That said, I've never heard of a museum (or gallery) that would ever request anything other than the finished, printed product. Artists usually see every aspect of the artwork as an important part of the whole, and how you choose to print and/or present your images is something that you, the "maker" are supposed to figure out. They want to arrange and curate it themselves mind you, but they don't want to jerk around with picking out papers and selecting print sizes and such. - especially because it could lead to a confrontation if you disagree with their selections.
    In the future, I would ignore ANY request for high-res digital files unless it is from someone already representing you, or it is part of an application.
  19. The old adage about not believing everything that you read is even more applicable in the age of emails. I once received an email from the US Ambassador to Nigeria offering, for a small fee, to bring my millions of dollars out of the country in a diplomatic pouch. Sounded great until I remembered I don't have any money in Nigeria! Even though the "Ambassador" included his official biography, even on my worst of days doubt that such an offer would be made by a US Government Official in an ordinary email ;-)
  20. Scammity scam scam scam.
    OK, a "museum" is trolling the internet for photographs to reproduce with credit for the "maker"?
    Do not let your eyes glaze over with the idea that this is how careers are launched. This is pure deceit coming to your mailbox.
    Even in the enormously unlikely event that this is an honest request, why on earth would you send files to a stranger so they can make prints to sell?
  21. Dan, Here is a fun idea. Send the museum some high-res totally out of focus underexposed images just to see what kind of feedback you get:)
    I'm thinking they may say..... we love the images: Now please send us X amount of dollars for set up cost & blah blah blah....
  22. Yep scam.
    1. An overseas museum or gallery will feature artists that its patrons are likely to have heard of or who the museum thinks is a hot up and coming artist - the latter will almost certainly be based on a recommendation from some industry contacts. They won't go searching the internet for nice photos.
    2. As Zack said, artists care about the quality of their work at every level and will ship finished/framed prints, never digital files. Legit Museums know this and would never even ask.
    They are either trying to get hold of high res images to use/sell or else this is a lead up to an advance fee scam.
  23. I hadn't though of that Dan, but you're probably right; it's an email "Vanity Gallery."
    First they get your images and charge you a processing fee, then a fee to convert them to the "museum database," then a fee to put them online...
  24. Well I did a lot of digging and they are indeed legit. Confirmed though 2 people, phone, emailed the websites contact email, facebook, adress, website, etc.
    They only want to use the images in the gallery either as print or slideshows (not yet decided). Then possible merchandise in the future, obviously with payment and a new contract. So I don't know what to do, but they aren't a scam.
  25. Dan, that is interesting, but I would still beware, especially since they are in another country. I can understand you not wanting to share the name of the museum for a couple of reasons, but unfortunately nobody can give feedback on the museum since we don't know the name. I guess by now you have googled the museum's name along with the word ''scam'' while you were digging around.
    Your situation made me think of a past situation. I was contacted by a company that claimed they were from Sweden a couple of years ago. Their contact number was also from Sweden. They wanted to use a couple of my sports photos (asap) for a magazine cover and banners to promote an event. I asked them how they found out about me and they actually saw my photos here or so they claimed. They wanted me to send the high res images, but after I tried to get info a couple of times about payment and they ended up telling me thank you, but time ran out and they went another route. I never found out if it was a scam or not. They never asked me for money, but wanted my images.
    Funny story- I was invited to show my work at our local museum over 30 years ago, but it was just a small side exhibit. Photography was just a hobby back then and I did the show hoping for some exposure. My mom was so proud and wanted to see the show. One day I took mom and an aunt to the museum. They stood by my photos and whenever someone would walk by mom and aunt (acting like art critics) would start talking about how great my photos were. They kept his up for over a half hour. I wish I had video of that :)
    I think the photos were for sale, but I am positive I did not sell one photo:-(
  26. John: I do have video of your mom and aunt talking about your photos. For a copy, go to your nearest Western Union office and wire me $250.... :cool:
  27. Jeff, where do I send the money. Can I send $50.00 extra for overnight delivery? ;-)
  28. Not sure if this is too late to be of use, but I figured since I found it searching "a museum wants my photos" someone else might as well. I notice the common though in these posts is don't do it. But i have been emailed by 5 separate museums, and i have displayed in all of them. The first time, I was not a noted photographer though that has changed in part to my exhibits with them. Though you should be weary like many here have said, DO NOT let the opportunity pass you by. This is the way some careers are made. It may be that you are better than yourself or others have ever cared to see. Research it thoroughly but don't dismiss it.
  29. Joshua, how did you get hooked up with the museums, especially the first one? How did they find out about you?
    I was dating a friend of the museum director when I got asked to display:)

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