Is it okay for a professional photographer to try and crowdfund a new camera? It seems like the answer to that is No, if you go by the response to pro wedding photographer Stephen Yanni‘s recent GoFundMe campaign. A campaign that raised no money, but a whole lot of outrage, before being ultimately pulled.
We became aware of the situation last night when we saw this tweet by David Hobby (aka. Strobist):
No worries if you did not crowdfund that dude's new Nikon D4s. Says it was already paid for before he asked you.: https://t.co/YhDNzQMgZV
— David Hobby (@strobist) March 4, 2014
Intrigued, we dug deeper and found that Hobby was talking about a GoFundMe campaign by Yanni that he had stumbled across two days ago. Yanni was trying to crowdsource his purchase of a new D4s by offering a number of rewards such as workshops and photo shoots to people who donated varying amounts of money.
Hobby’s reaction to the campaign mirrored that of most of the photo community:
I just saw a dude in Orlando is CROWDSOURCING HIS PURCHASE OF A NEW D4s and I blacked out and now I can smell colors. http://t.co/jeWgYuRsuO
— David Hobby (@strobist) March 3, 2014
But is this an overreaction? That’s the question that Jared Polin of Fro Knows Photo wanted to answer when he got in touch with Yanni to ask him about the campaign. Polin’s argument is that Yanni could have spared himself the Internet shaming and outrage if he had simply presented the campaign differently.
His GoFundMe message (which you can read below) was worded in such a way that, before you even get to the part where he says he’s not asking for a handout, you’ve decided that this guy is asking you to buy him the newest camera because he can’t afford it.
Buying a new camera every two years is an expense that Pro-Photographers have to take on to keep up. (No they don’t take any better pictures, but when you take 100,000 images a year they do wear out)
Help us get the latest and greatest and to maintain our edge in the Orlando Market.
We are not asking for a handout, the products listed all have value – (Save maybe our “Gratefulness”).
As you might imagine, it turned into a mess as people all over the photo community wondered what the heck the guy was doing. And to complicate things further, in tweeting back and forth with Hobby, he seemed to admit that he already had the money before he even raised a cent online.
So, where do you stand? Is this, as Hobby calls it, a ‘crass money grab’? Is it wrong for a pro to fund a business expense by basically selling services ahead of time? Or is this just a matter of poor wording that you could ‘spin differently‘ to garner a more positive reaction. Let us know what you think in the comments down below.