Being asked to shoot five weddings for a hugely popular Netflix show may seem like a dream opportunity, but according to photographer Megan Saul, the show’s producers had no intention of paying for it. In a Facebook post on May 4, she says she was contacted by Kinetic Content (the company that uses Love is blind for Netflix) about working with them on the show, but was told in a follow-up email that instead of using money, the company offered the option of having her work appear in promotional material and magazines (through PetaPixel).
In her post, Saul says that receiving the email was “super exciting for 20 minutes” until she discovered she was asked to actually donate her time and expertise. She called the request “insulting to artists” and called on companies to pay contractors and artists when they want work done. “The bottom line is that this is offensive,” she wrote.
Asking artists to work for free might be daring, but common – there are entire Twitter accounts dedicated to companies and people who ask for unpaid work with promises of ‘exposure’ or to show their work by others. Some people see this as an opportunity to get their name out there, in the hope that a prospective paying customer will see their work and get in touch with them. Others say it undervalues the work of artists – would you ask an engineer to design a building for free because many people could see it?
Wherever you fall in the debate, the producers ask a lot of. Photographing weddings is grueling, exhausting work and Kinetic Content asks the photographer to do just that five times. Plus, as Saul points out in her Facebook post, getting her job in magazines and Netflix promos won’t pay for her stuff, insurance, or employees she needs to help photograph a wedding. “It is clearly more than my time that I donate to a large company to benefit from 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, as neither Kinetic Content nor Netflix responded to a request for comment.