Your Digital Photos Aren’t Worth ANYTHING

I had a weird experience the last couple days and it got weirder today.

I wrote a small company on a very small island and told them I liked one of their photos they use on their site. I also told them I was writing an article about the island and would mention their small business favorably and put a link in the article linking to their site AND another link on the photo with credit to them and a link back to their site if they would allow me to feature the photo in the article.

This was not for ThaiPulse incidentally, but no matter – could have been for any site.

The girl co-owner, a Brit, writes back that she couldn’t let the photo be used without charging for it.

I thought she didn’t understand so I wrote again to clarify everything. It’s in the best interests of her business to be mentioned – didn’t she “get it”?

She got it, at least she thought she did – but, in the next email back she wrote again – that the article is worth more with a photo and she’d need to charge for it.

Let me explain further. The shot has nice color. That’s about it. It is only about 400pixels by 250 and not high resolution by any means. Anyone or a monkey could have taken the photo – it’s just that the perspective seen is from high above the ground.

I have access to Getty images for free. I have credits at enough for hundreds of photos – basically free. Or, if you equate credit to dollars – I have the $3 it would take to get a photo of the island from the same or much better perspective.

I like to help small Thai businesses that I like, that I believe in. For free. I don’t make any extra money writing this article, I’m paid a salary at the place I was writing for. It’s not freelance… anyway…

Your digital photos (and mine) are not worth squat in today’s market. Everyone and their kids has a digital camera and are capable of turning out remarkable photos. Gone are the days when I worked in New York City as a photographer and spent hours prepping a scene or a model to take photos that were worth something more than $3 at Dreamstime. Those days are WAY gone.

Apparently someone is still telling the world they can make money with their digital photos. It’s a novice way to enter into online sales of some sort. Something everyone can do to have a business online. Everyone wants the easy money online.

There isn’t any easy money in digital photos. Not even if you put together 100 photos that make people fall down semi-comatose and suck wind for 10 minutes because they can’t wrap their minds around what they just saw.

I have 700+ photos online at stock photo agencies. I know how to shoot a photo. I have some good photos. I was a professional at one time. I make about a dollar a sale on my photos – high resolution shot with amazing care and precision.

A dollar.

The best photographers in the entire world are putting billions of photos online at stock agencies because that’s where the buyers are. Not NYC, not Chicago and L.A. They are online and they want a photo for about 3 dollars.

The best chance anyone has for making money on digital photography these days is to make all of your photos “Creative Commons” licensed (see flickr’s CC info) and put your credit in the form of a URL directly on your photos so that some people will come back to your site.

That’s about it. There’s too many calendars. There’s too many coffee mugs with photos. You’re aren’t anything special unless they’re naked people doing weird stuff. Even then, there is such a glut of por—-n online that those photos too are dropping down to the couple dollars a shot rate.

Digital video is another story. Creating something unique digitally is another story. Writing stories – is another story.

Digital image money making is dead.

If someone writes you to say they are writing an article about your town and they are mentioning your business in the article – favorably, and with a link back to your site from the article, and the writer would like to use one of YOUR photos in the article WITH a link back to your site. Count them – that’s 2 links.

You should: (multiple choice)

A.) Tell the writer your photos are not free and you will charge him for them.

B.) Understand that you are getting free advertising and offer the writer 25 more photos you have that you haven’t posted online yet.

C.) Tell the writer you have enough people coming to your small business, but thanks for the thought.

D.) Write back as fast as you can, “YES, USE MY PHOTOS, THANK YOU FOR THE LINK AND MENTION!” and quickly invite the writer to use your service gratis for a 2-day stay if he’ll write 2 more articles about your business over the next couple weeks.

E.) Go back to watching Thai soap operas and thinking about how to make your skin whiter.

Writing Something Negative about a Thai Business?

Interesting day yesterday…

I’m in the video store picking out something to watch. I get a call from the guy whose internet shop I go to often.

He says he doesn’t like some things I wrote about him on my web site.


I’m confused, because I don’t remember writing anything about him (yet), but I knew it was something I really wanted to make time for since the place was an incredible find for me – I get fast internet, air con, comfortable place, always music playing… and the guy is a business genius. We talk about a lot of topics… I was beginning to think that we’d be friends for a long time…

But, he’s telling me he doesn’t like something that was written – he is telling me the link he followed off my home page to get to the page…

He tells me that there are two things on my site that are not good for his business… I’m struggling in my mind to think – what the hell did I write about this guy? Honestly, I remembered NOTHING that I wrote about him or his business.

He tells me that I said I don’t like the coffee…

Hmm, wait a second – yeah, that’s true – how the hell does he know that? I MUST HAVE written something.

Now I’m afraid of what the hell I wrote because when I write and post to my blog or create a web page I’m doing it on the fly. It might take me 20 minutes to create a page and post it to the blog or site. I’ve written 1100 pages on I’ve posted 300 times at this blog. I’ve got other blogs that I’ve posted over 200 more blog entries at. I typically write a couple to a few thousand words per day. I’ve had a few instances now where I’ve forgotten something that I’ve written.

Writing everyday on different topics has that effect.

This was one of those times – and I was regretting having written anything since I must have written about him and his business when I didn’t know him at all. Likely, the first day I met him back on August 11th or 12th. That was 60-70 days ago.

Now, usually I remember things I’ve written – at least that I have written something at all. This time I didn’t remember as he’s telling me what else he didn’t like about what I wrote…

He said, you tell people that they may be able to get free WIFI from my coffee shop if they stay at the hotel next door on the 2nd floor.

Yes… now I’m starting to remember that I wrote something about this place.

Yeah, I wrote that… I don’t have any problem with saying that. It’s not negative about his store. It’s not going to affect him. If it’s 5 pm to 9am you might be able to get free internet… because he’s not OPEN. That was my point… but, sure anyone can get free WIFI anywhere there’s an open network – and I write about those places since we as visitors are constantly searching for a good internet connection and especially free WIFI.

If a shop owner doesn’t want someone to have free WIFI – restrict the network… and cut off the WIFI at night when the store isn’t open.

So, I don’t think that was such a big deal to him… not sure.

The other thing was, he was ordering lunch from next door at the hotel. They brought it over…I ordered kow pad moo – fried rice. In Krabi the price for fried rice is 30-35 baht. I stayed at that hotel before and I had room service… they charged me 30 or 35 baht – I forget which.

When I got it at his shop from this hotel he told me the price was 60 baht. I stopped for a second, going to ask WHY? But, I shut up and ate it. Making mental notes that I wouldn’t be eating anything from there again. I’d rather walk 5 meters to the hotel and get it for 30 baht.

As he’s telling me about this – he tells me that the hotel charged that much, he didn’t add anything onto it.

Oh, my mistake.

I thought I distinctly heard in Thai that the woman said 35 baht. They spoke back and forth quickly between them and then he said, “60 baht”.

So – I figured, of course, that he added the extra as a commission for eating it at his inet cafe.

I guess I was wrong… (and I shouldn’t have written it)

I still hadn’t the slightest idea what all I’d written. I was embarrassed that I had forgotten that I wrote about his shop and I was anxious to see what I’d written…

First stop after the vide place was a travel agency where my g/f and I were to drop off some vietnamese rolls that she made for the girl there. As we’re sitting there she gets a call from…. YOU GUESSED IT… This guy was calling her because he found her on my site. He was asking all kinds of questions about me, where I work, where I came from (live?), how does she know me… etc.

Then as she gets off the phone to tell us what happened she tells us that he tried to call my girlfriend’s work place! We called there later that night and found out that he did call and try to find out more information!

She also tells us that the guy is going to meet with the owner of another internet cafe in town that I wrote a negative review of… did they know each other before? I don’t know – but they know each other now.

The other inet cafe gave me some horrible service one day… I wrote up exactly what happened in a blog post, you may have seen it here… The owners were rude to me and they tried to add on a huge extra payment after I had bought the wifi ticket, having neither told me about the extra charge or having it written on their sign for WIFI. Anyway, that’s another story.

I went home and pulled it up on my site…


I did write a BIG page of information…

The entire page was filled with good information about the place, the owner as the ultimate Thai businessman… the fast, consistent uploads and downloads. The awesome atmosphere. The guy’s accomplishments as web host business, coffee / inet shop owner, drummer, drum instructor, band member… etc.

I counted 19 POSITIVE THINGS versus the 2 negative things… I didn’t like the coffee, and the charge for the rice was way high.

Well, I’ve since changed the page to be ‘nicer’, but I’m not sure he’ll be happy with it as it is. Hopefully he’ll answer my email, SMS, or phone call today.

When I write something about a business in Thailand I’m writing to help other visitors. It helps them to know about free WIFI. It helps them to know, the service sucked at a place or the owners were rude, or they tried to tack on extra charges AFTER you already buy something that requires the extras… If visitors to Thailand shared information about the places they stayed, ate, visited, etc – we’d all have a much better experience in Thailand. That’s my idea…

I know it’s right from my perspective, but from a Thai person owning a business perspective?

Anyway – so, that was my yesterday.

Be careful if you have a site where you’re critical of Thai people or businesses. I keep thinking I understand the concept of “face” but you know what, I STILL don’t get it. I still don’t understand the MAJOR importance it has in Thais’ minds.

I don’t think I’m ever really going to understand.

It may well be THE MOST IMPORTANT thing in a Thai person’s life… be very careful about stepping on it, even if it’s softly…

My sincere apologies to my friend…

I’ll seriously consider everything I write that may affect someone’s business in a negative way in the future and I’ll tone it down as much as possible while still giving good information to those traveling to Thailand on vacation.

You want to RIDE that bike before you Buy it? Thailand’s Wacky Buy before you Try Businesses!

A year ago I looked at a car in Ubon.

A simple car, Honda Prelude like I had back in the states at one point. It was a few years old, maybe 6.

I was thinking that in the states that car, in good shape, like this one appeared to be as it sat motion-less at the dealer, would go for about 10,000 USD.

I was just looking, and had no intention of buying anything but it caught my eye since I love Hondas and I haven’t seen many Preludes in Thailand, and
I’d seen NONE in Ubon (Isaan).

I was with a Thai friend who was doing the translation for me since it was easier. My friend told me they wanted 450,000 for it. I thought – hmm, ok,
not bad. I sat inside, started it up. It sounded good. It sounded great. Everything worked. Power windows, mirrors, sunroof, antenna – everything
worked well. Interior was nice, not worn. Radio had been upgraded and the speakers sounded great.

If I was in the market for a car – I’d be considering it (so far).

We then asked to drive it. My friend said that they said no that we could not. I said, no, ask them again because he must not have understood.

He asked again and we got the same answer. We asked again. Same answer.

I didn’t get it.

Then I thought, oh well, maybe they drive it FOR me and I just sit inside and ensure that it works well.

No, we can’t drive it or drive in it.

I told my friend to tell the guy that nobody would buy a car like that. But, since then, I’ve found that Thai people DO buy a car like that!

Since then I’ve been to a Honda and Suzuki and Yamaha shop to buy motorbikes. They ALL refused to let me drive one before buying it! I was dumbfounded each time!

I went to look at a mountain bike the other day. This bike retails for 11,500 baht. This is about $300 USD. When I asked to ride it – he must have misunderstood because he said, “yes, you can”. When I took the bike into the parking lot and began riding it – the sales guy was talking to me the whole time – telling me that I cannot ride it.

I said, “WHAT? I cannot ride this bike around the parking lot before I buy it?” (I spoke in Thai)

He said, no – it will get dirty tires and then nobody will want to buy it!

HAHAHHA! I had to laugh. I could not believe what he said. Is this place for real?

Apparently it is. Either they don’t let farangs ride their motorsais, bikes, or cars, before we buy them, or this is the policy for all people. I’m guessing it’s for all of us.

I’ve asked my girlfriend and she said usually buyers can’t drive things first before buying.

It’s just one of the wacky Thai business practices that makes me shake my head and wonder how anything gets done in business here. The Thais’
have a very weird idea of running businesses. I’m amazed at how inefficiently it all goes.

I’ve written other places about how I walk into a store and find that if I buy a larger package of coffee I might actually pay MORE than I would for 2 smaller sized coffee packages! YES, I’m not joking! Their sense of business is seriously
different from the USA.

I expect things aren’t going to get better anytime soon!

Link to another article I’ve written about Thai business practices >

So buy your bike BEFORE you ride it, and don’t think about returning it because there is generally a NO RETURNS POLICY for anything in Thailand!

NO! I’m not joking…

So here I sit – carless and bikeless. I had to buy a motorbike without riding it first, so I bought a new one, thinking that it must be OK. Buying 2nd hand
is maybe not such a good idea here…

Moving to Thailand anytime soon?

Living in Thailand – What is it like to live in Thailand? Could you do it? Follow one man’s journey.

Moving to Thailand – What is involved in moving across the globe to live in Thailand? What is it like? All your questions answered.

The Ultimate Guide to Teaching in Thailand – There have been a couple attempts at books that cover this subject. We have reviewed them and found them seriously lacking. Here is a very complete book on the subject.