You want WHAT for free?

The amazing nerve of some people.

This morning, I got a lengthy e-mail from a photographer that started out like this:

Hi Maria. I’m [name omitted], an award winning VR photographer famous for my interactive, fullscreen 360° aerial panoramas. I’m the only photographer in the country that does this from a helicopter.

I can’t seem to catch the attention of the larger helicopter charter companies, evidently they have all the business they want, so I’m hoping a smaller company like yours will have a little more vision.

In April I want to shoot a series of aerial panoramas for an “aerial virtual tour” of Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon, and I’d like to make a trade with you: Give me a free flight, and I’ll give you some of the 360° aerials for your website.

He then went on to explain how valuable his photos were and exactly why I should fly him around — for free.

Gee, I wonder why he “can’t catch the attention” of other helicopter companies. Could it be that, like me, they’re in business to make money, not to collect photographs? That, like me, they can’t pay their mechanics and insurance companies and fuel providers and pilots with pretty pictures? That flights like those he suggests can cost thousands of dollars and tie up the helicopter, preventing it from doing revenue flights at the same time?

But the kicker is this: he claims he’s “the only photographer in the country” that does panoramic 36° interactive VR photos from a helicopter. And that simply is not true.

Just the other day, I got a copy of a photo taken by one of my clients this past fall that is exactly what he describes. It’s an incredible piece of work that shows the confluence of the San Juan and Colorado Rivers on Lake Powell. You can drag your mouse to look up and down and circle around. You can see the sky and the water. You can zoom in or out. I’m waiting for the photographer to give me a watermarked version so I can put it on my Web site and share it with everyone else.

So I guess he’s not “the only” one, huh?

I followed a link and found that he introduced himself in a forum using the same exact first paragraph he used with me. Guess he has a macro key that inserts it everywhere he needs to introduce himself. Talk about tooting his own horn.

This really gets me. These guys are so full of themselves that they think everyone else should be giving them their services for free. But if he was so good, he’d have the money to pay for these services — like the rest of the professional photographers I’ve worked with over the years.

I forwarded the message to one of my photographer clients — you know, one who pays me to fly him around. He looked the guy up online and wrote back, outraged. A quote: “What bullshit!” So even photographers think this guy is a jerk.

Will some hungry helicopter pilot take this guy around for free? Maybe someone with a few hundred hours and an R22. Let’s just hope he knows how to recover from settling with power, which is a real danger when flying for this kind of work.

But I hope members of the professional helicopter pilot community take the same stand I have. Maybe it’ll take this guy down a rung and get him to put his money where his swelled head is.

What do you think?