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SportsShooter.com: Member Message Board

Money or Masters?
Adam Bird, Photographer
Grand Rapids | Mi | United States | Posted: 8:22 PM on 09.28.07
->> I'm in a bit of a quandry.

I might have the option of getting a job that will allow me a free masters degree, and benefits, but with a pretty low entry level salary. A pretty big cut in pay, and I won't be working in the newspaper industry anymore.

Or, I can continue stringing, which has been quite good to me all things considered, although who knows with today's market what it'll be like in another year or two. I can make more money right now stringing, and there is a high probability that I will continue to do so for quite a while.

I guess the bigger question- in my 8 years of freelancing I've hardly every had anybody ask to see a portfolio (not the NYT, USAT, AP, or anybody else) or ask about my degrees. They all hear about me by reputation and reference and that's about that. For the last 6 years my degrees have been little more then papers with ink on them.

Does anybody out there find that a graduate degree helps them? Is it a worthwhile thing in this new economy? I'm leaning towards the job, but then at the same time, I might not get it anyways. It just time for me to start having that 'future plans' discussion with myself.

Thanks SS!
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Robert Seale, Photographer
Houston | TX | USA | Posted: 10:09 PM on 09.28.07
->> -"Adam Bird's Message: I work as a freelance photojournalist in the West Michigan market. Currently I am on contract with the New York Times, USA Today, Associated Press, Bloomberg and almost every regional publication. "


Considering you signed three of the worst contracts in the industry, I would consider getting the master's.........perhaps in business.

_
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Rainier Ehrhardt, Photographer
Augusta | GA | USA | Posted: 10:21 PM on 09.28.07
->> Have to agree with Robert on this. My biggest regret in my school career is not getting a minor or even a major in business. So much of this job is business related. A good business sense will get you very far nowadays.
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Joshua Brown, Photographer
Waynesville | NC | USA | Posted: 11:05 PM on 09.28.07
->> Do a cost-benefit analysis. Will getting your masters help you earn more? Can you charge more with a higher degree or open doors that would otherwise be closed? If so, then it's something to consider. If your freelance work will remain unchanged and your ability to receive quality work is the same then the masters is no more than a fancy piece of paper that comes with bragging rights. Nice to have, but hardly worth taking a large pay cut for several years.
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David Harpe, Photographer
Louisville | KY | USA | Posted: 8:27 AM on 09.29.07
->> These days, would ANYONE become a freelance photographer if they THOUGHT about it?
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Stew Milne, Photographer
Providence | RI | USA | Posted: 9:46 AM on 09.29.07
->> Adam you say that the new possible job starts at a low salary. Will it go up, and if so, how soon. Is there more possible income in the job than staying with freelancing in a crappy market that is getting smaller and smaller?

You also have to weigh in a free education. How much would the master's degree cost if you had to pay for it? I think it would be a good idea to get the master's in something other than photography too. Like a few others have mentioned, a business degree is a great idea.

-sM


P.S.
When is SS.com going to add the "smartass" button to the rest of "This post is:" buttons? Sometimes a response isn't exactly "inappropriate", but is an "a-hole" response.
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Adam Bird, Photographer
Grand Rapids | Mi | United States | Posted: 9:53 AM on 09.29.07
->> Robert- I am not going to get into a flame war here, but I knew what I was getting into when I signed those contracts. I've read them, and I understand legal language. Grand Rapids represents a considerably different market then Houston and the contracts have proven very worthwhile both financially with the publications in question, and more importantly in the referral work that I get from them and by using them as references.

I do actually have a business background, which is why I am vaciliating between these two choices. I am not sure if the masters is really worth the financial and professional sacrifice since it removes me from the higher income and the free time to develop more marketing and networking to further the business.

I also know that I will not be able to charge more from a freelance point of view even with a masters. My rates are already as high as the local market will allow. With the economic crunch in Michigan, even though they haven't changed they're becoming to high just with the recession around me.

At this point I am also unsure what doors might be opened with a masters, hence the thread. In theory it might get me a editing job since I'm considering a multi-media communications degree if I do the masters. It might also be useful for a number of other web and media related jobs, but I'm not positive that this is competitive in the current job market, or the current excuse for a job market.

It seems to me as a freelancer and small business owner that the masters (either in communications or business) won't be that useful to those twin pursuits. It will be very useful if I can get a job working for somebody else, but the question is whether or not the masters degree will get me that job working for somebody else. I am not altogether sure what is most sought after out there.

If there are jobs out there in the great wild that pay decently and provide benefits provided that I have a masters, then bully. But are there jobs like that out there?
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Darren Whitley, Photographer
Maryville | MO | USA | Posted: 10:43 AM on 09.29.07
->> GVSU needs a photog is the way it sounds...

I work as the university photographer for Northwest Missouri State U. Below is a bunch of stuff that you need to think about for the job you're considering. You're life as a freelancer might seem fairly simple once you read this.

Before you take the job, inquire about the photo services budget. Does the job include a proper office and studio space? Will you be allowed to hire a staff of students to help with archiving and POS assignments?

You need a budget of at least $18-20,000 per year to maintain a department.

You'll need to hire freelancers when appropriate, pay for assignment travel, pay for equipment repair, pay for workshops such as Santa Fe or an SS Luau, pay for contest entries like CASE & UCDA, and professional memberships like UPAA, PPA, SportsShooter. And you need to keep your camera kits up to date.

The budget should support purchasing computer equipment such as an XRAID and server. You'll want to buy a new Mac every 2-3 years at $4,500 per desktop, a complimenting MacBook Pro for basketball season.

And on the camera side you may want to purchase some specialty lenses such as a lens baby, TS-90, TS-24, macro, fisheye etc. You might want a ring flash for the studio, and the studio should have a permanent set of strobes so you're not tearing down all the time. You'll want a second set for travel, and a kit using speedlights for the everyday stuff on campus.

You will also want to know whether the staff is proficient in Photoshop and process color. I require all pre-press be done by myself. There's no one on staff with that experience and I've saved the university thousands of dollars by mastering color.

You'll need to have calibration tools such as the Monaco XRite.

Being a university photographer is a management level position even if they don't consider it as such. So you should be allowed to weigh in on future hiring decisions of graphic designers. Graphic designers should have significant Photoshop skills and not just be paginators. This has a significant effect on use of your work. You will also need to establish that Photoshoping of your photos is under your supervision. I've had people from outside departments ask if they could get my files to Photoshop them for fun. And the answer is, NO! You'll want to require that all publications be coordinated with your team of designers. What's the point of having a professional photographer and taking away your ability to have supervision over the quality of publications? You need to approve every color print job when the proofs come in from the printers.

Try to get a contract with performance incentives and a raise schedule. It should also outline your rights to use your work. You need a guarantee in writing that you may use your photos for your portfolio, and your website while employed there and after that time.

Also require they outline in writing what is considered work-related vs. freelance. If a donor wants you to come do a commercial shoot at their business... is that work related? In my opinion it's not and it's actually quite illegal, but that's something that can happen. You need to protect your right to freelance and limit the number of hours you work for meger compensation.

Also try to have them define how much coverage each sport needs. Do you have to travel to away games for football, or just cover the home games? Will you travel for playoffs or just when they're at home? Obviously, you'd go to Florence for the national championship.

Also inquire about how much work you will be required to do the for advancement part of the university. Find out what and advancement officer makes and see whether you can negotiate a higher salary based on the idea that often the university photographer is integral to developing the photo presentations the advancement staff use to raise millions of dollars for the university. They also sometimes require you photograph their donors so why shouldn't they see you as important in that regard?
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Stanley Leary, Photographer
Roswell | GA | USA | Posted: 10:44 AM on 09.29.07
->> First I have my masters and haven't regretted getting the degree.

I do not know of any shooting jobs where a master’s degree is required or asked for.

Teaching in colleges often requires a master’s degree or even a doctorate.

If you feel like you still need to learn more this could be a great way to cram and speed up the learning curve. What you put into the program can help you develop a stronger portfolio and most importantly--business skills.

Take as many courses as you can which will help you develop your business skills while in a program.
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Michael Schwarz, Photographer
Decatur | GA | USA | Posted: 10:58 AM on 09.29.07
->> I wanted to agree with one thing that Stanley said and that is if you want to expand your options down the road then you will find that having a Masters or beyond will be helpful, if not essential, to teaching at the university level.

I don't see where it helps at all as a shooter, but you always have to think about the long term strategy.
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Robert Seale, Photographer
Houston | TX | USA | Posted: 11:22 AM on 09.29.07
->> Apologies to Stew for sounding like an "a-hole."

Adam-

Here's an analysis for two of the contracts:

http://www.asmp.org/news/spec2004/nytcontract.php

http://www.editorialphoto.com/ep/contracts/AP.html

If you have an understanding of business, why on earth would you sign those contracts? Are you not confident in the quality of your work? Are you scared they'll call another freelancer instead?

Sometimes you have to have principles and stand up for what is right in the industry. I've missed out on some huge jobs because of this.....heck, i'll even go further.....I have a really good friend who is photo editor at a really great magazine who I can't work for now, because their contract states that I can't work for competing publications within their field. I love this guy, and I really would like to do work for him, but as a freelancer, i just can't let one client dictate who my other clients are.

We all have to make personal choices and live with them. For those publications, the ship has probably already sailed. If enough people had said no in the beginning when presented with those contracts, we wouldn't be quite in the mess we are in today. I had friends who worked regularly for those two entities who walked away......unfortunately, there is always an eager beaver ready to jump in.

You may think you had to sign to compete in rural Michigan, but I don't buy that. If you have confidence in your work, and your work is good, you can work anywhere.

I'm presented with bad contracts every day. I cross out the bad stuff, send them in, and believe it or not, I get most of them changed. Those who won't make changes...I say no. 9 times out of 10, it's something the company attorney concocted that is completely unnecessary, they know it, and they just want to see what they can get away with. In the case of the AP and NYT, there were enough scared and/or ignorant freelancers, that they got one over on us.

If you continue to freelance....it will only get tougher. One of the most powerful tools in your arsenal is the word "no." Learn to say it, and you might survive.

Otherwise, do us all a favor and go get your master's and get out of our industry.
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Clark Brooks, Photo Editor, Photographer
Urbana | IL | USA | Posted: 11:57 AM on 09.29.07
->> Adam -

You look at it as a pay cut.... Shortsighted if you ask me. The master's degree isn't free, it is part of your compensation. Add up what you would spend if you were to pursue the degree right now in addition to the freelancing you are doing. Would you make more or less money?

Me, I would look at the situation as an investment in your future. Having that degree when you have a family, a kid or two to put through college, and planning for a retirement will be a mighty handy thing to have. If I could go to law school right now I'd pursue a concentration in IP Law. There are so few folk specializing in it and it is a growing field since we quickly growing as a tech driven economy.

The freelance industry is evolving and it may change into something you can't compete in or can't make enough money to make ends meet. Like Robert mentioned freelancing will get harder. Relying solely on income from editorial freelance work (unless you are negotiating successfully) will become a thing of the past in the not so distant future.

You can always comeback to freelancing after you get the degree. The benefits are nice to enjoy for a while as well. When the industry changes to the point where you say "Funk IT!" and want out, you'll be able to get a decent job to support you and your family with that advanced degree.

Gotta have a plan B, dude - let the masters degree be the 'B'. If school and the job don't workout ~ you have photography as your plan B. If you are as good as you say and the market is unsaturated with shooters, you'll back where you left of in 3 to 6 months. Look ahead more than a couple years and look a little further down the road in terms of decades. What is going to get you there faster and more comfortably?
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Adam Bird, Photographer
Grand Rapids | Mi | United States | Posted: 12:05 PM on 09.29.07
->> Robert- I understand your point on the AP contract, and it is a good one. I signed that contract almost 10 years ago before I had an understanding of how this game is played. I continue to work with the AP because of a personal relationship I have with a staffer then simply money, and to me certain relationships supercede other priorities. This is my decision to make, like it or not. I have not signed the contract used in the analysis with the NYT, and this has not been a problem for me thus far.

Like it or not, regardless of what I do with my masters (providing I am offered the job), I will again at some point be member of 'our' industry. I do say no to contracts, unfortunately on a more frequent basis then I would like, but I will continue to make my own decisions based on my market and my needs, using other people's opinions as a guide, but not a decision maker.

You have made some very good and valid points, and I can assume by your thoroughness that you are intelligent and well informed as a businessman and a photographer. Consider your tone a bit more when offering an opinion. The comment about 'getting the masters and getting out of our industry' is crass and uncalled for. Just because you don't agree with my decisions doesn't excuse poor and unprofessional posting on your part. I would respect your opinions and point of views more otherwise.

Darren-

Great information. I'd thought of some of those, but not all of them. I will definitly crib some of your questions to use in the interview. One note though- at this point it doesn't involve any sports photography, there is a separate shooter within the sports department who does that. I'll miss my Friday and Saturday night sports, but from an office/staff point of view I'll have clean nights and weekends. I've never had nights and weekends off before, so this could be a ncie switch.

It sounds like a good idea, even from 'useless masters' point of view just because education is never a bad thing. And I can continue freelancing on a limited basis while I work on the degree and that job. Open options in the future is always a good thing. I appreciate the discussion thus far.
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Adam Bird, Photographer
Grand Rapids | Mi | United States | Posted: 12:08 PM on 09.29.07
->> Clark- One thing- I never said I was that 'good.' Although I improve every day. Great points, I am being short sighted. I have a pretty diversified client base so that not all of my income is editorial, thank god. But given the benefits, wages, and free tuition (doing math in my head) I will definitly be coming out ahead.

Might be nice to sit out the paradigm shift for a year and get me edimicated.
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Darren Whitley, Photographer
Maryville | MO | USA | Posted: 1:04 PM on 09.29.07
->> Adam,

It's a special job, which you should request a very specific contract outlining everything. These are not uncommon in radio and entertainment to protect rights to your creative work.

You needn't get a master's in communication. Many masters programs only require you take a sampling of undergraduate classes before you start a graduate program. So I'd suggest you go for an MBA, marketing or advertising. The later two might be of use if you want to become a commercial/advertising photographer.

Best of luck.
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Adam Bird, Photographer
Grand Rapids | Mi | United States | Posted: 1:11 PM on 09.29.07
->> I was thinking of a masters in communication with a multi-media emphasis for the durability it would offer, but I'll have to think carefully about the others. I have to do some investigation into what is useful before I commit to something.

I've already got two ba's, one in journalism and another in photography so I don't have to do any undergraduate. I gotta give some serious time and attention to what I would 'like' to do other then photography down the road if it comes to it.
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Robert Seale, Photographer
Houston | TX | USA | Posted: 1:29 PM on 09.29.07
->> Adam-

Signing WFH contracts without proper compensation or benefits as a freelancer is unprofessional.

If I save one young photographer from making the bad decisions you're trying feverishly to defend and justify, then my "crass" statements are worth it.
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John Lee, Photographer
San Francisco | CA | USA | Posted: 1:53 PM on 09.29.07
->> Adam,

So just to chime into this fun boxing match of a posting, I've been wondering about one thing...

You said that in the 8 years of freelancing you've hardly ever needed to show your portfolio. Well, do you think that could be a reason for your limited client base that you've listed?

Also, I might have missed it from above, but did you ever specify what type of master's degree you would be getting?

And in all honesty, I have to concur with the points that Robert Seale made.
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Adam Bird, Photographer
Grand Rapids | Mi | United States | Posted: 2:28 PM on 09.29.07
->> Robert- you have a worth cause, I won't fight you on that. I'm only saying be polite as you do so, being crass does nothing but weaken your argument and portray your poorly to us young bucks who need your experience. Question- WFH? Not familiar with the term.

John- I have a very wide client base, I didn't list all of the people that I work for, just a few with names that people would recognize. My client base is not the point of this thread. If you are really really intersted and have a reason for the information, I'll send a note to you with all the clients that I regularly work for.

I would honestly love to show my portfolio off more, but even the jobs where I sought out the client with a portfolio in hand are usually more reputation related. Usually it's 'oh, you've done work for x and y, great, we'll work with you too.' What few portfolio calls I do get are not generally my 'portfolio' but requests for samples of specialized work like architecture, or commercial work with metals, textiles, furniture, etc., things that I wouldn't usually put in my normal portfolio and are not in the majority of what I shoot. Thus not representing the majority of my client base. From my experiences professionalism and reputation seem far more important then equipment or degrees and open many more doors.

And about the boxing match. It's dissapointing as a SS member to make a thread, then be antagonized about something completely unrelated to the issue that I am seeking wisdom on. If my signing a contract concerns Robert, I have been nothing but polite, something that I try in all my interactions on and offline. I don't want a boxing match, I want some advice and insight on this issue that I am contending with. If I wanted advice on my contracts, I would have asked the question.

I have not yet named which masters, I am still not sure which one would be the better experience for me. Thinking more about something like an MBA with a marketing/ad emphasis, but I have to research what's availible first.
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Rainier Ehrhardt, Photographer
Augusta | GA | USA | Posted: 2:49 PM on 09.29.07
->> WFH = work for hire
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Robin O'Shaughnessy, Student/Intern, Photographer
Athens | OH | USA | Posted: 3:38 PM on 09.29.07
->> Adam -

Personally, I think that accepting the lower paying job with the benefit of a free education would be my answer.
But then again I have made a decision to go back to school for my master's degree and it's not because I love Ramen noodles.

Have you asked at the university if you could continue to accept freelance? What do you want to be doing in the next 2-5 years? Did you apply for this position and if so, what were the reasons behind it? Do you even wish to have an advanced degree?

I think that if you took a step back and were able to answer those questions honestly then you'll feel better about what you decide to do.
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Adam Bird, Photographer
Grand Rapids | Mi | United States | Posted: 4:13 PM on 09.29.07
->> Robin- Good insight. This is not for certain (not from the department head) but I am quite sure I would be able to freelance on my own time, hich I would probably do to help eliminate my debt faster and to stay in some ways attatched to the biz. I have thought about an advanced degree for a few years, but the scheduling would never work out with my work load. I have already applied for this position since I have questions that won't be answered until I get an interview.

In 2-5 years I have my typical photographer pipe dream- travel around the world, shoot assignments for all the big magazines, etc. I did some of that a few years back when I lived in London, and loved covering the demonstrations, riots, oil spills, etc. If I can't do that, then I'd like to teach. I've done a bit of it here and there and enjoyed it. Teaching frees up summers (the type of teaching that I want to do) that will let me do option one on my own time and dime which, if I'm out of debt, doesn't bother me at all. I don't need to be published to do what I want, but I wouldn't mind the money or the recognition.

The more this thread goes on, the more comfortable I get with the idea. Everybody's insight has been very useful.

Oh, and thanks for the acronym help. I'm not much of a acronym kind of guy.
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John Green, Photographer
Redlands | CA | US | Posted: 5:03 PM on 09.29.07
->> "Otherwise, do us all a favor and go get your master's and get out of our industry"

Robert, just out of curiosity, who's our?
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John Lee, Photographer
San Francisco | CA | USA | Posted: 7:16 PM on 09.29.07
->> Yeah, gotta say, there are a lot of times when I wonder whether I should have pursued that post-graduate degree. There's a big part of me that would love to get a MFA in something esoteric like bookbinding and print-making. But I'm pretty sure that would be throwing money and two to three years of time out the window. Then there are times when I think it would be great to get a masters in some international relations field and completely get out of pro photo. But that just sounds dull compared to taking pictures for a living.

Adam, only reason why I brought up the portfolio thing is because I've been spending the past year or so husting my print book to editors and art buyers up and down Manhattan. Seems to be the only way to really make a dent for me. Just curious when a freelancer says that they don't pimp out their print books that much.
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Adam Bird, Photographer
Grand Rapids | Mi | United States | Posted: 8:14 PM on 09.29.07
->> john- there is no advertising and big publishing industry in grand rapids. There are a few very big players in manufacturing, and they outsource most of the lucrative work to place like New York or Chicago. I work for several institutions, non-profits and lots of media organizations. This place is no New York.

However, when i was stringing on london (nod to the brits) all I did was shoe leather and it worked quite well. But that was a much different place with more shooters and I didn't have 10 years reputation built up. Being in a small market and being known at least here is what it's about.

I do however have some ither photography projects I'm working on, and since art us the name if the game, I'll have to go where the market is.
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Trevor Frey, Photographer
Athens | Ga. | USA | Posted: 9:19 PM on 09.29.07
->> Adam, You're breaking Robert Seale's balls and don't know what WFH means?

More bullshit:

9:53 AM Today
->> Robert- I am not going to get into a flame war here, but I knew what I was getting into when I signed those contracts. I've read them, and I understand legal language. Grand Rapids represents a considerably different market then Houston and the contracts have proven very worthwhile both financially with the publications in question, and more importantly in the referral work that I get from them and by using them as references.

then

12:05 PM Today
->> Robert- I understand your point on the AP contract, and it is a good one. I signed that contract almost 10 years ago before I had an understanding of how this game is played. I continue to work with the AP because of a personal relationship I have with a staffer then simply money, and to me certain relationships supercede other priorities. This is my decision to make, like it or not. I have not signed the contract used in the analysis with the NYT, and this has not been a problem for me thus far.


Man, you asked. And then you bite the hand.....If you already know so much then why do you even ask?
All shitteness on my part aside, I don't think you can ever go wrong with more education.
good luck, trev
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Adam Bird, Photographer
Grand Rapids | Mi | United States | Posted: 9:57 PM on 09.29.07
->> Trev- point well taken. But my single biggest memory weakness is acronyms, and not every contract I have signed or written is a work for hire. I have done work with personal service agreements and usually I use a simple licensing contract rather then a work for hire. P.S.A. is also the name of my brother's business, so I always confuse those two along with hordes of other acronyms. I was never in the military.

To finish the contract business, I signed the AP contract when I was greener and younger then I am now. It's the only one that I signed not really considering the paper and what it's implications were- Robert was correct about that. But, there are a few people in the organization that have proven their friendship and loyalty in and out of business that I value above rights and money, so I help them when appropriate.

I never started this thread to discuss the merits of work for hire agreements, personal service agreements, different types of licensing and copywrite sharing. Robert was the one that introduced these topics. I used those names as examples of people that have offered work without seeing a portfolio. I never actually said I work for them in this thread, it was assumed, even if the assumption is correct.

Back to the topic.

One more vote for education, thank you! I appreciate your response to the matter.
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John Lee, Photographer
San Francisco | CA | USA | Posted: 10:25 PM on 09.29.07
->> Adam,

I'm wondering whether the issue here is the crutch you've placed on yourself because you live in Grand Rapids. Yeah, I hear you about not being in either New York or Los Angeles. Those two cities are where the biggest photo games are being played in the country. Hell, I can feel the "Los Angeles factor" effecting my freelancing from 400 miles north in my home base of San Francisco. Seems that New York editors love to fly in the "big guns" from Los Angeles when they have a big shoot up where I live. It always irks me when I see mags fly up Los Angeles guys like Art Streiber to shoot something in my town. But I use that knowledge to work harder and to try to get more editors to know that I exist.

I can understand your dilemma with being in Grand Rapids, since you're surrounded on three sides by big cities (Chicago, Indianapolis and Detroit). And New York folks will automatically defer to the bigger cities before shaking the local trees for new talent. But you know what? I have a friend in New York who is flown regularly to Chicago for assignments. That means even the photographers in Chicago are being trumped by New York.

But the point that I'm trying to make is that it ultimately doesn't matter where you're based, as long as you're a high-demand kick-ass amazing photographer. A buddy of mine who is based in Lake Tahoe (closest big airport: Reno) is packing his bags as we speak for a huge high-paying commercial shoot down in southern Argentina. They could have hired anyone from just about any international city that flies to Argentina, but they hired him.

I can think off the top of my head of at least a dozen photographers based in small markets who are kicking ass and traveling on big shoots for all sorts of New York clients. Ultimately, it doesn't matter where a photographer lives as long as they're close to an airport, because if a client wants you bad enough, they'll throw down ridiculous money to fly you to wherever they want you.

It all comes down to with what kind of photographer they perceive you to be, and whether they think you'll be able to deliver the goods better than the other photog they're considering for the job. And if you think you're a local/regional photographer, and if your portfolio/website reflects this, then most potential clients will probably think you're small time as well.

(Side note: I love how SS threads always morph into something else besides their original intended topics...)
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John Lee, Photographer
San Francisco | CA | USA | Posted: 10:30 PM on 09.29.07
->> Okay, two more thoughts since reading your last posting:

1. You don't have to have been in the military to understand business acronyms. You just have to understand the business that we're all struggling in.

2. With what I just stated above, maybe that master's degree is the best thing for you.
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Jesse Beals, Photographer
Silverdale | WA | USA | Posted: 4:41 AM on 09.30.07
->> My thoughts on this.

I have seen photographers with masters degrees that shoot like crap and have worthless portfolios compared too shooters that have photography minors with awesome portfolios.

I know I am going to call a photographer with a strong portfolio over a photographer with a masters degree but has a week portfolio for freelance work anyday.

It all comes down to what you can do behind the camera.

I don't have a masters degree and I've been published in hundreds of magazines and newspapers across the country over the past 7 years.
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Sam Santilli, Photographer, Photo Editor
Philippi | WV | USA | Posted: 11:26 AM on 09.30.07
->> Adam, no chance of doing both? Or will the job with free education take up all of your time working and studying? My wife works at a small private college, and I can take undergrad classes for free, and have taken a few, but now my business has grown so much I can not take advantage of the free classes. A real Catch 22. If you do not mind me asking, how old are you? I am 47, so finishing my MBA would be like adding a turbo to a Model T. But if you are in your 20's-30's, a masters would be a great tool in the bag. Photography will always be there for you, but will a free education?
OT: This thread is a great one, and proof that the ss.com is well worth the $25/yr.
Robert Seale: Bold representation of thought is a rare commodity, thanks for your clearity of thought.
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Adam Bird, Photographer
Grand Rapids | Mi | United States | Posted: 11:59 AM on 09.30.07
->> Thanks for all the great insights!

I'm working on revamping the website to give it the polish far above and beyond what it's got right now. I've got international experience covering pretty major events, but you guys are absolutely right, I'm not selling that like I should, I'm getting boxed in the regional column. The onus is really on my to go out and break that myth.

The job, if I get it, would allow me enough time in the evenings and weekends to freelance or do school, but to do both would be pretty hard. I could school on nights and freelance on weekends, but that would be stretching it pretty thin. It was pointed out by a friend that I could use the stability of the job to take advantage of weekends and vacations to travel and hustle my work, use the scheduled free time to push myself and my work until I have moved out of the region enough to make the job obsolete.

Sod's law says that with all this discussion and thought, I'll not get offered the job, of course. But this thread is very useful, it's helping me strategize how and what I'm going to do in the next few years.
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Stew Milne, Photographer
Providence | RI | USA | Posted: 4:40 PM on 10.02.07
->> >> Robert, how did you know I was talking about your response? ;)

Robert, I'll agree with you on many points, and I wish I know now what I know about contracts, WFH, compensation and copyright issues, 15 years ago. That is why SS.com is a great place for newcomers and old boys to learn.

Good luck with our decision Adam.

-sM
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Michael Fischer, Photographer
Spencer | Ia | USA | Posted: 9:35 AM on 10.03.07
->> Adam
Those who do not invest in the future have little right to expect one.

While a advance degree does not guarantee one financial success, I know few people who have made the investment who haven't had a better life as a result.

If you don't want the job offer, email me. I'll be interested.


Enough said.
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Mark Goldman, Photographer
Silver Spring | MD | USA | Posted: 10:36 AM on 10.03.07
->> Adam- Irrespective of the comments regarding the contracts you have signed, I got my Masters Degree while working full time for the University. In 1978, when I went to work at the University I was paid $9045 a year, but the trade off was that I got 15 credit hours of education per year at no charge. I took classes in every semester, including summer to finish my degree in 2.5 years. I can tell you from experience it is hard work to work full time and get a degree, but I would not trade that degree for anything. Just having it has opened doors for me that may never have existed without it.

It will require a lot of dedication and discipline to get it, but ultimately I would venture to guess that you will find it imminently worthwhile. I would also guess that it will open up doors for you that may have not existed in the past.

Best of luck with your decision.
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Jim French, Photographer
Whitefish Bay | WI | United States | Posted: 10:39 AM on 10.03.07
->> Adam:

I am a new member to SS. I have never offered my opinion in the threads I read, as I am not a professional photographer. Howevr, I review the message board a few times a week. I am excepting my self imposed rule as I see this (in my opinion) as a "life" issue.

I am 47 years old; own and run two businesses. I use photography as a creative outlet and as an opportunity to exercise my brain.

I will offer my view on your question/situation. First, education is something that can never be taken from you. However you view this, critical thinking is a tool you need in almost every situation you encounter. At a bare minimum, further education, in whatever format you choose, sharpens those skills. Is it necessary for your career? I think this forum is a good start, but not the only source I would use.

Life throws many curves at you. Will you be ready for them?
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Adam Bird, Photographer
Grand Rapids | Mi | United States | Posted: 12:38 PM on 10.03.07
->> Many thanks again for the feedback! It's given me good food for thought!

Adam
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