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|| Member Message Board

Southcreek Global
Anthony Nesmith, Photographer
Franklin | MA | USA | Posted: 5:56 PM on 07.24.10
->> Anyone recently apply to Southcreek Global? Trying to get an idea of the turnaround time for an email stating application was received. I've seen a thread about a year ago stating it was several days to one week. Not sure if this is still the case.
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Michael Durisseau, Photographer, Assistant
Santa Fe/Houston | TX | USA | Posted: 6:34 PM on 07.24.10
->> I'm not sure what the deal is on the turnaround time, but I do understand they want a three different galleries of images...the bad news is that you work on spec...
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Randy Sartin, Photographer
Knoxville | TN | USA | Posted: 7:41 PM on 07.24.10
->> It took them 3 months to turn me down :)
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Anthony Nesmith, Photographer
Franklin | MA | USA | Posted: 10:07 AM on 07.26.10
->> Thanks for the response.

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Jason Heffran, Photographer
Natrona Heights | PA | USA | Posted: 1:45 PM on 07.26.10
->> I see a guy from Southcreek Global every now and then at Pirates games. I can ask him what his experience was on this. If I find out anything other than what's been posted - I'll reply.

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Chuck Liddy, Photographer
Durham | NC | USA | Posted: 2:49 PM on 07.26.10
->> I don't think they pay people....just what I've heard through the GWC's that hang around in that circle of spec shooters
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Manny Flores, Photographer
Frisco | tx | usa | Posted: 7:38 PM on 07.26.10
->> I have been covering major sporting events throughout the country for the past 14-yrs. and freelance for Frisco & McKinney Newspapers. I freelance for Baylor, SMU and some TCU sports. I also shoot for Icon SMI, Cal Sport Media and can proudly say I now shoot for Southcreek Global. Kathy @ Southcreek has been very professional to me and is well respected in our industry. I have several friends in the DFW area who also work for SC and have nothing but great things to say about Kathy and SC, which I'm sure the other photogs will likely respond to this post. Rumors are started from the lack of knowledge or idiots who think they know everything. I highly suggest you do your research before you continue to make an ass of yourself in public.
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David Welker, Photographer, Student/Intern
Springfield | MO | USA | Posted: 8:09 PM on 07.26.10
->> As a member that has contributed to SC, and dealt with the SC team, the only negative thing I can say is that you shoot on spec. At the beginning of spring, my business was good, and so I figured I would go ahead and try my hand at some side spec work. (In my mind, spec is something that is not free work, basically commission). When business slowed down in the summer quite a bit, I needed to be more focused on preparing my family finacially rather than spending time shooting spec work. I addressed my cares with Kathy/Ray, and they understood why I had to stop taking assignments for the time being. They DO care about their photographers, and DO care about what is important to their photographers. In my case, it was supplying for my family and that needed to come first. Will I go back to Southcreek? Assuming work flows more and my availability, sure. Shooting on spec is nothing to make a living at, but the side money is always welcome. I do recommend to anyone that is looking for an outlet for their work to contact SC and see what they are capable of.

As per communications, honestly, it can be a bit rough. But I have had personal phone calls from several admins who wanted to figure out what was going on in order for the photos to get out, credentialing, etc. If there was a problem I had with them, which there were at times, it came back to me realizing that I had done something stupid in my workflow that ruined my work, or there was a bit of miscommunication on both ends.

just my .02.
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Kent Nishimura, Student/Intern
Honolulu | HI | USA | Posted: 8:22 PM on 07.26.10
->> uh-oh...chuck's in trouble!

i remember speaking with Ray back in 2008 when i first started photo. I believe this was when Southcreek had just started up. I was interested, but didn;t like the prospect of shooting spec. that was just my $0.02.

best of luck to everyone involved and not-involved with Southcreek.
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Michael Johnson, Photographer, Photo Editor
Geneseo | NY | USA | Posted: 8:23 PM on 07.26.10
->> As I read this post originally the other day I was just going to ignore the whole thing. I didn't feel the need to discuss especially since members here have ripped the spec services.
As a proud member of Southcreek Global Media and I will say that Ray and Kathy have been great and that my time at Southcreek has helped me work toward bettering my career.
I work for a small weekly paper in New York and I'm currently looking to make the next step up the ladder. My time with Southcreek has helped my portfolio grow and has helped me get interviews with publications. They have done a lot for me and I feel more loyal to them at this moment than the company I work for that gave me my first full time newspaper job.
While I haven't had the right offer yet I hope to stay with Ray and Kathy and the Southcreek family where ever my next stop maybe.
Remember that many of you guy's that are in good positions now had to start at the bottom and find anyway you could to climb to the top and while it may not be your choice to work spec for me it was the right one and Southcreek is the right place.
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Tim Cowie, Photographer
Davidson | NC | USA | Posted: 8:46 PM on 07.26.10
->> I don't shoot a lot of spec, but have done business with Southcreek Global Media on occasion. I have always had a great experience with the company and when/if the opportunity arises in the future would have no qualms working with them again.

I know that I try to treat my customers as first rate, but like everyone else occasionally slip up. If someone has had a bad experience with Southcreek Global, I'm sure it's not a regular occurance. They communicate well and often (sometimes almost too often, which is a rarity in this business).

If you have questions, call Kathy. I guarantee she will pick up the phone and talk with you.
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Anthony Smith, Photographer
Ocala | FL | USA | Posted: 9:30 PM on 07.26.10
->> I shoot for Southcreek and am very pleased with their service and professionalism. Matter of fact, last year they gave me my first opportunity to shoot NFL and I actually made SI my first time out! Ray called me personally to let me know the good news and I got paid in a timely manner.

Yes, its spec work, however it gives you a great opportunity to take your skills to the next level and continue to grow in this profession. We would all love to get a check each week for out efforts, but in this business that's not always going to be the case.

Southcreek has always answered any questions I had in a timely manner and with utmost professionalism, and I'm proud to be a part of the SCG family.
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Scott Kane, Photographer
Edwardsville | IL | USA | Posted: 9:38 PM on 07.26.10
->> I myself have nothing but good things to say about Southcreek Global, they have always treated me well and have always addressed any issue I have had in a very professional and timely manner. I consider myself to be very fortunate be a part of the Southcreek team.
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Steven Bisig, Photographer
Seattle | WA | USA | Posted: 9:42 PM on 07.26.10
->> Glad this thread has turned positive.

Steven b~
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David Rosenblum, Photographer
Jacksonville Beach | Fl | USA | Posted: 10:31 PM on 07.26.10
->> Like Michael above me, I too am a proud memeber of Southcreek Global and currently work for a small weekly community paper looking to get to the next level. Kathy and Ray have been nothing short of some of the most kind and professional people I've yet to work with in the media industry.

They've stuck with me through camera issues, where I pretty much wasted an entire NFL game, and have coached everyone on the importance pf being patient on photos sales in the spec industry.

I've been with Southcreek for about two years now and just recently had my first published photo, in Sports Illiustrated's Fantasy Football guide, something I am very proud of and hope reflects my hard work at Southcreek. It was shot last season, which again shows why patience is a key in spec work. Trust me, the wait was well worth it.

Unlike some of the people I see on here who may be greedy or hate what they do, I love shooting sports, regardless if it feels like it's for free at times. I work hard at what I do knowing there is no salary or hourly rate attached and honestly, I dn't mind one bit. Both myself and Southcreek's ultimate goal is to get photos published and that's what got done.

Maybe some people think they are too good for spec work and that's fine. Would I mind being paid hourly or salary to shoot events? I woud quite my day job in a heartbeat for it, but right now that's the case and I don't mind one bit.

I've always said I'd shoot for free, but that comment may only be geared towards compensation. My whole experience at Southcreek has been worth the world up to this point and I look forward to everything our future together holds.

You may not get paid every event you shoot, but for people like me, it doesn't matter. Money is just a bonus right now.
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Mark Abbott, Photographer
Durham | NC | US | Posted: 10:38 PM on 07.26.10
->> I cover sports in Durham NC for Southcreek and have had nothing but positive experiences. I use it to fill in my schedule and gain experience. Ray and Kathy have been very easy to work with and communication has always been good. Last year I got to cover Duke Basketball for Southcreek which lead to 3 published photos in SI, 2 double trucks in the Commemorative Issue celebrating their championship win. With Ray and Kathy's support I have been able to chase a passion and build a better portfolio in the process.For a self taught photographer it has opened doors that were closed to me.
I know who Chuck Liddy is and have respected his work at the N&O for a long time. Perhaps he will ask me next time I run into him what my experience has been at Southcreek rather than depending on the word of mouth he got from the "GWC's that hang around in that circle of spec shooters"
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Jerry Miron, Photographer, Photo Editor
Arlington | TX | USA | Posted: 10:38 PM on 07.26.10
->> I agree with most of the posters on this thread: Kathy has been nothing but great to me and I consider it an honor to work for a wire service such as Southcreek.

This is a down economy and there is a lot more competition for the photo jobs that are out there. Bottom line is if your stuff is good, there will be a demand for your product and your services, your images will sell and you will make money.

This is not a case of servitude, one can choose if they want to work for this company under their terms of payment. And for those not chosen to work for this, or any employer, I suggest they take a hard look at themselves before posting negative comments.
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Paul Lindenfelser, Photographer
PIttsburgh | Pa | USA | Posted: 10:50 PM on 07.26.10
->> I currently am shooting for Southcreek Global on a limited basis due to having a non photography full time job, as well as, some medical issues with my wife. Kathy and the staff at SCG have been incredible to work with. I have been doing arts festivals for 5 years and wanted to start doing some freelance sports photography.
SCG has provided me with an opportunity to develop my skills with workflow and getting comfortable with sports venues. They have been very patient with the whole process, and am quite certain that this company will be a major player in the industry. I am glad to have joined the team and look forward to growing with SCG. They are VERY professional, and have high standards which will help them grow.
It is very hard to get experience in the freelance field, but there are very many photographers out there that can produce excellent images if given the chance. That is what SCG is doing, and that competition will only motivate current freelancers to be better photographers.

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Brad Barr, Photographer
Port St. Lucie | FL | USA | Posted: 11:24 PM on 07.26.10
->> So Chuck gets several "informatives" for basically accusing SCGM of not paying its photogs based on hearsay.....and Manny gets 4 "inappropriate" marks for pointing that fact out??

Thats messed up.

I shoot some for SCGM, and have found them to be everything the other ACTUAL shooters for SCGM have said.

I always thought that as "journalists" dont say something that negative about a company/person based upon hearsay. I know several SCGM shooters....and have seen SCGM credits in SI and other magazines with increasing frequency. I had a shot of Ernie Els published last month in Golf Magazine....will it feed my family? No. But tbh...neither would the wage the local paper pays its photogs either. But, I feed my family and pay my mortgage solely thru photography...its not a hobby, its what I do for 100% of my income.
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Alexander Pylyshyn, Photographer, Student/Intern
Newmarket | ON | Canada | Posted: 11:44 PM on 07.26.10
->> Brad,

I am pretty sure Manny is getting those inappropriate ratings due to his choice of words. Not exactly very professional to be calling people idiots and saying they're making asses of themselves.

A colleague of mine used to shoot for SCGM and had nothing but good things to say about Ray and Kathy. I understand spec work is a controversial subject here but I have never heard anything negative about the organization itself other than the fact that it is, again, on spec.

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Chuck Liddy, Photographer
Durham | NC | USA | Posted: 12:06 AM on 07.27.10
->> Well, after being completely distraught over the threat of being sued by a member I didn't know who had a man's name as the member but then was signed by a woman I realized the post broke one of the SS rules.

"Please do not post a message 'on behalf of someone else'. This is a message board for members, not for people who just-so-happen-to-know a member."

I guess I was right since the post is now gone.
But I have to say that whoever that was that threatened legal action should actually think about putting me on their payroll!
I'm serious, look at ALL these GLOWING endorsements!!! It makes me want to quit my job and run out to shoot spec!!!!
Seriously folks, grow up. If criticizing this kind of business on a message board purportedly for PROFESSIONALS gets someones panties all bunched up and makes you feel "icky" there must be a reason......
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Mark Loundy, Photo Editor
San Jose | CA | USA | Posted: 12:10 AM on 07.27.10
->> If spec work gives you a chance to take your work to "the next level," just what is that level? You can develop your shooting skills at the local level just as effectively as the pro level.

Spec shooting might "work" for an individual shooter for a time, but they're helping to limit -- if not outright destroy -- everybody's future opportunities. Why would anybody want to guarantee payment to one photographer when they can "hire" a whole bunch of them and only pay the one that makes it to the final edit?

Don't confuse a smile and the occasional check with "professionalism." Being treated professionally means being paid a fair amount for ALL of the work that you do. If I were running a spec operation, you bet I'd treat spec shooters "professionally." They would be gifting me with free labor.

Adopting bad business practices early in your career only makes it more likely that there will be no "big time" to step up to.

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Joe Nicola, Photographer
Fort Worth | TX | USA | Posted: 12:45 AM on 07.27.10
->> I'm chiming in, as well, on behalf of Southcreek Global. Yes, they have been professional and consistently attentive to what I need to get a particular assignment done in a timely fashion, but they have also made me feel as if I'm their only photographer when, clearly, I'm not. I REALLY enjoy working for them. It feels a bit like family with the Millers, which is a whole lot better than some of the other guys out there.

Ray and Kathy Miller have been fantastic to work for, giving me opportunities and events to shoot that I might not otherwise get. More than ANY other media outlet, Southcreek Global has gotten me the credentials I needed, on time, and with as little hassle as possible. They've shown quite a bit of patience with me and helped me learn even more about what I'm doing and how I can better fit into their program.

Southcreek Global fits nicely into the spec niche and their manner of conducting business is an appropriate model that fits not only their business needs, but the needs of those photographers who work for them. I think spec shooting has its place, though it may not be for everyone, even if some think it's doing irreparable harm to the industry. I don't see it, but, hey, that's just me.
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Manny Flores, Photographer
Frisco | tx | usa | Posted: 1:02 AM on 07.27.10
->> Here is the deal.
I have been doing this for a long long time and have been very fortunate to have met some really great people along the way, unfortunately like any other business, you will occasionally meet an arrogant know it all who will curse you and/or belittle you because they feel a bit intimidated because they don't think you should be shooting at their event working for spec.
Yes, I learned to be defensive and protect who I shoot for and I usually get published no matter who is beside or around me. I take a great deal and pride in that one.
I realized that I may have come across a bit strong, but sometimes I just get a bit tired of all the drama that comes with this business.
FYI, I believe Kathy's husband was seriously injured in an accident, she is the co-owner and appears to have gone through some really tough times, but hey U wouldn't have known, right, but you for some reason U continue to take your pop shots and show your true feelings without doing your homework. U need to take a lesson from your avitar the next time U open your BIG mouth and just "THINK!!!" before you continue to show your arrogance.
Just think twice before you, me and others slam each other because sometimes we really may NOT know all the facts.

Finally, I am only protecting the media wire services companies I work for and the friends I work for and with, why, because its like protecting my family.
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Kent Nishimura, Student/Intern
Honolulu | HI | USA | Posted: 1:31 AM on 07.27.10
->> exactly. not all the facts are known. they why continue to perpetuate this cycle it was put...slamming?

everyone has nice things to say about ray and kathy. sure. I'm also sure no one doubts that they're nice people.

Point of the matter is exact what Mark had said.

"Spec shooting might "work" for an individual shooter for a time, but they're helping to limit -- if not outright destroy -- everybody's future opportunities."

It's about respecting yourself, and your work.

Aloha from Hawaii.
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Joe Nicola, Photographer
Fort Worth | TX | USA | Posted: 1:46 AM on 07.27.10
->> I don't get how it's "destroying" the industry.

When I look around and see, for example, textbooks full of photos, or sports annuals, or even the Photoshop tutorials with the iStockphoto images that were all shot "on spec," I just have to ask, "Could a photographer have been hired, i.e. "guaranteed" a paycheck to shoot those images for all those applications? Would, say, a textbook company that needs just one shot of an oil rig in west Texas for a chapter on oil production hire a photographer to shoot that one image? I doubt it.

It doesn't sound like good business to hire a guy, pay his/her expenses to drive out to west Texas to shoot an oil rig so that X textbook company could have an image to print in their book, all in the name of "saving the photo industry."

Yet, if Mark Loundy is suggesting that spec shooting works for a while, but one is limiting their opportunities and, thus, their future in the business, isn't he also saying that it's okay on some level; that it's even useful to a point, but to truly become a "professional," we need to leave spec shooting behind and move up to the next level?

And, hey, what Manny said. If anyone who is slammin' Southcreek would do a little homework, they might learn something a great company.
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Rick Yeatts, Photographer
Dallas | TX | USA | Posted: 1:53 AM on 07.27.10
->> I see shooters all the time on the sidelines, the court and the pitch looking to make a name for themselves by shooting on spec. For the most part they have the gear and know how to look good doing it but that is as far as it goes.

Number one if your there just shooting without the pressure to preform and produce quality images telling the story of the event with five to ten images you are waisting your time if you think different you're not as smart as you think you are. Most of the shooters I've seen have there cameras set on automatic or shutter/ aperture priority. Thats my first clue to cut and run when I'm looking for a shooter.

Number two the media director knows your there shooting for free because they are well acquainted with the agencies and their business practices. Is that the way you want to be perceived? Not a very good way to obtain respect with media relations directors. So much for the next level.

If you want to shoot for free your best bet is to try to hook up with the team photographer and do what ever they say with a smile. Do that for at least a couple of years and you will learn something you can take to the next level.

As for SC I have heard nothing but nice things and whoever they are they are a really nice people. Why wouldn't they be your building their library of images for free. They are so nice you will get a credential and you shoot for free with
the hopes of seeing your name in lights! Do you make enough in sales at the end of the year to buy a 5K camera? The up side is they give you a free pull over to wear. What a great deal! You give them free images you get a free shirt. Take that to the bank and put it up for collateral for the business loan you're going to need to maintain you equipment or make an insurance payment.

I agree with Joe, you are not doing irreparable to the industry. You are doing it to yourself.
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Manny Flores, Photographer
Frisco | tx | usa | Posted: 2:25 AM on 07.27.10
->> Rick,
U R a wonderful guy and a great shooter, I admire your work.
I agree with you in some cases about shooting for spec, however I do personally shoot for several photography companies located around the country which gives me a great opportunity to travel all over the USA as I shoot numerous Cheer Competition and National Volleyball events while making very good money doing so. IMO, U need balance, I need to shoot as many paying gigs as possible so I can still cover for my media wire agencies. True, it does not pay the bills, but the balance of shooting different venues will and can. I can honestly say I usually get a monthly check from my wire services ranging from $150 to $300, IMO that aint too bad. I would have loved working for ya, but Joey L beat me to it. Joe is a great guy and I know he will gain a wealth of knowledge from ya, even though he is already pretty damn good.

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Ray Miller, Photographer
Whitby | ON | | Posted: 4:01 AM on 07.27.10
->> Chuck and all Sports Shooter members enjoying this thread LOL

Well here I am :-) Not able to physically type as I used to (all who have seen my profile know of the accident and how a lovely driver drove through a red light broad siding me at 50mph to give me the gift of officially becoming a disabled person). So for Sports Shooter I have got out my little Snowflake voice dictation clip on mike (please pardon any type o's as still working to get the bugs out of this voice dictation program LOL. Now I am not looking for a pity party or empathy in any sense or form, but simply setting the record straight why my spouse Kathy for the almost all of the past 3.5 years has run and operated the company I started and posted the now deleted response on SS. Apologies to SS if this was something not allowed on SS, we will have her (a talented photog in her own right, become a member too to avoid such issues.

So down to the business at hand, the comments earlier that were deleted originally are not about the pro and con vs. spec shooting. That argument will go on for ETERNITY and has many people entrenched in both camps. My view is not to change either sides view but to simply lend a voice saying… let people on this earth... do what makes them happy. Take it from someone who has lost the ability to shoot... just be happy and shoot regardless if it is pro, spec, amateur, nature, weddings etc. You never know when that gift will be taken away from you and how much you can miss it! Alas we move on....

Next up, comments were made in "the deleted response" about how in public forums... to accuse / insinuate that a corporation is financial "screwing" photographers by not paying them for images they get published ... all on hearsay is a dangerous legality period. No different than un-true gossip of any photographers business and how damming allegations can be to a business. My thoughts here are not not “about spec” etc, they are about business and ethics. Not how much a business makes or does not make, but about business and a business reputation. A spec company such as Kathy's owned Southcreek Global is an INC corporation and has much invested in aspects that go unseen. This is about real business and how damaging real untruths can be to a company that strives to do things right when the untruths are discussed publically and people start throwing stuff like that around. What happens is the snowball process... well if it was said by so and so, and he is respected, it may just be true! This is something some many in the world need to really understand and sadly some do not understand until push comes to shove or they themselves are on the other side of it.

Not many people read retractions in the newspapers or magazines!

So I am sure some will be thinking “oh boo who to you pal”, but I speak from the heart and share the joy and pride of every image any Southcreek photographer shoots - be they a pro photog wanting to just do more of what they love or a regular guy who perhaps is by day…. a construction worker and has the luxury of extra bucks for pro gear and well.... may just a damn good shooter to boot. With this said, I watch each day what my wife Kathy - who runs Southcreek, and who posted on my SS account - and signed it as a woman – herself - does with this business and it is magical. Without the pity party Chuck, I am sure you will see with the glimpse into my life… why I am not particularly active on SS anymore and not personally involved typing or posting the response. Plus it discussed Southcreek… and well now in life….she is Southcreek. But you were correct and as stated Chuck, it is why it was removed and, she will be getting her own SS membership.

Alas my dictation is done and I will get back to the joys I personally receive… to see something I thought was over, be kept alive. No I cannot shoot anymore, but watching my wife Kathy write checks each month to the hard working Southcreek photographers for their images she gets published has wonderfully become a way to once again smile and strangely makes me still feel like I am a photographer!

Ray Miller
Sports Shooter Member
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Joe Nicola, Photographer
Fort Worth | TX | USA | Posted: 4:22 AM on 07.27.10
->> Bravo, Ray.

Rick, with all due respect, I don't think the media relations directors at any of the universities I've worked with have any problems with my shooting on spec for Southcreek. I think they DO care whether I respect their procedures and play by their rules more than which agency I shoot for...well, except for SI. Those guys always seem to get the breaks and the extra assistant on the sidelines that we "regular" guys don't. But I digress...

Shooting on shutter or aperture priority as a mark of someone less than professional? I know several professional photojournalists who shoot shutter priority in game situations where the action moves in and out of sunlight / shade where the camera responds faster than the photographer in making an adjustment. Ever shoot in Texas Stadium on a sunny day? If so, then you know what I mean.

Characterizing someone as less than skilled because they might use their camera settings differently than you do is unfair and, really, somewhat narrowminded. I read in one of these posts that Brad Mangin carrys a Canon point and shoot in his bag for "grab shots." I don't think that makes him less than professional.

Well, anyway. Shooting on spec is something I do on the side with my regular photo gigs. Keeps me busy. Sometimes, too busy. And with people like Ray and Kathy Miller running the show at Southcreek Global...keeps it fun. So, it's all good.
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Mike Janes, Photographer
Attica | NY | USA | Posted: 4:31 AM on 07.27.10
->> I find it strangely ironic that there's this argument on spec shooting but there are several posts with everyone patting members on the back about getting majorly published images shot on spec, but with no mention of it. Would everyone jump on those getting double trucks in SI because it was shot on spec? From now on every congratulations thread must be questioned if shot on spec before any can be given I guess, spec and AV mode together equals banishment in this assumption.

I don't shoot for SC, but can address some of what Rick (and others) posted as I do shoot on spec, along with paid assignments, because I know where I can make my money and don’t just do it to do it. It’s not for s**ts and giggles, I need to make a living first and foremost.

Can't capture the moment...anyone with half a brain is going into events, spec or paid, to document the moment of what they are shooting and get the best shot possible. Shooting on spec makes it so you just forget that? The pressures off…REALLY?? So on Monday I shoot a paid assignment for the local rag I nail the shot, Tuesday I do spec and automatically miss it because, hell it’s spec!

Auto Mode - I have my second body on AV most the time because it's a little difficult to grab and get the settings right on the fly, my main is always on M but use the back button switch when changing on the fly. Make me not professional? I see a lot of AV mode and TV mode with Getty and other paid photographers as well; hinting only spec shooters shoot that way is asinine.

Media directors/editors – what is this comment saying about SI, ESPN, USA Today, and hundreds of other editors who choose to use images from spec agencies? Honestly I find it kind of insulting to them, they are choosing the photo based off the best photo for that spread, not always if it’s from whatever agency. Correct me if I’m wrong but they download multiple shots from different sources to try and use the best that fits.

Team photographer – One thing I learned as a coach was people learn a lot more from making their own mistakes than watching someone else do it. Even though it’d be a great experience to be a team photographer assistant, learn from them, see what they do, etc., unless you have the camera in your hand learning it’s worthless. Like an internship you need hands on experience, on your own, thrown into the fire a bit. Shoot on spec and maybe make money or be a free assistant like suggested and definitely make zero. I can see some using a spec company to learn the ropes and work for an agency, without actually paying the thousands of dollars to do it for college credit.

Nice people – Personally I’m someone who doesn’t care if you’re paying me or not, if you’re not good to work with I’m walking. I’ve done it before, leaving because I didn’t like the people there, and I’ve stayed in jobs that paid less but the people were great to work with. I need to make enough to survive, but if my boss is an a-hole then it’s time to move on, even if it means taking a pay cut. I did this with coaching, and ironically it worked out to make more in one weekend than I did with an entire season with them – dumb luck.

Sales – The new MKIV says yes, the new car that will be in the driveway soon says yes, the fact surviving on mostly spec work says yes. Again though, not doing it just to do it and know where/when/who/etc. I can see if you're talking about people losing money, not getting sales, just at an event to be there...but honestly NFL or pee wee football, I shoot paid or spec where I will end up making the money - others I know don't at times and just want to be on the sidelines even if losing week in and out. If using it as a learning experience, OK maybe for a bit take the loss. If doing it all the time just to do it and not making any money for yourself and the agency, then that person needs to walk away as it's a disservice to all involved.

Name in lights – this makes it sound like there is no check involved and only getting credit. So let’s do some generic math using a made up $300 day fee.

Agency 1 - $300 day fee – $1,000 sale – you get (0%) $0…Total = $300
Agency 2 - $300 day fee – $1,000 sale – you get (50%) $500…Total = $800
Agency 3 - $0 day fee - $1,000 sale – you get (60%) $600…Total = $600

To be completely fair, you really have to look at it all – the days with no sales. But hopefully if someone is not making any money at anything then they’d know it was worthless and not just be there to be there, as already mentioned. I know I’m not the only one who does a lot of math to see where my money comes from, cut out the bad and try to add the good.

Spec is paid work, when published. If not getting published then need to re-evaluate what you're shooting, who for, etc. Find the purpose basically. You can learn from it and move on, saying you can't is complete BS from people high on a pedestal. Shooting it just to say you were there is stupid of course, we know this. It's a never ending argument. All in all, at least it's not these random guys with cameras trading images ONLY for credit! Hate them, it's really easy!
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Brad Mangin, Photographer
Pleasanton | CA | USA | Posted: 9:40 AM on 07.27.10
->> Awesome! My name has been dragged into this thread so I must set the record straight.

I do not carry my Canon SD800 IS in my bag for "grab shots." I reserve my rather out dated point and shoot (I need to get a new one) for fun social events where I might be consuming a cocktail or two.

When I am not working (and getting paid) I am super lazy and hate lugging my real cameras around. Like at an event I will be attending tonight in New York City with my good friend Paul Cunningham. The point and shoot will get lots of use tonight, but it will not be in my bag when I shoot the Marlins @ Giants tomorrow.

You can't believe everything you read in the funny papers, or the funny message boards.
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Brian Blanco, Photographer
Tampa / Sarasota | FL | USA | Posted: 10:34 AM on 07.27.10
->> Mike Janes,

I don't get into the Spec Work vs. Assignment Work argument, it's an argument you'll never win regardless of which side you argue. But, respectfully, I do think your "generic math" may be a bit misleading. It may give young/new shooters the impression that every sale via a spec agency is going to bring in at or near $1,000.00. (Even considering your admission that there will be days with no sales) I know you were't trying to suggest that EVERY sale is a high-dollar sale, but the math, as presented, might make it appear that way to some.

It might be more accurate to describe those, far more frequent, days when spec shooters see $10.00 commissions. The deleted thread eluded to this when she mentioned that Southcreek Global may take a few months to pay a shooter as they generally wait until the contributor's commission account reaches $50.00. I wish that part of the post had not been deleted, because I thought that was a fair, albeit unintentional, glimpse into the reality of shooting on spec for SOME shooters.

With all due respect to Southcreek, their shooters and other shooters who shoot on spec (and I do know a couple of guys who I respect a lot and who make good money shooting on spec for a different spec-based wire service) I think it's only fair that the math be a bit more accurate and represent, at the very least, a median average per-game sales figure.
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John Germ, Photographer
Wadsworth | Oh | USA | Posted: 12:13 PM on 07.27.10
->> Mark Loundy:

I hear what you are saying, and the principle of it makes perfect sense. But I do not believe your principle works in the real world. In the real world there are less paid jobs now than before. Lots of downsized photographers out on the market competing for those very few jobs remaining. So, the availability of said paid jobs for people new to market is not there. What you are doing is appealing to people's altruistic sense that they should refuse any spec work because it's bad for the industry. At the same time there is not guaranteed pay work for the deluge of shooters out there. So, in essence, you're asking people to forgo any work in the hopes that enough people altruistically refuse spec work to keep guaranteed pay work artificially inflated (I say artificially because there is currently much more supply than there is demand).

Now, as a shooter of youth sports I agree you can absolutely learn how to be a good sports shooter shooting amateur sports. BUT, you still need access. You're not going to learn how to be a football shooter trying to shoot from the stands. You need to be on the sidelines. Now, if you're going to say - hey, turn down that access to the sidelines where you can practice and improve until you're hired by someone willing to pay you a fair wage you have to show people those opportunities are there. I'm not seeing that's the case. So, essentially, the argument says they should forego learning opportunities for the betterment of the industry but there's no guarantee and a strong possibility against such a cause making a big enough wave of altruistic shooters to make a difference. If you want people to do something you have to motivate them. While I like the theory of what you say, in reality what is the motivation for people to follow your advice? It's like eating fast food - everyone knows it's bad but there is too much personal short term benefit from doing it. Getting people to stop just by telling them it's bad does not work.

Given the glut of photographers, I think it's very realistic that if a person turns down spec work it may be years or never before they get a chance to do what they love doing. So what is their motivation for doing it? Human beings, as a whole, aren't very altruistic.
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Jerry Miron, Photographer, Photo Editor
Arlington | TX | USA | Posted: 12:15 PM on 07.27.10
->> This is why, in all manners of buisness, (except for, ahem, Pro Sports) it is taboo to talk about how much one earns or is getting paid.

But Manny is completely correct:

Shooting Youth Sports, while way way way less glamorous, is where the real money is at these days.

Shooting Pro Sports is where the prestige factor comes in to play. How you choose to get compensated is up to you.

Me? Hell, I love sports so much, I would probably shoot most Pro or College events for free! Yikes, I might have just started a whole other post thread with that one....

Bottom line for all of us is to have fun. It's a real honor and a blessing to get to do what we do, at any level.
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Michael Ip, Photographer
New York | NY | USA | Posted: 12:38 PM on 07.27.10
->> My 2 cents.... I've always thought shooting pro sports on spec would be difficult to make decent money. I mean every pro sports event I've been to you'll see multiple Getty, AP, Reuters, US Presswire, etc shooters there. Just the fact that they're there, I'd think they would have most of the action and angles covered.

Now for full disclosure I will shoot on spec from time to time, but it's never sports - it would be concerts or breaking news that I just run on. This stuff does sell regularly, and unlike sporting events - sell a lot more out of the archives.
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William Guerro, Photographer
Galloway | NJ | USA | Posted: 1:58 PM on 07.27.10
->> Anthony's original question.

"Anyone recently apply to Southcreek Global? Trying to get an idea of the turnaround time for an email stating application was received. I've seen a thread about a year ago stating it was several days to one week. Not sure if this is still the case."

Man you talk about a Hijacked Thread!
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Randy Sartin, Photographer
Knoxville | TN | USA | Posted: 2:11 PM on 07.27.10
->> William,

No kidding, and I got an "inappropriate" for answering him!
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Thomas E. Witte, Photographer, Photo Editor
Cincinnati | OH | USA | Posted: 2:33 PM on 07.27.10
->> First off, what's the friggin deal with all the inappropriates on posts that are completely benign? Just because someone says something that goes against your personal business relationships or raises questions to an entity you're associated with, does not make it inappropriate.

Dig through the archives and pull up all the derogatory posts about established agencies and you'll barely find a naughty mark (per capita).

That aside, a few observations;

Brian Blanco- Ding ding ding!!! One of the reasons I got sucked in to spec shooting was the sales pitch from the editor about 50/50 splits using magazine double trucks as an example. "$500 for my split? Sports Illustrated? **** yea, sign me up."

Granted, I'm one of the few that pulled it off but that's because I I was smart about it. Not to go off on a tangent, but all too often I see people make a go at it and they read my previous advice about needing MOUNTAINS of images in your archive to make any money... That doesn't mean shooting anything and everything, that means figuring out what sells and shooting the excrement out of it - for years - well.

Backing up to Brian's post; thanks to recent business deals and current market dynamics, the average spec shooter can expect nearly all of their splits to be under $50 per photo, with one in ~50 being between $50-125. Maybe one in ~500 will reap $125-500. Notice I said "average", and those numbers carry the caveat of your prices varying from agency to agency. Some push for market value, some hyper commoditize your images in a subscription. Your mileage may vary.


I just scanned back up to find another quote and I keep seeing $1000 sales as an example. Let's remember that there are basically TWO publications in the US that pay that much for an image. Between them they publish 18-36 of those images per month (this counts the section fronts and features). Due to staffers and hired guns accounting for most of those, about 11-18 come from agencies or solicitations. When you rule out the images they specifically go and search for for their stories, you end up with about 9-12 that are picked up from the general hodgepodge... That general hodgepodge is roughly 13,000 submitted images (on the low end) for one of the magazines, or a 0.06% chance of your image being selected in that particular week you shot it, assuming it was shot between Thursday-Sunday.

To put it in other terms, you're TEN TIMES more likely to be audited by the IRS than you are to get an image picked in any given week. Keep that in mind next time someone uses that $1000 sale sales pitch on you.


Back to point, some of you are suffering from a semantic misunderstanding.

"Not being paid" means three different things to three different people.

To some it means not getting paid a day rate. To others it means not getting paid a royalty/split. In some cases with some agencies it means you don't get a day rate OR a royalty. Sad but true.

Keep this in mind when someone says "so and so doesn't pay their photographers".
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Mike Janes, Photographer
Attica | NY | USA | Posted: 2:59 PM on 07.27.10
->> Brian - my math was just made up round numbers as an example and wasn't meant to say every sale is like that, most would probably be the lesser kind when it comes to say covering an MLB team on spec every home stand. Again though as I stated repeatedly, if you're not making money (and covering gas isn't "making money") then that person needs to do some re-evaluating.

Doesn't matter if it's the NFL or Pee-Wee Football, you need to be making a living, and if using it as a learning experience then need to know when to walk or figure out why you're not making money (is it you or the agency or both).

In short, there are smart ways to work with spec - doing it just to "get in the game" is not a smart way to work. I can understand a strong dislike for those type of people, but we always seem to be lumping everyone together instead of knowing there is a difference in all types of work. Case in point, shot a game yesterday where the stringer showed up on assignment. I made 2-3x what he made with his fee, and knew it going in that I would be making a spec sale immediately. So he got a paid assignment at least half the price, is he smarter?
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Thomas E. Witte, Photographer, Photo Editor
Cincinnati | OH | USA | Posted: 3:12 PM on 07.27.10
->> I'm so sorry. My math was incorrect above. I had just glance through an issue and saw two images in the front section and divided the weekly submissions by 2.

The correct figure would 0.03% - or roughly the same odds of injuring yourself with a lawn mower. ( )
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Andrea Ranalli, Photographer
Rome | RM | Italy | Posted: 4:09 PM on 07.27.10
->> I don't get into the Spec Work vs. Assignment Work argument
I shot for Southcreek when doing spec and I am happy they gave me the opportunity to be destributed in the US.
I am a full time photographer and videomaker, I made my family living trough this job and I am more than happy to work with Southcreek.
You could say bad thing about working on spec, but you can't say Southcreek to be a bad company.
To' answer to the original post, Kathy saw my gallery on SportsShooter and invite me to join
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Chuck Liddy, Photographer
Durham | NC | USA | Posted: 4:12 PM on 07.27.10
->> Okay one last response. First off, I don't know the Canadian based SC or their owners. I'm sorry they've had bad luck but that actually has nothing to do with this entire conversation. I've heard folks gripe about not getting money from SEVERAL of these purported "wire" services. The explanation of the $50 threshhold cleared that up (although I found it incredulous after four or five games someone hadn't made $50) However, moving on, I find it quite humorous that when someone who purports to be a professional disagrees with me they think it's okay to call me names, it is so juvenile. And the old "you're just worried I'll take your job" thing is even more hilarious....come and apply...we don't just hang out on a field or court and fire 20 gigs of photos every day. but enough about me...8). the reason I get upset at this stuff is plain and simple....I have a lot of friends in this area who try and run legitimate freelance businesses. they do it FULL time. some of their work includes sports. that said, it gets harder and harder for them to find work because when there are 15 shooters at a game playing photographer and giving their photos away on a very slim chance (read witte's calculations above) they might be be published and able to brag about it for $25 is quite frankly, maddening. I equate this with trying to teach people who have no idea what photojournalism ethics. these folks are very accomplished shooters, some were downsized, some didn't like the constraints of working for anyone. and they don't have to wail away and run the camera to the buffer on every single play of the game and burn through 25 gigs to get one photo. That's not being a professional. Sorry if that offends anyone out there but if you came back to an editor with 20 gigs of photos on deadline they would probably throw you out the closest window.
Here's an example of something. If you were asked to shoot a wedding for someone (a stranger) and they said, "well I'll pay you if you get anything good and if you get something REALLY good I'll give you $100!!" would you spend the five, six, seven hours busting your ass? what if they threw in some free food and drinks, hell maybe BEER!!!?! I find it unlikely. so what's the difference?
and last but not least summer ya go:

(quotes from above)

-"I love sports so much, I would probably shoot most Pro or College events for free!"
(oh gosh! I'm gushing!!!!!! I'm ON the sidelines!!!)

-"We would all love to get a check each week for out efforts, but in this business that's not always going to be the case."
(sorry, if you ain't getting paid, you ain't in business)

-"I am only protecting the media wire services companies I work for"
(again wire services PAY for a job. you get a check whether anyone uses it or not. these are photo agencies, not wire services)

-"so I can still cover for my media wire agencies. True, it does not pay the bills"
(so YOU do have a REAL job!)

- "All in all, at least it's not these random guys with cameras trading images ONLY for credit!"
(excuse me? $25 for working eight hours is being PAID? yikes)

and the best of all...drumroll please........
-"I don't get how it's "destroying" the industry."

(there is actually nothing else to say after reading that one)
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Mark Loundy, Photo Editor
San Jose | CA | USA | Posted: 5:12 PM on 07.27.10
->> I don't mean to unequivocally reject all spec work. Many great photographers have worked that way. But they did not work in the way that has been talked about in this thread. I wrote about the different kinds of spec a few years ago:

It's great that the folks with whom we work are nice. But "nice" is an extra. It is not a reason to take a bad deal.

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Tom Szczerbowski, Photographer
London | ON | Canada | Posted: 5:15 PM on 07.27.10
->> "we don't just hang out on a field or court and fire 20 gigs of photos every day..."

Glad the real pros wouldn't resort to using wild hyperbole to make their point.
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Mark Loundy, Photo Editor
San Jose | CA | USA | Posted: 5:22 PM on 07.27.10
->> By the way. what we've been referring to as "spec shooting" is really crowdsourcing.

True spec shooting is a concept that originates with the photographer, who then approaches a potential customer to use the work that the photographer has already produced.

Crowdsourcing is basically a contest in which one photographer is paid and the rest get to do the same amount of work, but not get paid.

Justifying crowdsource work by saying that it gives you an opportunity to go places that you would not otherwise be able to go or shoot things that you would otherwise not be able to shoot is simply an admission that you aren't in this for the money. As I said in my July 2009 column, "Photography may be a hobby for millions of people, but you aren't one of them. You have to be emotionally able to walk away from a bad deal — no matter how cool the assignment is."

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Joe Nicola, Photographer
Fort Worth | TX | USA | Posted: 5:55 PM on 07.27.10
->> Oh boy, really got me there.

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David Minton, Student/Intern, Photographer
Denton | TX | USA | Posted: 6:13 PM on 07.27.10
->> Oh, ugh, my head...

I'm having terrible flashbacks to threads about Icon from 2004...
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Jack Megaw, Photographer, Assistant
Philadelphia | PA | America | Posted: 8:51 PM on 07.27.10
->> I can't wait for this thread to reach fifty posts so I don't have to read it anymore.

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Alan Look, Photographer
Bloomington/Normal | IL | United States | Posted: 8:54 PM on 07.27.10
->> I really miss John Lennon....

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