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SportsShooter.com: Member Message Board

US Presswire has been acquired by Gannett
Delane B. Rouse, Photographer, Photo Editor
Washington | DC | US | Posted: 9:15 PM on 09.07.11
->> http://photobusinessforum.blogspot.com/2011/09/gannett-acquires-us-presswir...
 This post is:  Informative (4) | Funny (0) | Huh? (0) | Off Topic (0) | Inappropriate (0) |   Definitions

Robert Beck, Photographer
Carlsbad | CA | USA | Posted: 1:06 AM on 09.08.11
->> Wow.
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David A. Cantor, Photographer, Photo Editor
Toledo | OH | USA | Posted: 1:27 AM on 09.08.11
->> "There are no planned departures, with all senior management reportedly staying on."

That's so cool, because it's not like Gannet ever lays people off...
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Darren Carroll, Photographer
Cedar Creek (Austin) | TX | USA | Posted: 1:48 AM on 09.08.11
->> If -- and I repeat, IF -- the numbers in John Harrington's above-referenced blog post are true, they are staggering revelations about what an utterly shameful deal US Presswire has been offering, and will continue to offer, its photographers--and the lack of business sense, not to mention lack of concern for what is happening in our industry, that you have to have as a photographer to accept it.

To wit: Gannett, a company with revenues of $5.4 BILLION last year, a company which owns 23 TV stations and publishes 83 newspapers, one of which (USA Today) has a circulation of just under 2 million, was given access to the ENTIRE U.S. Presswire subscription feed for…

$1000 a month.

Stunning. Staggering. Pathetic.

And if -- and I repeat, IF -- photographers got paid for any of those uses, they got about $5.00 per picture.

Stunning. Staggering. Pathetic.

They certainly don't seem to have gotten paid to actually take the pictures, which explains how US Presswire could afford to charge Gannett only $1000 per month. They managed to find people to cover a ton of games, and didn't have to fork over any cash for their work product (A 2010 press release pegged their coverage at 5,300 sporting events annually in the U.S. and a feed of 15,000 images per month). All they had to pay for was a small staff and a distribution system.

Think about it. IF all of those photographers had insisted on getting paid a decent rate to cover those 5,300 games, Presswire would never have been in a financial position to offer such a bargain-basement deal for its pictures.

But now things appear to be changing, if Harrington's information is accurate. Now, photographers will be paid -- yes, paid! -- to cover games for US Presswire (the implication? They haven't been paid before.). A whopping $100 per game, inclusive of expenses. Which means now they'll cover your parking, your gas, and a hot dog, fries, and a coke at the game. Anything left after that (oh, and your insurance, and your equipment payment, and everything else that makes up your daily cost of doing business), you can keep. And you may even get 50% of a sale. But if anyone in the subscription network uses your picture? You get NOTHING else.

But wait, it gets better! Stick with them for another year and… ready? You'll get a RAISE! Up to $125 per game! Now you can grab a second hot dog and maybe even a beer after the game.

Stunning. Staggering. Pathetic.

I don't know who should be more ashamed of themselves, US Presswire management or the people who are willing to give away their pictures to them.

And now, good people out in SportsShooter land, I beg you. I WANT to be proven wrong on this. I NEED to be proven wrong on this. The numbers are finally out there. US Presswire's business practices have been the elephant in the sports photography room for half a decade now, and John Harrington had the cojones to do what so many of us who'd heard the whispers all these many years haven't ever had the balls to do: he's put numbers out there in full public view. Honestly, in spite of all the crap I've heard about US Presswire over the past half-dozen years, I have always really wanted to give them the benefit of the doubt; I have never wanted to believe that anyone would have the audacity to offer, much less the lack of self-respect to accept, such an incredibly bad deal. So PLEASE, someone come on here and tell me that the information in Harrington's post, and consequently my analysis of the situation, is wrong.

But do me a favor: No posts about how that thumbnail image in S.I. changed your life, or how cool it is to see your pictures published on someone else's website, or about how that credential they got you has opened doors to other avenues that normally wouldn't be available to you, or about how your bank accepted a credit on ESPN.com in lieu of your mortgage payment last month. That warm, fuzzy stuff is not the issue.

When I say I want you to prove me wrong, I mean PROVE it. Look, this is all we know. This is what's out there. Prove that those numbers are wrong. Prove to me that it DOES make good business sense to "work" for US Presswire; that, in the vacuum of shooting a game for US Presswire (i.e. not taking onto account your "real job" or your other photography work), it is a "good deal." In this case, it really IS black-and-white. Tell us what's finally out in the open is indeed wrong. Tell us you've been paid to cover games. Tell us what you've been paid to cover games. Tell us what you get for that subscription-feed use. Tell us it really does work out positively. Just give us hard numbers to back it up.

I know that right now, there is a US Presswire apologist somewhere who is reading this post, fuming and saying, "Carroll, you ass, do you really think they'd give away the store to a multi-billion dollar conglomerate like Gannett for a thousand dollars a month, like that Harrington guy said? I mean, come on, really?"

And my answer is: Honestly? No, I don't. I don't think anyone would be that reckless. Or careless. Or senseless. At least I really, really hope they wouldn't.

So again, prove it. But don't just give me the "You and Harrington don't know what you're talking about" line. Prove it.

Because otherwise, all that's out there is the stuff Harrington just posted, which pretty much jibes with the stuff a lot of us have been hearing for years.
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Chuck Liddy, Photographer
Durham | NC | USA | Posted: 7:38 AM on 09.08.11
->> Darren, it HAS been the elephant in the room. Part of the problem has and I'm sure will be the unwillingness for shooters who "work" for USPW to come clean. I know a few folks who have "worked" for them. I was stunned last year when one of them finally told me how much they made during basketball season...this seasoned pro said it averaged out to about $25/game.....maybe, IF the team they were shooting was "sellable"....another shooter in our area was asked to travel to an away tournament site and that their expenses would be paid....if they drove and stayed in a cheap hotel...but NO pay for actually covering the even...that part would be on spec. he declined the "opportunity". the problem is and will continue to be there will always be nitwits who are going to accept the credential in USPW's behalf just to be at the game(s). Sadly, I'm afraid that's never going to change. Hell, even some of these folks I spoke about called it US Freewire. To me the truly interesting thing about this is what it potentially might do to their stringer network. will shooters be embarrassed when they show up to a game and now everyone knows they're only getting $100? before they could mumble and deflect how much they made...now the proverbial cat is out of the bag. do I think it will change? nope. trying to get photographers to truly value their work seems to be a lost cause. but it is refreshing to read posts like yours and harrington's article.
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Michael Fischer, Photographer
Spencer | Ia | USA | Posted: 9:14 AM on 09.08.11
->> Darren's post is one of the most important post in the history of SS.com.

I'm totally serious when I type this.Here's why: When I can't make money in a particular niche, it's simply good business practice to take the assets and resources and put them into other areas that will produce a positive return on investment. That's what Darren is challenging people on. If you shot for USPW for a mere pittance, can you, as Darren asked over and over, show how it produced a positive ROI?


I've advocated on this forum for a long time that PJ students take business courses - lots of them. The people that ran USPW obviously had enough business experience to make it profitable for them. Had enough photojournalists taken enough business courses, then they would have made good business decisions that would have either made it profitable for them, or they would have allocated their resources into something else that would have.

No one forces someone to accept slave wages in this industry, it's something that people do willingly.

And that, along with lack of business knowledge, is why this business is so unprofitable for so many people.

The old saying is correct: You're either part of the problem or part of the solution....
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G.J. McCarthy, Photographer
Dallas | TX | US | Posted: 9:33 AM on 09.08.11
->> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N-NrPOMBKnw
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Chris Condon, Photo Editor, Photographer
Ponte Vedra Bch | FL | USA | Posted: 11:38 AM on 09.08.11
->> The silence speaks volumes.
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Grover Sanschagrin, Photographer, Photo Editor
San Francisco | CA | USA | Posted: 12:45 PM on 09.08.11
->> I love DC, and everything he stands for - but one thing that makes the biggest difference (and the secret weapon that allowed USPW to sell for big bucks) is that the majority of the people shooting for USPW don't care about getting paid. They're not doing it for the money. They're just happy to be on the field getting to use the expensive gear they bought.

USPW built a business around these people - and now they've cashed out big.

This is similar to the way professional photographers are doing seminars to make extra cash - because there is money to be made with all these new enthusiasts with access to pro-level gear.

DC - sadly, there's nothing to prove if people aren't doing it for the money.
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Andrew Carpenean, Photographer
Laramie | WY | USA | Posted: 1:23 PM on 09.08.11
->> Darren,

There is a lot of ranting on your part because of the fact that sports wire agencies cut into the profits of YOUR business model! Its called business competition whether you like it or not. Its been going on between all sorts of businesses for decades! I think you’re doing an injustice to yourself by using your years of backing to vent your selfish frustrations toward a company trying to take a corner piece of the market.

Have you never shot on speculation? I think you probably have at some point in your career. I can’t think of a better way to get your name out there whether you’re just starting out or are experienced in having moved to a new region in saying that you’re “available“, but also you can produce images that newspapers and magazines are looking for by showcasing your photography through a wire service. And ultimately its about creating stronger publications (a lot that are in turmoil) with having broader coverage and a larger variety (body of work) than just one photographer (you) can provide.

It also gives an opportunity to become familiar with venues and sports team personnel and networking which is beneficial to any business model in people you may not ordinarily meet. Those situations can lead to other avenues of employment at some point. And so when an opportunity does arise you’re more prepared going in. It seems to make sense to me.

If anything perhaps you could look at this as an opportunity to gain more work opportunities with the departing of Mr. Rosato from SI?! Although in essence you put down the very organization you contribute to that run USPW images on a regular basis and NOT just as thumbnails. I believe USPW has created an excellent business model. Am I going to get rich overnight, no, but that’s not why I got into this business to begin with. I work with wire services to supplement my income as a lot of photographers have done years before me.

Why not mention other agencies such as Cal Sport Media, ICON who also have similar business models? “A pain in Getty’s side”, who is quoted as saying this? Won’t somebody go on the record for the information in this story? There are no actual quotes. This story is NOT written unbiasly and has inaccuracies. And isn’t it Getty who set the precedence for selling images for low rates.

Times have changed for a lot of businesses and its now time to change your business model or think outside the box if you want to remain lucrative in your own business practice. Not to discourage those who are trying to break into the business because you‘re wallet isn‘t as padded as it use to be. Let them determine their own fate.

@ Liddy: Why not use your wealth of experience to mentor others rather than make them feel embarrassed for something they’re doing whether right or wrong in your mind. Your edge of an attitude you present is despicable at best.

@ Grover: I disagree. Maybe for some, but not for myself.
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G.J. McCarthy, Photographer
Dallas | TX | US | Posted: 2:07 PM on 09.08.11
->> "It also gives an opportunity to become familiar with venues and sports team personnel and networking which is beneficial to any business model in people you may not ordinarily meet. Those situations can lead to other avenues of employment at some point."

So you're saying that Presswire is the only way to network and get a better job. Jesus, why didn't I think of that sooner. All those year's wasted, busting my ass, working my way up the food chain and reaching out along the way to veterans for advice and friendship.

Damn.
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Michael Proebsting, Photographer
Barrington | IL | USA | Posted: 2:11 PM on 09.08.11
->> "I believe USPW has created an excellent business model".

By far the dumbest thing I have ever read on this site.......and that says a lot.
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Brian Blanco, Photographer
Tampa / Sarasota | FL | USA | Posted: 2:25 PM on 09.08.11
->> Andrew,

You said, "I can’t think of a better way to get your name out there."

By "name" I'm assuming that you mean 'reputation' and all I'd say is that it's advisable to make certain that the 'reputation' that you're putting out there isn't more likely to stall a career than it is to launch one.

If you want to prove to the editors who make careers in this industry that you've got what it takes then you have to start by proving that you, first and foremost, take this profession seriously and see it as, well... a profession.

That's all I'll say on the issue.





****Note: I certainly didn't intend to offend anyone with this post.
Offended spec shooters please press "Huh" about here (↓) or "Inappropriate about here (↓)
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Brian Blanco, Photographer
Tampa / Sarasota | FL | USA | Posted: 2:26 PM on 09.08.11
->> Man, I knew those wouldn't line up!

Back to the serious and, frankly, overdue discussion.
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Michael Proebsting, Photographer
Barrington | IL | USA | Posted: 2:40 PM on 09.08.11
->> For the "Huh? crowd:

"I believe USPW has created an excellent business model"

I was quoting fellow member Andrew Carpenean's comments above.

If creating a business model that further erodes the compensation for "professional" photography, than he would be correct.
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Jack Kurtz, Photographer
Phoenix | AZ | United States | Posted: 2:42 PM on 09.08.11
->> Brian,

I wish I could press two because I would certainly press informative for the fist part and funny for the last line.

jack
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Andrew Carpenean, Photographer
Laramie | WY | USA | Posted: 2:43 PM on 09.08.11
->> G.J.,

I never said it was the only way. You're being narrow-minded and putting words in my mouth. And please quit swearing.

@ Michael: Freedom of speech brotha.

@ Brian: No, putting your name out there to show what type of work you can do and can compete. Don't assume.
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Darron Silva, Photographer
Granite Falls | NC | USA | Posted: 2:43 PM on 09.08.11
->> Mike, I think you ca argue that USPW was a good business model, at least for the folks running it. Put in five years of hard work, get shooters to work for peanuts, then cash out big time.
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David A. Cantor, Photographer, Photo Editor
Toledo | OH | USA | Posted: 2:44 PM on 09.08.11
->> " Those situations can lead to other avenues of employment at some point. And so when an opportunity does arise you’re more prepared going in. "

Except that the proliferation of these spec agency models greatly reduces the need for more expensive (read profitable for the photographer) "other avenues" or that much desired next "opportunity".

The real risk is that you'll be mired in the career slot of a "spec" shooter and in this day and age I see no CDB model that allows for that while trying to forge a path to business success.
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G.J. McCarthy, Photographer
Dallas | TX | US | Posted: 2:47 PM on 09.08.11
->> I swore? Shit, I'm sorry. I'm such an asshole!
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Darron Silva, Photographer
Granite Falls | NC | USA | Posted: 2:48 PM on 09.08.11
->> Andrew, since you appear to be a vocal USPW shooter, are you willing to answer Darren's question? What are you paid for shooting a game? If it is just spec, are you seeing anywhere near the income you would need to cover the cost of doing business? A new 400 is running over $11,000 now. That means a whole lot o games to shoot at $100 each.
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Brian Blanco, Photographer
Tampa / Sarasota | FL | USA | Posted: 3:01 PM on 09.08.11
->> Not to take up another one of the 50-post limit but I'd be remiss if I didn't admit that I actually know a couple of shooters (who I respect a lot) that have found a way to make spec opportunities profitable for them. They're admittedly rare but they do exist.

Also, Rosato tends to take a bit of a beating in these types of threads. Irrespective of what I may feel about the business model of spec shooting, I have to say that Bob once went way out of his way to help me with something... and I mean WAY out of his way.
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Andrew Carpenean, Photographer
Laramie | WY | USA | Posted: 3:02 PM on 09.08.11
->> @ G.J. It certainly appears that way.

Darron S. It will be $125 per game by the start of 2012, $100 for now with direct deposit every two weeks. And so soon $125 per event and if two events in one day, $250.

As my Web site as my own side business to working full-time at a newspaper I do tax right-offs for anything not covered. Helping to reduce my taxes at the end of the year.
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Stanley Leary, Photographer
Roswell | GA | USA | Posted: 3:08 PM on 09.08.11
->> I believe the larger photography industry has changed drastically and not just for sports.

Before today's impressive digital cameras with lenses that follow focus for you; the photographer actually had to know something to get a photo that was properly exposed and in focus. If this is still what's defining a professional photographer--well then the profession is dead for the pro.

News Shocker for many--a lot of those who use photography are only looking for the photos to be well exposed and in focus.

Just think about this: you can buy a 12 ounce Coke in a can at the local gas station for about 89 cents. You can get only 8 ounce of the same Coke in an aluminum can shaped like the old bottles for about $2. If you like you can usually buy the bottle of 12 ounces of the same Coke in a bottle with your National Champion Team for about $5. If you went to the Beijing Olympics you could have bought the 8 ounce aluminum bottle (with no coke) that artists designed for about $30.

The audience for that same Coke isn't the same group. There is even another group that buys the generic coke at the grocery store for about 20 cents a can.

You can do the same thing with coffee as an example. 2 cents for a cup you brew up to $3 - $5 at a Starbucks for the same cup.

What is the difference between each of the price points--the experience the customer gets.

There are those who will pay for the Bob Rosato to shoot their event for the Rosato experience. Believe me the experience is more than the photos being pretty awesome. How Bob treats everyone he comes into contact with is a different level of service than they Jock Sniffers on the sidelines.

There have always been and will be some new business models in the future that will threaten your livelihood as a professional photographer. If all you are selling is the 12 ounces of Coke--they are going with the lowest price. If you are the artist--they will pay for the experience even if they get no Coke.

If you think getting the next lens will make you to be a "Famous Photographer" or that getting the play of the game will seal your deal as being significant--I am here to bust that bubble. Actually I am not the one busting it--others have already done so.

To be successful you must understand we live in an EXPERIENCE MARKET PLACE and not a COMMODITIES MARKET PLACE.

Please stop whining about how someone else is ruining your parade. Go and learn how to make someone's day by offering an experience they will pay handsomely for.

By the way--some of those who are making the most money in this industry are not the best shooters--but the experience for their customers is far superior to those who act like a prima donna of this industry.
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Chuck Liddy, Photographer
Durham | NC | USA | Posted: 3:09 PM on 09.08.11
->> Andrew, I don't know you. But now I understand what a senior photojournalist meant in an email I just received. He said, "Chuck don't bother wasting your time or breath arguing with these idiots. They know it all, and THAT is why the business is tanking."
So, as to your statement "to mentor others rather than make them feel embarrassed"...wow. I hate to say it but you are somewhat feeble minded if you don't understand that us older guys/gals ARE trying to mentor you. If your business model is to work for free (because that's what you're doing) you are doomed to fail and you devalue the work other hard working photographers are doing. maybe you're a trust fund kid...I don't know...what I DO know is many of my friends who have shot for USPresswire have bailed out because they don't like working for $5/hour, which one guy estimated he made over the course of a whole basketball season. Just so you know, we are in a HUGE basketball market here in NC...it's not like we're in Wyoming or bumfu@k egypt. He tried them out, saw how much money he DIDN'T make although they have a great "pie in the sky" sales pitch. And now says he won't shoot for them anymore. He'd rather be home with his family than wasting time shooting/editing for four hours and making twenty bucks. I'll end this by saying you use the same tired argument I've heard on this site for years by shooters like yourself who try and justify "shooting for a credential". I, as I'm sure every other working photojournalists on this site find it totally and completely laughable that you think we're worried about someone like you taking away our business. competition? I think not. but...I'm sure you have it all figured out since you just insulted a bunch of professionals...I think it's more like ignorance. you work for free...it sounds like you are the one with the "despicable" attitude.
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Brian Blanco, Photographer
Tampa / Sarasota | FL | USA | Posted: 3:13 PM on 09.08.11
->> Andrew you said: "@ Brian: No, putting your name out there to show what type of work you can do and can compete. Don't assume."

Uh, "putting your name out there" = Reputation.

Explain how I'm wrong. Actually, on second thought, don't explain. You appear to be taking this all too personally right now... and you have a bit of an attitude.
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Jeff Kowalsky, Photographer
West Bloomfield | MI | United States | Posted: 3:17 PM on 09.08.11
->> Since Cal Sports Media and Icon-SMI was brought up in a post above does any one know if their deal with photographers any better then US Presswire?
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Israel Shirk, Photographer, Assistant
Boise | ID | US | Posted: 3:29 PM on 09.08.11
->> Andrew-
That's enough to take a $250 loss as soon as you start getting paid, if you're running minimal overhead. Have you run the numbers on how much it costs to shoot?

I remember talking to US Presswire once... Sounded like a great deal till I talked to a friend in town who was their last shooter, and it turns out he was taking the same loss you were. Then he switched wires and started to break even, he was much happier. As soon as I mentioned that to the US Presswire guy, he just stopped returning my e-mails (and I was stuck with a really expensive rental for the event he'd requested me to shoot)

Basically, what I'm saying is, taking a profit is better than getting a tax break for taking a loss so someone else can profit off of you.
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Andrew Carpenean, Photographer
Laramie | WY | USA | Posted: 3:30 PM on 09.08.11
->> Chuck,

I guess I didn't expect anything better from you. And you're right you DON'T know me and closer in age to you than you think.

Outside of your pathtic insults I wanted to say on the contrary you and Darren have insulted a great number of working professionals in this industry that are getting paid on a regular basis and not working for free.

I don't work for free and never will. There are different situations and variables to this market and just because you have been around for a very long time doesn't mean you're right. Its not a perfect industry, but what is?

Your friend who only made $5 for the season could be a situation where he can't shoot very well and thus not make much in sales. In that it took him an entire season to figure out he wasn't making much sounds feeble minded to me.

And by the way Wyoming is a great state.
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Doug Pizac, Photographer
Sandy | UT | USA | Posted: 3:34 PM on 09.08.11
->> I shoot for USPW on occasion and can say there are pros and cons to the business model. But isn't that the same with any company you deal with? People tout AP which has a 25% royalty share based on net whereupon the agency owns the photos while others poo-poo USPW which splits 50-50 with the shooter who maintains copyright ownership. Which one works best for you depends on your business model and personal choices.

For a nothing news conference a day rate/buy out may be the way to go. But if you shoot something that can have lasting interest then long term ownership with 50-50 sales split may be the better choice. And the same can be made for investing in the stock market. Do you buy a 6-month CD that pays 1% or a 10-year fund that is compounded and is tax free?

The biggest unknown is what changes Gannett will be insisting on with a new contract that will have to signed. That could range from inconsequential changes to being a deal breaker or anywhere inbetween.

In the meantime, until the contract with all the details is presented all this talk is speculative -- a word some believe to be taboo.
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Andrew Carpenean, Photographer
Laramie | WY | USA | Posted: 3:35 PM on 09.08.11
->> Brian,

You're point, not mine.
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Andrew Carpenean, Photographer
Laramie | WY | USA | Posted: 3:44 PM on 09.08.11
->> Doug,

AP now has a 60/40 split with member newspapers, depending on the paper's decision the publication or photographer gets the 60%. As of a few months ago. Thank you for your input.

Israel: I appreciate what you're saying and if a game meal isn't provided that is usually one of two expenses I occur. The other being gas. I track my mileage, but also primarily stay in my region of Colorado and Wyoming.
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Scott Serio, Photo Editor, Photographer
Colora | MD | USA | Posted: 3:45 PM on 09.08.11
->> Well this is definitely an informative and entertaining thread. Here is my question...all of the regular staff photogs on here are pointing to how horrible this deal is, but all of the USPW photogs I have talked to are saying it is a great thing. In the end though, most of us are outside the circle of influence. What is the truth?

More specifically...

Is it $100 flat?
Are the backend sales still open (i.e. SI and ESPN the Mag)?
Is USPW just supplying Gannett now, or are they still in the stream to Thomson Reuters and others? It all matters.


-----Also, I can't see Gannett forking out all this money without a benefit. Am I the only one who can see Gannett looking at markets where USPW has stronger photogs and deciding maybe they can cut staffers, thereby cutting retirement costs, healthcare costs, salaries and other expenses. There is an angle here and a play here for Gannett, and the consequences can't be good staffers.
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Allen Murabayashi, Photographer
New York | NY | USA | Posted: 3:59 PM on 09.08.11
->> Andrew,

I'm a bit confused by your logic, and hoping you can clarify.

1. You see the USPW income as supplementary income
2. You're willing to incur losses while working for USPW because it gives you something to write-off.

Is this an accurate summary?

Are you willing to disclose your gross revenue from USPW?

The issue that the critics are having is that $100/event isn't enough to sustain a full-time business, and people who agree to work for that rate and therefore hurting the industry because they are effectively undercutting the already low day rates.

New business model? Yes.
Sustainable? As long as there is a new crop of people willing to essentially work for free.

My question is: Are you willing to undercut the competition for a secondary revenue stream with the "new model" if you're putting quality photographers like Darren out of business?
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Doug Pizac, Photographer
Sandy | UT | USA | Posted: 4:02 PM on 09.08.11
->> FYI, Andrew's stated rate of $125 for one game and $250 for two games the same day is wrong in some respects. It is one "assignment fee" per venue per day. For example doing a baseball double header pays $125 -- the same as if you shot a single game. And when March Madness rolls around when you have four games to shoot on the first round day, the fee stays at $125 for all four games -- not $500 ($125x4). Now if you cover one game at one venue and a second somewhere else, then two fees would apply.

This may be one of the deal breakers for some.

Also, this "fee" is NOT a day rate but a substitution for the subscription royalty share. The 50-50 licensing split continues.
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Darron Silva, Photographer
Granite Falls | NC | USA | Posted: 4:03 PM on 09.08.11
->> Andrew, thanks for your honesty. It sounds like the money you earn from USPW works for you because it is just supplementing your main income from your staff job. I think it would be very, very difficult to make a living shooting for USPW if you were a full time freelancer. And like Brian, I don't mean any disrespect to the founders of USPW. They have a successful business. While I could not afford to shoot for them at the current rate, I respect their ability to start and run the biz.
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Stew Milne, Photographer
Providence | RI | USA | Posted: 4:05 PM on 09.08.11
->> I just heard from someone "in the know" (so this makes what I'm about to type a rumor), that the new USPW contract has a no compete clause in it. If this is true, I can't see anyone really signing it. AP, Reuters, Getty, etc don't. We are freelancers and we get to choose who we work with/for. The company that we shoot for doesn't get to decide this.

Sure, there are many of the current USPW crew that will, because they have a real day job that pays all the bills and only shoot for USPW so they can say they are a professional photographer and be on the sideline.

This is just a rumor though, until someone proves it otherwise.
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Butch Miller, Photographer
Lock Haven | PA | USA | Posted: 4:10 PM on 09.08.11
->> Well ... let's hope that the sale of USPW to Gannett benefits sports shooters as well the sale of Huffington Post to AOL benefitted writers ... or is only a select few counting their treasure?

In my mind, Gannett did not buy USPSW to offer greater opportunities for earnings for their providers, but to bolster their own bottom line ... If I am wrong in that assumption, please point me to where Gannett has hired any photographers lately instead of laying them off ...

This looks like a ploy where they can further downsize their staffs dramatically, and still have a reasonable supply of content available ... in the end, that won't help further the industry as a whole, only diminish it further ...
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Chris Condon, Photo Editor, Photographer
Ponte Vedra Bch | FL | USA | Posted: 4:26 PM on 09.08.11
->> Andrew states: "As my Web site as my own side business to working full-time at a newspaper I do tax right-offs for anything not covered. Helping to reduce my taxes at the end of the year."

Sounds like you are using USPW as a writeoff and not actually making money?

I'm not piling on, but I think everyone is searching for the most basic answer to the question: Are photographers MAKING a profit shooting for USPW after real expenses such as gear, mileage, time etc? How many events per year are you covering and what is your total income from that effort?

Also, as a USPW contributor, how do you feel that your images are being used to generate what might be a huge payday for the ownership? Will there be any revenue sharing of that sale with the people who created the content that makes up the asset that is USPW?
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Stanley Leary, Photographer
Roswell | GA | USA | Posted: 4:46 PM on 09.08.11
->> Please take the time and think of this from the perspective of those buying the photos. It isn't about you the photographer.

For example take Georgia Tech where I was on staff and for many years shot as a freelancer.

There are many alums who are engineers that make enough money to buy whatever gear they want. They don't need the money.

They end up shooting their kids for a few years playing sports and get good enough to ask for a pass to shoot for their alma mater for free. The SI director sees their photos of their kids and give them a pass. They have not just one of these alums asking now days for passes but easily 10 - 20.

Remember great cameras, great lenses that even a 5 year old can shoot with and get in focus and sharp photos with these days gives most SI directors acceptable work for their budgets.

We are not even talking about the guys who are undercutting with lower prices--these people are shooting for free. It isn't going away.

The market has changed--you change with it or sooner or later you are out of business.

The low hanging fruit is no longer going to a professional photographer earning a full-time living as a photographer.

As long as the folks doing it for free are not embarrassing the SI department by how they act and the images are usable then this is here to stay.

If I were a staff photographer for a gannet paper I would be very worried. As long as the staff person is justified as needed then they will be fine.
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Jim Colburn, Photographer, Photo Editor
Omaha | NE | USA | Posted: 4:55 PM on 09.08.11
->> "You're point, not mine."

He is point?
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Stanley Leary, Photographer
Roswell | GA | USA | Posted: 5:13 PM on 09.08.11
->> For those of you who are taking write offs from the IRS. This will change your rates if you want to continue to do this in the future:

"If a business reports a net profit in at least 3 out of 5 years, it is presumed to be a for-profit business. If a business reports a net loss in more than 2 out of 5 years, it is presumed to be a not-for-profit hobby."

The rest of the article is here
http://taxes.about.com/od/taxplanning/a/loss_strategies.htm

This is why ASMP requirements are to be in business for 3 years making the majority of your income as a photographer. It is really like they are just agreeing with the IRS--you are a pro if you meet those standards.
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Stanley Leary, Photographer
Roswell | GA | USA | Posted: 5:15 PM on 09.08.11
->> ASMP requirements for "General Member." You can join as an "Associate Member" without 3 years of business experience.
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G.J. McCarthy, Photographer
Dallas | TX | US | Posted: 5:53 PM on 09.08.11
->> Andrew C:

Lot of ground to cover here. I'll try to be uncharacteristically brief.

For one, I'm actually a pretty nice guy. I'm prone to snarkiness and dogged contrarianism -- both sometimes to a fault -- but I never hesitate to help a colleague out in any way I can. And ya, I have a foul mouth. I grew up in a household where blue language was the norm, so it's a tough habit to break.

Ok, next thought -- you started out pretty defensive and argumentative, and that doesn't go over well with a lot of the folks here. What I dislike about this thread and others like it is that hard-working, dedicated veterans offer their opinions (maybe in a way you find offensive) and are immediately met with hostility.

Guy's like Darren, and Roberto (Seale), even Chuck -- they know what they know because of experience. They probably made mistakes, they learned from them, and now they're using this great resource to try and educate people at a REALLY critical time in the industry. Sure, there's probably some selfish motivations in there, but knowing them as I do, they pipe up for the greater good. Do you really think they like to have people far beneath them in experience (not to mention talent) go after them repeatedly? Well maybe Chuck does ...

And that's the other thing that gets me. All you people that feel empowered by the Internet? Go [profanity] yourselves. I guarantee you none of you all would have the balls to pull this in person.

Let's say we were all sitting in a photo workroom and you started in with your shit. You'd either be laughed out of there or possibly physically thrown out. Guess how many photo workrooms in this great country of ours I've seen that happen? Zero. Guess how many USPW shooters there were? Plenty.

And my last thought. I don't remember what professor it was, maybe the wonderful J.B. Colson, but at some point in my studies I was told that if someone my elder in this business gave me some advice (be in in the form of friendly critique or possibly a little more assertive or aggressive), just take it, say thanks if you feel so obliged and move on. Agree with it, don't, just shut up and move on.

Why? Because it is a VERY small business (getting smaller by the day). Reps spread quickly, and while I hear plenty about talented shooters out there doing work, I hear way more about jerks and blowhards. News travels fast, and the bad stuff tends to stick.

All you USPW shooters out there. I may not agree with your business practices, but I do respect you as a person and a professional. Just realize, right or wrong, that many of us on the other side (professional freelancers, staffers, etc.) view you as part of the problem. It's nothing personal -- we just think what you're doing is exacerbating a problem that's been in the making long before I ever pressed my greasy nose into the back of an AE-1.

- gerry -
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Mike Brice, Photographer
SLC | UT | USA | Posted: 6:00 PM on 09.08.11
->> I always thought US Presswire shooters were not saying how much they made because they didn't want other photographers signing up to compete with them.

I know see that they don't want to admit that they are traveling all over the country for peanuts.

It would be interesting if a US Presswire photog was to show us actual costs/revenues from say one event for a factual conversation.
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Mark Loundy, Photo Editor
San Jose | CA | USA | Posted: 6:00 PM on 09.08.11
->> This is excellent!

Andrew,

Seriously, spelling and grammar count. This board is visible to the public. Specifically, it's visible to a lot of important people in this industry who may not be SS members.

--Mark
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Chuck Liddy, Photographer
Durham | NC | USA | Posted: 6:23 PM on 09.08.11
->> @Mike. I have found by and far over the last several years USPW photographers DO NOT want to speak about their "pay" because there is none. I think they are personally embarrassed about that factor, much more so than worrying about competition.
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Andrew Carpenean, Photographer
Laramie | WY | USA | Posted: 6:50 PM on 09.08.11
->> Thanks G.J. for sharing that.

Mark yes you're right. I've been in a rush most of the day.

Doug, thanks for clarifying.

Allen, you're making more of statement than asking a question. And no its not my intention of putting others out of work. If you have something to directly prove that I am all ears. And no I won't tell you how much I make annually. I don't see any reason to answer that question.

Thank you.
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Michael Proebsting, Photographer
Barrington | IL | USA | Posted: 7:28 PM on 09.08.11
->> "My question is: Are you willing to undercut the competition for a secondary revenue stream with the "new model" if you're putting quality photographers like Darren out of business?"

Seems like a question to me, just one you don't want to answer.
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George Bridges, Photographer, Photo Editor
Washington | DC | USA | Posted: 7:35 PM on 09.08.11
->> I've been trying not to post here and won't say much about the business practices argument, others have done a good job of that.

I will add a few things on some of the arguments put forth.

As for the "gets your name out there." That argument doesn't fly with me. I'm a person in a position who hires freelancers from time to time, not as often as I wish I could due to budgets, but I do make freelance hires.

When I'm looking for someone in a region where I don't already have someone I'm not likely to hire you because of where your images have run. I'm going to call other photographers and photo editors I know and ask them who they recommend. Over the years I've gotten answers from "they are a great shooter, wish we could hire them full time" to "I would never hire that guy." That is all I need to know. As folks have said, it's your reputation, not necessarily your work that gets you hired. And folks call me asking for references, so how well you have worked with me goes a long way in gaining more paying gigs.

I've spent more than 20 years freelancing for and staffing at wire services. I've had photos in pretty much every paper major news and sport magazine in the U.S., had double trucks in Paris Match, yada, yada, yada. So the traditional resume line of "work has appeared in ......" really means nothing to me.

Twice in the last year (at an NFL game at the end of last season and at a preseason game this year) I have overheard other shooters talking about how much money they have lost shooting on spec. I don't know what agencies they were shooting for, but they were discussing losing money doing it. So my thought was "If you are losing money, why are you doing it? Why waste a whole Sunday away from your family for zero dollars?" Again, going to reputation, as shooters on spec other photographers are not likely to recommend them for any work to anyone calling.

As far as some of the comments made on Darren, I won't go into it. I could spend a few thousand words on it, but his work and reputation and all-around-nice-guyness speak for him. And I do know early in his career he parted ways with an agency he had done a lot of work for when they asked him to shoot a bunch of stock stuff on spec.

And Gerry is truly a nice guy. His wit can take a while to get used to, but if you read his posts in the right voice you get the humor and advice he is trying to impart. He is a hard worker and solid shooter. I've spent multiple double-digit-hour days next to him on assignments. Same goes for Chuck. Yes, he is the resident curmudgeon of SportsShooter and tends to irritate many with his bluntness. But the guy has been there, done that and delivers time and time again. Just check the number of front pages around the country he got from the recent hurricane. My service is co-owned by the company that owns Chuck's paper and there is a reason when we are looking for someone to do assignments that require specific skills that Chuck is on the top of my call list.

And the call earlier for someone to "prove me wrong" with facts has yet to be answered.
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Michael Fischer, Photographer
Spencer | Ia | USA | Posted: 9:25 PM on 09.08.11
->> For all of you that clicked the "huh" button, here's a final thought to consider: The people that ran USPW got a check for several MILLION DOLLARS. It's fair to assume that they aren't sharing that with the people that shot for them.

In 40+ years of being in or around business since my teens, I know of no one who was financially successful by working for free or near free. NO ONE.

You can't work for free and be successful. Repeat after me: FREE does not work.
FREE does not work.
FREE does not work.
FREE does not work.
FREE does not work.
FREE does not ..........
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