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SportsShooter.com: Member Message Board

US Presswire Part 2
Allen Murabayashi, Photographer
New York | NY | USA | Posted: 8:48 PM on 09.08.11
->> Andrew,

I don't have anything to prove, I'm just trying to understand why you think that USPW is good business for you. And I'm not trying to be smug by saying that.

You implied that your work with USPW provided you with a tax write-off. If you're generating enough income to make write-offs worthwhile, that's great. But doing work at a loss to justify a write-off doesn't make good business sense because it's generally not sustainable.

I asked you a few questions:
- Could you clarify whether my interpretation of using your work with USPW as a write-off was accurate: you didn't answer.
- Would you disclose your revenue from USPW: you declined to answer.
- Are you willing to put people out of business: you said no.

I've seen a lot of photographers lose their staff jobs over the years. My general concern would be that you might lose yours in the next few years. If that happened, shooting jobs at $100/pop, even if you booked 200 gigs per year, only provides $20k of revenue. So all of a sudden, your secondary revenue stream which you might be willing to do as a loss, becomes your primary source, and an unsustainable one at that.

So yes, I am making a statement which I'm hoping you'll see some logic in. Getting out of bed costs you more than $100. If you cannot cover your costs, then you are effectively paying to photograph, and quite literally subsidizing USPW/Gannett.

If Bob made a few million off USPW's sale, then good for him. I never begrudge people's success b/c it's incredibly hard to build a business. But I feel really bad for the photographers who invested time and money in his business and really got nothing out of it other than beer money and a few photos of Peyton Manning. If Bob had handed out equity to his shooters and the early guys made a few thousand off the sale, that is a very different story. In that case, they were assuming risk for an upside reward.

Lastly, there's a lot of bullshit on any forum. But occasionally, there is some valid discourse. This happens to be a topic that is of direct concern to nearly everyone on this website. It's therefore our duty to try to convince one another of bad business practices. No one should object to that, nor get defensive in light of it.
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Dave Einsel, Photographer, Photo Editor
Houston | TX | United States | Posted: 9:08 PM on 09.08.11
->> ->> My name is Dave and I used to shoot for USPW…

After twenty-five years in newspapers, beginning as a staff photographer and ending as a director of photography, I filed for divorce with the industry and struck out on a binge to cleanse the spirit and try to grow up. That was in 2004, the year USPW was born.

A friend and highly respected member of SS mentioned to me that Bob was starting an agency and that I might find it fun. I had known Bob for many years so I gave him a call. We talked a lot about what he was trying to do and I gave him my perspective as a DOP/buyer. We talked about money but, as a startup, he indicated there was not enough upfront capital to pay assignment rates. I decided to help a colleague and cover some games for him in Houston.

The timing was such that we missed the start of the NFL season so I covered my first game in October and followed through to the playoffs. I was asked to fly to Seattle to cover a game. Tickets were provided, likely through miles, as was hotel, likely through points, so I went. Meals and airport parking were out of pocket. That Fall, I also covered some NCAA football, travelling to College Station a couple of times. Again, no expenses were paid.

In the beginning, it was pitched as an agency where a photographer would spend time looking for something different, a beautiful piece of light or an interesting angle. It quickly turned into a move 10-15 pictures at halftime and 30 pictures from the game deadline affair. Basically, AP or Getty.

In 2005, I covered a few NBA and MLB games, including the World Series. Bob asked me if I could cover the NFL again. We had a great conversation but I told him I just couldn’t do it without compensation. He understood and we left the door open. When the Astros made it to the World Series, I got another call to help out. They were sending an editor in to assist so I agreed to cover for them. The editor, a brilliant young guy, did a fantastic job on the edit but he stayed at my house instead of a hotel.

That was the last gig I did for USPW. It wasn’t ugly; it was just time to say goodbye.

Did my pictures get used? Sure they did. But, most of it was through subscriptions so there was no sale to split. Even with sales, I don’t see it as a sustainable model for the photographer providing the content. Editorial sales don’t yield very high rates and there are so many photographers moving so many pictures that the odds of scoring a place in publication are getting smaller by the day. Commercial sales are limited to the league licensed organization, ie. AP for the NFL and Getty for the NBA, PGA, etc. This kind of keeps USPW at the kid’s table.

Has the situation changed in six years? Perhaps for some but I'm not sure. I have spoken with USPW photographers that claim to be, “Doing alright,” and others that admit they have never received cash compensation for their work but don’t mind working for free because it helps their other businesses. If that works for them, fine. It’s not like we can, or should, call the Teamsters to break their legs.

Sure, it’s cool to see your pictures in SI or on websites but if you are in business there needs to be a payday. I don’t consider "$125.00 in 2012" to be much of a payday. As of today, I have received one check for around $125.00 from USPW. I’d rather not do the math to figure out my hourly wage. I’m not that good at decimals anyway.

Regardless, there was no gun to my head to do the work. I enjoyed most of it but, in the end, it did not make good business sense for me.

Time will tell if this is a smart business move for Gannett. It certainly seems to have been for the founders of USPW. I am just disappointed to see such a deal being made on the backs of wide-eyed hard working photographers.
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Jack Kurtz, Photographer
Phoenix | AZ | United States | Posted: 9:09 PM on 09.08.11
->> It's interesting that neither Gannett nor US Presswire have said anything on the sale yet. And PDN hasn't picked it up yet. I can't help but wonder what's holding them back on announcing this.
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Chuck Steenburgh, Photographer
Lexington | VA | USA | Posted: 9:13 PM on 09.08.11
->> When I was in college, I made a lot of money...typing papers. I banged out papers, two-finger-style at 45 wpm, on my portable electric. I undercut the department secretaries who charged .75/page by charging .50/page (they probably referred to me as a GWT). By my senior year, I started using a word processor (remember PeachText?) and felt a little guilty charging because it was so easy.

Now, of course, nobody pays for people to type papers (they just buy the papers off the internet, but that's a different issue).

Face it - technology has made those lost jobs obsolete, not people. The best photographers - those whose creative vision, superior technique, and true mastery of their craft - will always be able to find work (though they may have to look a bit harder).

What Stanley said in the first thread was right on target (and when I agree with Stanley, that's saying something!). It ain't about the photographer, it's about the photo consumer. If you don't produce something they consider worth paying more for, then figure out how to do so or find another career. Don't blame the guy who does it for less.
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Mike Brice, Photographer
SLC | UT | USA | Posted: 9:19 PM on 09.08.11
->> There are a lot of photographers on here like Dave who are still traveling site to site shooting on spec claiming to all that they are making money.

Is this not true - can someone show me how they are making money at this - especially if up until next year they are paying their own way to the games.
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Dave Einsel, Photographer, Photo Editor
Houston | TX | United States | Posted: 10:46 PM on 09.08.11
->> @ Mike

It may not have been your intention but, to be absolutely clear, I have not "traveled site to site" and the only time I have shot on spec was during my brief time with USPW.

As for how to make money...the cold hard fact is that if a photographer cannot find an organization that is willing to pay an assignment rate or is willing to pay a fair fee for stock, they have little chance to be profitable.

Reality bites a little.
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Mark Loundy, Photo Editor
San Jose | CA | USA | Posted: 10:52 PM on 09.08.11
->> Here are some columns that I've written about working for free, establishing good business practices when shooting as a sideline and other on-topic subjects.

We Have Met The Enemy...
http://www.loundy.org/commoncents/2003/cc_06-03.html

The Greeders
http://www.loundy.org/commoncents/2003/cc_08-03.html

It's about the money (duh!)
http://www.loundy.org/commoncents/2005/cc_11-05.html

Pay Yourself
http://www.loundy.org/commoncents/2006/cc_02-06.html

From my September 2003 column:
"Some photographers will accept an exciting assignment, no matter how poorly it pays. Photo buyers have come to realize that many photographers are starry-eyed romantics who know little about business. Until young photographers realize that photo buyers see them as easy pickings to be had for little more than a photo credit, then this industry will not recover."

--Mark
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Andrew Shurtleff, Photographer, Photo Editor
Charlottesville | VA | United States | Posted: 10:57 PM on 09.08.11
->> I think the only way to make any kind of money for USPW is to shoot in a large markets and shoot everything, all the time. I disagree with Chuck Steenburgh. It seems quantity not quality is ruling the day. Stock images seem to be the way Rebilus and the other USPW photogs make any money. These photogs put up 200-400 images of any and everything after their deadline photos for every game. It's a numbers game but it also takes a lot of time and effort the average photog isn't willing to provide. I have a friend that shoots for them and does pretty good considering. It helps that he shoots 200 games plus a year and makes a good six figure with his day job while owning a few other internet companies.

It appears USPW is only good for photogs with major ambition/drive who produce images in quantity or for new photographers hoping to gain field access to boost their portfolios. Grover is 100% right- most of the USPW photogs aren't doing it for the money. If you're really talented and shoot all the time you're chances of getting great images increases as does your sales.

As for money, I worked for USPW 6 months covering 8-10 ACC football games and about 15-20 NCAA basketball games. It didn't help that I work in a shitty market but we get some pretty big market teams coming through town. My first check (5 months late after a personal call to the owner Bob) was for $200. My second check (I was told by Bob after he called me asking why I wouldn't shoot for him any longer) was for $300. I laughed thinking Bob wouldn't get out of bed for a $200 check let alone $300. It's been a year now and I've only received that single $200 check. I still have not received my 2nd check for $300 or the 3rd or 4th check.

Lesson learned. Chuck Liddy, as angry as he comes off with topic, was right a year ago when I met him. I only work for people who pay for the images up front. Bob has to be making a pretty good salary as CEO for the newly Gannet acquired USPW to drop his job at SI. Not to mention the hundreds of thousands of images he can now put into stock at USPW.

I should probably find something more constructive to do than rant-maybe update my SS page.
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Jamey Price, Photographer, Assistant
Charlotte | NC | USA | Posted: 11:15 PM on 09.08.11
->> Can we beat this dead horse a little more?
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Bill Baptist, Photographer
Pearland | Texas | usa | Posted: 11:43 PM on 09.08.11
->> Is Gannett buying Press Wire?
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Will Powers, Photographer
Denver | CO | USA | Posted: 11:51 PM on 09.08.11
->> Is the model for Icon or ZUMA any different from US Presswire?
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Mike Brice, Photographer
SLC | UT | USA | Posted: 11:55 PM on 09.08.11
->> Dave - I wasn't saying you travel place to place - but I know a former member here that shot 3 college football games in three different states this weekend - this info indicates he didn't even get gas money. Ouch...
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Craig Mitchelldyer, Photographer, Assistant
Portland | OR | USA | Posted: 12:32 AM on 09.09.11
->> Is a $200/gm all rights buyout from the AP that much better? Photogs lose money on both deals. How come we only harp on Presswire?

I have shot maybe 2-3 football games (of a 12-1 BCS team) and 10-15 NBA games in the last year. Like Grover said in previous thread. I did it knowing I would lose money. I probably said no many more times than I said yes. Like others have said getting any kind of check required a phone call, which was annoying.

I do not have any bad feelings towards Bob and am happy they will now pay anything at all. $125 plus 50/50 beats $0. And now that they have Gannett's payment system, hopefully checks will be consistent. Can you make money working for them? No. I do not think so. Will I do it still? Yes, at events I want to. Am I stupid for doing so? Probably. But if I'm shooting next to a guy making $200 on a buyout, we are both stupid, but everyone will only hate me. I think all wire deals are bad ones. But people still do it and that's not going to change. I lose money when I shoot news assignments for Ap/Getty/Newspapers too, but nobody seems to get as worked up.

Believe it or not, shooting Ducks and Blazers is a loss leader for me in my business. Sure I lose on the shoot, but in my wedding marketing, I market to grooms as much as brides and they all love seeing and talking sports. Many book me because of it, so it is worth it to me to shoot 10-15 events (NBA games are 10 minutes from my house in the evenings in the winter when absolutely nothing else is happening) a year.
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Brad Mangin, Photographer
Pleasanton | CA | USA | Posted: 12:56 AM on 09.09.11
->> Jamey- this is not a dead horse. This is one of the most important topics ever discussed on this here site I helped create 9.5 years ago.

One HUGE point missing from all of this is this: If you have no chance of making any commercial money it is not pretty. USPW cannot sell commercial. All sales are editorial subscription web deals or editorial sales in print pubs at low prices. How do I know this? Because I have been doing this a long time and have been licensing my own work to editorial clients since 1992. I know what stuff licenses for.

For those of you who might doubt what Mr. Einsel says please check his background. This man is one of most professional people I have ever come across- ever since we first chatted on the freezing sidelines of Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City in December of 1990. We were both on assignment as staff photographers back then working on deadline. This man knows what he is talking about and is spinning one of the most truthful tales in print of anyone who has ever shot a game for USPW. Bravo Dave.

...and if anyone out there doubts Allen's business sense- you really need to do some homework.

It is all so simple. Respect yourself and your work. Work hard. Pay your dues. Respect the veterans. Don't sign bad contracts. Value your photographs. Learn to say "no."

...and never fall in love at the Jersey Shore.
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Allen Murabayashi, Photographer
New York | NY | USA | Posted: 1:07 AM on 09.09.11
->> i've had a couple drinks tonight, so i'm going on a rant (i was gonna say "beat the dead horse" but that just didn't sound right).

80s super model linda evangelista is famous for saying "I don't get out of bed for less than $10,000 day."

she was derided at the time -- oh the arrogance! but linda knew what her value was. why would she book a $1k job, when she knew she could book at $10k job. she had an opportunity cost for getting out of bed and taking a job that undercut her own value.

you could say, "yeah, but she's leaving money on the table." and i would argue, sure, empirically that is the case. but that was a quality of life decision. she could work 10 days at $1k/day, or 1 day out of every ten days for $10k. i'd personally rather chill for 9 days.

i'm not trying to be "right" on the issue. i'm simply saying, make sure your logic is sound for your business.

craig has thought it through and can justify the USPW work as a loss leader because it's part of his marketing pitch for wedding clients. his wedding stuff pays 20x the USPW rate. that makes sense to me. i don't love it, but he thought it through, and it makes sense.

and now, i'm toasting snooki. night.
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Sam Morris, Photographer
Henderson (Las Vegas) | NV | USA | Posted: 1:41 AM on 09.09.11
->> Beat a dead horse? No, this is a horse that needs to be taken care of. In my short 20 years in this business, I have seen it, meaning editorial/sports photography, go from being a viable career choice to something that is nearly untenable.

And Brad really just summed it up, and it bears repeating: Respect yourself and your work. Work hard. Pay your dues. Respect the veterans. Don't sign bad contracts. Value your photographs. Learn to say "no."

OK, you may be fine if you don't respect the veterans. It just makes things a little more challenging if you don't have the chops when you tell them to eff off.
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Mark Loundy, Photo Editor
San Jose | CA | USA | Posted: 1:57 AM on 09.09.11
->> Disclosure: Since I've bothered at least one person for "promoting" my Common Cents column, I wanted to be perfectly transparent. The NPPA pays me to write the column for News Photographer magazine. For that, they get first serial rights, 30 days exclusivity and the right to put the column on the NPPA website (They have not elected to do so thus far.) I retain copyright.

I put the column on my own website after the magazine comes out so young photographers have an additional business resource.

There are ads on the site which net me about $33 per year.

--Mark
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Michael Granse, Photographer
Urbana | IL | USA | Posted: 2:00 AM on 09.09.11
->> In May of 2009, I posted a set of "Rules of The Industry" that were a collection of opinions gathered from previous years of reading and participating in discussions on this forum. It was designed to acquaint new photographers with the inside story on what is and is not acceptable within The Industry, and now that this thread has become a double header it seemed appropriate to post this again as it appears that the confusion on what is and is not acceptable persists.

There have been a few minor changes, and if any rule seems to be in conflict with another rule or simply in conflict with logic, simply set logic aside and keep reading. Only then can one truly understand.

1. It is NEVER ok to give up your copyright to an image.

2. It is ok to give up your copyright to an image for a large fee.

3. Shooting as a staffer for a newspaper and in doing so giving up your copyright is ok.

4. Shooting as a freelancer for a newspaper and in doing so giving up your copyright is not ok.

4. Shooting for the Associated Press as a staffer and in doing so giving up your copyright is ok.

5. Shooting for the Associated Press as a freelancer and in doing so giving up your copyright is not ok.

6. Being a newspaper staffer while shooting as a freelancer for the Associated Press and in doing so giving up your copyright is ok.

7. Shooting as a staffer for an agency and in doing so giving up your copyright is ok.

8. Shooting as a freelancer for an agency and in doing so giving up your copyright is not ok.

9. Shooting an assignment on your own as a freelance photographer and then utilizing your skills and experience to market these photos while keeping your copyright is ok.

10. Shooting an assignment on your own as a freelance photographer and then having an agency utilize their skill, experience, and contacts to sell the images while paying them a 50% commission and keeping your copyright is not ok.

13. You must use Apple computers to edit your photographs. It is unprofessional to use a PC based system for this purpose.

14. You should always list every single piece of equipment you own in the classified advertisement that you post when you are selling your gear and switching to Nikon.

15. You should not list every single piece of equipment you own in the classified advertisement that you post when you are trying to get someone to hire you to shoot an NCAA bowl game between two teams with 6 and 5 records.

16. Do not under any circumstances allow the first post of your Sports Shooter career to be a question about how to get credentials for an event.

17. Do not start a travel blog, EVER. It seems that no good can come of this.
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David Richard, Photographer
Cleveland | OH | USA | Posted: 4:14 AM on 09.09.11
->> A lot of shooters with full time jobs dominating this one.
We all have families to support.
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Brett Clark, Photographer
Elizabeth City | NC | USA | Posted: 4:17 AM on 09.09.11
->> So glad I've been reading this, now I know who to contact to get on the sidelines of pro games! This is sooooo cool, I'll get to sit alongside the great players, cheer on my favorite teams and get some great photos cause I've always dreamed of shooting pro games. I deserve it now, been shooting HS when I can make it, my awesome Nikon shoots SUCH good shots, boo Canon, especially with my kick-ass 50-500. Don't know why you guys shoot with those expensive fixed lenses and not zooms. My fellow photography club members are going to be so jealous. So can you tell me the right people to get in touch with over at Getty or USPW? Please tell me asap, I'm so excited I can't sleep!
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David Richard, Photographer
Cleveland | OH | USA | Posted: 4:26 AM on 09.09.11
->> Brett:
Please visit my web site and view my portfolio and please take time to view each image closely. I spent a shit load of time on each gallery.
See, I lost my job and worked hard to keep my house, family an car.
Notice I was once OHIO Photographer of the Year for my hard work with crazy hours but please also notice that I was not paid for overtime by my daily paper. I was the first of 5 they let go.
NONE of these images were taken via a USPW credential but I have taken USPW assignments in the past month.
If you want to further your take, you can see some pretty good MLB shots by searching my name on the UPSW.com web site.
As for who to get in touch with .... You surely know.
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David Richard, Photographer
Cleveland | OH | USA | Posted: 4:31 AM on 09.09.11
->> Forgot this:
Brett, here is my FaceBook page for my business.
Pass it along to your photo club friends ...
https://www.facebook.com/pages/David-Richard-Photography/247918523380
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Stanley Leary, Photographer
Roswell | GA | USA | Posted: 6:54 AM on 09.09.11
->> I think there is a lot of misplaced anger about the demise of a livable wage shooting sports.

I think we need to face it--there are more people willing to shoot sports than there is a need for them. There are more people willing to shoot sports for free that produce excellent results.

The PC and later the Mac were introduced into corporate America and as a result the number of secretary positions dropped drastically.

Wikipedia and Google have crushed the encyclopedia book market.

Who makes prints or transparencies any more and has a press guy make the separations? That job is almost nonexistent.

Where can you take your digital images to get prints anymore--there are less one-hour labs than ever.

The industry has changed and there are less ways to make a living shooting on the sidelines of sporting events than there used to be.

With all this said there are still folks not only making a living in photography, but doing very well. Some of them are shooting sports.

As long as what you provide as a service is easily copied then quickly it will become a commodity. Once it is a commodity it is traded for the lowest price.

The reason so many want to shoot for free is because this is a fun profession. You get to see and meet some of the coolest folks on the planet.

To make this a career and sustain yourself doing it is what separates the business folks from the hobbyist.

Spend more time on business practices. This is not just knowing your rights and how to charge. You need to know how to market yourself. You need to know how to meet and exceed the customers expectations and needs.

Those who are at the very top are figuring out how to solve the problems that their clients don't even know they have yet. You have to be proactive and forward thinking.
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Chris Royle, Photographer
Poole | England | England | Posted: 6:57 AM on 09.09.11
->> I have been only been shooting sports for a short time but I
am surprised how many people turn up to a event (mostly UK premiership football and boxing me included) and aren't getting paid only relying on newspaper buys, but when national newspapers staff photographers and big agencies like Getty turn up there is little chance of making money from it. Your better of going to a match a few league division down from the top flight and where there are only a couple of photographers rather than a average premiership game where 30+ attend. I guess the freebies see it as a weekend thing and if you make some money then its a bonus.

I have made more money shooting teams that play for a Sunday football league down on some public playing fields that are only a few miles away and enjoy shooting it, i get to know people and have made some good contacts

I am beginning to wonder if I should go down the wedding/family event route but not sure if my heart will be in it. freelancers who get sent around the world on sporting assignments are very lucky
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Chris Royle, Photographer
Poole | England | England | Posted: 7:19 AM on 09.09.11
->> I forgot to mention about weddings that even thou my heart may not be in it, it makes more business sense earning a nice wage (if you become a regular high end shooter) rather then going to a sporting event and losing money.
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Chuck Liddy, Photographer
Durham | NC | USA | Posted: 8:01 AM on 09.09.11
->> Why is USPresswire like Fight Club?
Rule 1: You do not talk about USPresswire
Rule 2: You DO NOT talk about USPresswire.
After getting up and reading the continuation of this thread one thing is sad but abundantly clear. With just the amount of people commenting on here about how they don't see anything wrong with these deals (for all the various reasons) and the "beating the dead horse" attitudes there probably WON'T be a real freelance market for sports images after another 5-10 years. God knows there's barely one now. Rationalize all you want, if you devalue your work you are screwing yourself. This will be the last I have to say on this, like it matters...I look forward to covering the football game tomorrow where there will be 10 ICON shooters out there competing with each other and probably four or five USPRESSWIRE guys competing with each other....the bright side is there is free parking at this venue and they have a great (free) media meal and all the complimentary gatorade you can drink on the sidelines.......cheers!
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Eric Canha, Photographer
Brockton | MA | United States | Posted: 8:59 AM on 09.09.11
->> I'm going to go off topic (yes flame all you want) to highlight what I think is one of the most heartbreaking things I've read here in a long time.

George Bridges posted:

.... "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."

This SO reinforces the idea that it isn't WHAT you know but WHO you know. It reinforces the argument that 10 "SI" quality images of 10 year olds playing ball means nothing if you haven't managed to wiggle into a 'pro' venue and rub elbows with the 'right' people. George it may not have been what you meant to say, but it's how it came across to me. If I took that the wrong way I'll apologize a thousand times, but if what you are saying is that making friends with the kool kidz is more important than a shooter's body of work, is it any wonder that there are armies of people lined up to make friends?
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Michael Fischer, Photographer
Spencer | Ia | USA | Posted: 9:16 AM on 09.09.11
->> Great post, Stanley.

Craig, you are the only response on here that presented a good reason to do it. If it's the loss leader that leads to a profitable part of your business then it works. The difference between you and almost anyone else participating is that you HAVE a profitable part. Loss leaders, used as a small percentage of one's business, can be a effective tool and I know you know this because of some of your efforts on here and other places.

A loss leader has to lead to enough profitable business to offset the loss. ( AKA margin mix ) That's clearly NOT the case for most shooters.If it's a loss, then the offsetting margins have to be higher in order to hit your target margin average.
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Chuck Liddy, Photographer
Durham | NC | USA | Posted: 9:40 AM on 09.09.11
->> In regarding George's statement...although I'm sure some folks took it the wrong way something to remember as part of the equation when an photo editor hires someone, as you probably know, it isn't always how great their images are....if you are hiring them to work for you and represent your organization you don't want some loose cannon out there who could potentially ruin you(r) companies reputation and/or potential future relations with various clients. it's not always about the images. as someone who had to deal with a somewhat wild reputation many years ago I know exactly what george was talking about. the fact of the matter is yes, in our business it IS often "who you know", but it certainly doesn't have anything to do with working for free...in all likelihood I would dare say if "who you know" KNOWS you're willing to work for a free hamburger and coke and wants to hire you....maybe you don't want to know THEM.
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Butch Miller, Photographer
Lock Haven | PA | USA | Posted: 9:56 AM on 09.09.11
->> I agree, I think George was referring to the fact that where you have been published in the past may be a secondary consideration to other related facets of hiring someone ... that the "reputation" of the person under consideration carries as much weight, in some cases much more weight, than actual photographic skills ... Like Chuck points out, you will be the employer's representative first and foremost when on the job ... the quality and calibre of work is likely a given ... or you wouldn't be in consideration for the the job in the first place ...

One person's "networking" ... is another person's "making friends with the kool kids" ...
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Butch Miller, Photographer
Lock Haven | PA | USA | Posted: 10:03 AM on 09.09.11
->> Oh ... and think others who are not members here ... or sports shooters are not paying attention to what is discussed here ... think again ...

http://www.facebook.com/PhotoShelter/posts/189437461128305
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Eric Canha, Photographer
Brockton | MA | United States | Posted: 10:05 AM on 09.09.11
->> Chuck I don't know George and have only words on a screen to go on. I fully understand that I could have taken his post the wrong way and built in the requisite swan dive onto my sword in the 1000 apologies. But at the same time if I took it wrong you can bet that many other did too... Just putting out a chance to set things straight.
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George Bridges, Photographer, Photo Editor
Washington | DC | USA | Posted: 10:26 AM on 09.09.11
->> Eric,

Not what I meant at all, sorry if it read that way. I really am an advocate I'd rather see good quality images from little league baseball in your portfolio than crappy ones from the major leagues. What I was trying to get across is that having pro sports in your portfolio does not impress me, quality of your work and how others feel about how it is to work with you does.

One thing I regularly see when I look at portfolios, especially from college students, is a photograph of the president. He is usually at a podium speaking at the college commencement or similar event. I always tell them, that it is a boring photo of a man at a podium -- no matter if it is the President of the United States. Just because you have photographed him doesn't make you a great photographer. Throw a boring podium shot out and put in something that will grab my eye.

I rarely hire freelancers for sports so access to any level of sport is not really relevant in what I'm doing. It is usually editorial portraits or events that reporters for my Washington Bureau are writing about. If we don't have a company-owned paper in the area we freelance it out.

That said, you can have 12 SI covers to your name, but if I don't know you already (I know most of the people I see getting SI covers so maybe this is not a good analogy) and a photographer I respect says "that is the hardest photographer to work with in a 200 mile radius" I'm probably not going to call you. Why? Because your work is not up to par? No. It's because I need someone I can work with, talk over the assignment and get the results I need to make the writer, their editors, my boss and all the editors at our papers who are going to run the story happy. It is not worth putting up with an unprofessional attitude when I can go another route.

It is how you present yourself and work with others that get you the recommendations. Like I said before, I don't care where your work has run, but if you do good work and are respected in your area you will get recommendations. If you do good work but are a jerk, I doubt anyone would recommend you.

Take an example from a couple months ago. I needed to have an environmental portrait shot of a guy in rural Missouri. I have no photographer in my database in the area. What do I do? I contact two good friends at the Kansas City Star photo staff and say "Hey, who do you recommend in this area of the state?" They both came back with people and I put calls in to them. Turns out neither was free but one of the freelancers, who I do know a little bit about professionally even if I have never met them in person, recommended a third person. I did a quick look at his work and gave him a call. He was available and did a nice job on the images, was easy to work with and got pictures to me on deadline, etc.

Again, sorry if you took my comments in another way, my point was that the whole "I shoot to get my name out there" doesn't mean much if other photographers in your area don't respect your work. Because if they don't respect your work then they are not going to recommend you for other jobs that they can't do. And, yes, pretty much every freelancer I know will offer up a name of another shooter they know, and work well with, when they can't do an assignment.

Another example: A few years ago I got a "cold call" e-mail from someone who said the basic "hey, if you ever need anything shot in my area, please keep me in mind." It was a town where I already knew a few good shooters, but I always am looking for quality people on the chance I do have something there. I did what I always do. I saw where he was from and I sent an e-mail to a photographer friend of 20-plus years and said "what do you know about this guy?"

His response was "I would never hire that guy to shoot anything." Could this be a personal feud between the two? Maybe, but like I said, I had known one of the people for more than 20 years and the other was a cold-call solicitation for work. In that case I tend to go with the 20-plus years of personal knowledge and if I have an assignment in that city I'll go with one of the other 3 or 4 photographers I already know.

I've also had cold-calls in the past where I have looked the person up and really liked their work and hired them later when something came up. I've also had people be really honest with me about their abilities. Such as earlier this year I contacted someone I only know from seeing their work and comments here on SportsShooter, but they were in the area of my subject and I had a short deadline. But he was very honest with me and said "I'm mainly a sports shooter, portraits like that are not my strong suit, here are some examples." I looked and respected the fact that he was honest because he was a good action person, but not strong on portraits and I needed a really killer lighting and posing job to amp up a pretty boring situation. I went with someone else who does not do much editorial, but a lot of wedding and business portraits. It cost me more in time and mileage, but it was worth it. Again, I respect the first person's honesty and it keeps him on my list for assignments more to his strengths. If he had just taken the assignment and left me out to dry with weak photos, then he would never get a call or recommendation from me.

The photojournalism community is actually very small, especially among the sports world. Are there people out there who will tell you I'm a great guy? I hope so. Are there people out there who will tell you I'm a total jerk? I hope not, but possibly. I just hope that in the way I have handled myself over the years, there are more who will say nice things about me than bad. I try to go out of my way to help others, make a little space on the sidelines or spend time helping with a computer problem or gear loan if they need. Heck, last year the Final Four was in my town so I told a friend to ship all his gear to my house and I carried it to the arena for him so he didn't have thousands of dollars of gear sitting in a hotel storage room.

I've been fortunate enough to work for a company that has sent me to many large sporting events over the past 13 years. I have gotten to know many of the top sports and news shooters over that time. There have been people I have been surprised have a not-so-great reputation, but have found that most are really nice people who are a lot of fun to sit and talk to, especially at events where there is a lot of down time. I mean at an Olympics where you are in position 8-12 hours before the finals of that event to secure your spot, you have plenty of time to be chatting with the other photographers. And what do we talk about? Other photographers and assignments we have been on. It's what we do, it's what we have in common.

And, after doing this business since high school, I'm amazed that I'm still doing it and that I am now friendly with many of the people who were my idols -- whose work I studied in magazines like Sports Illustrated, the Sporting News, Time, Newsweek, etc., back when I was just starting out with an FE2 and a 70-200.
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George Bridges, Photographer, Photo Editor
Washington | DC | USA | Posted: 10:33 AM on 09.09.11
->> Sorry for the lengths of my rants, but one more thing in answer to Eric's query above.

There are numerous photographers I have known for 20 years or more who I first met when I was a freelancer, just out of college, covering state high school track and basketball tournaments.

Trust me, meeting someone who you will end up knowing for two decades while covering a Class AA high school basketball game where the final score is 36-8 is about as far away from a "glamorous" NFL sideline as you can get.
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Eric Canha, Photographer
Brockton | MA | United States | Posted: 10:34 AM on 09.09.11
->> George thanks for the post. Informative #1 from me (FWIW), speaks volumes to the idea of playing nice in the sandbox. Thanks for taking the time to elaborate and sorry if you felt I was calling you out.
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Robert Seale, Photographer
Houston | TX | USA | Posted: 11:06 AM on 09.09.11
->> It's been posted before, but perhaps it's worth everyone revisiting.

Please watch this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mj5IV23g-fE
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Luke Johnson, Photographer, Student/Intern
St.Petersburg | FL | USA | Posted: 11:11 AM on 09.09.11
->> Spec sucks and doesn't make much money.

Source: A spec shooter who is getting tired of it.
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Mark Loundy, Photo Editor
San Jose | CA | USA | Posted: 2:30 PM on 09.09.11
->> Best. Thread. Ever.
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Andrew Carpenean, Photographer
Laramie | WY | USA | Posted: 3:09 PM on 09.09.11
->> I've never seen you so happy Mark!

The thing I've discovered on these forums is when there is an issue hot at hand the ladies on SS usually don't get involved as us men bicker. I'd have to say SportsShooter female photographers are pretty smart!
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Stanley Leary, Photographer
Roswell | GA | USA | Posted: 3:28 PM on 09.09.11
->> Free: How Today's Smartest Businesses Profit By Giving Something for Nothing by Chris Anderson

Amazon link:
http://www.amazon.com/Free-Smartest-Businesses-Something-Nothing/dp/1401310...

"With the cost of distribution relentlessly driving toward zero, Chris Anderson has once again identified the next big thing." --Eric Schmidt, CEO Google

Read some material other than photography like this book and you will see that photography isn't the only industry being turned upside down.

Here some other books I recommend you read:

By Jeffrey Gitomer (link to his books
http://www.gitomer.com/products/Books.html)
1: Little Teal Book of TRUST
2: Little Red Book of SELLING
3: Little Paltinum Book of Cha-Ching!
4: Little Black Book of Connections

Exceptional Service/Exceptional Profit: The Secrets of Building a Five-Star Customer Service Organization. By Leonard Inghiller and Mich Soloman [
http://www.amazon.com/Exceptional-Service-Profit-Five-Star-Organization/dp/...]

Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion and Purpose by Tony Hsieh CEO Zappos [
http://www.amazon.com/Delivering-Happiness-Profits-Passion-Purpose/dp/04465...]

Photographers who want to be in business as a photographer need to first realize they are business people first and photographers second. If you understand that and work as hard to build your business skills as you did to build your portfolio you might just have a long career as a photographer. Spend all your time on your portfolio you will remain on staff (if that is possible) or a hobbyist.
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Mark Loundy, Photo Editor
San Jose | CA | USA | Posted: 3:53 PM on 09.09.11
->> Andrew, These are important issues. As Brad said, this might be the most important thread ever on SS. I've been pushing these issues for many years and it's gratifying to see them being discussed more widely now.

--Mark
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Stanley Leary, Photographer
Roswell | GA | USA | Posted: 4:18 PM on 09.09.11
->> For those who have been talking about how they hire folks to shoot for their publications. What are the rates you were paying these people for a basketball or football game? How did you handle rights?

I am hearing people talk about how they look for people but I am curious if those responding are paying any better than those we have addressed up to now?

The reason I am asking is who is paying a decent rate for your time at a game these days.

When I run my numbers using the "Cost of doing business" calculations and based on my bottom line to not loose money I come up with a range of $500 to $1,000 a day depending on how many assignments I can line up a year.

It appears anyone accepting rates lower than this for a football game for example, needs to then charge their other clients even higher rates to get their average day rate (which I don't like to use, I prefer to quote based on job a creative fee)

I think the discussion needs to continue to help those who are making only $200 or so a game understand how someone can actually pay their bills taking these rates.

Some use the loss leader approach as we have already heard. Is this what everyone else is doing or is anyone actually making a living (freelancing) shooting on these rates?

I think seeing this part of the discussion will open many people's eyes as to how we could be making money taking these rates.
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Dan Routh, Photographer
Greensboro | NC | USA | Posted: 5:20 PM on 09.09.11
->> I have been reading this thread with interest and offer my two cents, because this is one of those discussions that makes my head explode. It's simple. If you want to make a living as a photographer you have to charge and receive a fee that allows you to make enough money to cover your overhead, cost of sales and your salary. If you work for free or near free, you will never make a living in this profession, never.

For all you folks who come here looking for advice and mentoring, the guys like Chuck are giving it to you. If you are smart, you might want to consider listening.
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G.J. McCarthy, Photographer
Dallas | TX | US | Posted: 5:22 PM on 09.09.11
->> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GBsSttJsZOc
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Stanley Leary, Photographer
Roswell | GA | USA | Posted: 5:39 PM on 09.09.11
->> On this topic I think those who are full time freelancers are who you should be listening to more than staff photographers. This is about earning a living as a freelancer.

I think if you evaluate who to listen to based on how good their pictures are you are missing the point.

You can learn slot from staff veteran photographers, but when it comes to earning a living look to someone who has been freelancing full-time for more than 3 years.

Brad is one of the best to listen to on this topic. John Harrington and Mark Loundy are also full-time freelancers running their own businesses.

Find a business mentor and not just someone to learn how to take better photos.
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Craig Mitchelldyer, Photographer, Assistant
Portland | OR | USA | Posted: 7:23 PM on 09.09.11
->> Stanley Says:

"What are the rates you were paying these people for a basketball or football game? How did you handle rights?"

I think this is an EXCELLENT question! Take 30 people shooting a football game. Maybe 15 of those people are working for a publication (newspaper, wire, team, etc) and 15 are bloggers/fans with access/boosters/etc.

Now, of those 15 who are making the almighty $500-$1000 game rates? (Which, BTW, is STILL not a living wage if all you do is shoot sports).

Certainly not the newspaper photographers. We all know they don't get paid crap. They shouldn't even be in this conversation. They get a paycheck every 2 weeks (a lot of them probably less than a wedding photographer charges for a wedding) and benefits.

The wire guys? Well, we know the USPW guys are not making any money and/or working for free. The Getty guys? $250 is better than $125? (ok some regular contributors get more and for staffers see: newspaper guy) Ap? $200 better than $125?

What is left? The magazine guys, getting a rate vs space or straight day rate. But how many magazines are paying $1000 to cover a game? 1? 2? I would say most are in the $500-$750 range. More if they get a cover or double truck. IF you are shooting vs. space. Much better, but still nothing to make a living on if that is all you are shooting.

So of 30 days shooting a game, 2 are making what we would consider a fair rate. Am I seeing this wrong?

What am I getting at? VERY FEW PEOPLE CAN MAKE A REAL LIVING SHOOTING SPORTS. You need to diversify.
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Craig Mitchelldyer, Photographer, Assistant
Portland | OR | USA | Posted: 7:56 PM on 09.09.11
->> I guess what I am getting at is we shouldn't judge how others conduct their business. My CODB is much different than a staffer who works freelance on the side or another freelancer without employees or a studio who works from home. What may work for one does not work for another.

The same thing happens in wedding photography. Only more money is on the line and its worse. I choose to worry about what I do and not what others do.

USPW came up with a great model, for them. Icon, Cal Sport, etc do the same thing. These guys are smart, not their fault there are a million people willing to work for nothing. Why would you NOT do that?? Photographers have no one to blame but themselves.
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Robert Seale, Photographer
Houston | TX | USA | Posted: 9:11 PM on 09.09.11
->> Craig,

I have a lot of respect for you and your work, but I'm really disappointed in all three of your posts on here. Sounds like someone who misses sports, makes a good living doing other work, and is trying to justify/rationalize their actions.

If you are aiding these guys - you are part of the problem.

To your quote about "why would you NOT do that?" Simple. Ethics. Morals. Sleeping at night with a clear conscience.

I could get free assistants, interns or office help any day of the week, but I choose not to. I pay my guys better than most people in town, I pay them extra for extra work, and I usually buy lunch, etc. I also refer other jobs to them.

How a person runs their business says a lot about their character. Don't try to justify it with the line about other agencies doing the same thing. They are all flesh eating bacteria in our profession, and we all have the ability to stand up and say no.

As for credibility with your grooms: I call BS. You've produced plenty of great work in your career, and you don't need to stand on the sidelines multiple times a year for USPW to prove it to some groom.

With respect,

Robert
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Debra L Rothenberg, Photographer
New York | NY | USA | Posted: 9:46 PM on 09.09.11
->> Eric,
I didn't take what George said the way you did. The way I understood it was he wants to hire someone who isn't going to be a jerk and therefore, make him look bad. There are a lot of NASTY photographers out there.
I once asked a client who has become a friend why he hires me over his long time shooters, who seem to get nothing these days. I was told "everyone loves working with you, you are so easy to get along with. Sure, there may be better photographers out there but they are rude and I don't want them working for my company"

Andrew said "
The thing I've discovered on these forums is when there is an issue hot at hand the ladies on SS usually don't get involved as us men bicker. I'd have to say SportsShooter female photographers are pretty smart!"

not true, there are a bunch of us here who get involved when something strikes a cord with us. I just started reading these posts and everything I wanted to say has already been said so there isn't anything else to ad yet :)
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Jack Megaw, Photographer, Photo Editor
Philadelphia | PA | USA | Posted: 10:25 PM on 09.09.11
->> So many people need to read this thread. Gives such a great understanding into our industry works.

Unfortunately it's going to be hard to convince many people who feel that they can't get a break that going spec is a bad idea and that 99 out of 100 will make no money (or rather make negative money) from shooting on spec.

Roll on the third thread!
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Craig Mitchelldyer, Photographer, Assistant
Portland | OR | USA | Posted: 10:40 PM on 09.09.11
->> Robert,

Fair enough. For what's it worth, I marked your post "informative". You may even be right about my rationale. I love shooting sports, and am lucky to have landed a very good client in the Timbers, thus feeding my need to shoot sports on a regular basis and get paid well to do so. I didn't think my comments would come without heat.

Listen, I don't know WHY I am sticking up for them. I am being very hypocritical of what I usually harp on people when it comes to this kind of thing. I think you (and others who know me) realize that. But as a business person, I can't hate on them. As a photographer, you bet I can. Ask Bob, we've had numerous back and forth emails about the subject.

It's not like I am shooting everyday for these guys so I don't know why I am taking their side other than I think the profession of sports photographer - save a very select few such as yourself, Brad, Bergman, Darren, Jed, etc - is dead.

Your comment about assistants and office help hits home for me too. I also choose not to except free help when its offered and would rather pay an assistant and buy them lunch, etc. It is sometimes so hard to not take all the people offering free help. I am sure someone like you gets 10 emails a day offering to help you for free.

Look at all the photographers out there who don't really even shoot anything anymore. They just offer workshops to people for $1000 a pop and shoot models with a group of 20 people. I think these people are just as scumbagy (is that a word), because I think photographers should help each other out and not be charging each other $1000 to do so. (See: SS Workshops and Luau's, PhotoShelter events, NPPA Business Blitz, etc).

Are the wires to blame? yes. Is it a race to the bottom? yes. Am I contributing to the demise? I guess you could say so on the 10-15 events I shot last year. Am I a giant Hypocrite. OK sure. Do I have my reasons for doing so. Yes.

I know you want to call BS, but I honestly use these events as networking/relationship building opportunities, (see George's comments above) and I do book weddings based on the "cool factor". You and I know its not cool, but the wedding world is very different. And this market is NBA, MLS and College Football crazed and it does work for me. Now, do I need to do it all the time, no I do not. Like I said previously, I did 10-15 events. Majority of those on weeknights in the winter when I was doing nothing else.

Does that make me part of the problem? Yes, I do not deny that, but its a business decision that has helped in other areas of my business wether that be brides and grooms or corporate people sitting court side I chat with or PR people moving from a team to an ad agency, to just being around other peers and photographers (who on multiple occasions recommend me for very nice gigs when they are unavailable), etc, etc. You know that you cannot just sit around and wait for the phone to ring, you have to be out there, and not just in front of editors, but corporate people and brides and grooms (and planners), etc.

You are one of the people I look up to most in the industry and I take your opinions very much to heart. We are not disagreeing here. It's a bad deal if you are trying to make a living at doing nothing but shooting sports, no doubt about it. But it's not JUST USPW that is the problem (they are no doubt part of it), its the entire sports photography industry.
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