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SportsShooter.com: Member Message Board

US Presswire Part 4
Delane B. Rouse, Photographer, Photo Editor
Washington | DC | US | Posted: 5:54 PM on 09.12.11
->> To take the road that Dustin was taking...one step further...the USPW shooter should remove ALL of their content from the archives and collectively start their own agency using PhotoShelter then split the money.

Anytime Gannett wants to "hire" you they go to your PhotoShelter archive and purchase a $100-$125 credit.
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Will Powers, Photographer
Denver | CO | USA | Posted: 6:06 PM on 09.12.11
->> On USPW 3 Delanie wrote what is SAG for Actors if not a union, it is the last letter in SAG, it is a guild.
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Delane B. Rouse, Photographer, Photo Editor
Washington | DC | US | Posted: 6:08 PM on 09.12.11
->> Will-


from
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Screen_Actors_Guild

The Screen Actors Guild (SAG) is an American labor UNION (sic) representing over 200,000 film and television principal performers and background performers worldwide.
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Mark Loundy, Photo Editor
San Jose | CA | USA | Posted: 6:08 PM on 09.12.11
->> I've been hearing rumors that Gannett has called a meeting for next week about how the Presswire acquisition will work with local Gannett papers.

This can't be good.

--Mark
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Mark Loundy, Photo Editor
San Jose | CA | USA | Posted: 6:09 PM on 09.12.11
->> SAG is a union. When their members work, they become temporary employees of the production company. As employees, they do not retain their copyrights.

--Mark
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Scott Serio, Photo Editor, Photographer
Colora | MD | USA | Posted: 6:21 PM on 09.12.11
->> @Mark - I was the first one to say this. Gannett having a HUGE stable a lesser paid freelancers, who don't get health benefits or medical coverage or ANYTHING, can't be good for their staffers. It just can't. Regardless of how people view the USPW deal for the USPW shooters, this whole thing just doesn't bode well.

And poor Mr. Hanashiro...Top notch guy. Killer good shooter. And, because of a clear conflict of interest, there is no way he can give us what I am sure would be an enlightened and informed take on this.
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Mark Loundy, Photo Editor
San Jose | CA | USA | Posted: 6:27 PM on 09.12.11
->> I would certainly welcome any off-list comments. My email address is myfirstname@mylastname.org

--Mark
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David A. Cantor, Photographer, Photo Editor
Toledo | OH | USA | Posted: 6:28 PM on 09.12.11
->> via Trent Nelson's "The Click"

http://blog.melchersystem.com/2011/09/12/volume-based-photojournalism/
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Butch Miller, Photographer
Lock Haven | PA | USA | Posted: 7:19 PM on 09.12.11
->> Since when is it considered "pontificating" ... when you try to convince a fellow sports shooter it is in their best interest to place a higher value on what they produce? ... or ANY value at all for that matter ... considering someone made millions on the backs of sports shooters and so far those who are reaping the financial windfall will be VERY unlikely to share any of the proceeds directly with those that made it all possible ...

If this were a discussion between content providers and content purchasers, I could understand the need to break everything down in bite size pieces and the necessity to explain each and every minuscule detail ... however ... this should be a no-brainer for everyone here ... working for free (or for less income than expenses incurred) will in all likelihood not get you very far, if anywhere at all ... it is not a well thought out plan for success ... for ANY business ... not just the "hobby" of sports photography ...

My beef is not with the specific dollar amount offered by USPW ... but more about the number of folks who contribute and receive no compensation whatsoever ... It's difficult to figure out if this opportunity is the wonderful panacea for the freelancer that covers a reasonable day rate, transportation, lodging etc. ... or are they profiteers who pay nothing taking advantage of those trying to break into the biz? ... It's really difficult to tell with so many different stories spanning such diametrically opposed experiences ...

Someone mentioned about the need to adapt or there will always be others willing to underbid the going rate ... ok, adaptation is always good in any chosen endeavor ... but what happens when the price bottoms out to below ZERO? ... are WE then supposed to pay the likes USPW for the privilege to shoot for them?

This whole situation is NOT the result of the advancement of technology ... but the unwillingness of those providing the content to place a reasonable value upon what they produce ... Some say there is a glut of imagery produced these days ... there is also unprecedented record setting use of imagery today ... the lack of earning power in the industry is not a result directly related to supply and demand ... but more of a result of the attitude of those actually creating the images placing little to no value on what they do ...

Indeed the advent of the automobile did have a very discernible impact upon those folks manufacturing buggy whips ...Though unlike the horseless carriage displacing the horse, it was not the introduction of the modern DSLR, associated software and internet usage that imposed bargain basement pricing upon imagery ... it is the photographers in question who perpetuate that theme ... the desire, need and market for imagery exists ... the willingness to charge a reasonable rate for imagery, however, seems to have left the building ...
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Chuck Liddy, Photographer
Durham | NC | USA | Posted: 8:11 PM on 09.12.11
->> "the willingness to charge a reasonable rate for imagery, however, seems to have left the building ..."
hoooorahhh! butch!
it left the building because there is a huge amount of GWC's who think getting a photo pass at a game and giving away your images is "cool". sorry, but if you're working for free, or think a good business model is making $5/hour with your $15,000+ equipment because you get to be on the sidelines I equate you with the point and shoot fan with connections. the only difference is they make WAY more money than you and they are there just to have fun and not posing as a professional. professionals DON'T work for free. professionals don't work for free. and even professional fry boys at mcdonald's make more than $5/hour. make all the comments you want about justifying these bad deals....you're pissing in the wind....and the wind is blowing right back atcha.
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John H. Reid III, Photographer
Gates Mills | OH | USA | Posted: 9:51 PM on 09.12.11
->> I'll try to add a little levity to this conversation (and maybe a few will get the underlying truth.) A few years ago my daughter, who was 9 or 10 at the time, said to me, "Dad, every kid in my class has been to a Browns game but me....and you work with the team!!!" Indeed, this was true, so the team very generously gave me 3 tickets to a pre-season game so my wife, daughter and father-in-law could attend. As I need to get to the stadium early, and stay late, I didn't see her until the next day, when I asked what she thought. "Dad, it's just men acting like boys, hitting each other and jumping around!" "Well," I said, "There is some truth to that, but there's one major difference. Your friends do it for free, and the players get paid very well to do it."
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TD Paulius, Photographer
Orland Park | IL | USA | Posted: 9:58 PM on 09.12.11
->> I am still wondering what the heck a "right off" is?
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Michael Granse, Photographer
Urbana | IL | USA | Posted: 10:51 PM on 09.12.11
->> A "write off" can have you "right off" to tax court if the IRS disagrees with your arithmetic.
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Armando Solares, Photographer
Englewood | FL | USA | Posted: 1:36 AM on 09.13.11
->> Stanley, (From the previous thread part #3)

What advice would I give a novice photographer about a career path in photography?

1.) Don't work for free.

What I mean by don't work for free is that you should not give your photographs to an entity that will make money off your work and not compensate you.

A career path for a photographer starting out now. It depends on what you want to do. There are many avenues for photographers. If you want to be landscape photographer, you can work for yourself and sell your photography at art shows and galleries. Have you ever walked into a high end hotel and notice the art work on the walls - it comes from somewhere.

A wedding photographer, become a second shooter or an assistant to an established photographer. Shoot weddings that are on tight budgets - There are tons. Don't mislead your clients, let them know you are a beginner.

A portrait photographer, start with your family and friends.
Develop a clientele.

A sports photographer, approach a little league or a high school in your town. Shoot for yourself and sell the images to the parents. I guarantee you that if your images are good. You can make more than $125 per game. I did this when I first started my business. One year a parent bought every shot I made of his kid for an entire 12 game season. He was the running back. Just that sale every week was more than $125 a game. That doesn't happen all the time, but even without him I still made more than $125 shooting high school football. I shot high school football for two reasons, I needed to generate business, and I love shooting high school football.

That lead to two weddings of ex-football players from the high school and I photographed the AD's daughter's wedding.

Just today I saw advertisings for a commercial photographer, a new-born baby photographer, a family photographer, etc.

If you want to be a newspaper photographer, there are fewer around, but you can still freelance for one. They may not have staffers, but they still hire freelancers.

I can go on and on.

I guess my point here is that if you work for yourself, or you trade services for your service then you are OK. But if you work for someone who will barely pay you or not pay you at all, yet they profit from your work. Well then you are a fool.
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Stanley Leary, Photographer
Roswell | GA | USA | Posted: 7:38 AM on 09.13.11
->> Armando

Thanks for your tips. I think this is as much what is needed as telling folks what not to do.

I know a few folks who shoot the Div 1 and Pro sports to be able to display this work at the little kids games to gain credibility. In other words I am seeing a few folks shooting the pro games for agencies or for free to get images that help draw parents with money to their booths.

I am still seeing others who figure they want to do this as a hobby and say hey why not put them into an agency to maybe get some money. They were going to shoot it for free anyway.

I see others who work in the industry at places like camera stores, for camera manufactures, printing companies as well who shoot the games to understand some of the issues the public will encounter and make them better experts for them.

For all those I just I just listed I understand and see how this works for their business model.

I also see how many folks figured they cannot make enough money in photography to give up their day job, but want to have fun on the weekends. They have the resources tao buy the good equipment and many of them are excellent photograhers.

I just described many of the folks I see at the games in Atlanta shooting.

They have all made it where some of the clients that would pay me in the past an OK rate no longer will hire me. Too many giving it away here.

II will shoot games for reasonable rates. I also go to HS games and shoot for myself.

Sooner or later just about everyone I know wants a crack at shooting the big boys and this lure is what keeps more and more wanting access.
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Bradly J. Boner, Photographer, Photo Editor
Jackson | WY | USA | Posted: 11:10 AM on 09.13.11
->> @Butch - while I most certainly agree that it's photographers who don't place value on their work that is the root of the problem, it's the fast advancement of technology that put them in that position.

In the film days, hobbiests simply didn't have the time, money or resources to purchase the equipment, purchase film, pay for processing, take the time to edit, and pay for shipping transparencies to clients or scan images on a scanner and computer they paid for to email to clients.

Even ten or eleven years ago the cheapest DSLR was the D1H and D1X, which were something like $5,000. I remember every photojournalist thinking that was incredibly cheap, and they were still considered mostly photojournalism cameras, mainly for newsprint only due to the quality. The DSLR was still way out of the price range for most hobbiests.

Die-hard film shooters thought it would be impossible for digital to exceed the quality of film in their lifetime. I remember a photo of a swimmer (I think) that was taken with a D1x ran as a double-truck in SI's leading off section, and we thought the 5.3 MP resolution quality of this incredible digital camera was so mind-blowing that it could only be alien technology.

Fast forward to today and just about anyone can purchase a descent camera with magazine quality resolution - hell, mural-sized print resolution - for a thousand bucks or less (the camera on my phone has higher resolution than the D1x). They can get the camera and a descent lens for less than $2,000. They have a computer at home (sans scanner), and they don't have to buy film or pay for processing, so they can take a LOT more photos. And when they take more photos they get to be better photographers.

So technology - affordable DSLR cameras that produce great quality images - most certainly has flooded our marked with a ton of good (not great) photographers. But it comes back to your point that they're more interested in getting access to events and/or having their images published than getting paid, and at a time when just about everyone is pinching pennies, clients are willing to use "descent" images from hobbiests for free rather than purchase top-notch images from pros.
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Butch Miller, Photographer
Lock Haven | PA | USA | Posted: 1:02 PM on 09.13.11
->> Bradly ... I know all about the influence of technology on the business ... I've witnessed it from the front row for the past 35 years ... attributing results based upon the existence in inanimate objects totally misses the mark in my opinion ... unless of course Nikon and Canon are manufacturing products with self-awareness and the ability to open a bank account ... Unfortunately, it wasn't the camera makers that created the USPW business model where a select few reaped millions ... and many of the rest never received a dime ...

In all that time I have been in this line of work, I have yet to encounter or observe a single camera, lens, computer or other tool we use that could arbitrarily set the price of the imagery those tools created ... that is done by the lose nut behind the viewfinder ... no one else ...

When that person makes the conscious decision to provide product that is worthy of publication for minimal or no cost to the end user ... Nikon, Canon, Sigma, et al ... had absolutely nothing to do with the decision ... no more than Stanley has in the decision which nails their hammers pound home or how much the carpenter should charge for pounding those nails ... even if he is using one of those new-fangled compressed air hammers ...

As long as we, as content providers, do not insist upon reasonable fees for our efforts, we will never see any improvement. Something for nothing just plain doesn't work ... especially when someone is cashing in for millions on that something that was shared with them for nothing ...
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Andrew Richardson, Student/Intern, Photographer
Houston | TX | USA | Posted: 1:12 PM on 09.13.11
->> I feel like high school logic classes should have to read these threads to get clear examples of all forms of argumental fallacies...
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Israel Shirk, Photographer, Assistant
Boise | ID | US | Posted: 1:34 PM on 09.13.11
->> Andrew-
Get involved. What are your thoughts?
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Bradly J. Boner, Photographer, Photo Editor
Jackson | WY | USA | Posted: 1:48 PM on 09.13.11
->> Butch, I agree with you on all your points. But what I'm saying is that there's a difference between ignorance and stupidity. A hobbiest who shoots something for free because he has another job and doesn't need the money and just wants access or to be published is probably ignorant to what his decisions do to the industry. A shooter who hopes to make photography a career or who has been in the business for awhile and shoots for free is (with some exceptions) stupid.

Of course Nikon and Canon aren't responsible for the decisions of ignorant (or stupid) photographers. However, there's no question that their products have flooded the market with ignorant photographers. Ten+ years ago, the ratio between pros with good business sense and ignorant hobbiests was well in favor of pros, because being a pro photographer was expensive and kind of a pain in the ass. Purchasing and processing 20 rolls of Velvia wasn't cheap, editing was time consuming, and I'm sure you've transported and set up a portable darkroom to develop film in a motel bathroom, so you probably know what I mean by "pain in the ass."

We put up with it because we love what we do. But it was also the expense of doing business and the pain-in-the-ass factor that kept a lot of hobbiests out of the business.

Because of the advent of digital technology, the fact of the matter is that it's cheaper and easier to be a photographer these days. With the "pain-in-the-ass" factor is basically gone. Anyone with even marginal technological savvy can take a photo, download and email it within minutes. As a result, ignorant hobbiests with bad (or non-existent) business practices are overwhelming the field.
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Scott Serio, Photo Editor, Photographer
Colora | MD | USA | Posted: 2:04 PM on 09.13.11
->> "I'm sure you've transported and set up a portable darkroom to develop film in a motel bathroom, so you probably know what I mean by 'pain in the ass.' "

Yes, yes I did. And left the grease pencil markings all over the picture window at the hotel from the first edit and we used THE FIRST digital scanner/transmitter to send a photo.

Also did the drum scanner x3 to send a color photo in 24 minutes.

Thanks for reminding me how old I am...

...now back to the debate...
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Bradly J. Boner, Photographer, Photo Editor
Jackson | WY | USA | Posted: 2:08 PM on 09.13.11
->> "Also did the drum scanner x3 to send a color photo in 24 minutes."

...which was about the size of a Volkswagen Beetle.
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Scott Serio, Photo Editor, Photographer
Colora | MD | USA | Posted: 2:38 PM on 09.13.11
->> And literally souped film in a dark bag in a moving car at 100+ leaving Lawrence, Kansas headed to Columbia.

See, if you had to do that stuff today, they GWCs would accidentally kill themselves trying to do a nuclear dodge with the potassium ferracyanide...those were the days.

In all seriousness, I see both sides of this argument. I actually ended up explaining the relationship of aperture, ISO and shutter speed to a guy at the Baltimore Grand Prix the other day. He just looked at me and said, "That's too hard, I just let my camera do the work."
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David A. Cantor, Photographer, Photo Editor
Toledo | OH | USA | Posted: 2:43 PM on 09.13.11
->> Just set it on P for "perffeshunal"
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George Bridges, Photographer, Photo Editor
Washington | DC | USA | Posted: 4:19 PM on 09.13.11
->> ----I actually ended up explaining the relationship of aperture, ISO and shutter speed to a guy at the Baltimore Grand Prix the other day. He just looked at me and said, "That's too hard, I just let my camera do the work."----

Scott,

Last season with the stadium roof open half the field was in extreme sunlight and the other half in extreme shadow. More than a couple stops difference from one to another.

Guy on the sidelines turns to me looking at his mode dial "What setting do you put your camera on for this?"

Me "I use manual" and then I reached in my pocket and pulled out my ambient light meter. I started using it again several years ago in a stadium that would get horrendous backlighting. I dug out my ambient meter and then got a new one as that one was nearly 2 decades old. After the games everyone would be at their computer complaining about the exposure and mine needed almost no adjustment.
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Bradly J. Boner, Photographer, Photo Editor
Jackson | WY | USA | Posted: 4:36 PM on 09.13.11
->> George - next time just tell him to turn the dial to the "Landscape" icon, say your photos turn out great every time on that setting, and then simply go about your business.
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Chuck Steenburgh, Photographer
Lexington | VA | USA | Posted: 8:01 PM on 09.13.11
->> For those talking about SAG...SAG was a great example. Of what USED to work.

Just like the media, at one time the available technology left SAG members with very little competition. There were a handful of movie studios, and three TV networks. And that was it. And due to this lack of competition, there were limited numbers of "stars" (and affiliated production persons).

Kinda like media, which had been limited to a handful of newspapers/TV stations in a given market.

However, all those good SAG rates and residuals apply only to the broadcast networks. Those 10 gazillion cable channels? Nope. The game has changed. (My knowledge of this subject is a bit fuzzy, and I think of late SAG has negotiated slightly better deals for members appearing on cable channels, but you get the gist.) Lots of non-SAG members out there willing to work dirt cheap for their "shot" or even just because it's cool to be a part-time actor making peanuts.

The game has changed. Find the new way to make money - the old ways don't work any more unless you're really damned good. Your competition under the old model works for free. That isn't going to change.
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Michael Fischer, Photographer
Spencer | Ia | USA | Posted: 9:31 AM on 09.14.11
->> While this will be viewed as a boring post, I still believe the example nails it.

In marketing, there's something called product life cycle. If you graph it, it's a bell curve. At the beginning of a new product the demand is but the profitability can be good. As the product demand catches on, the volume increases and but profitability declines as volume increases. There is a point at which profitability and demand hit the apex. From there on out, the profitability declines rapidly as you move to the right on the horizontal axis.

Clearly, that's where a lot of this industry is at when we're looking at major sports events.

Some shooters will continue to make money, but the vast majority will not. You can gamble that you'll be one of the few that does well, but for me, it always made more sense to find new ways to make money that were not commodities.

There are too many shooters, and too few standards that would allow pricing and profitability to produce a reasonable ROI.

Boring, but simple. Find enough very profitable things and you can compete with the low profit things. But after a while, you have to ask "WHY BOTHER?"

A friend of mine is a successful portrait/senior photographer. You want Rick to shoot a wedding? He charges $3000. If you just want files, it's $1500. He is either going to make money, or he doesn't do it.

Simple, folks. The harsh reality for freelance shooters that you are in business. If you can't make money, you'll eventually be out of business.

Could it be any more simple?
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David A. Cantor, Photographer, Photo Editor
Toledo | OH | USA | Posted: 11:08 AM on 09.14.11
->> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i8LOLswfTkQ
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Jim Colburn, Photographer, Photo Editor
Omaha | NE | USA | Posted: 11:55 AM on 09.14.11
->> "...all those good SAG rates and residuals apply only to the broadcast networks. Those 10 gazillion cable channels? Nope."

Sorry Chuck, you're wrong.

From SAG's residual FAQ:

"Residuals are compensation paid to performers for use of a motion picture or television program after its initial use. For TV work, residuals begin once a show starts re-airing or is released to video/DVD, pay television, broadcast TV or basic cable. For film work, residuals begin once the movie appears on video/DVD, basic cable and free or pay television."

I suggest that everyone check out the SAG and AFTRA (American Federation of Television and Radio Artists) websites to see he things that a decent union can do for their members.

It would be nice if the Newspaper Guild had a freelance branch like just about every other news media union in the western world. I'd join in a second.
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Butch Miller, Photographer
Lock Haven | PA | USA | Posted: 12:06 PM on 09.14.11
->> "Microstock CEO Calls for Global Photographers Union"

http://tinyurl.com/44je5ys

** Not necessarily endorsing this viewpoint (I have mixed opinions on Unions per se) only sharing the story as it may be pertinent to the overall discussion and it shows that the main points of contention seem to cross all genres of photography and are not limited to just editorial sports/event coverage... which has been apparent to those of us who do more than sports **
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Eric Canha, Photographer
Brockton | MA | United States | Posted: 1:29 PM on 09.14.11
->> Really? A CEO of a micro stock company that is schlepping $14 R/F files on a 50/50 split is worried about the well being of photographers? What's next Wile-E-Coyote gets an Audubon membership?
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Jeff Lewis, Photographer
Los Angeles | CA | USA | Posted: 3:08 PM on 09.14.11
->> Nobody will be working for free if there was a union.
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Tom Szczerbowski, Photographer
London | ON | Canada | Posted: 3:32 PM on 09.14.11
->> Jim: "I'd join in a second."

Well, it's either that or you get your car keyed. Choice and voluntary dues are not exactly what unions are best known for . . .

Let's be honest: “Getting more and more pay for less and less work is a dead-end street.” – Walter Reuther
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John H. Reid III, Photographer
Gates Mills | OH | USA | Posted: 5:00 PM on 09.14.11
->> What's being discussed here is more work for less pay.
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Chad Ryan, Photographer
Fort Wayne | IN | USA | Posted: 5:49 PM on 09.14.11
->> The problem with the union example in this discussion, as I see it anyway, is that unions are created to protect employees from employers. As such, there are unions that represent members of the media, but you have to look at freelances another way. Freelancers are their own, individual businesses.

The creation of a union to represent freelancers would be protecting them from what, exactly? The free marketplace? Creating an environment where lesser experienced photographers would be kept out of the marketplace to keep rates where members would like to see them is just wrong. I'm pretty sure most of you could see how that would be bad. Price fixing and strong-arming competition out of the marketplace just to keep rates up can't be allowed.

Now, I understand the sentiment behind the thought of a union, but as was pointed out earlier, it would be illegal. (Note - I'm not a lawyer, and I didn't stay at a Holiday Inn last night either. I was at a Comfort Suites.)

There is no easy solution to fix what's happening right now.
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Rod Mar, Photographer
Seattle | WA | USA | Posted: 5:53 PM on 09.14.11
->> Apparently this person is using USPW's business model and applying it to pet photography, and I will not be surprised when he or she sells it to Gannett for $3 million down the road.

"I am interested in getting a few professional photos of my two adorable pet cats. They are indoor cats so the shoot would need to be in my home (has some natural light and several lamps) in East Olympia.

This would be a great gig for someone looking to build their photography portfolio to attract more diverse clientele. Of course, you would have all the rights to the images for any use in your portfolio/website. I can't afford much, but I'm pretty adept in the kitchen and would gladly supply you with several dozen cookies or other baked goods.

Email me with some info about yourself and your photography and your availability and I'll send you a few pictures of my cats to show you how photogenic they really are!"

http://seattle.craigslist.org/oly/crg/2597707074.html

To recap -- buyer seeks your talent, provides subjects for you to photograph and in exchange offers you much-needed visibility, gives you experience, but they can't pay much, ask that you pay for your own travel and say you have the rights to use the photos in your own portfolio.

Why didn't I think of this first? Dammit.
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David Scott, Photographer
Portland | OR | US | Posted: 6:04 PM on 09.14.11
->> No unions for me. I work hard, make a very good living and I'm not willing to be lumped in with the very people who are ruining our business.

What's happening to our profession is happening to many others.

When personal computers hit the scene we had a flood of self proclaimed "graphic designers" oversaturate the market. They sucked but they were cheap and they still exist today.

The cheap version of an interior designer (who needs to be licensed is some states) is an interior decorator. With all of the home shows all the wanna-bes are now flooding the market with cut rates.

How many photographers complain about current rates or the horrible photographer with cut rates but then go out and buy as cheap as they can? Do you buy the $35 tool tote or the Pelican case? Do you buy the crap Chinese knockoffs or the Pocket Wizards, Matthews, etc.? I personally support the companies that build quality and helped build our industry even though it's going to cost me more.

One of the realizations I had was something my grandfather told me. "You can't always work in the job that you want to work in." I loved my days working in newspapers and magazines. But things began to change and if I wanted to make a good living I couldn't do what I wanted to do. Luckily for me what I needed to do was something I still loved; photography but in a different arena. After all, I am a healthy business first and a photographer second because without the first I cannot be the second.

If someone doesn't value my work enough to pay me what I need to live, I move on to the ones that do. There are still plenty out there. A week after I read that MLB was pumping $$ into the Australian Baseball League, MLB contacted me to use one of my images but they "couldn't" pay me. I didn't reply to their two follow up emails because it wasn't worth my time. I don't need them on my resume plus I was busy that week getting paid quite well shooting for a start-up clothing line that valued my work enough to spend part of their limited budget on quality.

Times are changing, we all need to change too.

-- Dave
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Mark Peters, Photographer
Highland | IL | USA | Posted: 6:28 PM on 09.14.11
->> Rod -

Are they chocolate chip cookies?
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Adam Vogler, Photographer, Photo Editor
Kansas City | Mo. | USA | Posted: 8:52 PM on 09.14.11
->> Several dozen Cookies?

Sorry, I don't get outta bed for less than brownies.
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Chuck Steenburgh, Photographer
Lexington | VA | USA | Posted: 9:06 PM on 09.14.11
->> @Jim C - Not ready to concede to you yet. In my flack work, I've come across this issue a couple of times, and, at least at the time (late 90s/early 00s) those residuals weren't paid. The second occasion was when SAG was on strike over the very issue and a large advertiser was using "scab" actors (no shortage of such talent) to film commercials.

If a deal was negotiated, it wasn't as juicy as the old deal (and the production company had no problem using "scabs"). I'm also not clear of the differences between "basic cable" and "pay television" - if the bulk of cable channels are included in "pay television," then why is basic cable listed separately? No definitions on SAG web site that I could find after a cursory Google search.
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David G. McIntyre, Photographer
Beijing | . | CHINA | Posted: 9:58 PM on 09.14.11
->> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=coWT767Lvs0
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Phil Hawkins, Photographer
Fresno | ca | usa | Posted: 9:59 PM on 09.14.11
->> Here's an example of how a photographer's union could work.

The concern about unionizing freelancers would be moot if the contracts were with events and venues. For instance, the NCAA might theoretically agree to stipulate that any photographer shooting any NCAA D-1 event must be union and be paid union scale and residuals. Shooting the NCAA tournament or any post-season tournament for any sport would require senior membership for "X" number of years to qualify... The Federal Government does this already, so precedent exists. The NFL, NBA etc could be included. Possibly negotiate a contract with venues, such as football and basketball stadiums/arenas.

The benefit to the NCAA or other group would be a reduction of photographers on the sideline/baseline, and when they are there, professionalism would soar (theoretically). It would be an easy way for event venues and sponsors to fend off requests for creds by pointing to the agreement.

Liability insurance could be possibly reduced for the venue if negotiated contracts could stipulate that the union provides liability coverage for members of the photographers union.

Media companies retaining freelancers to cover union venues would have a somewhat increased degree of confidence that the person they hire would have at least a minimum level of competence and reliability as per standards set by the union for membership...

Membership would be extremely difficult. For example, (and I have no particular opinion on the exact time frames) but you'd have to have a determined amount of experience in sports photography at the D-II, D-III level, high school, etc., thoroughly documented and confirmed; credit checks, background checks... submit a portfolio and two complete shoots to get a feel for keeper rates, technical proficiency and shooting style. Cost to join would be similar to SAG rates to keep out the riff-raff. A person's membership ongoing would be predicated on having a clean record with venue administrators, employers, media outlets, etc. Complaints and "screwing up" would be on your record with the union... (Some photographer's do not like respecting the sideline and baseline photographer's boundaries)...

The union could have health insurance for members (This is being done in the construction trades already).

These are just thoughts in no particular order... but clearly something has to be done to stabilize the industry for everyone.

This problem of GWCs undercutting everyone would go away in a heartbeat, and professionalism and equitable pay and benefits would increase.
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Chad Ryan, Photographer
Fort Wayne | IN | USA | Posted: 10:38 PM on 09.14.11
->> Phil,

The initial problem I see with your scenario is you cannot force customers, whether it be the NFL, NCAA or High School Bobby's dad to hire a unionized outfit. Otherwise, you're creating a monopoly. Certainly the argument could be made under that plan that union photographers would have better training, skill, equipment, etc, so on and so forth.

Construction trades have argued that point for years, but how many non-union shops still get work? A ton.

Yes, government entities generally use union shops when it comes to government work. I would contend that is more politically driven than anything else. Labor unions dump tons of cash into political campaigns.

But now, at least around here, politicians, who are taking heat for wasteful spending, are even starting to question why they should be forced to pay union scale wages for contracts. It's been proved that suitable non-union shops that provide adequate service offer the alternative at far less cost.

Same thing would happen in a photo union situation.

The fact is and will be that a union will not fix this problem. Your plan sounds well thought out to a degree except for the fact that you cannot force an industry to be strictly unionized. Just can't be done. Someone will always pop up to undercut the union and someone else will hire them.

Then again, those guys who shot the Battle at f-stop Hill or whatever it was named might well have enough muscle to drive out anyone trying to undercut the union.
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Michael Fischer, Photographer
Spencer | Ia | USA | Posted: 10:43 PM on 09.14.11
->> David Scott wrote:
If someone doesn't value my work enough to pay me what I need to live, I move on to the ones that do. There are still plenty out there. A week after I read that MLB was pumping $$ into the Australian Baseball League, MLB contacted me to use one of my images but they "couldn't" pay me. I didn't reply to their two follow up emails because it wasn't worth my time. I don't need them on my resume plus I was busy that week getting paid quite well shooting for a start-up clothing line that valued my work enough to spend part of their limited budget on quality.

Times are changing, we all need to change too.

David, you've hit the nail on the head - in my other business I have three ways to make money:

1) Accept commodity level pay and keep doing what you are doing.
2) Find a way to make yourself stand out i.e. BE DIFFERENT and BE BETTER - and get paid for it.

3) Find a new niche.

If you go back and look at most of the initial discussion it comes down to this: the USPW business model made the owner a lot of money and everyone else not so much. It also kept people doing the same thing. NOT A WINNING FORMULA if you ask me.

What do I mean by BE DIFFERENT and BE BETTER? I am thinking about guys like Robert Beck, Robert Seale and Darren Carroll. Look at their work. It's outstanding. Robert Seale is one of two people who inspired me 10 years ago to learn lighting. Robert is not only a great photographer, he's a true artist when it comes to lighting. The problem is - there's only so much room at the top for guys like that. There's the Robert Beck touch - how he produces what he produces is sometime hard to fathom. The bottom line is this: There's only a limited amount of space at the top for people like this who are exceptional. Note that both Darren and Robert Seale aren't full time sports photographers - they've already transitioned into things that are probably more profitable for their businesses.

The last option is change. I've quoted Edmund Burke a bit in here lately, but let me do it one more time: "We must all obey the great law of change. It is the most powerful law of nature." Edmund Burke.

I think the idea of a union could work - someday. But I don't see how right now. Too many shooters who won't join - and too many who will work for free. The more discussion about it, the greater the probability that people will not end up doing anything to make the situation better. That's the real cost and it's a big one.


The other alternative therefore is to find profitable areas or niches and make money in those. David Scott wrote : "If someone doesn't value my work enough to pay me what I need to live, I move on to the ones that do." That, my friends, is what you have to do. Is it right that people want FREE? Is it fair? No, it isn't. But capitalism isn't fair. Find people who value you and your work. You must be different to stand out. Don't be afraid to ask for what you are worth. Show them why you're worth what you ask via good photographic skills and your ability to build a good business relationship.

I know some of you will disagree, but the harder you work to keep things the same, the harder it will be to find business opportunities that make you profitable.
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Eric Canha, Photographer
Brockton | MA | United States | Posted: 11:49 PM on 09.14.11
->> Difficult to get into.
Expensive to stay in.
Rewards longevity over skill.

Does nothing to stem the number of "fan" photographers on sidelines as AD's and leagues will still reward deep pocketed boosters & fans. Maybe once we give the NCAA and NFL cleaner sidelines they'll be able to sell VIP tickets to fans to take up those opening.

Sorry but protectionism of this kind never works.
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David G. McIntyre, Photographer
Beijing | . | CHINA | Posted: 12:04 AM on 09.15.11
->> Everyone is a photographer

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VhalmKt1IXU

Groupon Photographer

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ssCN5EVUhBc

Hitler Reacting to EVERYONE being Professional Photographers

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=coWT767Lvs0
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Jim Colburn, Photographer, Photo Editor
Omaha | NE | USA | Posted: 12:14 AM on 09.15.11
->> "I'm also not clear of the differences between "basic cable" and "pay television"'

Basic Cable - USA, TBS, CNN, Fox News, Discovery, HGTV, etc.

Pay Television - HBO, Showtime, Cinemax, Playboy, etc.
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Mark Loundy, Photo Editor
San Jose | CA | USA | Posted: 3:06 PM on 09.15.11
->> "Pay Television" (Really an archaic term left over from the 1960s) = Cable

HBO, Showtime, etc. = "Premium Channels"

--Mark
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Luke Johnson, Photographer, Student/Intern
St.Petersburg | FL | USA | Posted: 4:02 PM on 09.15.11
->> And this concludes thread #4 on how much spec sucks. Time for #5?
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Brian Blanco, Photographer
Tampa / Sarasota | FL | USA | Posted: 4:03 PM on 09.15.11
->> Four threads to get to the bottom line which is, if you're shooting on spec then you're not respecting yourself, the industry or the shooters sharing the sidelines with you.

It really is as simple as this: Don't shoot on spec.
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