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SportsShooter.com: Member Message Board

"US PRESSWIRE Rebrands Become USA TODAY Sports Images" #2
Chuck Liddy, Photographer, Photo Editor
PLANET | EARTH | | Posted: 10:56 PM on 12.11.12
->> Yeah, I had to do it. Inquiring minds want to know. Mr. Rickman, you post on here infrequently... And you always seem to wait until the thread is closing out to post your, often provocative comments.... so unless a new thread is started you scurry away. So please enlighten all of us after this statement: "Find constructive ways to make a difference or shut the hell up. The constant negativity and demeaning behavior is truly tiresome and an enormous waste of time and energy. Do something for a change besides flap your gums."
What, sir, are your suggestions? What part of the discussion was from "uninformed" people? Me? Bianco? Bert? Mangin? Carroll? Vogler? Routh? Paulius? Hell, most of the time there are those in that group who don't agree but we're all pretty unanimous in this fight. How are we uninformed? Please we really want to know. You seem to have all these answers about business but don't share them. Are you saying that we are being negative by trying to inform people that working for $125/ assignment is a bad deal? Do YOU work for $125/assignment? Seriously, I'm not "flapping my gums"....I just really would like to be enlightened by your ideas. how do we save our profession? we are waiting.
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Nic Coury, Photographer
Monterey | CA | | Posted: 2:01 AM on 12.12.12
->> I'll jump in the mix here as a younger professional who has learned the semi-hard way over my 6-year career about what I'm worth.

Chuck sez: "Do YOU work for $125/assignment?"

Me sez;HELL NO!

What can I buy with $125? Almost two tanks of gas, or food for a few weeks if I don't go out to eat. Hell, Twinkies are probably more than that now due to the shortage...

While I don't know Chuck, Blanco or some of these other guys personally (I have had the pleasure of meeting Brad.), they've been around and will tell ya that you don't make living off of spending 5 hours shooting for $125.That's a mere $25/hr. Not worth it with the price of gear, gas and physical movement on your body (back injuries suck...).

Let's do some math here shall we: Say 10 gigs per year shooting at $125 = $1,250. That doesn't even cover a 70-200 f/2.8!

In the last year or so, I've taken a serious consideration on not only what I'm worth, but how I can take care of myself in the future and it ain't shooting gigs at $125. Just say no if it's not worth your time.

Lots of people who shoot for USPW are good, solid shooters and super nice folks and have told me it's not worth it. Funny how that works...

You're worth than that. Or maybe not. You tell me.
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Wesley Hitt, Photographer
Fayetteville | AR | USA | Posted: 8:17 AM on 12.12.12
->> "Simply spouting off continually here on SportsShooter does little to change the spiral of our business. For a change, do something constructive besides quacking! Find constructive ways to make a difference or shut the hell up. The constant negativity and demeaning behavior is truly tiresome and an enormous waste of time and energy. Do something for a change besides flap your gums. Try that on as a new years resolution."

Thank you Rick. I do not get on SportsShooter as much for this same reason. Lots of opinions and negativity. Unless someone asks me for my opinion about their situation, it is none of my business and who am I to criticize someone else.

Like Nic just posted, I to have been looking at what my worth is and what direction to head in the future. The business of Photography is changing and like most of the world, it is being run by big business. Sitting on forums complaining about what other people do is a complete waste of time. Oh crap!
That is what I am doing now..... Just wasted 15 minutes of my morning voicing my opinion. Who cares what I think. Time to pack up and head out to shoot a assignment and get ready for the meteor shower. The one feeling that keeps me warm inside is that I will own all of these photos.
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Robert Caplin, Photographer
New York/Barcelona | Worldwide | | Posted: 11:16 AM on 12.12.12
->> "Pixel Pimp" Warren Winter has some things to say on this topic in direct response to everyone here on SS....

http://thephotobrigade.com/2012/12/uspw-just-say-no-by-warren-winter/
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Rick Rickman, Photographer
Capistrano Beach | CA | USA | Posted: 11:24 AM on 12.12.12
->> Chuck:

I'm so glad you asked. There are a number of tangible things we all can do. Since you seem to be one of the most vocal participants on this forum and usually one of the very first to spout off, maybe you can find a few new ways to spearhead some effective efforts. As I mentioned earlier, flapping one's gums and castigating other people's efforts rarely effects any kind of positive change.

Here are a few suggestions that might help start the process.

1.) Join ASMP and be an active contributing member.
2.) Become a member of Editorial Photographers Association or the PPA and again be an active contributing member.
3.) Organize regional meetings of photographers in your area and have seminars dealing with good business practices.
4.) Volunteer to be on panels to discuss and address the business needs and practices of photographers
5.) Attend the NPPA business seminars that they hold and come prepared to talk about what works in relationship to finding and maintaining work in this industry.
6.) Do enough studying of good business practices to be versatile enough to offer tried and true suggestions for peoples dilemnas. This is a complex business and no oneway works for all circumstances.
7.) Buy John Harrington's book! Best Business Practices and put those suggestions into play.
8.) Think carefully before making any deal to see if the end†result of the choices you are making are actually helping the future of your career.

Chuck, I certainly don't have all the answers but, I make concerted efforts to make sure that before I open my mouth on this forum that what I'm saying is rooted in fact not just conjecture.

I believe it's you who always spouts off about photographers being journalists. Maybe if you'd put some of those journalistic practices into play there would be less conjecture rooted in some of your missives.

I may have missed it and in my research this morning I couldn't find anywhere other than on sports shooter where Chuck Liddy was actively participating in the betterment of the photographic industry. I couldn't find the Chuck Liddy Better Business Practices Seminars, or the Chuck Liddy Business Columns on any forums anywhere, or NPPA features Chuck Liddy on the Better Business of Photography discussions.

It's easy to take people to task for their efforts and it seems you are working at "perfecting" those skills. What I'd love to see is you actively participating in groups like Editorial Photographers Association, ASMP and their active and effective seminar series, volunteer your time at the Sportsshooter seminars, and volunteer your time at some of the local community colleges in your area to talk to photography students about the importance of developing good business habits. Volunteer some your time to the NPPA business forums or volunteer to be a speaker at the flying short course seminars if they are still in effect and put your good ideas out there. That will make a difference.

You wanted a few suggestions. Well there are a few. I'm dying to see if you're willing to take any of them up or if you're just comfortable being an agitator. Thanks for creating an opportunity to share.
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Nic Coury, Photographer
Monterey | CA | | Posted: 11:56 AM on 12.12.12
->> "Photography is changing."

One of the seminars I was at over the weekend was by Grover from here and Photoshelter. It was killer and this is one of the things he was talking about.

You have to assimilate with technology and the future.

It's part of the reason why I taught myself video/audio production and keep up my writing/reporting/investigating skills. So I have a huge bank of things I can bring to journalism.

Sure it would be cool to shoot that pro game, but I'll do it when it's worth it for me.
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Chuck Liddy, Photographer, Photo Editor
PLANET | EARTH | | Posted: 1:42 PM on 12.12.12
->> Thanks Rick. All great suggestions. The only thing I worry about is part of the problem here seems to be the people who accept these rates and assignments don't know or care what the NPPA , ASMP, PPA or any of those organizations are. they don't care about john's book either. I' m actually somewhat at a loss at why you consider people like me to part of the problem. I actually run into these folks on a regular basis at sporting events, the part you don't seem to understand is they DON'T care about any of that stuff you just mentioned. Read some of the justifications in previous threads. This has been discussed constantly for years and it still doesn't change....in fact it actually has gotten worse.....I just don't understand how me paying out several hundred dollars in membership fees to these organizations is going t o save the industry. You have made the wrong assumption the people doing this give a crap about anyone else. They don't plain and simple. I don't know how much you get out anymore but I cover sports on a very regular basis and see this stuff two, three four times a week. However, I don't see these guys going to court cases, school board meetings or the state fair. I realize you were n academia but after watching the kids coming out of some of the pj-school programs I don't take a lot of stock in what they are being taught. That said, I am considering re-upping my NPPA membership....but the problem with your theory above as I said is the people that are doing this to the business don't care if they are making any money.....money isn't what they care about. They care about being on the sidelines/baselines, a photo credit and bragging rights. Money doesn't even cross their minds. If it did we wouldn't be having this conversation. Thanks for your response.
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Brian Blanco, Photographer
Tampa / Sarasota | FL | USA | Posted: 1:44 PM on 12.12.12
->> Rick,

You and I have traded a few friendly and helpful emails this morning and I wanted to thank you, publicly, for taking the time and for the detailed responses.

I do, however, want to ask you publicly what I asked you in my last email and it's a real question, not a shot across your bow:

Respectfully, do you think maybe, just maybe, the reason Chuck and others (myself certainly included) come on the Sportsshooter message board to discuss these things is because THIS is where you'll reach the greatest concentration of sports photographers and so, by extension, the biggest offenders?

It's the same reasoning used by addiction counselors who go do outreach under bridges... because that's where the addicts are.

Granted, Chuck may ruffle some feathers with his approach; ok, but I bet he's also opened some eyes too.

Why, on Earth, should Chuck, I, or anybody else waste their time preaching business practices to ONLY those people who already have the good sense to be a member of the groups you mentioned above or who have the good sense to attend the business seminars you talked about in your last post?

If you want to reach those with the most to learn then you FIRST have to get them to even think about buying John's book or signing up for the meeting, or paying to join the professional organization, or booking a room at the seminar... that's where a guy like Chuck Liddy comes in. The fact that he, and others, have failed to "drop it" on here may be the only way to reach those people and get them in a mindset to even CONSIDER all of the good ideas you listed above.

I'd venture to say if people like Chuck stop talking about better business practices here on Sportsshooter then there will great swaths of people in the industry who never even put business practices on their mental radar... I'd hate to think of where we'd be then.

Thanks again Rick AND Chuck for everything you do... even though you chose to do it differently.

Respectfully,

-Blanco
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Brian Blanco, Photographer
Tampa / Sarasota | FL | USA | Posted: 1:45 PM on 12.12.12
->> ... ok, it looks like Chuck and I were typing at the same time... with the same train of thought... go figure.
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Rick Rickman, Photographer
Capistrano Beach | CA | USA | Posted: 3:29 PM on 12.12.12
->> Brian:

We all find success differently. Who we reach and how we succeed in changing the state of the industry depends on action not verbage.

You are correct to say that there are an inordinate number of sports photographers here. Many are what is referred to as hobbyists. There will always be hobbyists in this profession. I know. I've been in it for more than 30 years. Some hobbyists will want to go on to do this permanently but few of them.

Much/Maybe most of the real problem comes from the ill advised professionals but substancially most of the problem comes from the fact that most of the professionals who talk about the problem aren't willing to take actions that help peoples understanding of the direct line of affect that bad practices can have.

I suggest everyone of you who feels like writing on sportsshooter about photography's problems go search out the history of Editorial Photographers Association and the difference that those actions had positively on this industry. Then, go to Warren Winter's Blog and read a little about some actions that might actually help make a difference in rates.

http://thephotobrigade.com/2012/12/uspw-just-say-no-by-warren-winter/

When you talk about initiating change, it's essential that each person is willing to invest the necessary energy into creating a platform for the change. It isn't enough to just flap gums.

Chuck asked how investing in an organization for the industry will help change the industry. It's not the investment of the dollars that counts.

You invest money into something because you believe in that something. The thing that makes a difference is the investment of personal time into the organization that brings the physical energy needed to create the change. So guys, in my opinion, it's not enough just to join the organization, it requires personal energy and commitment. As I stated previously, lip service is easy. Committed energy to move the change along is what is really required.

If you want things to actually change, then invest the energy. Catalyze by being willing to lead by example. It's not enough to just cast words into the void in one location. Galvanize people to action by leading not by comfortably typing from one's office or living area. That's one form of effort but it's only scratching the surface.

Warren Winter made a couple of great suggestions more than a year ago here. Go back to his column and refresh your memory. The link is above. I don't begrudge anyone's methods as long as they encourage people to change rather than belittling their behavior.

Brian laid out some thoughts about how working for low wages hurts the industry. It's mostly true. The fact of the matter is that we have all, at one time, worked for less than optimal wages. The real question is however, how can those wages be adjusted?

As photographers, all any of us wants to do is, be creative and have fun. Learning how to make it profitable is what we have to learn. There are many constructive ways to promote those lessons. Be committed! Galvanize us through your actions not just your words.
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Doug Pizac, Photographer
Sandy | UT | USA | Posted: 3:30 PM on 12.12.12
->> Super dittos and kudos to Rick -- as always.

I'm a member of NPPA, ASMP and EP. And I understand the business models very well and teach various business practices in my classes. But this is NOT a black and white situation anymore -- not in this economy. For every job opening there are dozens to hundreds of applicants; applicants that are established professional photographers. Do the best get hired? Sometimes; sometimes not in favor of beginners/novices, reporters with cameras, and college grads who can be gotten for less money.

Papers are restructuring via transitioning and having long established employees reapply for their jobs at lower pay scales and less benefits. Full-time staff are having their hours cut so they don't qualify for health insurance.

The role of photo agencies have changed too. Where they used to represent the photographer they now represent the buyers. Instead of making money doing stock photography the money is made through the distribution process of the stock; and that is being run by the 800-pound corporate gorillas.

If this was truly a b/w situation where you're either part of the problem or not with no inbetween, then those who are stating so should also be blasting Bert (sorry Robert) and resigning from SportsShooter. Why? Because he works for USA Today which is owned by Gannett which bought US Presswire. So if you want to really to stick to b/w ideology, then he's part of the problem too via his relationship with Gannett. Now that sounds ridiculous, and it is. Nor do I accept any of it.

But it is also this yes/no ideology that has Congress at a standstill on the economy. Everyone is so entrenched that nothing gets done.

Not all contracts are written in stone. They can be changed and tweaked. If there is a contract I don't like and the other person won't budge I walk away, and have done so many times. I've presented contracts where the client wants tweaks and I've obliged or they have walked away. It is called negotiating -- something that doesn't appear to exist in b/w ideology.

Look at all the union contracts at papers and wire services. I was a guild rep at AP and helped negotiate multiple work contracts. There were provisions we got and others we didn't; there were provisions management got and others it didn't. It is called negotiating.

And what do all these have in common? These are all part of economic cycles. Right now photographers are at the bottom with the gorillas on top. It will change as it has in the past; but it will take time to do so.

If ASMP and other organizations I belong to and support are successful in tweaking current copyright enforcement by creating a pseudo small claims style court for infringements, that may play a huge difference in the balance of power.

But we're not there yet. So in the meantime one does what one has to do to survive at the moment. Not everyone may like it, but that's the way it is. And others should respect the decisions that some have had to make simply because the reasons behind those decisions may not be known to all or are of anyone else's business.
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Adam Vogler, Photographer, Photo Editor
Cape Girardeau | Mo. | USA | Posted: 4:39 PM on 12.12.12
->> I really don't think that someone being a staffer for a company makes them responsible for how that company goes about doing things. I know that I have worked for publications that didn't pay a proper wage to freelancers and I advocated as much as I could to change that. But does that make me responsible for those actions? I don't think so.

Robert, and the rest of the staff for the website and the workshop, has devoted countless hours providing resources to help improve photography helping countless photographers, myself being one of them, improve. I wouldn't be where I am as a photographer without this website. Period.

I do stand by what I wrote about either being part of the solution or part of the problem. That's what I think.

Do I think that someone who accepts a rate I think is bad for the industry is evil? Of course not, I just disagree with them and I'm going to try to convince them to see my way. Respectfully.

Are the countless threads going over this topic THE solution? No, but I do believe that it is PART of the solution. This is where I learned about how to have better business practices and I know many others who have gained that information here as well. It certainly provided me my starting point. I wouldn't have even heard of John Harrington if it wasn't for this site. A lot of us work in rural areas where we don't have the opportunity to go to conferences or meet other professionals face-to-face on a regular basis. This board may be the only opportunity for them to interact with more experienced photographers.

I've never met Chuck or Brian in person so I don't know what else they do in regard to this topic but I'm certainly not going to assume that posting on the board is the ONLY thing they do. I will say that I have learned a lot from posts that both of them have made in the past.

I know that we are all tired of having this conversation over and over again but I think it is important that we do it. While those of us that have been on the site for years may be sick to death of it there are always new members joining and they need to read this.

Just my $0.02
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Mike Anzaldi, Photographer
Oak Park | IL | USA | Posted: 5:55 PM on 12.12.12
->> another thread on spec shooting? no way.

since it's so in-style to continue on with this discussion here, i wonder why there has been so little mention of what is actually the appropriate rate for a game assignment. i think we can all agree that $125 is too little for, in brian blanco's math, 10 hours of work. so, how much should it be? $200, $250, $375?

just for the sake of continuity, use blanco's math. he has the shooter making just under $7/hr before tax at $125 rate. if we triple the rate to $375, that's $32/hour. right? after taxes, in this example, the shooter takes home $20ish dollars per hour. great. unless your the shooter...or perhaps the agency paying $375 for pictures of a game that nobody really cares about.

first, the shooter: that $20/hour MIGHT be fine if you had a game everyday. it would certainly be better if you could cut down those working hours from 10, to maybe say, 4 or 5? let's face it, if you've spent 10 hours shooting the clippers at the bulls, you've f**ked something up- driving, editing, eating, xmitting all included. at this rate, after taxes and all expenses you might take home 40k/yr. okay, but let's not get carried away.

2nd, the agency: paying a shooter $375 for a game that nobody really cares about is, well, unwise. this is the sad reality, but the audience is no longer demanding world-class imagery from every pro sports meeting on the calender. it's not a wise investment on the part of an agency to pay a pro photographer an appropriate living wage. it's certainly an ethical discussion, but it's not a wise business decision.

make it the fault of the enthusiastic kid or hobby shooter all you like (for taking $125 jobs), but it's not the issue. the industry will never eliminate the people who are willing to shoot for nothing. that's simply impossible. the bigger issue here is that most of these agencies just need a few pictures. that's it. they don't even have to be good. they don't need to take 10 hours to capture, and they certainly don't need to be POYi worthy.

many of the folks here are over-qualified for the job. some of you are like master chefs cooking school lunches, and getting pissed about only being paid like a school lunch man- or whatever the hell i'm talking about.

the point being, this job pays $125. they are looking for $125 shooters. if you need $400/day, then this is obviously not the job for you. i suspect you'd be better off looking for a different job, then trying to change the clients budget.

some of you are pissed at the client and pissed at the shooters, except, neither are really asking for opinions.
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Jeff Brehm, Photographer, Photo Editor
Salisbury | NC | USA | Posted: 6:20 PM on 12.12.12
->> Well said, Mike. The heart of the problem is not that people are willing to accept $125 for an assignment; it's that so many of the clients are willing to accept the quality they get for $125.
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Clark Brooks, Photo Editor, Photographer
Urbana | IL | USA | Posted: 6:34 PM on 12.12.12
->> I will second Jeff Brehm's 'Well, said, Mike' and add that Mike hit the nail on the proverbial head. Sometimes in a big pile of poo-poo you find sweet smelling flower. Mike's post was a rose. Bravo.
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Scott Mapes, Photographer
Jackson | MI | USA | Posted: 6:39 PM on 12.12.12
->> Adam is right to keep talking about it over and over. I am one of those new members as of August this year. I never heard of sportsshooter until earlier this year.

I bought a rebel t2i a couple years ago to take pictures of family members playing high school sports, never took it serious, just wanted them to have photos of themselves playing. Other people seen them, and even though they were horrible, though at the time I didn't know the difference, they were asking me what I would charge to take pictures of their kids.

The sports I shot when I started were baseball, plenty of light. I took some of my nephew playing basketball with the rebel in a dark gym and realized these were horrible, didnt know if it was me, or something was wrong with the camera. Did some online research realized I needed to upgrade my camera, and bought a 7D and a 70-200 2.8. I figured if I was to charge money every sport wouldn't be outside, that I would need better equipment.

At the end of last year, I found some forums online where I could have my photos critiqued. I thought they were decent, and they were ripped apart. I couldnt tell at the time they were bad, listened to what people had to say, learned what I was doing wrong, went through other posts, learned what mistakes other people were making, learned from them.

I had a website, where I set up some pricing, they were extrememely low prices to charge for sports photography, but I did reseach of local photography on line and seen what others were charging so I set my pricing according to what others were charging, which was also low. Members of the other forums where I was critiqued seen them and let me have it. I didnt know any better, was a bit pissed that I was getting hammered, but I learned from it.

I heard about sportsshooter.com after reading about it on the other forums. Ive read alot of threads on here since then dealing with this issue, and it has taught me alot. Ive never met Chuck, and he seems bitter to me at times, and just plain rude, but I learn from him, and others on here, the message gets through to me. His bitterness about the subject dosent bother me, at times Im laughing out loud and my wife looks at me wierd.

I bought a Mark IV last March, learned photoshop online, and how to be a better action sports shooter through online forums. I started taking photography serious in December of last year. Ive learned alot in less than a year, improved the quality of my photos to where I make a little bit of money doing sports, senior pics, and even a couple weddings. I was even contacted through facebook to shoot for a new community based online news agency that just started this year in January. They don't pay much at all, but the experience I am getting by shooting different assignments is extremely valuable to me and I have made alot of contacts that have led to decent paying gigs in my hometown.

Now I am not a lawyer or doctor or someone who has alot of money looking to get into an expensive hobby to give away free images. I work in a factory, running an extrusion line working 12 hour days that can be pure hell at times in crappy stressful conditions. Its not a union shop so the pay isnt that great, but it puts food on the table.

I look at photography as another source of income, maybe to help me retire when I'm 55 instead of 67 if I can break through and make some decent cash to help supplement my pension. I figure social security will be gone when I am eligible to receive it the way things are going now. I would love to do it full time but from what I am seeing now, with the industry as it is, thats just not going to be possible.

I can tell you honestly that if I had the opportunity to shoot division 1 or professional through someone like USPW/USA today for that 125 dollar rate I would probably do it. I look at that is a place to start if I had the chance, and I have to start somewhere. I realize I'm not going to make enough to do this full time the way the market is now but I wouldnt know where else to start. I shoot youth through small college right now, and love it, I make money doing it, and thats nice, but I do it for the love of shooting, dosent matter the age group, its a huge passion I have, and to me nothings better. I have 11 years until I hit 55, and if I can make a decent chunk of change doing this to offset my pension to retire early that would be my dream.

I just wanted to say, when you guys on here bring these issues up, I listen up and take notice, and I learn alot from reading these discussions. I know I said I would probably shoot for that 125.00 dollar rate for a game, but I can tell you, if the photographers that currently shoot for them stood up and decided to take a stand for higher rates, and not shoot for them, I wouldnt even dream about stepping in and shooting for them. From what I can see though, I don't think that scenario would ever play out.

I know this is long, just wanted to give some insight from a new member trying to learn as I go. Love this site, and its the best $25.00 I have spent this year. Looking forward to maybe going to a sportsshooter seminar in 2013 to learn even more about the craft. Just hope my wife gives me approval for that. Hope everyone has a good day, thanks for your time.
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Michael Proebsting, Photographer
Barrington | IL | USA | Posted: 6:49 PM on 12.12.12
->> I think there is one very sobering fact omitted by all of this as it relates to action sports photography.

Technology itself will be a huge reason that sports photographers won't be needed at all, and for that matter at any price.

The day is fast approaching where a frame from video will have 32MB file. No need to compose. No need to anticipate. No need to create.

With video being at least 24 frames/second you will get your peak action. When it gets to that point where anyone can shoot wide angle, just point/shoot/zoom in ad nauseam all of this talk will be a moot point, sad but 100% true.

In the meantime, people working for places like Presswire can keep drinking the cool aid, it is cold and delicious to them and it will not change, period.

Telling these people not to work for ridiculous agreements would be like telling Lindsay Lohan to stop going to bars and nightclubs.
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Jeff Gammons, Photographer
Destin | Fl | USA | Posted: 7:02 PM on 12.12.12
->> http://www.sowal.com/bb/images/smilies/michael-jackson-eating-popcorn.gif
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Doug Pizac, Photographer
Sandy | UT | USA | Posted: 7:54 PM on 12.12.12
->> Okay, letís take a poll to see how others compare to $125. Iíve already mentioned three papers who pay nothing, $75 and $90.

Mr. Liddy: whatís the going rate for freelancers at The News & Observer?

Mr. Voler: whatís the freelance rate at The Southeast Missourian?

Mr. Brooks: what does The PhotoNews pay?

Mr. Coury: how much can a freelancer earn at the Monterey County Weekly?

Mr. Putney: whatís the pay at The Waterloo Courier?

Mr. Langston: how much does the Orlando Sentinal award freelancers?

Mr. McCarthy: freelancers can earn what from The Dallas Morning News?

Mr. Strickland: and the photographer rate at the Texarkana Gazette?

To all: for the rate your paper pays, is that for one-time use or perpetual, in any form whatsoever, etc.? Do freelancers at your papers retain copyright ownership or do your contracts have Work For Hire language? And how do your papers credit the images? Do they list the photographerís name with a copyright symbol?

And hereís the big question: Regarding the rates your papers pay to freelancers, is that a flat fee or is it plus expenses such as mileage?

Please speak up and let us know so we can make comparisons.
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Chuck Liddy, Photographer, Photo Editor
PLANET | EARTH | | Posted: 8:08 PM on 12.12.12
->> Doug Doug Doug, I've said many times the McClatchy payment for stringers is awful. As it is everywhere. You need to come clean and stop trying to shift blame on newspapers. We all know your history. And we all know you work for USPW....tell the truth....it will set you free. Stop trying to justify mistakes you have made to put you in the boat you're in. Attacking bert with that silly analogy was just deranged. I'd have a margin of respect for you if a) you were truthful and b) stop making up weird drug induced scenarios ie The Bert Thingmagingy
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Chuck Liddy, Photographer, Photo Editor
PLANET | EARTH | | Posted: 8:10 PM on 12.12.12
->> Dammit! I hate it when my cat gets hold of my computer....
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Jeff Gammons, Photographer
Destin | Fl | USA | Posted: 8:11 PM on 12.12.12
->> I just received $200 from a paper in central Florida to cover a single 6A high school football game here in Navarre. I was contacted by other papers in the area to cover it for a great deal less. Luckily I did not take their god awful offers and was contacted by the paper I ended up shooting for.

Better yet, I retain the copyrights. What a concept!
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Luke Johnson, Photographer, Student/Intern
Los Angeles | California | USA | Posted: 8:22 PM on 12.12.12
->> I received the same as Jeff ($200) plus expenses to cover a HS football game down here in Tampa Bay.
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G.J. McCarthy, Photographer
Dallas | TX | US | Posted: 8:24 PM on 12.12.12
->> Doug:

I'm not sure what we pay -- nor would it be appropriate for me to post it on here without my editors' permission (and no, I'm not going to ask) -- but I do know we have a very loyal set of freelancers who are all pretty business savvy, and most, if I'm not mistaken -- at least the regulars -- are active members of the local ASMP chapter. Also none of them, that I'm aware of, shoot for USPW.

So I cannot speak to the rate, how it was set, etc., but I know from talking to our stringers that we try to take care of our own, and they keep coming back (and continue to do great work).

Here's a question -- what do you think is a fair rate?
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G.J. McCarthy, Photographer
Dallas | TX | US | Posted: 8:26 PM on 12.12.12
->> Also, the line at 0:35 of the following clip seems super appropriate right about now ...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SaYUqXAmXRQ
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Doug Pizac, Photographer
Sandy | UT | USA | Posted: 8:38 PM on 12.12.12
->> Chuck: I am coming clean by showing that it isn't just one agency but nationwide. I know photographers who shoot games for ICON and ZUMA where they're paid only with royalties. And I agree with you about McClatchy's rates. I'm just trying to show that it isn't just one entity but the industry as a whole.

G.J.: Your paper has a rate? When I've asked in the past about covering FBC games for your paper I was told it would like to have me shoot but there was no money to pay me. Interesting.
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G.J. McCarthy, Photographer
Dallas | TX | US | Posted: 8:50 PM on 12.12.12
->> " Your paper has a rate?"

Uhm, I was using the term loosely. Better to have said, if you're going to get hung up on semantics, that I do not know specifically what we pay our freelancers for the work they do for us. I know what I, personally, make as a full time employee of the paper. Beyond that, can't help you.

"When I've asked in the past about covering FBC games for your paper I was told it would like to have me shoot but there was no money to pay me. Interesting."

Dude, if you just want to stir up shit then I'm out of this discussion. [profanity] that noise, Jack -- life's too short.
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Mike Janes, Photographer
Attica | NY | USA | Posted: 8:52 PM on 12.12.12
->> I know several very good USPW shooters, never asked what they get paid as it's not my business, but to say they're getting bad quality at that rate seems to not be true from what I've seen.

The business is changing, sorry and sad as it may be all the complaining in the world is not going to change the fact that technology has enabled many who do not do it full time to get "good enough" and sometimes superior images, that every business out there is drastically trying to cut expenses - even the ones who are doing seemingly well. Fact is photographers are being asked to work more for less just like every other profession out there in case you missed what has been happening the last 30 years.

Look around this board and you'll see the same people complaining about cheaper photographers and businesses who do not want to pay the going rate telling others how to save money in their business. For example earlier this year we had a thread on data recovery and there they were, same exact people preaching to others they have to work for x-amount or nothing telling people to take the cheap route with a friend or different company. Why weren't you thinking of the data recovery technician who is off on some other board angry because there's all these weekend warriors who do his job for nothing?

How about contributors, tell me again how if someone shoots an event for a client and keeps their rights they're smart to sell their archive via PhotoShelter, as is preached on here, but they're idiots to put them on Getty or AP so that tens of thousands of clients who they'd never be able to reach as an individual can gain access? Really? Yea, the agency is getting "free" content but they're not giving it away free - they're helping you sell your images to those you can't reach. This is not new by any stretch!

Spec, can we be honest and for once say there's actually good spec? No I'm not talking going to a major sporting event like the NFL, MLB, NHL, NCAA, etc. shooting against 20 other photographers who have clients lined up while you shoot for someone that has nothing - we all know that makes very little sense. No, I'm not talking about handing them to clients free just to gain access either. However when I'm making $1,000+/day at an event and have an AP staffer telling me it's not worth it simply because it's spec something is seriously wrong! I'm not letting third parties use the images free, I know what my profits are, who the clients are, how to market, how to make money after the fact, that's bad?

For once on this board would love to see someone giving good business advice instead of just demonizing what they don't agree with. Save the fake math that you have no clue if it's even remotely correct, save the jokes, and offer some actual good advice so people can learn from it. Talk about the mistakes you made, like the Luke Johnson article, what you've done right and wrong instead of just trying to make it sound like everything you do is perfect and the only way to do things, because obviously it's not.

Doug Pizac - to answer your post the local paper pays $15/image, the closest city paper pays $100, the second biggest pays $75 - all include mileage. Local monthly and some other small town papers pay zero. Taking it a step further there's two local pro teams that pays zero, two more pay $300 for entire season (one is profitable and cut the pay from $450, the other loses money every year), one that pays pretty good season wise but not sure how much, their day rate though when needing a second photographer is $100.
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Brian Blanco, Photographer
Tampa / Sarasota | FL | USA | Posted: 9:51 PM on 12.12.12
->> You know what's great? - Think about it... we're arguing about business practices... yes, business practices.

We could very easily be like every other photography forum on the Internet and be arguing about megapixels, fictional cameras and whatever the hell "bokeh" is.

That alone tells me that, irrespective of where you fall on this debate, we're all doing something right.
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Nic Coury, Photographer
Monterey | CA | | Posted: 10:09 PM on 12.12.12
->> Hey Blanco, are you still using those old clunky 12mp D700s? Get with the times, man!

My iPhone shoots wayyyy better photos than my D700 that I use as a doorstop now.

I digress... honestly though, I'm glad we're arguing about important stuff like business and how to be better at it. I'm terrible at knowing what I'm worth, but for some the $125 is fine. For others, no. I'm not ok with that.

I was having a beer with a good friend who runs a letter press business (the things they made books on way back when and printed Liddy's birth certificate...) and we were discussing what we're worth for our given talents.

Stop arguing over whose work is better and what other people are worth in their own time, because lots of people make great photos, but are terrible at marketing/business/etc., but more importantly, start a conversation about what YOU individually and your talents and work is worth.

~ Nic
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Chuck Liddy, Photographer, Photo Editor
PLANET | EARTH | | Posted: 10:39 PM on 12.12.12
->> For the record. I have NEVER questioned the quality of work USPW shooters turn out. I can't. I know some of them. They are terrific shooters. That is all.
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Sean Burges, Photographer, Photo Editor
Canberra | ACT | Australia | Posted: 10:53 PM on 12.12.12
->> Here's an idea from a relative outsider drawing on this thread and another on the 'value' of Sportsshooter -- why not add a space in "the Guide" where folk can 'anonymously' add in the rate, rights and particulars they are getting from their publications -- there is some kind of editorial oversight through the site administrators. This might help with some of the questions about "how much to charge". It might also create a useful database for someone who wants to write something about industry pay rates and help photographers put pressure on for appropriate pay and terms.

Picking up Mike's point, spec can make money if your being smart about it. My experience is that most pro sports on spec are a losing proposition (Liddy, before you jump on me, I shot a handful of games, made about $5/hr and then bailed after having acquired a useful skill set). But, with some hustle and a distribution framework the results from spec shooting can be really quite good. But, and this is the killer, the market is not, I think, that big.

There is also that killer question of distribution. There is lots of stuff in my town I'd like to shoot and would at least test market on spec if I had access to a distribution network that would get it to the publications/markets that would and could use it. Photography is on the side for me and provides a greater pay off as an add-on that enriches my full time work. This means I do not have the time or the resources to build a distribution network from scratch. That's where spec wires/agencies are quite useful, opening up access to markets for things I was shooting anyways.

One thing I keep wondering is why some sort of 'collective' isn't formed by people here to go after a wider distribution market. Photoshelter almost got something like this going in 2007 when they set up "The Collection" (I think that was the name), but it got shut down quite quickly in the face of vaguely named nefarious influences. It would be kind of nice to see that idea revisited.
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Chris Parent, Photographer, Student/Intern
Baton Rouge | LA | United States | Posted: 11:28 PM on 12.12.12
->> The large shift I've found lately is that photographers are no longer "portrait photographers" or "sports photographers". To run a steady photography business you should be able to do multiple things in this day and age or you won't survive.

(Now this doesn't apply to everyone. There are photographers that shoot just commercial work, just football, etc. These guys are awesome at what they do and have built a large enough client base to do this. I'm not saying everyone should do this, just that most photography business have started to shift to this idea.)

Imagine that you are a photographer that makes his living doing portraits, news, weddings, etc. mainly. While adding in a basketball game at night may not be the best way to earn money, it can certainly contribute to your bottom line. Say you shoot 3 games a week or so, with time you would otherwise waste going out, doing nothing, or even paying to attend the game you worked. 375 dollars a week can certainly add to your bottom line across the year.

If you were a freelancer for a local paper geting on average 3 assignments a week, would most make 375 dollars? I would bet that most papers freelance rate is less than 125 dollars an assignment. But dang, if you have a paper paying more, grab every assignment you can.

375 dollars * 4 weeks = 1500 dollars.

Wouldn't an extra 1200 dollars be useful to everyone at the end of the month? I know several USPW, Icon, etc. photographers that do sports as merely another avenue of making money.

Say you take out 300 a month for parking, food, etc. Which a lot of professional sporting events provide parking these days, so not all shooters have that expense. That still leaves you with 1200 dollars a month.

1200 dollars * 12 months = 14,400 dollars a year.

So in the space of a year, you could afford to buy 2 new cameras and a new Macbook. Just from the games shot in addition to your daily work and clients. 15,000 dollars is a lot of money for a photographer these days. That could be rent for an entire year, food, etc.

Now most photographers aren't going to shoot 3 assignments weekly, but there are some weeks where you could have more or less. I don't know how often la carte sales are done, but I would say that if you shoot fairly routinely, 15,000 dollars is most likely a pretty average rate of what they would make.

I also know several of them that hold season tickets to the very games they are shooting. Luckily with the high popularity of the teams they shoot, they can sell the tickets and normally make a profit of those also. While shooting a game isn't the same at watching, you do get to be there. Sometimes it is better since you can get that picture of the game winning touchdown or such.

So they also could make profit from that. Now I'm not saying you can make a living from just this. Far from it actually. That would be well below the poverty line, even before dealing with the expenses of gear and such.


The business model I've seen several photographers use, is that they leverage the games and experience that shooting NFL, NBA, etc. can offer. Clients love to see photos of their favorite teams come across their Facebook, Twitter, etc. This keeps you in their minds for when they need a photographer. When clients walk into your studio and see large prints of amazing shots from the NFL, they are impressed. No matter if you can make the same images in Little League or not. Clients don't know this, they see professional sports as the pinnacle of sports and since you are shooting it, they bring you up to that level. It's all about what the client thinks.


So as everyone has asked what business model is for the future, it is to have your hand in several areas. Don't just shoot sports. Cultivate some local companies for portraits. Shoot some senior photos. Find a niche market. Don't just turn down an assignment because you think it isn't fun.

While there are some assignments that aren't worth it, if you would just be sitting at home doing nothing instead, isn't that 100 dollars or so worth it?

Photography is no longer a business model. Building a brand, getting clients to be aware of that brand, and marketing yourself is now the game. You can be an amazing photographer, but if you can't market yourself, you are sitting at home. So yes spec may not make sense as an everyday job, but it can be used as a part of larger strategy to make a photographer successful.
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Gregory Greene, Photographer
Durham | NH | USA | Posted: 11:50 PM on 12.12.12
->> "Technology itself will be a huge reason that sports photographers won't be needed at all, and for that matter at any price."

Not just for sports photographers either, nor just for photographers in general. All professions are under ever increasing technological pressure as the environment we live and work in changes. Sadly, not all professions will survive. This is not a new phenomenon but the pace at which change is happening is making the life cycle for many professions very short.
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Chuck Liddy, Photographer, Photo Editor
PLANET | EARTH | | Posted: 1:24 AM on 12.13.12
->> Chris, with all due respect WTF are you talking about?

"I also know several of them that hold season tickets to the very games they are shooting. Luckily with the high popularity of the teams they shoot, they can sell the tickets and normally make a profit of those also."

are you serious?

this thread is now reaching the height of total absurdity.
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Chris Parent, Photographer, Student/Intern
Baton Rouge | LA | United States | Posted: 1:58 AM on 12.13.12
->> I was saying that the business model of shooting only sports isn't going to be sustainable in the coming years. With the low cost of entry in the photo world, the amount of people looking to shoot is only going to rise.

If you want to be successful, you need to be able to work in several areas, and not just limit yourself.

As for spec shooters, I'm saying that they aren't seeing this as a lifestyle. They see it as something cool to do. They see it as extra money for them. For them it's not just the 125 dollars they make. It's the coolness of being able to shoot and make money from it. It doesn't matter that we think it is undervaluing the job, to them it is awesome.
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Doug Pizac, Photographer
Sandy | UT | USA | Posted: 2:06 AM on 12.13.12
->> Thanks to Mike Janes for adding his perspective and what other media pay to give comparisons.

And thanks to Chris Parent's words, his math and real world reasoning.

The two of them pretty much wrapped this thread up -- at least for me. Time to move on with more pressing matters.
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Michael Troutman, Photographer
Carmel | CA | USA | Posted: 2:17 AM on 12.13.12
->> Actually, Chris TOTALLY nails it. In a word, leverage. The salient point:

"Building a brand, getting clients to be aware of that brand, and marketing yourself is now the game."

^^This. Exactly, precisely, this. Whether you shoot a job for "free", $100, $1000 or much, much more it *always* needs to actively contribute to those goals.
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Dan Routh, Photographer
Greensboro | NC | USA | Posted: 8:05 AM on 12.13.12
->> "Building a brand, getting clients to be aware of that brand, and marketing yourself is now the game."

It's not just now the game, it's always been the game. I've had to market myself for 36 years. Just remember though, you have to know where to brand yourself. Are you a Saks Fifth Avenue or a Wal Mart, or somewhere in between? Where ever you build your brand is where you will probably stay.
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Chuck Liddy, Photographer, Photo Editor
PLANET | EARTH | | Posted: 8:15 AM on 12.13.12
->> Well said Dan. And I just don't get the "it's the coolness of being at the game and shooting it for free" part. that's not a brand. you're just known as the "guy who shoots stuff for free because he thinks it's cool to be on the sidelines". but as usual with these threads....as it has been for years...these people that think it's okay will say anything to rationalize a bad business practice. oh well. carry on.
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Michael Troutman, Photographer
Carmel | CA | USA | Posted: 11:48 AM on 12.13.12
->> Yes, for any business that's always been the key Dan. Part of what Chris points out is that the ways many sports photographers have made a living over the years (including staff positions as well as viable day rates) are disappearing fast or are gone already...and we've been talking about the reasons for over ten years on these discussion boards.

The "coolness of being at the game and shooting it for free" part means that there will pretty much *always* be someone wanting to do this at sports events, Chuck...he's talking about several different things:

1) There are savvy photographers that build their brand, shoot a wide diversity of work and understand how to use LEVERAGE to further their business...leading to great success regardless of the environment and subsequent excellent income. In a very real sense, they essentially create their own market (demand) for their work.

2) The vast majority (staffers, freelancers, etc) are struggling to compete in an environment that is vastly different from many years ago, finding that a saturated field has devalued their work (as others will do a similar job for less money) and staff positions that are woefully under-paying or gone entirely. As has been pointed out here ad nauseum, this situation is getting worse quickly.

3) There will now always be (particularly in the age of digital) people lined up willing to experience "the coolness of being at the game and shooting it for free". None of us like this, but it's simply REALITY whether one "understands" it or not.

That's what I think Chris is saying, anyway, for those that want to listen...
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Bradley Leeb, Photographer
Champaign | IL | USA | Posted: 12:58 PM on 12.13.12
->> Hi, my name is Brad and I shoot for USPW/USATSI and I am looking for advice.

Iíll see if I can tell my story as succinctly as possible. In jr. high I learned how to use a darkroom and was fortunate to shoot with a Canon A-1 and F-1 at my school. I was hooked. In 8th grade I bought myself a fancy Minolta Maxxum 7000 and in high school shot for the newspaper and developed and printed everything myself. In college I had no access to a darkroom, nor did I have the money and resources to continue doing much with my photography past high school, so the camera was just used sporadically until 2005 when I took a trip to Yellowstone and Glacier. I came home only to find out upon picking up my prints from Walgreens that my photos looked NOTHING like all the ones I saw in magazines. I was devastated. At that point I was pretty determined to learn as much as I could to make sure that never happened again. I read every magazine, website, etc. I could. Thatís when I ran across SS and became infatuated with sports photography. I picked up a dslr and practiced my skills. I was constantly trying to compare what I saw on SS to my own work and then Iíd try and make my stuff better than it was before. This is a process that continues to this day.

Eventually, I got a few photos published in a local weekly paper with very little circulation. I was thrilled of course to be published and that led the way to a few more freelance gigs here and there that paid a couple of bucks. Over the next couple of years I got more and more freelance jobs here and there and then in the summer of 2011 I was contacted by USPW to shoot Illinois football and basketball. At the time it was on spec which I wasnít thrilled about, but I figured Iíd shoot a couple of games and see what happened and then re-evaluate. Then before I even started shooting, the buyout happened and I found out Iíd get $125 a game and I was much happier knowing that I would make SOME money for my time. Sure, I knew it wasnít a lot, but even though Iím pushing 40, I was still pretty wet behind the ears when it came to photography, and had no self confidence in what I was doing. Since I was new to the business, who was I to think I deserved any more? I didnít have the same experience, know-how, skills as many here, so it would have been arrogant, in my opinion to think that I should receive the same as other more seasoned pros. In my mind, itís like the undergraduate music major thinking he/she should get as much for teaching private trumpet lessons as the person with the masters degree and plays in a major symphony orchestra. The rates for those two just are not the same for the same job. Wouldnít some of you think a brand new shooter was incredibly arrogant to charge the same as you?

Over the last year and a half, I have continued to shoot almost every home Illinois basketball and football game, as well as other freelance jobs, family portrait sessions, events, and second shooting 12-15 weddings with a good friend (donít worry, all those jobs I just mentioned were paying gigs). As a result, I have gained a great deal of experience, improved my skills A TON (in my opinion), and developed a sense of confidence in what I do to realize that I can produce work of value.

So hereís where I stand now. I still continue to shoot for USPW/USATSI because while $125 isnít much, the aggregate across an entire season of basketball and football adds a couple of thousand dollars to my bottom line. I am a teacher by trade. Iíve spent the last 14 years as a high school band director and this year made a change in jobs and I now teach elementary general music. The change has meant much less occupational stress in my life and I now have seemingly infinitely less hours spent on the job which means MUCH more time for family, life, and to grow my photography business. As busy as my photography has become over the last year, it still is way less time than the high school band directing life.

As a result though of my job change, I took a substantial financial hit and I am left trying to make up for it in other ways. That couple of thousand I make from USPW makes a big difference to me in the long haul. It helps replace some lost income from my last job, and for much less effort and time. For all the number crunchers out there, I am more fortunate than most. I live two miles from the arenas where I shoot, so gas is a minimal cost and my travel time is minimal. I arrive an hour before game time, which means I leave my house an hour and five minutes before game time. I donít have to pay for parking. I donít pay for food as I can eat at home. If I so even desire, there is free pizza for media at basketball games, so one could even say I make more money there (just kidding about the making money part of course.) Because I have shot so many games in the last year now, I have streamlined my workflow in such a way that I can edit, caption, and transmit my images and be back in my driveway less than an hour after the game ends. This past Tuesday I even made it in 50 minutes including having to wait on a restart of my computer because of some weird error message I was getting. All said and done, this past Tuesday I spent less than four and a half hours for the gig. Yes, I have expenses for equipment, repairs, and insurance, but at least my other expenses and time are at a minimum.

So hereís the question I have: What now? Yes, I feel like Iím at a point where I deserve more and I am worth more than $125 a game, but what leverage do I REALLY have? If I refuse to work for that amount, then who else is going to pay me to work these games, and for more money? Odds are, no one. If I say no, then I end up sitting at home on the couch watching the game and drinking beer instead. It would be really noble of me to be a martyr and stand up for myself and the profession, but then what? Iím out thousands of dollars from my bottom line, and added a couple of inches to my waistline from all the beer. I can sit on my couch this basketball season and make NO money because I stood up for myself. I guess Iím just unclear on how this is going to work out for me in the long run to turn down income from an event I would just be watching at home. Itís not like I would otherwise be out shooting a wedding or family portrait session on a Tuesday night. Can someone please help me understand a scenario where saying no to shooting for the $125 is going to benefit me in the long run. Sure, I understand that if itís done collectively by USPW shooters then something *might* give, but in a single income family, Iím not in a position to be turning down money of any kind. Iím not trying to be sarcastic, but I REALLY want to know as I would love to figure out a way to increase my income even more than I already have in the last few years. I have some other ideas concerning other areas of my photography that Iíll be working on rolling out in the next few weeks and hopefully those will be successful, so please donít think Iím just sitting back and relying on sports for my income. I do have some other irons in the fire for other aspects of my business and weíll see how those work out, but in the meantime, any dough I can bring in helps my family tremendously.
So, thoughts?
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Mike Janes, Photographer
Attica | NY | USA | Posted: 1:18 PM on 12.13.12
->> Chuck, there doesn't seem to be anybody defending the model and trying to rationalize it, they're just stating it exits. There's plenty of people out there with gear who shoot with absolutely no interest in making a livable wage from the games, and anything they do make is icing on the cake - they have full time jobs, they would be going anyways, they may be doing it as supplemental income or could be more egotistical and all they care about is getting likes on facebook trying to look important to their "friends". I don't see one person saying that's a good model for someone who wants to make a full time job out of photography, all anyone is saying is that they exist.
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John H. Reid III, Photographer
Gates Mills | OH | USA | Posted: 3:45 PM on 12.13.12
->> I believe this is salient to this thread
http://thephotobrigade.com/2011/09/pixel-pimp-freshman-freelancing-photo-ag.../
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Thomas B. Shea, Photographer
Pearland/Houston | TX | USA | Posted: 6:37 PM on 12.13.12
->> I was talking to another photographer about shooting sports, how it is over saturated with photographers. It is funny , shooting sports will cost you the most money in equipment and you will make the least amount of money. You will at least need two bodies a 300 2.8 and 80- 200 2.8 or 35 -70 2.8 to shoot a sporting event where you will make between $150-$500 an assignment.


If you buy one body and one lens to shoot a wedding you can profit $3000.00 easily shooting one wedding.

If you really want to shoot sports and make money learn how to light and shoot for Nike, Adidas or the big sports companies.

I shoot sports for Getty Images and the Houston Chronicle for assignment rates, and I know I can't support myself with these rates, but I taught myself how to light and because of that I shoot for a couple oil companies, Universities and Magazines that pay good rates.

Do yourself a favor learn how to light.

If I may say one other thing. Be nice! Their is no reason to be an asshole.
I have met way to many photographers who are cocky and stuck up. Why I don't know. Photographers take pictures for a living, you are not doing brain surgery.
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Andrew Richardson, Photographer
Houston | TX | USA | Posted: 6:52 PM on 12.13.12
->> Geez it takes a lot of work to psych yourself up enough to comment in these posts, we play with live ammo out here.

I always feel a little...put off? when I see threads like this. Not so much this one, but others in the past seem full of guys who hold staf positions telling other guys not to take spec jobs because they're ruining the industry and they should work to be staffers or successful freelancers like they are, but then they'll tell you in person or in other threads that the industry is dying and there's no job security and things just don't work the way they used to.

Ok? So what do you want us to do?

I started off shooting spec because I didn't know any better and I went to a school without a photo department so I looked in SI and wrote down the names of different companies with photo credits and sent my portfolio off everywhere. I also started shooting high school sports for $50 a pop for some local weekly papers, but had no luck with the big daily because I didn't have enough experience and my work wasn't good enough yet. So I shot high school and I shot my college games and I got better and months passed and out of the blue one of those spec agencies asked me to cover some MLB. I'm young I'm clueless I'm excited (and I dare you to judge me for that, young clueless and excited is what college is all about) and I did it. Now this is where the story changes because it's not the "shoots for free because it's so cool to be on the sideline!!1!1!!", I saw this as a chance to meet pro shooters, to watch what they did and how they worked and figure out what I needed to emulate, build some relationships, and network if possible. Lo and behold that all actually happened and I ended up getting an internship at the big daily paper because of it. Long story short, I learned loads at the paper but eventually made the decision to not pursue further internship offers I received because I was offered a full time job in the communications/design industry. I still freelance for the paper when I have time and yes, I even still shoot some spec and (gasp!) I even make sales! I would prefer NOT shooting spec of course, and I am trying to be intentional about reducing the amount that I DO shoot and find more opportunities to do events as paid assignments, but I am currently still doing spec work.

I think my biggest beef (and the point of this whole rambling diatribe) is that I am bothered by the assumption that seems to prevail that if you have or do shoot spec then you're just one of the hundreds of losers happy to work for free so their friends can see them on the sidelines, and that if you dare work for USPW then you're more or less the scum under so many shoes (Liddy not talking about you, I think you're one of the most reasonable, open minded guys on here and I appreciate your candor on any and all topics).

I'm done, I'll just sit back and wait for the "Huh?'s" and angry emails now.
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David G. McIntyre, Photographer, Photo Editor
Hong Kong | . | CHINA | Posted: 8:41 PM on 12.13.12
->> Chuck, et. all,

Rick's comments were great, that people need to be more active in other groups. How many of these things that Rick mentioned have you even promoted to others?

I am a member of NPPA and CIP (Christians in Photojournalism), and try to regularly attend the SWPJC in Ft. Worth every year. I also have been involved with Baptist Press too, over the years which works with college journalism students. Also a group called RGB here in Hong Kong.

Students and others ask questions and advice about various things (many times about working overseas, where I have been for over 18 years), and I tell them about Sportsshooter, NPPA, and SWPJC. The job of us is to educate the next round of people that will be taking our jobs, and/or being our editors one day.

I pay more for NPPA membership than you; I pay the same for Sportsshooter as you; and I pay a ton more than you to come to SWPJC than you, as I fly in from overseas. But it is not the money, but the knowledge I get from these things and the sharing that I do it for.

So I read your comments on Sportsshoooter often, but get out there and promote good practices everywhere. I am sure you could go to various classes in high schools and colleges in your area and speak about business practices. Sign up for the Sportsshooter workshop as an instructor, and do a panel with Rick and others on good business.

David
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Stanley Leary, Photographer
Roswell | GA | USA | Posted: 10:07 PM on 12.13.12
->> I think that the one thing helps those speaking about business practices is experience as a successful freelancer. I do not think staff photographers have the same credibility.

If you can support yourself for three years consecutively with more than 51% of your income coming from freelance then you have experience that cannot be refuted.

Being on a staff and not freelance I donít think gives one credence on this subject. The staffer sounds like sour grapes and not solid business.

I will take on assignments occasionally that are way below my Cost of Doing Business. Why? Because part of my business model requires me to spend money on marketing. Sometimes shooting some assignments is advertising that one cannot buy that will help them leverage for other assignments.

I know that I cannot continue to take on these assignments regularly and pay my bills, but it helps.

One example other than taking a sports assignment for say $125 is shooting for a nonprofit. Most of the successful photographers I know pick nonprofits they shoot for in order to give back to society. Often they not only do it for free, but also spend money out of their pockets to do so.

Shooters who do this for nonprofits also undercut those who try to make their living shooting for nonprofits. Why should the nonprofit want to spend money when someone will do it for free?

Why should a photographer who wants to give back worry about those photographers? More importantly why canít he/she be allowed to give what they can afford to give, their best gifts to the organizations.

I continue to listen to people without successful business models putting down others here on this forum.

We have a lot of weekend shooters here on the forum and this is their love and hobby. I am sorry, but they are not going away. If the clients cannot tell the difference in our work or that the difference doesnít help them achieve their goals then maybe we have come to the end of this discussion.

I think the points have been made and most every counter point has been made.

What is needed is not more discussion here but to talk to those who want to do this as a careerónot those who choose to do sports photography as a hobby or compliment their income in another field or another area of photography.

This requires us to take these discussions to the classrooms of photography programs. However, telling people what not to do is not as powerful in change as showing them how you have been successful as a freelancer.
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Dan Routh, Photographer
Greensboro | NC | USA | Posted: 10:07 PM on 12.13.12
->> I am not Chuck, but I am part of et al. Primarily a commercial photographer, I have been an ASMP member for 25 years, during part of which I served as a state board member. I have participated in many, many ASMP sponsored meetings and discussions on business practices. I helped host a monthly local lunch meeting of photographers to discuss business. I have taught, spoken and taken part in workshops and discussions at a local photography program numerous times over the years. I am an EP member. I was formally an APA and an NPPA member as well. I am a consistent and constantly outspoken advocate of good business practices in photography. Does that qualify me to make a critical statement on this board when I read about what I consider to be a poor business model?
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Stanley Leary, Photographer
Roswell | GA | USA | Posted: 10:24 PM on 12.13.12
->> Dan:

What I think is needed is someone to speak to how they have been able to take what many of us say is a bad model and make it work for them for more than 3 years supporting themselves doing it.

I think it has been said it works for those who have other income sources and use this as a loss leader to gain access to other venues.

However I too have similar experience as you.
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