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SportsShooter.com: Member Message Board

BREAKING NEWS: Sports Illustrated Lays Off All Staff Photogs
Al Diaz, Photographer
Miami | Fl | USA | Posted: 12:17 PM on 01.23.15
->> Just reported on NPPA site by Donald R. Winslow https://nppa.org/node/69374
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Cooper Neill, Photographer, Assistant
Dallas | Tx | USA | Posted: 12:26 PM on 01.23.15
->> yup - just saw this as well - it's a sad day in the sports world.
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Doug Pizac, Photographer
Sandy | UT | USA | Posted: 1:05 PM on 01.23.15
->> The timing is very strange. Why do this only 10 days prior to the Super Bowl? Afterwards, yes. But before?

It will be interesting to see who winds up credentialed.
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Nic Coury, Photographer
Monterey | CA | | Posted: 1:08 PM on 01.23.15
->> My guess is that they'll keep using all the same guys, but on a freelance situation. However that is.
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Robert Herrera, Photographer, Assistant
Lakeland | FL | United States | Posted: 1:23 PM on 01.23.15
->> Awful
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Tom Ewart, Photographer
Bentonville | AR | USA | Posted: 1:36 PM on 01.23.15
->> Got a couple of long time friends on that list of the six remaining staffers.... hope they all can stick to their guns and get some good assignment rates for forgoing all the normal benefits. Sad people in charge can't see that the magazine was really based on great sports photography, although photos of girls on beaches seems to have taken on a life of it's own...but that's only one time a year. But bean counters would probably tell you that it ould be better to just do one issue a year then put all that effort in to covering all those sports. Way to go Time-Life....guess the guys at Getty are chomping at the bit to take over that as well and turn it upside down.
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Mike Gatzke, Photographer
Ankeny | IA | USA | Posted: 1:59 PM on 01.23.15
->> Exactly Tom. I wonder how long it will take before Time-Life starts requiring photographers to submit bids for assignments and SI has to start using Getty on the vast majority of assignments. A group I used to shoot for was eliminated and the events were outsourced to Getty. Could the same thing happen here? I think, probably. Sad for the staffers who made that magazine what it is and are now being thrown to the gutter by the "bean counters".
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Frank Niemeir, Photographer
Woodstock | GA | usa | Posted: 2:35 PM on 01.23.15
->> John G. Zimmerman is rolling over in his grave. Thinking of all of those classic still SI photographs that their staff took throughout the years. I actually saw a SI at the dentists office a couple of days ago and thought, you know, these layouts are really kind of hard to read.
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Phil Hawkins, Photographer
Fresno | ca | usa | Posted: 5:28 PM on 01.23.15
->> SI already uses Getty more than any other agency. This obviously will continue, I'm guessing.

Wow. I don't think anyone saw this coming; it wasn't long ago that SI's ad pages were a mere trickle of it's past, but lately things seemed to be on the upswing. Ad pages are almost double from 3 or 4 years ago. Now this? Just goes to show, nothing is forever.
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Nick Turchiaro, Photographer
Brampton | Ontario | Canada | Posted: 8:44 PM on 01.23.15
->> This is really sad news...I want to wish all the SI staffers good luck in their future endeavours...they will prevail.
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Jim Colburn, Photographer
Omaha | NE | USA | Posted: 9:34 PM on 01.23.15
->> I'm sure that they've seen this coming and have prepared for it.
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Stanley Leary, Photographer, Photo Editor
Roswell | GA | | Posted: 3:03 AM on 01.24.15
->> Years ago they made almost everyone freelancers, but because they were pretty heavily scheduled they had to put them back on staff due to IRS rules.

Don't think those rules changed, so I am guessing a lot more wire and hiring local photographers rather than flying guys in all the time.

My friend Billy Howard commented elsewhere on the topic "their commitment to photography IS as strong as ever. Their commitment to providing benefits and other things that make a career in photography possible, on the other hand, not so much..."

I thought he nailed it.
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David Seelig, Photographer
Hailey | ID | USA | Posted: 2:55 PM on 01.24.15
->> Jim No matter how mcuh they prepared it is a shock and you are never prepared for that kind of change.
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Mark Loundy, Photo Editor, Photographer
San Jose | CA | USA | Posted: 3:14 PM on 01.25.15
->> Does anyone here think that SI readers will see any diminishment in the quality of the images in the magazine? If not, then how can you justify retaining a staff of photographers?

I agree that it's awful, but this should not be be a surprise to anybody.

--Mark
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Mark J. Terrill, Photographer
Simi Valley | CA | USA | Posted: 5:12 PM on 01.25.15
->> I do. Sports Illustrated used to have the unique picture that no one else had. I imagine that now they will have the same crap that everyone else has, only a week later. I can just see it. "Great cover shot in SI this week! Just like the one in the NY Times last week." It was already going that way, but I think it will be worse now. I'm sure one of their former staffers will get a shot in once in a while, but not as often and I can't image that they will be willing to push themselves to get that unique picture anymore due to lack of incentive and funds.
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Shawn Cullen, Assistant
San Diego | CA | | Posted: 9:42 PM on 01.25.15
->> Mark Loundy,

I fully agree with Mark Terrill that readers will see a difference. That unique image usually came from the staffers on assignment shooting a particular player, coach, or team and staying focused on them all game long. Wire service shooters will shoot to tell the story of the game, and not every player on the team, on or off the bench, or the coach. Freelance photographers hired by the magazine will, but will they have all the camera and grip equipment that the staffers do? Will they have the ability to set up remotes cameras in those spots that made some of those unique images? I seriously doubt it, but I can think of a few photographers that can. Lets not forget that these last six photographers had relationships with players, agents, teams, leagues, and organizations that helped get them into shooting positions, and seat time for portraits, that also made some of those unique images. Wire service and freelance photographers might, but not to this extent, not at all!

Lets not forget either that these six where some of the top shooters in the world in particular sports. I don’t mean to minimize their talents in shooting other sports, but how many people out there are better at shooting basketball than John McDonough? Shooting golf than Robert Beck? Shooting hockey than David Klutho? Shooting baseball, and football than Al Tielemans? Shooting Football and Olympic sports than Simon Bruty, and Bill Frakes? Can you really replace this talent? I think not!

You should be able to justify retaining a staff of photographers just by the fact that the magazine would retain ownership of all images shot by the staffers, and to do what they wanted with these images such as ads, posters, or book covers, and not pay out any space rates, or royalties.

It really is not a surprise they were all laid off. I believe they all knew it was coming, but I am sure it was a huge shock when it did happened.

It is very depressing and sad. The magazine, and the imagery, will not be of the same quality.
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Brad Mangin, Photographer
Pleasanton | CA | USA | Posted: 11:02 PM on 01.25.15
->> There are few people on planet Earth who can speak with the authority on this subject from personal experience that Shawn Cullen can.

Thanks for taking the time to explain things my friend.
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Chuck Liddy, Photographer, Photo Editor
PLANET | EARTH | | Posted: 11:33 PM on 01.25.15
->> I spoke with someone intimate with SI tonight in NYC. And anyone who thinks SI will NOT be diminished by this move is nothing short of delusional. Sure, they'll get photos from AP, Getty and some of the freewire sites....but the shooter I spoke to basically said the same thing Shawn did. It will be regurgitated content that EVERYONE else had the opportunity to use the week before. There won't be any "behind the scenes", "out of the box" content that SI was famous for. But this is where the business (all photojournalism) is going. Management (which includes not just publications but schools and teams) are more than happy to get their content from bottom feeders, fanboys with cameras, and sycophants. Saw it happen tonight and the guy is a member of this site....it's sad and pathetic.
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Shawn Cullen, Assistant
San Diego | CA | | Posted: 11:34 PM on 01.25.15
->> Brad,
You are definitely without a doubt one of the few freelance photographers that can match frame to frame as to what the staff photographers produce. In my book you are a legend, just like the six great men, and those that were laid off 3 years ago.

I don’t mean to make it sound like John, Robert, David, Al, Simon, and Bill has died and has gone away. Just like Peter Read Miller, John Biever, and Damian Strohmeyer, I fully expect to see everyone continue to bust their asses shooting those images that we are all accustom to seeing every week, or at least being fully active in the sports photography industry, including sports photography workshops.

I had 14 years of incredible experiences and adventures assisting each and every one of these amazing photographers at various World Series, Super Bowls, NCAA Final Fours, NBA Finals, and the Olympics. I do take this very personal. I do consider each and every one of them friends, and I truly hope that both John Biever and Walter Iooss Jr. will be shooting at least one more Super Bowl.
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Robert Beck, Photographer
Carlsbad | CA | USA | Posted: 2:29 PM on 01.26.15
->> Thanks for the kind comments everyone....and the explanation from Shawn who I've tried to kill on probably more than one assignment. What is happening to our industry is very disappointing. We weren't the first to lose our jobs and, sadly, won't be the last. A former editor of ours, Adam Stoltman, summed it up this way:

I have been trying for the last two days to formulate a few thoughts about the layoffs at Sports Illustrated, and finally have been able to put it into some coherent form. What I find most disturbing about the ease with which layoffs like this have become both commonplace and accepted, is the laziness of thinking on the part of management -- I'm not talking about department heads as this decision was made well above that level and undoubtedly was fought at the department level as hard as it could be -- and that these decisions are being made by folks who have no connection to or understanding of what photographers for Sports Illustrated or any major publication actually do, and the resourcefulness, wealth of experience and connections they bring to their work. In jettisoning staff, they are depriving the organization of a considerable amount of institutional knowledge and experience, to say nothing of talent. The product will ultimately suffer as even in producing for online or mobile, the complexities of negotiating access, and benefits of relationships built over a career and which form the foundation of this kind of access, and unique blend of creativity which comes from being part of a high level team, are all being tossed overboard. A word too on the great new world of video and online visual content. Sports Illustrated photographers have pioneered countless advances and new uses of visual technology in service of promoting a standard of excellence for the visual element of the magazine. It is part of the organizational DNA and culture of the photo staff. Rather than using these skills and deep understanding of the tools and technology available, they are being deemed expendable as media companies continue to over react to the ground shifting under their feet. Sports Illustrated could have done something quite different here, and it is sad indeed to see such a lack of creativity applied to the situation, and a legacy built over 60 years, snuffed out because of a 3.5 inch screen, which dominates our lives presently. The photo staff was low hanging fruit and in using the pruning sheers, the magazine is also cutting at its own heart, and weakening an industry they should be supporting as its success has been central to the brand.
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Joey Terrill, Photographer
Los Angeles | CA | USA | Posted: 6:47 PM on 01.26.15
->> Those six SI photographers—and the many that have come before them—set the standard by which every sports photographer measured themselves. There are few photographers on the planet talented enough to join that exclusive fraternity. And, there is no more esteemed magazine in action photography than SI—and it’s the photographers who made it that way.

The names who’ve graced the masthead have inspired countless photographers through their unique and innovative image making. Names like Kauffman, Zimmerman, Leifer, Iooss, Scharfman, Clarkson, Kluetmeier, Triolo and so many others dared the next generation that followed—this generation—to stretch further and reach higher—and they did. This generation inherited the mantle and made Sports Illustrated even more iconic in the process.

In my view, what will be lost is the willingness to gamble—to stretch and reach. There likely won’t be the safety net that’s needed to chance it all for the unique and the insightful. Sports Illustrated has always been notable for going on the offensive and taking the risk. My fear is that without a staff, the magazine might now adopt a more defensive posture and focus on not getting beaten instead of winning.

So much of the magazine’s imagery has endured and stood the test of time because the staff weren’t simply producing action photographs. Each image told a story in a way that was unique to Sports Illustrated and that’s why people couldn’t wait to see what was in the next issue. By the time readers received the magazine they’d already seen the game coverage in the papers. But when they opened the latest issue of Sports Illustrated, it was the photographers who’d put the story in context and made sport so very beautiful.
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Geoff Miller, Photographer
Portage | MI | USA | Posted: 9:46 PM on 01.26.15
->> As a relative "nobody", I just wanted to say to those impacted by SI's actions how very sorry I am to read this news. SI was the pinnacle "the rest of us" aimed for. I still remember how elated I was the day I got word that SI had picked up one of my images for the first time. Sadly, I think it's apparent that the unique nature of SI is now slipping away. Good luck guys!
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Gene Boyars, Photographer
Manalapan | NJ | United States | Posted: 10:56 PM on 01.26.15
->> Lots of thoughtful comments by Shawn Cullen, Joey and Mark Terrill, Brad Mangin, Mark Loundy and even Liddy... They all get it but the real question in my ancient mind is does the reading public get it anymore? Now it is more about getting it fast rather than getting it right. The whole instant gratification thing is taking over, the whole digital/autofocus thing has made it easier and easier for the GWC to come up with some decent images. The falling revenues at magazines and papers all around us lead to these cuts. It is no longer important to the bean counters to have the BEST, it is just fine to have something....and if you can get it for $125 per day, no expenses, no benefits then it sounds good to them. I started getting paid for this kind of work 45 years ago and like so many others my goal was to work for SI. I was never quite that good but I sure learned a lot getting to work beside these men and the ones who came before them. Yes, it is a sad sad day but the that sadness is felt by us. The casual reader won't really care that much, at least that is what the bean counters are hoping...
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Mark Loundy, Photo Editor, Photographer
San Jose | CA | USA | Posted: 10:20 AM on 01.27.15
->> Shawn, Joey, Mark T., Brad,

I appreciate your thoughtful and insightful pushback. That's what I wanted to hear.

Chuck,

I didn't think the delusions were that obvious.

--Mark
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Mark Loundy, Photo Editor, Photographer
San Jose | CA | USA | Posted: 10:21 AM on 01.27.15
->> Oh, and Robert, too.

--Mark
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Doug Strickland, Photographer
Chattanooga | TN | USA | Posted: 2:52 PM on 01.27.15
->> SI is doing its best to justify the layoffs:

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/why-sports-illustrated-cut-all-of-its-photograp.../

The usual buzzwords and phrases like "bold new way" that we're all used to hearing show up in a number of places.
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Gene Boyars, Photographer
Manalapan | NJ | United States | Posted: 5:34 PM on 01.27.15
->> "As advanced cameras and lenses have become more affordable, there are more photographers in the market than ever before" That is a quote from the CBS article. Last time I looked, gear prices were going up and up and up but more and more people were willing to invest a lot of money for what has become a marginal return. In 1986 I changed newspaper jobs and had to buy my own gear--they gave me a car instead--. It cost me $4,000 to fully equip myself, 2 F3 bodies, lots of glass, 20mm to 400mm. Today you cannot buy a used 1Dx for $4000....What does all of this mean to me? as long and there are people willing to shell out big money so they can say they were there and are willing to work for little money, that is the way all of our business will continue to go. I see it happening in my own niche now.
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Chuck Liddy, Photographer, Photo Editor
PLANET | EARTH | | Posted: 5:43 PM on 01.27.15
->> All you need is a rich daddy in some of the cases I know about.
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Sam Santilli, Photographer, Photo Editor
Philippi | WV | USA | Posted: 6:06 PM on 01.27.15
->> If you took an econ class class in college, you already know about "ricardo's law of iron wages". If you missed that class, just google the above quotation.
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Michael Chen, Photographer, Assistant
Saratoga | CA | USA | Posted: 9:38 PM on 01.27.15
->> I canceled my subscription immediately.

Not much else I can do. I'm not at the level needed to get my images onto their website, much less the magazine, so it is not like I need to withhold images or anything.

Best of luck to the SI guys, and their great assistants such as Shawn and Kojo that make the magic possible. I've had the pleasure of spending time with John and Robert, and meeting Peter Read Miller, and look forward to seeing and hearing about their future endeavors.
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Lance King, Photographer
Raleigh | NC | USA | Posted: 11:21 PM on 01.27.15
->> To echo many comments above, I’m also very surprised by this move.

I subscribe to SI, and a few others, mainly because I appreciate the (staff) photography work. I’ve always deemed SI staff photographers as the gold standard. Additionally, I think, their special access was a major component in their brilliant content.

I’ve had the pleasure to talk with a few of them in Charlotte, DC, Durham and Tallahassee, and they were nothing short of amazing. I wish them the very best and sincerely hope they continue to prosper.
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Richard Uhlhorn, Photographer
Chelan Falls | WA | USA | Posted: 12:44 PM on 01.28.15
->> Best of luck to these shooters as they enter the freelance market. You can be assured that their talent will keep them busy.

It's a shame that bean counters can only see the bottom line and then convince management the necessity of cutting staff. It will be interesting to see upcoming issues of SI without the talent these photographers have.
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David A. Cantor, Photographer, Photo Editor
Toledo | OH | USA | Posted: 3:54 PM on 02.04.15
->> http://www.poynter.org/news/mediawire/316931/laid-off-sports-illustrated-ph.../
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Thread Title: BREAKING NEWS: Sports Illustrated Lays Off All Staff Photogs
Thread Started By: Al Diaz
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