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SportsShooter.com: Member Message Board

Working for Free
Bill Miller, Photographer
Thousand Palms | CA | USA | Posted: 1:03 AM on 05.30.08
->> Congratulations Matt - Someone finally "tiene las bolas " to state what everyone knows. Even other Photographers want you to work for free.

Mom and Pops have taken over the youth sports. Even some pros are giving their work away. There is one Event Photographer in the LaQuinta (Palms Springs) who will shoot a corporate event and supply 5x7's as needed, are you ready $3.50 each.

Matt you hit the nail on the head 100%
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Mark Davis, Photographer
Decatur | AL | USA | Posted: 1:17 AM on 05.30.08
->> Matt, well said, very well said.

This article needs reprinted, mailed, and emailed to every media outlet, college president and SID. Education is the key and this is a great way to start.

Mark Davis
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Gene Boyars, Photographer
Matawan | NJ | United States | Posted: 6:55 AM on 05.30.08
->> The problem is not the media outlets or the SIDs or the school presidents...they all have budgets to deal with and if they can get it for free all the better for them. There is value in what Matt has to say but the issue needs to be addressed by us, the photographers. We are the ones offering the product, the service and we need to secure fair value for out time, talent and efforts. It is up to us and no one else. There are always going to be students, alumni, parents and wannabees who will give their work away so we all, as professionals have to stand our ground and insure the quality of our work and the proper ownership of that work.
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Marvin Gentry, Photographer
Birmingham | AL | USA | Posted: 9:46 AM on 05.30.08
->> I agree with Gene,Matt and everyone else that has issues with media outlets, and colleges, websites and who ever else wants somthing for FREE. I believe that all the free acess will stop when a college or some other sporting event lets a photographer come and shoot the event in exchange for free photos.Then the photographer is not paying attention or just happens to be in the way and a 350lb lineman hits him and the photographer is left paralyzed and unable to support his family. An ambulance chasing lawyer comes into the hospital and talks with the family and the family is seeing medical bills sore, a mortgage that can;t be paid because the photographer who in is real job is an accountant making six figures. So the family tell the lawyer well he was there shooting for the college and giving them photos. HMMMM!!! says the lawyer, He was shooting for the college, that know makes the college liable in his medical bills since he was working for them, who cares that he was not receiving any money. Well you say he signed his credential to say he wouldn;t hold the college liable if he got hurt, well does anyone really think this will hold up in court? Even if it does hold up in court the cost of attorney fees would pay a graciously amount to a photographer that is a legit proffessional with his own liability insurance, his own workers comp, and other expenses that he is required to have if he is in business.
I have a friend that is in the insurance business and he does this for the college he graduated from and I argue this point with him on a regular basis and I said what if I was wealthy and just started giving insurance away and his only reply is that is illegal, I continually tell him forget the legality of giving insurance away. Think about the mouths that are not being fed because you are giving away photos and a photographer with a legit business could be being paid. I will say the college he shoots for is cheap and pays no one they just issue 10 -15 photo passes per football game to get the photos that are ok. Other than his there is no one with proffessional equipment. I do have to admit that this friend never has taken a job away from a photographer that he knows. He will even go to a job with you and let you get paid and he will shoot for you. I guess we just dont agree on everything about what he does.
So how many of you have ever thought about it this way? I know I am not the only one
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Mark Peters, Photographer
Highland | IL | USA | Posted: 12:53 PM on 05.30.08
->> Marvin,

And why exactly is there any distinction here between the "weekend warrior" you describe and any other "pro"?

There is absolutely nothing in what you presented that couldn't be equally applied to a working pro.

Having your own liability insurance is for harm you cause to others - not harm that occurs to you. And further. independent contractors don't have worker's comp and workman's comp does not in any way prevent you from seeking redress from third parties (other than your employer.)
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John H. Reid III, Photographer
Gates Mills | OH | USA | Posted: 1:06 PM on 05.30.08
->> Mark,

The laws for Workman's Compensation programs vary from state to state. In Ohio I can pay into the system as a self employed person. I can also seek redress from third parties, but the amount awarded is reduced by any amount I have received from the Worker's Comp system. My wife is an attorney specializing in Labor and Workman's Compensation issues, so I've had some pretty good guidance in this matter.
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Marvin Gentry, Photographer
Birmingham | AL | USA | Posted: 5:20 PM on 05.30.08
->> Well the point I was trying to make is that if you are insured and licnesed with the appropriate people you are doing it and trying to make money. I have one college that I can shoot anything on the football field or other outdoor sports , but as soon as I walk inside there colisium they require a certificate of insurance. The weekend warrior is not going to want too get the insurance needed.
Also going back ot my original post suppose the 350lb lineman trips over your camera and tears ligaments in his knee and is unable to play again, there is a possibility that he might want to make you pay for being there.
Mark I see you take photos of volleyball of high school age are you prepared if one of the girls is running to the ball and you are standing there shooting the game and they trip over your bag and get hurt and no longer able to play the game.
OK enough off topic ranting now!
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David Bailey, Photographer
Flower Mound | TX | USA | Posted: 5:52 PM on 05.30.08
->> Anybody every thought of charging "fee" (variable depending on popularity of event) for credentials to weed out the non-pros? I know it brings up a whole different set of problems but I bet it would thin out the sidelines and media areas.
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Darren Carroll, Photographer
Cedar Creek (Austin) | TX | USA | Posted: 7:23 PM on 05.30.08
->> Am I the only one noticing a disconnect here between a thread like this, and the many threads on this very message board where photographers offer their congratulations to people who get a picture in a magazine when they were "working" for free?

Of course, rather than giving pictures to an S.I.D., they were giving them to an agency or "wire service,"--but the end result is the same: places that would (or, should) otherwise employ photographers see no need to pay for photos, because there are people out there who are willing to just give them away. The harm--the devaluation of our profession--is the same, no matter to whom one donates their images.

(and before you say it, no, the fact that one *might* get paid upon publication of said image when one gives their pictures away to an agency doesn't justify it, either. Re-read the paragraph immediately above).

We (rightly, IMHO) ostracize people who give their work away to schools, and point them out as examples of what's wrong with the business.

Yet we (wrongly, IMNSHO) congratulate people who give their work away to agencies, and elevate them as examples of how to "make it" or succeed in the business.

What gives? Why is it OK to not make an agency pay you for your hard work, talent, and product, but it's not OK for a school or an S.I.D.'s office to do the same?
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Mark Peters, Photographer
Highland | IL | USA | Posted: 7:25 PM on 05.30.08
->> John - Thank you for the clarification. I should have noted that at least in my experience in Illinois, as far as I am aware, Comp is applied to Employers and Employees. Didn't realize that you could insure yourself as self-employed.

Marvin -
Yes - I carry liability insurance.

I think your point regarding certificates of insurance is particularly on point. If venues required these of those being provided access, along with "iron clad" release of liability tied to the credential, I believe that alone would likely address a large amount of this issue. Even those willing to "shoot for free" are likely to balk when they realize that there is real costs (and responsibilities) that comes with that access.

The only point I was trying to make was that the school could be sued whether they were paying the individual or not.

Now, to take your example a bit further - perhaps the venues will take note if they trade a credential for images (thus creating the pseudo-employment situation you note above) - and that individual injures someone who then sues the venue because the photog does not have insurance - and no means of holding the venue harmless. I could see that that situation would make a venue rethink their policy.

David - I'm not sure that charging a fee - unless it is quite substantial will achieve the desired result I would suggest that if a pro venue was selling sideline credentials that they would have to turn applicants away at levels up to several hundred dollars. Moreso - who would pay the fee - the photographer - or the entity that is having them shoot? If the venue itself is the one wanting the free images they aren't going to charge themselves or the person they've made arrangements with.
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Rick Rowell, Photographer, Photo Editor
Vista | CA | USA | Posted: 7:45 PM on 05.30.08
->> Some people don't seem to understand that they're hurting themselves as well as others by working for free or at low cost. Short sided behavior on the part of some is really hurting our industry. We as a collective have to stand up and be counted, by not giving anything away for free,(non profit charities excluded). No question, it's tougher to be a pro these days. The mags, papers and web sites that are willing to put up sub par work you don't want as clients anyway. You as a pro must convince, more now than ever, your clients of the consistent quality that can be produced by a professional that knows how to solve problems and understands were to be, when to be there and be ready when the moment happens.

A few months ago during basketball season I had a large midwest newspaper email me about a high school tournament that was coming up and they were doing a story about some of the players and teams coming in from out of town. One of those teams I had covered in the past. One player on that team was a top Division 1 prospect. The reporter saw my images of him on the Maxpreps web site. She emailed me asking for images to run with the story, no mention of payment but she didn't ask me to give them away for free either. So I emailed her back stating that she can purchase them from Maxpreps and I receive a portion of that fee. Not allot of money here just a couple of images. She emails back that the paper will not pay for the images but they will give me a photo credit. So I emailed her back saying that I'm sure she doesn't work for free and that the photographers at the paper don't work for free, her editor doesn't work for free and neither do I. GET THIS!!!! She emails me back. Paraphrasing here, (It's only high school basketball. That's what is wrong with this world, everyone wants money).

People, Matt Brown is right! Wake up and smell the coffee. To all the wantabees, please don't do it for free just for a photo credit or to get your foot in the door. Once you set your price point too low or at FREE, that's it. Don't expect that client to ever pay more. Word will spread and FREE just might follow you around in your career for years to come and that door will end up slamming you on the foot real hard. Just my 2 cents.
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Tom Sperduto, Photographer
Edison | NJ | USA | Posted: 9:14 PM on 05.30.08
->> I'm glad we now have Matt's story to pass along to the photographers out there working for free.

I got this e-mail in response to a fair quote for a cover shot and six inside images a few days ago from the editor at a small sports magazine.

"We’re a pretty small pub – 5200 circulation – and we get most of our photos from race directors and participants in the races, who just want to share them, so we give each photographer photo credit, but don’t pay for photos.
The professionals who send us shots just enjoy getting the exposure, so to speak, and they are listed on the masthead in the Photographers section."


I politely declined the offer and did my best to explain that the joy of seeing pictures in a magazine doesn't feed my family.

She understood completely, and was very polite. But the issue will still be filled with free images from excited photographers who now have a tear sheet.
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Eric Canha, Photographer
Not Listed | MA | United States | Posted: 9:14 PM on 05.30.08
->> For anyone that thinks insurance is an idea, my total policy cost less than a 70-200VR. The people that you are talking about won't even blink. Hell they'll carry their dec page like some kind of badge.

Let face it money isn't the driving force for these people. They have day jobs that will cover any expense along the way to their desired end. Just look at their gear and tell me that another $1000 will make a difference.

Besides you're opening a Pandora's Box. Who will decide how much coverage in enough? What happens when a league wants 10 or 20 mil in liability coverage? After all once you admit that you MAY be liable for injuries to the athletes then the numbers can fly to any point. Personally I don't buy the liability argument.

If there was that kind of liability either the insurance companies or the papers would have a real problem putting all those shooters dab smack in the landing zone under the baskets. Or sidelines, or anywhere else where a 50 million dollar athlete could loose a season.

Could happen but I doubt it. Anyone can sue for anything winning is a bigger challenge.
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Clark Brooks, Photo Editor, Photographer
Urbana | IL | USA | Posted: 12:07 AM on 05.31.08
->> I agree with Eric.

The insurance policy thing ain't going to keep people from giving away their work or their time. They are in a better position, especially those professionals in higher paying jobs like the attorney who shot boys state track last week here for his local weekly, who can afford the premiums more than an up and coming freelancer.

Not only that requiring the policy drives the assignment or licensing fee up to the end users. Remember, the folks that don't want to pay for images in the first place.

Duh... The right thing to do is to hire the freak!!!

I call this Option A. If someone is willing to bust their butt for free shouldn't they be working for you??? Hello, McFly. I certainly would mind having someone working for me absolutely free to line my pockets. Tell me you wouldn't want to serve twice as many customers with no expense to do so. This is why business classes, particularly finance and economics are so much more important than a photoshop class.

Now if they don't want to work free work for you, (Option B) encourage the person to do *MORE* free work for their 'client' or let you give away their images for free, figure out additional services or products they could offer for free that will get them excited enough to pitch it. The company will happily accept of course.

This does two things. 1) It keeps Mr./Ms. Freeshooter from offering their free services to 'clients' who are comfortably paying for your images by letting the client get deeper in their pocket and available time. In six month or year it will get to a point where they will either believe the should start getting paid - market rates (because they read it here on SS) or they will burn out and stop shooting period. Either one works for us.

(Option C) Getting calls for free work? You don't want work for client want something for nothing. Don't waste a lot of time trying to license work to them, immediately refer them to Mr./Ms. Freeshooter.

---- or ----

Tell the requester that you'll get back to them. Then call through your list Mr./Ms. Freeshooters until you come up with someone who is available. If so, call the client back and schedule the job or that you have the image. You make the client happy and get the image rights to the work (if you negotiate correctly with M/Ms Free). They get to shoot, you possibly make money from doing just answering the phone. Can you say win/win?

My favorite, and one I've yet to initiate, is (Option D) encourage Mr./Ms. Freeshooter to have kids or to adopt or hook them up with a hottie (single or married, depending how long you want them out of the game *wink*) you know.

They will need the money tied up in gear for dating/romatic vacations or to raise their offspring. The time they spent on the sidelines will be redirected to their family giving way to greener pastures and less cluttered backgrounds.

Repeat this process every 7 to 14 years. I'd even offer to pay for the prescription of viagra/cialis until the next conception ;-)
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Mark J. Terrill, Photographer
Simi Valley | CA | USA | Posted: 4:28 AM on 05.31.08
->> Rick Rowell wrote->> Some people don't seem to understand that they're hurting themselves as well as others by working for free or at low cost. Short sided behavior on the part of some is really hurting our industry.

Rick,

There are several individuals out there that understand perfectly. The hard truth is that they (and their posses) just don't care and "that's how they roll." The only thing I can say is that many of us who are and someday will be in hiring positions have long memories.
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Eric Canha, Photographer
Not Listed | MA | United States | Posted: 9:43 AM on 05.31.08
->> Mark that's the thing though.....some people AREN'T hurting themselves. They may be hurting others but not themselves. They get something out of shooting the event that money doesn't cover. And the fact is that the there are HUGE numbers of outlets that will fall all over themselves to get the free photos that these people are offering.

I haven't seen anyone quit their newspaper job because the PAPER is advancing this practice. Lets lay the blame at least partly where it belongs. It's about the John as much as the whore.

And as for the long memory and hiring positions, by the time you get there you will be part of the same machine that today's editors are. You will have the same responsibility and the same budgets. You will have to deal with the same mindset that they are now dealing with and the idea that you will pay for something that be gotten for free will get you called on the carpet then just as it would now. In other words unless you plan on owning the paper or outlet you won't be in any position to change anything. Just look at all the good editors that have quit after realizing that they are powerless to bring about change.

Personally I haven't shot a 'free' assignment in 3 years. I haven't shot a newspaper assignment in about two. I just don't have the time. I get weekly requests for our photos and it's always the same crap. I thought that my 2:1 ad trade would have at least given us a mutually beneficial arrangement, but no. Even space is too expensive for the papers. So I just sit here and watch them eat themselves alive.

IMHO this cancer that has gripped the papers will run full course. Their websites are generating zilch in cash money. The meager money that they used to get from subscriptions is fast dissapering, and the costs of trying to become TV-esque will pound yet another nail in the coffin.

Once this has run its course, it will be people like Clark who are running small papers and ventures and can adapt in hours instead of weeks, that will emerge from the ashes.
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Mark Davis, Photographer
Decatur | AL | USA | Posted: 2:17 PM on 05.31.08
->> Sure photographers need to refuse FREE requests.

Its about education. Let these people know what is ethical and acceptable. Honesty, I doubt these people (from want-a-be photogs to SID) understand how it all works and that they are effectively stealing someones pay check. In my dealings with colleges, ethics is very important across the board and being unethical is frowned upon in higher education.

I'll go as far to say we need to form a Code of Ethics for SID, Colleges and newspapers and photographers. That should set the standard, at least everyone will be educated on the issue. That's got to be better than current practices.

Its easy to complain but until we as a profession take an pro active stance, nothing will change.
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Eric Canha, Photographer
Not Listed | MA | United States | Posted: 10:11 PM on 05.31.08
->> Mark maybe it's the cynic in me, but we are talking about the same institutions that refuse to pay a living wage to the minorities that they employ as grounds keepers, janitorial staff, and other such personnel?

Sorry but the 'first' ten ethics standards haven't set in, good luck teaching them:

#11 Thou shall pay thy photographers.
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Yamil Sued, Photographer, Photo Editor
Peoria | AZ | USA | Posted: 12:18 AM on 06.01.08
->> It's hard for me to comprehend this, after 23 years as a working Professional, this side of the photo Industry is foreign to me. Most of the Sporting events I shoot are for Corporate Clients. My main source of income is Advertising, Catalog and Studio work, I get a fairly decent rate for my work, not high, but fair. Most of my Advertising clients pay within 30 days or less, most of the time less.

The really funny thing is that the one time I did a job for little or no money, I didn't get paid!! Yes, I'm going on 60 days for a job I did back in April. The client (will remain anonymous) hasn't even returned my E-Mails. If he had a problem with the work I did, he should have told me when I uploaded the images to his FTP Site. But now 60 days later, nothing. Or if he planned to pay me whenever he felt like it, he should have told me too!! My invoice says "Due upon receipt", not whenever you feel like paying for this!!

I guess I'll keep doing what I do well and I get paid for. I don't see much money to be made in the PJ part of sports photography. I guess I'll stick to the Corporate Side of things and stick to the Studio stuff, at least they pay for the work and return E-Mails. Even when they to elsewhere for their Photo needs, they end up coming back to me for better quality and professional behavior for a reasonable and fair fee, that's what I can offer.

I can't see myself busting my hump in a sporting event and rushing to upload images for little or no money, sorry, not my style.

Y
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Mark Davis, Photographer
Decatur | AL | USA | Posted: 9:35 AM on 06.01.08
->> Yamil, Call the client, be nice, but ask about payment and advise its past due and due now. Ask when will payment be mailed. If they give you the run arround call back daily. Being very nice each call and asking the same question. It may take 3-5 daily calls, but you WILL have payment within a week.
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Stanley Leary, Photographer
Roswell | GA | USA | Posted: 11:57 AM on 06.01.08
->> As long as photographs are pretty much the same from one photographer to another, then most likely those who charge the least will get the job.

Since many photographers do not understand the cost of doing business and market themselves they tend to take what they can get.

Once those who want to make a living as full-time photographers understand what it takes to do so then they are willing to make the changes necessary.

The problem is they discover this formula after they have have hung out their shingle saying they are in business and not before they go into business.

I recommend to anyone reading these posts to discover a free resource in most communities around the country
http://www.sba.gov You can go and find the local resource near you, which is typically free. They and everyone here wants people to make a living and do well--it helps the economy and tax base.

If you are starting out in this business, learning how to take better pictures is important, but the person who puts the emphasis on learning about running a business is the person who will be shooting for a living on the sidelines and not the person who bought the equipment and just shoots seeing what they can get for their photography.

If you ask how much I should charge and do not know how to get the answer for this question--then you are the person I am talking to the most.

Join ASMP, pickup John Harrington's book on business practices and go to your local free resource of Small Business Administration offices and setup a business plan.

If you think great photos will get you business and you don't need to learn about this--you are sorely mistaken.

Once a photographer is educated and knows what they must charge to pay the bills, educating the public is much easier.

You also realize you need to find these clients who understand and want to pay for quality work. So, you learn to market yourself.

What you will learn after educating yourself about how to run a business is that at some point you should be doing some work for free.

When should you work for free? Once you have a business plan in place you will want to do pro bono work to give back to your community.

I love working for www.FlashesofHope.org and giving to my church.
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Michael Fischer, Photographer
Spencer | Ia | USA | Posted: 6:11 PM on 06.01.08
->> Eric;
You hit it squarely on the head as far as I am concern when you wrote:

"IMHO this cancer that has gripped the papers will run full course. Their websites are generating zilch in cash money. The meager money that they used to get from subscriptions is fast dissapering, and the costs of trying to become TV-esque will pound yet another nail in the coffin.

Once this has run its course, it will be people like Clark who are running small papers and ventures and can adapt in hours instead of weeks, that will emerge from the ashes."

I'm as good as any bean counter when it comes to counting the dimes,nickles and pennies, but letting bean counters run anything that is market driven long term is suicide. The newspaper chains are going down because they sold their souls to Wall Street. Good riddence. They make no investment in the future and their people and then wonder why they don't have one. Brilliant. Simply Brilliant.

I've beaten the drum on the importance of having business skills on this website til I'm blue in the face. Full disclosure: My BBA is in marketing...thank goodness ..not journalism. (Thank God I made that change in college..)

I don't care how good you are. If I'm in competition with you, and I have business and marketing skills and you don't, over the long haul I will kick your ass and drive you out of business. It's that simple.

Work for free? It will (and already has) driven many good photographers into other things. It's just a matter of time til all those free images look somehow not quite as good. Someday "good enough" won't be good enough. At that point, those images will be worth exactly what people were paid for them.

Can I be any more direct?
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Allen Hubbard, Photographer
Spokane | WA | USA | Posted: 2:38 AM on 06.02.08
->> "In my dealings with colleges, ethics is very important across the board and being unethical is frowned upon in higher education."

Mark,
I was a contracted photographer for a D1 University here that is also Law School, and who's President is supposedly a world leader in Ethics. They (the SID) blatanty distributed my images to book publishers without my authorization or payment to me. Books were printed with NO credit given to me and when called on it they still refused to pay me. Only after my filing a Federal Copyright Suit was the issue finally settled (out of court through Mediation). I would loved to have taken it on to trial (to expose them) but the legal expenses were adding up huge.
They now have someone shooting stuff for a "Pass" to get into the games.
It would be great if there was a code of ethics for SID's (and the like) to follow. But the ones who don't care would probably ignore it anyway.
My 2 cents on this part.
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Chuck Liddy, Photographer
Durham | NC | USA | Posted: 8:42 AM on 06.02.08
->> SID, photo ethics. that's an oxymoron right? 8)
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Clark Brooks, Photo Editor, Photographer
Urbana | IL | USA | Posted: 10:47 AM on 06.02.08
->> "Working for free" as some of you like to put it isn't uncommon in other industries either. Take the medical professsion as another example. I have a friend who's daughter is in nursing school at a local junior college. This summer she has to a three month clinical (read: internship) at the local hospital. The position is required for her degree and she doesn't get paid for it. Every student in the nursing program has to do it. During the school year she has to 'work' 15 hours a week. Luckily she has a full-ride sports scholarship to cover her living expenses.
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Anantachai Brown, Photographer
Jacksonville | FL | | Posted: 11:37 AM on 06.02.08
->> working for "free" has allowed me to expand my portfolio with college and pro football.......for some its the only way to get an opportunity for on field experience. some may call it "networking" in order to get paying jobs. its not that much different than giving a wedding venue/bridal shop "free" images of the reception area or dress so they may recommend your photography to future perspective clients.
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Mark Davis, Photographer
Decatur | AL | USA | Posted: 12:05 PM on 06.02.08
->> Allen, I agree. Sure their would be some that would ignore a Business Code of Ethics, but when there is nothing in writing to educate people, they can just say, "Well, I didn't know." Its all about education. Now, there is none.
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Allen Hubbard, Photographer
Spokane | WA | USA | Posted: 2:09 PM on 06.02.08
->> Mark:
You are absolutly correct, I think it would help the honest ones understand the law. And those that aren't we can't do much about.
In my case I even called a meeting with the SID and head of PR after finding out about the first book and laid out the law and even had the PR secretary give them printed copies off the gov't copyright website. They just choose to ignore me and the law, I guess figuring I wouldn't do anything about it.
I know it became a topic of discussion in the schools law and ethics classes as I have a friend who knows a student there. Maybe it will put an end to this SID's "I am God" attitude and hopefully others who hear about it.

On another note but somewhat related I just received an e-mail from my Senators office stating they had read my letter of concern over "S. 2913, the Shawn Bentley Orphan Works Act of 2008" and will keep my concerns in mind if this comes before the senate for vote. Atleast someone is listening!
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Robert Seale, Photographer
Houston | TX | USA | Posted: 2:45 PM on 06.02.08
->> Clark-

A requirement of work hours to earn a degree. especially one that provides class hours toward said degree is not the same animal as working for free as a photographer.
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Gene Boyars, Photographer
Matawan | NJ | United States | Posted: 3:10 PM on 06.02.08
->> I just got back from running some errands...stopped at my bank and they did not want to give me any free money just because ..but they were happy to take my money that I had earned thru photography. Next stop was the post office, same deal, no free mailing just to give them the experience of mailing stuff for me, local grocer also wanted money in exchange for food despite my offer of telling my friends that I shopped at his store and even the local auto body shop wanted money to fix my car,despite my offer to put their name on my new bumper and to tell a few friends. The moral? It is up to us as photographers and business people to stop giving our work away. It is not up to the consumer to stop asking.
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Darren Carroll, Photographer
Cedar Creek (Austin) | TX | USA | Posted: 3:22 PM on 06.02.08
->> And to add to what Robert said, nursing students working a three-month clinical don't serve to lower the salaries of the nurses working at the hospital, nor do they cause hospital administrators to wonder out loud whether they really need to bother with having paid nurses on staff...

To those who would argue that it's essential to work for free to get experience shooting, say, football, there are plenty of ways to get "on-field" experience shooting just that. They just don't necessarily have the coolness factor of being on-field at a big-time college or pro event. In this business, "networking" by shooting for free will probably get you networked in with a bunch of photographers who shoot for free, with a bunch of agencies that require you to, and a reputation, among outlets that are willing to pay photographers, for being someone who can only get gigs if he offers to work for free--in which case, why would they bother hiring you? But if that's what your business plan calls for, then by all means have at it.

Now, I'm still waiting (from my earlier post above) for someone to justify to me why we ostracize people who give their work away to SIDs, but glorify people who shoot for free, give their pictures away to agencies/wire services, and get a quarter-page picture in S.I. Any takers?
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Anantachai Brown, Photographer
Jacksonville | FL | | Posted: 4:30 PM on 06.02.08
->> so Darren....shooting a Pee Wee or middle school football game would lead to the same type of experience as a Div I or NFL game??? If so, then I need to find a different venue. And are you willing to bet that the editors who views these portfolio take a photographer as serious with a bunch of Pee Wee players than those of College games etc.
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Craig Mitchelldyer, Photographer, Assistant
Portland | OR | USA | Posted: 4:34 PM on 06.02.08
->> Anantachai:

Yes.

Bad images from a college game are still bad images.

Great images from a middle/high school game are still great images.
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Anantachai Brown, Photographer
Jacksonville | FL | | Posted: 4:38 PM on 06.02.08
->> in fact Darren,,,,

now that i've looked at your profile/website.....(GREAT work btw) how did you get started in sports??? and for those that are getting paid regularly for covering sports please feel free to chime in......i'm curious.


people are complaining about people working for fee......but yet i don't see anyone really having any type of solution or guidelines in place.

my local professional photographers guild don't have one, or the PPA. I've learned a lot from just networking through trial and error.......but have learned so much more from SS alone.
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Robert Beck, Photographer
Carlsbad | CA | USA | Posted: 4:42 PM on 06.02.08
->> If you can make a peewee football game look good, an editor will notice. Good editors like good pictures. They don't care what the picture depicts. I shot surfing, skateboarding and volleyball for years before I shot any football, baseball or basketball. My first assignment for SI was a triathlon. Why experience what every other sports photographer is experiencing? Go out and shoot something other than the big 3 American sports. You'll "experience" just as much, if not more.
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Mark Davis, Photographer
Decatur | AL | USA | Posted: 4:51 PM on 06.02.08
->> Anatachai said "people are complaining about people working for fee......but yet i don't see anyone really having any type of solution or guidelines in place. "

Don't do it!

Become a member of ASMP and/or EP and SBA and learn business.
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Craig Mitchelldyer, Photographer, Assistant
Portland | OR | USA | Posted: 4:53 PM on 06.02.08
->> I want to add, that even if you do shoot awesome images (for free) for whoever, you will always be known as the guy that works for free, you will never be able to raise rates and any referral that comes from that "client" will be someone else looking for images for free, its a never ending circle.
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Mark Davis, Photographer
Decatur | AL | USA | Posted: 4:53 PM on 06.02.08
->> My two area sentors also wrote me about my response to the Orphan Works Bill. Both said they would remember my concerns.
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Darren Carroll, Photographer
Cedar Creek (Austin) | TX | USA | Posted: 5:04 PM on 06.02.08
->> Anantachai: I wouldn't be willing to bet on that, because I'd feel guilty making you pay up. I know the answer already, and (contrary to popular belief) I have a semblance of a conscience.

Ask yourself this: In this day and age of auto-everything, digitally-fixable imaging that just about anybody can do, how many times do you think a picture editor at S.I. or ESPN or any other national sports publication sees a book, or an e-mail promo, or a web gallery from an aspiring "sports photographer" with a bunch of really average shots of a quarterback in the pocket, or a receiver running downfield, or a bunch of linemen with their backs to the camera piling on a running back? The fact that such a picture comes from an NFL or college game doesn't make it any less mundane.

These editors that you are trying to reach see pictures like that every day. EVERYBODY can shoot that stuff. EVERYBODY does shoot that stuff. And EVERYBODY thinks they have to bring pictures like that in when they show a portfolio. And EVERYBODY yawns (well, figuratively--most editors I know are too polite to do it for real) when they see them in a book.

Here's a dirty little secret: you're trying to impress them by showing them you can get a credential to, and a picture from, a big-time event. But you're actually doing exactly the opposite: you're turning them off.

Now, go to a high school or pee-wee game, use some creativity, and bring back an amazing, different image that you were able to get because you had more freedom to move around the field, or the players were more accessible, or because it was a bitter-cross town rivalry and the game meant something the kids were more expressive, and you might get a second look from them.

Show 'em the same old crap that everybody shoots at a pro or college game, and I promise you they won't be impressed.

By the way (here's dirty little secret # 2), tell them that you're willing to shoot for them for free and they won't think you're good, or hard-working, or willing to learn--they'll think you're desperate.
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Anantachai Brown, Photographer
Jacksonville | FL | | Posted: 5:09 PM on 06.02.08
->> let me tell you this......the 2 universities Troy Univ. and Elon University that allowed me on their field to shoot have recommended paying clients.

I have not intentions for shooting for free now........but for me to get to where I want to be.....Troy Univ. and Elon Univ....have helped me get to where I want to be........I'm not there yet.



Robert Beck....(I have you website in my favorites).....shooting a Pee Wee football would still be shooting for FREE..........but I do agree, I do enjoy photographing more than the 3 major sports. Motorsports,GOLF, Track and Field....
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Anantachai Brown, Photographer
Jacksonville | FL | | Posted: 5:10 PM on 06.02.08
->> call me TONY.....:)
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Anantachai Brown, Photographer
Jacksonville | FL | | Posted: 5:14 PM on 06.02.08
->> Darren......I'd still be shooting for FREE.

:)
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Robert Beck, Photographer
Carlsbad | CA | USA | Posted: 5:30 PM on 06.02.08
->> Okay then, I think we are chatting about two different things now. I think the original point of the post was shooting for the benefit of others (newspapers, schools, magazines, agencies, etc) without getting paid and shooting for yourself (to improve your craft)....Without paying yourself?
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Anantachai Brown, Photographer
Jacksonville | FL | | Posted: 5:41 PM on 06.02.08
->> Craig....great work on your personal site.....my prices are a little higher than yours with wedding and portraits.



my point is this...for some, by shooting for free is a way to gain experience. now if they continue to shoot for free then shame on them.
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Brad Mangin, Photographer
Pleasanton | CA | USA | Posted: 6:49 PM on 06.02.08
->> Anantachai- I was hired as a staff photographer at The National Sports Daily in 1990 by Neil Leifer when I was a 25 year old punk making $440 a week at the Contra Costa Times. My portfolio? Mostly black and white images of high school and Little League games and under 8 girls soccer that I shot for my newspaper.

I questioned Neil why he was interested in me for the job when I was so young and did not have much experience. He told me he simply liked my pictures and he did not care that my pictures were from the Danville Little League or San Ramon Valley High School. A great picture is a great picture.

Darren is imparting some amazing information for all of you young shooters out there. Editors are not impressed with mediocre pictures from a college or pro game- they simply want to see if you can shoot. A story-telling image of a Little League or high school game shot in pretty light that tells a story with a kick-ass background will do a better job of impressing an editor than a picture of an NFL QB dropping back to pass in bad light with a bunch of red vests in the background.
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Anantachai Brown, Photographer
Jacksonville | FL | | Posted: 7:35 PM on 06.02.08
->> Brad, you and Darren make a good point. when you were hired, you were with a paper at the time. I'm curious to know how many of sports "Paid" photog have a photo j school or newspaper background..
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David Brooks, Photographer
San Diego | CA | USA | Posted: 9:08 PM on 06.02.08
->> I sometimes shoot for free. Although I'm a staffer sometimes I stay longer than my timecard records... I make sure I make my deadlines but I'm always eager to stay for that better shot or cleaner video edit... and I know for a fact I'm not the only staffer that works assignments for the paper on my own time. Just a different angle of the same thread.
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John H. Reid III, Photographer
Gates Mills | OH | USA | Posted: 9:30 PM on 06.02.08
->> A few years back Francis Gardler, a member of this site, won the POY Sports Portfolio category

http://www.poy.org/61/04/gardler01.php


There is not a photo of an NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, Nascar (You get the picture) event / game / race etc.etc.

As others have said, great photos are great photos, doesn't matter where they were taken. Average photos are average photos.

Going to a Little League baseball / PeeWee football / High School game on your own because you've seen there could be great light or a great opportunity is not working for free. Working for free is providing content that is to be distributed (be it internet, newspaper, magazine, whatever)and not being paid. (The reason I put "to be distributed" is that sometimes there is an assignment that doesn't pan out, light was better another day or some such, yet the photographer still gets paid. Just because an editorial decision is made not to use the photos doesn't mean the photographer didn't do the work requested.)

Look at the careers of the people that are saying editors aren't going to be impressed you got a credential to a pro event.

Robert Beck, Darren Carroll, Brad Mangin. Maybe, just maybe (is there a sarcasm button here?) they know something about the sports photography business.
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Yamil Sued, Photographer, Photo Editor
Peoria | AZ | USA | Posted: 11:32 PM on 06.02.08
->> For what I'm reading on this thread, I'm sticking to my Corporate Clients, they pay fast, they pay good and they come back!! I'm actually going to search for more Corporate Clients, for the reasons stated above.

I have found the Sports PJ part of the business to be overcrowded, uber competitive and sadly enough, very cut throat!! Too bad, I really like shooting Sports.

Like I said on another Post:

"OTOH, How is a new, up and coming young photographer supposed to get the experience necessary to get the big jobs??

I see many here Poo-Pooing on the idea of working for free or the wire services, but some here post on the classified looking for free assistants with the promise of experience in the field.

HUH???

Honestly guys, what does anyone get out of assisting anyone at a Sporting event for free?? Learning how to lug around a 400/2.8?? Not much!! If you are honest about helping a new shooter get experience, teach a little while the kid lugs around that 400/2.8 and throw him a $20, they might want to eat too!! If you are sincere about helping a young kid learn, then teach!! If you don't care either way, word you classified with "I want someone to carry my stuff for free but you won't get more than that"

It's kind of funny that some don't want new and inexperienced shooters to work for free, but they expect the same shooters to work for them for free!!! Not fair in my book!!

Y
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Greg Foster, Photographer
Atlanta | GA | | Posted: 11:37 PM on 06.02.08
->> Would you like to see what can be done shooting peewee football, etc.?

Go to this site www.walteriooss.com

...and scroll down in the categories section, and click on "children's sports". While you are looking at the photos, check out the dates in the captions, and see the range of years that this photographer continued shooting youth sports.
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