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SportsShooter.com: Member Message Board

Patch continued
Margaret Bowles, Photographer
Tampa | FL | | Posted: 10:11 AM on 01.26.11
->> I have actually shot some video for Patch, and although I don't make much per assignment ($100 per assignment), I am using it to refresh myself on how to shoot and edit video to make myself more marketable. I consider it to be a video internship of sorts and am learning a lot without a lot of pressure. True, it turns out to be pretty cheap labor, but the more I do it, the faster I get at shooting and editing. I'm learning on their nickel. The point is, I think each person's situation is different, and Patch might be okay for some people.
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Mark Loundy, Photo Editor
San Jose | CA | USA | Posted: 11:39 AM on 01.26.11
->> Margaret,

If they were paying you a reasonable rate, then you would be learning on their nickel.

--Mark
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Jon Wright, Photographer
Wayzata | MN | USA | Posted: 2:17 PM on 01.26.11
->> Photographers come in all shapes, sizes and skill-levels. Each has their own set of circumstances and each needs to decide what kind of jobs and pay they are willing to accept. This is not the best of times for most photographers. Many are having to give up on their dream and move in other directions. It is my opinion that until one walks in someone else's shoes it might be best to be a bit more understanding. Each one of us is different, but we all share in common the love for making images.
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Butch Miller, Photographer
Lock Haven | PA | USA | Posted: 2:48 PM on 01.26.11
->> Jon ... tolerance is a great character attribute ... but if we as an industry tolerate and endorse a complete rights grab to what we produce for the sake of "understanding" and short term survival ... as a group, what have we sacrificed?

If these terms are accepted more and more with each passing page of the calendar, where will that leave us as content providers across the industry? If more clients see that they can gain monetarily in this manner they too will begin to seek these rights from us as well ... sadly many are already doing this ...

The agreement Patch is offering isn't a mutual partnership if you read the terms of their agreement ... they are allowed to publish, produce and sell your works in perpetuity and you receive nothing beyond the initial assignment fee ... yet you must acquire permission in writing to include any works from those assignments for your own portfolio? ... how does that aid one's survival? By the time you pay expenses and taxes on $50-$100 an assignment ... what do you gain? A byline? Fame? Satisfaction? ... just be sure to ask pretty please before you show the results to anyone else ....

If you can't place reasonable value on what you produce ... how are you ever to expect your clients to see the value? ...
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Jon Wright, Photographer
Wayzata | MN | USA | Posted: 3:21 PM on 01.26.11
->> You might gain a car payment, who am I to say how you spend your money. You know those incredible high school images are in such high demand these days, geez Patch might sell them to Sports Illustrated! Sorry Butch, I'm thinking you're not getting my message. And you know, that's OK. Nothing says we can't agree to disagree.
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Israel Shirk, Photographer, Assistant
Boise | ID | US | Posted: 3:25 PM on 01.26.11
->> Agreeing to disagree isn't going to work, Jon. It causes widespread problems across the industry and harms everyone in the industry.
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David A. Cantor, Photographer, Photo Editor
Toledo | OH | USA | Posted: 3:41 PM on 01.26.11
->> http://tinyurl.com/67fagec
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Butch Miller, Photographer
Lock Haven | PA | USA | Posted: 4:13 PM on 01.26.11
->> Jon ... it's ok to disagree ... I won't lose sleep over the matter ...

I can't stop those who are willing to accept these terms, nor do I hold a grudge against them for doing so. I'm just concerned for the future of the market. If this becomes the standard, and there is no reason to believe it can't if enough are willing to do so now, doesn't it hurt us all in the end? If ALL clients expect to control the rights and exclusivity ... and control your personal portfolio as well ... is that going to benefit or restrict the industry? ...

Accepting the status quo today will do nothing to improve the situation tomorrow once we experience the epiphany of the reality a rights grab takes away from us. It's extremely difficult to put the toothpaste back into the tube once it's out.
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Jon Wright, Photographer
Wayzata | MN | USA | Posted: 1:06 PM on 01.27.11
->> Butch, I think that bus has already left. For every photographer that turns down what we think of as low paying local small-market news assignments there are ten more standing in line to take those jobs. Our industry has changed and it is up to us to try to find new, unique and exciting ways to stand out in the crowd. The times aren't changing - they have already changed. Digital photography and the internet have been a game changer. No matter how hard we believe we can stand together and hold our ground when it comes to the value of our work we probably will never again realize the numbers we would like to see. As long as "acceptable" is the standard for web and newspaper editors, and as long as parents, part-timers and other newbies fill the sidelines there will be no going back. If anyone has a solid, realistic solution I'd love to hear it.
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James Rickman, Photographer, Assistant
Los Alamos | NM | USA | Posted: 8:07 PM on 01.27.11
->> Well damn. It's really depressing to hear such a defeatist attitude about this.

If you really want to extend the the-bus-has-already-left-so-we're-doomed argument to it's logical conclusion, why not just say, "we're all going to die anyway, so we may as well just give up and give in until someone comes up with a solid, realistic solution to everlasting life." (Yeah, I know there are some out there who say that solution exists, but that's for another thread in another forum...)

Here's something: Let the parents, newbies and other amateurs become the providers of free content (i.e. Crap). Sure, every now and then some of them are going to come up with something nice, but by and large, with the sheer volume of content needed to sustain the appetite of the New Media Beast, many outlets are going to become sheer, unadulterated crap factories. The wise editors are eventually going to figure out again that the nation's appetite for crap is fleeting, and quality content again will become a premium. (If in fact the public loses its ability to distinguish between Crap and quality, then we truly are doomed; I still have faith that we're not that far gone.)

Regardless of what people are saying, the low-rent news and information sites still haven't found a sustainable business model for profit. Online advertising doesn't pay the bills. Information consumers aren't reading ads. They aren't reading anything. Clicking is a behavior, not a conscious activity.

Hold your ground, keep your powder dry, keep your skills up. The only people who are going to compromise the value of photography are the photographers themselves. Don't give the Greed Head editors the luxury of telling their handlers that they've got "professionals" who are now willing to give in and work for free or nearly nothing.

Pricing ourselves out of business is as unsustainable a business model as any. Those people who talk about staying in business by working for free are delusional. Times are hard. Desperate measures may be necessary. But don't sell the rest of us out by giving in and becoming a professional who provides free content. I think that's kind of what people are trying to say here in their objections to these content mills. Providing content to them at their prices is tantamount to giving up and getting out of the business. If that's what you want to do, fine. Do it. Find another profession. But don't drag the rest of us who still believe we have a fighting chance with you.

In the meantime, here's something for everyone to enjoy.

http://gassyguy.wordpress.com/2011/01/27/parable-for-the-modern-photographe.../

P.S. And sorry for the lengthy rant.
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Brian Blanco, Photographer
Tampa / Sarasota | FL | USA | Posted: 8:50 PM on 01.27.11
->> Rickman... Amen.
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Debra L Rothenberg, Photographer
New York | NY | USA | Posted: 8:54 PM on 01.27.11
->> so, Jon and Israel just wrote:
"Jon Wright, Photographer
->> You might gain a car payment, who am I to say how you spend your money. You know those incredible high school images are in such high demand these days, geez Patch might sell them to Sports Illustrated! Sorry Butch, I'm thinking you're not getting my message. And you know, that's OK. Nothing says we can't agree to disagree.
Israel Shirk, Photographer, Assistant
->> Agreeing to disagree isn't going to work, Jon. It causes widespread problems across the industry and harms everyone in the industry."

well, then, EVERY photographer should go freelance because if you are on staff anywhere, you are harming the industry. Staffers:
a) don't own their images
b) their images can be sold anywhere the paper wants them to go
c) some staffers aren't even allowed to use the images the create while working in their portfolios/websites
d) MANY staffers in this country earn under $27k and work WAY more than 40 hours a week.
I have posted this before so PLEASE someone answer me..where do you see the difference between someone who has no choice-shoot for Patch of someplace else that pays like crap or take a staff job where you use your own vehicle, use your own equipment and earn $27k or under. I know FOR A FACT there are MANY here who fall into this category because I received MANY emails.
For all these people who work for cheap, for credit, for crap pay....I don't like it but it hasn't impacted my business one bit. It hasn't dragged me down at all. Will it drag those photographers down who are "giving in?" Yes-because once you charge nothing, no one will want to pay you or take you seriously.
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Brian Blanco, Photographer
Tampa / Sarasota | FL | USA | Posted: 9:08 PM on 01.27.11
->> Debra,

Staffer:
$37,000.00 (Let's be more realistic about the annual salary)
Health Insurance
Dental Plan
Life Insurance
401K
Stock Options
Company-owned gear
Company-provided cell (or stipend)
Mileage
Employee rights (protections against unjust separation)
A steady bi-weekly paycheck
(Relative) job security
Severance pay (should it not be secure)
Paid vacation
Workman's Comp
etc..., etc..., etc...

Patch:
$50.00 per assignment (every now and then) and you have to bring $20,000.00 in personally-owned gear to make that pathetic sum

Debra, due respect, you really don't see a difference? Honestly?
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Jacob Langston, Photographer
Orlando | FL | | Posted: 9:25 PM on 01.27.11
->> Thank you Brian.
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Butch Miller, Photographer
Lock Haven | PA | USA | Posted: 9:33 PM on 01.27.11
->> This always boggles my mind ... folks go on the forums and seek advice on the latest and greatest lens, camera, computer or software solution ... and they are all ears ... offer an opinion on best business practices in the best interest for photographers ... and there is rumbling and grumbling ...

Debra ... those staffers that earn a mere $27k (or less) also receive coverage under Workman's Comp, probably receive health care benefits, 401k contributions, re-imbursement for travel expenses, sick days, vacation days and holidays ... and in many cases use of company equipment, software and facilities ... not to mention, they receive the same compensation on workdays where they have only two assignments as those days they have 10-12 assignments ... if they are not being compensated accordingly ... you're right there is no difference.

There are times when Work for Hire is worth the effort ... if the compensation is commensurate to the job duties ... which I pointed out in the other thread as well ...

It's when you combine the low ball fees with the 100% rights grab that is the difference ... I don't know how you are to afford a car payment if you have to cover your equipment costs, travel expenses, insurance, taxes, computers, software, health coverage and have anything left for vacations, retirement, investment at $50 a pop AND your images are also held hostage ... it's not a sustainable business model ...

And I don't buy the desperation or learning tool rationalization either ... with the monetary investment necessary just to show up at an event equipped to properly perform our duties ... few are actually starving ...

In the end a photographer can either choose to be part of the solution ... or choose to be part of the problem ...
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Butch Miller, Photographer
Lock Haven | PA | USA | Posted: 9:35 PM on 01.27.11
->> Sorry Brian ... we must have been typing at the same time ... ;-)
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Nick Doan, Photographer, Assistant
Scottsdale | AZ | USA | Posted: 12:49 AM on 01.28.11
->> Let's not forget the most important part of a staffer's benefits these days. They are eligible for unemployment benefits!

Anybody who has been on unemployment or wishes they could get unemployment *knows* how important that is these day. Better unemployment than ridiculously low wages. Right?!?
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Israel Shirk, Photographer, Assistant
Boise | ID | US | Posted: 2:30 AM on 01.28.11
->> Debra-
What?! No.
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Debra L Rothenberg, Photographer
New York | NY | USA | Posted: 2:45 AM on 01.28.11
->> Brian,
there are MANY markets in this country where staffers do not make $37k, do not have company owned gear or 401k, stock options or the use of a car. In "bigger" markets yes, but go to smaller dailies in many states-even your own state of Florida. Find the small dailies under 20k circulation. Just read some of the ads that are out there and you will see that A LOT of them are offering $27k and lower. Health insurance is a given, dental isn't, 401k or pension isn't and there are no stock options. IF you had this at your paper, you are very lucky but I also think you were at a large daily, and I am not counting those. My first 2 staff jobs were similar to this-now granted it was in the mid 80s but one was a Gannett paper and I remember I HAD to go to DC for a week, on my own $$ to shoot for USA Today. It was some sort of "loaner" program they had a deal with at the time. At both papers, I had health insurance, no dental, used my own gear and no pension. I was paid gas mileage but put 110k miles on my car in the first year and a half and it dropped dead shortly after that. My 3rd staff position, in NJ-where the cost of living was much higher than in Central NY State and PA was very similar. I personally know staffers in PA, CT, Indiana, Ohio, California, Arizona, Colorado and New Hampshire that are not making over $30k, use their own gear and work way more than 40 hours a week.

I have received about a dozen emails from members who have said the same thing. If the owners of SS were to do a poll or questionairre, I think you would see that in many markets, staffers do not earn $37k with the benefits you listed. A lot of people don't feel comfortable posting on SS for obvious reasons but it would be great to see something where people can participate anonymously.

DLR
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Brian Blanco, Photographer
Tampa / Sarasota | FL | USA | Posted: 6:55 AM on 01.28.11
->> Debra,

You do realize that in a roundabout way you're actually making my point for me right?

You realize that when you have to go back in time to 1985 or seek out the most egregious present-day labor practices in the most rural and impoverished markets in the country just to try to find a similar unfair labor practice, that you're making my point crystal clear. (And yet your examples are still a FAR BETTER situation than Patch)

You keep talking about your experiences as a staffer in the mid 80s. I, for one, don't want us to go back to the labor practices, and rates, of 1985. Nor do I want to accept what some mom-'n-pop paper in the mountains somewhere is paying, and doing, as the "norm"... I'd rather we moved forward and not backward.

You see what you're doing is EXACTLY what I want us to avoid. You're pointing to the worst business practices in the country and essentially saying, "See there, they do it, so it's not that bad that Patch does it too."

I DO NOT WANT Patch, and their $50.00 assignments, to be the next "high water mark" by which the next horrible deal is judged.

I DO NOT WANT someone to come on this message board in the year 2037 and say, as you've essentially done, "Hey, that deal isn't so much different than 26 years ago when I shot for Patch for $50.00 and well, it sucked but, I guess $55.00 is a fair rate today... 26 years later."

I DO NOT WANT a publisher at one my client publications to be in a meeting with the director of photography and point to Patch as an example and say, "Hey, Patch pays 'photographers' $50.00 to cover an assignment, why are we paying so much more?" I want the editor's response to be, "Because they can only hire hacks for that absurd rate and look at quality of what they get... next item on the agenda."

If Patch and their ABSURD $50.00 assignments and rights grab become the standard by which we judge the next deal, then it'll be the fault of the 'photographers' who accepted those abusive rates and conditions. Let's make sure that it's not US lowering the bar.
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Michael Granse, Photographer
Urbana | IL | USA | Posted: 8:31 AM on 01.28.11
->> Patch is unlikely to sell images to Sports Illustrated. At $50 per image regardless of size or placement, Patch would only break even on the deal.
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Eric Canha, Photographer
Brockton | MA | United States | Posted: 9:18 AM on 01.28.11
->> Deb you're not the only one that had a full mailbox. Both my personal AND Facebook mail boxes were loaded with MEMBERS emailing that they would have posted on the original thread but weren't willing to have their sites or portfolios come under attack.

Butch this is no more heated than any Nikon/Canon battle.

Personally the rights grab would be the deal breaker. Licensing one or two images for $50 when I'm already making my money through my primary channel(s) is just adding gravy to the gig. BUT THAT'S WHAT WOULD WORK FOR ME not what may or may not work for someone else.

Brian are you saying that you want some coast to coast, border to border pricing model that we all work within, or around? What do YOU consider to be a reasonable assignment rate. Throw out a number.

E
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Brian Blanco, Photographer
Tampa / Sarasota | FL | USA | Posted: 9:54 AM on 01.28.11
->> Eric,
You want a price? Here it is: $21.95 plus shipping
http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d.html/ref=redir_mdp_mobile/181-0009170-0692438...
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Brian Blanco, Photographer
Tampa / Sarasota | FL | USA | Posted: 10:03 AM on 01.28.11
->> Oh and Eric, try not to take that as a personal attack and compare me, again, to your ex-wife ;-) I actually posted it meaning that EVERYBODY should buy and read John's book. If they did, I have a hard time believing we'd be having this debate.

Debra emailed me saying that she has friends who see Patch and other $50.00 "clients" as a means to buy groceries and get by. We all have friends in that position and the argument, I can assure you, is not lost in me.

I guess it just comes down to the whole "Give a man a Fish" thing.

Give a man a $50.00 assignment and he has food for a day. Teach a man to reject a $50.00 assignment and he has food for a lifetime.

Respectfully

Blanco
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Brian Blanco, Photographer
Tampa / Sarasota | FL | USA | Posted: 10:09 AM on 01.28.11
->> Oh, and that should read,"...not lost ON me" darn iPhone buttons.
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Butch Miller, Photographer
Lock Haven | PA | USA | Posted: 10:37 AM on 01.28.11
->> Actually John's book is out in second edition for $19.08 + shipping ...

http://tinyurl.com/6zwc255

Read it, Study it, implement it, then read it some more ....

You can find John's blog here:

http://photobusinessforum.blogspot.com/index.html

I agree that for Small Town America $50 per image isn't necessarily a bad rate ... but a rights grab for the entire shoot and and exclusivity clause that prevents a freelance photographer from serving more than one client for that event? That's totally inappropriate and unsustainable ...

We have to treat what we do like a real business ... because it is so ... if we lower the bar to buy groceries this week ... how are we going to raise the bar next week to pay the mortgage? Or to pay a child's college tuition year's from now?

Eric ... this isn't your normal Nikon/Canon debate ... this is a photographer/photographer debate about what is in our best interests as working members of the same trade ...

It's one matter to disagree on brand, model, capabilities of a tool ... but there should be a consensus that meets much more in the middle on business ethics and recognizing when someone is being taken advantage of ... and recognizing when the terms of a deal are extremely one-sided and when to have the courage to turn down a bad offer ...
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Eric Canha, Photographer
Brockton | MA | United States | Posted: 11:03 AM on 01.28.11
->> Brian already have a copy. I have LOTS of books. The thing about books is that you have to take from them what will work in YOUR life. In YOUR business. NO book should be held to the standard of being the absolute truth on anything. John's included. He wrote a fine book but the advise and teachings have to be woven into what works for you, in your business model, and in your market.

I have a book that tells me to beat my wife or worse kill her if she disobeys me or brings shame to the family. Funny thing is that the same book tells me to forgive and not take punishments into my own hands.... Books, funny things they are....

I have no problem teaching a man to fish.... BUT I also know that he has to eat while learning to fish. Worse he has to feed his family while learning to fish. Sometimes you have to make meals out of minnows.....

Butch had this been about the the terms of their contract I think that most, if not all of us would have agreed. The problem came on passing judgment on those who were taking the $50 assignments. To be REALLY honest we weren't even saying that the $50 was an acceptable rate. The real disagreement came with the idea of stacking assignments.

E
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Brian Blanco, Photographer
Tampa / Sarasota | FL | USA | Posted: 11:50 AM on 01.28.11
->> Ah Eric, something tells me you're probably not such a bad guy... we just disagree on, well, everything. You apparently never got the memo that I'm always right;-).

Anyway, it's a healthy debate and I'm certain that emerging photographers got more out of reading our back and fourth than they would have gotten out of a single post by either if us preaching our unchallenged opinion... that is if anybody other than us was dumb enough to follow this thread.

Best of luck... But I'm still right ;-)
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Eric Canha, Photographer
Brockton | MA | United States | Posted: 11:59 AM on 01.28.11
->> LOL okay.... and I'll stop comparing you to my ex-wife..... I checked out a photo of you..... you have a better ass anyway.
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John Green, Photographer, Photo Editor
BAY AREA | CA | | Posted: 4:05 PM on 01.28.11
->> remember smalltownusa
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Michael Fischer, Photographer
Spencer | Ia | USA | Posted: 5:00 PM on 01.28.11
->> We all have to make our own business decisions.

I recently had an editor contact me about covering their local team - it's a 70 mile drive and wanted to know if I was "available".

I knew where this was going from the get go but I played along. Asked him all the questions... he seemed annoyed .. he just wanted to know "how much" .. so I told him.

Ahh.. well, I was thinking $25 he told me. I wrote back something like 2 D3 series camera bodies, strobing the gym with 1000 watt Elinchroms and then there was the glass and the time to shoot and edit... for $25? That's $18000 worth of equipment. I told him kindly that I wouldn't even get off the couch for less than $100 and in this case, I wouldn't even bother for that.

I was respectful, but you get the message.

He wrote back and told me "Well, I was hoping $25. I tried" he wrote.

What does that tell you? Just that there will always be someone who will try. You say no .. politely.. but you say "No".

A friend of mine who is a portrait/wedding photographer in STL called me today. His lab person calls GWC's cockroaches.

I said that's one way to look at it. Maybe another way is that cheap GWCs actually expand the market. They provide a service to someone who otherwise wouldn't use a photographer. We all know the results will be crap. A certain percentage of those folks will go no further. They pay for crap and that's what they get.

Then there are those who will want something better next time. There is our opportunity. Find ways to get to them (he uses Groupon).

The other thing the cockroaches do is take the bottom feeders - who cause 80% of your customer service issues out of the market.

Sounds like a win to me.

Focus on those that want a good product at a good price. Develop strategies and tactics to go those customers.

Don't sweat the bottom feeders.

Michael
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Robert Seale, Photographer
Houston | TX | USA | Posted: 5:07 PM on 01.28.11
->> Three tips to a successful (photo)business:

1. Offer a unique value proposition.

2. Ensure that you have a large enough addressable market.

3. Make more money than you spend.
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Eric Canha, Photographer
Brockton | MA | United States | Posted: 7:01 PM on 01.28.11
->> Robert that's the best G.D. summation yet! Love it!
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Mark Loundy, Photo Editor
San Jose | CA | USA | Posted: 9:06 PM on 01.28.11
->> There are worse deals than Patch. See new thread.

--Mark
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Scott Serio, Photo Editor, Photographer
Colora | MD | USA | Posted: 12:22 AM on 01.29.11
->> Speaking of AP....

While I am in the process of deciding if I want to continue with Patch because of the whole rights grab thing, I shot two things for them in the last two weeks before getting that contract agreement paperwork. Still deciding, but I have already been paid via PAYPAL.

AP on the other hand...well...I let them represent an image one of my photographers took that got used all over the World. I counted 150+ usages at the peak. Well, according to them, only one "sale" and the rest are subscribers. So, the compensation will be a pitiance and, from a photo used back in April...
(
http://www.horseplay.ie/news/health-tips/oliver-townend-and-that-rolex-fall...)

STILL NO PAYMENT.

So, you can bash Patch all you want, and maybe they deserve it, but they actually paid, which is more than I can say for AP.
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Louis Lopez, Photographer
Fontana | CA | USA | Posted: 6:11 AM on 01.29.11
->> http://www.sportsshooter.com/message_display.html?tid=37634
https://www.yousendit.com/transfer.php?action=dropbox&dropbox=APYourVideo
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Mark J. Terrill, Photographer
Simi Valley | CA | USA | Posted: 6:44 AM on 01.29.11
->> Scott,

Did you ever follow up and call anyone at AP to ask what the holdup was?
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Scott Serio, Photo Editor, Photographer
Colora | MD | USA | Posted: 8:32 AM on 01.29.11
->> Did I ever follow up??????

Yeah, about 20 emails worth where one person said we had to wait for a Q whatever report, then he passed it off, then another guy, and so on and then an "I'll look into it", followed by more waiting. Basically 20 emails worth, maybe more.

So, it is great to get a "livable rate" from a customer, if they are actually going to pay you, eventually...
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Shirley Pefley, Photographer
Los Altos Hills | CA | USA | Posted: 8:43 PM on 01.29.11
->> As a relatively new member of SS and an aspiring sports photographer, I read a lot of the posts on this, and other, message boards. Let me offer a different view of Patch.

Yes, I shoot for Patch.com. (I can hear all the groans now.) Why?

I get access. AD’s and coaches don’t limit me to the stands, and I get to shoot all types of sports in all types of venues.

I get practice, practice, practice. Prep or High School sports present some of the most difficult lighting challenges out there.

I get paid. Do I make as much as some of you state as your “day rate”? No. But I don’t have your experience, training, talent, reputation either. BTW, I earn more than the $50 rate that is mentioned in these posts. I’d love to get paid more, but I can’t just show up and expect to get top dollar for my work without earning my chops first.

I have learned. I now know how to write a good, solid caption. My keeper rate has soared with the practice and experience. I know how to overcome some of the worst lighting imaginable and produce a useable image.

From where I sit, it’s not “giving in.” I see this as my time in the trenches, my chance to hone my skills and become a better photographer. I don’t expect to work in the trenches forever. I intend to work hard and earn my way to bigger and better pay and opportunities. I may never make it to the major leagues, but we all have to dream and have goals. The best part? I’m having fun!

Are there, downsides? Yes. The rights clauses in the AOL contract are a bit ridiculous, but not much worse than freelancing for the local paper. It’s a price I’m willing to pay at this point in my career. The pay is not going to pay the bills, but nobody starts at the top, we all have to earn our way.

Last year I had the privilege of meeting many great sports photographers at SSA VII. One of them is a guy many of you quote: Rod Mar. I’m trying to do what he suggests: “Make the big time where you are.”

I know I’ve probably just opened Pandora’s box, but felt it was important to offer another view from the trenches.
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Chuck Liddy, Photographer
Durham | NC | USA | Posted: 9:41 PM on 01.29.11
->> mr. rickman, I applaud your post.
but I question the statement "many outlets are going to become sheer, unadulterated crap factories" I'm curious, didn't you mean "have become"?
and debra, love ya to death but lumping all small town PJ's into a barrel as you did was just as wrong as me lumping high school/and event photographers together as I did a few years ago. A lot of small paper folks are quite happy with the freedom AND benefits they get with their jobs. I have to agree with the other posters that giving up all your right forever to an outfit like Patch for $50/$100 is just silly and most likely if you are attempting to start a business in this craft will bite you in the ass down the road. sure, staffers don't own their images at most papers but we can use them for whatever we want for the most part....is it a good deal not owning your images? no. but this is something that was set in motion before many of us were born (yes even me). so let's look at this situation in that respect....has anyone successfully turned that tide? no...and it will NEVER change. so here you have this outfit (and others) who want to pay dirt for a pretty technical job and it's okay? it's not. it can be stopped by serious professionals just sending them the message no. if they want to hire GWC's to shoot their shit that's cool. I don't mind if the high school kid across the street makes $50....I would tell him he was getting screwed but he's NOT a PROFESSIONAL. someone who purports to be a PROFESSIONAL should know better. I think that is what this is all about. okay....back to icing my knee and another percocet....
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Louis Lopez, Photographer
Fontana | CA | USA | Posted: 3:45 AM on 01.30.11
->> Where did the $50.00 rate come from? has anyone actually confirmed that they are paying $50 to cover events for them? Perhaps I overlooked it in the previous posts.
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Debra L Rothenberg, Photographer
New York | NY | USA | Posted: 9:17 AM on 01.30.11
->> I received 6 emails from people who shoot for Patch who said they are making between $75-$100 an assignment and easily have 2-3 per day. They each also said they are working for several editors.
Here is some info on what was sent to me by Patch shooters:
"I've read that Patch makes you sign a contract where you give
> away rights to photos and whatnot.
> This is entirely not true.
> I have NEVER signed a contract or been asked to sign one.
> The only forms I have ever filled out pertained to payment --
> which is extremely fast and well organized compared to other
> clients.
> Considering, I do work for about 5-7 editors, I don't see how
> there is such a contract when NONE of them have mentioned it.
> Maybe it's only in certain parts of the USA, who knows. I find that
> hard to believe, however. Maybe it's just an internet rumor.
> Again, who knows.
> Also, I've shot a lot of HS sports for Patch and I've been able to
> sell my photos to parents, schools, etc.
> It's great because people can email the photographer directly
> from the site. So Patch has helped me gain additional income.
They let me pitch my own ideas easily, are quick with payment
> and give me the work I need. I have even been told by several
> editors that whenever I want to shoot an assignment even if it's
> something we haven't discussed they are totally down as long as
> I mention it to them beforehand.
Like you said a lot of staffers at small papers don't get paid
> much.
> A friend of mine just got a job at a 9,000 circulation paper, 1
> hour from xxxxx (a large city), where she gets paid 24G a year.
> Not only does she shoot photos, but shoots video and also writes
> stories. Occasionally, she does 2 of the 3 elements at the same
> time.
> All that work for 24G sucks.
>
> In fact, another journalist friend of mine makes 30G
> at a 50,000 circ).
Additionally, while my friend's paper does allow her to use
> company equipment most of it is years old -- D200, D1H, etc."

Again..I am NOT defending Patch...I didn't even know they existed until this thread. But I do have friends who are freelancing for papers and they are making $150-200 per DAY for large dailies (and doesn't AP pay $200?) so it would seem Patch pays more. As we all know, shooting for papers is the lowest on the pay scale too, isn't it?
And as Shirley stated above, she and the people who emailed me are all using this experience shooting for Patch as their "internship" so to speak.
When I graduated college, I was beyond awful (and as I have said here many times before, was repeatedly told by a college professor "you stink, you're never going to make it, find a new career") and I found a photo editor willing to take a chance on me because he said "you are hungry and have so much drive, and are willing to relocate 300 miles from your home to a small town where you know no one, so I know you are going to work hard and learn." Without him taking that chance and teaching me, I may have had no choice but to go to someplace like Patch back then (but I have a feeling their photographers are way better than I was back then). This first job was my "internship" even though it wasn't.
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Chuck Liddy, Photographer
Durham | NC | USA | Posted: 11:33 AM on 01.30.11
->> deb, no one has ever said you're going to get rich shooting for newspapers. that is a cold hard fact. most of the PJ's working for newspapers know this but have a passion for what they do. it's more of the "public service or the greater good" kind of thing. wanna get rich? be a paparazzi, stalk celebrities, sell of photo of lindsay lohan in her undies or without her undies. IF you THINK you're going to make your fortune being a newspaper photographer at WHATEVER level you are somewhat more than misinformed. this is one of the problems with what they teach (or don't teach) kids in J school classes. sure we would all like to make more money but I think smacking down newspaper photographers for the pay we get no matter what size or income bracket is way off base and doesn't have a hell of a lot to do with this argument. and I have to ask, the person who emailed you saying they never signed any agreement....did they look at the fine print on the back of the check? I remember AP checks (before there were contracts) had very small print on the back which said something to the effect "by endorsing this check you assign all rights to the Associated Press". so in fact by signing the check you are signing away your rights. and the bottom line of this argument doesn't come down to photographers "starving" out there. the bottom line is it comes down to people undervaluing THEIR work which in turn hurts EVERYONE else. of course, I'm sure this argument will still be going on when I'm dead because there will always be those hobbyists and GWC's who have full time jobs who are more than happy to give their "work" away and devalue the market. why should they care? they have full time jobs with benefits and heck they might get a 1"x1" photo on ESPN.com for 30 minutes.
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Michael Fischer, Photographer
Spencer | Ia | USA | Posted: 12:25 PM on 01.30.11
->> Ultimately, what you read on this thread is just the way Adam Smith essentially designed our economic system.

It's clear that those with less experience are using Patch to gain experience, get paid something, and hopefully move up the economic food chain. Put another way, our calls not to sell yourself short are well intention, but the economic reality is that if you have 10, 20, 30 years experience you will have a body of work to justify a higher price. The problem is thata client may or may not value the experience - the first time.

It's unrealistic to expect that calls to have everyone charge "enough" is not going to work because at the end of the day, there will always be GWCs, cockroaches, whatever you want to call them that will put pricing pressure on the market. People do what is in what they perceive to be their economic best interests.

What can we do? The single best thing is to encourage those that have worked their way up in terms of the quality of their work to raise their prices. Typically this will happen anyway, but mentoring, encouraging and providing positive input will help. You remember when you started out that getting paid anything was "GREAT" - it's only when you made the decision to really be professional that getting paid anything lost it's allure.

It's arrogant to think that we can control what the bottom of the market will charge and it's unrealistic. Our best strategy is to educate the ones with potential and get them to learn good business practices and leave the untalented ones who produce dreck providing dreck to the bottom feeders.

MRF
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Chuck Liddy, Photographer
Durham | NC | USA | Posted: 1:22 PM on 01.30.11
->> Well said Michael.
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Jon Wright, Photographer
Wayzata | MN | USA | Posted: 3:14 PM on 01.30.11
->> My opinion, for what it's worth is that the assumption that anyone that takes a lower paying assignment is a young roach or guy with camera is very picturesque, but not very accurate. There happens to be a real supply/demand issue going on here and some very talented photographers of all ages sometimes take on lesser jobs. I'm over sixty years old and have had a great career doing what I love to do. Some of my projects pay very well, others don't. Part of my success has come from simply staying busy, being visible in the community and being very diverse. If anyone would like to supplement my bank account I'll stay away from anything less than stellar opportunities. I would not tell any of you what kind of work to accept. If it works for you - just do it. The photographers that whine about bottom feeder projects are apparently competing for those same opportunities, they just want to be paid more for them. My advice is to use your higher skill level to rise above all that. If you are truly talented these people aren't taking work from you.
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Mike Anzaldi, Photographer
Oak Park | IL | USA | Posted: 5:52 PM on 01.30.11
->> i'm with jon on this one. anytime i can disagree with chuck in order to bust his balls, i'm all for it ;)

it's really difficult to argue with someone who believes they are simply doing what they have to do. that's what it boils down to. people have to do what they have to do. if they survive, then maybe they weren't all that wrong. when they don't, then they are no longer here on SS for anyone to say "i told you so."

i get a kick out of people who think they are going to modify other people's behavior by saying "no." the movement here on SS to assemble as a group and refuse low assignment rates is very well intended. the problem? these editors aren't listening. the $50 rate is going nowhere. there are plenty of folks out there capable and willing to shoot for that, and plenty of photo budgets that don't allow for any more. when you're good enough or busy enough to walk past the $50 table, then move along. i see little use in hanging around that same table to tell others they are wrong for feeding there.

i used to carry golf bags as a kid. the rate for a "B" caddy was $15. the rate for an "honor" caddy was $35. many guys wouldn't take a member's bag who would pay less than $100. for them, it wasn't worth it. if one of those $100 pool of members didn't show up to play golf, then maybe those best caddies chose not to go out. at the club i worked, there were a dozen or so caddies that were good enough at their job to be able to pick their bag. but, if there were no $100 bags on that morning tee-time sheet, then it's decision time. work for less, wait around for some money to show up, or go home. what was never an option was trying to tell the young, inexperienced "B" caddies to refuse those bags at $15.

i don't know why were talking about $50 specifically. based on some of the arguments being made, anything less than $250 is probably not worth it if you're making a living and have the expenses of a fully-geared freelancer.

the fact that there is a market at $50 is nobody's fault. it just is.
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EJ Hersom, Photographer, Photo Editor
Sanford | ME | USA | Posted: 10:19 PM on 01.30.11
->> Would I, as a so accurately described newspaper PJ at the almost accurate payscale described (you can't afford insurance, car payment, and 401k or anything much on 27k unless you have a middle-income spouse, live with your parents or have several roommates if you have any clue whatsoever how math in the real world really works), do an assignment for 50 bucks? Sure, if it was within five miles and took less than an hour of my time including processing time, and if contractually I could withhold any images of my choice for my purposes. You get what you pay for no matter who is performing the work. Let's be honest, if I capture a shot that's highly marketable in the process, I would hold it back if that's possible under the terms of the contract. If I couldn't, then I wouldn't waste my time even at my payscale. If so, the purchaser would get good quality photos well above what the local mom could produce and there would be no stress on my part. I perform no stress, simplistic shoots that meet that simple requirement for $50 an hour often. There's a difference between being a photojournalist and a being a whore after all.
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Eric Canha, Photographer
Brockton | MA | United States | Posted: 8:50 AM on 01.31.11
->> EJ you may want to seriously reconsider your post. As an employer what I read is that you would accept an offer from me for a job and then perform up to the level that you associate with the pay grade as opposed to the best job you can do. I seriously doubt that that is a position you want to take openly or otherwise. ESPECIALLY here of all places.

If you don't want to work to your highest standard for EVERY employer that you accept work, from you should simply NOT TAKE the lower paying jobs rather than to go into a gig with the mindset that it's a $50 (or whatever your lowball number is) gig and as such you will turn in something commensurate with a $50 job AND that if something really big happens while you are on the shoot that you will hold that back. I think that you may find that to be an EXTREMELY self limiting philosophy.

And the bigger difference is that whores don't waste time on whoring websites arguing over what to charge for their services or lamenting that the girl next door is giving it away to the neighborhood for free.
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Butch Miller, Photographer
Lock Haven | PA | USA | Posted: 8:54 AM on 01.31.11
->> So what is Patch? Is there a definitive rate scale and contract? Or is it a carte blanche free-for-all based upon the individual editors? ...

It's really difficult to offer an opinion/advice when the target is in perpetual motion, shifting and under constant metamorphosis ...

I've said before ... in many small town markets, $50 for a simple assignment that could be carried in in a couple of hours isn't necessarily a low-ball price ... but a rights grab for the entire shoot definitely is ...

So which is Patch? ... Is it the contract that portions of were shared in the previous thread? ... Is this an isolated incident imposed by the individual editor without the auspices of AOL? ... or is it the wide open life saver opportunity that will pay your car payment and allow full open use of your images that has been shared in this thread, granted by the luck of the draw?

When the details are this diametrically opposed, it can raise doubts about the legitimacy of the info shared about Patch thus far. I find it difficult that AOL would dole out money to the local editors and not have a definitive manner in which they are allowed to operate and conduct business across the board.
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