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Shooting for a schools Athletic Department
David Dennis, Photographer
Bakersfield | Ca | US | Posted: 4:17 PM on 11.04.17
->> I have a question for those of you that freelance for a schools Athletic department. Do you allow the school to re distribute the images that you provide them for free to who ever requests them? Or do you have an agreement with them that they will redirect any requests from media sources to you?

I have made this re quest with a school here locally and I am wondering if this is typical or if I am over thinking things. The school seems to be ok with it right now. And with the sports season just beginning I'm not sure if it will hurt me with the school yet since they have several other freelancers they use. But I'm curious as to what others do that shoot for schools Athletic departments in regards to photo distribution.
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Doug Pizac, Photographer
Sandy | UT | USA | Posted: 9:10 PM on 11.04.17
->> Are you a hobbyist who has a full-time job that pays your bills and you don't mind undercutting the livelihoods of pro photographers, or are you a pro photographer who wants to see our beloved industry grow versus whither? While photography is creative, provides fulfillment, is fun, etc., it is still a BUSINESS just like medicine is to doctors, law is to attorneys, pipes to plumbers, wiring to electricians, etc.

In no way do I mean to be condescending, but why are on earth would one give their pictures away for FREE to an entity capable of paying for them so they can use the images to promote their programs? Providing pictures to a newspaper directly is editorial usage. Providing pictures to a entity that distributes them as PR handouts constitutes commercial use which is the big bucks side of the photography "business." There is a huge difference between those who literally have no money and those that have budgets but "choose" not to spend anything for photography because they think they can get freebies from naïve people or use access to events as leverage (which might be viewed as extortion).

You say the school is "ok with it right now." Okay with what? You gave two scenarios -- them giving out handouts to distribute and them directing requests to you.

Do you have a contract with the school where they are PAYING you for your services or are you giving the school your imagery for free? Either way, whatever rights you provide has to be in writing for your own protection even if they aren't paying you . Otherwise you're opening up yourself to being exploited and becoming known as a freebie photographer where it will be extremely difficult for you to charge others a sustainable rate for your work. Why should I pay you now when you did it for them for free?

When my son was in high school he was a top athlete and captain on its swim team. They asked me to do the team portrait for their poster. I did it for free because he was involved and they gave me great freedom to do creative thinking with the condition that all other usages had to be paid for. I made some money with prints and when the school yearbook wanted to publish it they paid me a usage fee. That freebie caught the attention of other sports at the school and they asked me if I could do pictures for them. I said yes, for payment. So in this case my generosity paid in different ways -- from the advertising the school sold to vendors who got their names on the posters as sponsors. While the school did not have a budget or money to pay for my services directly, they did have monies generated by outside supporters through the booster club. So don't fall for the no-budget ploy. There is money; you just need to find out who has it.

The most powerful negotiating word in existence is "no" which means you need to realize and accept that there are times when you need to walk away because the deal makes no business sense from your standpoint. Now, if you're no better than other photographers who have no problem in giving away pictures then you're screwed. However, if you have the talent and ability to provide imagery above and beyond the competition, then your "no" has clout. And that's the key. You need to be able to provide the type of photography that the school cannot overlook or get elsewhere for little to no money. And that can be through terrific lighting, use of remotes, capturing peak action, superb technical quality such as Canon 5D Mark IV versus Rebel, etc.

Also, when dealing with schools whether they be high school or college, it is important that perpetual use is NOT agreed to. Usage needs to be limited to however long the student is enrolled in the school. Why? Because while 99% of those athletes may never make it big, for those one percenters who do go on to greatness pictures of them during their early years will have much greater value later on when their lives are written about by ESPN, SI, etc. and there are books done about them.

There is also another thing you need to keep in mind when asked to provide free or heavily discounted imagery for the benefit of individual athletes. It could get the kids in trouble with the NCAA if they go to college as they are forbidden from accepting gifts or money -- boosters supplying free automobiles, paying them for jobs they don't work, etc. The last thing you want to be connected to is an athlete losing his/her eligibility due to gifting. Thus the reason for contracts that spell everything out.
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David Dennis, Photographer
Bakersfield | Ca | US | Posted: 2:34 PM on 11.05.17
->> I am not shooting for Free. I am hired by the SID to cover games for the college for a fee. I refuse to work with the local paper because they are doing a rights grab from the local freelancers with no guarantee of payment. This came up because I have an agreement with the SID that if media such as papers and other came looking for images that they be sent to me. The college was free to use the images internally as they needed to. The local paper went to the college looking to get game photos sent to them for a game last night to use in an article in the sports section and the school directed them to me. This would normally be covered by a staffer or Freelancer but they claimed no one was available. I think they wanted photos but since it was an exhibition game they didn't want to pay a freelancer and were hoping to get freebies. I told the person from the paper I could shoot for them on assignment but I refused to sign their Freelance Agreement. They declined my offer.

And so thats what prompted me to look at when shooting for an SID were do the lines get drawn on photo distribution for the SID. I'm sure responses as to were the lines get drawn will be all over the place. What I don't want to have happen is to be seen as a pain by the SID because he can't do his job because of the restrictions I put on Photo restrictions and I don't want to be so carefree that I'm being taken advantage of. This started some dialog with the SID, and he said he could careless about getting images to the paper on a deadline. That if they needed deadline photos they could send a photographer. But this still brought up for me the whole topic of what is expectable distribution for SIDs to help promote the school.
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Doug Pizac, Photographer
Sandy | UT | USA | Posted: 6:39 PM on 11.05.17
->> Sounds like you've done everything right. Kudos.

I've never had a problem with SIDs in keeping the usage terms strictly for their school. I tie those restrictions to them getting my pictures at a good price that fits within their budget. But if they want to pay for usage by third-parties who want freebies, I would be more than happy to triple my rate to the school. When posed with that option all of them want nothing to do with paying for other people's needs. Money is a far better convincer than morals and ethics.

As to promoting the school with your pictures, that needs to be tied to their own releases/stories that they generate for their own PR needs. Being the supplier of imagery for those who want to circumvent their own budgets is not in the best interest of the school which should be your tactic with the SID. What would happen if they supplied your photo to a media outlet who was doing a story about the athlete's drug abuse?

Suggest to the SID that they follow AP's "contributor" agreement when they distribute handout photos. When HO photos are transmitted (versus staff/stringer pix), this wording goes with the photo: AP PROVIDES ACCESS TO THIS THIRD PARTY PHOTO SOLELY TO ILLUSTRATE NEWS REPORTING OR COMMENTARY ON FACTS DEPICTED IN IMAGE; MUST BE USED WITHIN 14 DAYS FROM TRANSMISSION; NO ARCHIVING; NO LICENSING; MANDATORY CREDIT

With this stipulation anyone using your SID distributed photo for a story beyond its intended release usage would be in violation. Emphasize that this doesn't just protect your ownership rights, but more importantly it protects the SCHOOL from non-authorized uses. That's a big selling point for having the school be your protector too.
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Dennis Montgomery, Photographer, Assistant
Ogden | UT | United States | Posted: 6:51 PM on 11.30.17
->> That little gem regarding the AP contributor agreement alone was worth the $25 annual charge for being a Sportsshooter member.

Thanks Doug.
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Thread Title: Shooting for a schools Athletic Department
Thread Started By: David Dennis
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