Portions of this column were originally written for the February 2007 edition of News Photographer Magazine.
Mark Loundy is a media producer and consultant based in San Jose, California. Full bio.
The opinions in this article are those of the author alone and do not necessarily represent the official views of the National Press Photographers Association.
February 2007, Volume 54
By Mark Loundy
"When anyone asks me how I can best describe my experience in nearly forty years at sea, I merely say, uneventful. Of course there have been winter gales, and storms and fog and the like. But in all my experience, I have never been in any accident... or any sort worth speaking about. I have seen but one vessel in distress in all my years at sea. I never saw a wreck and never have been wrecked nor was I ever in any predicament that threatened to end in disaster of any sort."
Are you warm and cozy in a staff job taking bad-contract freelance jobs in your spare time for fun money? You may want to put on some financial long johns. It's going to be a cold winter for some folks at the Philadelphia Inquirer and other papers where staff reductions continue to snowball.
More and more we see that there simply is no such thing as job security. My old hometown paper the Los Angeles Times used to be known as the "velvet coffin" because once staffers could essentially disappear there yet still collect a paycheck until they reached retirement age. Then the family that owned the Times decided that they wanted to cash-out and they sold it to the Tribune Company. Buyouts and even layoffs soon followed.
This is why staff photographers who shoot the occasional freelance job and think nothing of signing Work For Hire contracts need to get their business practices in order before their mortgage payment depends on it. Don't think that you'll be able to raise your rates or start insisting on retaining your rights with existing clients just because you suddenly have to pay for your own gear and office supplies.
Now is the time to determine your Cost of Doing Business and start being a grown-up about paperwork. If you wait until after you become a victim of the beancounters it will be a cold day indeed.
Please let me know of any particularly good, bad or ugly dealings that you have had with clients recently. I will use the client's name, but I won't use your name if you don't want me to. Anonymous submissions will not be considered. Please include contact information for yourself and for the client.Leftovers
"7. Assuming and accepting that if you are told something is 'standard', it is, and can not be negotiated or changed;
"10. Taking all definitive professional advice from government employees, photographers or reps never from lawyers or accountants."
You rock, Ed.
(If you read the dead-tree version of Common Cents, please note that Ed and Carolyn work for different law firms.)
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