Follow Mark on Twitter
Author Looking For Free Images
Hard times hit the Spokesman-Recorder
The Indianapolis Star Wants It All
The Tallassee Democrat Wants You!
WashPost Interns Make $44k Yearly
NPPA Independent Photographers Toolkit
Advertising Photographers of America Business Manual
Common Cents Column On The Cost of Doing Business
Small Business Administration
NPPA Online Discussion Group Instructions
Portions of this column were originally written for the September 2009 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.
September 2009, Volume 83
By Mark Loundy
"The most remarkable thing about my mother is that for thirty years she served the family nothing but leftovers. The original meal has never been found."
— Calvin Trillin (1935 -)
Sometimes the Leftovers take on a life of their own. This month, they've taken over nearly the whole column.
Not a one.
Would you like to risk your life and your equipment covering hurricanes in the Florida panhandle? Would you like to do it for free? If so, the Tallahassee Democrat is offering its readers the chance to do just that. Oh, you do get a chance to see your name in the paper. Goody.
The Indianapolis Star for its travel photo contest. Buried deep in the submission process is a page that extends far beyond travel and encompasses what appears to be an organized general citizen journalism program that takes all rights and pays nothing to the contributors.
When corporations get too complicated: A photographer I know was recently asked by IBM to use one of his images for their corporate blog. At first, they wanted the photo for free but offered a credit line. When the photographer quoted the company a very reasonable rate of $100 for a year's license, the IBM rep declined. The rep said he didn't want to face what would have been a nightmare of internal corporate bureaucracy for him to create a purchase order so the photographer could get paid. Sigh.
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.
Even niche publications are taking it on the chin. The Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder, a four-decade-old African-American daily, has seen its sales plunge between 50 and 60 percent. According to David Brauer, blogging for MinnPost.com, the paper's freelance contributors have been told that they would no longer be paid — although they could continue to work for free. Interestingly, MinnPost.com is a 501(c)(3) non-profit supported by ads and by reader contributions.
Author Scott Berkun is soliciting free images for his upcoming book. He posted five reasons that photographers should donate to him:
- exposure for your work — possibly tens of thousands of people will see your photo
- A professional photo credit you can use in your portfolio
- A free copy of the book for you and or the photographer
- The fun of this experiment (you already have the photo)
- If you're a fan, to feel that you've helped with the book
I posted the following on his blog in early August. So far he has not made it publicly visible:
It's a long-standing tradition for unestablished artists, writers, and even designers to work for smaller, lower-paying markets. That is far different from supporting a commercial venture with free work.
Famed freelance war photographer James Nachtwey is looking for a an intern to perform tasks that are "...vital to the running of very busy and small studio." However, even though the Washington Post manages to pay its interns more than 44k per year, Nachtwey has opted to not pay his interns even minimum wage — or anything at all. Nachtwey was on assignment when this column was written and was not available to comment.
- "Exposure" is essentially without value in a marketplace where so many outlets are looking for free images.
- Picture buyers couldn't care less about credits. They want to see compelling images.
- Just how much are you selling this book for if a copy of it would offset a reasonable image-licensing fee?
- To quote Ross Poirot, "Now that's just sad."