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Portions of this column were originally written for the May 2010 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.

May 2010, Volume 91
By Mark Loundy

"Skill without imagination is craftsmanship and gives us many useful objects such as wickerwork picnic baskets. Imagination without skill gives us modern art."

— Tom Stoppard

More than a decade ago, Roberto Herrera came to San Jose, California from his native Chile. He was a skilled boot maker like his father. His shoe repair store replaced the usual broken heels, and stocked laces, brushes and polish, but he crafted boots for the love it. He used his hands, the ancient machines that nobody made anymore and the skills his father taught him.

CraftsmanshipThe boot maker still plies his craft for the love of it, accepting no more than 40 orders a year. He also charges between $1500 and $5000 per pair.

As a photographer, you can sell a mass-market product at a low price, or you can target those who are looking for quality and are willing to pay for it.

Do it for the love of it, but charge for the craftsmanship.

The Good
Bullet An attaboy to California photographer Lee Corkett for not taking "all rights, no compensation" for an offer from a client recently. Lee countered and came to a reasonable agreement with the client.

The Bad
Bullet The National Funeral Directors Association, publishers of The Director for their work for hire contract. The NFDA is dead to me.
Bullet Guideposts magazine, for out-and-out refusing to negotiate their contract.
Bullet Cole Publishing: $350 for all rights for assigned photography.

The Ugly
Bullet Travel publisher Frommer's for their $70-per-image-for-all-rights rates and for their new rights-grabbing photo contest. Take a hike Frommer's!
Bullet The New South Wales newspaper the Hawkesbury Gazette for offering AUS$24 (that's Australian dollars) per hour for freelance work.
Bullet The National Association of Broadcasters for demanding that all images taken by attendees to the NAB convention are the property of the NAB.

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.

  • The New York Times reports that the federal Labor Department is cracking down on companies that improperly fail to pay interns. Do you know anybody whose had an experience like that? (sigh)
  • When Current TV used one of photographer Ken Light's images without permission, Photo District News wrote that Light sued and won a judgment off $500 in Small Claims court. Current TV has appealed to Superior Court where their attorneys are probably costing them more than that per hour.
  • The ASMP and several co-plaintiffs have filed a class-action suit against Google for excluding visual works from consideration for payment in connection with the Google Library Project. If you've ever had an image published, you are potentially part of the class. The amount sought is $180,000 per image — which theoretically equates to a number so huge that even Google has to take it seriously.
  • Sports photographer extraordinaire Brad Mangin notes on the SportsShooter message board that Getty Images is now hawking photos for as little as 33 cents per image.
    It looks like Getty has realized that the market didn't have any corners so they're basing part of their business model on the distribution of commodity images. What else can they do? They've so successfully driven the market down that what they own is now virtually valueless.