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Jim Sugar

Trailer for "Every 15 Minutes"

Member Firms To Do Away with Unpaid Internships, Start Paying Student Workers

NPPA Business Blitz

Photographers Hiring Help - New vs. Old (school)

5 Tips For Avoiding The Rights Grab

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Small Business Administration

NPPA Online Discussion Group Instructions

Portions of this column were originally written for the May 2011 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 2011, Volume 102
By Mark Loundy

"There are three ingredients to the good life; learning, earning, and yearning."

— Christopher Morley

I admit it. I did a project for free. But I only did it because it scored three points out of a possible three.

Rule of 3It's Jim Sugar who came up with the idea that there are only three reasons to do any job: Work for the money. Work for the people. Work for the job. He calls it The Rule of Three. Each rule is valued between one and three and a potential job must score a minimum of two to be accepted. Scoring is done with your gut.

The Rule of Three

1. Work for the money
You have to meet your Cost of Doing Business. More scores higher.

2. Work for the people
There are some fabulous, friendly and talented people out there. There are also the other kind.

3. Work for the job
Sometimes it's shooting the President skydiving out of a B-17 into the Super Bowl. Sometimes it's corporate headshots.

Jim asked me to be the associate producer for a short film he was working on. In hindsight, the project was a perfect three. Here's the breakdown:

1. Pay: zero.
0 points

2. Working closely with Jim, who is a good friend and former Magazine Photographer of the Year for his work at "National Geographic," Pulitzer Prize winner Kim Komenich along with a crew of talented and knowledgeable people.
1.5 points

3. Creating an anti-drunk-driving video for high school students with the participation of fire, police, Highway Patrol, professional make-up artists, a helicopter and a bunch of cool Apple computers and software as part of the national "Every 15 Minutes" project.
1.5 points

Jim's RO3 is an excellent tool to help decide which projects to accept and which to give a pass. It's not just about money. It's only 33% about money.

The Good
Bullet The Royal Institute of British Architects for requiring its members to eliminate unpaid internships and pay their student workers. They might not be photogs, but it'll do.

The Bad
Bullet Design Bureau Magazine (and other so-called "labors of love") for soliciting assignments from photographers and offering zero compensation.

The Ugly
Bullet Dow Jones, the publisher of the Wall Street Journal, for abandoning its classy roots and demanding a non-negotiable nearly-all-rights contract.

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.

  • Echoing its venerable Flying Short Course, the NPPA is launching a traveling series of business workshops. The Business Blitz will hit five US cites between June and November this year. At $10 for NPPA members and $20 for non-members, it's a must-attend if you're anywhere near one of the stops.
  • I don't buy the idea that not paying vs. paying interns is a matter of "Old School vs. New School." But Rob Haggart, writing as A Photo Editor, does think that Steve McCurry and Vince LaForet's recent ads for an intern are a battle of generational practices. McCurry doesn't pay his interns and LaForet does. Guess which one I think is doing the right thing? (Regardless of the "school" they attend.)
  • Intellectual property attorney and pro photographer Samuel Lewis penned a great piece for Digital Photo Pro magazine. In his "5 Tips For Avoiding The Rights Grab," he talks about the many nefarious schemes designed to separate you from your money. #5 is "Decide If The Rights Are Worth The Money, Or Walk."
    Has Lewis been talking to Jim Sugar?