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Portions of this column were originally written for the November 2013 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.

November 2013, Volume 124
By Mark Loundy

"The farsighted know an opportunity when they see one That the nearsighted overlook right under their noses."

— Arthur Tugman

The word used most often is, "shortsighted." That's the most common response to a Pew Research study showing that photographers are suffering a disproportionate share of newsroom cuts. Other, less insightful, words have been "ouch" and "ugh."

When in doubt, punt The days of photo staffs being "trimmed" may be going out of fashion in favor of entire staffs being amputated a la the Chicago Sun-Times and the Middletown Times Herald Record, both of which eliminated their photo staffs earlier this year.

One of the formerly great newspapers of the southeast, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution is following the pattern of many others and slashing its 11-person photo staff by nearly half. According to a story by Poynter, five shooters and one editor will either accept buy-out offers or be laid off. As if management has discovered video as something new, the remaining five shooters will be reclassified as "multimedia journalists."

Traditionally, photographers have been like punters on a football team — a part of the team, but off to the side, doing things nobody really understands. That makes them "different" from the more familiar word-based staffers and therefore, easier to cut. It's also never helped that photojournalism appears easy to do.

For decades, photo staffs have needed to integrate themselves, not only into the newsroom, but also into newsroom leadership. But it might be too late to imprint their value on decision makers. Terrified, compulsively nostalgic and myopic publishers, desperate for ideas to slow the bleeding of red ink, tend to follow their peers. So look for further photo department eliminations.

Photographers are in the accounting department's crosshairs and it is critical that they educate their leaders about the inevitable counterproductive results of crowdsourced visuals. They need to understand the complexity and professionalism required for effective images.

The concept of staff photographer is now officially hanging by a slim and rapidly unraveling thread.

The Good
Bullet I'm starting to get depressed here. Throw me a bone.

The Bad
Bullet The "director/actor/writer/comedian" who was looking for a photographer to capture his "comedic film persona" for $10 and a "possible" photo credit. Yeah, absolutely hilarious.

The Ugly
Bullet Nikon "Inspiration" contest. Rights grab. This would have been a "Bad," but it's from Nikon — a company long associated with photojournalism.

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.

  • If you like taking cheap shots at stock images, then is for you. Caveat: Some NSFW.
  • Last month it was a plastic surgeon, this month, it's about a photomicrography specialist winning big in a copyright infringements case. According to Photo Attorney Carolyn E. Wright, photographer Andrew Paul Leonard scored a huge judgment even though he failed to register the copyright to his images. A jury awarded Leonard $1.6 million in actual damages. It will be interesting to see the size of the check he eventually receives.
  • The three-year legal journey of Daniel has finally wound to a conclusion. Morel was awarded $1.2 million in his fight against AFP, Getty and others for copyright infringement. I'm assuming that the check will clear.
  • If you've got a spare 1:48, got to listen to Greg Heisler's say, "Heisler schmeisler" as he explains why your portfolio is the least of why you get hired. It's all about relationships.