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Old Oct 11, 2009, 8:01 AM   #21
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WOW!

After reading all that I can see already whats going on not just in the states but my local companies too.

In my current situation I am shooting for a local magazine that is run by a friend. I have signed legal documents to ensure Im protected and so are my photos at all time. Sure ATM I am giving my photos away for free and for a good cause because the mag has just started and come 2 years down the track we will sit down and discuss payment terms. By then the magazine would have completed 10 issues and hopefully we will see where we are actually headed as a team.

As for others the local newspaper they asked to print some of my photos. NOT ONCE did I see their photographer there for the whole weekend YET they were not offering to pay me as I was not a Pro nor if they sold my photos onwards would I get any profit... The editor said "Sorry mate we dont pay hobby goers like yourself" I told him "Well sorry I dont hand it out for free if you cant afford your own blokes to be there".

Hasnt lost me any love with the papers... actually its grown into some respect and from others around me who are also in the game some respect from them as well.

John I respect your decision from someone about to enter the business and others out there trying to make an honest dollar and keep the market flowing comfortably for all the photographers out there.
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Old Oct 11, 2009, 10:39 AM   #22
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In my current situation I am shooting for a local magazine that is run by a friend. I have signed legal documents to ensure Im protected and so are my photos at all time. Sure ATM I am giving my photos away for free and for a good cause because the mag has just started and come 2 years down the track we will sit down and discuss payment terms. By then the magazine would have completed 10 issues and hopefully we will see where we are actually headed as a team.
Kronnic,

First, thank you for posting and recognizing the importance of my decision. But, if I get your post correct - you are providing free labor and product for 2 years and THEN you'll talk about getting paid? Are you a partner in the business? Is that part of the business documents? If all you get at the end of 2 years is the opportunity to start getting paid as a photographer but your friend has a viable business I'd hardly call that a good business decision. He gets a business, built in part on your hard work and your product. And then you can be paid as a photographer? Hopefully I misread and you get a cut of the business and that is already spelled out in legal documents. Otherwise, my friend, when your 'good friend' is making enough money to pay photographers you may find yourself out of a job. If he can hire a better photog at that time he will - that's a smart business decision. At least if you were working as an intern with a paper you'd have the benefit of working with pro photojournalists so you'd be getting educated. A 'press pass' isn't the same as education. Practice is important but it doesn't help you get better like professional mentors will. Again, I hope I'm wrong and you already have a legal document guaranteeing you a piece of the pie at the end of 2 years and not just a promise of a job. Good luck my friend!

edit: Just wanted to clarify - the comment about your friend hiring another photog instead of you is NOT meant as a criticism of you or your ability. Just that at that time if there's another photog with 20 years experience recently laid off, tht guy will have the edge on you. In my area there were several extremely good photogs who lost their jobs at papers in the last year - better than I am and with a lot more experience. So if I had to compete with them for a job, I'd likely lose.

Last edited by JohnG; Oct 11, 2009 at 10:53 AM.
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Old Oct 12, 2009, 6:56 AM   #23
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John...

It is hard to describe exactly but you last statement is correct... at the end of 2 years I get a piece of the pie... I also get training and currently Im cruising around with 2 pro's that I have been set up with to teach me some things and point me in the right direction. Sadly they are both Nikon boys...

Either way no free work just hard work for me, build up a magazine and then after 2 years go from there. At the moment there is no money in the mag everyone is just helping to get it all cranking.

Thanks again and good luck.

Matt
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Old Oct 14, 2009, 8:19 AM   #24
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I also get training and currently Im cruising around with 2 pro's that I have been set up with to teach me some things and point me in the right direction. Sadly they are both Nikon boys...
2 Pros are 'Nikon Boys' and its sad? You *DO* have a lot to learn.
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Old Oct 14, 2009, 8:31 AM   #25
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Hi John,

I just wanted to jump in here and add a few comments. I am wondering if much of the challenge of earning money in sports photography is more about changes in the economics and advances in technology. With film most people could not afford to take pictures of all there friendís kids and pass out the images. People now have the perception that digital photography does not cost anything but forget what quality equipment costs and donít realize the time to it takes to manage the images.

News papers and magazines face pretty tough times these days as well. People want to read it on the internet and wonít pay to do it, after all the perception is that the internet is free too.

With the price of equipment now with in the reach of many parents I think one of the driving factors that drives the hand out for free behavior is wanting to share their images so others can see them too. At some point it feels a little pointless to take great photos that no one else ever sees. The time and effort to sell images is more than most people want to deal with.

I really respect you commitment to earning a fair price for your work. Based on your feed back, I have set up my own website to make my photos available to purchase. I have not made much of an effort to market the site as I try to get to improve the quality of my work, but have still managed to sell a few images.

I seriously doubt that there is much anyone can do to change the current economic challenges that sports photographers face. I think the question becomes how to set your self apart from the next guy that is handing out the stuff for free. Your work is clearly a stop above and I think you did the right thing standing your ground.

Tom
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Old Oct 14, 2009, 8:56 AM   #26
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Tom,

Without a doubt you've got things correct with regards to local photography and parents. BUT, with regards to publications I disagree. There's a big difference in price stagnation or reduction to go in-line with declining revenue. My main job is as a Business Analyst in IT. I get it. But, what they seek to do is take advantage of the serious hobbyists by offering up assignments at drastically less than going rate. What if I told you that the offer amounted to about 20% of the going rate? And, talk to any freelance photograpers out there - they're not making six figure salaries. Similarly other operations try to take advantage too. There's one organization that sells stock sports photography. The want pro shooters. You buy the $15,000 in equipment, you learn how to do it. They give you a media pass but they don't pay you - you get payed stock rates as images sell. The lure is "wow, I can get on an NCAA sideline - cool". So people do it. Problem is - in most cases they won't even make enough money to offset gear and travel expenses. Much less a real salary.

You are absolutely right - it's almost unstoppable. You can't prevent the hobbyist who doesn't need money from doing something like this when the sideline pass is payment enough for them. They don't care. But, hopefully there is a segment of people that will say "you know I enjoy shooting sports but there are plenty of opportunities to do so without taking money from someone else". By the way - I have no issues with competition. If your a hobbyist and some outfit loves your work enough to pay you a going rate over a full time pro. More power to you. Competition is good. But only when the playing field is level. If going rate is $600 for something and a hobbyist is willing to do it for free - it's tough for a pro to compete with that.

For my part I've drastically cut down my sports shooting for the reason you allude to - moms & dads with good gear giving away photos. That mom or dad goes to every game. Parents get thousands of shots of their kids for free. Are mine better? Absolutely. But the shear volume of the other shots means they get a number that are good enough they don't want to buy. So you have to find people that aren't interested in just 'good enough'. The challenge is doing so in the least amount of time. If you're trying to make money sports shooting - every now and then stop and calculate your hourly salary for time spent on-site and processing against sales. For this reason I no longer shoot on spec (stands for on speculation) - where I cover an event and put up photos in hopes of making sales. It's guaranteed money or I don't shoot.
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Old Oct 14, 2009, 9:48 AM   #27
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Hi John,

My comment on publications was not intended to rationalize the trend of undercutting professional photographers by getting some one else to do the work for next to nothing. It was more to point out that technology advances change the way our world operates. Why pay to have the paper deliver to the door when you can get it online for free. Land line phone companies face challenges in regards to the transition cell phones. The music industry in the transition from CD to MP3, few people go to retail store to buy their music anymore. Even your job as an IT professional, businesses are shipping jobs to India to some guy that will do the job for next to nothing. It becomes a question of how to evolve and adapt in an ever changing business climate.
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