Friday, July 27, 2007

US Presswire - The Freelancers Perspective

A piece on http://www.topfivephotos.com/about.html says, about freelancing for US Presswire - "In early 2005, I got a late night e-mail from Sports Illustrated photographer, Bob Rosato. I called the number he gave me, thinking I would just leave a message. Little did I realize what a night owl he was. It turned out that he'd found my profile on SportsShooter.com and was looking for photographers in the Washington DC area for a new sports wire service called US Presswire. We chatted for a while and met a couple weeks later when he was in town to shoot a basketball game at the University of Maryland. Basically, he saw that my work could use a little improvement, but that it also showed potential. As speculative as the whole thing was, I decided to sign a freelance contract."

Freelancers for US Presswire have reported images generating $1 or less, and while this is also the case for Getty Images Sport, it's a pittance by any measure, and with the Wireimage sports division dissolving, those photographers are now seeking out USPW work. When I asked Bob about these reports, Bob responded in general about $1 sales report items saying "i hate that." I said, "People are telling me that US Presswire reports are showing this as a part of a subscription deal", Bob responded "I've never heard that, that would be news to me, i don't believe that. that's just absurd."

Photographer Karl Stolleis posted a message about an experience he had, saying "I consider Bob R. a friend. I shot some things two years ago, in hopes of helping a friend out. I got a check or two that didnt quite equal up to covering my expenses. I think what anyone needs to consider with Presswire is can you afford to lose money in hopes of making money...Fact is, anyone who takes work on spec, relies on the photographer involves being VERY aware of the positives and negatives. Its a gamble that might pay off, if you have the skills. Caveat Emptor". That doesn't sound like that friendship is the same nowadays.

Photographer Todd Rosenberg wrote, quite prophetically -"I have been with U.S. Presswire from the start. I will start by saying that I am, in no way, a good example to follow...as the majority of my work comes from outside the sports field. In fact, at the moment, I do football and that is about it. I don't do much else. I make a good living outside of my sports work and thus I need to devote my time and attention to what pays...I started working for U.S. Presswire when the relationship with the NFL and their photographers dissolved. I wanted to work for someone who would allow me to continue to own my work..." Todd, perhaps you didn't read those clauses above which preclude you from doing anything with your own work that you deliver, even putting it on your website, unless you had an earlier contract? But, that part about your not being a good example? I think that's pretty sound advice.

Doug Steinbock, a photographer from Massachussets cited a link where his photo got published some time ago, and he, among many others that I had spoken with for this story, wrote "I just discovered my work on ESPN.com and wonder why I never got paid. I'm now also wondering where else my work has appeared and I haven't been paid. I freelanced for US Presswire back in 2006. It was suppose to be a 50/50 split. I guess I now know the meaning of "Free" in freelance." Yup Doug, sadly so.

Bob said, as it relates to the occasional assignment that USPW gets called for that "We give that photographer the full day rate, the company doesn't take any money off the top", to which I say, if that's the case, that that's admirable - and unusual.

When I asked Bob if he saw USPW as a training or prooving ground for up and coming photographers, he said " No, not in the sense of how you alluded to it in your blog...I am an advocate of the 'under the wing' process. I think there's an important thing about helping photographers showcase their work. We've had several photographers move on to bigger and better things. How you said it in your blog is not how we do it, but there's an element of that in what we do. We have a lot of talented people that work for us.

US Presswire - Introduction
US Presswire - A Conflict of Interest
US Presswire - Friends Don't Screw Friends
US Presswire - Contract Analysis
US Presswire - The Client's Perspective
US Presswire - The Freelancers Perspective
US Presswire - Closing Thoughts

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