Over 15 years ago, I shared with a friend of mine that I was being signed to Black Star under contract. I was, as a young photographer, excited to say the least. I shared it with exactly two people. One of them called Black Star and offered her services to them. They called me and told me, and reiterated that they wanted to use me. Whew I thought. When I asked my "friend", she responded "well, we'll all be competing against each other eventually, so it's ok."
Then, that same mentality hit someone else upside the head. For many years, Bob Rosato and Tom DiPace were good friends. The sports photographer community is very tight knit. It's not closed, but you do need to earn your stripes. DiPace had a very lucrative contract with what was then Baseball Weekly, and now is Sports Weekly. When I say lucrative, however, don't get it twisted. I am not talking that Tom was driving a Porsche or anything. I mean that it paid well and fairly, and the contract didn't screw him like many other contracts out there do. Tom was, to many, the king of the independent sports photographers, footing his own bill to travel and for film and processing, and he earned back those expenses and then some. Bob, during the initial phases of the USPW startup, trained his sights on Baseball Weekly, and made outreach to Tom's editors, essentially pulling the plug on DiPace's deal, striking an almost mortal blow to Tom's business. As diversified as Tom was, he of course, has survived. However, when Tom sought Bob out to discuss it, Bob's response was "Tommy, if it wasn't me, if I didn't do it, someone else would have." While DiPace, to his credit, chose the high road, and has not sought out to sling mud on the issue, he certainly had every right to do so, from my perspective.
Please post your comments by clicking the link below. If you've got questions, please pose them in our Photo Business Forum Flickr Group Discussion Threads.