Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Along The Continuum

Mark Loundy has a great column he writes, that I usually first read in my NPPA magazine 'News Photographer', but it appears also on the Digital Journalist, as well as his own website. In it, Mark has a section of the article he titles "The Good", "The Bad", and "The Ugly", calling out poor business practices by organizations. Previously, I'd written about USPresswire, and I received a number of comments, fairly evenly split - "You were out to sink Bob, next time talk to guys who really are enjoying their US Presswire experience..."; "You went too light on USPW..." (and many folks I talked to wouldn't go on the record, for fear of some form of retribution); and then there were those that said "Man, you hit that one on the head, and it was fairly done...". All in all, the comments, most of them via phone or in person around town, were fairly split. One of the concerns I had though, was one that Bob mentioned during our talk, where he wanted to know why I hadn't been critical of others - seeking to ask Jonathan Klein about his practices, and I mentioned that I had, on several occasions, taken Getty to task - "About the only good 'Short'-sighted Idea I can find", and "When Your Agent is Not Your Friend" (via Ed Greenberg). In addition, I have tried to talk to Klein before. Further, I've been critical of OnRequest - "nOnRequest - This is Not Your Father's 'Agency'" and "OnRequest - Realizing the Obvious", Dreamstime - Free photos (and $13 Superbowl ads)", and iStockphoto - "Sour Grapes?. Some suggested that I had just singled out USPW - not true. In fact, I had a broader perspective (clients to contributors, and so forth) than on the others, and the article illustrated that.

Further, along the continuum, USPW is not, by a long shot, "the ugly" - they do, at least, pay their photographers when a picture sells. There are organizations that will trade you all rights to your photos in exchange for their providing you with a credential. Now that's "ugly.". What's uglier than that? Try actually paying to become a member of an "organization" who will then, in turn, send you a kit to make your own laminated credential, and whenever you need it, they will send a letter indicating that you are "bonafide." These last two organizations serve what I will coin as a phrase "Fan With Credential"or, FWC (note - I googled the phrase, and it does not appear, so I'm coining it, unless someone shows me where it appears, then I'll attribute it to that originator), these are the folks who turn up at events with point-and-shoots, fawn over the celebrities, applaud during a political speech, or bring an 80-200 prosumer-grade lens when a 300 f2.8+ is necessary.

Care to guess who's up next? Feel free to post in comments, or e-mail me with your insights (yes, con and pro). Send along links to these organizations' sites, and so forth. I've already gotten a few.

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.


Tim Broyer said...

Fan with a credential is nothing new. There is a whole group of Flickr who make themselves badges in the hopes it helps with them gaining access to events or not getting pushed back by authorities.

Granted, many of them are humurous but it's clear that some of them are made for deception.

Anonymous said...

What are these FWC places? Also what's a good organization to join for a credential and a good organization in general?

Bob Ford said...

I'm assumng one of the sites John is talking about is the International Freelance Photographers Organization or "IFPO". They have sold "Press kits" for years, even before the internet.

They even publish a magazine where members can write stories about how they conned their way into events they had no business being. They also publish these posers' photo in the magazine.

We people request a letter from IFPO it comes on the letterhead of the magazine.

Prices to join IFPO or buy a credential look to be about $60 and up. I noticed that the Universal Press Credential retails for $199.

You can check out their website here...

Bob Ford said...

"We people request..."

That was supposed to read "When people request..."

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