Monday, July 30, 2007

Jumping off a Bridge

I grew up on an island in the San Francisco Bay, called Alameda, where I carried my Windsurfer to the beach, and bridges were the way we got off the island, save for one tunnel. Quite frequently, I'd want to do things that my mom knew were bad ideas, but my friends were doing them. My mom's regular refrain was: "If everyone was jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge, would you do it too?" I always said "of course not mom", and that was the end of it.

Sure, it might have been fun during the drop, kinda like the thrill that drives people to parachute all the time. The problem is, the speed at which you will impact the water ensures that your chances of surviving are next to nil.

Just because other photographers are doing dumb things, exhibiting bad business practices, doesn't mean you should be doing the same things. Of course, it may be less fun, but you'll be in the profession longer, and over time, reap far more enjoyment during that time than you ever would have exhibiting traits that are detrimental to your future. I know of many people who would gladly sign away the rights to their photos just to hang out in the pit at a rock-and-roll concert for the first three songs. They don't care about the photos, taking them and giving them away was their price of admission, in their minds, and much better than paying for a ticket.

If you're doing stupid things when it comes to business practices, pull the rip cord fast, straighten up and fly right, the salty aroma of the bay means that you, an object in motion, won't remain in motion much longer. Better yet, don't jump in the first place.

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.


Anonymous said...

The thing is, some of us aren't into it for the money or as a profession. We're into it for fun or as a creative outlet of expression and art. Therefore, the business side is just a PITA and potentially something that just gets in the way because it's not about that for us and may never be. The rub is that some of this phenom is starting to chip away at other people's livelihoods, and I'm sure this is a trend that isn't going to slow down anytime soon. I think the challenge for the pros is to continue to search out and find niches that REQUIRE a pro's unique set of skills in the field and in the moment. When it comes to things like stock photography, it wouldn't surprise me at all if the inventory of high-quality creative commons' licensed images eventually becomes so bountiful that the thought of actually paying for a stock image could become laughable. Anyway, food for thought...

Shooter5150 said...

I contacted a NATIONAL blues magazine in seeing if they would like to license an image of mine of a blues guitarist that passed away a couple weeks ago.

Their art director replied "sure, as long as there is no money involved."

My office manager went ballistic!!!!!

The sad thing is, this magazine will have an image of the guitarist, not as good as my outtakes, probably, and the most the magazine will cough up is a free issue to the photog.

It may not be YOUR livelihood, but these freebies are hurting those of us who ARE trying to make a go freelancing.

Chris said...

It's interesting that this posting shows up today. Just this morning I heard a Nikon radio ad. Basically they have a contest giving away a D40 (whoopee) and photo pit access to a Poison concert. What isn't mentioned is what is done with the photos the happy new Nikonian takes. I'm betting Nikon & the band grabs all rights.

Anonymous said...

> It may not be YOUR livelihood, but these freebies are hurting those of us who ARE trying to make a go freelancing.

THAT'S my point exactly. The thing is, bitching about it, isn't going to change anything -- cause this is one title wave that's coming over everyone's head whether they like it or not. I kind of think of it a little like the recording industry's current dilemma. They just keep trying to make the old way work, even to the point of suing their own customers. That's not the solution, and in the end, those who take that approach will eventually lose. I think your example highlights what I said about the need to find projects that REQUIRE a pro, or projects that REQUIRE someone to be embedded to get the shots. Things where there's going to only be one shot at the images, or things where there may in fact only be one photographer on the scene, something unique. Otherwise, some picture of a famous guitarist is just going to be a dime a dozen, and just like that magazine's approach, there may not be a compelling reason to pay for something you can get for free -- can you blame them? The challenge for pros is to make yourself valuable in a way that is not readily available for free. Do this or die is where this is going, the writing is on the wall. Anyway, not sure, but I think your example just makes my points all the more real. I don't think the money is going to be in stock photography anymore unless you have a truly unique image that literally no one else has. It might not be there yet, but it's headed that way for sure don't you think? Otherwise, pros need to find other avenues to bring their real value to the table.

I mean take a look at this GLARING example I just read about today. Do you think this guy got paid? Not sure, but I don't think he even cared, he was more happy to just get his pic in the newspaper...

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