Monday, October 22, 2007

Speculative Photography - Introduction

It seems that my post "From the 'Are You Kidding Me?' Department" (October 15, 2007) has engaged a great many photographers in the debate over at Sportsshooter, with 75+ people going back and forth on the subject in this and this message series.

Many of the folks who were writing on the subject opposing speculative photography (a.k.a. "spec") had cogent arguments and interesting perspectives, and many of the folks trying to defend it took the attitude that it was a second or third job, or, a "loss leader", for them. I thought I'd write and echo some of the points, and add a few more of my own. Because this will be a long piece, I am going to break it down into several sections, for your ease of reading.

(Comments, if any, after the Jump)



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.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

You've made some valid points here. My complaint is that you've taken so much out of context from the SportShooter thread, due to your writing style, it makes what you are trying to get across very biased.

You gave the links to threads, but unless someone wants to read the entire thread, they won't see where the arguments are coming from and you are pulling bits and pieces from longer explanations to make your point. This is National Enquirer type journalism.

John Harrington said...

feel free to cite what they said, in context, and then cite what I wrote here, and demonstrate how it's out of context.

I have used the "..." nomenclature to string together one persons comments, but that's pretty standard for non-tabloid reporters like the NYT and WashPost.

Further, these citations, which, as you noted, I correctly cite the full message threads, as I should, appear in the "photographers mentality" and "agency's mentality" sections only, not in this one that you're commenting on, or those that you're referring to. Perhaps my suggestion from the top of this comment could be applied to each of those posts to demonstrate where I am citing someone out of context - something that I don't feel I've done.

Anonymous said...

John, I eagerly await a well written, informative, non-biased and documented piece on why people shoot on spec.

A good place to start may be with the lazy or non-risk taking photo editors who would rather pay a photographer from Texas to cover a golf match in Chicago instead of taking a chance on someone new that wouldn't have to charge them travel expenses. It would save them a ton of money, they'd get great images that maybe enough different from what they are used to that readership may increase, and put to work someone who may have become a spec shooter.

After that, you could explore the conglomerates that share their staffer's imagery. Continue on that theme to those non related organizations that trade photos.

From there, let's review all the bad contracts starting with the AP's.

I could go on, but I'm sure you are intelligent to get where I'm going with this.

It's time to stop beating the downtrodden and start fixing the real problems. The real problems are not the poor schmucks that are trying to make or compliment their living.

Please don't let your passion cloud your good judgement. Times change, people must change with them. Ask anyone in the photo lab business. They've been more struck by the digital age than us photographers.

Anonymous said...

Well said by someone at the Sports Shooter thread;


'Two particular passages in the blog stood out to me.

(1) “Many of the folks who were writing on the subject opposing speculative photography (a.k.a. "spec") had cogent arguments and interesting perspectives, and many of the folks trying to defend it took the attitude that it was a second or third job, or, a "loss leader", for them.”

By stating it in this manner, the inference is clear that those that do not support the writer’s opinion did not present cogent arguments and interesting perspectives. I disagree. They did. They just didn’t support his opinion, therefore they are summarily dismissed.

(2) “Just as a civilized society has precluded, by law, drunk driving, so too does a civilized photo community look with rightful disdain at anyone or anything that actually or potentially does harm to the profession.”

If one defines harm solely as anything which diminishes the earning potential of an elite/select few who through artificial barriers to entry exclude others equally capable of performing the same task, then perhaps I would agree. But I don’t define harm in that manner. Nor do I define the “photo community” as narrowly and restrictive as I perceive the writer as doing. I take a more macro view. How is the consumer impacted? Do they obtain a product that is acceptable to them at a price which is acceptable to them? How are the other members of this food chain impacted? Do manufactures sell more gear? Service providers sell more service? Does it bring competition? - thereby resulting in advances in technology, innovation of thought and presentation, increased choice of offerings to the end use consumer? Are these demonized spec shooters not capable of producing quality images which end use consumers will place a value on?

There is no fundamental economy of scale or overriding social good that provides a reason that photography would become an oligopoly. And what little there was is being quickly eroded by advances in technology.

Why wouldn’t you expect end users to begin a migration towards choice? Why settle for only the output of a single source? Who are you to determine for the end use consumer what it is that they want or should be satisfied with.

So, perhaps, I would turn the tables and ask how good of a business model it is for someone to select as a profession something for which there is a myriad of highly acceptable, variably priced substitutes? - one where technology is only increasing that number, with virtually no end in sight. One that is pretty close to being a commodity, unless one is actually able to distinguish themselves and demand a premium.'

Sometimes in studying a tree, one does not see what is happening in the forest around them.

Anonymous said...

Pimps and Hos is what the profession of photography has become. But even hos get paid.

Anonymous said...

John:

This recent blog appears to have the same slant that we've been seeing over and over for sometime now from some of your newer affiliations.

There are a lot of really nice people getting into this business. People that hold people in general in high regard and treat them with respect, kindness and sharing in their efforts to grow their skills.

Stop by the Sports Corner of Fred Miranda's site for an example.

I think the risk you run is not seeing yourself what you proport others to not see.

This blog seem more like an inside look at how you would eliminate your competition in a conversation with a client rather than a blog intended to share knowledge with your readership and book customers.

With great respect.

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