Friday, July 27, 2007

US Presswire - Introduction

For several months now, I've been hearing about US Presswire, how bad they were for photographers, and how, as the Wireimage sports coverage was being absorbed (or dissolved) into Getty Images Sport, clients were looking for "anything other than the AP" said one person familiar with why you are even seeing USPW credit lines.

I listened a lot to folks complaining about USPW, and their business practices, from not being paid anything at all, to covering all their own expenses, to not being paid when they saw their work getting play, and so on. No photographers I spoke with were happy about their USPW experience, but a few can be found defending them on Sportsshooter. So, I called Bob Rosato. Over the course of two phone calls spanning over two hours, we covered a lot of ground, and certain issues I was able to resolve by listening to what he had to say. We agreed on many many points - especially about the state of the industry, and a point that Bob made was "This thing was not created so shareholders would profit, it was created so photographers had a platform to get their work out", and we discussed where things were headed. There remained, however, sharp disagreements between he and I about how to handle this evolving industry.

Over the past month, I've been working on collecting information, insights, and so forth, and there hasn't been a lot of positive commentary that's come of it. Covering the World Series last year, and the All-Star games these past two years, I've seen the US Presswire folks in action, and they trend towards being younger, inexperienced photographers, which, on the surface isn't so bad, except that they just don't realize the circumstances that gave someone with that little experience such a grand opportunity. If it was such a great opportunity, why weren't those assignments being covered by seasoned pros? The short answer is - they weren't assignments, they were "we'll get you a credential, and you'll only get paid if we sell a photo..." type of deals. Anyone with any reasoned thinking would run the other way, because they would realize what a disadvantaged position they are in. A number of seasoned pros that Rosato approached either declined, or initially accepted the opportunity, and within a short period of time, parted ways.

What follows are several pieces, broken down for ease of reading.

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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US Presswire - A Conflict of Interest

Early on, Bob was a wedding photographer who shot for the NFL on Sundays, and through his work on basketball, ended up at Sports Illustrated. I too did, and on occasion, still do, do weddings. Previously I wrote about wanting to ask Bob, a highly respected long-time Sports Illustrated photographer about US Presswire, and how he was tied to it being that his brother, Ed Rosato, is listed everywhere as the point person. I couldn't find a story which showed Bob as having any relationship. Well, I wasn't looking very hard, because an astute reader sent to me http://www.networksolutions.com/whois/results.jsp?domain=USPRESSWIRE.COM which shows:

Registrant:
Rosato, Bob
ATTN: USPRESSWIRE.COM
c/o Network Solutions
P.O. Box 447
Herndon, VA. 20172-0447
Ok, that's pretty clear then, who owns USPresswire,I thought. When I said to Bob, "so, you're the President", he stopped me, saying "I never said I was the President. I am a background consultant to the company." I said "Bob, your US Presswire contract specifically states on it, on the signature page 'Bob Rosato, President'. That makes you the President. Bob responded "Is my signature on that?" "No, Bob", I said. but it is your contract. So, Network Solutions says you're the registrant of USPreswire.com, your contracts say you're the President, so, what are you?" To which Bob responded "President is a title. I don't respond to titles or anything. I've never said I was the President." I then said, "USPresswire is an LLC, which means that you had to fill out paperwork listing who held various titles, what title does Ed (Bob's brother) hold?" Bob responded, "Ed - his title is - Pick one. Pick a title. This is not a multi-million dollar company, so you can pick any title you want. I'm not sure I understand the significance of your question." I responded "I am trying to determine who holds what position at your LLC. And Bob responded "I am not an out front person for the company. There isn't a soul anywhere who doesn't know that I am involved in the company. There seems to be an agenda to steer this in a particular direction. I don't have to tell you, or anyone else, about the inner workings of the company." No, actually, it has been suggested to me that you, Bob, have gone to certain lengths to distance yourself from the company, or keep people from being aware that you're involved. I was trying to determine where things really were, and what became clear was that you remain trying to keep people from knowing where you stand, so, I can only go by contracts that you say your lawyers drew up that list "Bob Rosato, President" on them, and registration paperwork at Network Solutions that lists you as the registrant, and thus, owner, of USPresswire.com.

How then, is is possible that Sports Illustrated's SI.com website can have so many of these photos? For Bob Rosato to be the owner of a company that is selling images to his own employer seems, to me, atleast, to be a conflict of interest. Sources close to AOL/Time Warner report that Bob did go before a review board, and he was given a go ahead from them. What is not known is to what extent that review board asked for documents that detailed the degree to which he was involved in the company. I can only surmise that they were thorough and thoughtful in their approach.

I continued, asking Bob about this - "Do you see your owning USPW, and USPW making calls to SI.com to solicit play/sales for USPW as a conflict of interest?" to which he responded "No." When I asked him if he'd ever called SI.com himself, as some have alluded to him doing, he said "I never have, and will not. That doesn't mean that there aren't people in the company that don't, but I do not, nor will not." When I pressed the point, saying that surely people would know that it was a "Rosato" company calling, and that people on the recieving end of a sales call would know this, and apply "self pressure" to do something that they percieve would make Bob happy, Bob responded "Why would you envision that?" Ok, fair enough. It's not in plain type, but it does stand to reason, and I said that I still saw that "self pressure" would be a deciding factor. Bob said "You can call it whatever you want. I don't go out and visit clients, I don't do that. I'm not in a position at SI - I am a photographer at SI - I don't influence business or decision making."
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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US Presswire - Friends Don't Screw Friends

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.

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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US Presswire - Contract Analysis

As contracts go, this one's pretty heinous. I'm not saying it's alone in that category - the old WireImage contract, Getty's baseline contract, and others are too. Let's look at some of the particularly offensive language in this one:

I) Grant of Authority. Photographer hereby grants to Agency the exclusive worldwide right to market, distribute, license and negotiate the product ion rights of all photographic images, digital files and all other photographic materials delivered to Agency by Photographer (hereinafter referred to as the " Images" ). Notwithstanding the foregoing, Photographer shall retain the right to sell or license the Images to Photographer's other editorial clients; provided, however, Photographer shall be prohibited from selling or licensing the Images to any and all other national or international magazine or newspaper clients, terrestrial or satellite broad cast clients and/or internet website clients through any other form of online (internet protocol) distribution, including without limitation Photographer's personal website.
So, we started in discussing this, and Bob, when asked "How do you resolve the conflict between your contract's getting exclusive worldwide rights, seemingly telling photographers they can sell or license the photos, but can't display them to those prospective clients via any online distribution? That term precludes any photographer from even e-mailing a photo to a prospective client for five years." Bob said "Only the ones that are delivered, not all of the images, and no, it does not preclude e-mail.". So, if a photographer 'delivers' 200 images from a game of his or her best selects, and USPW only posts 15 or 20, essentially 'rejecting' the other 180 or so images, they, the photographer, are contractually precluded from monetizing those other images. When I pressed him, and said "Bob, it precludes people from posting them on their own websites to display, as that's actually distribution. It precludes them from being able to display them, in say, a Photoshop web gallery", he said "no, it doesn't. It precludes them from selling them online. It says 'internet protocol'." I said "Bob, that precludes people from even e-mailing an image, because e-mailing uses SMTP, POP, and IMAP - all internet protocols - to do so", Bob responded "I do agree, I do I think it needs some clarity. We are trying there to preclude people from posting the photos on compettiing services." Ok, so, that needs A LOT of clarity then.

Further, it means that whatever you don't "deliver" to USPW you can do with what you want, even "similar" (i.e. the frames before and after). While this would probably violate the spirit of the contract, it does not violate the letter of it. Food for thought.
2) Representations of Photographer. Photographer hereby represents, warrants, covenants, acknowledges and agrees that:
a. Photographer is and shall be at all times be the sole and exclusive owner of the Images;
.....
m. Photographer shall use its best efforts to promote Agency' s name and good reputation throughout the world at all times. and Photographer shall not make any disparaging remarks about Agency.
When I asked Bob about this, about the fact that saying anything critical could easily be construed as failing to meet the "shall use it's best efforts to promote" test, Bob said "If a person doesn't like something about us, or has the facts, they can say whatever they want to say. The clause does preclude people under contract from being critical. Disparaging remarks has nothing to do with factual information. If it's critical, and unfounded, that would be disparaging, and a violation of our contract. Having an opinion and having facts is different."
4) Use of Images. Agency shall have the right in its sole and absolute discretion, to: (i) determine how the Images will be marketed, how the Images will be displayed and how the Images will be distributed to Agency's customers ; (ii ) edit the Images. including the captions and metadata that accompanies the Images; (iii) establish the terms and conditions, including the fees, for the license of the Images to Agency's customers; [iv ] perform its services without Photographer's further approval. Photographer agrees that any Image given to Agency for distribution shall remain available for distribution by Agency for a minimum of five (5) years from the date of receipt by Agency.

Honestly, that's not bad, on the surface, but it sets up Exhibit A, the ability for them to give your work away for free, and you've got nothing to say about it.
5) Compensation. In consideration of the services performed by Agency hereunder, Agency shall retain a commission from the fees collected from the Images in accordance with Exhibit A attached hereto and incorporated here in by reference. Agency shall deliver to Photographer the balance of the fees collected from the Images in accordance with Exhibit A, along with a report listing the origin, description, and amount of sales. All payments will be made by Agency to Photographer no later than thirty (30) days from the date Agency receives payment from its customers . Payments to Photographer will be made between the 15th & 30th of each month where applicable. In the event that no fees have been collected from the Images, no payment or report will be issued to Photographer.
Same as above. This is where you're set up for the "free trial" issues that arise.
Exhibit A
NOW, THEREFORE. the parties hereto hereby agree as follows:
I) Third Party Fees . Photographer agrees and understands that Agency has entered into certain agreements with third party agencies (here inafter referred to as the "Third Parties") pursuant to which such Third Parties have been granted the authority to distribute the Images on their respective websites and via other electronic means. The Third Parties will remit commissions to Agency from sales made by the Third Part ies of the Images (the "Third Party Fees"). in accordance with such Third Party agreements . Thereafter. Agency will remit to Photographer fifty percent (50%) of the Third Party Fees. and Agency will retain a commission of fifty percent (50%)of the Third Party Fees. Agency will remit Photographer's portion of the Third Party Fees pursuant to Paragraph 5 of the Agreement.

2) Agency Fees . Agency will remit to Photographer fifty percent (50%) of all fees collected by Agency from sales made by Agency of the Images (the "Agency Fees "), and Agency will retain a commission of fifty percent (50%) of the Agency Fees. Agency will remit Photographer 's portion of the Agency Fees pursuant to Paragraph 5 of the Agreement. Agency reserves the right to change, adjust or modify the Agency Fees with the prior written consent of Photographer, which shall not be unreasonably withheld or delayed .

3) Uncompensated Use. Photographer agrees and understands that Agency may, from time to time, allow Agency's customers to use certain Images without compensation. As a result, Photographer may not be compensated for the use and distribution of certain Images . This will be for, among other reasons, the purpose of revenue generating usage commitments or for promotional trials from the customer. Photographer agrees this action can be performed in Agency's sole and absolute discretion and without further compensation to or consent from Photographer.
The problem with #1 above is not one specific to USPW, but rather, agencies in general that use sub-agents. If an image is licensed for $250, that sub-agent takes $125 (usually), and USPW's 'full take' is $125, leaving the photographer with $67.50.

#3 above is just a killer. You should be rewarded for having your images a part of a promotional pitch to land a new client, whereby if the client signs and your image was a part of the package that sold them while they were considering, you should get some form of a signing bonus. This also gives them the ability to avoid any commission they want to, all together, by simply stating "oh, that was a trial for them..." While this would, of course, be unethical, there is no audit clause in this contract that gives you the right to audit actual sales figures. One of my early contracts had an audit clause, whereby, I could engage the services of an independent auditor, and if the auditor found more than a 5% discrepancy between reported sales and actual ones, the agency would pay for the audit, as well as all my back commissions.
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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US Presswire - The Client's Perspective

So, how has US Presswire secured clients? The prevailing attitude that seems to be supporting them is "just give me something other than the AP...", or "...I want a different look than the wires...". The San Francisco Chronicle runs a great many photographs with the US Presswire photo credit, as do many other smaller papers. Scott Kroll, a former photo editor at ESPN.com said of his time there -"I typically will get images from the AP first...but they also seem to be the poorest quality images out there. ...I will replace the AP images with something better from the other wire services out there when they come out."

So, how do they get their clients? Well, USPW is "giving away" their work according to several photo editors I spoke with. Below is an inquiry from someone in the USPresswire Business Development office.

From: "xxxx xxxxxx"
Date: October XX, 2006 XX:XX:XX PM XDT
To: <(xxxxxxxxxx)>
Subject: US PRESSWIRE rates

Xxxxxxx,

Thank you for taking time to speak with me today. As we discussed, US Presswire would like to offer the following pricing option for the use of our sports images:

Sliding Scale A la Carte:
$20.00 per download/use for the first 10 Current images and $15.00 per download/use thereafter within a month's time. Archive images will be billed at a fee of $50.00 per use/download.

Our Current Images are classified from 1999 to present day and our Archive Images are classified as 1998 and back. In essence, you are receiving almost seven years of archive material for current pricing.

As of today, I have activated your account for download capability. The following information is the login and password information to access our website atwww.uspresswire.com (please note,
logins and passwords are case sensitive):

LOGIN: (deleted)
PASSWORD: (deleted)

US PRESSWIRE is committed to ethical and professional journalism. We look forward to working with you and your staff at (deleted)>

Kind regards,

Xxxx Xxxxxxx
Business Development
office: 954-577-XXXX x0000
xxxx_xxxxxx@uspresswire.com"
When I asked Bob about rumors of a sub-$1000 figure for USA Today's "all you can eat buffet", Bob was quick to respond "That's Absurd." When I asked him about a la carte pricing at the $25 a picture mark, Bob said "This market changed 15 years ago when rights-grabbing contracts came about. What we do is simply price ourselves competitively. $25 is a competitive price in some markets, and that's a sad sad thing too. You gotta remember, this is not a price point we set." Ok, I agree, but it is a price point you are willing to do business at, and I submit that it's not a viable price point, nor are the $15 and $20 an image deals USPW gave a newspaper access to, as outlined above.

Photo Editors I spoke to discussed free trials, and suggested that there were four to six month free trials floating about, but Bob was quick to say "we do free trials on a case by case basis....it's a very common business practice to obtain subscription sales. We don't talk about the entire model, but we don't do 6 months, and there isn't anybody on a trial now." He commented that a 10 or 20 day free trial is not worth anything, but would not say which periods USPW has offerred in the past, nor where they fell between 20 days and 6 months, but it's clearly somewhere inbetween, but, as Bob said, "there isn't anybody on a trial now."

Last January, in a meeting of the top editors and money people at Sports Illustrated, one of the money guys stood up and said to the otherwise less than vocal photo department folks "...do we really need a staff? When we're getting images like this {holding up a US Presswire image} do we really need a staff?" This apparently caused more than one of the photo department folks to pipe up and object. But, with AOL/Time Warner being run by the finance people, this foreshadows the dissoloution of the legendary SI team, in my opinion, as happened with Time Magazine, and Life before them, and Newsweek and US News at other corporate giants.

The Newark Star Ledger has taken an interesting tact. They have chosen to supply a stream of images to US Presswire, as well as utilizing their images. An eyebrow was raised earlier this year by the MLB when this began to occur, but within a short period of time, the MLB backed off. When asked about the reported delays between the time that NSL has provided images and to the images appearing on the USPW website, Assistant Managing Editor for Photography Pim Van Hemmen said "that's really a low priority for me right now, but otherwise, we've been happy with their service..."

Bob said that he wasn't aware of MLB talking to US Presswire, and that the MLB,"they made an inquiry with the star ledger, no one talked to presswire. The MLB wanted to make sure that the photos were only being used for editorial purposes, secondarily. They made an inquiry, to my knowledge, and I didn't get involved in that either. MLB phoned them. They {NSL} asked us, we assured them it wasn't anything other than editorial, and, apparently, that was acceptable to MLB, as it should be." Bob concluded his sentiments on the subject, "I find it interesting that MLB calls about the one syndication deal that USPresswire has." Well, Bob, I agree. It wouldn't suprise me that, perhaps other stakeholders might have made this a shot across the bow to warn against a growth in these deals.
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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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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US Presswire - A Few Final Thoughts

Near the end of our conversation, Bob made a point of saying "The advocacy of differences of opinion is healthy", to which I agreed. I just see things as principled and while Bob said "I do want things to be better, we have to work towards those things. One day, maybe things will change." I have to say that I want to be an agent of that change, and I don't want to be a part of organizations that accept the status quo, but rather, establish a line in the sand and stand up for the right things, even if everyone else is doing the wrong things."

When you do deals like this, says Tom DiPace, "you're destroying your future, and everyone else's future. " I couldn't have said it better myself.

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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Wednesday, July 25, 2007

NFL Vests - What's Your Backside REALLY Worth?

I recently spent some time doing some research on this vests issue to post over at Sportsshooter here, but I thought I'd tweak it a bit for you to read here, as well. So, to those who are not concerned because "the logo is small/on-the-front", I say to you that they will incrementally take your "ad space".

It's one thing to require a bright vest for security purposes, but, in reality, having been on the field at the All-Star game and World Series, there are so many non-vested people, that policing that is really a joke. PDN has an article where they show the actual vest, so check that out too.

You need only look so far as the FunPix section of the Sportsshooter website:

What it should/could be: http://www.sportsshooter.com/funpix_view.html?id=6213 and what is was a few months ago, at Pimlico, and WILL BE at all other venues soon: http://www.sportsshooter.com/funpix_view.html?id=6725. Note there, that that NIKON logo is atleast 3 inches tall and spans the entire bib!. Nice how this funpix shows both the front and back.

Would you like to see how your backside will be used by the NFL - a la Preakness style -- soon?

Here's a nice Getty Images shot showing the NFL logo - imagine that being YOU and the NFL logo saying something else, and here's another. (Note, if you've never been to the Getty site, choose your country/language, and you'll get there. If not, search for image # 73204093 or #73203983 for the photos).

When someone sees that bright BLANK space down on the field, they see dollar-signs - as ad revenue.

Consider this:

The Bedford Group has a Sports Marketing white paper here Which posits:

Q: What is the cost of the stadium billboard (per 1,000 potential viewers) vs. that of similar outdoor boards? What's the premium for being in the stadium with a captive audience?

A: Note, it is generally accepted that a sign in a sports venue can be more valuable than a billboard because: (1) The audience is fixed for several hours at a time vs. simply passing by in a car (2) the sign can be shown on television during matches, thus gaining a wider audience.

For televised games, what is the value of the Company logo (from the stadium sign) appearing occasionally during each broadcast? Take a guess and determine that, for example, it will get 30 seconds of airtime
during each broadcast game, then give the sign additional value (getting a 30 second TV spot free).
NOW, what is your backside worth? IF ALL of the photographers are wearing a corporate logo in their backside, which is being seen by fans time and time again - DURING the game on tv AND from the stands by 60k+, it's easy to figure out.

So, let's do some math:

Clear Channel has a rate calculator - available here.

Now, going through that calculator - SF Bay Area, 8-sheet poster, general market, they will charge a mid-range price of $40,000 for four weeks, or $10,000 a week, and this presupposes that the four week "circulation" is approximately 57,000 people. For this, an 8 sheet poster is 5'x11', or 55 square feet. Your back is approximately 18" x 18" of usable space, or 2.25 square feet. $10k at 55 sq ft equates to $182 per sq ft. For your backside, that'd be $409, per person, for one stadium with 50,000+.

Imagine this conversation:
"We credential 40 photographers per game, and all are fieldside, that's 40 times 2.25 sq ft per person, or 90 square feet. Clear Channel charges about $16,000 to reach 50,000 people or so at that size. You are reaching not just that audience, but our research, in reviewing broadcast tapes of games from the last 24 months, show that those blank-slate bibs appear for a combined total of 16 seconds a game - during the game, when fans are more likely to be paying attention. NFL division playoff games have a rate of $600,000 per 30-second spot. Since, in those ads, you are designing the presentation, it makes sense. In this case, we're showcasing your logo fieldside, but only for 16 seconds. To start things off, we'll cut the per-second cost that 16 seconds would be - $320,000 down to $160,000, for the one game. But you have to commit to an entire season."
Source: Data360.org
So, you're worth $409 as a static billboard, per game, and $4,000 as a portion of the tv ad (40 backsides at $160,000 per game), or, $4,409 - per game. Now, how many games are there?

Nice. A stringer makes $200 Work-for-hire from the wire service, who earns that back with just one image sale, and the team makes $4,000+ off your backside.
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Tuesday, July 24, 2007

NY Posty Notes

The race is on! Apparently, tryouts for the NY Post are underway this week. Daryl Lang reports over at PDNPulse "...photogs continue to feel insulted at the very idea...someone logs the serial numbers of their camera equipment. This is to make sure they have their own pro gear and aren't just borrowing it from other freelancers..." (yeah, right, and I'll sell you the Brooklyn Bridge to boot), and you, among other things listed in the article have to "Photograph a piece of artwork (as if capturing a family photo or other document out in the field)" - nice. Didn't anyone tell them that photographing a school portrait of a child when covering an accident or tragedy, while common practice, is in fact a copyright violation?!? I spoke to one photographer who's attitude was "heck, at least he's paying you a day-rate to come in to do this." My response - "this is a freelance market. If you don't like what you've been getting from your freelancers, just simply stop using them and use someone else."

On another note, The NY Post is reporting that there were a few colorful words uttered at a "well-lubricated" office party at the Times by a top editor.

It seems that the word used to define a bundle of sticks but has more inappropriate uses to refer to male homosexuals was uttered. A combination of Gawker.com and the NY Post report that "an insider told Page Six the editor in question is Michele McNally, the director of photography listed on the Times masthead as an assistant managing editor" and that "McNally allegedly directed the hateful epithet at one of the male photo editors in her department." which resulted in ""An investigation was launched," said our source. "Her two best friends on the staff told investigators it wasn't true."

The Times Spokeswoman, according to the Post "told Page Six: "It's our practice not to comment on personnel matters. I can tell you the matter is closed." Hmmm, why then, did Wednesday's in-house newsletter reprint the company's harassment guidelines, and last week why did the paper establish a "Diversity Council" that sent out a missive which detailed it's initiatives in political correctness?

Honestly, while I've never met, nor worked for Michele, her reputation does precede her, and it may well be that she never said that, or, if that word passed her lips, it was meant in jest or good fun, and not in a derogatory fashion. The party was, as it was reported, "well lubricated", and further descibed as a "raucious farewell". Either way, let's get some perspective, give her the benefit of the doubt, and let's move on here, people, nothing to see here.


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Sweet Jezebel!

Back in January, I wrote about the art of the retoucher, and now it's come up again, as Jezebel.com reports that "That Faith Hill Photo Wasn't Actually A Photo, 'Redbook' Editor Explains", as shown on NBC's Today show, that the untouched photo was uncovered by jezelbel.com. "Our goal in every cover is to create an incredibly beautiful image that people want to pick up, and peek inside" said Stacey Morrison, Editor in Chief. Morrison went on further to say what they did, in retouching Faith Hill so severely, was just industry standard.

Watching the video, you see that they thinned out her arm, her face, and her waist.

Of course it's industry standard...in fact, it's the industry's dirty little secret. This is why magazines will happily submit a list of photographers to celebrities who will then choose who will be the photographer for the cover assignment, and then, in turn, the celebrity requires they approve of the photo before it goes on the cover. Further, many celebrities require publications to use the "celebrity-approved" retoucher, who, of course, knows how to ensure that celebrity's flaws are minimized or eliminated. here's an example of massive retouching, to the point of "photo illustration" by an advertiser, and we're to expect that advertising is, in some small way, an acceptable arena for retouching. Who doesn't realize that 100% of the reason that a magazine has anything visual on the cover is to appeal to the newsstand buyer?!? The subscriber already has committed to the publication and paid for it. The cover is marketing and advertising for single-copy sales.


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Monday, July 23, 2007

Oh, C'mon with this!

At the Kodak Professional's ProPass website, the article is titled "Vicki Taufer ~ Lessons Learned. Techniques Perfected.", and the article begins: "Six years ago, newlyweds Vicki and Jed Taufer looked at each other and said, “What the heck, let’s do it.”.

WTF?

While the article then goes on to say is "The ‘it’ they were referring to was turning Vicki’s hobby into her career." Ok, that's not making anything clearer.

Yes, yes, I know she wanted to pursue photography, but come on, what possessed Vicki and Jed to pose for a photo like the one above on the right, that they then distributed to promote themselves via an e-mail from their partner in this endeavor, Marathon Press, especially for a seminar they are/were doing? (See the e-mail online here, or via PDF here. ) Even if that image didn't accompany the ProPass article, it's kinda like this site which shows the sad juxtaposition of promotional pieces with other placements, or just life in general.

These people are, no doubt, excellent story-tellers with their images. A review of their website reveals that they sure can make stunning images of all sorts of things - they know how to communicate with an image. So, why on earn tell a story like the one that they are using to market themselves? I just can't figure it out, and I can't wait to read your comments!


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Sunday, July 22, 2007

The Power of the Upsell

"Would you like some fries with that?"

Everyone I know, certainly almost everyone in the civilized world has been upsold on something. From fries, to dessert at the end of a meal that you didn't plan on having. Heck, "would you like bottled water, or tap?" is such a profit center for restaurants, NPR did a piece on it.

Just how, then, can you upsell? Photo Packaging for Professional Photographers did a nice piece on the benefits of proper packaging/presentation, writing:

“That photograph would look absolutely lovely in a frame. Shall I show you our framing options? I can offer you a reduced price on the frame since you have already decided to buy from us.”
Ok though, if you're not in the retail photo business, what can you upsell as editorial or corporate/commercial photographers?

ANSWER: Retouching, e-mails, additional CD's, rush turnarounds, on-site printing, a second photographer, make-up services, and so on.

Retouching is integral to many portraits we do, and many a client has expressed concern about bags under their eyes, pimples, facial blemishes, and wrinkles. While we include a nominal/baseline amount of retouching for portraits we do for clients, extensive retouching, like the removal of double/triple-chins, tie changes, and so forth, are upsell options, and clients welcome this flexibility.

E-mails may well be one of the many services that photographers simply give away. When we conclude an assignment, our work on behalf of that client ends, until we sit down to do their post production over the next 48 hours (our delivery commitment is that the post will be done in 2 business days). However, many clients need immediate access to one to five images, meaning that our work for the client does not end when the camera is put away. We need to make time to immediately process the best images from the event, and e-mail them. That additional work carries an additional charge - $65 each to be exact - and many a client is more than happy to pay that. We often counsel the client to only request one or two, because that's all they really need, however, I have had clients request as many as 27. You do the math.

Speaking of rush services, that too is a service we offer. We put the images in our queue, and process images in the order they were shot. As you all know, post-production takes time, even with the fastest computers. If you want to hop to the front of that line, that'll be a rush charge. For commercial/PR events, with a normal turnaround of two business days, if you want it turned around in 1 business day, add 100% to that. For same day/ASAP turnaround, add 200%.

Extra CD's? No problem. Heck, design departments ad ad agencies and design firms charge their clients $100 to make a copy of a CD. I charge comparably - 50% of whathever the charge was for the first CD. So, if CD output of an assignment incurred a $75 charge, then it's $37.50 for a second. If the CD charge was $175, then it's $87.50. Just three days ago, a client ordered two additional copies of a CD. No problem, we say.

For on-site printing, which is a staple of many an event photographer, we do it only upon request. It's not something I regularily do or offer, however, we have the capability, and do it upon request, more than as an upsell. It can be cost prohobitive for the client, but if it's needed, we'll do it.

Sometimes, an event is so large, that one photographer can't do it alone. Rather than have the client search and shop around for a second, we offer to provide it ourselves. There are many more reasons to handle it ourselves than the upsell, and that deserves it's own blog entry, or you could read about it on page 179 of the book.

Make-up often is a critical component of an assignment, so it's not always seen as an upsell. If we're responsible for paying the makeup person, it's getting a nominal markup for our handling of it.

Lastly, is the extended rights package. If the client is asking for one time use, but you feel they'll want to use it for other projects, offering that to them - upfront - can generate additional assignment revenue, and increase the benefit and usefulness of your images to the client in the long run.

There are many ways to increase your revenue on any given assignment. This increase is, of course, beneficial to you, however, in the end, the client truly sees the value in what you're offering, or they wouldn't choose to make the added expense. It just doesn't hurt to ask!
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