Friday, January 18, 2008

Message to Magnum - Pass The Dutchie, You've Had Too Much

As I was waiting for video files to render for an upcoming project, I took a few processor cycles to browse my site logs to see where traffic for the blog was coming from yesterday, and there was an uptick coming from Paul Melcher's blog, so I sauntered over to see what he'd written. Paging down aways, I did a double-take as I read what must have been sheer lunacy. A quick search and click to Daryl Lang's story on PDN - Magnum Photos Teams With OnRequest For Commercial Work (1/17/07) validated my concerns, but did not sit well with me.

Now, it is rumored that more than one Magnum photographer has on occasion been known to partake in the weed that dare not speak its name. As most drug counselors will ask you when you come in for rehab, "does your using create problems in your life in regards to work, family or friends?" It seems to me some members of this stately cooperative have been partaking enough to impair their work judgment and should reevaluate their recreational activities for the longevity of their organization. Their common sense seems to now be off the deep end, with the legendary Magnum Photos making a deal with bad business model purveyor (remember CustomStock?) David Norris.

(Continued after the Jump)

Note to Norris - nice coup, but when this falls apart, as it no doubt will, this should send you packing to some other industry, ripe for the brand of business model you propose. I suspect this will stave off the investors awhile longer before the are clamoring for better quarterly reports with "damn the photographers, profit at any price!"

Note to Magnum - really, lay off whatever has deluded you. Melcher sent you in the right direction. Here's a single link so you can read the rest of what I've written about Norris and OnRequest.

Who's responsible for this debacle at Magnum? I know it can't be Sue Brisk, if for no other reason than she's the editorial director (i.e. not responsible for commercial projects), and I found her to be a reasonable person when I had a few interactions with her during her time when she was at Sipa in NYC. Maybe it was Diane Raimondo, Magnum's Advertising/Corporate Director, who (apparently) spent time working at the United Nations Population Fund, and just might have gotten some of the UN's silly mojo about how businesses should be run? Whomever it was, Managing Director Mark Lubell had to sign off on such a sweeping deal, and he was reported in PDN to have said "OnRequest is really a support system for production," and "They have a first-class production team."

Really? Do you really think that? Did you look under the hood? "first class" is not the phrase I would use, not by a longshot.

Lubell then seems to go further down the rabbit hole, when their press release that went out over Businesswire quoted Lubell:
“We are very excited to be working with a partner that has such a deep passion for quality and respect for artists.”
What alternate universe do you live in where OnRequest has had a track record of respect for artists? What "passion for quality?" Did you not read the ASMP's Analysis of OnRequest Images 'Custom Stock' (October 2004), or their Analyzing the OnRequest assignment contract (December 2005)? Reading those would be simple due diligence, and the insights there, and from PDN (setting aside my blog, if you'd like) would preclude you from suggesting semi-superlatives like "deep passion" when referring to OnRequest.

Back in August of 2006, Mark was quoted as saying ""I think it's fair to say that Magnum was still functioning on a dying business model...". Mark, didn't you look at Norris' own statements about his failed model for CustomStock that were reported here? Are you as suceptible to the dot-com mentality now as you were back around 2001? OnRequest is not Web 2.0, they are, at best, Web 2.NO!

IF you want a first class production team, there's plenty in the NYC area that could support your talented photographers. Outsourcing your commercial production to a company headquartered in Seattle can't be sound thinking.


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.

12 comments:

Tomas Stargardter said...

I just don't get it. Why do we allow these middlemen parasites to take over our business when we know we are getting screwed? When WE now have the means to do it ourselves.

Anonymous said...

HA HA
HO HO
This OnRequest thing really blows.

Repeat 3 times.

Now go to them and sever your agreement with them, because you have just been had. This deal will turn out to be just like playing 3 Card Monte with a Times Square hustler in the 80's. You think that you know that the golden ring is there somewhere, but you never find it; and you always lose. And the funny thing is that this deal abuses the very people that built this thing from the ground up.

Just when you thought that there was one photo agency that would stand above the Getty's, the WireImage's and the rest of the lot; they go and do this.

Perhaps you should change the name of the company now that you've inked this great deal.

May I suggest Magnum P.I.?

For Magnum Phucking Idiots? Perhaps.

Shame Shame Shame

Anonymous said...

So typical.......a photojournalism photo agency helping to deliver a death blow to the very genre that conceived it.

A photojournalist agency committed to helping photojournalists get screwed even more while they do (hopefully) high paying advertising gigs.

Well if they run this new part of the business, like they've been running their core business; I'm sure that the $1.98 ad campaign is coming soon.

Anonymous said...

What's the difference between Magnum Photos photojournalist and a paparazzi?

The Paparazzi makes more money and shoots circles around the photojournalist. Plus he doesn't get screwed by OnRequest.

Anonymous said...

Easy now John. I know a lot of freelance photographers that like to enjoy some cannabis now and then. However, none of them would ever consider any involvement with OnRequest. Just say no!

Anonymous said...

John

When you are a potential member, you say nothing bad about Magnum. When you are an associate member, you dare not say anything bad about Magnum, when you are a full member, say what ever you want.

Not that many of us would ever be considered for membership.

This "deal" sounds rotten to the core. Frankly, I am surprised that was even considered.

I don't see how they can help. The idea that these folks (Norris and Company) are a good production house for Magnum to use......excuse me...Magnum is in New York and Paris ...the best producers in the world live in those cities.

Penny wise, pound foolish

Anonymous said...

John

When you are a potential member, you say nothing bad about Magnum. When you are an associate member, you dare not say anything bad about Magnum, when you are a full member, say what ever you want.

Not that many of us would ever be considered for membership.

This "deal" sounds rotten to the core. Frankly, I am surprised that was even considered.

I don't see how they can help. The idea that these folks (Norris and Company) are a good production house for Magnum to use......excuse me...Magnum is in New York and Paris ...the best producers in the world live in those cities.

Penny wise, pound foolish

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Anonymous said...

I never worked for UN's Population Fund. I did license Magnum Photos to the UN for many years.

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