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.
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.
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