I recieved a retort from a Chicago area photographer a week or so ago about an APA/Apple Store presentation he'd seen by Brittney Blair, Photo Editor of Chicago Magazine from back on February 11th. APA's website reports the presentation as "...Brittney’s Pro Session discussion focused on the best ways to break into photography, how to catch a photo editors attention, and steps to landing your dream assignment." However, one glaring issue arose. Ms. Blair is reported to have said, either exactly, or very near exactly, "You know that nobody can make a living off of editorial magazine photography."
I'll share what the attending photographer was infuriated about. He noted in his missive to me:
- Is she poisoning everyones expectations to keep their idea of how much they should charge lower?
- Secondly, don't magazine writers earn a living?
- Don't magazine editors and PHOTO EDITORS earn livings?
- Doesn't the publisher of a magazine earn a living?
- Don't the ad sales team earn livings?
- Doesn't the printer of a magazine earn a living?
- In fact they would EXPECT to.
- Why should editorial photographers have to believe they can't earn a living????
- Isn't a photo on the cover what sells a magazine to the casual shopper?
- Are not photos the "stoppers" that capture something like 1.7 seconds of a page flippin' reader's attention and get them to read the article?
"She later went on to say that she know sometimes that with pre-production and expenses a photographer might only break even or lose money on a shoot but that the exposure in a regional publication is worth it. Would she accept breaking even or losing money on HER job to be worth the exposure?? Maybe for an intern, but not a professional. Are the guest "experts" we as photographer flock to for advice telling the truth or building the walls of a ghetto?"Well said, well said.
I will note that I was a previous speaker at an APA/Apple Store Presentation in that same store in Chicago just over a year ago, and my message was exactly opposite this one. Further, Friday I completed a profitable editorial assignment, and today, Monday, I am completing both a profitable editorial assignment as well as an even more profitable corporate assignment.
I will say, APA nor Apple vetted these message points - they surely did not vet mine before I presented. I know that APA's thought process is 100% contrary to several of the points reported out above. Further, the good folks at Apple are truly committed to helping photographers succeed, hence not only this APA seminar series, but also, their ASMP seminar series, both of which have been extremely well received.
Even if this photo editor did not say this (and I believe this photographer's reporting that she did), it stands as a common mentality amongst many photo editors who believe we should all be blessed to have our work appear in their publications. Think again - its' our work that will enhance the otherwise blank or text-filled pages you are printing on those presses of yours.
You, dear photo editors, should be fighting to pay us assignment fees that you know will allow us to sustain ourselves. I know many that do, and I work for a substantial subset of that group. I appreciate the photo editors that I work for, and who look out for the creatives that supply art for their pages.
Further, the good folks over at Editorial Photographers, EP President Brian Smith among them, would also take issue with her suggestion of how the world turns for photographers. Or, perhaps, I am sounding a bit like the Bitter Photographer now?
To those of you who are content in your full time, self-sustaining jobs where you know the assignment fees you are paying photographers do not sustain your talent pool, I say, bollocks to you.
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