Sunday, August 10, 2008

I Pledge To Screen My Photographers More

With thanks to the multi-tasking Daryl Lang over at PDN, for bringing to our attention the member of the press corps who interupted the speech by Sen. Barack Obama recently (Video: Obama Photographer Self-Destructs, 8/7/08). Go watch the video, and read what Daryl wrote, and follow his links. In short, a credentialed member of the press covering the news made himself the news.

This isn't new. And Let's remember folks - you get what you pay for.

(Continued after the Jump)

Let's be clear - this photographer was working for Bloomberg News, and I know full well that they have a great deal of assignments they need covered. But, the problem is, they don't have a stable of photographers everywhere, and they are harried. So, they cut corners, and when they are paying as low a wage and with as substantial a rights grab as they are, this is what they risk getting.

I can't tell you the number of times I have been in a press pen, and watched as other "members of the press" applauded and whistled when a speaker made a remark. Often, it's just one or two, and it happens a few times a month. It happens, and I cringe. Or, when I am at a press availability, and the "reporter", before asking their question, has to tell the musician just how many albums they have of the artists, and right after the press availability, are trying to get me, or some other member of the press to take a posed photo with their camera (usually a point and shoot) of them and the artist. I always decline, as do my professional brethren.

We are there to cover the news - whatever the news is. We are not there to fabricate the news or become the news. If there had been a forum for a Q&A with the candidate, then the question "why don't you start your events with the pledge of allegiance" might be appropriate - from a reporter. Surely, NOT from a photographer.

When you want a professional, hire one, and pay them a professional wage. When you're not paying a professional wage, the ones who look professional, act professional, shoot professionally, and are true professionals, will decline your assignment request. I recommend you take a minute to see how professional (and legendary) photographer PF Bentley handled a bad-deal situation in this previous post we did - At least the Hypocrite Knows Right from Wrong (1/11/07). When you have decided that any Joe can do your assignments as long as they have a camera and a few photos on a website, and the Joes that know that what you're paying isn't a fair wage, and say no, the Joes that don't know look at this as either a great opportunity to "build their portfolio", or, as a great opportunity to make a political statement.

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.

14 comments:

Mark Finkenstaedt said...

Is that a clamshell iBook he's using?

Holy Cow he should be fired just for that!!

Model (1999 early 2000)

CPU: PowerPC 750
CPU Speed 366 MHz
Bus Speed 66Mhz
Max RAM 288/320MB
12" screen
Video RAM 4MB

Original HD ..... 6GB!!

That's a pro who doesn't charge for his post production..much less his time.

MarcWPhoto said...

It would be amazing if the Obama campaign would tell the organization this guy was "working" for that they're not allowed to send anybody to his events for a month, or in some other way make there be actual consequences for this.

Unfortunately, that's not going to happen. :(

M

Anonymous said...

"It would be amazing if the Obama campaign would tell the organization this guy was "working" for that they're not allowed to send anybody to his events for a month, or in some other way make there be actual consequences for this."

If they did as you suggest, then they would be the stupid one.

No such thing as bad pr for the candidate as long as it is viewed.

All the postings I have read were positive for how the candidate managed the challenge.

And I don't think you can tie personal ethics to what amount of $$ is being paid to the shooter.

Edwards -- All American appearing, outstanding professional and look what we have recently learned. And he was closer to being in the White house than anyone reading or commenting on this.

Pay/money does not equate to ethics.

John Harrington said...

Appropriately paid photographers know what line not to cross. They know how to comport themselves, and so forth.

-- John

Cliff Owen said...

anonymous said: " ... And he was closer to being in the White house than anyone reading or commenting on this"

I spent ten years working in the White House, and many who read/comment on this have done more time there. Bad choice of words anon ;-)

___________

This guy should have never been hired by Bloomberg - looks like the assignment editor failed to vet the guy properly. One look at his online portfolio reveals a lack of experience.

I love his reaction to the video blogger following his departure from the event. Whining to the police like a 10-year old momma's boy.

GothamTomato said...

It is pretty clear that this guy is mentally unbalanced, but beyond that, I'm wondering what the ramifications are for the editor who hired him without vetting him (likely only to save a few bucks).

He sure made Bloomberg look stupid.

Anonymous said...

Bloomberg look stupid?

They are stupid and anyone who is willing to shoot for the sweatshop wages they offer............... well you can answer that yourself.

Anonymous said...

Man, these comments are weird...

The only way to know how someone's going to be,
under pressure,
is Trial By Fire.

The Fact(tm) of someone's establishment, pay-habit, equipment, etc, proves nothing.

( Henri Cartier-Bresson didn't use tons of pro gear & an assistant, did 'e?..

Was he better than us?
Was he discreet?
Was he Professional? )

Professionalism is a mixture of:

Technique
( got through systematic-practice )
Knowledge
( cultural/contextual, behavioral, resources, everything )
and Experience^Attitude
( being able to map earned knowing from the past into somehow-similar,
but differently-appearing "now",
in a way that is made of, and grows, competence, & keeps on keeping-on )

Missing any one of these elements,
== NOT professional, right?

How many of us have worked with someone who had all the appearance
of professionalism, but no experience,
and was so blind/naive as to make us want
to never work with 'em again?

How many of us have worked with someone who simply
didn't know how countless things are,
in "normal" context for our work?

How many of us have worked with someone who
didn't even have the ability to make their camera,
let alone the rest of their means, sing?

---

Look at the root of this, though!

Does the one sending the photog have these 3 elements?!??

Bingo!

So, Professional Competence has been removed,
for a Quick Buck,
back at harpycorp,
based on the assumption that the market hasn't any alternative to choose instead...

---

1. That Isn't Sustainable,
IF there is competition.

2. IF alternative exists,
competence-loving market prefers it.

3. IF we want that competence-loving result,
awaiting Degenerate Establishment's making of it,
is mindless!
If WE want that result,
then we have to make that alternative-existing thrive.

Remember when photog co-ops were good/powerful/effective?

Anyone here got the guts to create/instigate such a thing, nowadays,
in one's local market/niche,
with the few necessary/best others?

Remember the point, by the most effective investors?
When the market is down, then invest,
& earn the marketshare that becomes significant!

Cheers!

Anonymous said...

Bloomberg isn't alone here with low pay and rights grabbing contracts. Most if not all of the news wires including AP, Reuters, AFP, and Getty Images News, all have rights grabbing contracts and plenty of naive freelancers or "stringers" lining up to work for them left and right. If you have an online portfolio and can hold down your finger long enough for your camera's motor drive to capture the "decisive moment", you're good enough for them. Many newspapers also play this game of hiring a warm body for low pay and all rights, including the Washington Post. This practice will continue until photographers begin to recognize these bad deals for what they are, stand up, and walk away.

Will Seberger said...

@anonymous directly above me:

To play devil's advocate:

What are the photogs to do? Just walking away isn't really an option for a lot of folks.

It's infinitely harder to get reasonable work if you can't demonstrate that you've published in the Grey Lady, or had your stuff carried by AFP.

(And I think a lot of people would take exception to the notion that they'll use anyone with a pulse.)

Shooting for these organizations is also one of the only ways to get access to the really big/important events and people that make portfolios.

It's also about the only way less experienced photographers (from a networking standpoint) can get out and establish the networks that will define their careers.

The "dream team" in Beijing now all got started in the big leagues at Allsport. I never worked for them, but I wonder how we would view their business practices today in relation to AFP and the dead tree movers?

We'd all love to believe (and in some people's eyes it is true) that a good photo is a good photo, but with a lot of editors and ADs, especially local and regional ones, an OK photo of a celeb is better than a good photo of someone unknown. You get those photos, for the most part, these days by stringing for big newspapers and wire services.

Someone earlier on in their career has little choice but to go after these assignments.

Those who are good enough business people will probably work themselves out of it, and those that aren't will drop off.

I know an awful lot of shooters , and have a really hard time finding anyone who had a career worth talking about income-wise before age 35 or 40 (assuming they started in their mid-20's). Almost all of them started out with crappy, low-paying assignments.

The smart ones moved up and still shoot (or at least had the option to continue on), and the other ones become bankers, managers, lawyers, carpenters and firefighters.

Seems to me that it takes 7-15 years as a freelancer getting by on decreasingly less crappy assignments to get to the 'near-permanent A-list' income/brand-recognition level.

Does it need to change? Yeah, that would be nice.

Will it? Probably not. At least, not until those of us in this partially screwed 'generation' of the business are the ones signing the paychecks as editors, ADs and publishers.

And even then, maybe nothing will change...

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Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

^^ nice blog!! thanks a lot! ^^

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