Monday, June 23, 2008

Free Not Working for Thee?

Recently, there's been a great deal of discussion about working for free over at the SportsShooter website - (Working for free, Working for Free - Part 2, Unpaid spreading like the Flu, When is it ok to work for free) , and over at the Photo District News forums - This industry sucks with low ball photographers. We were also critical of doing so with Cal Sports Media (Speculative Photography - The SPEC-agency's Mentality, 10/23/07) on the subject. Appeals abound even on Craigslist - HELP! If you have access to a favorite sport; or "Compensation will be a commemorative t-shirt and a ticket to the banquet..." and they go on and on.

I hear a great deal from photographers who are asked to work for free, or whom were replaced by someone willing to work for photo credit, and paying to shoot something (by way of paying un-reimbursed expenses associated with the no fee shoot).

Re-enter US Presswire. We were critical of their contract and business dealings (US Presswire - Introduction, 7/27/07) last Summer. Now, it looks as if they're running into problems with getting enough free photographers to work for them.

Here's the letter, which went out from Bob Rosato, Founder, President, and owner of US Presswire:

(Continued after the Jump)

Greetings to all-

I mentioned to you all in a previous email we have several new deals in the hopper. Some of these deals and some we want to work on require us as an
organization to have enough day to day coverage to package for those deals.

In the fall, many photographers will come back and be ready for football coverage. We are in need of more day to day baseball coverage. But some
have not committed to shooting much if any baseball or other events in the respective areas.

What this will ultimately cause is us not to have teams credential us for playoffs, or possibly the following year. We don’t need to cover every game
every day, but we need more. If we bring in new people who are committed to shooting baseball and other events, then come time for football both college and pro, we have to give them consideration in areas where photographers are shooting very little if at all.

If any of you have questions about this, you need to get with me or Dan. But we need to be more aggressive with our coverage overall. We’d rather
have your help to do this in our MLB cities, but if we cant accomplish the goal with you, we have to look elsewhere for help and the will jeopardize
football credentials come fall because we are not going to over saturate any area and we’ll only get so many passes. Our relationship with the NFL and
the schools has improved over the years and we expect bigger things this year.

Everyone in the MLB markets needs to step it up a bit so we can continue to put packages together for sales potential as well as the deals we have in
place. Once again, I assure you we are working long and hard hours to resolve issues and we need your help as well.

I cannot emphasize how strong our placement in the market is becoming and the pending deals we have going on will excite everyone once they are
closed. I need to hear from you.

Thanks for everything!

At what point does the fun of shooting a professional sports game from the sidelines wear off? After the last free hotdog/soda voucher? When you realize you've paid $200 in parking in recent months and not even seen $50 as your portion of sales? When your image that ran in X publication just included the "Photo: US Presswire" and not your name, so you couldn't brag about it to your friends? When the sales you "received" were reversed as they were actually part of a promotional deal with the publication to try to get them to sign a deal?

It seems, from the USPW letter, that there are a lot of fans of football. Why might this be? Perhaps for the weekend/evening games, allowing for a "day job" during the week to subsidize the weekend warrior-photographer thing? Perhaps it's that there are 4 pre-season games and about 16 other games, from August through December, as compared to about 162 for baseball during their season. That means it's probably pretty hard to get someone to work for free for 81 days a year, on top of their day job! (as if 1/2 of the games are at home). And this doesn't even take into consideration all the other sporting events - college/etc, they no doubt want you to cover as well.

The hook is that if you put in your time - "If we bring in new people who are committed to shooting baseball and other events, then come time for football both college and pro, we have to give them consideration in areas where photographers are shooting very little if at all." then the rub is this -- your time shooting for free a sport which you've previously not been interested in, will give you priority for the few football games you actually are interested in. Then he goes on to say "if we cant accomplish the goal with you, we have to look elsewhere for help and the will jeopardize football credentials come fall because we are not going to over saturate any area." So, if you won't work for free now, we'll find someone who will, and then they'll get first priority for the free press credentials for football.

Between Major League Baseball, and Major League Football, covering these sporting events for free, for the purpose of getting a credential is just not a wise move. Instead, if USPW provided a guarantee for every game covered, of, say $400, plus they covered the expenses, that would begin to be reasonable. This way, they guaranteed you $400, and if your images earned less than that FROM THAT GAME, you still kept the money for your efforts. If you earned more than the $400, you still got your share. This is a common pricing structure for Time/Warner properties, like Time magazine, so it's surely not foreign to someone on staff at another Time/Warner property - Sports Illustrated - Bob Rosato - who also wrote this e-mail as a part of his role with USPW - Owner, President, and founder.

It's one thing to shoot for peanuts when you're a stay-at-home-mom making photos while your child naps, or you file your images from your vacation with a microstock house for a few bucks of spending money down the line, but to commit days and days worth of work with little hope of compensation is just going to wear thin sooner rather than later.

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.


Anonymous said...

It's amazing to me that a big media company like SI would put up with this obvious conflict. This Rosato guy would have been fired at any other newspaper or magazine in the country for conflict of interest by now.

Anonymous said...

How many sports photographers do you know who actually get anything close to your idea of a guaranteed 400 on top of 50% of sales down the road? I think you are living in a dream world if you think more than maybe a handful of sports photographers in the country could negotiate for a deal anything close to that. Most photogs these days happily accept a 400 dollar buyout and never make another penny off the images again. If you are an average and or lazy photographer then maybe thats a good deal but if you have the talent and the drive to actually work hard and submit quality images as well as stock images then shooting on spec is essentially the only way to go. Less and less good photographers own their images these days so those who do will thrive down the road. With more and more publications/papers/wires reducing staff and going with stringers who accept a buyout then owning your images will only get better. The industry is changing and perhaps its time for you to change your set in stone ideas that the industry will ever be returning to how it was back in the 80s and 90s. The more I read about how you preach on this topic the more you come across as a bitter old photographer who was unable to adapt to the changing world of photography.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous; I like this "bitter old photographer" part that you've posted.

You make it seem that someone who so fully believes that photographers should be treated with respect and paid what they are worth is bitter and is not willing to accept change.

Nothing further could be the truth.

Please crawl back into your bedroom in your parents basement and go back to playing Grand Theft Auto; hopefully you're better at that than you are judging the business of photography. Your lack of knowledge of this business is really astounding.

You my friend are part of the reason we have to go over this topic again and again, so that you might just stop trying to be the expert you're not; and think about the future of this business and where it is headed. The future is only going to become more difficult for all of us if these leeches who have nothing more to offer than a photo credit; get "photographers" to work for free or little money. Think about this Einstein; how valuable of a commodity is something if you can get it for free?

"Most photogs these days happily accept a 400 dollar buyout and never make another penny off the images again" well you dumbass that's not the way this business was done and it surely isn't way it should go; so why don't you post a follow up and enlighten us on how to make a living shooting for photo credits and spec.

If you don't have anything more to add then shut your uneducated pie hole.

BTW what's your high score?

Craig said...

I think John hit the nail on the head with this article, and it is gratifying to see that USPW is running into problems getting free photographers to cover MLB for them.

In response to @Photographer, although I appreciate your frustration with Anonymous in comment #2 with his "wisdom" about "the industry is changing..." and "you come across as a bitter old photographer..." maybe Bob Rosato was using the comment section to educate John on how he wants to see the industry change and was stuck using "anonymous" because he just didn't have time to sign up for a Blogger account. ;-))

Will Seberger said...

Nice post.

I fully agree with just about everything you've said, and personally, as a guy walking around with tens of thousands of dollars worth of equipment, I don't think $400 per assignment for a wire service or national publication is at all out of line.

So many of us seem to see eye to eye on the problems facing the business.

How do we go about turning them around?

Blog-beating is great (I just got done tearing apart You Witness News last week), but seems ineffective.

So what's next?

John Harrington said...

Will --

I think that the very fact that USPW has to go out and tell it's free-shooting photographers that if they don't make themselves available to shoot some or much of the 81 baseball games, that they many not get a crack at the 20 or so football games is telling, in that they may well have gone through all the pro's that gave it a go in the startup phase, and also probably have gone through many of the SI assistants, and could well have further burned through many college photographers, that perhaps, in a small way, people are coming to realize, as you've noted, that carting around $10k-$20k in gear to shoot without an assignment fee paid, is not a viable option, and they are turning away?

One can only hope that they've seen that the light at the end of the tunnel is a freight train, and not freedom.

Anonymous said...

This is never going to end, There are far to many people who will work for free just to see there name by an image. This keeps me awake at night. I will not join Sports Shooter just because of all the "want to be's" or soccer moms, but what from I hear these "want to be's" keep excepting jobs from clients who find them on SS, then they bid to less if not free for the work and keep taking work from me or another in my city. What can we do as a whole, a union? Can anyone help us.

John we have a guy at the Suns games here in Phoenix that has a cred, rumor has it his cred is from a spanish TV station, a grip pass, he shows up 5 hours early takes the best seat on the baseline, sets up remotes, and the killer part is he posts his images on Photo Shelter and other internet sites. He has started his own Blog on how to shoot sports photography, is he looking to start his own blog like SS, he has creds to the WNBA and Arena football now. How is this happening.

I know college sports is a little different but a friend of mine, a photographer took an image at the Arizona State Sun Devils basketball game last season of 11 people sitting on the far end of the court shooting the game, how many of them were working photogs, try none of them. Help John, US Presswire is just not crushing all of us. The whole industry my friend is crazy right now.

I have one more for you. This years baseball regional at ASU for mens baseball, one visiting school had two guys bid on shooting a game for them, 1 game only. The two guys received $100 for the game, the college hired both of them. How do I know this because they almost got into a fist fight over it during the game, yes right there on the dug-out. The two of them were mad because they wanted to be the only shooter, The college received 2 cds worth of images for $200 instead of paying one professional guy what hes worth. I dare you to go to Vanderbilt Athletics site and tell me your honest opinion of the images taken, I think there horrible. I hope the school is happy. I hope ASU didnt mind 2 idiots arguing during there finest hour of baseball. Two non-professionals.

Sorry John, I cant vent to anyone else so I tried you. I have to go Anonymous, Im afraid of upsetting certain organizations or schools.

Anonymous said...

This statement by Anon (above) is incorrect:

"I will not join Sports Shooter just because of all the "want to be's" or soccer moms, but what from I hear these "want to be's" keep excepting jobs from clients who find them on SS, then they bid to less if not free for the work and keep taking work from me or another in my city." requires a portfolio review before membership is granted, and many people are turned away because their work doesn't exhibit any kind of professionalism.

You ask what you can do -- and then you say that you won't join SportsShooter -- which is probably the only photo community website that has a majority of its members speaking out against working for free.

If you're concerned about it, then you should speak about it, and you should educate those who don't know better - and there's no better place than SportsShooter if you're looking to reach the weekend warrior who will work for free.

They may not be members -- but they sure do read every word on that site.

By not being there, and refusing to participate, you are hurting your own cause.

Anonymous said...


Be careful....I know you're not for this either, but careful how you phrase it, as it might sound like shooting for free is actually ok for some people:

--"It's one thing to shoot for peanuts when you're a stay-at-home-mom making photos while your child naps, or you file your images from your vacation with a microstock house for a few bucks of spending money down the line..."

It's never ok to work for free. Period.

Anonymous said...

Being a photographer myself, I don't like to see other photographer's suffer; but to have a photographer start a business that brings down the value of those photographers that he represents...........Well there is a word in Webster's that would really describe him well.

I just don't know which word to choose.

Anonymous said...

Finally, true colors!
I hope people see what is WRONG with USPW format and stop supporting editorial clients who want to take advantage of hard working photographers. Bylines don't cut it anymore!!!! Editors know what photographs are worth, but they are too worried about their bottom line and their cushy corporate benefits. USPW supports this backwards format and pockets pennies on subscription sales to boot! DO NOT WORK FOR FREE... EVEN TO GET YOUR "foot" IN THE DOOR!

Anonymous said...

I agree with John that the wheels are falling off the wagon at US Presswire.

Bob is running out of warm bodies to shoot. The good ones will only shoot for free for so long, you know?

His other problem is, if he's not careful, he's going to start passing out credentials to people who have absolutely no clue and someone, probably very inexperienced, will end up doing something that will become a incident.

Then, just wait until various clubs start pulling credentials from USPW.

Being in business is a lot of things; one of the most important is being able to predict challenges before they occur and then correct them before they do. Bob's problem - not having enough skilled photographers - is testimony to that fact that he may not quite have that particular skill mastered. Of course, the problem would be solved if Bob would PAY the photographers.

That's the good news. The bad news is that there will be someone else, with a equally suspect business model, trying to foist their "FREE" offer out to photographers. The buzz will be different, but the net and net effect will be the same. I'm afraid too many will bite; if we're lucky - the damage will be minimal.

Anonymous said...

Isn't this the same theory that Icon SMI is based on?? Some high school kid whose daddy bought him a ton of expensive camera equipment and he's on the sidelines shooting for free?

Anonymous said...

What I don't get is that he leagues and teams are cracking down on legit media outlets that they've had good relationships with for years, but it still seems like pretty much any idiot can get a credential. If they spent as much time worry ing about newspaper slide shows as they do opening up the doors to anybody who shows up, things might be better for everybody.

Anonymous said...

First and foremost SPEC SUCKS.

With that being said, what about jumping ICON, Black Star, etc… ??

The list has gotten shorter over the years John, you well know, with bigger companies becoming bigger – Corbis buying Sygma, SIPA merging with some one else in europe (The latter two agencies were two of the best PJ agencies in the world for those too young to know.) And if it hadn’t been for French law changing, they would have stayed the best.

And of course, everyone’s big, bad evil empire -- Getty Images -- yes they let people shoot on SPEC as contributors.

Secondly, not always, now hear me out on this.

I shot News of all things for a French agency during the 1980s and then Picture Group on SPEC.

Hell Inside Sports/Football Digest used to send people out on spec as well. But, and I say BUT, back in the day of going off to an event, you knew what you needed for whom and maybe had someone at least covering some expenses plus a list of needs from a few pubs. No promises of payment, but at least a list of needs.

But I always played it smart. When I shot news it wasn’t every presser, or some meaningless accident etc… The same with sports. Knowing the market, being smart and knowing what CAN and WILL make money one can make money shooting spec.

Hell I’ve made upwards of $1500 off of one football game I shot 2 years ago. Good light, decent players, good stock. Being smart pays off. Of course I have been at games that SUCK and made just a few bucks.

So shooting spec doesn’t mean you can’t and won’t make money, just means you have to be smart about it.

One of the biggest problems today is hacks and wanta-bes not knowing the craft. Hell back in the day, I usually was $300-$400 in the hole when I walked into a football game . (film at $7-10 a roll, processing and God forbid if you needed it pushed etc…).

Now, one just needs a few bucks to buy a digital slr, a some what decent lens and a $30 flash card from the local electronics store and hey “I be a photographer sign around your neck.” We’ve all seen them, shit some are getting paid even.

Autofocus and digital has made tons of people “photographers.”

Ok, got off topic a bit, so is SPEC the end of the world? Ever shoot a self-assigned story??? OPPPPS.. you just shot spec.!!! Watch out.

Short answer is NO.

But what is the end is not being SMART, knowing the market and of course what will SELL.

However, realize this guy and gals, the world is changing. People aren’t paying what they should be or used to So adapt to it, learn to deal with it and find more avenues for you work, then again you have to be smart to do that.

Anonymous said...


Thank you for your tireless effort on behalf of professional photographers in the face of what seems to be a watershed of misunderstanding, mistrust and poor judgement by creative individuals who want, more than anything else, to succeed in their chosen endeavor/craft.

I appreciate most of all, your putting the spotlight squarely where it belongs.

"Directly on the Buyers".

I especially feel bad for honost folks in this business. Sure, it's all about money and results and a litiney of other things but last on that list for the buyers(IMHO)is first on the list for photographers - Honesty and Integrity.

If your not getting paid to shoot visit an elderly person at a nursing home or go to the local Childrens Hospital instead.

I guarantee you, you will be doing more good, you will feel better and you will most certainly be in better company and it will show in your images as well. I'd be willing to bet you would generate more paid work there than throwing away your time.

Lastly, if you don't go to a Nursing Home or Childrens Hospital, when you die, the slot they have for you in heaven might just go to someone who did.

Anonymous said...

Ha, Ha, Ha,Ha....................Hypocritesevery last one of you... on both sides of the argument.

The spec shooters making money and earning a living are the ones who produce images that sell. just because you have tens of thousands of dollars of equipment does not warrant your being paid $400.00 for covering a game.

Yeah, Yeah, yeah SI pays their guys $500.00 per game, but how many of those spots are there? and they are not calling any of you whiny posters here anyhow.

AP pays $250.00 per game and they own all rights to everything and now they want your entire take from the event, not just what you transmit, they want it all.

So I will continue to shoot on spec and own all my rights and get the industry rates paid to me for the images that are published, as long as I produce images that sell I have nothing to worry about.

Spec keeps you working for images at every event you cover,you have to have something different or they don't use your image,
instead of those staffers that just send in the standard boring shot, just open your daily newspaper, local or national and see the crap those staffers are turning in, grinding it out boring images after boring blah image. it is no wonder the Newspapers are cutting staff photo positions at the papers all over the country, why keep these guys on staff when you can get superior content from the wires? No benefits to pay, no workmans comp, no unemployment to contibute to.

What halfway educated CEO is not going to see the upside and drop the dead weight, who feel they are entitled to be there.

Perhaps you can not see the forest for the trees, you might want to temper your hatred for the spec shooter and the wires that are forging a pathe in the new way this business is evolving, as you very well may be there looking to shoot for wires like USPW and the like... and right soon.....

Anonymous said...

The comment about Newspaper photogs is way out of line! Look at most newspaper staffer's takes and what the bimbos that edit the paper use and you'll realize that the boring pix are simply the routine pictures that newspaper editors use over and over and over again. Newspaper staff photogs are making the pix, they just can't get them printed, at least in my neck o' the woods...

Anonymous said...

"Look at most newspaper staffer's takes and what the bimbos that edit the paper"

... ouch sounds like a shooter who's a little full of himself..

from one of those BIMBOS that use to edit the paper...

Anonymous said...

There's an old saying about how you learn more from your own mistakes than you do from other people's mistakes. It is absolutely true.

I shot 4 events for a "Spec Agency" service a little over a year ago to see what it was all about. I made a lot very solid, saleable images that would have been useful in a true wire service situation, as well as longer term stock photos of very well known athletes. I never made a single dime.

However, possibly the biggest reason to not whore yourself out to the modern day spec agencies (USPW, ICON, CalSport Media, etc..) is that editors and other photographers who can help you get real PAYING assignments will not respect you. I really regret shooting those events, because I can't help wonder if my being there on a spec agency credential damaged my reputation to a certain degree.

I'm glad I walked away from this no-win-scenario before I dug myself even deeper into it.

Anonymous said...

To the spec photographer who believes newspaper photographers are turning in boring photos and the like, has no clue how newspaper editors work. Sure it would be great if the newspaper photographer could work under the pretense that the best shot of the game makes the paper, but that is NOT how it works. Editors have the final say, and many fine photos never are seen. I agree with Ray, stop shooting for free and try to get a job in the business at a large publication. Good Luck, and by the way, why doesn't someone ask Rosato if he would work for FREE. NOT. Also I wonder if you have a full time job and are just shoot for the fun of it, like so many other clowns that are filling up the NFL sidelines

Anonymous said...

If you look at the entertainment industry, no one sets foot on a movie set w/o getting paid. And it's that way because the industry participants have banded together to form a union. AFTRA, SAG, ASCAP, Musicians Unions, you-name-it exist because people got sick of being taken. Photographers can solve this problem by forming a union, make it mandatory for all photogs to join, thus forcing buyers (newspapers, magazines, agencies) to pay us what we're worth. Sounds good, but the thing about photography is that it's so much fun, there are many people who will work for free, or on spec, and are thrilled to do so. There is no answer. It is what it is. Until we as participants in this industry are willing to pour the blood (literally), sweat and tears into unionizing, nothing is going to change. I hate unions, AFTRA never did me any personal favors when I was forced to join, but I sure had job security and better pay. They have their place in certain industries, and for better or worse, we need one BAD!!

Having said that, the question arises, where can a guy go to get experience? By being willing to shoot on spec, I learned to write captions, deliver on time, hone my craft, increase the quality of my shots, learn to deal with ADs and their staff members, protocol on the court and field, all the things that nothing but experience will teach. For someone who is willing to sacrifice now in order to learn for future opportunities, shooting on spec is the only way.

In the 1800's, the only way to learn a craft was to apprentice somewhere for next to nothing pay and schlepp status. After time, you learned and rose in the ranks. It's the same with photography now. It's the wild, wild west, my friend... the spoils go to those who are not afraid to invest in their own development and who pay attention when the opportunity strikes, and put to use what they learn on the way. Spec has it's place. I'm not afraid to shoot on spec, I do it on MY schedule, I own what I shoot, and I learn something on every shoot. If I put my effort into it, dedicated the time and display the intelligence and maturity to put myself forward as a valuable staffer somewhere, then it has been worth it. The cream ALWAYS rises to the top, but the milk has to be churned for a while before the cream is ready... and for those who get ready, the rewards can and will come. Long live spec! I only wish I could do editorial on spec... however, lacking a J degree that isn't likely, but one can hope!

I am sitting right in the middle of all these fires in California, and if I had a place to put them I could load an outlet UP with images... but, things being what they are... I just sit here processing portraits for paying clients when I'd rather be out shooting editorial or sports... and learning along the way.

Anonymous said...

It is interesting that the photographers from think that they have some special talent! esp. since that site had to limit their membership not by the quality of photos submitted but by knowing someone in the business.
Photographers are a dime a dozen.
The part timers that they always complain about are the people that usuallty have successful careers who enjoy taking sports photos in their spare time. In a lot of cases they could be full time professional photographers but why work in a dying field and hope that it will somehow change.

Anonymous said...

you wrote:
"it is interesting that the photographers from think that they have some special talent! esp. since that site had to limit their membership not by the quality of photos submitted but by knowing someone in the business.
Photographers are a dime a dozen.
The part timers that they always complain about are the people that usuallty have successful careers who enjoy taking sports photos in their spare time. In a lot of cases they could be full time professional photographers but why work in a dying field and hope that it will somehow change."

I'm on SportsShooter as well as here and other places. I have a degree in business, 30 + years experience in business as well as photography.

I write about the importance of having business skills, money management skills and feel that the problem ultimately comes down to photographers not having any business skills.

I am evidently one of those part timers you write about. I turn down stupid assignments and more than a couple lately because I know better. I have walked away from a low paying NFL assignment. The reality for me is that if a area newspaper wants something shot properly, they call me. Few have staff photographers and the few that do are young, inexperienced and looking to move on. Those I try to mentor on business.

Photographers a dime a dozen? Mediocre ones for sure. Developing ones' skill and having the business skills .. now, there's the rub.

As for SportsShooter, your assertion that you have to know someone rings of spoiled milk. They want someone to recommend you, but they also review your work. Do I agree with everyone they let in? No, but it's not my website - it's Bert's, Brad's and Grover's and overall I think they do a spectacular job.

One last thing, you wrote that it's a dying business. Maybe. But it's actually a business that is in transition. Will it be the same 10 years from now? Hell, it won't be the same 10 minutes from now. I understand most of the forces causing the changes, but I'm far more interested in seeing what develops to take it's place. Something will. My marketing experience (and degree btw) tells me that the more mediocre or just plain bad photography there is, the more opportunity there will be for good, dynamic photography. Hope that it will change? IT WILL CHANGE. That, I am totally convinced of.

The business savvy, creative and dynamic individuals that have the skills both in photography and business will lead the way.

Sorry for the rant, but I have preached in my business career, photography career and volunteer career that you can't embrace the future until you let go of the past.

Whoever you are, you seem to me bound and determined to hold on to the past.

Anonymous said...

Good Grief(tm)!

So "the world's changing",
that's "news"?

So erosion is happening.

Does that mean your or my work happens to be owned by social erosion?

Have some self-command/self-confidence, ye of fainting heart..

It *doesn't matter* if everyone else in the world prostitutes themselves for a pittance of social-attention, because *I'm not them*.

If I *mean* it, & train, push me, develop, Strobe at my subjects, everything & anything to strive & improve...

Then my timing is going to be better, my intuition about where to be, when, is going to be better
( 2 tips there: work through The New Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain" by Betty Edwards, PhD, for Totality/Pattern-knowing, to notice what linear-mind is ignoring, and 2, discuss with your partner/friend every morn, your dreams, for sensing what your fundamental mind is *trying* to say into *your* surface knowing -
- HUGE gains in intuition & grace flowing through one's life, from those simple 2 processes )..
one's Quality & Competence of Work is going to be *better*.

So, when they insist I sell my work as worthless, because they want it, and want to not-pay for it,
and I say No, they,
gnash their teeth at me?
Tell me they won't like me?
Who Cares?

Only by refusing to be (ab)used can my worth BECOME growing,
let alone develop into something good & strong & its-own-self!

And the work of someone who means it, IS different...

It isn't a question of Everyone(tm) being one's customer,
Everyone isn't one's customer.

ONLY those who value one's work,
and exchange worth for worth,
are one's customers.

Let go of the parasitic idiocies,
let 'em get their self-esteem from shared social appearances,
and It Doesn't Matter.

Nonsense doesn't own us,
doesn't own me,
so that & I am separate.

No need to rant; no need to fight.

Competence is known by the competence-loving,
as worthy of knowing,
& when you look across a room filled with sycophants,
& see some commander ( self-command, *as opposed to* authority-over-others, but not owning-self! )
see clearly what is:

Whom do you want to be of-the-same-kind as?

The self-owner!

If that effect blows through your heart,
how can you doubt it does also,

So, peopleses,
read "Corps Business: the 30 MANAGEMENT PRINCIPLES of the US Marines"
( David H. Freedman, editor of Forbes, or something :),
& know that the only way to grow one's competence,
is to honour it,
to respect it,
to bulldoze *everything* that reduces honest competence from your heart/world,
and to become what your heart means!


Anonymous said...

Why are people working for free killing the photography business?

I am a computer programmer full time and I work for free doing a web sit for our church.

We have an accountant that volunteer’s her services.

My doctor spends 4 weeks a yr. Working for free in different countries.

The list goes on.

I do not hear any of these professions complaining about people working for free.

Maybe you should look at what is really killing your business….

Good Luck


Anonymous said...

This guy Rosato is such a hypocrite and an ass. Back in the day when he was begging for work he wouldn't pick up a camera without being paid and he bad-mouthed those photographers that did. His road to where he is today is covered in all the people he's stepped on along the way. He's a sell-out with no extraordinary talent and will go down as one of the destroyers of an honorable profession.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous June 24 2106 said
If you look at the entertainment industry, no one sets foot on a movie set w/o getting paid. And it's that way because the industry participants have banded together to form a union. AFTRA, SAG, ASCAP, Musicians Unions, you-name-it exist because people got sick of being taken. Photographers can solve this problem by forming a union, make it mandatory for all photogs to join, thus forcing buyers (newspapers, magazines, agencies) to pay us what we're worth.
I am news photo editor who has also worked in the movie industry and was once a member of the Writers Guild.

In the United States, thanks to a Supreme Court decision on the movie business back in the 1930s, which said a freelance union is "restraint of trade," if you have a union you are working for hire. Period. You become an employee and everything you do belong to your employer.

There are advantages to this arrangement, it's no different than being an employee of a newspaper, or news agency and being a member of the Newspaper or Wireservice Guilds. You get a steady paycheck and benefits (I hope).

But if you want to freelance, unfortunately, in the US, a union is NOT an option. Outside the US where there wasn't that kind of decision, as in Canada or the UK, you can have a freelance union without losing your rights to resell material as you see fit (if of course the business wasn't so completely consolidated) The European Union has a strong moral rights law and the UK and Canada have middle strength moral rights laws.(that means no one can change your work without permission) But in the US the big media conglomerates have always been able to block strong moral rights laws (as opposed to copyright, of course, because they own the copyright, because their unionized employees have to give up copyright)

ASCAP on the other hand,might be a model. ASCAP is not a union but a licencing association for music creators (composers, songwriters etc) and a central clearing house.

In other words, a photographers' ASCAP would be like a giant Magnum with a database as big as Getty.
But ASCAP was founded in 1914, in the days of sheet music and then progressed into vinyl, movies, radio and CDs.

I am afraid it's probably already too late. If for some reason someone had formed a Freelance Photographers Association, in would probably have had to be in the 1920s, when innovations in printing brought in both the tabloid newspapers and the glossy picture magazines. But in those days it was easy for a good photographer to make money so there was no reason to form the FPA.

Forming a new union is not likely an option either, too hard to get it started and legally organized.
The best idea, if people would want to go that route, is to find a union that is expanding its base, one reason SEIU is now the largest union in North America.
The Canadian Auto Workers now more members outside the auto sector than building cars (even before the current crisis) including university staff, casino workers
health care (see

I have no connection with either union but have reported on them

Will Seberger said...

@Anonymous above this post:

Interesting. I've spoken with a few folks who seem to think that it is completely possible to legally circumvent ant-trust laws as they pertain to freelance unions and trade groups.

Others suggest that very little in the business world is legal or illegal until several judges rule on the matter...

Just look at the anti-competitive behavior exhibited by so many of the Fortune 100 companies.

(If you'd like, click my name to get in touch with me. I'd like to talk this over a bit further with you via email.)

Even more interesting is the notion of the association. Although it would be difficult to start now, I think it's a pretty good time to do so.

Just as the 1920's were a great period of labor movements, the print industry is once again changing dramatically.

In fact, as the players small and large shed staffers like sunburnt skin, I would suggest that freelancers will once again see a lot more of the action. Especially as the newsgathering and delivery processes change.

Frankly, just because an association has to own rights to the work, that doesn't mean that they can't guarantee the original creator permanent display, art resale and residuals on future licensing...

Anonymous said...








El Suscrito said...

Hi there, Happy New Year. Reading the posts and for some one who is starting out as a freelancer, how do you get a press pass to shoot a professional sports game - major league baseball as an example? Because if you are not close to the action you don't get nice pictures and no nice pictures there is nothing to sell. So, ¿ how do you break this circle ?

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Anonymous said...

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