Friday, April 9, 2010

Who Gets Paid What? Getty & Corbis Edition

Paul Melcher, over at Thoughts of a Bohemian, writes about the salaries of staffers of Getty and Corbis in this article, and I strongly encourage you to read what your "support staff" is getting paid, if you work for one of those companies. Moreover, if the "support staff" for a photo organization gets paid over $100k, for example, shouldn't the talented photographers who are actually creating the stuff that is being sold (and thus, needs support!) should be getting paid more?!?!

(Continued after the Jump)

As of right now, there are 330 jobs listed on for "photographer" here, including staff photographer jobs for (here), and (here), but what I just don't see is (or any other service for that matter) listing photographer jobs for the staff positions at Getty and Corbis, because they likely pull from their contractors, or get photographers via world-of-mouth. Would it ever be that a support staffer for a major sports league get paid more than the players on the field that are in the game? Why isn't this same mentality applied to the creative talents of staffers at Getty and Corbis?

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M said...

I reviewed the article and it's not clear why you refer to the positions listed as "support staff". Having worked in technology, marketing, sales, and programming these people may take offense at the tone of you comment. I agree that photographer don't get paid what they are worth. I've been in photography now for some time and appreciate the financial and/or business challenges.

In considering companies such as Corbis or Getty this mistake is made that these companies are in the photography business. That's the operational perception. These companies mission statement and business model tend more clearly present the thought process behind their business model, and it most cases it's not photography. Their business is service and convenience. Much like Amazon they take a consumable and look for an alternative cost-effective way to better serve a target audience. Labeling the people working there as "support staff" minimizes what they do and just stirs up contention that's unproductive.

John Harrington said...

M wrote "these people may take offense at the tone of you comment." If you're not happy in your station in life, then change it. It stands that Getty is in the business of licensing images, period. The creators of the images are the photographers, and EVERYTHING else stands in "support" of the creation of the salable product.

-- John

M said...

Interesting way to's no wonder why many people feel that photographers are arrogant and don't appreciate the world outside of their own.

These are people, you would choose to alienate, are people that could help to grow the appreciation for what we as photographers do and its impact on the business world. Computer software developers have faces similar challenges relative to intellectual property. In working for corporations they regularly have to go through patent exercises on behalf of the company while reaping non of the financial benefits. It is by choice that they work where they work but in many cases they have no choice in having to do the patent work even though their employer will readily say this is above and beyond their job.

As a photographer I want to reach out to a wide range people across business demographics. Having worked on the client side of the table something that I saw all the time was misconception run a muck. Quite often the justification exercise was made even harder by prejudices on all parts.

Categorizing Getty and Corbis as you do shows a lack of business prowess. I don't care much for any of these companies. Unfortunately the world in which we live these are rewarded for their existence. That same world tends to profess an appreciation for creative talent, but doesn't want to reward its existence.

Andrew Boysen said...

Playing devils advocate - but the people buying pictures from these agencies would probably also consider the photographers to be support staff. They're looking for a lot of things in addition to just a picture, but their product in all likelihood isn't the picture (or even what the picture is portraying).

The money follows the scarce value, and a lot of people want to take pictures. Many support staffers in the major leagues do indeed make more than many of the players on the field. The attorney and agent negotiating the contracts probably make more than the average player (though they're only getting a cut from each player they support). The guy who owns the parking lot near the stadium probably makes as much in a year as the top players on the team. Not saying it's fair (and certainly photographers should fight for their share), but the market sets a lot of prices that it would be easy to complain about, but that are very defensible.

JeffGreenberg said...

Much more than a handful of Getty & Corbis contributors do receive annual commissions higher than highest staff annual salaries listed, IMO.

Those that don't have many options, including:
1. upping their game
2. refusing to accept less than 50/50
3. forming a commune stock agency
4. applying for staff position

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