Let’s talk about contracts!

Shortly after the three song rules started coming into play, more rules started cropping up. Prime among them was a contract that appeared in an envelope with the photo pass, which had to be signed before the photo pass could be used. Some of them were fairly innocuous, such as a clause stating that the photos could only be used for editorial purposes, and not for merchandising. Since that was what we were already doing, it was easy to sign. The clause that caused a big problem was “You can only sell a photograph to one magazine” which you had to designate on the contract.
Let’s dissect that for a second. I have spent my entire adult life perfecting my craft (Still haven’t gotten there yet.) I have spent many thousands of dollars purchasing the best equipment money can buy to pursue my chosen profession. When the bands who were providing these contracts were started out, they wanted me to get my photos in as many publications as possible, to help further their career. As soon as they get to the point where their pictures would be saleable the restrictions started.
Let’s talk about the monetary equation. I walk out of my house with about $20,000.00 worth of equipment. Another $10,000.00 worth of computer equipment waits for me at home. (Back in the days of film, I would have about 30 rolls of film in my bag- with processing costs, and shipping to magazines, it would cost me about $250.00 minimum to shoot three songs of a major band.) Most publications pay in the range of $50.00 to $250.00 per photo. So let’s do the math- even today in the era of digital photography, factoring in gas and tolls, I could probably expect to make about $150.00 for about seven hours of my time (Travel time, getting to the show an hour before the start time to beat traffic, waiting at the box office for a pass that is not always there, and travel home after- a few hours of computer time at home to edit and archive and email out). That comes to a little more than what the hourly wage is for a fast food worker- and they don’t have to purchase $30,000 worth of equipment to serve burgers!
Another part of this problem is the history angle. Over my career, I have photographed about 3900 artists. Although I don’t shoot much anymore, I make my living, such as it is, by selling archival images to magazines television and especially record companies for repackaging of their product. Too bad they won’t have much of a choice of images 10 years down the road, due to the fact that everyone is shooting the same three songs, and are not allowed to sell them those images!!
Some examples coming next week!

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