Someone just sent me a pretty interesting article today. It is an article in Arts Journal by John Rockwell in which he eulogizes a publicist friend of his. Here is an example:
Edgar’s death set me to thinking about publicists. Ideally there should be a certain tension between press and publicists, but that relationship changes with the personality and position on each side of the divide. Press agents who represent famous clients spend more of their time warding off the press than hustling for stories, let alone Page Six mentions. Of late some of the big-name Hollywood press agents, those who demand copy and photo approval and guaranteed covers, have become awesomely obnoxious. Junior critics and reporters, or those working for marginal outlets (like, now, the blogs to which I contribute), can expect dismissive treatment from most press agents, who spend much of their time fending off requests for free tickets. Writers for major publications like the New York Times get fawned over, or at least treated courteously.
While the basic tension does and should exist between writers and the representatives of the written about, it’s not surprising that friendships and respect should arise. Young people who love the arts find no easy career path into the field. Some become writers, some publicists, some managers or agents or curators. They share a passion that often overrides any supposed division of responsibilities. And rightly so.
It is interesting to hear this perspective from a legendary writer. If only it was so in the music business! The relationship between photographer and publicist is completely adversarial. Part of it is because there are so many photographers who are not really working journalists- like the quote above, they are just looking for free tickets.
The other part of the equation is this:
It is really difficult to respect a photographer who gives away his or her work for free. During my short stay at the Pitchfork Festival this past summer, I was introduced to two photographers who were the “official” Pitchfork photographers. We started up a conversation. I asked them what hotel the festival was putting them up in, and when they were flown in. They both laughed! Turns out that “Official” tag means that they find their own way to Chicago, sleep on friends floors, and give Pitchfork all of their photos to use for free. For this they get no money whatsoever (But they get to eat lunch and dinner backstage). So that is a plus!!
A few days ago I picked up a magazine (A free one) called Emerging Photographer published by Sony and Photo District News. In the magazine is an article titled “For free or not for free.” A few experts are asked when it is right to work for free-
Dennis Keeley: Never! (He does say that a great portfolio piece is worth something.)
Graham Mitchell: Work for free once and clients will come to expect it of you.
So what is to take from all this?? If you work as a professional, more than likely publicists will have more respect for you and give you more access! (Hopefully)