During my discussion with my publicist friend a few weeks ago, another subject that came up was the fact that many young photographers were more than willing to give their work away for nothing. I talked to a photographer yesterday who told me that he had negotiated a deal in which he was the house photographer for a venue in his town. In return for shooting all the venues shows, he signs over the copyright to all of his photos to the venue, and cannot use them for anything himself. I asked him why he did it and he told me that he was given tickets to all the shows. So I suggested that he was working for nothing, and he begrudgingly admitted that that was true.
Last week a friend of mine sent me an article from an English website run by EPUK (Editorial photographers United Kingdom and Ireland). The article was written by Neil Burgess, who runs his own picture agency, NB Pictures. In it he says:
Magazines and newspapers are no longer putting any money into photojournalism. They will commission a portrait or two. They might send a photographer off with a writer to illustrate the writer’s story, but they no longer fund photojournalism. They no longer fund photo-reportage.
Even when photographers create brilliant stories and the magazine editors really want to publish them, they cannot pay a realistic price for the work.
Last week Newsweek published a three page story about the Huffington Post, saying that they may have figured out the future of journalism.
Seems to be what they have figured out is this: Steal content from other sites (they are called an ad-supported news Aggregation website) and get writers to work for them for free! The Huffington Post has 88 full time paid employees and 6,000 unpaid bloggers! Many writers
From the New York Times March 29, 2010 issue:
Amateur photographers, who put their photos up on Flickr and then receive a contract with Getty Images illustrate the huge shake-up in photography during the last decade. Amateurs, happy to accept small checks for snapshots of children and sunsets, have increasing opportunities to make money on photos but are underpricing professional photographers and leaving them with limited career options. Professionals are also being hurt because magazines and newspapers are cutting pages or shutting altogether.
So, in conclusion, I guess we have to now work for nothing to make a living. Somehow that equation doesn’t quite work in my mind.