Tuesday, June 20, 2006

If You Live Long Enough, You See Everything Twice

The photography industry has been going through an upheaval of sorts since September 2001. Not only are photographers reeling since the terror attacks of 9/11 when telephones stopped ringing (except to find out if you’re alive), the economic climate changed as well. Literally half the magazines that existed in August, 2001 were gone by October as advertisers cut back in the wake of the terror attack and the uncertainty it fostered. One of the advertisers, America’s largest, Phillip Morris, stopped advertising completely. Have you seen the Marlboro Man lately?

The loss of the bulk of both the advertising and editorial markets for photography set everyone scrambling for work, made us more competitive and drove rates and fees into a downward spiral. Naturally, the markets compensated for the loss of business by adding new ways to find business.

Various web sites began appearing that offered to match “professionals” with clients on a per-project basis. Elance.com and guru.com eventually emerged as the market leaders in this area.
The way these work is that prospective clients (businesses in need of art) post the projects on-line and the artists (those in need of work) bid for the assignments, most often at substandard rates. One company, onrequestimages.com, took this a step further and actually assigns five photographers to shoot the assignment without any guarantee of payment... if the client likes the work they arrange to license it, if not the photographer loses his/her investment.

It’s a despicable practice we’d thought we’d done away with but, as my dad says, “If you live long enough, you see everything twice.” I guess I’ve made it, because I’m now seeing New York real estate at bargain prices.

Dennis Connors e-mailed to let me know of a project he’d seen on guru.com in which the client is, “looking for a photographer in the New York City area interested in taking New York photos for hire.” The need would be various and ongoing and, “I will require full rights to the photos, meaning that the photos will belong to me as the photographer will be working for hire..... There will be a required minimum of photos expected per day... I'm hoping to stay in the $100-$150 range per day.”

I’m somewhat of a New York City specialist, having a more than extensive file of New York City stock photos. What’s more, having been involved in stock photography for thirty years I have a pretty good idea of what a photograph is ultimately worth... and it’s a lot more than $30 per image, assuming one can even make five decent images per day. Just so you know, I can milk a day for all it’s worth... all the images accompanying this post were made on the same day.

I logged-on to guru.com and actually bid on this job. My bid is very reasonable; in-fact considering the value received by the client, my bid is outright low-balling. How much do I want? I want $125,000.00.

My message to all: JUST SAY NO TO BAD DEALS!


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