Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The State of the Industry

I don't want to be one of these photography bloggers that only complains about the business side of things. I mean when it comes down to it, I get paid to do what I love. Nothing could be better than that. But, certain things do need to be said. And, at a time, when so many of us are sitting at home desperately waiting for the phone to ring, it's important to remind ourselves that certain jobs should be turned down. Case in point: I received the following from a reputable magazine in London (all identifying info removed):

I have seen your website and wanted to get in touch with regards to possibly shooting for us.

We are about to update our guide to Washington and need to photograph a selection of 80 places (restaurants, shops, hotels and some sights) for our new edition. The places featured will be chosen by our editor and we will also want to photograph 2 areas outside of Washington which visitor could do as a day trip. We would provide you with a shoot list by August 14th and would need the photos by September 18th. The overall fee is £2400, and an additional £200 if you are also happy to photograph the 2 trips.

Our photographers have to be "good all rounders" as we need pretty much everything photographed across a guide: interiors, exteriors, sights, people, details, nightlife etc. We require a choice of 10-15 images per place (different angles, exteriors, interiors, details etc). Most photographers take around 2 weeks for this but you would have up to 4 weeks (we pay a set fee so it's up to the photographer how they work).

I should also say that Foo Magazine Company retains the copyright to the images, which is mainly as some of our magazines sometimes need to re-use the photos or we may also need to re-use some in other guides. If this all sounds interesting to you, I'd love to hear from you!

Many thanks,
Some Photo Editor

So, let's recap here. Converting from pounds to dollars, this comes to $3966.24, divided by 80, means they are paying $49.58 per location. That barely covers mileage and parking (remember these are locations in DC). And, they want us to do this in two weeks. Well, if we include weekends, 80 divided by 14, means we have to shoot about 6 locations per day! That might be OK, if they didn't want us to shoot "pretty much everything... interiors, exteriors, sights, people, details, nightlife, etc." Oh, and one more minor detail, they want the copyright! OK, I know this is editorial. And, we photographers are used to being told what the rates are in these cases. But, this is ridiculous. And, an even sadder fact is that they will find someone to do it, further dragging down the market.

I implore all photographers to think twice before taking jobs like these, even if tough times, because once we do, there is no going back.