Tag Archives: remuneration

Negotiating Exposure for the freelance

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This is Audrie Currie demonstrating a method of estimating the ideal kayak paddle length (you didn’t know there was such a thing as an ideal paddle length did you?) from a picture story of mine which appeared in an actual ink and paper Outdoors Magazine Special on boating and camping.

Although it is not the done thing for freelance writers and photographers to reveal how much they are paid for magazine work, I can reveal that I negotiated a fee close to $1000 for a spread of five photographs and 2000 words, which included a substantial amount for Audrie as model. We received two free copies of the magazine each as well.

This was at a time when such special interest magazines had a monthly, or total contributor budget of between $15,000 and $25,000, and sold around 8 to 10 thousand copies.

A far cry from what masquerades as magazine “publishing” today, where the dreaded words ‘payment for contributors’  is never mentioned in not so polite company, for fear of never working again.

Instead “creatives” (I think that refers to writers and photographers) submit work for the wondrous benefits of mythical “exposure” and the never to eventuate “promise of future work”, (to stroke their own vanity!) while models (they are lumped into either “creatives” or worse still “artists”), are beguiled by weasel words foremost amongst which are “it’ll be great for your folio”.

As a freelance writer, photographer and sometimes illustrator I do a yearly impromptu survey of as many magazines as possible, both newstand and online, and my research shows that of magazines of similar subject matter…outdoor recreation, boating camping, etc…(although in reality very few remain, and those which do are a mere shadow of their former glory)…none promote the need for freelance work, and those few who actually use freelance work pay in either magazine subscriptions, individual copies, or not at all.

This result seems to be typical stretching back at least ten years, and in some cases much longer.

No the era of the online magazine, especially of the vanity type, has arrived with a vengeance, and unfortunately for the majority of freelance writers and photographers, is set to stay.

And of course before this artless, directionless, poorly targeted and basically tacky shit is published at seemingly random intervals, every ‘creative’ involved has to supply a list to the publisher, of everyone who was remotely involved in the shoot, or the writing, including the pizza delivery guy, all their relatives and friends, and supposedly every person and their dog they have come into contact with, so that the “respectable publisher” can spam, bully and badger them into coughing up double the price of a newstand magazine for an ill conceived, poorly planned and hurriedly designed digital downloadwhich actually costs virtually nothing to produce.

Despite this their total sales range from less than ten for some, ( apparently no more than the writer, photographer and model and their mothers in many cases) and up to 500 or so for the better written, produced, marketed and advertised attempts.

Nevertheless, the freelance writer, photographer and model are expected to pay for their own copy.

You know the copy of the ‘magazine’ which is “great exposure for their work”!

 

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I ADMIT IT!…i AM UNPROFESSIONAL!

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It seems that any legitimate photographer, model, and even make up artist, cannot do, say, or post anything online without being labelled as ‘unprofessional’.
In fact it rolls trippingly off so many tongues and so often, akin to the use of it’s linguistic cousins, un-Oshtray-yun, and unna-Merican, that if it did once have some actual meaning, it has now lost all confrontational power: lost all devastational effect from the mouths of simple minded bullies: lost any semblance of insult to the meaningless murk of degraded words inhabited by ‘bugger’, ‘bum’, or ‘you silly, naughty person’
No, come to think of it, legitimate or not doesn’t matter,  as ‘unprofessional’ is the first go to accusation that fauxpros, pretenders, and other fraudsters are willing to make in public, even to each other, before rushing to their secret facebook hate groups to defame and vilify anyone who dares to say anything other than fatuous, sycophantic praise, albeit completely innocuous, about their ‘work’, their ‘passion’, their ‘art’.
Well if being unprofessional is what it is to expose, criticize, ridicule, unmask and satirize  the nonsense,the stupidity, the buffoonery, the con, the fraud, the honey trap, the manipulation, the exploitation and the abuse which epitomises the fauxpro photography ‘industry’ as it is today, and the manner in which it has called all decent photographers and photography as a whole into disrepute and total disorder, well I intend to remain one very active and extremely happy ‘unprofessional’.
I am even planning to describe myself as ‘UNPERFESHNAL TOG’ on my next order of business cards.

And besides they are always good for a laugh: if not for just their arrogance in thinking that they can somehow insult or bully their ‘competition’ into thinking that they are superior, not just to you but to everyone.

A serious case in point. It is but a few months since an amateur model I know well, posted on her facebook page that she would no longer consider shooting with ‘photographers’ unless they at least had an idea or theme for their shoot, and were willing at some stage to organize a time and location to work towards.

This attempt to rid herself of the constant annoyance of time wasters, pick up merchants, pretenders and wankers who think they have a right to monopolize the time of any girl who appears the least bit attractive, let alone announce herself as a model, resulted, to her astonishment for this quite reasonable, but possibly naive request, she was immediately bombarded with postings, messages and emails decrying her as extremely unprofessional, amongst other things to lewd to mention, and the subject of vilification and defamatory statements in multiple ‘photography groups’.

Those personally shredding her included complete strangers, and those who she had never even heard of; but unfortunately many were people she had previously regarded as more than mere photographers, or acquaintances, but as friends. She now will only model for legitimate photographers whom she not only knows very well, but trusts implicitly.

And who would blame her?

The most insulting and laughable example recently was an email from someone who was once genuine photographer, but whose apparent inability to adapt to the rapidly changing markets, as well as limited originality has turned him into a hack, basically living on the almost forgotten glory of a bygone career, who accused me of being unprofessional, not a real ‘professional photographer’ anyway because my phone number isn’t in the yellow pages (???), and that I was trying to  ‘live(vicariously) in the reflection of his professional standing”.

Why? I had simply agreed with an opinion he offered on a photography forum somewhere.

He seemed to have forgotten, or was blissfully unaware, or indeed had chosen to ignore, that it had been me, while editing a now long defunct print magazine, who had negotiated one of his first published photo essays, when he was merely a nerdy young lad with a shiny new camera, and stars in his eyes.

But it is apparently not the only the province of fauxpro photographers to drop the ‘unprofessional’ bomb.

I recently received an email from a photo agent, who I had sacked (fired, dismissed, given the heave-ho) many years ago due to his megalomaniac tendencies (why is it that so many photo agents seem to harbour latent megalomania, or is it part of the job description from the beginning?)
Yes, although it may sometimes appear to the contrary, you actually employ an agent to work for you, and your best interests.

This email extolled the virtues of a job which being an Australian photographer, living in Australia, was ‘right up my alley’ – no need to tell that this agent was resident overseas, and probably doesn’t know the difference between Austria and Australia.

This opportunity of a lifetime required me to:

  • -be in Esperance, W.A., the next day: from Sydney, (nearest airport to where I live) it is merely a 3,418 km trip, one way, and at my own expense…
  • -meet an unnamed middle eastern gentleman and his entourage, who in the agent’s words, was a ‘very, very, important celebrity’, that he (the agent) could vouch for, (a suspicion raising utterance in itself) and therefore would be ‘great exposure for my burgeoning career’…in typical weasel speak he actually said: great exposure for developing my ‘brand’…
  • -hire a car (luxury model of course), again at my own expense, and chauffeur said gentleman wherever in W.A. he wanted to go…
    photographically record all this gentleman’s travels and whims…
  • -surrender immediately at the end of the week, any and all of an undetermined number of photographs documenting the entire week’s activities, completely processed and edited, to the said gentleman’s entourage, including all rights and copyrights…
  • -keep this gentleman’s identity, and the purpose of his visit, secret not only during the trip, but for ever after…

Well so far so (ridiculously) good, until I inquired as how I would recognise this person I was supposed to meet, and yes, you guessed it, what remuneration I was to receive.

  • Then the ‘unprofessional’ word!
    Delivered curtly, and emphatically!
    How dare I suggest that to go to Esperance was too far based on such little detail!
  • I lived in Australia didn’t I, it can’t possibly be that far or that difficult to get to!
  • How dare I call myself a Professional! (well actually I don’t, only amateurs and pretenders call themselves ‘Professional’ Photographers)
  • Obviously I wasn’t serious about developing my career! (after 40 years in the freelance business?)
  • And I certainly wasn’t worthy of having an agent, let alone one with such a distinguished record as himself… (well I don’t have an agent, I don’t want an ‘agent’, and I did tell him in no uncertain terms to pull his head in, and bugger off many years ago)

Oh, and the remuneration for a week’s work as photographer / chauffeur,  including signing away all my rights to any and all photographs taken: (not even considering the unredeemable costs of transport across a continent, and hire of a luxury car) …

$AU 162.

No, not an hour, not a day, …

IN TOTAL!

Well maybe it was a mistake to write about this after all…the ultimate unprofessionalism if you will, for I have a nagging feeling that in the distance I can just hear the rumble of thousands of ‘professional’ photographers’ feet, as they scramble to pack their gear, and clamour to board the plane which will fly them to this ‘awesome opportunity’ to not only gain some very welcome ‘exposure’, but which will also be ‘great for their folios’, and ‘develop their brands’.