December 2009 Archives

     I have written before about a tremendous organization for photographers called ASMP.  No group is better at providing the business information photographers need to compete in this field.  This is a letter I've sent to ASMP board members, calling for more transparency about payments made for board members conducting seminars and providing other services. I criticize in the most constructive sense to hopefully improve a fine, durable institution.

     "I've been a member of ASMP since 1989, and have just gone online to pay my dues for 2010.  But along with that dues payment I need to also pass along concerns about our organization and its operation.

     I've followed the debate over the past months about payments going to board members who conduct seminars, write and edit materials, and perform other functions for ASMP.  I tend to be a fairly even-handed and tolerant person, and I do listen to all sides of an issue, as I have in this case.  At the end of the day I am feeling uneasy about the increasing amount of payments and seeming lack of transparency around this issue.  I've been around ASMP long enough to know that most of the work needing to be done has traditionally been done on a volunteer basis, apart from those jobs done by paid staff.  And that volunteer setup has felt right. 

     What I'm advocating comes down to the word transparency.  For members and potential members to feel sure of the integrity of ASMP proceedings, they need to see everything done in an open manner, fully exposing the machinery and inner workings.  If there's any whiff of a feeling that insiders are at work, and that those with connections are using the organization for their own benefit, then the effectiveness of ASMP suffers, and a pall starts to settle over everything. 

     These are concerns of a longtime and fairly non-vocal member.  I've also communicated these concerns by phone to a board member.  I very much want ASMP to remain an effective voice for photographers, and as membership grows and increasing amounts of money are available, I think it's critical that all of us feel comfortable that our elected board and staff are acting with a scrupulous fairness.  I'm not saying anything improper has happened, but as one of the many photographers who has just struggled through a horrendous year in business, I want attention paid to this issue of transparency. 

Thank you very much for your time and consideration."

Holiday Greetings

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  To my first-time and veteran clients; to those who trusted me to bring creativity to projects big and small; to companies that took a deep breath, looked the economy straight in the eye, and still decided to spend money on photography and video; and to those who simply could not bring  resources to marketing programs.   Thank you all for your kind words and good wishes.  I wish you peace and comfort this holiday season and hope for us all in the new year.

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    I've been photographing for business, trade and consumer magazines for a long time, and it's clear that the golden age of editorial photography is behind us.  Grinding economic pressures in the publishing industry have seen many magazines shut down, and those that remain are increasingly stingy about spending money for high end photography.

    Negotiating a reasonable agreement for a magazine shoot has never been more difficult.  One example is a recent contract being forced on photographers by Reader's Digest.  Read this post for a primer on typical magazine contracts and how to interpret the terms.

                 http://www.lightstalkers.org/posts/just-say-no-to-contracts-like-this

      Unfortunately we as photographers tend to deal only with art directors and photo editors.  They do not set their companies terms, and are squeezed between pressure from their bosses and the grief heaped on them by the creative community. Remember, publishing houses have teams of lawyers coming up with contracts that favor only the publishers.  Any contract is negotiable, and photographers must educate themselves and work to change terms that are detrimental to our industry. In fact, we should have our own terms and inform the publisher that since we are the supplier we'd like to use our terms for the assignment.

      Many photographers do not understand how to negotiate and what they should expect and demand of an agreement, the result being a downward spiral of fees for those supplying the art.  If you're new to photographing for magazines, start with a trip to asmp.org to begin educating yourself. You owe it to yourself and to the photo industry.

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This page is an archive of entries from December 2009 listed from newest to oldest.

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