This is my response to a debate that seems to rear its head in the photography industry from time to time. This time it has been dragged up again through an interesting article on David Hobby in Slate magasine.
To get a sense of just how bad things are for professional photographers right now, the story of Robert Lam is instructive. When Time needed a photo to illustrate its “New Frugality” cover story in late 2009, it purchased Lam’s image of a jar of change from stock-photo agency iStockphoto. The going rate for a Time cover had typically been $3,000 to $10,000. Lam was paid $31.50. Nevertheless, Lam declared, “I am happy”—the payment was more than he’d expected the photo to generate, and he was delighted to have a Time cover in his portfolio. Veteran professional photographers were livid, calling Lam an “IDIOT,” among other unkind words.
Lam told me by phone that he’s only a part-time photographer—he makes most of his income through a furniture store he owns. Last year, he earned $4,000 from stock photography. Since it’s his passion and hobby, not his job, that sum is fine by him. Most of what Lam has learned about lighting has come from reading online, on Strobist and similar blogs. Typical of the DIY approach of this set, Lam’s Time cover was shot using materials Lam found at a local sign store.
My reply is this: Good for Robert Lam!
The truth of the matter is that the majority of professional photographers would laugh at the thought of setting up their studio to take photos of regular objects. Many do not have the time to carry out a shoot that may or may not create revenue for them.
I have spent time shooting random objects like this at a time when I was struggling as a young, fast-learning freelancer. It is incredibly time consuming. If “semi pro” and “amateur” photographers like Lam can create and make a revenue from such images good on them, not many pros have the time to put images like this into their libraries.
Much of the doom and gloom on this issue in trade journals and on blogs is incredibly daunting for young photography students and people wanting to be photographers. Some of the comments left on related articles online are to this effect.
For new professionals and students it would be good to concentrate some of your studies towards understanding royalty-free and rights managed photographs as-well as the usual curriculum.
I will always be an advocate of every photographer having stock images available. Some of the photos I have put up in stock libraries are similar to that of Robert Lam’s. It takes time to shoot stock and have a library of images but even if you have only take 5 photographs there is no reason why you cannot make them available for sale today. The initial setting up and editing of photographs to meet submission guidelines is time consuming as is meta-tagging and key-wording but when they are there, they are available indefinitely.
- David Hobby: A Baltimore Sun photographer took a buyout, started a website, and changed photography forever. (slate.com)
- A Baltimore Sun photographer who took a buyout, started a blog, and changed the photography business forever (3quarksdaily.com)
- Stock Photography at Its Best (Worst) (brandieraaschphotography.wordpress.com)
The Prime Minister has bowed to intense public pressure regarding his ‘personal’ photographer. Andrew Parsons will no longer be paid for by the British Public now but by the Conservative Party instead.
David Cameron has originally argued that Andrew Parsons would not just be working for the Prime Minister in Downing Street but would have a “cross-departmental role across Whitehall.” but he now admits that it probably sent out the “wrong signal”
This decision will also affect Ms Woodhouse who was employed by the government to be a videographer for the PM’s WebCameron website.
See More :
- PM’s ‘Vanity’ Snapper Loses Public Pay (news.sky.com)
- David Cameron in U-turn on vanity staff as photographer returns to Tory payroll (mirror.co.uk)
- Cameron drops photographer and camerawoman from public payroll (guardian.co.uk)
- Cameron takes photographer off Civil Service payroll (independent.co.uk)
- David Cameron’s personal photographer taken off public payroll (telegraph.co.uk)
Win a Ipad 16GB with the MedGadget photography competition. They are accepting all types of medical photography and illustrations from anyone. Check out their MedGadget Photography & Photoshop Competition webpage for more details.
I have had a browse of my hardrive and come up with a couple of images, all you have to do is add it to your flickr stream and tag it with “imaginemedicine” and “medgadget” keywords. All entries to be in for 11:59pm ET on December 5, 2010. The winner will be announced on December 10th and the prize is a brand new 16GB iPad with Wi-Fi.
The shortlist for the third Prix Pictet was announced on 10 November 2010 at Galerie Les Filles du Calvaire, Paris. There is an exhibition which will run from 12 to 27 November where members of the public can view the entries.
There are twelve shortlisted artist’s work on display from the original 450 entrants. The theme for the third cycle of the Prix Pictet is Growth. The prestigious competition, although only in its third year is one of the worlds premier environmental photography competitions. The winner of the huge prize sum which works out at about £63,000 will be announced in March 2011.
Looking at the Prix Pictet website at the shortlist entries the standard looks incredibly high and it was very inspiring. One of my favourite projects was Oil by Edward Burtynsky. Edward is one of the worlds finest industrial landscape photographers and is much celebrated in Canada. You can read what he has to say about his project on the Artists Statement part of the Prix Pictet website.
Disheartened I decided to have a look on the Hasselblad Masters website and although the quality of work is much better than those that are displayed on the BBC website I still found a lot of the entries uninspiring.
That said the work of 2009 winners like Mark Holthusen who merges traditional styles with a digital age to produce an inspiring set of images. London based Dirk Rees is another photographer who was a winner in 2009 who’s work stood out for me.
Here’s hoping that the judges for this years competition find some outstanding talent for their winners this year. Perhaps one of the most exciting things about the Hasselblad Masters award is the fact that its open for up and coming photographers and established photographers.
Last week David Cameron came under fire bacause of his ‘personal’ photographer paid for by the Tax Payer.
He was attacked in the House of Commons by Labour Leader Ed Miliband who mocked the Prime Minister saying ‘I can’t believe he is talking about hard choices this week because who has he chosen to put on the civil service payroll? His own personal photographer,’
Cameron’s spokesperson defended his appointment of photographer Andrew Parsons by saying that the Government’s communications budget has been cut down to a third of what it was. Cameron’s spokesperson also stated that the appointment of an in house photographer was a huge saving for the British tax payer compared to the cost of freelancers.
Downing Street stated that Andrew Parsons is not the Prime Minister’s personal photographer and would be used across several departments and for taking photos of several senior government workers.
In my opinion having an in-house photographer can only save money for the government. The cost of freelancer’s fees and the administration costs of hiring different photographers and getting them to sign the relevant confidentiality agreements would be far greater than having someone on the payroll.
You can see examples of Andrew Parson’s work here on the Guardian website
- Cameron’s crazy claim vanity photographer will save taxpayer “a lot of money” (leftfootforward.org)
- David Cameron: my ‘personal photographer’ is not vanity (telegraph.co.uk)
- David Cameron’s photographer allowed despite Tony Blair’s being blocked (telegraph.co.uk)
- Watch: Ed pokes fun at Cameron’s photographer (liberalconspiracy.org)
- David Cameron forced to defend appointment of ‘personal photographer’ (guardian.co.uk)