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Daily Telegraph on the Make ?

Discussion in 'News - Discussion' started by perkeo, Nov 30, 2005.

  1. Simon E.

    Simon E. Well-Known Member


    That's easy for you to say you're not taking photos for a living. I suspect you're not a freelance, working in a highly competitive field.

    You don't get it. People who don't charge allow the publishers to think they can get away without paying. Publishers, especially newspapers, are always looking for ways to save money, it's the same as companies trying to do the same job with fewer staff - it's all down to money.

    Think of it like this: you're a long distance driver, using a lot of fuel every day. If someone came along and put perfectly adequate fuel in your car for nothing a couple of times every week you'd be pretty keen for more so you could stop paying BP so much each day.

    The fact is that professional photographers put a lot into their career - for a start it's not just 'a job'. Many are self-employed and spend a large amount on gear, especially now with SLR prices and the additional hardware required (portable wireless gear, laptop, storage devices....).

    There were lots of photos taken by the public of the 7th July bombs, quite a number were published, but the ones most widely used (especially later) were taken by professionals. 'Citizen reporting' has its place, for sure, but cannot compete with skilled craftspersons working day in, day out. If you are still not convinced I'll offer my 'citizen' haircutting skills to your entire family for free. Interested?

    PS I'm an amateur hairdresser, I've never cut hair before but it can't be that difficult. I have just bought myself a pair of scissors, and I'm happy to put every damn hairdresser in town out of business by doing it for free in my spare time. Hairdressers should just get another job if they can't compete. Phooey!
  2. TH-Photos

    TH-Photos Well-Known Member

    I wouldn't describe every cameraphone toting member of Joe Public a photographic hobbyist. Many people use the camera element on their phones just to save a lot of words in a text, or to show a partner an intended purchase. I don't think pros should feel threatened by the cameraphone users. The pros will be at the planned big events, have access to preferential positions, and have the knowledge/skill to make the most of the situation. The cameraphone of Joe Public fills the gap between the unplanned event happening and the press arriving.

    Where the pros are loosing out IMHO is covering the small local events that fill the local papers. It is impossible to get a pro to turn out at 8pm to attend an event where a local Scout Leader is being presented with an award for extremely good service of over 40 years. We have given up asking the paper to send anyone, and supply our own pictures and text, and treat it as free advertising.
  3. Ian_A

    Ian_A Well-Known Member

    I'm with you on this, Bettina, you're giving sound advice.

    Newspapers/the BBC etc can well afford to pay for photographs, but play on the vanity of the gullible. All those of you who give photos away to them for free, why not charge and give the money to charity instead?

    An interesting article here on the pittance the press pay freelance photographers - has this come about because they can con mugs out of photos for free?... ;)
  4. Simon E.

    Simon E. Well-Known Member

  5. GlennH

    GlennH Well-Known Member

    Entrepreneurial and opportunistic folk have always taken advantage of the amateur photographer's weak point - the deadly combination of vanity and naivety. Many people will do anything to satiate their own ego, and for camera owners, someone wanting to 'use' their picture does that. Payment not neccessary.

    No amount of reasoned argument will stop that. It's like trying to stop a tidal wave with sandbags. I've posted numerous times on the internet against microstock agencies (a pet hate), but that too is an exercise in futility.

    The Daily Telegraph have always been prolific buyers of professional photography. How much their 'Mypic' idea will impact on that, I don't know. In principal, any photograph that helps generate a mass profit should be rewarded.

    It's the trend that is worrying - the possible long term devaluation of photography. Even from a purely amateur point of view, I'd hate to see that happen, because it'll impact on the quality of photography that we see and, until now, enjoy.
  6. Leif

    Leif Well-Known Member

    I have some sympathy for working photographers who see their livelihood threatened, but like it or not we live in a free market driven by competition. I would love to do a job that I enjoy (physics research) but reality intruded and so I now do something less enjoyable, but financially rewarding.

    The reason I am not shedding tears is that all of us are facing threats to our jobs, not just pro photographers. I work as a freelance in IT, and I have seen work outsourced to Indian, and UK staff replaced by workers brought in from India. I saw one colleague out of work for a year before going to teach English in South America. My last contract ended in part because an Indian worker on a much lower rate could do my work. (In reality he was much less productive than me, but bean counters only see the rates. In fact the standard of Indian work is often not so good, but the people who count do not see that.)

    Fortunately there is still a market for skilled IT workers though the rates are down, and I have to move to where the work is and live in rented accommodation. (Another reason why I have little sympathy for people here.)

    I don't see people protesting on my behalf. What I do see is people buying the cheapest product on the market, which encourages companies to outsource.

    I think part of the problem is that photography is for the most part a trade, and at its most basic not a very skilled one at that. Anyone can buy a camera and take photos at a news event. And of course when something like a bomb explodes, people on the scene with cameras will have something no pro has i.e. being there at the right moment. And before I get abuse, yes I know that the experienced pro is highly skilled and will on average produce vastly superior images. But immediacy also has its value.

    I guess the way to approach this is not to get indignant about losing your careers, but either to change career or to campaign and educate people not to give away images for free. Many images from amateurs are low grade, and would not pass muster if they were not free. I don't think they are anything to worry about. In fact, are there any decent images that are displacing pro images?

    Could it be that the real problem is the changing nature of the media? I used to buy a newspaper, but now that I have access to the net, I simply browse the BBC web site.

    Could it also be that too many people are entering the trade? The nature of the free market is that wages reflect in large part the availability of staff. (That's why I work in an area of IT that many consider difficult and stressful.)

    Anyway, what about web sites that encourage amateurs to post full resolution images, and take a share of the copyright? For example, UK Expert hosts users images and then sells them without any obligation to give any royalties to the photographers. I happen to think that is disgraceful (they have no obligatin to even tell you where the images were used so you don't even get the kick of seeing them in print) though most of the pictures seem to be of no worth (except as souvenirs for the photographer).

    Or are people here suggesting restrictive practices and unionisation? I remember the restrictive practices and corruption that used to be rife in Fleet Street before Murdoch broke the unions. Several well known people have described their own experiences of the disgraceful state of the industry at that time.

  7. Fen

    Fen Well-Known Member

    I don't think people are suggesting restrictive practices.

    Just that people should be paid for the usage of photos.

    Agree with the IT comments you made. It's what drove me out of IT/web work, not just work going foriegn, but also people getting their nephews to design a site for them at very little cost.

    But then complaining that the site doesn't look/feel how they wanted it and come to you to redo it!
  8. perkeo

    perkeo Well-Known Member

    Moving to find work ? Living in rented accommodation ?

    Oh dear..... :(

  9. Fen

    Fen Well-Known Member

    It ain't that bad. I did it for five years. Up and down the country working on software projects for various clients (Banking, Fuels, Military, Government).

    Met lots of good people, saw lots of places, did lots of things... and got very well paid for it :)
  10. snapperlondon

    snapperlondon Well-Known Member

    Maybe it is more a case of it being impossible to get a pro to turn out when they know they won't get paid for their time and even if a picture is used the fee probably won't even cover their expenses! Why should they be out of pocket?

    If your car broke down and you phoned a garage saying, "You come out and fix my car and then I might pay you, but if I do it won't be very much and probably won't even cover your expenses" then I doubt very much you would get your car fixed!
  11. snapperlondon

    snapperlondon Well-Known Member

    I know a very well respected photojournalist who has been widely published...she lives in a bed-sit! But SHE isn't complaining, nor is she asking for your sympathy...she loves what she does and is prepared to make the necessary sacrifices! Another award winning photographer I know doesn't even have a home, when he is in the UK he sleeps in friends' spare rooms! He'd like a home of his own, he just can't afford one!

    Does the fact that they are prepared to make those sacrifices make it right for newspapers and magazine to rip them off? I don't think so!

    I think you may have missed the point here, pro-photographers aren't generally complaining about being in a low paid job, they are just a bit upset that the media are now totally taking the p***! And other photographers, amateur or pro, giving work away for free is making it possible for them to do so!

    I agree...but that doesn't mean that the media should get to use that image for free! They should pay the going rate!

    I think that is what most in this thread have been saying...it is certainly what I've been saying! If you are an amateur and you have a great picture then by all means get it published, but make sure that you get the going rate! Don't give it away!

    Exactly! The newspapers are selling their reader short for the sake of profit!

    There probably are too many people going into photography, the ones that aren't good enough don't last long...but that isn't the issue!

    The issue is newspapers and magazines wanting something for nothing, they have got so used to getting stuff for free that they have lost sight of the value of great photography! AP and other photography magazines will often pay you more for your work than the average newspaper will pay a top pro...because they still value photography and the newspapers don't seem to anymore!

    It is the same for pros...that is why when you see a credit it will often say something like "Copyright John Smith/Magnum". Also the pros are often getting only 40-50% of the fee, the rest goes to the agency!

    That isn't going to happen, nor should it, but there is a big difference between that and what is happening now!

    For example:
    In 1995 The Telegraph paid a 1/2 day rate of £165 + mileage, they now pay £175 + 38p per mile. The Times is even worse, they used to pay £150 and now pay £145! So in ten years photographers have seen their incomes slashed, especially as most freelancers would be lucky to get a commission once a week! If they are photographing an event without a commission, as they are most of the time, then they only get paid for images used!
  12. TimF

    TimF With as stony a stare as ever Lord Reith could hav

    Quite so. And don't forget that the freelancers at least have to buy their own equipment, and in these digital days that is a lot of money - not just on cameras, but on laptops, cell phones and all the other associated bits, which have to be upgraded to keep up with the Joneses.
  13. nanstallon

    nanstallon Well-Known Member

    It's like the saying that the country gets the government it deserves. Sadly, the Great British Public don't deserve decent newspapers that support the art of photography - they just want it cheap and cheerful. It's their choice.

    The images taken by a professional photographer are no doubt better technically than those taken by an amateur. But a newpaper editor does not usually care about that. Visual impact matters more than aesthetics. If I were an editor/proprietor and someone brought in a stunning shot that would sell my paper,but wanted £10K for it, I'd pay up if I thought it was going to make £10,001 difference to my sales.

    So, if someone comes in with a pic for free , then 5 minutes later a pro comes in with a better shot, but no-one's going to spot the difference after its been printed on grotty newspaper, I'd only choose his work and pay for it if I felt like becoming a patron of the arts. I don't think many newspaper editors are in that category.

    Sadly, its all about money, and you can hardly blame newpapers for saving money and keeping their shareholders that little bit happier.

    At the end of the day, this is a democracy. People are free to submit photos without payment. People are free to take advantage of people's vanity. No use moralising about it. You have to have something that others are ready to pay for if you want to make a living. No-one in their right mind will go to a plumber/dentist/lawyer who works for free (unless he's family), because the consequences of a bad job are too serious. But what are the consequences of a photographer doing a bad job? Apart from scr**ing up a wedding shoot, not likely to cause too much grief.

    To be honest I felt that the best photos taken at my wedding were taken by my kid brother on a compact. We had a 'proper' photographer at the bride's insistence (yes, things have been that way ever since and she's still my wife!) but I like spontaneous (snapshot if you want to call it that) photography. It's all in the eye of the beholder.
  14. Leif

    Leif Well-Known Member

    The sites I was referring to take a share of the copyright, sell the images for hard cash and not only do they not give you any of the money, they don't even tell you where your images have been used.

    I also don't like competitions that take copyright of all entries with nothing in return apart from a few prizes for the best.

    I would never be a photographer as it is too competitive. And subjective.

  15. snapperlondon

    snapperlondon Well-Known Member

    Anyone who signs-up to an agency like that probably shouldn't be let out on their own! As I said, everyone, pro or amateur should expect be paid for their images if someone else goes on to make money out of them!

    As for the competitions who take copyright...I agree (see my post somewhere towards the beginning of this thread)!
  16. Alfred

    Alfred Active Member

    "it threatens professional photography and subsequently photography in general." First yes second part no
    I freelance and I am not really worried about the situation, the plus side is that we get away from some of the narrow minded images repetitiously made. Look at newspapers,fashion shoots, product shoots etc BORING, time for a new view and slant. The tele and company produce a lot of rubbish anyway, Why would a photographer worth his/her salt want to promote that( other than money)? No integrity there. Reinvent yourselves or complain....
  17. GlennH

    GlennH Well-Known Member

    They're not agencies - just websites, which rely on people uploading pictures and either not reading the small print or not caring (or again being excited by the idea of their picture being wanted under any circumstances).

    I don't personally envisage The Daily Telegraph or anyone else filling their pages with cameraphone pictures, and I don't yet know of any decent agency that has been adversely affected by the existance of microstock agencies. That doesn't mean I agree with what these people do - but I don't see any easy way of stopping it.

    Judging from some of the language in this thread and others I've read, many amateurs revel in the idea that they're a threat to professionals. In reality, most amateurs are poor photographers. They might, I suppose, be of use to the Daily Telegraph if they can point the camera in the right direction - like remote triggers with legs.
  18. ncmoody

    ncmoody Well-Known Member

    Are you trying to start a war here :eek: :eek: :eek:
  19. GlennH

    GlennH Well-Known Member


    I realise it's clumsy language given that we're on the AP site, but most amateurs simply don't take enough pictures to improve to a level where they can compete with professionals (in general terms - I appreciate there are exceptions).

    As one of the earliest participants on this site, I don't believe I've ever attacked anyone's photography personally. It's just a general observation - amateurs tend to overrate themselves and often have egos which are far more eggshell than their professional counterparts.

  20. snapperlondon

    snapperlondon Well-Known Member

    OK...Anyone who signs-up to a website like that probably shouldn't be let out on their own! :D You can't legislate for stupid people!

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