Corporate Greed

- - Photography Business

Robert Wright delivered part 3 (here) on the “business” of editorial photography and we both agree that corporate greed is the source of the problems we face in photography and generally in business today. It always seems like I randomly run into information that further clarifies what we’re discussing and this time is no exception:

From New York Magazine, American Roulette: In our winner-take-all casino economy, the middle class is getting royally screwed. A call to arms for populism, before it’s too late (here). Via the writers strike blog (here).

We’ve had a bracing, invigorating run of pedal-to-the-metal hypercapitalism, but now it’s time to ease up and share the wealth some. We can afford to make life a little more fair and a lot less scary for most people.

And then.

From a book review by Roger Lownstein in Portfolio Magazine (here).

Supercapitalism
By Robert B. Reich
Knopf, 272 pages, $25

[...]As Reich admits, this unfettered capitalism is very good at what it tries to do: mainly, earn profits for shareholders and offer a wide array of affordable products to consumers. It is lousy at everything else, which, according to Reich, includes providing health care and ample pensions for employees or a living wage for those on the bottom or protecting small retailers and the environment.

[...]Free markets have been great for the kingpins of private equity—not so for the working stiff.

[...]Reich spends a lot of time contrasting the present era with what he calls the Not Quite Golden Age of the 1950s and ’60s, when unions and government promoted stability for workers and communities at the cost of a far less innovative economy. It’s startling to be reminded of just how controlled the U.S. economy used to be.

[...] Anyway, technology ended it. Ma Bell lost its monopoly to new long-distance-transmission technology, and truckers to Federal Express. Down came the regulatory walls, companies were forced to compete, and Wall Street demanded profits and profits alone. Communities be damned.

[...]Corporations cannot be expected to divide their loyalties between social interests and capitalist ones because they have no means of weighing one against the other. Only a democratic institution can decide whether, in order to preserve community values, it is worth throwing a little sand into the gears of capitalism—say, by keeping a big-box retailer out of downtown. But those institutions, namely Congress and state legislatures, are failing.

Don’t let the greedheads win.

There Are 40 Comments On This Article.

  1. Double Standard

    While it’s true that photographers are their own worst enemies, in terms of standing up to these unrealistic terms from magazines, I think it’s also prudent to remind photographers not to be greedy with their assistants, and their payment terms. Don’t take one bad business practice, complain about it, but then turn around and pass it down the line.

    For years, even successful photographers want to use the “I’m just an artist, man” mentality, and have considered Assistants to be Independent Contractors, and do not provide Workmens Comp, or withhold FICA and other payroll taxes on their assistants.

    And this, after the classic low pay that you sometimes find, from photographers. (Read the Sebastian Kim articile on AVS, about low pay from even leading photographers).

    Also, where did this mentality come from, “I’m only going to pay the assistant when I get paid”? The client did not hire the assistant; the photographer did. It’s the photographer’s job to pay on time, whether or not he’s handling his business affairs properly. Ever heard of billing for an Advance, to keep you out of these situations?

    Yes, I guess it’s easy to “blame the greedy clients”, but honestly, I just don’t have much time for being a Victim. If photographers want respect, (even self-respect), then join APA or something similar, and learn how to do business properly, and quit crying about how the clients are abusing you. Just say no to shitty deals, move on, and get on with your life.

    And there’s no blood in that turnip either. So quit crying about it. As long as there are photographers lined up around the block, to shoot editorial for free, nothing is going to change. Just get it — there is NO WAY to make a living shooting editorial any more, unless you’re shooting Celebs, with syndication, or you’re living in a cardboard box.

  2. Number one sounds like an assistant who may not be worth what he is charging.

    I pay my assistants in full at the end of every shoot. EVERY assistant who I have tried to pay through the APA Program set up to pay taxes and workers comp refuses on the grounds that they are freelance assistants, need all the money and prefer to pay their taxes on their own. The same assistants come begging for cash advances for rent or the tax man.

    Every photographer I know – except one – treats his assistants fairly – paying overtime, treating them to meals, letting them use gear, helping them make other connections, helping them get rolling into their own careers. I show my assistants everything – from client relations to billing to how to do things right.

    I’ve heard this same bellyaching from other assistants and their must be a kernel of truth to it. My experience has been, if an assistant is good – either personality or ability – then they are treated fairly. Of course, the assistant is not wearing the photographers shoes and really has no idea of the reality of the business until he or she walks a mile in those same shoes. Until then, it is mostly academic and sitting on the sidelines bitching about a few in order to stir up a controversy on this blog is pretty pathetic.

  3. This discussion is much bigger the photography alone. It effects every industry in the US.

    Personally, I don’t think the government should step in, what “middle class” people should do is start playing the same game that the “huge corporations” play, that is start a middle class lobby. That will bring the balance of power in check. But as long as the middle class is content with accepting what is given to them, nothing will change.

    But it’s so much easier to just watch crappy sitcoms, drive gas guzzling SUV’s, pacify children with tv, and just enjoy the medeocrity of middle class, then to step up and fight.

  4. Double Standard

    @ No Name Today:

    Quite the contrary; I’m a photographer who’s been in business for 25 years. Here is one link, (there are many), to the IRS list of what they call “The Twenty Questions”, that they use to determine if a person is a part time employee, or an independent contractor. Read them, and you decide. “Does the photographer set the time and hours that the job begins? Does the photographer furnish the tools? Does the photographer dicatate how the work is to be done?” On and on, until you realize that, clearly, EVERY photo assistant is either a part time employee, or a full time employee.

    http://www.chancellor.com/compliance/20q.html

    Yet, the vast, vast majority of the photographers I’ve talked to are too irresponsible or lazy to run their business in a legal manner, and thus, they just write the assistants a check, and call them Independent Contractors.

    What happens if a CStand blows over and konks as assistant in the head? Who’s going to pay for his medical if there’s no Workmens Comp on set? I’ll tell you — the photographer would just say, “Hey man, it’s your problem. Sorry you got hurt on my job”.

    I view doing editorial like I view hiring a Hooker — it’s two people, getting into bed together, and both parties are using the other. There ain’t no love. It’s about getting what you need. The magazine wants to spend as little as possible, and the photographer is using the magazine to get a large photo credit, so other people can see his name, and hopefully give him a real assignment with a real fee. That is the ONLY reason to do editorial. So, in a way, why not do it for free? It’s about as cheap as sending out a Modern Postcard, or a small promo piece. As soon as photographers stop thinking of Editorial as a way to put food on their table, the better off they’ll be. (Unless you’re shooting celebs, and you’re with a good syndication service; then, long term, you’ll do just fine).

    So when the phone rings with an editorial job, the first thing I think of is, “Is this magazine going to let me do a creative image, one that I’ll be proud of, and something I can show to other art directors?” If the answer is no, I just say no to the job. And there are only about a dozen magazines out there, using photography well enough, for the answer to be Yes.

    So choose wisely. Or else, you’re simply wasting your time. One opinion.

  5. @5: Very true. First thing I think about when the editor hands me an assignment is whether or not there’s enough here to attract established photographers and how will the Creative Director treat the photography when it comes in. If it’s not good I look for hungry young photographers to shoot it because I know I will be either turned down or it will ruin my relationship with the photographer.

  6. @5: Most assistants ARE independent contractors… the 20 questions don’t all point to “employee”…

    A few choice ones:
    6. Is the relationship between the individual and the person they perform services for a continuing relationship? NOT ALWAYS.
    11. Are regular written or oral reports required? NO.
    16. Can the person performing the services realize both a profit or a loss? YES.
    17. Can the person providing services work for a number of firms at the same time? YES.
    18. Does the person make their services available to the general public? YES.

    Case in point: last time I went on a travel job, my usual first was booked for someone else so I booked the next person on my list.

    If the assistant gets bonked on the head with a c-stand or decides to lick the head extension and press the button, I have liability insurance… that’s what it’s for after all. Same as if someone slips on ice in front of the Condé building and sues.

    @1: Not to get too old school on ya or anything, but the reason top photographers can pay squat to their assistants is because their paying their dues and because of the springboard it brings to their careers. Sebastian Kim didn’t meet AVS because he was working a cushy job with benefits for a yearbook photographer in Missisippi (where apparently nobody reads AVS). He worked with top people, paid his dues and now he’s starting to very wisely reap the benefits of his hard work.

    I’m not gonna withhold FICA or provide workers comp to my assistants exactly because it’s a business relationship, similar to any freelance relationship – if they want to commit 100% to work for me for a pre-determined period of time and have a contract and yadda yadda yadda, I will gladly pay their insurance and keep the IRS happy, but they will lose their late mornings sleeping in, any chance of not seeing me every day at 9am (it’s not a pretty sight) and when the work on my ad jobs, their pay will most likely amount to a lot less than the $35 per hour plus OT I would be paying freelancers… it would be more like the $16 per hour (before you take out their workers comp and FICA taxes) many top photographers pay their first assistants. The good news is that when you’re a full time assistant, you usually have no life outside of work so you don’t have anything to spend money on.

  7. @5: I do agree with you about not viewing editorial as a moneymaking venture. Unfortunately Condé, Hearst, Hachette, etc. don’t share that view regarding their advertisers. Count the number of ad pages in Sept. Vogue and the number of content pages using photos, minus the “space rate” (I love it how some large, wealthy publishers lay type over a full page photo, ruining an otherwise good looking tear and then tell you they only used it 2/3 of the page) and do the math.

    It’s a friggin’ money factory – Condé wouldn’t make as much money if they replaced the Vogue plates on the press with $100 bill plates from the US mint.

    So, enjoy the free $135-modern-postcard-equivalent and just try not to think about the $400 page rate you’re getting for shooting or the $16,000 page rate they’re getting from their advertisers.

    Ha ha. I’m not bitter, really I’m not. ;-)

  8. It is, as APE started, all about greed.

    Editorial budgets are low to maximize profits (or minimize losses, as the case may be). Why not charge more for ads? If low quality doesn’t loose eyeballs for the advertisers, then low quality it is. If high quality comes cheap, even better.

    If cheap means cheating (assistants not paying taxes, photographers not paying workmans comp and unemployment), so much the better for the guys at the top of the food chain. They reap the benefit, and have little downside when things fall apart for the contractors.

    You can’t really blame the artists struggling to be seen and make a career. Well, you could, but it wouldn’t do any good. The market is very competitive. If things keep going, however, the attractiveness of the business of magazine photography will fade, with advertisers drifting off to the internet with youtube videos and magazines finding no photographers at the top willing to shoot for modest wages, and no photographers at the bottom, seeking to enter a nonexistent market.

    This would be bad for everyone, but it could happen.

    A little rethinking of the magazine model by publishers could make a big difference. Greed, however, will probably make this impossible. They are not in it to promote great photography; they’re in it for the money.

  9. Oh yeah: my last word about freelance vs. “employee”…

    Not a legal standard but a good business standard is to weigh if one party’s commitment to the other is reciprocated.

    Not so with my assistants.
    and not so with my clients.
    So, not so with me.

    To really mix metaphors, there’s no honor among thieves swimming with sharks in a wash of chum.

  10. @ Mr. Dude:

    Mr Dude,

    It has nothing to do with commitment to another party. It has to do with the fucking I.R.S. calling you up one morning, and saying, “Hey, we’d like to sit down with you and have a random little casual review of your books”. And then they see that you’ve got $72,000 in Independent Contractor line items, but no Payroll whatsoever. And then think, “Hmm, how could this guy be billing this much money with no help whatsoever? And why are his Contract Labor line items so high? Red flag”.

    That assistant that “refuses” for a photographer to take out taxes on him has no legal basis to do so. He’s probably so hand-to-mouth that he feels like he needs every dollar, now, to pay his rent next month, and who knows if he’s even filing a tax return? Do you want to get involved in THAT?

    As far as The Twenty Questions, yes, it is a mystery how many of those twenty questions need to be answered Yes to, before the IRS officially considers that person a part-time employee, rather than an IC. Two? Three? Five? Twenty? I do not know that. But I have heard that, if they answer Yes to as few as three questions, then the IRS considers them an employee.

    My advice: Do your homework, and don’t keep your head in the sand. As we’re showing here, there’s much more to “being a photographer” than just buying a 5D at B&H.

  11. @ #10 Mr Dude:

    Mr Dude,

    An example of an Independent Contractor is someone like my part time bookkeeper. On every other Tuesday, she’s due to come here and review my past two weeks. Sometimes she shows up at about 10am, sometimes she doesn’t get here til after lunch. I have no power to determine when she’ll get here. I might ask her, but in the end, it’s her call. I do not determine her work hours. She also brings her own (disgusting) PC Windows laptop. She furnishes her own tools. She does her work, which usually last for about four-five hours, and then, when she’s good and ready, she packs up her tools and she leaves.

    Also, a guy from Orkin comes and sprays my house. He shows up when he wants to, brings his own RAID, sprays it where he wants to, even on my kitchen cabinets, and when he determines that he’s done his job, he packs his tools, and he leaves.

    Those are two illustrations of an Independent Contractor.

    Let your freelance assistant roll in, when he’s good and ready, with his own Sharpie and Gerber, maybe somewhere around a quarter to eleven, when the subject was there at 10am. You still want him to be an Independent Contractor….?

  12. @9-I agree there is a limit to unrestrained capitalism, it doesn’t work, there is an equilibrium point where a balance of benefits accrue to all the participants. When it gets out of whack, as I believe it is now, it creates a counter pressure.

    As I moaned on and on about in those boring posts, there are good reasons for all the participants to acknowledge some degree of rationality in billing practices. In practice, you need a middle of the market to exist. You are not going to get the A-list much of the time, booking overlaps etc, and you don’t want inexperienced photographers doing work that is time-critical, difficult, etc, experience matters. If the magazine’s own business practices erode or eliminate the middle, I think it hurts them too. They still have to produce the front of the book every month.

    You also have a situation where photo editors roll over every few years, the experience winnows and the good ones migrate to the few remaining jobs nearer the top. It is a limited career track when you consider the olympics was over when Cathy Ryan took that job:) My point is that there is turnover and that experience moves on, leaving less experienced editors doing the same jobs, and in some cases relying on their photographers to produce and shepherd a job.

    I liked the Avs linked article yesterday about Kim, but I think it bears stating that that is one segment of the editorial market, and the choice you make there are totally different than the choices you would make doing editorial in other markets like travel, business, food, etc. In fashion, absolutely, it is about spending the money, but in these other markets it is completely different. I think the popularity of this kind of “behind the scenes” fashion-shoot thing misleading, it is not all “stars” in photography. The photographers I respect were never in it to be stars, they were/are in it out of a desire to make good work that asks questions and tells stories. Contrary to popular notion, there is a place for that work in editorial, albeit a small one.

  13. For those interested in a clear view of how we got here, I recommend: Conscience of a Liberal, by Paul Krugman. It it he outlines our shift in Political values that has given us the “winner takes all” economy.

    As for the Freelance/Full-time problem. When I was managing the Hallmark Cards Photo Studio ’88-92 (23 photogs. + 12 staff) The IRS came down on HMK Corporate for it’s Freelance Hiring. They had to change because of those 12 (I think it was 8 back then) questions. Then – if you hired a “freelancer” over 100 days (or maybe it was 120, not sure) during the year, you had better make plans for their workman’s comp and FICA.

    Ultimately both the IRS and State (sales tax) will decide – all you can do is TRY to play by the rules. I believe if they see you are TRYING and trying hard, you will be given the benefit of the doubt. But …. how many photographers try that hard?

  14. Many photo assistants, and many photographers, for that matter, would be deemed employees by the IRS. I worked for a commercial photographer years ago, and he treated me as an employee even though I could work for other photographers, take my own shoots, etc. His accountant told him that even though most photographers would have considered me an independent contractor, he thought the IRS would not agree.

    As far as corporate greed goes, there’s no doubt that it’s a part of our economic and political reality. But, if we’re going to point fingers we need to look at our own habits. Do we all buy only Fair Trade products (when available)? Do we shop at Target, Wal-Mart, etc? Do we buy our groceries at local farmer’s markets, and independent grocers, or do we purchase them at Kroger and IGA? How about our prescriptions? Do we purchase those at independent pharmacies or at Walgreens? I know I purchase mine at Walgreens and I have friends who are pharmacists. They used to love their jobs, until Walgreens took over the market. Now they all have to work at under staffed, 24 hour pharmacies, instead of an independent business with reasonable hours and good pay.

    I live in Metro Detroit, and have had to endure decades of “buy American,” which sounds great until you actually try to do it. I drive a foreign car, though it’s made in Indiana, and certain groups would love to take a hit out on me for doing so. I guarantee those same groups have members who shop a Wal-Mart, and buy foreign made products all the time. Fair pay only matters, in most instances, when it applies to yourself. Nobody around here cared whether anyone was paid fairly until they couldn’t get fair wages for themselves.

    Most everyone tries to get a “good deal” on the things they purchase.

    Human capital is extremely cheap. I remember something Edward Burtynsky said at a talk he gave once. While in Bangladesh (I think) he asked why they had hundreds of people pulling a ship on to shore when there was a winch right there that could do the job, and the foreman (or whatever) said it was cheaper to use hundreds of people than to fill the winch with fuel. Those who control capital, particularly human capital, have a good chance of making a fortune. Those of us who make up human capital (that’s probably 99.9% of the human population), will be lucky to make a decent living. Most of the human capital on the planet won’t even be that lucky.

    Money is power, and those who have the power are not usually concerned with those who don’t. It’s a game, and they’re competing with others that are at a similar level. Being worth billions is about keeping score, not making a living.

    Of course there are exceptions to everything I’ve just said, but in general the “system” is stacked in the favor of those control the capital. If a photographer wants to make a fortune, they’d be much better off hiring dozens of cheap photographers to do hundreds of cheap shoots, than to try and become a well known, high paid photographer. Of course, they’d also be better off doing something else entirely…

  15. a photo assistant

    @7

    I think justifying poor treatment and low rates as “paying your dues” is bullshit. Many photographers I know assisted for ten years before finally making the leap to be shooting. That’s a long, long time to be starving. Even when you’re making a living at it, assisting can be hard and exhausting work. I’m fortunate enough to work for a handful of photographers who I’m friends with, who pay me fairly and on time, wrangle me the odd extra rate, and who help me out by giving me film, editing my book, and hooking me up with connections. And that’s the way it should be. I’m certainly not getting rich, but I would do anything to help these guys.

    I don’t mind being an independent contractor. I have an accountant; I pay my taxes; I like my write-offs. I’m more concerned with getting good rates.

    I know from sad experience that there are a lot of photographers that will try to squeeze on rates, not pay OT, or generally be shady. These are usually people that didn’t assist themselves and often can’t light their way out of a paper bag without their assistants. Often these same photographers will complain that they can’t find good assistants.

    This industry has become very production heavy, and it’s impossible for many photographers to light their sets without several assistants. There’s not enough room for every assistant to eventually transition to shooting professionally. Many will become professional assistants, in it for the long haul. Given the demand for assistants, it needs to be a viable career, not a hazing ritual, or there will soon be a shortage of assistants.

  16. OK so I’m just going to do ONE big post to defend myself from the wolf pack. I, unfortunately, am quite familiar with the tax implications of freelance photography, so I will share some advice too.

    @11: I specified that reciprocation is not a legal standard, but is a very good BUSINESS standard. Don’t make a commitment to a client who isn’t willing to reciprocate in some way. It’s like the hooker analogy – it’s a business relationship with NO sentiment involved. Post #7 is about the “legal” standard, although the call is generally about 99% at the auditor’s discretion unless you appeal your audit (note: ALWAYS recommended – the IRS will usually make concessions in an unfavorable audit situation as they don’t want to go to tax court and risk setting a precedent in your favor).

    @12: Your bookkeeper could just as easily be seen as an “employee” and not an IC from what you describe. She works at a time (every other tuesday) and place (your office) of YOUR choosing. My assistants DO bring their own leatherman and I don’t shoot film so the sharpie is moot. Often when on a job, if they’re teching they will feel more comfortable working on their own computer and will bring it with. Nuff said. The point is it’s a grey area and having seen the workings of an audit on the less-enjoyable end, I can say even the WORST auditor (and I do mean the WORST MOST AGGRESSIVE according to my 30+ year-experienced accountant) would accept freelance assistants on a job-by-job basis. Just be sure you 1099 them all or the IRS may disallow the deduction AND fine you, plus interest at 7% per annum.

    @20: Before you get your super-assistant fanny pack in a bunch, read what I wrote: I never said anything about poor treatment. If Annie has chucked a few film backs at you, there’s no excuse. Abuse is abuse. If you’re pissed about the pay you get, step aside and let someone else do the job or move to a market with less competition (see below). It’s a free market. If you’re such hot shit, charge for it, but don’t be surprised if a photographer can find someone just as good to do the job for less. I happen to know several ex-annie assistants who corroborate the stories of her abuse but also say if she likes you (and if you have a thick skin) she pays HANDSOMELY. The market-forces can definitely be seen in smaller markets in the US – top-level Chicago assistants and LA assistants charge a lot more than NYC assistants… why? Because they don’t have as much competition. One Chicago assistant I know who is Annie-level has his own studio AND charges a minimum of $350, even for editorial. What are my choices in Chicago? Not as many as in NYC. And how many NYC assistants have their own studios? None by my count, unless they’re independently wealthy masochists. This may make all the assistants out there think twice about their $175-200 per day editorial rate and their 80 square foot bedroom.

    Also, you’re illustrating exactly my point – you said you don’t make a lot but they hook you up with connections, editing your book (offering experience) and wrangle you more money from time to time. But don’t for a minute think you are THE ESSENTIAL bridge to their success. They worked with assistants before you and will work with assistants after you.

    If you don’t like your “crappy” freelance rates, I’d be happy to give you a full time job at minimum wage. If you want to know what crappy pay is, work at a bodega selling flowers or sweeping floors.

    And as a tip to all those assistants out there: be sure to declare ALL of your income. The IRS doesn’t look kindly at all on people hiding income, so don’t try to tell them that one time job from joe shmoe photographer was really a birthday check from your uncle billy.

  17. @ #21:

    Your Dudeness,

    Couldn’t have said it better myself. Great post. Agree with you on almost everything, (but the bookkeeper). Forge ahead, my work is done here.

  18. anonymousForAday

    I’d much rather take my chances with “unrestrained free market capitalism”–or whatever the mini-socialists here have variously deemed it–than with ANY government-takes-care-of-us-all scheme they and the rest of the Left has ever dreamed up.

    The aggregate result of billions of daily transactions between millions (or billions) of people pursuing their own “selfish” interests, and those who’d supply their wants, has produced more wealth and well-being for more people on the planet than ANY government-redistribution scheme ever devised, or that ever COULD be devised.

    As long as we’re recommending reading materials, pick anything by Ayn Rand or Milton Friedman.

  19. anonymousforaday, not sure what your feeling is on this topic (just kidding).

    It’s very interesting that you came in railing against the “socialist”, “left”, “government redistribution”, and the “take care of us all scheme” when it wasn’t even being discussed, but hey, what ever floats your boat. I’m not a socialist, or anything close, but since you brought it up…

    Unfortunately we don’t have an “unrestrained free market”. If we did, the (former) Big 3 would have had to become competitive years ago, or would have gone out of business years ago. Instead they’ve limped along for decades due to the lobbying they’ve done to keep tariffs in place for imports on light trucks and SUVs, and by preventing the raising of mileage requirements.

    Government, even the Republican variety, gives out contracts, often without requiring competing bids. All politicians try to bring home the pork, often which is a gift to their buddies, who’ve been supportive (financially of course) of their campaigns.

    Government officials, and high powered executives move freely between offices in government and their executive positions, effectively allowing corporations to write government policy. Remember the awesome energy policy that was written behind closed doors by the likes of Cheney and his pals at Enron? This is not a free market, it is a very expensive, and exclusive market in which we are not invited to play along until we make the right friends. Free markets are not supposed to be about making “friends:, but about the best economic choices. What we have may be better described as “Cronie Capitalism,” which of course, is really not capitalism at all. We should either acknowledge what kind of system we really have, or make the changes in policy to reflect what we say we have.

  20. No 5. Double-Standard said “”"”"….. On and on, until you realize that, clearly, EVERY photo assistant is either a part time employee, or a full time employee.
    http://www.chancellor.com/compliance/20q.html
    Yet, the vast, vast majority of the photographers I’ve talked to are too irresponsible or lazy to run their business in a legal manner, and thus, they just write the assistants a check, and call them Independent Contractors.
    What happens if a CStand blows over and konks as assistant in the head? Who’s going to pay for his medical if there’s no Workmens Comp on set? I’ll tell you — the photographer would just say, “Hey man, it’s your problem. Sorry you got hurt on my job”……”"”"

    I keep an EIGHT MILION dollar liability policy on my business which includes every assistant. Some assistants are truly their own independent business, esp. the digital techs who use their own gear. I have a speciality that does not allow me to get workers comp in my state. The only way, I can cover an assistant is through the APA Payroll service or my liability policy. I live in a southern state and the do not allow coverage on my speciality even though assistants work with me on location shoots but not the dangerous/risky ones.

    Speaking of insurance, I’ve had Disability Insurance since the mid-eighties. My coverage is not very high, I can not raise it, but I’m covered as long as I continue to ply my $87.00 bucks a month into New England Life’s coffers.

  21. To APE, @6: so basically, in this situation you go looking for sucker too desperate to refuse, who won’t really matter when he gets screwed? Gosh.

    Please, I am really stupid and I just shoot news stories for newspapers so I know nothing about this thing you call editorial. Can you explain to me what exactly you mean by the word editorial?

  22. Kevin – I think “anonymousForAday” was commenting on the reading material I suggested without actually reading it. The title got him going – must have tripped a wire. Regardless of opinion, it’s a great read, so is Ayn Rand or Milton Friedman – I’ve actually read both.

  23. @26. Amy:Editorial as in not commercial.

    $500/day plus expenses and $250 for your assistant to shoot a full to 1/4 page (depending on how your shoot turns out and how my creative director is feeling when the page is designed) in the front of the magazine of something banal thats probably not going in your portfolio. You have to sign my contract (it’s not work for hire) and you will be reimbursed for expenses 15-30 days after I receive your invoice in the mail. Do you accept?

    If so you may be a sucker.

  24. Bruce, I thought that he hadn’t read through, so that’s why I made the comment I did. I tend to read a lot of stuff, whether from the right or left. I just think people should read a little of the discussion before getting so obviously worked up.

    I think everyone should read material that doesn’t support their political viewpoints. Most people already read to much self supporting material, and not enough of the opposing opinion (there’s a term for this, I just can’t think of what it is).

    Personally, I recommend reading the Onion.

  25. I’ve always been told (APA) that it comes down to whether you “can” (have the right to) exercise control over your assistant, not whether you do, that determines if they are employees.

    From the IRS site:
    “The business does not have to actually direct or control the way the work is done – as long as the employer has the right to direct and control the work, including how, when, or where to do the work.”

    It doesn’t mention that any other criteria be met. It just says that if that one thing is true, you are an employee. I sure hope photographers have the right to control where and when assistants do the work.

  26. Well I don’t know about you guys, but I always tell my assistants I don’t care HOW things are done as long as they end up done MY WAY. And I tell them they can come late, but I always give them a call time 3 hours earlier than the real call time.

    So I guess they really are freelancers.

    Ha ha.

  27. “Remember the awesome energy policy that was written behind closed doors by the likes of Cheney and his pals at Enron?”

    Actually, no–despite efforts to find out what was discussed at the energy task force, little has been revealed. However, the Bush administration has freely shared reasonable policy goals based on competing interests.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy_task_force
    http://www.whitehouse.gov/energy/2001/index.html

    If photographers were able to provide vital services comparable to energy companies they too would stand to have a seat at the table and benefit from it. Because they are unable or unwilling to withhold services, we’ll have to endure the perennial complaint–corporate greed–while failing to note how we too avoid overpaying for our purchases. Imagine corporations complaining about their skinflint customers and ignoring market realities.

  28. @19 said: “But, if we’re going to point fingers we need to look at our own habits. Do we all buy only Fair Trade products (when available)? Do we shop at Target, Wal-Mart, etc? Do we buy our groceries at local farmer’s markets, and independent grocers, or do we purchase them at Kroger and IGA? How about our prescriptions?”

    Yeah, ain’t that the TRUTH!

    To a certain extent. I am a big believer in if your not part of the solution you are part of the problem. And when it comes to capitalism, if you aren’t actually making those conscious decisions day in, day out about what companies you are supporting with your spending habits, then you are part of the problem.

    This problem is made all the harder by the fact that it is becoming harder and harder to find products that are connected with Fair Trade practices and have some level of transparency about the true cost of what the products cost. Heck, just the other day I looked at EVERY brand of peanut butter to try and find a brand not made in China. China! I am an Australian living in New Zealand and we get our peanut butter from China! Or how about our oranges from California (sorry guys). How does that make sense? FWIW, you can still get Kraft pb made in Australia (phew).

    Seriously though, I reckon the next big shift we will see with consumers is a move back to home grown and products that are produced more ethically. A lot of people want to know that they are spending their money on products that are well, not going to faceless corporations ruled by the bottom line.

    Organisations like Kiva.org work in part because they are transparent and people know that the money they lend as interest free loans, go to real people and make a difference. Even when it is $25. Smart business people will also realise that it will help their business from a marketability perspective by becoming involved with organisations like One Percent for The Planet (not to mention, align with people’s desires to do better).

    We can’t totally blame big business without looking inward – no doubt about it.

  29. Robert @ 33 – That was my point. The statement about energy policy was stated with sarcasm. I don’t have a problem with knowledgeable consultants meeting with our politicians, only that it should be done with transparency. We are our politicians employers (yes, we hire and fire them, and pay their salaries), and should know who they meet with when writing policy for the entire country, and will affect us all in so many ways.

    Also I wasn’t implying photographers should be sitting at a table with Cheney, only that as voters we have less of a say in so many important issues than the leaders of large corporations. No one industry should be allowed to secretly set the direction for our country as a whole. Corporations can’t vote, individuals can. We vote for politicians, and politicians enact legislation. The part about corporations paying large sums of money to be able to call the shots kind of defeats the purpose of a Democratic-Republic.

  30. Kevin @36–I don’t have a problem with private conversation, even in government. The real meat gets a public hearing and voted on in public. Early on, EP (Editorial Photographers) decided to exclude anyone but photographers from the discussion boards. But when it came to enacting change the expectation was for photographers to explain their position with those that hired them.

  31. Rober, fair enough. I think we should be able to find out who was in the meetings, not necessarily that we should all be there. Definitely a big difference. Private conversations take place in government all the time, but when it comes to policy we’re usually able to find out who was in on it.

    Anyway, to each his own. And I really mean that. I don’t have a problem with differing opinions.