Time Magazine Trolling For Free Pictures on Flickr

- - Magazines

Dear XXXXX,

We would like to publish your photo in Time Magazine in a year-end issue and also on Time.com. If you are the author of the photo and can give Time the rights to publish it, please send a high-resolution image to xxxxxxxx@timemagazine.com. While we can’t pay you for this use, we’ll give you an author’s photo credit with the published photo in the magazine and of course you retain the copyright.

Thank you for your participation.

Sincerely,

XXXXX

When I saw this I thought, how stupid it is to not to offer your space rate or at least a hundred bucks for the use and avoid getting people all riled up about it. But, on the other hand writers call people all the time and get them to contribute quotes for articles without any payment so how is this different? I can see a case where you’re sampling the opinions of Americans, using photography, where asking for free photos isn’t such a big deal. It really comes down to the end use, which isn’t indicated in the email.

There Are 81 Comments On This Article.

  1. Interesting point to make about photos not being too different from quotes – and one that will surely generate a lot of comment here.

    But the photos could also be viewed as stand alone pieces, less like quotes and more like written articles. And articles generally aren’t supplied to magazines for free!

  2. I used to work as a photo editor for Time.com; if they’d asked me to send this I would have refused. How low class.

  3. Good point re: writers, but the use of Flicker by the publishing world is straight-up lazy, and I think it only shows the growing limitations of magazine photo departments. Less staff + less money = less resources for quality photography.

    • Len Firewoodl

      @Finn O’Hara, I think you’re showing some snobbery here – sure there are plenty of poor quality photos on flickr but there are also examples there that would challenge anything I have seen anywhere professional, amateur or whatever. I can understand that some professional photographers may resent the possibility of ‘amateurs’ getting on their turf but they are burying their heads in the sand if they think that because a photo may be in flickr it is not up to ‘professional standards’!

  4. Good images will compel the reader to pause, and actually read the piece. It works whether the writing is an ad, or an editorial.

    My guess is that Time is in a financial crunch, and this is a way to reduce their expenses a bit. So rather than find a photographer who can produce good images that fit an article, they pay a writer or editor to troll through Flickr.

    I do agree that they should at least pay a small amount to each photographer. There is a legal can of worms that opens with uncompensated work. What happens if Time decides to use the image in the future? What happens if Time sells off an image later to a third party for another use? What happens if Time goes insolvent, or sells off parts of the company, and suddenly those images become assets to the creditors/buyers?

  5. Sign of the times…

    i reporter, citizen journalism is the same dilemma for working photojournalists having their image value lessened by these media outlets, giving the “opportunity” to be published or aired without paying a dime….

  6. Time should be ashamed of themselves. seriously…. you are TIME FUCKING MAGAZINE, not a blog.

    As if its not bad enough that their day rate is only 400 bucks!?

  7. Right.
    And those will also carry the words PUBLISHED IN TIME MAGAZINE with proud in their resumes.
    Low.

  8. I don’t blame Time. They’re a publicly shared company who’s obligation is to their shareholders. That is sad, but as a business, of course you’ll get something for free if you can. Quality has been sacrificed for profit margin.

    What’s REALLY sad is that they’ll probably have no trouble generating content from people who will give them images so they can officially list TIME as a client on their websites.

  9. i am gonna try asking my plumber if he will work for free if i put his name on my toilet seat…

  10. I really don’t give a damn if Time gets quotes for free. The only quotes I give are ones for photoshoots.

    I would really have to think it over to let them use a shot of mine gratis.

    I don’t think anything is wrong asking for shots but doing so on a hobbyist site like Flickr they will probably get a good response since most hobby shooters would really get a kick out of having their shots in Time.

    I’m off to the bookstore to ask for some free copies of Time.

  11. I would feel a little insulted if a publication like Time Magazine told me they didn’t have a budget. I’m certain they pay other photographers for their work. This is how I would respond:

    Dear Time Magazine,

    Thank you for your interest in my photos. I can’t afford to hand out photo licenses for free, but please keep me in mind for projects that do have photography budgets.

    - Eric

  12. Please forward this horrible Time Magazine request to David Hobby and Chase Jarvis, and ask them each to write another blog article that fully clarifies what their stance is on “working for free”. Hobby should be lined up and shot at dawn in the town square, and while we’re at it, pop a couple into Jarvis’ ass also, just to set an example. Make all the photo students watch it; they need education.

    I also like that Comment from here yesterday, where that guy outlines what it actually costs you to get out of bed in the morning. Each and EVERY morning. An blank Excel document like that should be included inside every Canon 5D box, just for educational purposes. I’ve completed one of those WhatItCostsYou forms, and it’s an eye-opening experience. I recommend it to everyone.

    Time Magazine; my goodness. What is the world coming to?

  13. Sad, sad, sad. Time should be ashamed. “We can’t pay you for this use”.
    Seriously, I can see why I’ve spent more time avoiding print publications the last couple years.

    Rosh

  14. I think the part that is missing from this story is what the content is. Yes, it’s year end but what does that mean? could it have been a story on flickr? I know from personally working on stories about Flickr they require you to contact individual users and do not have a variety of hand-out photos to accompany stories done on their company that may be appropriate to showcase content. Before an attack on TIME is truly launched I think more information is necessary.

      • @A Photo Editor, i’m totally speculating here but, if i had to guess year end stories are routinely shrouded in secrecy. form letters such as the one that ended up on your site might give away something the mag is trying to keep close to the vest… why advertise to a casual flickr user what the man/product/event of the year is going to be? Plus, getting people to actually respond via a message sent through flickr is hit or miss at best,so why give away content? Like I said this spectulation, but I dont know if all the information about story content and useage is necessary in that first contact. I’d be interested in the emails that followed once someone said yes

  15. I work for a small weekly newspaper. We would STILL pay a photographer $25 for a photo we saw on Flickr and wanted to use. Not that we make a habit of finding our photos that way.

    And using a photo is nothing like a journalist quoting someone in an article.

  16. sorry but it’s good they asked. The copyright holder can always say no, or even suggest a space rate.

  17. a) This is not what Chase and David were talking about. You need to go read thier post again. I suspect they would be appalled by Time as well. Just the word “free” seems to scare up the nasty in people. its all about context…

    b) And speaking of context, I may be wrong but I was under the understanding that the article the pictures would be used for is about Flickr. Again, I’m not positive about this but if thats the case, I think it is in fact different. If its for pure non-flickr related editoral content, I’m on board. Bad Time. But if they are serving as “examples” of the sort of thing people are posting on flickr in an article about Flickr, I think its different and is arguable more like quoting someone.

    c) its not all wanna-be professionals on Flickr. not even close. Many people arent’ reading all these blogs and the debates and “just trying to get a tagline in Time”. Some grandma is happy Time magazine liked her sunset picture and is excited to show her grandkids the issue.

    Now was it stupid business practice not to offer a little nominal fee? absolutely. And that line about Time “can’t” pay is more than laughable and almost insulting, especially to a community that is often made up of cash strapped entrepeneurs. But, journalitically, and business ethics-wise, I do think there is an argument to be made about context and purpose.

  18. Just another photog

    I was contacted not so long ago with an extremely similar looking email from a different magazine…

    Is this one most definatly from Time?

  19. When Time Magazine fails us, let’s remember the good guys who go troll through flickr and pay photographers. They include Conde Nast, the Boston Review and SilverKris, the Singapore Airlines Inflight Magazine, each of which found me using Flickr. I happy to say that each paid a fair price to use of my images. Kudos to them!

    If Time comes to me with this insidious offer, I will tell them what I have told all money making entities who request free imagery:

    No!

  20. Did you check the link? I’ve gotten these before and they’ve been scams. The address might read xxxxxxx@timemagazine.com but if you hold your cursor over it you will find a website link that will usually result in a virus being downloaded to your system. I even get phone calls nowadays that are the same scams. Usually I will have a message: “Kristi, call me at. . . . . . . ” Called once, since it is my business line and wound up being transferred to someone who said that they had bought pictures from me and never received them – and that they wanted a refund. . . . . . . never had sold pics to this person. Now, unless the caller tells me who they are with, they will only get the answering machine. . . .

  21. Sadly, I am not surprised… Although I think it’s shameful, particularly coming from one of the country’s biggest, most high-profile magazines. I don’t care what the intended “end use” is, Time should offer –as Rob suggested– at least a hundred bucks AND photo credit for any images they want to use, whether for print and/or their blog.

    I probably get about one request per week (on average) through Flickr, from various entities and publications, asking if they can use one of my images…almost invariably “in exchange for credit.” (BFD — as if “photo credit” can put food on my table, or gas in my car so I can drive to the next location.)

    I almost invariably write back and at least inquire about the possibility of compensation of some kind…any kind. In other words, I give the requesting party the opportunity to examine their conscience, and their budget, and to at least make a gesture towards compensation — whether it’s monetary, or a product, or a service… And, depending on their reply, I may or may not grant the request; more often than not, however, I say “no” (because more often than not I get some kind of sob story about their inability to pay for images — end of story).

    One such request came from a specialized architecture magazine founded by one of the world’s most famous –and undoubtedly wealthiest– architects (both shall remain nameless here). I refuse[d] to believe that such a publication/person couldn’t spare a hundred, or even fifty dollars to pay me for use of my image. Subscription rates for said quarterly magazine (quarterly!) were $132/year.

    Unfortunately, however, there are TONS of photographers and hobbyists on Flickr who would be flattered enough by the request from Time –or even lesser known publications– to grant usage without even thinking to ask for something in exchange.

    Given this situation (i.e., major magazines asking for free images + hobbyist photographers willingly giving away their work), how is anyone ever going to make any money via photography ever again…?

  22. You get what you pay for, no? Lets hope those contacted are not blinded by the majesty of Time Inc. and sure enough of themselves to say no.

    I don’t understand why Time would think they SHOULD get to publish pictures for free. They didn’t used to be like this. Then again, they haven’t raised their rates in many years and assign way less photography than they used to. And it shows. They still do the really big stories well, but the rest of the magazine looks like USA Today, and that’s not a compliment.

  23. A photo editor, too

    All’s fair in love and photography. People, have you once asked yourselves…let’s give them the benefit of the doubt. Do we know why they did this? Did we do research? Did we give them a chance to respond?

    This reminds me of that attack on that cover of Lebron and Giselle on the cover of VOGUE over whether the shots perpetuate racial stereotypes. If you’ve been a photo editor as long as I have, you’d know the behind the scene story and you can only laugh or cry at the misinterpretations.

    For all the people throwing stones, take a step back..it’s only fair

  24. That Time situation is a joke. The sad part is that this becomes a slippery slope. One free or cheap image from Flicker becomes 100 cheap images. Soon
    legit photographers and stock agencies are hurting while the weekend digital shooter just made 100 dollars and got their name in print.
    The advertising price for ad space in the magazine has not gone down so where is that money going?
    Next they will fire the entire “creative” department (I use that term very loosely) and use interns to look for more free images.
    Maybe Livebooks will come out with a generic magazine template for them to buy.

  25. I got a very similar email from BusinessWeek Israel a few weeks/months ago:

    ______________________________

    Hello

    May I use your image of spam come out of the computer, for an article at our magazine – BusinessWeek Israel?
    I will credit your name of course.

    %%%%%%%%
    *******
    ###########
    BusinessWeek Israel

    _______________________________

    I asked them about compensation but never got a response. Sad.

  26. You guys are a joke.

    1) If you have your photos on flickr, expect they are going to get downloaded and used without your permission. Solution: cancel flickr and/or only upload photos you are are okay with getting stolen.

    2) Flickr is a CGM site where people “share” content with the world. It’s a not a private portfolio site. If you’re going to share with the world on a PUBLIC site, expect this.

    3) I almost NEVER hear professionals complain about this because they don’t upload to flickr thus I must infer that 99% of the people here probably have no basis at all for complaining when their mediocre shots are stolen or used for free.

    4) You cannot even come close to comparing something you took in the past with work that is paid for upfront. If Time needs you, they’ll pay for your “skills” in advance.

    5) This is for some online “best of” collection, not a breaking front page PRINT story.

    6) FOR ALL “PHOTOGRAPHERS”: Whether or not you are new or have been doing this for 50 years, you need to get used to the notion that you are not as needed or valuable as you once were. Every day, week, month, holiday someone around the world buys and/or receives a camera that is just as good as yours. A great deal of them will not be able to do much more than take snapshots, but a small percentage, which is a BIG number, will be able to use them and use them well. Talent has gone through the roof in both numbers and quality so the monetary value of photography has dropped.

    7) How many of you no longer buy books, magazines, newspapers, and instead do all your reading online? Guess what, you help to fuel these situations. Magazines, newspaper and other news organizations are going broke and cannot afford to pay for every single good shot ever taken.

    8) You “pros” need to get off your old/busted high horses and adapt. Times have changed. Your old business model, which allowed horrible photography to be worth 100x more than it was worth, is long gone. If you can’t compete well enough to make enough money so that you’re left complaining about a petty $50 – $100 photograph, you have failed and your time is over.

    • LOL, ok, despite the antagonistic tone, whatever does have some valid points.

      Personally, I don’t upload anything to flickr. I chose to go with Photoshelter where I can put my value on my work. I just consider Photoshelter a much more professional arena.

      Yes, people are getting very good, cheap digital cameras these days and the technology of the pixels combined with basic knowledge of editing software allows casual shooters to get very good visual results. But there have always been good amateur shooters, some with fully equipped darkrooms in the basement. Some have even won Pulitzer Prizes for their work. However, there’s a difference between capturing a nice image and following a story that yields consistantly appealing images that capture viewers. You might be able to buy a Steinway piano but that doesn’t mean you’re Mozart.

      In the previous post, I expressed disdain, (for lack of a better word), over the quality of some of the popular ‘point and shoot’ photographers. Despite my opinion on the quality of photography, it’s undeniable that some shooters have become successful in finding a following for their work. I applaud them for that.

      whatever is right in challenging shooters to up our game. Every day I look at a lot of good images that all look the same. Someone captures a nice image and that concept becomes a trend. Chase Jarvis wrote a blog about becoming a successful photographer in which he quoted someone saying, ‘be undeniably good.’ Yes, the industry has changed. The challenge is to evolve my style or find a story, or market myself in a way that separates me from the sea of others.

      I’m not concerned about Time Magazine because, frankly, I don’t expect them to survive. We often say that the industry is suffering a decline, but I’m looking at it differently; it’s evolving. I think that the future belongs to us who don’t wait for the same old fat cats to find a way to make money so that they can pay us, but who find a way to market our own images in online publication directly to the interested public.

      Traditional publication is dead. Evolve or die with it.

      • Sad to say that the world is changing and the business of photography changing as well. My last Person of the Year at TIME was YOU or better know as User Generated content. The paradigm hasd shifted and its tolls for thee.
        The only pictures of the London bombings were taken on a cell phone. The real secret to photography is f8 and BE THERE with the emphasis on be there. Box Brownie or Sinar 8×10 if you dont have the moment you dont have the photo. Sure there are creative ways to show the occurence afterward but that’s a bag of tricks to show off the fact that you were not there. The moment is king and since everybody has a cell phone that takes videos and photos dont you want to see these images if they exist?. What really counts is the content.
        Sure I long for the days when photography was a craft and the expense of photography and the learning curve prevented all those amateurs from giving us competition. But how many people who are complaining shoot film now ? or ever have?
        Give me a break the only thing seperating you from them is the general quality of the pictures you take. Sure professionals are generally better but how many of them are the caliber of Nachtwey or Bleasdale? Lots of professional hacks out there who think
        they are above the fray.
        What counts is the photo and historically many great photos have been taken by amateurs or students. Just ask the agencies who re coop material. Remember the firefighter with the baby at Oklahoma City or John Filo’s Kent state photos or Haeberle’s MyLai photos.
        What carries the day is the content and the best photo wins -period end of story.

        Yes the market is more competitive and the publishing worlds’ paradigm shifting as their adverstising decreases. Time and Getty and MSN have been soliciting readers pics and having contest for the best pics for years . Nothing is new. Trust me I edited a few and it was hard to find really good photos that could compete but that is changing.

        There are some great photographers on Flickr to think otherwise is mereley naive or foolish.
        Yes the content is hard to control what isn’t these days.
        I don’t blame TIME -this is not a new thing that is only done by this particular magazine. Time is still trying to find a way to be relavant in the new digital world. I wish they would open the doors to contributors more. Journalism can be a participatory democracy not a club for the priveleged few. Certainly most professionals
        are FAR better than most amateurs but there are great amateurs out there. Do you dismiss their talent because they are not professionals? Please pull the blinders out of the place where the sun don’t shine and get off your high horse. Great photography is great photography regardless of who took it.
        Finally if you submit your work and say it is copyrighted and you want to receive space-I am sure the editors at TIME willdo so IF the photograph is truly one of the best pictures of the year. From my experience the photos from amateurs that can compete are rare as hen’s teeth but Truth and Beauty cannot be denied when it is good it is good.
        Generally trolling brings up a lot of trash.
        Personally, I feel sorry for the poor editor who has to go through all the crap to hopefully find a gem.
        If you look at things in context the perspective changes. This is not a ploy to get pictures for free ( though in some cases that may be an outcome) It is an attempt to look into the brave new world and try to be relevant finding perhaps something that would be overlooked otherwise.

    • @whatever,
      “FOR ALL “PHOTOGRAPHERS”: Whether or not you are new or have been doing this for 50 years, you need to get used to the notion that you are not as needed or valuable as you once were. Every day, week, month, holiday someone around the world buys and/or receives a camera that is just as good as yours. A great deal of them will not be able to do much more than take snapshots, but a small percentage, which is a BIG number, will be able to use them and use them well. Talent has gone through the roof in both numbers and quality so the monetary value of photography has dropped.”

      I disagree. When “We push the button, you do the rest” was a new idea, the daguerreotypists and tintype shooters had their market flooded with a horde of new amateurs shooting family snaps. When Leica invented the 35mm camera and you could now travel the world without a load of film holders in your pockets, the view-camera men saw a new era of family “snapshot” photography. When auto-focus and auto-exposure and and motor-wind meant you never had to worry about the technicalities of photography, guess what happened? It was just before the era when photography budgets got so big that it was practically a social convention for photographers to do a few lines of coke with the art director in the limo on the way to the photo shoot!

    • @whatever,
      I agree with some of what whatever has to say except the last paragraph about “Your old business model, which allowed horrible photography to be worth 100x more than it was worth, is long gone” you should look at Guess, YSL, D&G, and I could go on and on. Crap photography rules the market place.

  27. I’ll give Time a photo they can use for free…. Don’t even need credit.

    Times are a changin certainly, but fuck Time Magazine.

  28. Seems like another indication of the implosion of our economy in general and our profession in particular. Hang on guys, it looks like it’s going to be a rough ride.

  29. Expect to see more and more of this crap happening around the industry as it continues to crash and burn with withering ad revenue.

    It seems a bit off base to equate garnering quotes for a story to Time Inc. asking for free photography. Not even in the same ballpark, period. If Time was seeking free stories containing quotes, that might be a more accurate comparison.

  30. O.K. so we all know the industry is changing, and I don’t think anyone knows where photography and photographers are going to land — whether it’s on their heads, or their asses, or their feet…

    But as a newbie to the profession, I am forever amazed by some of these debates, because it seems like there are two camps: 1) tired/bored/uninspired/old skool photographers who want to be paid as much as they’ve always been paid for work that doesn’t outshine, or even compete with, the current marketplace. (Because yeah, amateurs and semi-pros like me have gotten as good or better than you while you were resting on your old laurels!) And 2) those who seem to want to give away the store.

    Ideally you need to be good to do well in your profession –of course– and if you’re great, then ostensibly you’ll do even better. But “good” and “great” are also highly subjective…aren’t they…? One could debate until the cows came home about what’s good/great/not good/mediocre/total shite. But before I forget what my point is, my point is that it is NOT UNREASONABLE for the producer of an image –good, great, professional, amateur-hobbyist, whatever– to expect some compensation for their work.

    I don’t think anyone should rest on their laurels, or expect to be paid as handsomely as they might have been paid in the past for work that isn’t better, or even as good, as what someone else is doing now. But let’s get paid SOMETHING for what we do!?

    If Time magazine, or anyone else, wants to use an image, then they should be prepared to pay something for it. I might think McDonald’s food is total rubbish, but they still expect me to pay for it if I want to walk into a franchise and order a goddamn ‘hamburger.’ Right? (The best comments above, IMHO, are those who suggest other ‘service providers’ [plumbers, dentists, etc.] provide their services solely in exchange for credit.) It’s unfortunate, but we don’t live in a gift economy, or a barter society.

    And unless you place no value on your profession and the work you produce, I really don’t think you should be equating images with quotes culled sans remuneration from authors/experts… The quoted person will receive “credit” for his or her statement, for one. Secondly, a quote is usually acquired by a quick phone call or email exchange. They aren’t writing and re-writing the piece, unlike the person whose name will appear on the byline.

    So unless Time magazine is going to query me to determine how much time went into the making of my image that they want to use (retouching/post-processing, whether or not travel was involved, and other associated expenses), and therefore determine a ‘fairer price,’ then yeah, I expect to be paid a non-insulting flat fee for it. And if they don’t want to pay anything for the image, then I’m going to assume that the story can stand totally on its own — without any image at all.

    But hey, I’m a girl. And I post work to Flickr…along with my real name.

  31. Just goes to show that when the gravy train comes to a grinding halt, the low rent publications get even more low rent. Time as a print magazine is beyond irrelevant and Time Inc. has had a history of squandering its’ most valuable assets – its’ brands.

    Life went from America’s most iconic magazine to a newspaper insert.

    Teen People went from the highest-circulation teen magazine in America to nothing. Not even a website (and their target market doesn’t even remember a time before the internet).

    Wallpaper was a fresh, promising, cutting edge shelter magazine and now it’s basically Real Simple crossed with Surface circa 2000.

    Time is going the same way – from a great brand which defined the news to a shite rag with people’s snapshots which they scammed for free off some poor schmuck with a CC license on their Flickr account.

    If they were smart, they would invest heavily in online presence and make it THE source for news online. Of course they probably have millions invested in printing technology so they can’t just change course – oops, I guess they should have been paying more attention to the market 15 years ago.

    They could still use their capacity to leverage print products as high-end luxury end of the brand (ie: books, custom published magazines, collector’s pieces, etc.) and make web and broadcast licensing the main attraction. National Geographic has done a better job of this, and they’re a friggin’ nonprofit.

    Time Inc needs the fastest web presses and distribution network can’t compete with the speed of a wordpress account.

  32. Part of my editing process is looking at my photos and thinking to myself “could I find something similar to that on Flickr?” If I could, then it gets trashed as it’s unnecessary. There are so many generic photos being repeated out there all the time. I’m not suprised that Time are asking for photos for free from Flickr users. If the user says no, then they can move on to the next person who as taken their version of the same photo. Supply and demand.

  33. Dear Time Magazine,

    I would like to read your year-end issue. If you are the publisher of the magazine and can give me the rights to read it, please send a copy my home. While I can’t pay you for this use, I’ll let everyone I know that you are the publisher of the magazine and of course you retain the copyright.

    Thank you for your participation.

    Sincerely,

    XXXXX

  34. i think most time photo editors “editing process” goes like this:

    “can i hire my friend, girlfriend or husband to shoot that? “

  35. Online photography is like a portfolio to draw interest to your style. Flickr is a web 2.0 app where people can interact through images and I love that sense of community. A great example is I uploaded a photo of a burger and fries from the Atlanta airport and someone wanted it in their Flickr “Burger” group. I had to chuckle as I clicked “accept”.

    My understanding of the Time.com email was that it was for a Flickr specific or year end article. I replied to them and agreed Time.com could use my photo. I am not a professional photographer but I sense pain and bitterness in many of these comments. Please know as a non professional, I appreciate what you do and you inspire me to pull out my camera every time I see something that visually moves me.

    I have made all my photos CC because I enjoy being able to use interesting photos on my blog and if someone finds a photo of mine they like, I feel they should be able to use it as well.

    For my photo of Barack Obama’s text message announcing Senator Joe Biden as his VP selection http://flickr.com/photos/adriarichards/2789044267/

    • @Adria Richards,

      To followup on my previous comment 1 week ago, I received an email from Time saying my photo had not been selected for the final run for the specific edition.

      I agree that posters after me that it’s one thing to be a “professional” and another to complain (and whine) about not being treated like one. Not everyone will value the work you do. Surround yourself with positive people and focus on the warm glow of awesome.

      ————————
      Dear XXXXXX,

      We finished our flickr project, which will be featured in the 12/29 issue. Unfortunately, your flickr posting did not make the final cut, but we would like to thank you for your participation, encourage you to keep shooting, and wish you the best of luck!

      Again, thank you very much,
      Time Magazine
      ————————

  36. This is very interesting considering that TIME has just closed down the South Pacific edition.

    I have just sent this to a colleague to see if they can either confirm or deny whether its a real email or not.

    Unfortunately the business of news magazines has been changing for sometime due to the advent of the new technologies but also because of the management of the properties.

    News is not something that can be commodified in the same way as a movie, or an entertainment program and I think that this has been the mistake that the accountants that currently manage these fine old brand names have made in their arrogance and paucity of ideas.

    Only an accountant could come up with an idea such as trolling on Flick’r for photos, because quality and content means nothing to someone who has no comprehension that ‘news-worthiness’ means more than just gossip.

    With due respect to the previous poster, my years of experience as a photojournalist have meant that I place more emphasis on my images as a means for an expression of events of importance than something that can just be thrown away for free. But then I have been a working professional for years and have some concept that photography is a bit more than wallpaper.

    As for Flick’r user’s well they should be aware that their photos are just in one big photo library like Getty and unless they have the journalistic and photographic nouse to be able to follow through the issues, which often require resarch, access and overcoming all sorts of obstacles then really all they are doing is supplying a big company with rubbish wallpaper, that essentially devalues the entire industry and in the long term will be absolutely meaningless for the supplier of the images.

    Who cares if one of their photos of nothing gets published?

    It happens all the time and in the old days people got paid for it…

  37. It is a great shame that Time has stooped to the mean practice of
    soliciting pictures from innocent photographers on Flickr just for a free ride on their paper vehicle.But I am not surprised.National Geographic did it for the Your Shot contest asking for the original file with all rights.

    “You grant to National Geographic Society and its subsidiaries and licensees (“NGS”) the following rights: a royalty-free, worldwide, perpetual license to display, distribute, reproduce and create derivatives of the Photograph, in whole or in part, without further review or participation from you, in any medium now existing or subsequently developed, in editorial, commercial, promotional and trade uses in connection with NGS Products.
    But atleast Time is not swallowing the copyright.Are these mags diving into the dust bin?

    Fotolaw

  38. the newsprint industry has truly taken one on the chin the last 5 years with declining revenue and staff reduction after staff reduction

    Newsday has eliminated all fotog positions
    http://nppa.org/news_and_events/news/2008/12/newsday.html
    and I don’t believe this will be the only publication to do so in the days ahead

    I do see professional PJ’s posting on Flickr
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/zoriah/
    Zoriah, who you mentioned and featured in a post here has been posting for some time, I read comments here and the thoughts/feelings about the social networking and public gallery site, Flickr, and cannot understand the disdain…I see Flickr only furthering the appreciation and passion for photography in every part of the globe, which can only be a good thing IMHO.

    If magazines, editors, etc., want to utilize every avenue out there & available to them sobeit, not to pay someone though for their work, be it professionally derived or by an amateur is completely absurd.

    When the car came along and replaced the horse and buggy people could not come to grips with that change for quite some time…when digital photography and the websites that followed came along people welcomed it w/ open arms, but now I see some are worried becasue it may/is affecting their pocket books, or perhaps their egos more, that may be the problem.

  39. Honestly, I can understand both sides. I’ve been a photojournalist for a couple of years now and I chose freelancing because I like the liberty of shooting what I want. But that not always could make ends meet with that job so I had to do other things to finance my next stories. On the one side its frustrating on the other side its today the way the game is played i guess.
    Everybody can ask anything for free. If the thing that is asked for is granted is another issue. We all live in a classical situation of “over supply”. Lets face it. Many “professional” photographers, especially with the daily news, are not much better as the motivated amateur. In the end we all are JUST taking pictures. To getting paid for that at all, is actually more you can ask for. I traveled long and dangerous ways to take pictures but in the end I never demanded to get paid by anybody. That doesn’t mean we have to give away our work for free. But times change and to become a good and motivated photojournalist you have to have more determination than ever in the future. Photograhpy is not a handicraft anymore, its industrialized and reproduceable and everyone who can afford a camera can be one. With a little bit of excerise and luck almost everyone can be a decent photographer or photojournalist. Its just not that hard anymore. Apart from the fact that there is less and less money in the market ( that is a fact, because people ask why should they pay money for a service they are exposed to everyday and therefore is taken for granted ) the picture editors and managers also know about the circumstance mention above. To a certain extend photography and especially photojournalism won’t be like it was in the past. When I was in university I read all the stories from the great photojournalists in the 70′s,80′s and even 90′s and how they made their stories, being almost the only one around. Today, Reuters puts a Nikon D3 in almost everybody’s hand who is around a certain issue, you don’t have to have a photographical background or necessarily proven yourself. Its up to us now to sell our photography as something valuable to the paying society…as something it is worth spending money for it ( and I don’t talk about pictures of puppies or nicely lit, naked, female bodies )

  40. Going back to the beginning, I think it’s clear that it’s pretty tacky for a company like Time to derive value from someone’s work without being prepared to pay them anything. Having said that, as people have said here, for many people getting their photo into Time would be a wonderful thing to happen, so it’s difficult to fault them for agreeing.

    The thing that worries me about this conversation is how negative some people have been about Flickr and the people who post photos there. People are talking about their ‘nothing photos’ and decrying them for being amateurs, saying that they’re destroying the industry.

    I just want people to look at *one day* of Flickr explore and tell me with a straight face that some of the captures posted aren’t professional quality. Not all of them are, certainly, but then not all of the best pictures reach Flickr Explore either.

    I mean just glancing through the last 24 hours I find these:
    http://flickr.com/photos/awkgame/3103909397/
    http://flickr.com/photos/jung_n_freud/3104881938/
    http://flickr.com/photos/sonnysaguil/3103776671/
    http://flickr.com/photos/yy-z/3104750529/
    http://flickr.com/photos/thedarlinglife/3106453346/
    http://flickr.com/photos/lindsaystark/3104102147/

    Now, that the availability of photos on Flickr is going to have an impact on the rest of the industry is, I’m afraid, pretty much undeniable. But that’s not only true of photography – talented amateurs all over the world have access to the technology and a platform to the world for showing off what they can do with it. It’s true for animation, film-makers, comedians, writers and journalists, graphic designers, t-shirt designers etc. etc.

    In general this is *not a bad thing*. This is a great, transformative, positive thing that means that creative enthusiastic people get to express themselves, reveal themselves to the world, find work and opportunities. And for those professional photographers who feel like they could accomplish more in the world, these same opportunities are there for you. And from the perspective of the audience, they’re seeing more and more quality views of the world—more created work—all the time.

    But yeah, it probably means that the number of people who can make money despite not being that good—or by not pushing themselves into new areas—is going to diminish. Conceivably people who do great work may find it harder to support themselves by doing it. I have sympathy, but this has happened in hundreds of different industries already.

    You want to do something about it, start a campaign – protest in public and get high profile talent engaged. Declare that you’ll go on strike and not produce imagery for magazines unless they agree that a person should be rewarded for the photography that they produce. That would be a positive step for all concerned. Shouting at someone who has a desk job, but loves photography, and gets the opportunity to have one of his photos featured in Time magazine is not a reasonable option.

    • @Tom Coates, none of the pictures you posted links to are of “professional quality”, whatever the hell that means. They’re barely passable, formally speaking imho, and definitely conceptually weak. in other words, amateurish.

      • @matthias bruggmann – well, I sort of expected that I’d get that kind of reaction, to be honest, but it still doesn’t make the principle untrue – that there are pictures of Flickr of significant quality that competes with that of many professional photographers. It would be hard for there not to be. After all there are three billion photos on Flickr, some of them taken by professionals. You may not like that, but I’m afraid you’re just going to have to deal with it.

        • @Tom Coates, i’m not talking about the medium. Saying that there is no good photography on Flickr is an idiocy to the level of stating that “there is no good photography” on the internet. What I’m saying is that the work you posted is mediocre, not because of the perception of who shot it, but because of itself.

          Yes, the technology enables a perceived levelling of the playing field, but it’s unfortunately not that simple, much like the line between amateur and professional isn’t clear. I was part of a team that curated a show called “we are all photographers now” last year, and one of the most striking examples of this we found was Noah Kalina’s Every Day video. Now, it’s formally very amateur-ish. It’s grungy, shot with a webcam, etc. It’s also shot by someone who at the time was a student at SVA, and knew exactly what he was doing – I’d for example consider it totally impossible for him to not have been confronted to Nicholas Nixon’s Brown Sisters. This places the work in a different context, which changes its meaning. A similar kind of shift creates, in my view, a problem when you translate it to photojournalism, not because of the moot amateur/professional debate in itself, but because of a set of regulations that separate professional from amateur photography in the very specific context of journalism. For example, since the playing field is so leveled, what, other than institutional legitimation, would Yahoo need from Reuters for YouWitness ?

          I’ll also add i’ve got a tremendous problem with the smugness of the crowd-sourced discourse. The paradox of the “citizen reporter” is that it plays into a game that is threatening a pillar of the democratic system. It is not, contrary to what the freetards seem to want to believe, the game itself (which has a lot to do with the dramatic dysfunction of the institution). But the long-term cost of the ego-boost could be tremendous, which is why I don’t think it’s a good idea to play into it.

        • @Tom Coates,
          There are a lot of working class photographers who deliver a product that’s not much different than what very strong amateur photographers can achieve. This has always been the case and now it’s all on display for everyone to see. The difference is that professional photographers run a business and the client relationships and transactions are built on trust and professionalism.

          On the other hand the stock industry is totally screwed.

  41. I’m a little disappointed by some (most) of the commentary in this discussion. Photographers tend to have this stereotype attached to them of being well…..jerks. Not getting along with other people and especially other photogs. Most of know that that’s not the case, but a few bad apples spoil the barrel :( At the same time what’s with all this self pity? The world’s changing and you will to.

    That being said, look at it this way: Get better, take this as a challenge. Improve your craft, every shot you produce should make everyone else who views it look at their camera gear and portfolios in shame and disgust and give you the greatest compliment one photographer can give to another, they can simply ask you “How did you do that?”

  42. Tom Coates, ‘nothing photography’ is just that, photographs that do little to enhance the world’s understanding of some of the in depth issues that TIME has long been asssociated with addressing.

    I am not decrying amateurs, as every professional started as one, but I am soooo sick of hearing about ‘amateur’ being the next harbinger of news…

    For god’s sake, just because you have a camera doesn’t make you a photojournalist….

    As does, just because you have a spanner doesn’t make you a mechanic…

    And really all the plethora of people carrying cameras around doesn’t improve the state of photography in general, it just increases the amount of crap you have to wade through to find the gems…

    • @Lisa Hogben, no one would say that just having a camera makes you a photo-journalist, but there are people out there who have a camera and are good and skilled even if they’re not formally photo-journalists.

      The rest of your position here is sort of inscrutable to me. The truth is that you’re going to have to deal with this state of affairs. A mass of photographers aren’t going anywhere. Complaining about it and calling them names isn’t going to help. And if magazines look at the photos produced by amateurs and decide that they capture something that’s important (which seems to me to be very likely) then that’s going to have an impact on your business. You can shout about it all you want, you can be angry about it, but it’s not going to change anything. And—more importantly—it’s not a reflection on the people who take the photos, who are still passionate, enthusiastic who do it for the love and are delighted when they get any recognition.

      As to your point about the amount of crap there is out there, well that too is the way of the world. And the job of technologists and engineers and web designers is to find techniques to surface the good stuff and make it easier to explore around. It’s happening more and more every day. Again, you can be dismayed by this, you can worry about your industry, you can think it’s all a disaster, but that’s not really going to change things. So probably the best thing to do is to work out how to use these tools yourself to push and promote the work that you do – or (as I said earlier) make some proactive move with the press to change the way they buy photos. I don’t see you really have many other options.

        • @Adria Richards, sorry but its no more wlecome than when I commenced my career… Why does everyone think that it has to be easy and people will smile at you sweetly just before they elbow you in the face to get a better position in the pack? Why does anyone think that anyone that has made a career out of this business actually just went out picked up a camera and took some kind of ‘lucky shot’?

          Wake up and smell the coffee- how sustainable is an industry where the newbies that come in are constantly giving their work away, so much so that when the newbies get old they can’t pay their mortgage because no one pays for photos anymore?

          And Tom Coates what is it exactly you mean by ‘inscrutable position’? And what names have I called anyone? I have expressly said in this post ‘I am not decrying amateurs, as every professional started as one’…This is precisely what I mean by people being photojournalists because at least that have the nous to get their facts right!

          If you can present meaningful answers to those two questions then maybe it would loan your argument some credibility.

          I live in the era of “Amateur is the ‘new’ Auteur”

  43. I think it’s pretty disgusting of Time not to offer payment and attribution for use of the images.

    All requests I am aware of for photos for the story are to do with the election of Obama – my guess is that the story is not about flickr but about the major events of the year.

  44. There’s a lot of it about. Have a look at http://www.artsjobs.co.uk. This is run by the Arts Council, and consists almost entirely of organisations trying to blag free labour from people who want to get into “the arts”. Might this not devalue the whole thing just a tad? Apparently not something that worries them.

  45. What a good timely read – just after David Hobby and Joe McNally have discussed ‘working for free’ – to develop and expand one’s photographic skills and portfolio – I have received inquiries for use of several of my pictures posted on Flickr. The requests come from ‘for profit’ companies and neither offered or mentioned remuneration in their initial requests. I asked each about their ‘typical’ compensation and…(surprise!)… no response. I have lately started putting copyright tags into my pictures, embedded through Lightroom and Photoshop, as well as up-loading only small sized images. If and when these firms respond and ask for ‘free’ use of the pictures, I will counter by asking if they get their calendars, brochures, and other media in which they wish to use my photos for ‘free’, too. – somehow I doubt that they do…

    • I got a response!:

      “We can provide a photo credit, and I can send you a screenshot. We’re working with little, next to no budget…
      I’m afraid the going rate is the credit–no fee. This is because we are not producing any print publication, only online…”

      Hmmm, what to do, what to do!

      • @SunDevilStormin, “This is because we are not producing any print publication, only online…”

        Oh boy…that line is going to get old real fast. I’ve heard it a few times and as more publications switch to being only online or less frequent print schedules (US News and World Report, the Christian Science Monitor, and soon to be more I’m sure) I don’t know how any will be able to sustain their journalism without paying.

  46. When you sign on to Flickr, don’t you give away copyright to the site? (Just like you do on Facebook, etc.)

    Couldn’t Flickr just contract with Time or any other publisher/media to use any photos posted on their site. Even get paid, without compensating the photographer?

    • @Steve Warmowski

      Actually, no. When you upload a picture to license you pick what sort of rights you reserve on it. You can set a default, so all uploaded pictures have the same license. By default, it’s set to “All Rights Reserved” but there are a lot of reminders about the existence of Creative Commons licensing. Unlike facebook, though, there’s no forfeiture of rights involved with using the service.

  47. I recently culled all my photos from Flickr. They were being stolen despite a watermark across the middle. One such theft appeared on the website of a large international airline ,which shall remain nameless, and with the watermark intact (how stupid is that?)

    As for reports of Time magazine sourcing free Flickr images, if true it bears all the hallmarks of a cost cutting initiative. How will this initiative increase its appeal to both readers and advertisers?

    If anyone can get the same content for free on the web than why should they bother paying for Time magazine? And why should advertisers invest in a medium that is reducing its differentiatiation?

  48. In general I would say, if you don’t like how the things are handled on Flickr ( legal and illegal ), than don’t use it. I don’t think there is going to be a bullet proof solution of the theft of picture material as long as it is shown on the Internet.

    Especially in photojournalist you have to be very motivated today. Before it gets better it gets worse. And that means that you have to live on the financial minimum and struggle until the market has thinned out again. I know so many really gifted photographers ( and that is not just talking ) that struggle every month to get their things into publications. Quality is sometimes so much better than what is shown by “established” photographers, but in the end its still a business that decides who you are by who do you know ( thats also a fact we can’t deny ).

    And maybe the profession of “the photographer” is dying out and if you wan’t to make it your profession you have to pay the price.