Advertising Controlling Editorial

- - Ethics

A scene that’s all too familiar in the world of magazines went down on the TechCrunch blog a couple days ago (here):

In an email to our sales team, the agency said:

“We found this on your site today, obviously not a good thing for AMEX or for ZYNC branding.

“Are you able to take this down from your site? If so, please do as ASAP.”

“If you are not able to monitor this more closely, we unfortunately will not be able to run with TechCrunch in the future.”

Unfortunately, this kind of thing has been happening for a long time now and this sad state of journalism can be summed up by this transcript from a talk that future-of-journalism guru Clay Shirky gave at the Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy

I think the first thing to recognize about the commercial structures of the newspaper industry is that it is not enough for newspapers to run at a profit to reverse the current threat and change. If next year they all started throwing off 30 percent free cash flow again, that would not yet reverse the change, because there were other characteristics of the commercial environment as well.

The first of them was that advertisers were forced to overpay for the services they received, because there weren’t many alternatives for reaching people with display ads — or especially things like coupons. And because they overpaid, the newspapers essentially had the kind of speculative investment capital to do long-range, high-risk work. So it isn’t enough to be commercial; you have to be commercial at a level above what some theoretical market would bare.

My friend Bob Spinrad — who recently passed away, but who ran Xerox PARC, the Palo Alto Research Center, for a while — said, “The only institutions that do R&D are either institutions that are monopolies or wrongly believe that they are.” Xerox is an example of an institution that wrongly believed it was a monopoly and was willing to fund the invention of Ethernet and laptops and the graphic user interface and all the rest of it that we take for granted now. IBM, AT&T — the list of commercial entities that believed that they were monopolies, and during the time that they were monopolies could take this philosophy of overinvesting in speculative work is large. But when the commercial inputs to that kind of R&D work, the R&D work ends as well.

The second characteristic of the happy state of the 20th-century newspapering was that the advertisers were not only overcharged, they were underserved. Not only did they have to deliver more money to the newspapers than they would have wanted, they didn’t even get to say: “And don’t report on my industry, please.” There was a time when Ford went to The New York Times during the rollover stories and said, “You know, if you keep going on this, we may just pull all Ford ads in The New York Times.” To which the Times said, “Okay.” And the ability to do that — to say essentially to the advertiser, “Where else are you going to go?” — was a big part of what kept newspapers from suffering from commercial capture. It worked better for bigger papers than smaller papers, but that bulwark of guest commercial capture was a feature of the 20th century commercial market. Neither of those, neither the overpaying or the underserving, is true in the current market any longer, because media is now created by demand rather than supply — which is to say the next web page is printed when someone wants it to be printed, not printed and stored in a warehouse in advance if someone who may want it. Turned out that when you have an advertising market that balances supply and demand efficiently, the price plummets. And so for a long time, people could say analog dollars to digital dimes as if — well, when do we get the digital dimes? The answer may be never. The answer may be that we are seeing advertising priced at its real value for the first time in history, and that value is a tiny fraction of what we had gotten used to.

Full story and transcript is (here).

The Future of the Magazine Industry Doesn’t Include Magazines

- - Blog News

Among the beneficiaries of the iPad’s success is Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks. He is perhaps an unlikely winner considering that, in 2010 at least, coffee can’t be consumed over an electronic interface. However, Starbucks is the largest wifi network in North America, with some 30 million users logging on each week in Starbucks outlets. At first, says Schultz, these customers “were mostly synching their emails. Then people began coming to our stores and looking for content.”

Schultz saw an opportunity. Earlier this week, the company launched what they are calling the Starbucks Digital Network. Customers who bring their iPads to one of Schultz’s coffee houses will be able to access “free premium content” from a number of sources such as The New York Times and health giant Rodale, publisher of Runner’s World and Prevention. What does this mean? Without acquiring any more real estate, or nailing together a single shelf, Starbucks is in the act of becoming the country’s largest newsstand.

via World Future Society.

Congratulations Winners

- - Awards

Critical Mass 2010 announced their top 50 (here). Always a good place to find great photography.


And, the Lucies were held last night in NYC. The winners were:

International Photographer of the Year Award went to Jim Krantz.

Discovery of the Year Award went to Kristina Kostadinova.

International Photographer of the Year – Deeper Perspective Award went to Rodney Rascona.

The IPA also conferred awards in six support categories:
Picture Editor of the Year
– Jody Quon, W Magazine.

Photo Magazine of the Year – Aperture.
Fashion Layout of the Year – Harper’s Bazaar Fashion and All That Jazz by Peter Lindbergh.
Book Publisher of the Year – 21st Editions for Listen by Herman Leonard.
Print Advertising Campaign of the Year – Agency- Ogilvy & Mather Paris for Unicef Entitled Class Photo Photographed by Vincent Dixon.
Photography Curator of the Year – Engaged Observers: Documentary Photography since the 60’s Curated by Brett Abbott at The J Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles.

The 2010 honorees were:
David Goldblatt (Lifetime Achievement)
Graciela Iturbide (Achievement in Fine Art)
Lee Tanner (Achievement in Documentary)
Howard Bingham (Achievement in Photojournalism)>James Drake (Achievement in Sports)
Tina Barney (Achievement in Portraiture)
Michael Nyman (Double Exposure Award)
Ariel Shanberg, The Woodstock Center for Photography (Spotlight Award)
Alyssa Adams for the Eddie Adams Photographic Workshop,  (Visionary Award)

You do have to play by the art market rules

- - Art

This story in the Financial Times Magazine on Annie L. is fascinating, but not because I want to revel in her financial misfortune or the “disparity between Annie’s importance as a photographer and the price fetched by her work in the art market.”

I recall a very smart quote from one of my commenters admonishing readers to “make no mistake, fine art photography is as commercial as commercial photography.” So, for me the thread in the story on how the photography art market works and how difficult it is for editorial and commercial photographers to play is very fascinating. As Michael Wilson, a producer of Bond films and owner one of the largest private collections of photography in the world puts it: “Art is basically what a bunch of collectors and curators say it is, there is no getting around that.”

The Leibovitz story, however, is more than a tale of a photographer who got absorbed into the high-spending world of the people she portrays. It is a reflection of something unexpected – that, despite all her celebrity and talent, Leibovitz lacks earning power as an artist.

The whole story is (here).

via, conscientious.

Four rules revised

- - Blog News

1. Before proceeding with photography, make sure that’s your thing.
2. Test your brain out by exposing it to a ton of photographs as well as real scenes.
3. Choose good friends, not for networking but for honest critique of your work.
4. Borrow from any time period and any predecessor, then build on them to create your own vision.

via B, aka Blake Andrews.

5 Reasons The Future Will Be Ruled By B.S.

- - The Future

And so, to save society, we’re going to have to rely on our old friend, the invisible force that has saved humanity again and again. It’s a little thing I like to call bullshit.

Bullshit is the next growth industry. People who deal in it are going to be more valuable than surgeons — yes, the same people who convinced us that bottled water comes from an enchanted mountain spring and made uneducated mothers believe that contaminated baby formula was a life-giving health potion. Only they can save us.

As civilization advances, these heroic protectors of FARTS (Forced ARTificial Scarcity) will build a culture where we will pay for things we can get for nothing, based purely on a vague superstition that it makes us better people. You know, the way an Apple logo will hypnotize people into paying twice as much for a product when cheaper alternatives litter the landscape.

Read it on via Bosacks.

Quite an interesting article coming from Cracked of all places. There’s plenty of BS’ing that goes into selling products with superior photography, but I don’t believe it’s all hooey.

And just how are those digital issues performing?

- - Blog News

After Wired’s enormous first month in June, when it sold 100,000 copies — an even better result than the usual 76,000 it sells off the newsstand — sales have been about a quarter of that. In July and August, the Wired iPad app sold 31,000 and 28,000 copies, respectively, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations Rapid Report. A Wired spokeswoman confirmed the magazine has sold an average of roughly 30,000 copies since the June release.


I lose patience with pundits who prophesy and lobby for the demise of all traditional media in favor of newer forms

- - Blog News

The things we create in print and in digital are so completely different from each other that they appeal to fundamentally distinct needs.The war between old and new is a false construct. Nothing goes away. The human need to create is too great, and the human desire to be entertained is too intense to allow any form, whether books or oil painting or even blogging, to disappear.

via Words of Wisdom from Esquire’s David Granger « Mr. Magazine.

Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act

- - copyright

Dear Copyright Advocate,
This letter is about a bill that has been introduced in the Senate that will combat online infringement of copyrighted works. It’s called the “Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act” or “COICA”. ASMP encourages you to sign a petition in favor of the bill.
Though some photographers have already done this, our efforts have not been enough.
The opponents of this bill have been active in mobilizing the masses to speak out against it. The result of their efforts is that it seems like the public is against this bill. Yet, we all hear everyday about how websites are illegally posting your creative works for others to take and how this affects your livelihood.
This bill would benefit all artists and creators! TAKE ACTION TODAY! Stand up for your rights!


  1. Speak up on blogs and listservs. Artists who speak out in favor of the bill on a website are often verbally attacked. Musicians, photographers and other artists need your support on this effort. Post blogs and comments on your own websites or on websites where you see these attacks.
  2. Contact your Senator and House Representative. Tell your congressional representatives to vote YES to the bill. Tell them your story and how piracy and infringement affect you.

    To find and email your Senator, go here.
    To find and email your House Representative, go here.

  3. Tweet this: Stop online piracy of art, music, movies, books, all creative works. Vote yes to Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act #COICA
  4. Facebook this: The U.S. Congress is debating a bill that could help millions of artists around the world. If passed, the bill would allow the government to target and shut down “internet sites dedicated to infringing activities” which are “primarily designed” to access unauthorized copyrighted material. Tell your representatives to vote YES to the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act (COICA).


  1. Check out this short video by independent filmmaker Ellen Seidler as she talks about how websites that are illegally hosting her movie are profiting. Yet, she is losing money. This bill will help shut down websites like these.
  2. The bill will not target minor violations of copyright. It will target “internet sites dedicated to infringing activities” that are “primarily designed” to offer or provide access to copyrighted material “without the authorization of the copyright owner.”
  3. The Attorney General will be able to request a court order to suspend the domain names of U.S.-based infringing websites. For non-U.S.-based websites, the Attorney General will be able to request a court order to require the ISPs to block the website. Credit card companies and networks providing ads to these sites will also suspend all activity with the infringing sites.
  4. A list of all the domain names that are found to be infringing copyright protected content will be posted on a “publicly available Internet site, together with other relevant information, in order to inform the public.”

Last February we made you aware of Pilfered Magazine, an online magazine that freely took images from photographers without their permission and didn’t credit or compensate the photographers. Because of your emails, Tweets, and postings on blogs and Facebook, the magazine was shut down in a weekend and has never reopened.
It is important that we take collective action on this bill too. Pilfered is not the only website that hosts and offers infringing material. This bill will help remove other websites like Pilfered from the internet.

via, Jock Bradley

5 Questions For Fraction Magazine’s David Bram

- - From The Field

Jonathan Blaustein, our man in the field, caught up with Photographer David Bram: editor, publisher and co-founder of fraction magazine ; recipient of the 2010 Griffin Museum Rising Star award; and a curator of exhibitions for several commercial galleries and non-profit photo spaces.

Jonathan: Do you think that more people look at photographs on a screen than on paper, and if so, does it change the way people think about photography?

David: I look at almost everything on a computer screen, so if that is an indication, then I would think that photographs are mostly viewed on a computer of some sort at this point. I’m not sure how many laptops are sold each year, but over 8 million iPads have been sold since April 2010 and nearly everyone has a cellphone that can make pictures as well. I think what has changed most about peoples’ perception of photography is that everyone has a camera, which then makes them think they’re a photographer. The computer age and the internet revolution, has taken the tangibleness out photography, we used to handle film, load cameras, handle negatives, handle paper, etc. I think this is the biggest change.

Jonathan: Fraction offers photographers a great deal of exposure in exchange for publishing their images for free. As online media begins to develop sustainable income streams, do you see a future where you are able to pay for publishing rights?

David: I am not paying the artists that are showcased because there isn’t any real money generated from it. Like most websites, money can be made with advertising and if you have the proper content there’s an audience for the advertisers, but for now, I do not see paying for content. And, I am not sure I will ever have to. As a photographer, I would love to be paid for having my work on someone’s website, but it’s not realistic at this point in time. Fraction is not an online gallery that aims to sell work and make money. Fraction merely introduces the artist’s work to the Fraction audience, free of charge.

Jonathan: Between portfolio reviews, internet research, and Fraction submissions, I would imagine you see thousands of photo projects a year. Are there any subjects that you feel have been done to death and you wish would just go away?

David: I’m not sure anything needs to go away because every artist, hopefully, has their own way of seeing the world. Also, I’m not sure it’s fair for me to say what needs to go away. I am finding that photography subjects are cyclical in nature, and who knows what everyone will love next week. There’s a difference between poorly executed work and tired subject matter.

Jonathan: Fraction is based in Albuquerque, and I’m based in Taos. You and I know that northern New Mexico has a lively and broad photographic community. Why do you think photographers are drawn here?

David: I think artists come to NM because of the weather and the light. Everything in New Mexico is dramatic, from the way the weather moves across the landscape to the politics. For me, the best time of year to photograph in NM is October and November. The air is cool and the light is amazing, especially in the hour before sunset. For photographers, there is a great sense of history as a number of great photographers have come through here at some point in time; Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, Paul Caponigro, Paul Strand, Lee Friedlander and Laura Gilpin, as well as a long list of contemporary, well established photographers who call New Mexico home.

Jonathan: It seems like we’re entering an age where the traditional boundaries that existed between artists, curators, dealers, editors and publishers are coming down. I can think of dozens of people who are doing more than one thing. Do you think this has any serious implications for the photography industry?

David: It just means that some of us are more busy than others. I’ve been busy working with Fraction, doing portfolios reviews, the occasional talk, and yes, I am trying to make new work as well. I think this can only help the industry since some of us know how hard it is to make a living making photographs. I think technology has made things easier as well. Email gets us in the door a little faster and our own personal websites let the dealers and publishers see what we’re up to a whole lot easier then sending around books or portfolio boxes.

My emotional instinct was to throw a complete hissy fit

- - Blog News

Believe me, we don’t do these jobs for the money. We do them for exposure and credibility. As soon as you realize that you’ve become committed to something that threatens that credibility then you better understand what’s personally at stake. A million people will see this and I can’t afford to allow one of them to look at the end result and say “Wow, that’s a bit shit.”

via Clean Living Under Difficult Circumstances..

Ask Anything, Live – Photo Plus Expo

- - Events

When: Thursday, Oct 28 from 3:45 pm to 5:45pm

Where: PhotoPlus Expo in NYC

What: Myself, Amanda and Suzanne will moderate a panel of industry pros:

Kat Dalager, manager of print production at Campell Mithun

Greg Lhotsky, agent and partner at Bernstein & Andriulli

Jennifer Pastore, DOP at Teen Vogue

Nick Onken, Professional Photographer

Jim Krantz, Professional Photographer

Why: I thought it would be fun to take the ask anything format and make it live which boils down to this: Amanda, Suzanne and I have all the tough questions you would love to put to these people, but we all know this industry is small and who wants to ask Kat Dalager “Why do agencies tell me to cut expenses and then treat a photoshoot like an all expenses paid vacation for the agency and client? Your catered lunch would pay my assistants rent for a year.”

We’re going to ask those questions.

I hope to have a live feed setup as well so stay tuned to that if you’re interested.

The Ongoing Revolution in the Media Economy

- - Blog News

Despite the downturn and the persistence of legacy thinking, the future for the production and distribution of compelling stories and important information is bright. The creative possibilities enabled by digital technologies, the open web and the app economy – in association with those legacy publications now looking to a future beyond print – are being continually enlarged. If we pursue multiple modes of distribution and make them serve the modes of information, then, in conjunction with new ways of thinking about business models, we are in for an exciting if bumpy ride.

via David Campbell.

Ask Anything – No Luck Applying Standard Rates To My Local Business

- - Ask Anything

Former Art Buyers and current photography consultants Amanda Sosa Stone and Suzanne Sease have agreed to take anonymous questions from photographers and not only give their expert advice but put it out to a wide range of photographers, reps and art buyers to gather a variety of opinions. The goal with this column is to solicit honest questions and answers through anonymity.

I’ve been following your blog closely for some time now, and I’ve found it very helpful in seeing what others charge for advertising shoots, but I have had virtually no luck in applying the same sort of rates (scaled down) to my business. One of the requests I get most often from business owners and lawyers is for headshots, full-length portraits, environmental portraits, retouching either on-location or in-studio.

I’m finding that almost everyone who contacts me is confused by the idea that they must pay to actually use the images and that they don’t own them, so it’s this constant uphill battle to educate potential clients. I’d love to get a sense from you whether I’m going about this the right way, if I’m charging too much or too little, if I should be rolling the usage fees for specific number of images into the Photographer’s Fee instead of giving Usage it its own line-item… I need help here.

I’m in [redacted], TX and my work tends to be directly for the clients and not for ad agencies who understand how things work. For your reference, I’ve attached an estimate I sent out just today. When I was talking on the phone with the client, as soon as I mentioned that a ‘full buyout’ of the selected images would be more expensive than specific usage, I was told ‘Oh, well we may not be able to use you then’ – I sent the estimate and the response was simply ‘No thanks.’

Job Description
Fee for [redacted] to produce portraits of two lawyers on-location at a law firm in [redacted] in one half-day shoot and for the
following licensing to be conveyed to Clients: Unlimited Time Usage, Unlimited use of up to 2 photos, across all communication
vehicles/mediums/media, forever.

1 Photographers Fee @ 750.00 ea. (Half-Day): 750.00
2 Usage Fees @ 900.00 ea. (Unlimited Usage – Full Buyout): 1,800.00
2 Retouching Hours @ 125.00 ea. (Editing and Clipping Mask for Final Image): 250.00
Fees total: 2,800.00

1 First Assistant @ 100.00 ea. (Half-Day): 100.00
Crew total: 100.00

Sub Total: 2,900.00
TX TAX (8.125%) 8.125%: 235.63
Total (USD): 3,135.63

Amanda and Suzanne:
Advertising and Local Consumer (even professional type imagery) speak 2 different languages. It’s not that they do not understand the terms, but the different client types need usage terms to be addressed differently (less of a blow to put it mildly).


The price really varies depending on the market, but an average would be about $125 – $150 per headshot. The rights that we negotiate are: unlimited rights for electronic use, but prints and reprints must be ordered from photographer.

You are certainly not alone. I know of many photographers who have gone through this same “song and dance” with clients (me included). Recently I have found that many non-advertising/editorial clients (lawyers, business owners, etc…) are beginning to understand, or accept, the way photographers price their work. This might be due to the way we are organizing our estimates or explaining our pricing structure during the initial conversation.

The numbers in your estimate are certainly within the norm, but as you stated the client balked at the usage fees. As you probably know, photographers are now combining the usage and creative fee into one line item – which I think is a good idea. This doesn’t always alleviate the problem, but it’s a start. In the initial phone conversation I ask many questions – what type of portraits, studio or on location, etc… I also bring up the subject of usage by asking how long they would like to use the images and for what purpose. Their response usually is “forever and don’t I own them?.” Here is where I educate them on how photographers price their work. I explain that “my pricing for portraits is structured by how many people need to be photographed, how the images will be used and not based on how long it takes (1/2 day or full day). If they continue to be confused, I calmly explain to them that photographers price their work very similarly to how cell phone companies structure their phone usage – you can own the phone, but you have to pay to use it. You are charged based on how many minutes per month you want and how many texts you send, and even more if you want to use it internationally. Since most have cell phone, I always hear “oh, okay I get it.” If they then say it is too expensive, then I ask what their budget is and try to work within that. It’s all about creating a win-win situation. I will usually send two or three estimate with different usage rights and pricing – one year usage, three year usage and unlimited, with the option to re-license the images. This way they can see the breakdown. Most go with the three year estimate.

In my experience, when you are dealing with a small client like this one, it is best to combine the usage fee and the photographer’s fee into one, especially when dealing with a “buyout” situation. Most clients like this (and it is sad to say) do not want to understand or learn about usage. They just want to know if you can get in, do the job, deliver the images quickly and on time and on budget. Why complicate it by adding an additional usage fee? They are not an agency, they don’t pretend to be an agency, it’s not like there’s going to be a relicensing fee here ,because of the full buyout and to be perfectly honest, why should there be? What is the resale value on these images? They are not going to be put into stock, correct? Most likely they will be out of date in 2-3 years and the law firm will call again when they hire more lawyers or when the shots need to be updated. So, why risk alienating them by making your estimates more complicated than they need to be?

Secondly, why did the photographer not handle these questions and explain the fee structure before the estimate was sent and address the client’s concerns? As part of the sales process (and let’s face it, unless you have an agent, photographers are sales people) all of this should have been covered in the initial conversation and follow up conversations. An estimate should be a confirmation of the what was discussed and verbally agreed upon as to prevent a situation like the one that happened. Collaboration and mutual respect.

Unless a client has commissioned media on a regular basis, it doesn’t make sense to do an itemized bid like this. A high powered law office is still on the consumer side of things, and they won’t be used to terminology or typical photo bidding practices. This isn’t good sales practice to itemize like this, because it draws undue attention to usage, mysterious line items such as assistants etc. Treat this sort of client like a wedding/portrait client: give one fee for the job. Explain separately what the usage rights are, but don’t break them out as line items. A headshot client is going to assume, much like any other consumer-level client, that they own the images (makes sense to them, they paid for them!). Better to state the usage without hitting them over the head with it, so the client doesn’t freak out.

And that’s a lot for a couple of headshots!

To Summarize:
Often it’s all in the wording, but it’s also what a specific market is used to paying. Often quantity can make a small fee multiply quickly. Ask the right questions and decide how to best approach this type of client. An estimate is a visual/verbal communication – make it as simple and clean to read as possible. Some need it very simple – while other’s need every detail spelled out – but it should all be kept to the point and clean.

Call To Action:
Use this scenario and create a plan for future estimates. Have your estimate template together/ready, along with your questions, so when that that job comes in you are prepared.

If you want more insight from Amanda and Suzanne you can contact them directly (here and here) or tune in once a week or so for more of “Ask Anything.”