I had rather a heated debate with someone on EP this morning. Part of what he kept saying was that things are a certain way–you know, “Editorial IS low paying�? etc. Me, I kept talking about what it can be–that is, if photographers work at it together, it can be better paying.
The other debater seemed to have a very hard time grasping this. He was just locked in the past as the definition of the present and me, I see the present as what it is, and the future is ours to shape.
Okay, that may sound a bit fluffy, but trust me, I’m not generally a “it’ll all work out for the best, la-ti-da�? kind of person. I’m not saying that we’ll just wake up one day and editorial rates will have radically improved and production charges will not get questioned. What I am saying is that if we, especially the leaders of our professional groups, inspire and encourage our constituencies to work (note: WORK) together, we can make the future better than the present.
It’s actually a pretty simple concept–the leaders of our professional groups should tell their members to do things–not just sit back and manage. For example, in the case of editorial clients not being willing to pay more than $250 for an assistant, the leaders should state that photographers should tell prospective clients that their assistants will be billed at $300 (or whatever it really is–no lying–but do include your mark-up in that charge). If the client says “we only pay $250�? then the photographer should say “I’m sorry, but I can’t do business that way.�? If the client won’t budge, do not work for that client. That will force the client to find someone else. And if that someone else does the same thing, that client will have to try again. Clients do not have the time nor do they want to try over and over to find someone for their projects. They will learn, after a while, that they are no longer in the driver’s seat and may not dictate how a photographer runs her/his business.
Yes, this will be hard. Photographers will lose money in the short term. Yes, there will be some scum-sucking lowballer who will do it for less, but the work will not be as good (almost always). If enough of the editorial photographers all follow this script, the publications will change.
But, the only way this and similar changes will even have a chance of happening is for the leaders of the photo community to lead. Get off your butts and call people to action already. Stop whining and do something!
To me it’s the difference between living and working from a place of victimhood (“things are as they are and we can’t do anything about it, woe is us�?) and taking responsibility for our current problems and working (together) to change for the better.