success is built on the ability to do better than good enough."
When is enough enough? A lot of heat has been generated during the past couple of years about whether the NPPA has done enough to support its freelance members. Everything from accusations of the organization being "in bed" with publishers to suggestions that the NPPA should become a formal union have crisscrossed through cyberspace.
What the NPPA has done is on the record: They've amended their bylaws to permit commentary on, and educational programs about, business and labor issues. They've re-formed the Business Practices Committee. They've offered a number of business sessions at their various educational programs including the national convention, the Northern Short Course and Flying Short Course, among others.
But is it enough? Publishers continue to squeeze freelancers by demanding broad rights or Work For Hire agreements in exchange for rates that have not increased in decades or are actually decreasing. Schools continue to churn out graduates who are well-versed in technical and ethical matters but are lambs led to slaughter by one-sided contracts.
The times demand strong leadership and groups such as the American Society of Journalists and Authors, Editorial Photographers and others strain to fill the vacuum. But the preeminent organization of photojournalists has uttered scarcely a whisper. Not nearly enough.
What should the NPPA do?
The Good: Not a one this month.
Please let me know of any particularly good, bad or ugly dealings that you have had with clients recently. I will use the client's name, but I won't use your name if you don't want me to. Anonymous submissions will not be considered. Please include contact information for yourself and for the client.
She said she wanted to do things right but was a bit discouraged by what I had talked about during the session. I told her that since she already had a job, she actually had an advantage. That doesn't mean that she could afford to take bad deals and make up the difference with her day job. But it did mean that she could afford to say no to bad deals and go longer between assignments while she built up a well-paying clientele.
I could see a lightbulb go on above her head. She looked up at me and thanked me for giving her a different way of looking at her situation. As I watched her leave the room and started to gather my things, I thought that the whole trip was worth that one conversation.