The Digital Journalist
Common Cents:
Friends and Enemies

by Mark Loundy

"Man is the only animal that can remain on friendly terms with the victims he intends to eat until he eats them."
-- Samuel Butler (1835 - 1902)

Some of the rewarding things about our business are the professional relationships that we form with our clients. We exchange Christmas cards, even birthday greetings. We may even know the names of their kids.

Make no mistake that publishers consider "creatives" such as photographers and artists to be astoundingly willing to cut their own financial throats.

Friends and EnemiesThe attorneys working for publishing companies -- the ones who write all of those "Ugly" contracts -- make no bones about extorting rights from photographers. They openly mock our abilities to understand the most rudimentary business principles. They drool when they hear photographers talk about "selling" (instead of licensing) images.

A solid grounding in common business practices is the only defense against predatory clients. Take business classes, read some of the many excellent books on the subject (see "Leftovers," below,) talk to a friend who has an established business or take advantage of some the great resources offered by the Small Business Administration.

While a cordial relationship is good for business, we would be wise to remember the words of the ancient Chinese general Sun-tzu, who wrote, "Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer."


* Education Week for their reasonable assignment rate for one-time use and recognition of additional pay for additional use. Plus they pay mileage reimbursement that actually approaches real-world costs.


* We start the year with no "Bad."


* Syracuse University, for claiming copyright of all images taken in the Carrier Dome and demanding that Syracuse U student photographers remove imagers from their personal SportsShooter pages.

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.


* Are we all on the same page? UPDIG is the Universal Photographic Digital Imaging Guidelines. Eleven professional photography organizations have joined forces to create a universally accepted set of workflow guidelines for publication photography.

DISC, a similar group of publishers, printers and photo suppliers is working on a competing set of guidelines. The good news is that the two groups have similar goals and are open to working together to achieve them.

UPDIG and DISC are just starting points. But in our Balkanized industry, any attempt at unity is a good thing.

* PowerForum is a new online resource for photographers. A 25-year editorial and studio veteran, Mitche Graf, is the honcho. It's kind of quiet now, but the official launch is this month. Registration is free.

"Focus on Profit" is photographer Tom Zimberoff's new book. Tom addresses the nuts and bolts of the business of photography and stresses the skills that all businesspeople need to survive.

* Attorney Ed Greenberg cautions against the term "collateral" usage. Such a term is so vague that it can include virtually anything. Make sure that your licensing paperwork is specific.

* Do you need to know the circulation of a publication when developing usage fees? Check out the Audit Bureau of Circulation's Web site for data straight from the source.





"Focus On Profit"

ABC Circulation Data

NPPA Independent Photographers Toolkit

Advertising Photographers of America Resource page

Common Cents Column On The Cost of Doing Business

Editorial Photographers Cost of Doing Business Calculator

Editorial Photographers Yahoo! Group

Small Business Administration

NPPA Online Discussion Group Instructions

© Mark Loundy

Mark Loundy is a visual journalist, writer and media consultant based in San Jose, California.