Common Cents

Photo Credit
July 2008

by Mark Loundy

"It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit."
Harry S Truman

A poster on Craigslist was looking for workers to perform a number of tasks around his house. By way of payment he offered: "Of course there will be no pay involved. In return for your services you will get FULL CREDIT on my Web site, AND you can add all of this work to your PORTFOLIO! If you ask me, this is an absolutely awesome deal!"

Of course, the photographer was making the point that folks like auto mechanics and house painters insist upon fair payment for their work. If somebody made such an offer to a local tradesperson, they would simply hang up the phone.

I trust the original poster managed to dislodge his tongue from his cheek.


• According to a posting on the Editorial Photographers forum, an unnamed Seattle city magazine submitted a new contract to their contributors that grabbed rights for the parent company's 35 other titles across the country. Nine of the Seattle pub's contributing photographers signed a letter stating that they could not agree to the new contract and offered to discuss a more palatable contract. The magazine responded with assignment cancellations and by telling one of the nine that he "will not work with them again."

Oh yeah, the "Good" part: Several of the remaining photographers sent letters to the magazine in support of the shooter who was retaliated against, stating that they will no longer contribute. The magazine has since reverted to its previous contract.


• Applebee's International for offering $25 to use a sports image as part of one of their restaurant's decor.

• New York Photo Festival/New York Photo Awards: Rights grab.


• Condé Nast's for its contract that requires 90 days' exclusivity after first publication without any limit on how long they can take to publish. This means they can lock up your images forever. There's more, but that's Ugly enough.

• The photographer in the Washington, D.C., area advertising for an assistant and apologizing for not being able to pay because he was newly in business.

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.


• A posting last March on Craigslist purporting to be from the Point Reyes (Calif.) Light says that the paper is seeking an intern with very special talents. In addition to seeking a photographer in the tradition of "Salgado, Richards and Nachtwey," they offered a monthly stipend of $200 if the intern also delivers papers.

• The next time you consider giving up the rights to an editorial image, remember the news photo of a FedEx worker rescuing a driver from a flooded car in Missouri. FedEx paid $5,000 to use it in an ad.

• Mid-Atlantic Freelance has an interesting idea: They pair up clients and independent contractors. If you've tried the service, let me know if you think that their $25 annual fee is worth it.

• The Orphan Works bill is back in Congress again. This time, the several photographer trade organizations are not in agreement. The ASMP is for it and the PPA and the NPPA, among others, are against it. Why should you care? The law allows potential users of your images to do so without permission if they make a "reasonable effort" to contact you. As of this writing, it looks like the current version will die in committee. But, like one of those movie monsters, it keeps coming back.


John Harrington's blog about the Fed Ex image

Mid-Atlantic Freelance

Orphan Works Bill Discussion

NPPA Independent Photographers Toolkit

Advertising Photographers of America Business Manual

Common Cents Column On The Cost of Doing Business

Editorial Photographers

Editorial Photographers Yahoo! Group (Message Archives)

Small Business Administration

NPPA Online Discussion Group Instructions

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© Mark Loundy

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