Common Cents
March 2003

by Mark Loundy

We get letters...

Controversy continues to swirl around John Harrington's negotiating techniques (Common Cents, November, 2002.) Harrington recently responded to accusations that he was taking advantage of an inexperienced client.

"The fact is, I was working with a renowned advertising agency who was representing one of the national (international?) networks that only has three letters in its name," writes Harrington. "The agency person reviewed my estimate, based upon my conversation with her, passed it along to the client for review, and approval, and it was. The same process occurred the next time, so clearly there was no belief on the client's part that they were being overcharged. So, yes, it was time for me to reflect on my $2000 rate as being too low."

Harrington sees a three-way struggle not only between photographers and clients but between photographers and their colleagues.

"There is a constant pull and push amongst photographers and photo editors. Photo editors (or, as they suggest, their accountants or lawyers,)" he writes, "are always trying to reduce their costs on the backs of the photographers they assign, while photographers are trying to receive increases each year that are, even at the least, consistent with the cost of living adjustments. Yet, we are stifled at every turn, save for the hard work of a few who are working for better rates and licensing of stock, and the enlightenment of the business realities of being in business as a photographer."

Harrington takes his ethics seriously. "I adhere fully to the NPPA Code of Ethics," he writes, "and my experience falls within item 8...'In every situation in our business life, in every responsibility that comes before us, our chief thought shall be to fulfill that responsibility and discharge that duty so that when each of us is finished we shall have endeavored to lift the level of human ideals and achievement higher than we found it.' I did so, and to have charged less than others had quoted the client would have meant that I would have done a disservice to the photographic community."

Well said John.

The Good: The National Post of Canada for their one-time-rights contract plus additional compensation for use in their associated television stations.
The Bad: The Charlotte Observer for their all-rights contract. They were Ugly last month, but they did accept a contract returned with the bad clauses crossed-out.
The Ugly:

  •  Nothing really Ugly submitted this month. Could this be a trend?

    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.

    Did you know that AOL-Time Warner treats freelancers better in the UK than it does in the U.S.? According to the National Writers Union Web site, UK freelancers are able to get one-time rights contracts while U.S. contributors have a Work For Hire contract forced upon them. The difference? The Brit freelancers stood up for their rights while those in the U.S. largely rolled over with nary a whimper. There is power in solidarity.


    The buzz out of the Copyright Office in Washington is that Fed-Ex deliveries are no longer given priority handling. All packages are now routed to an off-site mail facility where they are irradiated for security purposes. The only way to get around this is to personally hand-deliver your submissions.

    On the good side, the folks at the Copyright Office are now accepting group registrations for a single $30 registration fee. No longer do you have to pony-up $30 for each submission.


    I've mentioned Editorial Photographers here many times. Did you know that they actually have a budget? Well, they do and it's supported by folks like you. If you would like to support advocacy and education for freelancers, visit their donation page and send what you can.




    U.S. Copyright Office

    Editorial Photographer Donation Page

    National Writers Union AOL Double Standards Page

    Small Business Administration

    Advertising Photographers of America Resource page

    Editorial Photographers Yahoo! Group

    NPPA Online Discussion Group Instructions

    © Mark Loundy

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

  • Write a Letter to the Editor
    Join our Mailing List
    © The Digital Journalist