The Digital Journalist
Common Cents:

Angry Bees
November 2007

by Mark Loundy

"If you want to gather honey, don't kick over the beehive."

– Dale Carnegie (1888-1955)

Getty Images has stuck its finger in a beehive. But does it care? Fourteen photography trade and industry groups have signed a letter protesting Getty's new $49 Web use pricing. The concern is that, as advertising increasingly migrates to online platforms, the pricing plan will permanently devalue digital usage, which is the core of the industry's future.

Yes, a lot of noise is being made. In the meantime, after reaching an all-time high of $94 per share in late 2005, Getty Images stock price has struggled for most of the past year-and-a-half to maintain $50. Now they're having a tough time keeping it above $28.

Corporate executives faced with numbers like that tend to stop looking at the broader view. They won't consider what they might be doing to revenue "down the road." They need to produce results for the stockholders right bloody now. Situations like that tend to make executives consider "vision" as a luxury that can wait until tomorrow.

The problem is that their tomorrow is only as bright as that of their contributors. Will Getty's shooters continue to ride what has become a very leaky boat? We'll see.


• Modern Postcard for ending their relationship with iStockphoto. They had originally promoted the arrangement using the phrase, "Skip the expensive photo shoot..." Many photographers, who are also MP customers, contacted the company and MP responded, not just with a mere apology, but also by severing its relationship with iStockphoto entirely. Kudos to MP founders Steve Hoffman and Jim Toya-Brown.


The Philadelphia Inquirer. Work For Hire clause. However, they do cut the photographer in on future resales.

The Tulsa World for their all-rights contract. Kudos to the shooter who passed it on to me and then passed on the contract.


• The Arkansas Activities Association for their "We own everything you shoot" policy.

• That bastion of populist views and citadel of freedom of expression, National Public Radio, for their "all rights, forever and ever" contract. Perhaps their freelance contributors should hold a "pledge break" to collect reasonable returns from their work.

Orlando Style, a high-end Florida magazine with statewide circulation for their ad in which they are "looking for an up-and-coming photographer to assist in event photography and photo shoots." The compensation? Tear sheets.

Surface magazine for their "Avant Guardian" event, in which they feature and promote up-and-coming commercial photographers. Oh, the event is OK, but they're soliciting photographers to work the event for tear sheets only. This is the last organization that should be promoting the idea that photographers are artistic automatons motivated solely by exposure.

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.


• In the August Common Cents, I suggested the photographers could promote their businesses by offering their services to the local United Way. This should be done very judiciously. Massachusetts shooter Bethany Versoy reminded me that nonprofit groups and the United Way in particular, have significant budgets for promotions. They do pay their electricity bills. There is no reason that they should not also pay their photographer bills.

• In a recent newsletter Marketing Mentor Ilise Benun sent out three of her "10 reasons to turn down a project" from her book "The Art of Self-Promotion":

1. Unrealistic schedules. The job is yours for the asking but they want it done faster than you've ever done it before.

2. Major mismatch. Your specialty is quality work but your customer is a penny pincher who treats you like a commodity.

3. Dangling carrots. Don't be fooled by the promise of lucrative future work "if you'll just do this one job for nothing."

Knowing when to say no is a critical skill for all businesspeople.


John Harrington on the Modern Postcard saga

Ilise Benun, the Marketing Mentor

Stock Artists Alliance Getty Press Release

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

© Mark Loundy

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