Common Cents
September 2009

by Mark Loundy

"I must not fear
Fear is the mind killer
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear."

— Frank Herbert, Dune

Paul Melcher saved the best for last.

In "The Business of Photography," the Picture Group president lays out "10 Ways to Fight for Your Digital Rights as a Photographer." In Number 10 he writes, "Stop Being Afraid."

Fear is what stops many photographers from exercising prudent business practices. Fear limits your success.

There are reasonable fears like the fear of not making the rent payment. But it's the unreasonable fears that are the real killers.

Fear that the client won't like you.

You're not cultivating friends. You're building business relationships. Business relationships are based on respect and trust. Rolling over for a bad contract is not going to get you any respect. Trust me on that.

Fear that you're out of your league.

Just because you've stepped-up to a larger class of client doesn't mean that you keep your rates the same as what you charge smaller ones. Larger clients have larger budgets and they expect major league photographers to have major league business practices.

Fear that you won't be able to shoot that cool assignment.

Sorry, if you want a hobby, take up stamp collecting. Photography may be a hobby for millions of people, but you aren't one of them. You have to be emotionally able to walk away from a bad deal – no matter how cool the assignment is.

In business and in personal life, nothing is more attractive than confidence. Manage your fears and you will manage to be more successful.


The Ithaca Journal, for negotiating reasonable terms rather than imposing the confiscatory Gannett corporate contract.


• Rexcheck Global, which is offering $100 per real estate video. The example I viewed would take about three hours to shoot and another hour to edit. Few videographers would come close to covering their expenses with this one.


• "Hot" 99.5 FM in Washington, D.C., which was asking photographers to provide images from a promotional event in exchange for the privilege of networking with "major people in the business" and "partying for free." The free in this case applied in both directions. They offered zero compensation for what would amount to thousands of dollars in image usage. Not so hot after all.

The Miami Herald for what amounts to an all-rights contract. According to a source, the Herald shares photos with the competing Sun-Sentinel. The new contract would permit them to include freelance images in that sharing arrangement – thereby eliminating a potential market for freelancers in the area. Aren't exclusive photos part of competing any more?

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 group of freelance illustrators said no when approached by Google to provide free images for users to include as "skins" to customize their copies of Chrome, the Google Web browser. According to a story in The New York Times, one disgusted artist sent the company an illustration of a hand gesture sometimes used by impatient drivers.


10 Ways To Fight for Your Digital Rights as a Photographer

Some Artists Say No to Google

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

© Mark Loundy

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

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