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Portions of this column were originally written for the November 2003 edition of News Photographer Magazine.

Mark Loundy is a media producer and consultant based in San Jose, California. Full bio.

The opinions in this article are those of the author alone and do not necessarily represent the official views of the National Press Photographers Association.

November, 2003
By Mark Loundy

Lately I've been hearing a few people complain about negotiating lowball offers or educating clients about why Work For Hire contracts are a bad thing. Some of them are starting to sound like Cubs fans without the characteristic, "Wait until next year." In short, they're giving up. They're thinking like losers.

We lost because we told ourselves we lost.
— Count Leo Tolstoy, 1828-1910, Russian Novelist, Philosopher

LosersIf you approach a client, hat-in-hand, acting like an indentured servant, you will never win a single negotiation. However, if you treat clients as fellow businesspeople — as equals — they will respect you and will not perceive you as a pushover.

Never change a winning game; always change a losing one.
— Bill Tilden, 1893-1953, American Tennis Player

Day rates are dropping and rights grabs are increasing. Saying yes to them has certainly not been improving things. And the alternative to "yes" is?

The quickest way of ending a war is to lose it.
— George Orwell, 1903-1950, British Author, "Animal Farm"

Attitude does count - especially to you. If you start feeling beaten down it'll show in your behavior and in your business decisions. Recharge your batteries by attending workshops or even by getting on the phone with a respected colleague. Plus, both activities are deductible business expenses.

On October 30th, New York attorney Ed Greenberg and a panel of editorial photography experts talked about "The War On Photographers" and tips on how to aggressively protect your interests when everyone else is actively trying to exploit your work.

Attorney Greenberg has previously talked about a meeting in which publishing managers and their attorneys scoffed at photographers' ability to defend their interests and flatly stated that they are easy pickings for the industry. You can find the transcript on the EP site. It's scary reading.

The Good
BulletThe Wall Street Journal for realizing that they could not reasonably expect two assignments on a single day rate and approving a second day without complaint.

The Bad
BulletThe Recorder Newspapers of New Jersey, for imposing a WFH agreement on all freelance contributors.

The Ugly
BulletBell South for offering discounts on Yellow Pages advertising as payment for phone book cover photography.
BulletThe Times of Northwest Indiana for requiring employees to sign property responsibility agreements for company-owned cell phones á la the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in last month's column.

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.

  • The NPPA's newly revamped the Business Practices area on its website is a goldmine of info and tools. They call the area the Independent Photographers Toolkit. The Cost of Doing Business calculator is excellent. Kudos to Greg Smith and Alicia Wagner Calzada for putting it together. If you build it, they will come.

  • I know times have been tough but they've hit a new low when you can buy your very own used photographer. San Francisco-based shooter Calbee Booth has put himself up for sale on eBay. The minimum bid is $24,000. The seller will ship to international addresses but the buyer pays shipping costs. The listing doesn't mention anything about a warranty.

  • Copyright © 2003 Mark Loundy
    All Rights Reserved