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Portions of this column were originally written for the January-February 2015 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.

January-February 2015, Volume 134
By Mark Loundy

"Imagine a baseball thrown thru the air. A high-speed camera takes pictures of it showing very great detail — names, laces, etc. Someone shows you a picture— can you tell what direction it is traveling? Or even if it is moving? NO. You would have to know where it was thrown FROM to know what direction it is going. In times of high change, it's good to know a little bit about the PAST to understand the present freeze frame of the NOW and project to some degree of accuracy where we are GOING (The Future.)"

— Source Unknown

The NPPA has changed in the 69 years that it has been serving photojournalism. Not necessarily as quickly as it has should have, but it is not the same organization as it was even a decade ago.

Deckchairs 2.0 At the end of World War II, most photographers made middle-class wages working in staff jobs for daily newspapers. The primary emphasis of the NPPA over most of its existence has been educating photographers on how to be better shooters.

At the end of World War II, most photographers made middle-class wages working in staff jobs for daily newspapers. The primary emphasis of the NPPA over most of its existence has been educating photographers on how to be better shooters.

As the print news industry implodes, that emphasis has shifted to include business education for a new generation of freelancers and expanded into advocacy programs dealing with First Amendment and copyright issues. The NPPA has also lead the way in new-media education and has been central in the process of developing best practices for an almost exclusively digital profession. It's also made some of the structural changes to the organization I suggested in this column ten years ago.

So the next time somebody tells you that all is bad with photojournalism, check out what Mickey Osterreicher and Alicia Wagner Calzada have been doing with the NPPA Advocacy Committee. Heck, I even have two "Goods" this month.

The Good
Bullet San Antonio San Antonio Express-News editorial internships (now closed) pay nearly $500 per week.
Bullet The Sherwin-Williams paint company, for prompt payment and for scrupulously sticking to usage agreements.

The Bad
Bullet Conquest Printing of Utah and Virginia. Soliciting pet photos for its company calendar. The payment? A copy of the calendar.
Bullet The Miss World contest, for soliciting professional make-up artists to work for the pageant in exchange for "exposure." I can only imagine how they must treat photographers.
Bullet Chicago Tribune Company, copyright grab for published images, plus indemnification clause.
Bullet Yahoo-owned Flickr for selling prints from Creative Common-licensed images on the service without cutting the photographers in on the deal. The good news, they killed the product after photographers complained.

The Ugly
Bullet Dallas Morning News Amateur Photographer of the Year contest. Not only do they grab all rights for all entries, they charge fees for entry. Basically you pay for the "privilege" of having your images used.

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.

  • Another "soldier" falls to industry trends. When photographers' rep Julian Richards abruptly quit the business, his absence was keenly felt across the industry. "Suddenly many jobs can be done by many people," he told APhotoEditor, "photographers become more interchangeable, the question of 'Why him over her?' shifts to ancillary aspects of the process; personality, speed, stamina, flexibility."
  • Baltimore-based freelancer Kaitlin Newman did a year-end blog about her first year as a freelancer. Perhaps you'll find some parallels in your own experience. It sounds like her business is already running cashflow positive. Go Kaitlin!
  • Photoshelter 's Alan Murabayashi's blog about "What Photographers Really Should Be Learning In School" doesn't mention photography as a subject at all. Rather, he talks about more marketable skills such as problem identification, the psychological dynamics of business and being an entrepreneur.
  • John Harrington did the horrifying math on Time Magazine's freelance rates. According to his chart, a $350 rate in 1980, adjusted for inflation should have been over a thousand dollars in 2014 instead of the actual rate of $550. Adjusted for "buying power," the rate is actually $191.91.