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Kirk Gittings
9-Oct-2009, 10:38
Conde Nast (http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/greenslade/2009/oct/09/conde-nast-magazines)

Feeling down this morning in a serious cash flow crunch.

Commercial photographers and artists-where we are at......?

The market for stock and assignment photography is shrinking rapidly. I have had to cut fees to assignment magazine clients and more and more stock clients are looking for virtual freebees. With some magazines that have been my bread and butter, I don't mind cutting fees (many as much as a 1/3 cut).....if they stay in business it is an investment in future business, but it is disheartening after thirty one years in this business, at almost 60 years of age, to have to revert to an income level of 15+ years ago. That 1/3 cut is all profit as expenses have not gone down-virtually halving my real income from these sources for the same amount of work.

Fortunately, the architectural market (after a serious first half slump) has rebounded well in the third quarter, largely making up for the first half slump, but payment is very slow. Diversifying, I have won some public art commissions but the paperwork is so slow I may not be still kicking before I see a dime from them.

My son's business (who is the head web guy for a large national ad agency) is booming and they are hiring for next year, while my daughter-in-law's custom wedding accessory business (75 outlets nationwide) is just starting to feel the pinch this quarter after expanded sales in the first two quarters. The magazines she advertises in have all cut their page rate with the exception of Martha Stuart Weddings which has raised theirs.

What is happening with you guys?

Walter Calahan
9-Oct-2009, 11:56
Kirk

My business has been in the toilet for three years. I'm seven years behind you in age, and have no idea if I can survive this crunch. To supplement the income gap I've been teaching at a local college, and working on a Master of Liberal Arts degree because I can get it free as long as I teach. Unfortunately it doesn't teach me how to code for the web, not that I've even had the brain power to do that type of work.

My wife works for the Wash Post and they are asking her to take a buyout. Her job gives us health benefits.

I'm emotionally ill.

Kirk Gittings
9-Oct-2009, 12:06
Walter, I don't yet have the need to try and reinvent myself, and I admire your effort. Losing the health benefits right now would indeed be scary. We get them through my wife's work which is facing big budget cuts. Just to be prepared we checked on the cost of a Cobra and it was allot more than our mortgage hence a cobra would be a huge effort if my wife loses her job.

Business wise, based on predictions by the national American Institute of Architects, I'm expecting next year to be worse than this year. I'm lucky to have as clients some of the only firms in the state who are booming, and that may save me somewhat next year.

paulr
9-Oct-2009, 12:24
I've made most of my money for the past 15 years doing graphics work for print. I'm starting to wonder if my days are numbered. I've avoided learning how to code, because it always looked like hell, but now maybe it's a good idea.

A bit daunting, because writing "code" today typically means learning so many applications and languages and scripts, and it seems like at least a couple of generations of kids have come out of the womb already knowing this stuff!

David Karp
9-Oct-2009, 12:28
Are you members of any professional associations that offer group coverage? If not, check out the various photo associations and see if any of them offer decent group coverage. That might make it possible to find decent affordable coverage.

I have been there on the COBRA thing. I was on COBRA years ago, because I could not get another insurer to cover me. It was expensive. Something showed up on a test that is out of the ordinary, and some insurance company employee decided that it indicated that I might get some kind of disease someday. My Dad has the same results from his blood tests (he is now 80, and looks better and is healthier than a lot of 60 year olds). My doctor said this was nonsense. To clear this up, I eventually had to go to a specialist at UCLA who tested me and then opined to the insurance company that there was no causal connection known to medical science between my tests results and any diseases that I might face in the future. In the meantime, my COBRA ran out, and for months I was on one of those catastrophic health policies. Eventually I had the privilege of buying an expensive policy as a self-employed person. My heart goes out to you guys.

Jrewt
9-Oct-2009, 13:32
Gourmet was one of our major goals, and we were pretty shocked when it went. Romulo Yanes is a huge influence to myself- I hope he starts to shoot for other mags!

Me and my stylist have only been in the food photography business for 2 years now, and to be honest it is a struggle. We, like Kirk, took a huge hit the first quarter, then around May things exploded and we've had lots of work. We've seen 4 of our clients fold since Dec '08.. Who knows where things will go in our market? The only thing you can do is keep your fingers crossed and try to produce better work than others.

William McEwen
9-Oct-2009, 13:55
I fear the grand age of magazines might never return. The Web is overloaded with content, and it's all free.

Steven Barall
9-Oct-2009, 14:03
I was sitting around the other night with three editorial photographers who have had great careers for decades and the consensus was that the editorial market is forever changed and not for the better. What it comes down to is that you can't sell photos to nonexistent clients. The clients that are still around are often using inexperienced, lower salaried employees who just don't know how to buy photography anyway.

You just have to find some way to hang in there. Use your time to get better at what you do I guess. That's what I do.

Good luck to all.

bdkphoto
9-Oct-2009, 14:52
This is clearly the worst editorial environment I've ever seen. I was shooting a small job for Architectural Digest at the Conde Nast building just 2 days before they closed Gourmet et al, and the atmosphere was full of dread. Many of the senior staff has been laid off, or early retired, and 25% cuts across the board.

Back when I started out (in DC, Walter Callahan should remember) we had a nice long list of magazine that you could actually make a living doing editorial. Remember Regardies, Mid Atlantic Country, New Dominion, Museum and Arts, etc.....

The current NYC market is pretty grim for editorial, and the architectural market is not much better. Major layoffs at all the firms and no budgets to shoot. It will be really tough for a while. I'm teaching at ICP, but it wont make up the difference in lost work anytime soon.

Bruce

Robert Skeoch
9-Oct-2009, 15:07
I've found it difficult to make much money shooting any longer but overall have filled the gap by working for Sony, teaching one day a week at college and grabbing a couple shifts a week as evening photo editor at the local daily. I also have the mail-order business with weird photo supplies but that will never produce an income.

My shooting has dropped off but not because of this slowdown. Since I make my living as a sports photographer, it never really recovered after the NHL strike a few years back.

For a number of reasons, but partly because sources use digital now, which means every client can get access to the original so fewer shots are needed. When magazines only used slide there was a greater demand because images were tied up in transit, waiting on desks or in production. If you think of a sports book, they held onto dozens of originals for months or a year while the book was put together. Yes it did tie up your images but it meant the next client had to hire you to shoot fresh images since those were out of the loop.

Overall the value of the single image, or stock image has tumbled, but this is not because of the slowdown but is a reflection of the "Supply and demand" regarding stock.

The other day the art director at Sony asked me to look at a few cityscapes shot as panorama's. The stock agency was asking $8000 for the usage. I'm not saying they're not worth it, but he looked elsewhere and found something in the $10 range at the Istockphoto.

It's not his fault that someone started a business model that sells $10 images, or photographers who are happy to get published and make 50% of that.

Anyway enough gloom and doom.... overall I'm very busy, had a great year last year and a super year so far this year... but I've really changed what I do and what I'm offering. I made more money this year writing advanced photo classes for colleges than I did selling sports photos. I don't shoot images for Sony at all, but field test their cameras and give talks and seminars for them. Different work but it has been busy.

As far a Health Care issues go... I live in Canada, so I'm covered.

-Rob

Kirk Gittings
9-Oct-2009, 16:57
Here is a really funny and gratifying story. Being brain dead half the time, I invoiced a magazine client this morning at my old rates. Unconscious wishful thinking I suppose. The managing editor of this homes magazine is a dear friend. Through serious cuts (my fees included) they are surviving. After reading the invoices and my pleas to be paid ASAP, he emailed me about my error and told me that he was going to bump my fees up 30% on half day shoots including the two submitted this morning. Not quite where they were a couple of years ago, but better.

Kirk Gittings
9-Oct-2009, 17:07
This is clearly the worst editorial environment I've ever seen. I was shooting a small job for Architectural Digest at the Conde Nast building just 2 days before they closed Gourmet et al, and the atmosphere was full of dread. Many of the senior staff has been laid off, or early retired, and 25% cuts across the board.....

The current NYC market is pretty grim for editorial, and the architectural market is not much better. Major layoffs at all the firms and no budgets to shoot. It will be really tough for a while.....
Bruce

Bruce, with architectural firms I saw a turnaround here after the first half of the year in that regard and maybe you will see it too. We have not been hit as hard here as big cities have though. Starting around July the firms decided that they could not scrimp on marketing regardless of their finances because pursuing jobs had become so extremely competitive. As a result since July that has been the one market that has been healthy for me.

Henry Ambrose
9-Oct-2009, 17:21
Bruce, with architectural firms I saw a turnaround here after the first half of the year in that regard and maybe you will see it too. We have not been hit as hard here as big cities have though. Starting around July the firms decided that they could not scrimp on marketing regardless of their finances because pursuing jobs had become so extremely competitive. As a result since July that has been the one market that has been healthy for me.

Same here on the renewed emphasis on marketing by some large firms. My developer/owner business died (dead as a wagon tire) last year. That's gonna be gone for a long time.

I've been trying to give away work to small architecture clients and local editorial with very little luck. (just to be able to work and get new pictures to show)

Its truly grim.

jnantz
9-Oct-2009, 18:33
i've begun to start to speak with
people who sell wedding dresses
to do the old "stand by"
here in ri throughout the 80s
photographers always did "weddings on the side "
who needs weekends anyways ...

Mike1234
9-Oct-2009, 18:46
Business will pick up. It always does. And those who have the courage to sew through the dry hardened soil now and work extra hard to stay in business will soon reap big rewards as clients come back to the fewer remaining providers when the fiscal rains return.

bdkphoto
9-Oct-2009, 19:54
Bruce, with architectural firms I saw a turnaround here after the first half of the year in that regard and maybe you will see it too. We have not been hit as hard here as big cities have though. Starting around July the firms decided that they could not scrimp on marketing regardless of their finances because pursuing jobs had become so extremely competitive. As a result since July that has been the one market that has been healthy for me.

Kirk -

I certainly hope you are correct. New York had been well insulated from the downturn while the rest of the country was hurting. Now we have caught up. There are some signs of a small recovery and there is work, but everyone is slow. Most of the architects I have spoken with are finishing projects but have nothing on the boards. For the work that is around it is very difficult to figure how to budget the jobs. I spoke with some of my colleagues last night, one of them had a great line...breaking even is the new black...

Best,

Bruce

theBDT
9-Oct-2009, 20:49
and then the o'bama camp . . . and to insult american workers further . . .

So you've decided to make this thread politically charged, then?

Ed Richards
10-Oct-2009, 06:46
Read a good piece about the WWW/newspaper world by a senior WSJ guy. He pointed out that the "content for free" model that was killing papers predates the WWW, and really started when papers moved to relying on ads for their real revenue, not subscriptions. That moved their focus from news to keeping advertisers happy, and made them more vulnerable to the business cycles. When the WWW hit, they had already screwed up their business model. WSJ, OTOH, like the Economist, has always made their main money from subscriptions, which are not cheap. WSJ has also sold online data for decades, long before the Internet. Their WWW site has always been a subscription service, and not a cheap one. They are doing fine, unforunately for this thread, they do not use many photos.

When we look past the current economic downturn, what will really have changed? Is anyone on the WWW paying traditional prices for images, or is the shift to the WWW going to fundamentally change the image market? So even if papers and mags figure out how to make enough money on the WWW to stay in business, will it be a business that cannot support previous pay rates?

Brian_A
10-Oct-2009, 07:01
I fear the grand age of magazines might never return. The Web is overloaded with content, and it's all free.

They've been going downhill since well before the "recession" or whatever you care to call it. As I've mentioned in other threads, an iPod or BlackBerry does more for most of America than a magazine will ever do anymore. Some mags are just getting smart to that and publishing online. Sorry guys, but unless you're publishing books, magazines are on their way out. I've watched the stands at my local bookstores literally cut themselves in half in the last two years. The now generation just doesn't have time to go to Barnes and Noble to shell out $8 for an 80 page magazine. Sorry that it effects you guys, but that's one of those things that happens to people who don't adapt quickly or see the signs quick enough. I'm sure there will be plenty of business left for you but for the people coming into this business now it's a very daunting thought. I wish those who have been doing it the best of luck and those who are trying to do it, well, good luck too. I think those like Walter and Kirk will show you the way out.

-Brian

Brian_A
10-Oct-2009, 07:26
To do so, is to stick you head in the sand.


Welcome to the Large Format Photography Forum.

Jim Michael
10-Oct-2009, 08:27
Business cycles are just that - cycles. Folks may attempt to attribute causal factors aligned with their ontology, but they are going to occur in spite of attempts to prevent them or mitigate their severity. Everyone who had been paying attention knew what was coming last year and took steps to mitigate their risk. Once this down cycle is complete (it's not) something else will come along which won't be planned for, be it a black swan or another series of bad business decisions.

How many folks do risk analysis on a regular basis? If you are in business and are not doing regular qualitative risk analysis then you can't have a firm grasp of the potential risk that your business is exposed to.

Bruce Watson
10-Oct-2009, 09:09
What Ed says. Certainly true.

There's more though. So called "media consolidation" has also decimated print media. It hurts print media from several separate directions. First, it throws a huge number of reporters and photographers out of work since various media under a single corporate master can share stories and photographs. Second, it increases dependence on advertising -- the single corporate master typically makes deals for all the media it controls to spread the advertising across all the media. The two together lead to far fewer stories and far more ads.

But the biggie in my mind is the tendency for corporations to turn the media they control into propaganda sheets for their own agendas. An example, I'm sad to say, is Murdoch's takeover of the WSJ. What used to be a bastion of good reporting is sliding into irrelevance. Good reporting is being replaced by corporate propaganda. And it's not just WSJ. The NYTs has the same disease, as do all the leading papers and magazines.

The five or six corporate owners of the majority of print media (in the USA anyway) have sold the media's collective soul. The subscribers find that they have ever decreasing credibility. So subscriptions fall and the whole thing devolves into the black death spiral that we are witnessing today.

I'm guilty -- I dropped my 20 year old subscription to my local paper last year. They wanted to know why, so I told them. Not that it mattered, or changed the paper in any way. They had practically stopped reporting local and state news (they, and I, are in the state capital, so there's little excuse for this, especially when the legislature is in session), and what little they did report was often fluffy side issues. For example, they "missed" the local state agriculture university proposal for a BSL-4 biohazard facility off a major thoroughfare in the middle of a million people. Not a word in the paper. Don't you think the people of the community should be informed when their government (it's a state supported school) wants to build an infectious disease facility in their midst? Isn't that... news?

And what really saddens me is that I used to work for that paper. As a photographer. The mighty have fallen indeed. But not in battle. They are pointlessly committing suicide. And we are all the worse for it.

BrianShaw
10-Oct-2009, 10:31
I'm guilty -- I dropped my 20 year old subscription to my local paper last year. They wanted to know why, so I told them. Not that it mattered, or changed the paper in any way. They had practically stopped ...

Me too. Except my subscription went a few years longer than 20 years. Not only did they make the paper slimmer and with less interesting news/features, but almost everything was a day or two late. The sales folks keep calling and calling - practically every other night - begging us to renew. When it's not guilt ("we can't keep printing a local paper without valued subscribers like you"), it is a price break ("well, how about a decade-long subscription for only $2.99 per year"), or it is the dreaded threat of an information drought ("if you get your news from the internet you MUST remember that electricity might not always be available, and what would happen...")

The demise of Gourmet is a shame because of its long history, but lets face it: Gourmet has been struggling for years. What upsets me is that they just accepted my one-year subscription... and then immediately close shop. What's up with that?

KEK
10-Oct-2009, 10:44
Bruce and Brian I'd never give up my local newspaper. Think what would happen to my notebook when I took it into the crapper.

Brian_A
10-Oct-2009, 10:50
I gave up on the local paper a long time ago but they still send it to me. I don't know why, they must have extra money. Never have any kids coming to the door to collect on it. While I enjoy the funny pages and the local events stuff, I don't get much use out of it. Everything I want to know can be found via the main news websites and much more up to date. Thankfully this area has a great recycling program!

BrianShaw
10-Oct-2009, 10:58
Thankfully this area has a great recycling program!

I get tired from walking 87.9% of my mail straight from the mailbox to the recycle bin. At least I get some exercise, eh?

Bruce Watson
10-Oct-2009, 11:00
I gave up on the local paper a long time ago but they still send it to me. I don't know why...

Sure you do. Think about it... It's about advertising. They keep sending you the paper to keep their circulation numbers up so they can charge more for the advertising. This, in a nut shell, is what's wrong.

Brian_A
10-Oct-2009, 11:47
I get tired from walking 87.9% of my mail straight from the mailbox to the recycle bin. At least I get some exercise, eh?

No doubt. Guess it's my way of "going green." I wish that the junk mail people would get the hint..

Kirk Gittings
10-Oct-2009, 11:53
Sure you do. Think about it... It's about advertising. They keep sending you the paper to keep their circulation numbers up so they can charge more for the advertising. This, in a nut shell, is what's wrong.

This has been a common business practice for magazines as long as I can remember, though I had not heard of it for newspapers. I must be on some list as I routinely receive magazines for a few months for free. I assume this is for the bumping circulation reason-they never tell you. Once I received Outside for free for about two years.

Brian_A
10-Oct-2009, 12:37
I must be on some list as I routinely receive magazines for a few months for free.

I wouldn't mind being on that list for magazines.. I guess I'll have to settle with The Washington Post...

paulr
10-Oct-2009, 13:10
Business cycles are just that - cycles.

That's true, although the length of any given cycle is hardly guaranteed and indeed depends on causation. With a distant enough perspective, you could call the fall of Rome part of a business cycle. Little comfort to a Roman facing barbarians at the gate!

But this thread deals with something besides economic downturn. There's also a broad shift in dominant media from print to digital. At the moment these two factors are conspiring against publishers like Conde Nast.

The question is, when the market rebounds (and we don't really know when that will be), what will be the state of media? How much room will there be for fossils like me who are rooted to print? And for those who make the shift to the web (or who already have), how will the economics of the new model treat them?

Don Dudenbostel
10-Oct-2009, 14:54
My photo career spans more then four decades now. I feel very fortunate to have worked in the last of the golden age of advertising photography. I've had the good fortune to have six figure budgets and major campaigns for the big guys like Magnavox, Sylvania, John Deere, Gerber and Proctor and Gamble. I shot as many as ten major corporation annual reports a year. The peak of business was about thirteen years ago. The decline started with corporations cutting the annual report budgets and one major national corporation that I shot two reports for went from a slick publication to a xerox annual report. The next thing I noticed was corporations being bought and sold like baseball cards. One corporation would swallow up six and consolidate the advertising. My ad agency client base started drying up and to this date I'm still losing clients to buyouts. It seems like the ones that haven't been bought out and moved from the region have gone out of business and the few remaining try to do their own shooting in house. the sad thing is these clients would never have accepted the low quality of work from me that they now are happy with only because it is free. My remaining clients that are regularly active are medical based and hospitals but this might change soon if the Washington crowd gets its way. (not being political).

I still have some commercial contractors, hospitals, and architects plus a few scattered clients. I'm holding my breath on one major one that probably will not do their big catalog this year and simply reprint last years. My philosophy about this is to keep the client active at all cost. Keep the line of work open and on their minds even f you have to give a free job once in a while. Once the client closes the door your chances of reopening that relationship is almost none. I tell my clients that I owe my success to them and I'm very indebted to them for their support over the years. I tell them that I will do work for them even if they have $000 money. I owe them many favors and will take care of their needs no matter what it takes. It builds great relationships and keeps your door open. Things will get better and I believe there will be a surge of good business again but I don't think I will ever see the grand six figure budgets again in my career. For some reason last year was the second best year in my career. Don't ask me why but it was. this year I will probably make 50% of my average year. Still good but substantially lower. I never thought I would say this but I'm almost at retirement age and I couldn't be happier. Next year I may start the process and slowly retire over a number of years. I'll continue to work some but not bust my butt like I have and not worry about the market as much. If things come back I'll take advantage of it and if not I have other plans.

theBDT
10-Oct-2009, 23:51
Slate.com just ran an interesting article comparing Conde Nast to General Motors—both were once the pinnacle of their respective industries, both setup virtual fiefdoms amongst their various corporate divisions, and both had their heads up their collective rear ends while the entire world changed around them.

Duane Polcou
11-Oct-2009, 00:47
The demise of some of Conde Nast's mags isn't the result of a "business cycle" that will recover. It is the writing on the wall of a fundamental shift in the way that people read words and view images from paper based to electronic based. Now I'm supposed to buy something called a KINDLE?

I feel for writers more than photographers. At least with photographs, there will always be a market for high quality prints. Perhaps a fine print and fine printed media will be perceived as being more valuable than ever. But a novel? What is an author going to do? Have a "kindle signing" at a Starbucks?

Jim Michael
11-Oct-2009, 06:52
No, the demise appears to be the result of a trend + negative business cycle, and it's academic whether the trend is part of some longer term cycle (e.g. expensive print magazines might go away and then become trendy again). The ad revenue component is clearly business cycle related. David Spivak related the same thing recently regarding his magazine. They might have limped along a little longer had the business cycle not been as largely negative. But for some reason I just can't picture some guy in the boardroom saying "Wow, I never saw that coming!" They had to have known what trend was in place as it's been there for years. Perhaps it's the inertia of large traditional business coupled with a dismissive attitude toward that which is about to destroy it. It goes back to my statement concerning risk analysis, if your business depends on something that is subject to change then you need to have a plan to deal with it. Could be they were working on a plan but were late for the party.

QT Luong
11-Oct-2009, 09:25
Downturn accelerated trends that were ineluctable.

See what Vincent Laforet wrote more than a year ago: http://www.sportsshooter.com/news/2014

paulr
11-Oct-2009, 11:00
I feel for writers more than photographers. At least with photographs, there will always be a market for high quality prints. Perhaps a fine print and fine printed media will be perceived as being more valuable than ever. But a novel? What is an author going to do? Have a "kindle signing" at a Starbucks?

That's for damn sure. The trouble for writers extends way beyond the kindle and the book signing; there's so much written content available for free online that the craft of professional writers has been devalued almost to nothing.

I just wrote a story for Alpinist ... I'll be curious to see if they offer me even $50 for it. Will I take it? Yes. Would I have done it for nothing? Yes. So really, I'm part of the problem!

paulr
11-Oct-2009, 11:03
Here's another way to approach this ...

It seems like in the new world of media, the content creators (writers, photographers, etc...) are making less money.

So who's making more money?

I assume the answer includes people like the entrepreneurs and the back-end coders, but who else?

Brian Ellis
11-Oct-2009, 11:33
Slate.com just ran an interesting article comparing Conde Nast to General Motors—both were once the pinnacle of their respective industries, both setup virtual fiefdoms amongst their various corporate divisions, and both had their heads up their collective rear ends while the entire world changed around them.

Anyone interested in reading about the grand style to which Conde Nast executives became accustomed in the heyday of magazines should read the book "Them" by Francine du Plessix Gray. It's a fascinating book for a lot of reasons, one of which is the style in which her family lived while her step-father ran Conde Nast. Royalty didn't live much better.

GPS
11-Oct-2009, 11:45
So Gourmet, Elegant Bride, Modern Bride etc. are closing? Wasn't it a high time anyway somehow?
As to the photographers situation - yes, the digital lowered the public standards. As a consequence and paradoxically, good photographs are more difficult to be seen as such. When I finally decided I won't do Stock agency business for money anymore, taking photography more for my pleasure, my sales suddenly sky rocketed... Who knows why. I still continue to shoot first for my pleasure and only on a sideline for "them".

Brian_A
11-Oct-2009, 11:57
The demise of some of Conde Nast's mags isn't the result of a "business cycle" that will recover. It is the writing on the wall of a fundamental shift in the way that people read words and view images from paper based to electronic based. Now I'm supposed to buy something called a KINDLE?


You're here and not sitting in a room, aren't you? This forum alone has shown the fundamental shift.

Duane Polcou
11-Oct-2009, 12:48
You're here and not sitting in a room, aren't you? This forum alone has shown the fundamental shift.

Yes, but I also love magazines and have mourned the passing of those which I shot for and those which will no doubt disappear in the future.

I think paper publishing is going the way of the music business. Just as there now exists a generation of young people who have never been inside of a "record" store and purchased a physical product such as an album or CD, so will there be a new generation of people who's method of purchase and consumption of media is entirely device based. Which is just so sad as there is something so beautiful and tactile about viewing a finely printed piece. Even a bad one has its' charm.

Brian_A
11-Oct-2009, 13:00
I'm sure one thought the same of the horse compared to the Model A, VHS to DVD, etc etc. It's sad but it's life. Old technologies die. I don't know why so many people think that people haven't been inside a record store. I know plenty of 15 year olds that listen to plenty of vinyl, heck, a lot of big name bands of today still release records because they're seeing a large resurgence. I'm 28 and I've spent plenty of time from vinyl to MP3 and I love it all. Depends on what you want and what you like. I know this might blow you away, but I even have the Beatles White Album on vinyl.

Anyways, I understand that people who are set in their ways don't want to see change, but it's onea those things that happens.

Rick Moore
11-Oct-2009, 13:18
I know this might blow you away, but I even have the Beatles White Album on vinyl.

I have a limited edition of the Beatles' White Album on white vinyl.

cjbroadbent
11-Oct-2009, 13:57
Don Dudenbostel's post touches a chord. I've done more than a hundred pages for Brides, House&Garden and Vogue-Gioielli/Casa/Uomo/Sposa/Etc. The paid next to nothing, considering the time it takes to do still-life, but they gave a free hand and it was with Conde'Nast that a photographer could try out new things and make his portfolio. In the 80's Brides Magazine was as thick as a phone book and rich enough to maintain H&G and other money losers.
Working for them was like a holiday away from advertising. The editors took risks and encouraged experimentation. I always shot LF and it was appreciated. Things have changed. They probably spend a lot on digital post-production nowadays but they never spent much on photography.

Bruce Watson
11-Oct-2009, 14:11
I'm sure one thought the same of the horse compared to the Model A, VHS to DVD, etc etc. It's sad but it's life. Old technologies die.

If this were a simple format change, I'd agree with you. But it's not a change from one format to another. It's a bigger paradigm shift than that. It's a change from the physical to the virtual.

Having to have a physical thing to have access to the content, gives the content provider both a level of control over presentation, and a gate keeper function that makes it easy to charge an access fee. Horses, cars, vinyl, CDs, magazines, newspapers, VHS, Beta, DVDs, and Blu-ray all have this in common. MP3s (music) and MP4s (video), do not. And that is the paradigm shift. If you don't have the physical thing (hardcopy in this case), you loose both presentation control and access control.

The whole point of the web is the separation of content from display (ask Tim Burners-Lee (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tim_Berners-Lee), who invented the web). The content provider can supply hints to your browser but really has no good idea how the content is displayed. This lack of control makes it impossible to either direct eyeballs where they want, or to color coordinate anything, which makes the ads less effective.

Worse, hyperlinking makes it easy for users to come to the content from any direction. There is no gate to keep, and no way to functionally charge an access fee (ask those that have tried it, from the NYT on down). Listen to Murdock sputter impotently about Google "stealing" his content but watch that he's not actually firewalling his content off and trying to erect a pay-per-view portal -- because Google is driving millions of viewers to his content, for free, and he doesn't want to loose that.

The ineluctable (thanks for a new word QT) conclusion is that content is rapidly heading to zero value. That is, content is going to be free. No one is going to be able to make a living solely by providing content, be it writing or photography. This is different than a simple format change, where either format has value. This is a change from a physical system that recognizes a value to a virtual system that does not.

Brian_A
11-Oct-2009, 17:01
The ineluctable (thanks for a new word QT) conclusion is that content is rapidly heading to zero value. That is, content is going to be free. No one is going to be able to make a living solely by providing content, be it writing or photography. This is different than a simple format change, where either format has value. This is a change from a physical system that recognizes a value to a virtual system that does not.

If it's not paying anything, then I guess it'd be time to look for a new job. Does it suck? Yes. Ten years ago everyone was raving about how this free exchange of information would be wonderful and revolutionize the world. Well, it did. Just not the way some wanted. Now, I wouldn't just blame the web for this either. You also have the daily commuters who use their POS Canon Rebel XTi to create images that caused an epic surge in the micro-stock business. Anyone with a digital camera can seemingly put out quality usable content and make a buck (Quite literally...). Is it large format quality? Nope. Will they do it for next to free, if not free? Yup. Why pay someone if you can have someone else do it for free (Or, "for their portfolio") and get a reasonable image to use? Can anyone here tell the difference? More than likely. Can the average reader of Gourmet? Hell no. They don't care so long as the food looks pretty.

Paradigm shift or not, it's just something that one must face. It's not going away. That said, you won't see me purchasing a Kindle, or whatever you called it, any time soon. Another company tried this idea a few years ago and it only caught on a little bit to what I remember...

Ivan J. Eberle
11-Oct-2009, 20:45
The question of what happened to quality photography in periodicals is somewhat distinct from the end game they now face.

The peril to the magazine industry stems primarily from to the paradigm shift to immediately-available fresh content versus the old periodical model that made the content stale by 3 mos until it hit the newsstand. Advertisers, being presently unable to pay the exorbitant magazine page rates, perhaps are realizing viral marketing and the new media actually works better than push advertising has for some time. That this kind of advertising can be nearly free. Or maybe they caught on that much of the periodical circulation numbers are a sham. While internet has helped to commoditize content even further, what it really has done is exponentially increase the need for fresh content.

What happened to editorial and advertising photography was Stock Photography. With a vast number of people jumping into the game, it's meant an abundance of imagery. This, coupled with the perfect storm of digital automation easily giving John Q. Public technical results that rival medium format results from a dozen years ago, and search engines that can find J.Q. Public's gallery results, and near-real time uploads/downloads, means Art Directors and Picture Editors don't have to work as hard and or pay registered mail or FedEx charges anymore to fill their pages with colorful content.

cjbroadbent
12-Oct-2009, 02:36
.... it's meant an abundance of imagery. ...Art Directors and Picture Editors don't have to work as hard...
(Apologies for lifting out of context). I've never shot a magazine page that did not have a product somewhere in it. Editorial pages back up advertising. It is part of the media package sold to the client. You can't find that on Image Bank. So there is still plenty of work to do in editorials.
I shoot a great deal more conceptual (no product) images for advertising than for editorials. This is where Image Banks step in. Art directors are no longer capable or willing to grab the magic-markers and sketch a layout. So they do mock-ups with pictures off the web and present quasi-finished layouts to the client.
Most of the ad-agency's effort goes towards getting the client to choose and approve a campaign layout. The layout that gets approval has no leeway for interpretation because it lacks abstraction.
In the production stage (a sort of leftover in the whole process), the art director has to find a similar picture in the archives or find a a photographer willing to copy someone else's work. He has no intention of shooting different; it would screw up the whole decision process.
I have always shot for mood and atmosphere - something that does not fit into the process described above. Symbolic images do fit the process. They can be tagged for searches, described verbally, easily copied.
So when you see lower standards in today's pages, it has mostly to do with art directors who never learned to draw.

paulr
12-Oct-2009, 14:33
... Art Directors and Picture Editors don't have to work as hard and or pay registered mail or FedEx charges anymore to fill their pages with colorful content.

Actually, they're working as hard as they ever have. The difference is that they're expected to get more done with shorter deadlines and smaller budgets.

It's not their choice ... the existence of the faster / cheaper alternatives has caused a shift in the clients' expectations. All the art directors I know would prefer to do photo shoots (ideally with great photographers, lots of time, and lots of money), but more and more this has become a luxury.

Paul Fitzgerald
13-Oct-2009, 07:28
Hi all,

I only read part of this thread so sorry if this was posted.

This has all happened before in 1958, a major crash in magazines and lay-offs.

'Married with children" do not have discretionary spending money and 1958 was when the boomers were turning into teenagers, very expensive. No one had money for 'how to be a girl' or 'daydream' magazines and a major crash followed, lasting for years.

2007 was the largest birth rate in the US since 1963, add in the housing market, credit crunch, un-employment and no COL adjustments, this one will last even longer. Sorry to be the doomsayer but magazine publishing is DOA for too many reasons to ignore. Time to re-think the future.

mandoman7
13-Oct-2009, 18:42
The present economy is exacerbating a downfall (transition?) that has already been in full swing for the last decade. We can expect the economy to turn around after a while, but making money with imagery will be happening in redefined ways, IMO.

I live and work in an area with tons of wineries that used to be good business in the 80's and 90's (Calif) but it changed, not only because they could do more photos in-house, but because the market got wildly flooded with would-be photographers, many of whom got layed off from the tech industry a few years prior.
Even though the economy may get better, I don't expect that business to ever return. Looking at their marketing materials you can see a lot of crude photographs, but no one seems to be too concerned, its become a style of sorts. The thing I realized about this market was that the kick in prestige that a winery used to get by using elegant looking photos had changed substantively. Now they sell the product with parties and being kitschy, or twitter write-ups. No inclination to do expensive photo shoots at all now with no perceived ROI. In fact, upon direct inquiry was told by more than one respectable winery that their annual photo budget was 2k, for what might be a business grossing 2 or more million.

Living in an area where there was not much else commercially going on, though, I diversified and got into doing portraits with private schools among other things. I planned to be another Ansel, like everyone else, but there was a family to support and I had good luck photographing kids in small groups. I did have gallery representation for the fine-art work, and some good commercial clients, but those got steadily weaker, so I continued working with the schools (small and well managed only).
That facet of the business is doing very well presently and I'm thankful now, ironically, that I got into doing that work although I never would have voluntarily. But now, after 27 yrs., I've learned how to clear out the adults and to massage the environment in general, and the parents like the results. Orders are about $50/kid this year and I'll shoot 40 kids in a couple of hours on a morning (tripod and reflector at most). Way better wages than any commercial work is paying in my area, and the parents are thrilled.

So, for me, there was a time (in the mid 80's) when I had to face the question of how badly I wanted to be a photographer, staying self employed. People were telling me that I had talent and I had a passion for the craft, but when I took a serious look at the market in my area, there was no one actually surviving doing the kind of work that I was envisioning. I'm sure there's a parallel in all crafts, where your doing less desirable work to pay bills with the idea that your creative projects will get their necessary reinforcements as well. Am I making any sense?

Kirk Gittings
13-Oct-2009, 19:21
Am I making any sense?

Oh yeah! Like you I did not set out to become a commercial photographer, but for the last thirty+ years it has paid the bills and underwritten my other photographic passions.

Merg Ross
13-Oct-2009, 20:49
Oh yeah! Like you I did not set out to become a commercial photographer, but for the last thirty+ years it has paid the bills and underwritten my other photographic passions.

Sure, when young and naive, we were going to be the next Weston, Adams, Siskind, White, or name your tune. But the reality is, if you choose photography as a means of livelihood, there is a very good chance that commercial work may be your salvation. It wasn't for me, however it was for Weston and Adams; the other two chose teaching.

When I was down to my last few dollars as a freelancer, with a wife and two children, I realized that my dedication and love for photography was going to survive one way or the other. I read the Daybooks at night to keep up my spirits; my dream was not going to die; and it never did. I found other ways, aside from my photography, to make a living. As a carpenter, I found a fulfilling and supplemental way to put bread on the table.

If you have the passion, and love what you are doing, there is always a way to fulfill the dream.

Brian_A
13-Oct-2009, 21:56
If you have the passion, and love what you are doing, there is always a way to fulfill the dream.

A very inspiring line that I think anyone wanting to do what they love (Be it photography or digging ditches) should appreciate greatly. I guess I'm lucky that my wife is in the military (I'm out due to a surgery gone wrong) and allows me to earn whatever I can through photography. I just thank my lucky stars that I have such a supportive wife that allows me to carry on with it. My father always tells me that "It's not work if you love what you're doing."

mandoman7
14-Oct-2009, 08:23
I think what we're talking about here is that the support is dwindling for those "dreams" and that the reality is that loving to do a thing is just not enough. We all love wandering aroung the countryside taking contemplative photographs, but the percentage of those who've been able to make a living doing that are quite small. As my dad said when he saw me carefully buttering my toast as a boy, "I hope you can find work in that field". That one has really stuck with me for some reason. He was always questioning my direction, but that's another story.

Its not about loving a certain activity, but what you're willing to do to make it happen. A young photog may love to go into nature, but is he willing to look at his work at completely reinvent himself to accommodate a market? Its a different kind of passion. A passion for prevailing and not letting one's predilections get in the way. Its not just a matter of liking an activity.

Merg Ross
14-Oct-2009, 09:18
I think what we're talking about here is that the support is dwindling for those "dreams" and that the reality is that loving to do a thing is just not enough. We all love wandering aroung the countryside taking contemplative photographs, but the percentage of those who've been able to make a living doing that are quite small. As my dad said when he saw me carefully buttering my toast as a boy, "I hope you can find work in that field". That one has really stuck with me for some reason. He was always questioning my direction, but that's another story.

Its not about loving a certain activity, but what you're willing to do to make it happen. A young photog may love to go into nature, but is he willing to look at his work at completely reinvent himself to accommodate a market? Its a different kind of passion. A passion for prevailing and not letting one's predilections get in the way. Its not just a matter of liking an activity.

I think we agree.

There are several concepts presented in this thread. I understood the initial concern to be that of the present day commercial photographer, and the diminishing market opportunities. This is a current condition for some photographers, but certainly not unique in the history of commercial photography. Sometimes it is necessary to take assignments outside of a niche speciality to survive in the commercial photography business.

Another concept is the survival of the photographer who believes that his passion and love of fine art photography can be supported by sales alone. This has been achieved by few individuals. However, there is an alternative to supporting this passion and love, and that is to find a means of support outside of photography. That is what I was attempting to address in my brief remarks. There are many examples of photographers who have done this for either brief or extended periods of their life; some are well known, some not, but all have maintained the passion.

Kirk Gittings
14-Oct-2009, 11:11
Merg, Thanks for your well reasoned thoughts on these issues.

Don Dudenbostel
14-Oct-2009, 12:56
I really believe we will see high quality commercial photography come back in style. The surge of cheap high quality digital cameras and publishing software with the duties of a seasoned graphic designer being shifted to an inexperienced secretary in the company will change. It's going to take a recovery of the economy which will happen and a hand full of companies eating their competitions lunch with high class advertising with fine design and high quality photographs. I predict we'll see this in the next five to ten years.

As par as stock use, who's out there shooting high quality stock other than landscapes and pretty shots? Who's shooting the surgery scenes, Dr's with patients, complex corporate shots with exec looking guys and stock in factory environments? No one is getting paid to do it and none of us are going to get out and do it on spec for thirty cents for a download. Eventually the clothing, hairstyles and technology in these shots will change. When this happens they can no longer be used and new custom images will need to be shot. It's like using a 1960's photo to represent current technology. Your average guy with his D50 can't go out and do this. Besides not being equipped they don't have access.

This is just my take but I've been in the business for over four decades and things have constantly changed and photography is still here and going through another change. I've not only been a still photographer but shot a great deal of 16 and 35mm motion picture work for commercials and TV. When video tape came in many of my associates refused to embrace the new technology and looking on it as inferior or a threat. I took a different position and embraced tape seeing it as a complement to my work and not a threat or inferior. It's about staying flexible and moving forward with new ideas and offering something the competition can't offer. There will always be a place for high quality no matter what it is.

paulr
14-Oct-2009, 12:58
However, there is an alternative to supporting this passion and love, and that is to find a means of support outside of photography.

I'm worried that my means of support outside of photography (design, print production, etc.) is being threatened in the same ways as commercial photography.

That's why I'm wondering if there are any related ships worth jumping to!

mandoman7
14-Oct-2009, 14:48
I think we agree.


I think so, too.



.... there is an alternative to supporting this passion and love, and that is to find a means of support outside of photography. That is what I was attempting to address in my brief remarks. .

I live in the real world and don't judge what people do to make things work. Being a person who has stuck with it in a tough market, however, I've grown opinionated, if you can imagine ;)

Gary L. Quay
18-Oct-2009, 01:50
I sell only in the art market, but I've had to cut my prices in half just to move pieces. I've taken to selling RC prints instead of FB in order to cut processing costs.

--Gary