July 8, 2010

Photography is dead

So it's official. Photography is dead. Every single dope with a digital camera can now shoot for magazines, making photographers a dime a dozen and completely cheapening the industry. Show me a person who can take a Hasselblad 500CM, Mamiya RZ, or a Contax 645, put a lens on it, load a film back, put it on the camera, take a light meter reading with a real light meter, set the exposure (shutter speed & aperture), remember to pull the dark slide, take a well-exposed photo, pull the film out of the back, develop that film at home in a tank in the bathroom and then go into a darkroom and make a nice clean usable print, and I'll show you a real photographer. Everyone else is a bullshit poser. So, after taking photos for about 33 years, give or take a few, and shooting in NYC for the past 16+, I get a call from someone at a publication who recently worked with one of my clients. She asked me if I could do a portrait for her. I stupidly said yes, without asking the rate, figuring it would be comparable to other publications. After I accept the job she tells me it pays $150. I laugh and tell her what a ridiculous rate that is. She's apologetic and agrees. Today, while emailing back and forth, I jokingly asked if $150 included expenses. She wrote back that, "No, $150 is the flat rate." I knew right then that photography was indeed dead. I whipped off this nice email.
I will shoot Jaime and Ally and do a fine job. I took the job and will do my best. If $150 is the final rate, as much as I appreciate you thinking of me I cannot possibly work for that amount again. Stupidly, I assumed expenses would be covered. But, after paying for cabs and editing, less than $100 isn't worth my time nor effort. I wouldn't even shoot for that amount while in college (many many years ago). I realize this has nothing to do with you, you have a budget to deal with.

Many of my editorial clients pay an average of $300 for a few hours of shooting, plus they cover cab fees (average $35) plus $100-150 for edit/burn Cd plus assistants if needed. Even Conde Nast, my least paying client, covers ALL expenses.

I DO understand that these are lean times but paying a working photographer $150 for any published photo using professional equipment is unreasonable and absurd.

Thanks again for thinking of me,

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