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Some of you may find this interesting, especially the responses to the editorial, which in some ways are more interesting than the editorial itself.
Well, Bill, I'm afraid I'm as guilty as anyone for this sad state of affairs. I suppliment my meager retirement with a few hundred bucks a month from the microstock agencies. It's not much, but it's most welcome.
Of course, the new online stock agencies are just one of many shifting parameters which affect photojournalism. It's not really even PJ alone that's being altered, but every art form has been changed by the digital revolution and it's attendant ally — the web. Look at the havoc taking place in the music business.
So-called "consumers" (I hate that word) are benefitting while the producers of content and creative people are suffering.
Even the microstock trip will not last forever. When I started a few years ago, my main agency had a million images. Quite a lot, no? Now, they have over 8,000,000 and are shooting for ten million, probably this year. I refuse to shoot conceptuals — people or objects on white, considering myself at least to be in the PJ - documentary vein. If you want to be really successful, you shoot front lit objects only, clone out every vestige of trade names or logos (realistic, huh?) and indulge in zero creativity on any level.
It could be that in the future the best photojournalism and the best art photography will have to come from the amateur ranks.
We will all be amateurs.
No-one wants to pay for anything any more. This is especially true on the internet, but there are also plenty of people who appear to think that Leica has no business charging a realistic price for limited-production, limited-appeal cameras.
Most people appear to be happier to buy second- or third-rate goods at absurdly low prices. The pendulum may well swing the other way eventually, but meanwhile, Bike Tourist is right: there are plenty who can afford to sell their photography cheaply because they have other income. None of us, alas, has a divine right to fair remuneration for a job well done.
I thought for sure people would check out the bookmark in the first message. But I didn't expect replies, much less lengthy, sympathetic and intelligent ones. Many, many thanks.
in some detail:
I regularly (more or less) read the Digital Journalist but missed this one. So thanks for posting.
Some interesting comments in the posts.
I am a more or less retired print and TV journalist (I do some PR now) and I do not have any answers but what bugs me is that the journalism schools -- at least here in Canada -- are continuing to churn out people at a great rate and do not contribute any additional insights or research into the situation.
I do not think journalism is dead --whether print or photo or video -- it just has not figured out a business model.
I taught briefly at a j-school and found most of the profs firmly stuck in the 60s.
BTW: Photography schools are also churning out people en masse. Yet, the situation is no better in commercial photography.
So thanks again for posting.
The philanthropist angle interest me in that article. I was reminded when visiting the Museum of Art in Boston recently, that in the past, strong relationships between an artist and his patrons are the norm.
Maybe this can also be applied to photo-journalism.
Further discussion on this topic (including commentary on this month's and last month's editorials in the Digital Journalist) here:
The philanthropic angle is intriguing, but I don't really see too many foundations endlessly shoveling cash to publications, online or otherwise. The foundations are getting whacked by the bad economy like everyone else. Sooner rather than later, there will be an expectation that the publication receiving their money treat it like seed money, and eventually pay for itself. I read over the weekend that it costs the New York Times about $3 million a year just to maintain its Baghdad bureau, so you have to figure out a way to recover the costs of a news-gathering operation. You won't do it be giving away "content" on the Web.
The best broadcast news operation I've seen lately (Al Jazeera English) is funded entirely by the government of Qatar, runs almost no ads at the moment (except for Qatar Airways), and doesn't provide a lot of critical coverage of events in Qatar. For all that, it provides very comprehensive coverage of the rest of the world, but I have to wonder how long it will last before the tough economic times catch up with it, too.
Of course, the odd MacArthur grant wouldn't go astray:
I am about to begin work on a similar project for a client of mine. From what I can tell there will be significant overlap in terms of features.
From 1979 to 1991, I owned 3 small retail computer stores (Mostly carrying Apple), I was a true beleiver that Apple was my kind of company. Then in 1991 one of my employees showed me an ad that Walmart was selling Mac's cheaper than I could buy them. The dream was over. I sold out for a pittance within 2 months and moved on to something else. That is just the way it goes. Nothing stays the same. Are we going down hill or up hill, only time will tell. In the meantime, I knocked off 2 rolls of Tri-X this morning and I feel great.
From 1979 to 1991, I owned 3 small retail computer stores (Mostly carrying Apple), I was a true beleiver that Apple was my kind of company. Then in 1991 one of my employees showed me an ad that Walmart was selling Mac's cheaper than I could buy them. The dream was over. I sold out for a pittance within 2 months and moved on to something else. That is just the way it goes. Nothing stays the same. Are we going down hill or up hill, only time will tell. In the meantime, I knocked off 2 rolls of Tri-X this morning and I feel great. I never thought I'd say this, but I'm glad I'm not twenty or thirty years younger - fighting for a living, paying a mortgage, raising kids, etc.. I sometimes feel strangely 'guilty' ( for want of a better word! ) at being comfortably retired, but then I have struggled for nearly fifty years for it.
PS...Akiva - I shall shall 'knock off' 2 rolls tomorrow, or the next day - if the weather's bad, and feel great that I'm still able!:)
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