It’s a pun! Get it?
Er, OK, maybe I should explain a bit more. TIME and its publications (Fortune, Sports Illustrated, etc.) are trying to enforce a new contract for its photographers. PetaPixel reports:
TIME’s latest contract for photographers has been at the center of controversy for about a month now, and many photographers are still refusing to sign it as they campaign for more favorable terms.We shared last month how the new contract eliminates space rates, has copyright grabbing terms, and pays relatively little compared to historical rates.
Now when it comes to work like this, creative professionals (in this case, photographers) may charge whatever the market will bear, and clients may offer whatever they think is fair. The reasoning is that photographers who charge too much won’t have any clients, and clients that demand too much and/or offer too little won’t find skilled people willing to do the work.
Of course that second point doesn’t hold up very well. There’s no shortage of creative types who value their work so little that they are willing to work for free. Internships are frequently unpaid positions, with very rare exceptions.
This news worries me, but I really shouldn’t be surprised. Print media is becoming increasingly unprofitable, and while digital media has several sustainable business models, most involve paying fewer staff and/or paying that staff less. TIME is setting the bar low and not budging, with the end result being good news for the penny pinchers if not for the subscription numbers.
The gamble, in this case, hinges on their branding remaining strong enough for them to ride through the sudden drop in photo quality that they’ll have once the new terms go into effect on the 1st. They may even pull it off.
Unfortunately, this is bad news overall for photographers. Creative occupations are plagued with clients who undervalue artistic products, insisting that “exposure” is a suitable salary or other such nonsense. The loss of another (or several, as TIME consists of @ 90 publications according to the same article I cited above) well paying venue, specifically a high profile one, hurts more photographers than the ones who worked for those publications.
I still think photography is a profitable career field, but perhaps, just like with the print publications themselves, some business models need to change.