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I was contacted by a local paper today...

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by jStat, Jul 13, 2008.

  1. jStat


    Dec 11, 2007
    Janesville, WI
    Well, it actually the woman in charge of the Sports section of the Burlington(WI) Standard Press.
    Anyways, they cover the Burlington Blue Devils(Ironman Football League) Semi-Pro team, so I thought I'd give them a call and explore the possibility of some freelance work with them.

    To make a long story....well....not so long, after telling me that she would talk to the main editor to see if they had the budget for me, she did not call me back---like I expected them to, anyway:cool: . I sent my site link to her anyway, to see if there would be interest.

    Well, she comes up to me at the game earlier tonight and gives me the lowdown: The paper doesn't have the budget for the extra photos, and the plan was to blow me off---gently, she says---by not calling me back.

    I assured her that that was OK, as I was not expecting any call back anyway.:rolleyes: 

    So, she goes on by telling me that(after seeing the stuff on my site), that she wants to use my pictures for the paper coverage, but they don't "have a budget to speak of".

    "That sucks", I said, sympathetic, and continued on with my coverage.

    I don't know how anyone else would have handled that, and I know how big a thrill it is to be published, but I just don't want have my name attached to a great photo in a printed newspaper for nothing. I've been there before, and it was a great feeling just seeing your name in bold, but the novelty has since worn off.
    The personal coverage would be nice, but I don't feel my work is worth only that.

    Am I a jerk for brushing her off?
  2. No, she's a jerk for trying to get you to donate your pictures. I doubt that the Burlington Standard Press qualifies as a charitable enterprise, so you couldn't even deduct your expenses.

    Keep shooting, polishing your skills, and marketing your product. Lightning will strike at some point.
  3. Chris101


    Feb 2, 2005
    Yeah for you! Not a jerk at all.

    Now comes the real test though: Although the value of good photographs is sinking due to these tactics of photo editors (never forget, the photo editor is the natural enemy of the freelance photographer) and the willingness of enthralled amateurs, remember that you put money, effort and time into making your photos. That has a monetary value to those who want to use your picture.

    Your test is not to be patient and wait for a monetary offer. If it is forthcoming, great! Congratulations. If not move on, or work on improving your craft.
  4. Jeff Mims

    Jeff Mims

    May 25, 2005
    She didn't handle it right, but OTOH, getting your pictures published can be a form of free advertising. There's a local guy that does that, the credit line lists his name and web-site. Whether this is actually effective...I don't know for sure. Not everyone pays attention to the photo credit/byline.

    It seems more than a few photo editors are taking advantage of the amateur/digital photographer. More than a few photographers have heard.."there's no money in the budget" as the reason for wanting free pics.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 13, 2008
  5. Not calling you back isn't "gentle"......... it's amateurish and rude. Stick to your guns and if you really want to do freelance work for them, take a great version of some lousy picture they publish in the future, send the editor both copies with a note explaining how, if they would spend a few bucks, the paper could publish really nice work like yours.

    I've had a similar experience with a local weekly newspaper who's editor introduced herself to me and inquired about my services. When it got down to talking about fees, I got the same "no money" BS.

    My response to the editor was in the form of a question. "Do you work for free". I politely explained that I didn't either and when they found some money and if they would like to purchase some of my work, I would certainly make my stuff available.

    We have yet to do business and many of the photos the paper publishes each week are real crap taken by the editor herself using not only a P&S but a crappy P&S. I cringe when I see them. On the other hand I'm not really looking for the business.
  6. kiwi


    Jan 1, 2008
    Auckland, NZ
    WFF is a complex topic, good on you for holding your guns.
  7. biggstr6


    Apr 26, 2005
    Good for you sticking to youre guns. Nobody pays any atention to the photo credits except you & the people you tell about it, and maybe other photographers looking to see if they know who took it. The chances of getting any work from it are nil.

    The newspaper business is in serious transformation right now, who knows how it will all work out.
  8. i'm in total agreement with those comments above
    YOU did the right thing
    sounds like they operate pretty UNprofessional paper over there
    i wonder what the editor of that paper would think if he/she heard the way it all played out

    good for you
  9. To openly admit that they weren't going to call you back, then turn around and imply that you might want to give them your work? Kinda reminds me of that Craig's List ad that ThePicMan posted a thread about recently.

    You definitely did the right thing.
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 15, 2017
  10. eng45ine


    May 11, 2005
    Chicago, IL
    John, you managed the situation well. Many media outlets have decided to "cry poor" to get pieces for little or no cost. Allowing them to feature your images with your name and url is your decision, you know what works best for you.
  11. John, as a professional writer, I can assure you that you did the right thing. Small papers are the scum of the earth. The small ones around here don't even pay their carriers, they try to get them to collect some pay from the people who receive their ad-filled fluff. As you said, the first time you see your credit on an article or picture, you glow and call all your relatives. That doesn't put food on the table--yours or the pro you cut out of a gig. Stand your ground; if you're good enough to get paid, you should, if you're not, they won't bother you.

  12. rocketliv

    rocketliv Guest

    No way! I am shocked by her nerve! Good for you.
  13. Don't give your photos away! Right now big photo agencies are giving photos away by the pennies and screwing the little guy. With new media outlets like the internet, etc. They're relying more on ad revenue dollars rather than selling the photos for their actual worth. It's ridiculous. Digital kinda sucks. If we shot film this wouldn't be the issue. :frown:
  14. wingspar


    Mar 16, 2008
    I was sitting fat dumb and happy with the local paper for years till the owners sold the paper. The old owners were the ones that hired me originally, and had no problems with the expense. The money was good. The new owner is one of those that wants the free photos from parents P&S cameras from the stands. So, I walked a way, and now shoot exclusively for the school and parents. The money isn’t what it was when I was working for the paper by leaps and bounds (read every parent has a P&S or cell phone camera and sinking economy), but I enjoy doing it, so will continue. Worst thing about it all is that I can’t justify a D3, no matter how much I would like one. The new owner has never asked me to cover a game for free, but if he did, I’d tell him to take a hike. The lady insulted you by not returning your call, then asking you to donate your work.
  15. You know what sucks, in 10 years still cameras will be replaced with high megapixel video cameras, and we'll all be out of the business!
  16. NPA2008


    Apr 15, 2008
    You many not believe this, but some photographers are already using high end video cameras and choosing frames from them for still photo sales. By the time the D4 or D5 is released mirror lock up release mode might be just a feature of another era in photography. We'll be capturing several seconds of video and letting the camera divide it up as some P&S models do now.
  17. jStat


    Dec 11, 2007
    Janesville, WI
    Thanks for all your comments and support. This is why I love being here.

    To be honest, when all that info came out, about the no call back and their reasoning for it, I actually smiled and nearly laughed because I had been expecting it. I don't think she was expecting me to be expecting it, though, as it seemed to throw her off her game a bit.
    Must be embarrassing to be trying to be suave with someone who's unexpectedly on to you.:cool: 

    It was funny to watch her reaction when I began running through the reasons that print media is suffering from low funds due to the internet and whatnot. I truly believe she thought she was dealing with a naive amateur.


    Well, I don't think she'll be trying that approach with me again.:biggrin::tongue::rolleyes: 
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