What I see in the bigger picture.

Whose bank account pays for productions now?

Yesterday’s article in AdAge “Agencies Duck Liability for Clients’ Production Costs” reported on a growing trend that is placing more of the financial risk of production on the side of photographers and production companies.

Many art buying departments are issuing “heads up” emails to photographers letting them know that the policy of issuing advances on big productions in many cases will cease. Simply put, if the ad agency hires you,  but the client they’re working for stiffs them, you have to go after their client to recover your money. Unfortunately, the PO you get from the agency won’t be giving you contact info of the person on the client side to call if you don’t get paid.

While I understand that the ad agency doesn’t want to get left holding the bag if their client (e.g., General Motors or AIG) doesn’t pay them for 120 days–or more– but can you imagine the photographer  having to call the GM switchboard asking to speak to the person in A/P at GM who can issue a check for an outstanding $85, 000 unpaid invoice originally submitted to the ad agency who issued them the PO for the assignment?

I think that if photographers are to accept that enormous financial risk, the quid pro quo for accepting those pay terms should be to at the very least have the contact information of the ad agency’s client clearly stated in the Purchase Order.

In uncertain times, what a comfort a good compass is. And you can build one.

When seeking help in your career direction, you must first
CLEARLY know where you want to go.

I had a great email exchange with one of the young and
talented photographers I met last Saturday when I was
participating as a reviewer at an APA LA portfolio review day.

We both shared our enthusiasm about the fact that we had
created a “Mission Statement” that guides our career
choices. It’s been such a comfort in this confusing
economy. Read more

“Rebooting Your Business Brain” heads to Charlotte, NC on Nov. 7th, 2008

I’m presenting my newest talk which is filled with updated strategies that you have to have to survive in today’s always-on, short attention span, business environment.

“Re-Booting Your Business Brain:

21st-Century Marketing Tips for Photographers Who Weren’t Born Yesterday”

-on Friday evening Nov. 7th, 2008 to the Charlotte, NC chapter of the APA. The program event will be at Blackbox Studios, 3120 Latrobe Dr, Ste 250, Charlotte, NC.

Come and register for your chance to win one of these valuable door prizes :

–Agency Access is giving away a Northeast Membership and 1000 free email credit package valued at $725.

-LiveBooks is giving away an $800 credit toward a LiveBooks site.

I’ll also be offering one-on-one portfolio/web site review sessions. Get a tighter edit of your work or get some valuable advice on your marketing strategy. Early-bird discounts are still available.

Then back to CHICAGO:

-on Wednesday evening, Nov. 12th, 2008 to the Chicago chapter of the ASMP Chicago/Midwest. The event will be held in downtown Chicago at Harrington College of Design, 200 West Madison, 2nd floor, Chicago, IL 60606
-on Tuesday evening, June 9th, 2009 to the New England chapter of the ASMP. Venue details to be determined.

Generous program sponsorship support is been provided by Agency Access and LiveBooks

I will be available for private portfolio/web site consultations the days surrounding each regional speaking event –as well as during my visit to NYC– for anyone who wants to meet with me, but wasn’t able to snag one of the free sessions.
Appointments can be made by contacting me directly.


I’m headed to NYC on 10/22/08 to attend PhotoPlusExpo which is being held Oct. 23-25, 2008 in NYC in the Javits Center.
If you’re curious about what it’s like to work with a consultant, a number of other photo consultants and I will be doing a limited number of FREE portfolio reviews on the trade show floor.

My free sessions will be held:

– Thursday morning from 11:00 a.m. to noon on Oct. 23rd at the LiveBooks booth #554 and again

-Friday, Oct. 24th from 3:00pm to 4:00pm at the LiveBooks booth#554

-Saturday Oct. 25th from 2:00 p.m. to 3:30pm at the ASMP booth #2113

I’m also giving a keynote speech at 10:00 a.m. on Oct. 25th at the ASMP National Members meeting which will be held at at Splashlight Studios in NYC.

I’m presenting my newest talk: “Re-Booting Your Business Brain: 21st-Century Marketing Tips for Photographers Who Weren’t Born Yesterday”
-on Friday evening Nov. 7th, 2008 to the Charlotte, NC chapter of the APA. The program event will be at Blackbox Studios, 3120 Latrobe Dr, Ste 250, Charlotte, NC.
-on Wednesday evening, Nov. 12th, 2008 to the Chicago chapter of the ASMP Chicago. The event will be held in downtown Chicago at Harrington College of Design, 200 West Madison, 2nd floor, Chicago, IL 60606
-on Tuesday evening, June 9th, 2009 to the Boston chapter of the ASMP. Venue details to be determined.

Generous program sponsorship support is been provided by Agency Access and LiveBooks

I will be available for private porfolio/web site consultations the day before, the morning of, and the day after each regional speaking event as well as during PhotoPlus Expo for anyone who wants to meet with me but wasn’t able to snag one of the free session.
Appointments can be made by contacting me directly.

Orphan works just passed in the Senate. Stop it in the House!

The following alert was sent to ASMP members over the weekend.

I urge all of you, ASMP member or not, who have not yet contacted your
Representative to do so immediately.

If you’re not familiar with the history of the Orphan Works amendment
to the Copyright Act, you can read more about it by visiting

Time is of the essence. Please take action now!


As we feared, the Senate moved quickly on its Orphan Works bill. The
bill was approved on a voice vote.

That means that you should now focus all your effort on your
As you know, other industries are lobbying hard,
right now, to persuade the House to adopt the language of the Senate
bill. This would not be good for photographers.

Please e-mail or call your Representative today and ask him or her to
oppose the adoption of S. 2913 or its language in the House.
You can
find the name and contact information for your Representative at
The list contains telephone numbers and links to send electronic
communications to your Representative.

You can find a letter that you can copy, paste, edit and send to your
Representative, at

Please feel free to change the wording as you wish.

If you prefer to telephone, your message is simple: Please oppose any
efforts to adopt S. 2913 or its language.

The time to act is now.

PhotoShelter ends its stock business on 9/11/08

Today PhotoShelter announced it will cease its stock image licensing business model. Competing against behemoth stock agency Getty Images proved too difficult. It will continue with its image archiving service.

What companies will remain to challenge the trend of domination and consolidation?


National Press talks about Commoditization of Photo Biz

Just saw this link in the APAnet forum about yesterday’s Business Week article entitled:”Cheap Photo Sites Pit Amateurs vs. Pros”.

Yep. It’s now national news. The article talks about Getty partnering with Flickr. Now that Getty is no longer a publicly trade company, it will be hard to see where their revenue is coming from.

The article suggests that “Ultimately, creative professionals need to communicate the value they create for clients so they can differentiate themselves from commodity-priced images.”

I had suggested precisely that in white paper: “The Commoditization of the Commercial Photography Business” which I published in Aug. 2005 and which has been re-published in both the ASMP NorCal and ASMP San Diego magazines.

How many heard the wake up call and have been differentiating themselves?

Orphan Works debate

Maybe you’ve been so busy shooting you’ve somehow missed what has been almost a constant barrage of emails urging you to weigh in (or refrain..for the moment) in notifying your elected U.S. representatives your opinion about the pending Orphan Works (OW) legislation.

If that’s the case, then you might want to read all about it as a version of of this critical bill will come before both the Senate (S2913) and the House of Representatives (HR5889) very soon.

In the May 8, 2008 online edition of The PhotoDistrict News Daryl Land has written a good synopsis of the current status of the debate between the various photo trade orgs. He’s also provided links to Orphan Works position papers of the ASMP (they currently support the Congressional bill and oppose the Senate one), APA (currently opposes both versions), Stock Artists Alliance, PPA, and other trade organizations.

Additionally, the Illustrators Partnership, which supports the APA’s position, has created a Legislative Action Center with an easy way to notify your elected governmental representatives.

If you haven’t been closely following the (sometimes heated) trade org debates over the past month, I urge you to take an hour of your time to read the position papers at the above links, form your own opinion, and then TAKE ACTION on YOUR POSITION: If you’re a trade org member, let your local and national board know your position; email or fax your Congressional and Senate reps; make sure every person you know who makes a living from photography or illustration–or cares about artists’ financial futures– knows about the pending Orphan Works legislation; urge them to also TAKE A POSITION and ACT, and continue to spread the word.

If the bulk of voting artists were well-organized as a voting block, had tons of money to contribute to political campaigns, and had well-paid lobbyists working on our behalf, this grassroots movement wouldn’t be so critical. It’s truly time to get out of our lone wolf caves before our creative rights erode to the point where being a freelance commercial artist is no longer an economically-viable career choice.

And finally, Clem Spalding, a past president of the ASMP (2006-2007) whose insights are based on direct experience with the legislative drama of the OW saga, has given me permission to excerpt his recent posting on the ASMPproAdvice listserve. (I’ve added my own bolding for emphasis)

There’s an awful lot of emotion and misinformation out there recently regarding the current proposed Orphan Works legislation. Many people don’t even realize that there are actually two proposals, one from the House (which ASMP supports) and one from the Senate (which ASMP opposes). What is good and bad about the current Orphan Works situation and the the two proposals in play right now is explained here:


In my service as an officer on the ASMP national board and as ASMP president in 2006-2007, I was in the hot seat when OW first reared its ugly head. As originally proposed by the Library of Congress’
Copyright Office, it would have nuked our profession and put a lot of us out of business. …. My shorthand description at the time was “Finders Keepers, Losers Weepers”. The devastating threat of that initial OW proposal galvanized our entire industry into an unprecedented spirit of cooperation and the Imagery Alliance was born at a groundbreaking meeting in NYC in October, 2006. The entire alphabet soup of photo orgs were in that room and part of this Alliance. From Day 1, we all acknowledged that, while we all share many common interests, we serve different constituencies and thus do not always agree. It is not a perfect union. It is not an omnipotent photo power. It is simply the nature of the beast and its the best we can do.

The unique and profligate nature of still images in the modern digital era means that we create pieces of intellectual property at a much greater rate than do musicians, writers, illustrators, film makers, etc... …I can create a thousand images before sunset today, while my musician buddies will take weeks to craft one song. Factor in the facts that photographers, as a group, have properly registered only a tiny percentage of their output with the Copyright Office, and that many workflows and final usages strip authorship information from our files and you have all the ingredients for a perfect storm of vulnerability.

This means our OW problems are unique and that other intellectual property creators simply do not have a dog in this particular fight. Now mix in the facts that the entire population of working photographers is minute and that our collective war chest for lobbying and legal battles is tiny in comparison to just about every other constituency Congress must deal with and you can see how weak our leverage is here.

Thankfully, that original OW 1.0 proposal died a well-deserved death in committee. Since then we–the professional photography industry–have used all available means to present lawmakers with a powerful and coherent argument for a more common-sense way of dealing with OW. The latest proposal out of the House of Representatives gives us 85% of what we argued for. That’s huge, especially when you consider the fact that, in the tough world of Realpolitik, professional photographers are a tiny constituency with almost no power, no money, and no friends in high places. We prevailed to make these changes because of the cogent presentations and savvy footwork in the hallways of Congress by folks like ASMP’s staff attorney, Victor Perlman, and PPA’s CEO David Trust. There was no horse-trading or back room deals. We have nothing in our arsenal except facts and reason and yet we have achieved so much.

So why not hold out for 100% of what we want?

1) Because we’ll never get it all and holding out will make it all too simple for CopyLeft proponents to destroy all the good work and inroads we have achieved to this point. In Washington, as in most of Real Life, nobody gets everything they want. Those who insist upon this ultimatum did not pay enough attention in …History and Civics classes.

2) Because we will be dismissed as an irrelevant and immature rabble and Congress will take the easy road by giving their larger constituencies what they want and the heck with these annoying,trivial, and disunited photographers.

3) Because politics is the art of the possible. We have gotten just about everything possible here. Achieving 100% satisfaction is not in the cards. When was the last time anyone on this list has walked away from a deal or a relationship because you “only” got 85% of your demands met? This is not a morality play nor is it a Mr. Smith Goes
To Washington fantasy. This is reality. This is politics. This is business. This is nothing personal.

4) Because this OW saga is but one chapter in a much larger epic: The Future of Intellectual Property and Creative Content. There are many more battles yet to fight, many more photo-unfriendly laws that will be proposed, many more oxen that will be gored. We have spent years learning the game, getting to know the players, and elbowing our way to a seat at the table. And as they say in the Beltway, “If you aren’t at the table, then you’re on the menu.” We blow this opportunity to demonstrate our reality-based earnestness and it will be many expensive years before we can get back to our current position of influence.

5) Because the chances of this House bill making it intact into actual law are dicey at best. Back to [civics and history] class: The Senate has its own, inferior OW proposal. If either one makes out of its respective chamber, the legislation is then usually brokered into a compromise Act that can pass both houses. Then it must be signed by the President unless there is a veto-proof majority in both houses to support it. …ASMP is simply saying it supports what the House has written at this time.Who knows what things will look like when we get down to the nut-cutting? Who knows what our best play will be at that point?

And then, if when an OW Bill does get passed, the fun moves to the courts, where all the dangling, undefined, and unresolved aspects of the Bill (inherent to all legislation) will be hammered out in precedent-setting cases. Rest assured, ASMP will be there too, fighting for your interests.

6) Because, as I write this, good folks are hard at work to achieve the needed improvements in technology and workflows that will render most of the OW threat moot for us working stiffs. Should we not all be paying more attention to and acting in support of these work-arounds?

7) Because, as Ben Franklin said back in the day “We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.” We must learn the ability to present a strong and unified (albeit imperfect) voice to the national political arena, or we are toast. Life is too mean, fast and short to waste our energies on internecine warfare.

I wish I had something better to tell you all, but I don’t. It boils down to choosing the lesser of two evils, and thus being better positioned to fight our best in the much larger battles still to come. Curiously, our opponents today could easily be our allies tomorrow. I know, it makes my brain hurt too. Welcome to the new century. I personally am willing to put my faith and trust in the expert(s) who are employed by my trade association and who are actively engaged on the front lines of this issue, rather than rely on the under-informed, emotional, and unrealistic speculations of those who are not. We all need to decide for ourselves who we are
going to believe.

My dear Sisters and Brothers in Professional Photography, I am a huge fan and supporter of the collective power of our organizations, I am a huge fan and supporter of healthy, honest, respectful, intellectually honest debate–that’s how good ideas get better and bad ideas get killed. Let us continue this debate in a constructive manner. Let us listen carefully to those who are actually in the arena and draw our conclusions with sober reasoning and without over-heated emotions. The Durm and Strang helps no one.

There’s plenty of room for debate and disagreement here. But let’s avoid the temptation to assume the worst and villainize those with whom we disagree.

Best regards, Clem

PS (Please note that I no longer hold any office in ASMP. I’m just General Member with a history and an opinion.)

Adobe releases free web-based version of PhotoShop

I’m not a PhotoShop user but all my photography consulting clients are. This latest player in the web-based services applications game underscores what I’ve been telling people for years: the software you use very day to run your business will one day all be “on the cloud” or web-based. Anything you now have to do while tethered to your desktop computer, you’ll soon be able to do from any computer… anywhere just by logging into your account. All you need is good access to the web. I personally love this trend and already use a number of web based applications to run my own business (e.g. Google Docs).

Here’s an except from a story appearing March 27th, 2008 on the AP news service about the “beta’ version of their new, web-based application, PhotoShop Express :

“Web-based software is increasingly popular, and Adobe knows it’s got to get on that train, said Kathleen Maher, an analyst at Jon Peddie Research.Many kinds of software are available for use online in a trend known as “software as a service,” or “cloud computing.” The earliest were e-mail programs, but they now include services to create and manage content and even whole operating systems. And they don’t require time-consuming upgrades because they’re maintained by the service provider.
Google Inc. provides a host of such services, as do Microsoft Corp. and others.”This is the battlefield where Adobe and Microsoft and Google are going to fight some pretty big battles,” Maher said.”




Part 3:When the Winds of Change blew hard, Kodak changed course

If the previous two posts took the wind out of your sails, please don’t get discouraged. As the owner of a small business, you’re in a relatively light and nimble vessel compared to some of your suppliers who are steering veritable ocean liners. For a light-hearted view of a photo business of enormous proportions (Kodak) forced to make enormous course corrections in the face of this industry’s sea change, check out: