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December 3rd, 2015

Time Inc Responds to PDN Article on Resistance to Time Inc’s Contract

After we published our story “Photographers, Reps, Push Back on Time Inc Contract’s Rights Grab,”
Jill Davison, vice president, corporate communications at Time Inc., contacted PDN. She sent a statement on Time Inc’s behalf.

Here’s the statement:

“We have standardized our photography rights and rates across our brands. Our new contract is fair and equitable. Many photographers have already signed the new agreement.”

 

December 3rd, 2015

Photographers, Reps Push Back on Time Inc Contract’s Rights Grab (Update)

TimeInc.com and its "over 90 iconic brands."

TimeInc.com and its “over 90 iconic brands.”

Photo agents, trade groups and individual photographers are raising alarms over the new photography contract issued last month by Time Inc., as they push the publisher to negotiate better terms.

The new contract, as written, eliminates space rates, grants Time Inc. broad rights to reuse assignment photos in affiliate brands and books, and reduces fees for reuse in related publications, books and foreign editions.

“Our position to the photographers we represent and syndicate is: Do not sign it,” says Geoff Katz, CEO of Creative Photographers Inc. (CPi), an agency that syndicates over 50 celebrity photographers and represents five photographers. “We’ve advised them that we’re in discussion and hope to strike a balance with Time that is fairer to photographers.”

“I would not recommend to any photographer we work with to sign the Time contract as it is written,” says Bill Hannigan, co-founder of the agencies AUGUST, VAUGHAN HANNIGAN and OTTO. Those agencies represent roughly 90 photographers.

Another syndication agency told PDN it had informed its roughly 50 photographers that it has sent Time Inc. comments about the contract’s terms and conditions, signaling to the photographers to put off signing the contract.

Syndication agencies, which license images shot on assignment, are pushing for revisions because the contract, in its current form, would undercut their business. Specifically, the contract would authorize Time Inc. to license assignment images “to and by third parties, each and all throughout the world, in perpetuity, in any and all media.” According to Katz, that clause would cut into photographers’ revenue from stock and syndication licensing “because it reduces the ability to offer other clients exclusivity.” In addition, photographers would no longer have the right to license any image that appears on a Time Inc. magazine cover. Katz says agents hope to negotiate with Time Inc.: “That’s the ultimate goal, to find a solution.” So far, Time has not responded.

Individual photographers have additional objections. Under the new contract, photographers would receive a day rate “up to $650” or “up to $1000” for covers, but no space rate. In other words, photographers would be paid a flat rate without regard to how many images the assigning publication uses.

“While the ‘up to $650’ day rate proposed may be sufficient for a routine assignment that is used only once and sparingly in a smaller publication, it is not enough for a more significant story used extensively [ie, with many images] in a larger publication,” says photographer Brooks Kraft, a long-time contributor to TIME. “If TIME Magazine publishes double page spreads from an important story, the photographer should make more then $650.”

Letter from NPPA, ASMP to Norman Pearlstine, Time Inc.

Letter from NPPA, ASMP to Norman Pearlstine, Time Inc.

The contract also contains a work-for-hire agreement that would grant Time Inc. the copyright to all video shot on assignment and to works produced in Time studios. Photographer Brendan Hoffman, a member of the Prime Collective, says he and other members are discussing how to respond to the contract demands. “In particular, we’re concerned about the lack of reuse fees, limits on space rates, and the rights grab on cover photos and video projects. The modest bump in the day rate does not compensate for the other losses.”

The new contract terms take effect January 1, 2016. In a letter dated November 2, Norm Pearlstine, executive vice president and chief content officer of Time Inc., told photographers, “The new policy means that all Time Inc brands will seek specified rights from photographers to re-use, at pre-agreed rates, photography that has been commissioned by any Time Inc brand in the US, with any additional permissions cleared by Time Inc.” The contract covers Time Inc.’s 90 magazines and brands including TIME, PEOPLE, InStyle, Fortune, Sports Illustrated, Real Simple and Food & Wine, and affiliated titles like TIME for Kids and TIME-branded books.

Photographer John Harrington analyzed the contract’s terms point by point in a blog post titled “Time’s Failed Attempt at Fairness and Equity.” About the new day rate, he noted that if the editorial day rate paid in 1980 had been adjusted to keep pace with inflation, it would now be over $1000.

On November 24, Mickey Osterreicher of National Press Photographers Association and Thomas Kennedy of American Society of Media Photographers sent an open letter to Pearlstine objecting to “draconian terms and conditions you impose on contractors.” On behalf of their organizations as well as American Photographic Artists, Professional Photographers of America and Digital Media Licensing Association, Osterreicher and Kennedy asked Pearlstine to “enter into meaningful discussion with the photographic community to revise and create a fair agreement.”

Update: After we published an earlier version of this story, we were contacted by Time Inc’s vice president, corporate communications, who sent us a statement. We have published it. See “Time Inc Responds to PDN Article on Resistance to Time Inc’s Contract.”

Photographers who have not returned a signed contract have continued to receive automated emails with the contract; one photographer has received it twice, another five times. But so far, many are ignoring it, or waiting to see if Time is wiling to negotiate fairer terms. “I believe that any photographer who would consider accepting these terms must have little understanding of this industry and will surely regret it later on in their career,” says photographer Henry Leutwyler. “Hopefully, photographers will stick together and not only think for themselves but for each other and most importantly for the budding photographers of tomorrow. If the contract does indeed go through, it might be a good time to consider ditching the party and going fishing.”

Related Articles
Time Inc. UK Issues Rights-Grabbing Contracts (2014)

PhotoPlus 2015: The State of Editorial Photography

7 Tips for Getting Clients To Pay What You’re Worth

November 20th, 2015

NYT Mag Hires Male Photographer for Sexism in Hollywood Cover Story

This week's New York Times Magazine cover, featuring portraits by Art Streiber.

This week’s New York Times Magazine cover, featuring portraits by Art Streiber.

For a cover story this week by Maureen Dowd about how challenging it is for women to build a career in the male-dominated world of Hollywood, The New York Times Magazine needed portraits of 60 female directors, actors and executives. They hired a male photographer to shoot the portraits.

To be sure, that photographer—Art Streiber—is a renowned editorial portrait photographer. But women photographers have been expressing their disappointment on social media over the irony of the Times Magazine’s decision. “There are actual women photographers based in L.A. who shoot great portraits,” wrote Jill Greenberg on Instagram. Greenberg is a New York-based editorial and commercial photographer who has spoken out against sexism in photography. “It just makes no sense for this story. Sadly though, the photo industry is exactly the same as the film industry and women just aren’t the go-to shooters.”

The New York Times Magazine Director of Photography Kathy Ryan told PDN that she understands that women photographers might look at the situation and be discouraged. “But I don’t think that they should feel that because this particular story didn’t have a woman photographer assigned to it, that there aren’t opportunities for women photographers in this magazine.” She points out that the other major story in this week’s issue was photographed by Stephanie Sinclair, and that two weeks ago the cover story on displaced people–which Ryan calls “one of the biggest ever” assignments for the magazine—was photographed by Lynsey Addario.

Ryan says the idea of having a woman photographer shoot this week’s cover was discussed briefly, but they quickly moved on to thinking Streiber was the right person for the assignment, which required as many as ten to 20 shots a day, and had a challenging deadline. “It was clearly going to call for somebody very nimble and fast and versatile, and we thought of Art. We weren’t thinking about gender, we were just thinking about, ‘How do we pull this off?’ And he came to mind and I think he did a terrific job.”

The decision making is “always about trying to figure out for a given project who would be the right person based on the look of the pictures, the artistry, the eye, the visual sensibility as well as experience,” Ryan adds.

In the article, “The Women of Hollywood Speak Out,” Dowd writes that one executive told her: “A lot of [women] haven’t tried hard enough. We’re tough about it. It’s a hundred-year-old business, founded by a bunch of old Jewish European men who did not hire anybody of color, no women agents or executives. We’re still slow at anything but white guys.”

Do women photographers face similar challenges? “I would say yes, they do,” Ryan acknowledges. “One of the things that’s always surprising is when you see how many women photographers graduate from the various photo schools and photo programs and then ten years on, not as many stay in the field. So there are certainly some disparities still.”

That The New York Times Magazine, a client everyone wants to work with, didn’t hire a woman to shoot a cover story about women fighting for a voice in a male-dominated industry may be a missed opportunity for a symbolic gesture of solidarity.

But Ryan says she doesn’t want women photographers to “think that somehow there aren’t opportunities [at the magazine], because I feel very passionately that there are, and that’s important to us: To have women’s points of view, that diversity, that range in our pages is important.”

Related: Photographer Maggie Steber on Women, Minorities, and How to Nurture Talent
Why All The Articles in PDN’s New Issue Are About Women Photographers
How One Magazine Strives for Gender Balance in Assignments
Are Women Photographers Being Discriminated Against in the Editorial Market?

November 18th, 2015

Details Magazine to Close After December Issue

The November 2015 issue of Details featuring actor Norman Reedus, photographed by Mark Seliger.

The November 2015 issue of Details featuring actor Norman Reedus, photographed by Mark Seliger.

Condé Nast will shutter Details, the men’s general interest magazine, after it releases the December issue, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

Condé Nast president Bob Sauerberg, who will take over as CEO in January, 2015, told The Wall Street Journal “that at least 20% of the 60 staffers who work at Details will find other jobs inside Condé Nast.”

Details photo director Ashley Horne told PDN via email that she and photo editor Stacey DeLorenzo would be looking for new jobs “and are both available for freelance work while we explore future options.”

Mark Seliger has photographed a majority of Details’ covers in the past twelve months. Greg Williams and Katja Rahlwes have also shot covers for the magazine this year.

Related: Approximately 180 National Geographic Employees Being Laid Off, Others Offered Buyouts

November 3rd, 2015

Approximately 180 National Geographic Employees Being Laid Off, Others Offered Buyouts

National Geographic has confirmed that 9 percent of their 2,000 employees (approximately 180 people) are being laid off, less than two months after the National Geographic Society announced that 21st Century Fox had acquired a controlling stake in the magazine and other media assets for $725 million. There is no word yet on how many people in National Geographic’s photography department have been affected. One photo editor for the magazine, Sherry L. Brukbacher, confirmed on Twitter that she was among the “many” let go today. In addition to the staffers being laid off, the company is offering buyouts to an unknown number of longtime employees.

“The National Geographic Society and the National Geographic Channels are in the process of reorganizing in order to move forward strategically following the closing of the NG Partners deal [with Fox], which is expected to occur in mid-November,” National Geographic’s SVP of communications M.J. Jacobsen told PDN via email.

“Involuntary separations will represent about 9 percent of the overall workforce reduction, many in shared services and a voluntary separation offer has also been made to eligible employees,” Jacobsen added.

We’ll update this story as we learn more.

Update: Senior photo editor Kim Hubbard confirmed on Facebook that she was among those let go today. “Thank you for the calls and messages on what has been a surreal and sad day,” she wrote. “Over the past five years I’ve worked with some amazing photographers, designers, writers, editors, and scientists on stories that I am incredibly proud of. Now I’m looking ahead to the next big thing (if you know what that is, please let me know! ?) I’ll be with Nat Geo until Jan 31st.”

October 28th, 2015

PhotoPlus Expo 2015: The State of Editorial Photography

The directors of photography at Women’s Health, Bloomberg BusinessWeek, Garden & Gun, People and GQ shared stories behind shoots and offered insights into how they work with the photographers they hire in a panel discussion hosted by veteran editorial photographer Art Streiber at PhotoPlus Expo this past week. In “The State of Editorial Photography,” panelists spoke about budgets, cover shoots, how video is factoring into their work and how photographers should market to them.

Video

People’s Catriona Ni Aolain noted that TIME, Inc. is positioning itself as a video-first company and said that the People staff discuss whether or not to create video for each story the magazine does, but she also said much of the video produced during shoots with celebrities is created not by photographers but by a separate video team. GQ’s Krista Prestek said the same was true at her magazine, and Streiber noted that he’s being asked for video on only 25 percent of his editorial assignments. When magazines first introduced iPad apps, he was asked to shoot video more frequently, he said.

On shooting covers

Women’s Health’s Sarah Rozen said that her photographers usually get eight hours with their cover models and need to shoot four to five setups. GQ’s Prestek said she saw a trend of getting less and less time with celebrities because “magazines are less essential to celebrities” for getting exposure. Often celebrities will book a string of media appointments in a single day, which leaves editors “jockeying for priority so you don’t get them at the end of the day.” GQ will spend anywhere from $30,000–$100,000 on cover shoots, Prestek said. (more…)

August 12th, 2015

Why All The Articles in PDN’s New Issue Are About Women Photographers

© PDN/Photo by Lauren Dukoff

© PDN/Photo by Lauren Dukoff

The articles in the September issue of PDN, now available to subscribers and in the iTunes store, offer our standard mix of technical advice, interviews, and insights into the photography business. The one difference is that all the photography we are featuring, from our news pages to End Frame, is by women photographers. Why are we interviewing and showcasing only women photographers in this issue? Because we can.

It didn’t take much extra effort to find women photographers who could provide valuable insights and inspiration on every topic we wanted to cover: lighting, video post-production, pursuing and publishing a long-term project, marketing, meeting the demands of fashion and portrait clients, and many other issues relating to establishing a name in today’s photography business. Women photographers have to contend with lingering stereotypes about what women can or can’t excel at. By filling every section of this issue of PDN with images and insights by women photographers, we hope to emphasize the breadth of talent, expertise and experience of women photographers working in every genre and style.

This issue, whose theme section focuses on portraiture and fashion photography, seemed like an opportune time to make such a statement. Zanele Muholi’s beautiful, searing exhibition “Isibonelo/Evidence,” which opened in May at the Brooklyn Museum, exemplifies a powerful (and empowering) use of portraiture in social activism. In the spring, Aperture announced it would be publishing a compilation of celebrated photojournalist Mary Ellen Mark’s advice on portraiture. When we arranged to publish an excerpt, we didn’t know that Mark was ailing, or that the book would be published posthumously. It seems fitting, however, that PDN‘s first all-women issue includes words and images by a photographer who blazed so many trails.

Another timely story is our feature on the proliferation of groups formed by and for women photographers. We’ve noted before that, in today’s fractured marketplace, photographers have benefited from forming peer networks, both online and in person, to exchange advice, support, and job referrals.  A few of these groups, we’ve noticed, look like all-boys’ clubs. Women have responded by creating their own networks and gatherings. Some, like Women Photojournalists of Washington, have been around for years, but new ones seem to be forming every day.

Why now? Organizers of these groups point out that while there are more women working in photography than ever, men still get the majority of solo gallery shows, editorial assignments, and other opportunities that lead to greater recognition. In an interview in the current issue, photojournalist Maggie Steber notes that the market is hard for every photographer now—not only women. Competition can be particularly intense for the few token slots set aside for more diverse voices and talents. Expanding the opportunities for success requires new ideas and cooperative effort. “Instead of going back to the same shrinking pie, we should be thinking differently,” says Jennifer McClure, who recently formed the Women’s Photo Alliance in New York City. “We should be thinking, ‘How do we make more pies?'”

–Holly Stuart Hughes, editor

August 3rd, 2015

Amanda Demme on Photographing Bill Cosby’s Accusers for New York Magazine

A photo posted by Amanda Demme (@amandademme) on

When New York magazine posted a blockbuster story in the early hours of Monday, July 27, to its website, many of the names involved were familiar: Bill Cosby, the iconic entertainer accused of drugging and assaulting dozens of women, outspoken victims such as Janice Dickinson and Beverly Johnson, and Jody Quon, the magazine’s director of photography, who got the story on the magazine’s cover. But one name was relatively new: Amanda Demme, the photographer who shot the striking cover. Featuring seated portraits of 35 of the women who have accused Cosby of sexual assault (plus one photo of an empty chair)—its visual impact was arguably as important as all of the interviews inside the magazine.

Demme has had multiple careers as an artist manager, music supervisor and nightclub producer. Relatively new to photography, she’s landed credits in LA Weekly, Rolling Stone and New York, and a solo exhibition at Obsolete Gallery in Venice, California in just two years. Because of her work for New York, she was fresh in photo editor Sofia Guzman’s mind when it came time to assign the ambitious project (“She’s the one who kind of spearheaded the whole concept,” Demme says of Guzman). Demme’s portrait style is both stoic and expressive, well-suited to capture the quiet dignity of Bill Cosby’s victims. “I was telling them to sit erect, don’t smile,” Demme says of her directions to the subjects. “When you look at me, you’re not looking at me, this is not a camera. You’re looking at Cosby. And you’re not mad, you’re not in pain…what you are is empowered.”

Demme was able to photograph 35 of the 46 women who have come forward to accuse Cosby of assault, but when she began, there were only 18 on board. She started shooting at her studio in Los Angeles in March, and would repeat the process six more times at multiple locations across the country as more women were recruited into the project. She describes a general uneasiness among the subjects at the start: “There’s always an uncertainty,” Demme admits, “because nobody knows why I’m shooting it a certain way.”

A video posted by New York Magazine (@nymag) on

Though Demme “wanted to immortalize these women in a really beautiful way,” she was still a stranger to these women. In the course of each shoot, she earned their trust. The network of victims has become quite large, and after she had photographed a few of the women, they spoke to each other (or their lawyers) and vouched for Demme and her work. “They were like, ‘Oh no, they’re really cool,’ and so the word of mouth amongst their community helped bring in others,” Demme explains.

Quon gave her minimal direction, asking merely that the portraits not be “dark,” like much of Demme’s published portraiture. Quon insisted that the women not be styled. “She wanted to keep it journalistic,” Demme says. “So the only request we made was that each of the women bring a set of black clothes and a set of either white or cream or really light gray clothes.”

At the first shoot at her studio in Los Angeles, Demme and her producing partner Stephanie Westcott set up multiple sets, then decided afterwards on which one to re-create at the subsequent shoots. To maintain consistency, she recorded the location, distance and settings for her lighting setups. Some locations required adjustments, like when a smaller studio necessitated the use of a different focal length than she had started with. “I would also have each woman turn their body, put their heads down, and in that moment, I said: ‘What you are showing me is where your head has been at for all these years. What are you feeling at this one moment that you used to feel when you were alone or in pain, or just trying to figure it all out?”

She shot some in pairs, and several group portraits. The shoots could be intense, with lots of laughing, crying and hugging, but Demme says having several women at each shoot helped put the women at ease, that “as each woman saw the next woman doing it, they knew how to handle themselves.” She also shot video interviews, and encouraged the women to support and converse with each other.

Demme shot tethered with a digital camera, but she always imagined the shoot in black-and-white. “I shot it with an intention and a look that was monochromatic…where it looked like an army,” she explains. “I wanted it to look like clinical and army-like, so you didn’t see what they were wearing, you didn’t notice the body language.”

As Demme’s images came rolling into the New York offices, Quon realized they had something, and began to campaign for the story to be on the cover. There were concerns about it not being in color, so Demme went back and tried converting a few files to color. But it didn’t have the same impact, so Quon pressed for the atypical black-and-white cover. It’s “why Jody is so dope at what she does,” Demme says.

Demme filed portraits of each woman sitting and standing, and several that featured “clusters” of the women in group portraits. Then the team at New York conceived the cover, with all 35 women seated in a grid, with a single empty chair at the end of the sequence. Demme calls the empty chair “an invitation” to not only the women that Cosby abused that they couldn’t get in the story, but also to “an entire movement of women speaking up. That is their chair and these women are behind them, supporting them all the way.”

July 29th, 2015

Video Pick: Rep Maren Levinson: Being a Good Photographer Isn’t Enough

Seattle-based photographer John Keatley recently posted a video interview he did with his rep, Redeye’s Maren Levinson, in which she touched on several changes to the photography industry. Her frank assessment of the market in which professional photographers and their reps operate has earned the video nearly 30,000 views on YouTube. (more…)

June 17th, 2015

A Photo Editor for Medium Makes the Case for Self-Publishing Platforms

Self-publishing opportunities abound, as we report in a feature story that’s now available at PDNonline.com, called “Are Visual Storytelling Platforms a Good Thing for Photographers?” We interviewed photographers about how they’ve benefitted (or not) from using a variety of platforms, including Exposure.com, Maptia, VSCO Journal, and Medium.

In an effort to promote their work, photographers are filling those sites with what amounts to free content–much of it high-quality content. So the question is, are photographers benefiting from the exposure provided by those platforms, as much as the platform owners are benefitting from the free content they’re vacuuming up?

As the story was going to press, we got a thoughtful response to the question from Keith Axline, the former editor of Wired magazine’s Raw File blog, and now editor of Vantage. An offshoot of Medium, Vantage is new online magazine established to highlight the best photo projects that photographers post on Medium.

Axline’s response came too late to be included in our story. But here’s the question as we posed it, and his response:

PDN: What’s in it for photographers? With a few exceptions, those I’m talking to are reporting that their stories pretty much get buried on these self-publishing platforms, and they don’t really attract clients and assignments. Which suggests they’re of marginal self-promotional value so far. So my question is, how would you try to convince skeptical photographers that these aren’t just more sites vacuuming up free content (photo stories) shot by hungry professionals, for the benefit of the site owners looking to generate ad revenue for themselves?

Keith Axline: It’s a really tough question. Some projects that Vantage profiles, I really love, but they don’t get much traction with readers. It was the same when I was at Raw File at Wired. But others find their audience on Medium when they wouldn’t have found it anywhere else. There’s no one-size-fits-all for every photo project or photographer. Any of these sites, including Medium, is just a tool for photographers and it’s up to them to make the most out of it.

I totally understand the perspective that photo blogs are exploiting photographers by running their stuff without payment. That’s one way to look at it. I see that. Though I disagree with it. At Vantage we only want to make that ask of photographers who are excited to be featured by us and for whom the attention is an asset that outweighs the granted one-time use. It’s not for everyone. Our posts are promotional in nature because we’re excited to talk about photographers’ work. So in that sense whatever the perceived cost of the granted use can be viewed as a marketing expense. We also encourage photographers to contribute to us directly so that there’s no middleman between them and potential fans. They get to see all the traffic to their story, where it came from, and reply directly to comments that readers make.

I also think that it’s not clear to photographers, or most people for that matter, how to turn traffic and viewers into a plus for their business. Hopefully in the future Vantage and Medium can get closer to facilitating that, and I’m happy to have a “best practices” discussion with contributors (I’ve been meaning to even write a few posts about it).

I think anyone who runs a photo publication is passionate about photography to some degree and they’re probably not exactly raking it in from ad revenue. Participating doesn’t make sense for everyone, but there is a large swath of people who would love to be featured. I’ve never heard of anyone regretting being profiled by us, but maybe they’re just being nice.

Related:
Are Visual Storytelling Platforms a Good Thing for Photographers?