Yes, Time Magazine sucks. No, it’s not the end of the world.
Time Magazine’s new photographer agreement and pay rates is out. Upon further review, it’s something I hope nobody signs.
For more you can follow these links:
If you haven’t seen it yet, here is a brief summary…
- Time Magazine will now pay less than they did 35 years ago, adjusted for inflation. That’s if they choose to run the photos. If not, photographer gets nothing.
- Costs, liability, etc., all on the photographer. Considering they want photographers to drop themselves into perilous areas, this is scandalous.
- If the project is cancelled, tough luck. No payment or costs covered.
- To top it off, photographers cannot keep copyright nor show the work on their website or portfolio.
This all from a publication who charges over $300,000 for one full-page ad.
I’m not a Time Magazine photographer. So why do I care?
Because I did view editorial as something to eventually grow into. Re-use rights on editorial photographs are important if wanting to earn ancillary income through stock photo sales. Also, photojournalism and editorial are essential to our culture, history, and not living in ignorance.
“Young or emerging photographer? Drop dead.” – Time Magazine
What Time Magazine is essentially saying, particularly to young and emerging editorial photographers, is that there is no future in editorial photography. Not if you want to make a living with it or use to enhance your portfolio.
If this is the future of editorial photography, why bother? Why spend the next five or ten years working on it, just for a photo credit? I don’t know about you, but I won’t. There is no incentive.
It’s also very clear that Time wants to, eventually, not pay for photography. Perhaps just pull stuff from user-generated content or adopt “orphan works”, which also exploits amateur photographers. But they just don’t have the guts to say it yet.
When thinking broadly in context of it all, it’s also disconcerting for agents, associations, and creative people generally. Linear paths to middle class stability for creatives are being systematically destroyed.
Good News is You’re Free!
The bright side is there is freedom in this. Freedom for photographers to reinvent themselves. Freedom from being tepid and holding your tongue, hoping not to appear “unprofessional” and alienating some photo editor.
Who gives a crap about an editorial photo editor, if this is where it’s going? Who gives a shit about what is “professional behavior”? Who gives a damn about keeping appearances?
Shoot what you want, how you want. Say what you want. Be who you want. Be your own brand, amateur or “pro”, regardless of commercial success or popularity. Own your work. Say yes to the good business deals. Say no to the bad ones, regardless of the name.
For better or worse, that’s what I’m going to do. What else is there now?