This conclusion might be a trifle surprising as it was inspired by a text that I find openly impudent. A while ago, in one of the social networks a letter, allegedly sent by Gazeta Wyborcza (one of the leading dailies in Poland) to a photographer offering cooperation. I say ‘allegedly’ cause I can’t be sure of its authenticity and would love to believe Gazeta Wyborcza has marginally more class.
The cooperation offered was delightful indeed. In return for ‘promotion’ which, in this case meant that the pictures published by the paper would be signed and the name of the studio would be published in the adverts published in the paper, the photographer was expected to undertake to run 70 (sic!) child photography session for the customers that would come with coupons cut out from the paper. And there would be no appointments or prion notice; customers would just come in without any prior arrangements waving a coupon and demand a session.
A delightful proposal indeed even, if we consider the rather high expenditure involved in advertising in Gazeta Wyborcza, even if it is only the regional edition. Maybe, just maybe, if the whole operation was to be organized in a more sensible manner where the photographer would be expected to devote time that is more clearly specified and more limited it could make some sense or, at least, offer some semblance of fairness. Not so given the conditions stipulated by Gazeta Wyborcza, where not only 70 session would have to be run but also a permanent paralysis to the functioning of the studio would have to be accepted.
Why then do I say things are getting better? The reason is simple, it is the reaction of the majority of photographers that read the letter. And this reaction was outrage, laughter, disbelief. Exaggerated at times as, to be honest, this was not the most outrageous offer I have seen. There was no one who would admit to even considering it, no one defending the cheeky newspaper or claiming the offer made sense. Yes, I know someone will do it and accept the offer. If he does so without renegotiating the conditions he will regret it badly. Still, a pronounced change in attitude was only too clear.
What matters to me was that there was no stampede to ‘grab the opportunity’ as would have happened a few years ago. No drive to get the job with a major newspaper, even if it didn’t make sense, even if it was outrageous and would lose you money. I am reasonably sure that a few years ago a throng of amateurs and no few professionals would have ‘jumped at the opportunity’ in the same way in which they all jumped at offers equally or more outrageous. We all remember people making photos for advertising campaigns for the ‘sheer splendor’ of having made them
Now, the discussion provoked by the most unfair terms of cooperation offered by Gazeta Wyborcza (assuming once more the letter was not a fake), shows that things are getting better indeed. We, the photographers, are finally getting a sense of the value of our work and the sense of what is profitable and what is not. And many of us begin to realize that doing work for free, the only thing you can gain is a hump on your back and the name of a douchebag. And if all of us understand this, sooner or later the clients will have to understand too. Otherwise, they will have no pictures.