A Photographer’s Life – Today: Exploitation

A short excursion into the depths of the present photo market…

Recently I got an email from the editor-in-chief of a German specialist magazine, asking me, if I could provide them photos of the Orient, since they are working on an Orient feature.

In our next instalment we’ll have an eye on the Orient. For further illustration we are needing pictures having high quality and resolution. With pleasure we are providing a chance for young photographers to present themselves to our readership.

At first this sounds quite tempting; also, because other people notice that one’s own photos are transporting a message. To boot we’re speaking about a nation-wide circulation of 20.000 pieces, which is read by

the ambassadors accredited in Berlin, as well as the leading characters of Berlin’s business, plus members of the German parliament Bundestages and its ministries.

After further inquiries the whole thing turned out to be an overinterpretation of Klaus Wowereit’s capital motto »Poor, but Sexy«, as for a publication the photographer gets nothing but potential honour & glory; ergo: Nothing, but Sexy.

Well, you may bring photographical pleasure to people, who, in case of climate change, prefer talking in platitudes than acting. A readership that doesn’t take action against arms trading in Third World; a readership that is policing and placing us under disability. They pass resolutions send soldiers into war. You don’t profit from suchlike people.. Hence, getting nothing back from them is logical and resolute to a certain extent.

The background of this editorial department is a networking club, charging a membership fee of annually 1500 Euros. In times of inflation that’s literally nothing; hence it is quite understandable that in view of suchlike low income and struggling the pressure of costs has to be forwarded to the suppliers. Big German newspapers are paying 70-80 Euros per picture published; seems to be too much of a good thing.

Even if many people are not living on photography, they have a certain responsibility towards it as are enough people who have to live on it. When to prostituting oneself for suchlike free publications, then a dumping competition is started/supported in which professionals cannot keep the pace. In short, the ground under professionals’ feet gets cut. By the way, the USA charges high duties on dumping goods when other countries or globally spread corporations flood the market with too cheap goods. On the contrary photographers are expected to bear such conducts. Surely there will be someone found who’s able and willing to provide photo material for this certain editor. That’s the price of digitalisation, every sucker with a shooty cam feels a vocation to be a photographer.

Well, the editor described in this article isn’t the only one who is proceeding this way. For example the MAX magazine  doesn’t do better when collecting photographical material for certain thematic categories.

Providing photo material doesn’t only mean to be at the right place at the right time. Technical abilities as well as up to date camera gear are playing an important role too. Not to mention selecting and processing the images with the computer. So lots of time gets invested and the other side expects to get this investment for free, for glory and honour only.

Exploitation and active destruction of the photo market bite on my granite.