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Thread: Ethics

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    Ethics

    The scenario.

    The only means of income for Person 'A' is photography, with an appreciable proportion of total earnings coming via freelance press work. Person A is requested (by press) by both phone call and email, as is normal policy, to cover a handful of events over a weekend. He confirms his attendance by email and phone call, as is also normal policy. The events are all in the home town of person A.

    The long term agreement is to provide shots of events which are chosen by the client via website viewing of said event shots which are uploaded asap following the events. Payment is per shot provided, on a sliding scale according to quantity. (person 'A's preferred agreement after hassles with hourly rate payments)

    Person A attends and shoots all events requested and at four of theses events he notices a hobby photographer, person 'B' is present and shooting, with person A aware that person B is also a team member whom provides shots of his team to the press, free of charge and for accreditation only, when his team travels out of the region for away games. (it can be up to five hours travel)

    'A' is familiar with 'B' after 'B' introduced himself previously at an event 'A' was covering, with words to the effect of 'I'm glad to meet you after seeing your work for such a long time' and was full of questions, as is normal when someone has an interest in photography.

    'A' receives an order for shots immediately following the weekend and notices the order quantity is unusually small for the amount of events covered and the shots requested didn't appear to tally with the covered events, but puts it down to perhaps, tightly restricted allocated space provision.

    He purchases the relevant papers the following day and as is normal, checks his published shots. 'A' immediately notices that shots provided by 'B' have also been published, with name accreditation included. Approximately double the amount provided by 'A', which enables A to realise the actual reason behind such and unusually small shot order from the client.

    Now, this brings two separate instances into question regarding 'ethics', both personal and business.

    1 - 'B' being well aware that 'A' earns his living from his work and is the regular photographer requested to carry out the event work orders for the particular client, but ignores this knowledge and still provides, free of charge, shots of those events for publication.

    2 - The client reduces the event's shot order from 'A' by a large amount and instead, uses shots provided by 'B', free of charge after the requesting of and confirmation of coverage of the event by 'A'.

    I have my own opinion of both 1 & 2, a very strong opinion at that, particularly with the knowledge this type of scenario is becoming more prevalent, but what do others think ?

    And please, don't let this degrade into an us verses them, dog fight.

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    In my opinion if somebody wants my shots (they will be hard up for photos) I would provide them on the following; A friends,non profitable organisations,free of charge.B any profit making organisation would need to pay me.

    My youngest son went to Darwin and took a good shot of a sunset, he wanted me to send it to a local news channel (who don`t pay for such photos ) and I never sent it, if organisations want photos they should have there own employees,or pay someone to do it ,

    Jack

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    Here's a scenerio for you. Photographer A takes a 'good' photo and charges for it. Photographer B takes a slightly less 'good' photo but it is free. If you where the publisher with a budget to work to, which they all do, then w t f would you do?

    Some publishers do go out of their way to keep their regulars working and in business, some times by not spreading work out too thinly or simply by using only one or 2 people in each region. Other publishers do not give a rats arse and to these publishers a free job is a good job. If a publishers no longer 'needs' regulars to call upon, because they can easily get pics for free, then why would they have them at all? However I don't see what this has to do with 'ethics' as it's just relevant to the needs of the publishers business. Where are these ethics defined and agreed upon?

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    Interesting situation. Ethics is a minefield, because it’s all about perception, harm, and intent. I think the best ethical solution is for the 3 parties to come to an arrangement where everybody wins. I’ll come back to that later.

    It would appear that A, B, and P (The Publisher) do what they do for good reasons.
    A - is in it for money - it's a job.
    B - is in it for the satisfaction / recognition of taking good enough photos to be published.
    P – wants the best balance of quality photos and cost.

    All are perfectly good reasons by themselves. However, they are not mutually exclusive. It sounds as though A feels that they are being harmed by P - intentionally or not.

    I assume that B has no malice toward A and is not sending photos to the publishers deliberately to harm A. I also assume that P’s motivation for publishing B’s photos over A’s is that they are either better or cheaper.
    On this basis, personally I find it hard to see any ethical case to ask B to stop sending photos. If the ethical dilemma lies anywhere, it’s probably with P. This is mainly a business dilemma for A and P. A could say to P that they aren’t interested in covering any events where B is present, because A may well make a loss if P uses B’s photos instead of A’s. However, because P is not paying B for photos, P has no recourse should B become unavailable or unreliable. So, a better contract is required that satisfies both A & P. I think it would be sad if this was to the total exclusion of B.

    Would P’s publication come to a screaming halt if A refused to do any more work for P? Probably not. P would likely find somebody else to do the job.

    This is a common business situation. New competition is always coming onto the market and businesses are always looking for ways to cut costs. A needs to be aware of this and protect themselves and their income with better contract arrangements, or more differentiated offerings. There is always going to be somebody that will come along and undercut you, or a customer that won’t be loyal (I’m not necessarily referring to B & P here).

    Without knowing all of the details, it’s hard to suggest a solution that is Win-Win-Win, for A, B, and P (assuming they want one). But here goes anyway:
    A & P should come to better contract terms that will work for both A and P. E.g. some basic coverage of costs to attend events and take shots and process them, and then $x per photo published. P starts up a section in the publication for Best Amateur photos of the week, which are limited in number – which by the sounds of things will usually contain some from B.

    Just my 2 cents worth. Actually - given that I've previously been a management consultant - It's probably about $300 worth. So what are the ethics of providing professional advise for nothing. DOH!
    Cheers,

    Greg
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    Ubiquitous access to good camera technology = many more 'togs are active, many/most being being amateurs.

    There are no ethical or legal issues here. B did nothing wrong, neither did P.
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    Does person A get paid per shot or per event?

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    Quote Originally Posted by jjphoto View Post
    Here's a scenerio for you. Photographer A takes a 'good' photo and charges for it. Photographer B takes a slightly less 'good' photo but it is free.
    No relevance to the scenario mentioned regardless of 'less good', 'far superior' or 'absolute garbage'. 'A' had a confirmed work agreement to cover said events. He fulfilled his responsibility and the client did not.

    If you where the publisher with a budget to work to, which they all do,
    And in the case of 'A', the majority of the particular part of the budget was saved by using free shots, as was previously explained as an unusually small quantity ordered from what is normal and regular practice.

    then w t f would you do?
    I would as I've always done in business, uphold an agreement and not alter the conditions after the fact when the job is complete and for example, someone else drops off a CD of shots for free.

    Some publishers do go out of their way to keep their regulars working and in business, some times by not spreading work out too thinly or simply by using only one or 2 people in each region.
    Correct

    Other publishers do not give a rats arse and to these publishers a free job is a good job.
    correct And others may try to have bet each way.

    If a publishers no longer 'needs' regulars to call upon, because they can easily get pics for free, then why would they have them at all?
    Don't follow the gist of the comment.

    However I don't see what this has to do with 'ethics' as it's just relevant to the needs of the publishers business.
    The maintenance of an agreement or to the contrary, treating an agreement as folly, has all to do with ethical standards, honesty, trust and one's willingness to deal with those involved, be it a publisher, those that contract to the publisher, any business, individual or Joe Blow from down at the pub.

    Where are these ethics defined and agreed upon?
    In a written agreement provided by the client to the contractor. Unless, of course, one can define meeting the requirements of agreement or not meeting those requirements according to whether or not someone offers the product for free following the completion by others of a work order based on the agreement, as not being unethical and just relevant to the publisher's needs.

    I think I get the drift of your opinion of business ethics re publishers, but what do you think of instance #1?

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    I agree with GJC.

    Absent any contractual arrangements, A has to deal with the free competition. A should enter into a contract with P to ensure s/he is paid for their time (ie hourly rate) and basic photos. This being said, however, such contracts in this situation create additional costs for the Publisher, so A may not be hired at all if P can rely on the photos of individuals such as B.

    Unfortunately, this is life and if someone wants to shoot for free and manages to provide decent quality shots, then good for them.
    Cheers, Troy

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    Quote Originally Posted by GJC View Post
    Interesting situation. Ethics is a minefield, because it’s all about perception, harm, and intent. I think the best ethical solution is for the 3 parties to come to an arrangement where everybody wins. I’ll come back to that later.

    It would appear that A, B, and P (The Publisher) do what they do for good reasons.
    A - is in it for money - it's a job.
    A is in it for a living but also takes pride in what he does, satisfaction when a job's done well and endeavours to do better with each outing.

    B - is in it for the satisfaction / recognition of taking good enough photos to be published.
    I can't presume to know the reasons.

    P – wants the best balance of quality photos and cost.
    Wants the best but endeavours to get a 10 shilling job for a 2 bob price. Or when it suits,



    Last edited by norwest; 25-07-2012 at 3:00pm.

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    I dont think I read that there is a guarantee to purchase a volume or minimum value per event or overall, but the basis of payment is per image.
    That means you essentially are shooting on spec, and there has been no non-fulfilment of the publishers obligation. You assume the risk that the publisher will purchase images upon seeing the results, and the publisher understands they dont pay you for attendance as you seem to have requested by stating it was your choice to be paid on a per image model, which seems to now be a bad business decision.


    You could in protest just stop shooting these events, and see if person B can cover all you cover, this may reinforce your worth to the publisher, it may open the door for person B or another operator, but anyone other than person B would still likely have to contend with person B in any case themselves. If I could get paid a guaranteed fee per event or hourly rate, i would take that for sports images any day over a paid per image model when dealing with small distribution like that or a regional newspaper.

    As others have said, there is no ethics issue here. You could ask person B to give you their images and you pay them for any image sold, take a cut off the top etc, but whether that is manageable or not I can't say. Supply and demand I'm afraid, and businesses in fact most anyone will save a few $$ wherever they can.
    If I wanted to do the work you are doing, I would have no problem in providing my images in a competitive and tempting way for the publisher in order to win them over, with little regard for your situation.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kym View Post
    Ubiquitous access to good camera technology = many more 'togs are active, many/most being being amateurs.

    There are no ethical or legal issues here. B did nothing wrong, neither did P.
    B was spoken to on the day by A to let him know he received a work order to cover said events and also informed him that because A didn't trust the client completely to honour their agreement to not use B's shots supplied for nought if he was the give them the opportunity. It was also explained to B that for each shot supplied for nought resulted one less shot purchased from A. It was also explained to B that A had no problem at all with him supplying shots, be it for free or otherwise, for any event that A didn't not receive work order and therefore did not need to spend the time and costs to cover it.

    P's written agreement with A has a provision for A to be the sole provider of photographs to P from events covered through a work order to A. A's agreement was previously altered to protect him from a couple of prior occasions when spending extended amounts of time and work costs fulfilling work order obligations and being gazumped by freebies after the fact.

    Does person A get paid per shot or per event?
    Yes. It's covered above.

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    Quote Originally Posted by norwest View Post
    P's written agreement with A has a provision for A to be the sole provider of photographs to P from events covered through a work order to A.
    This makes all the difference, why didn't you note it in the original post.
    If the above is the case, simply remind P of the agreement, but be prepared for P to quickly cease or significantly reduce the number of work orders you receive...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Wayne View Post
    I dont think I read that there is a guarantee to purchase a volume or minimum value per event or overall, but the basis of payment is per image.
    That means you essentially are shooting on spec, and there has been no non-fulfilment of the publishers obligation. You assume the risk that the publisher will purchase images upon seeing the results, and the publisher understands they dont pay you for attendance as you seem to have requested by stating it was your choice to be paid on a per image model, which seems to now be a bad business decision.


    You could in protest just stop shooting these events, and see if person B can cover all you cover, this may reinforce your worth to the publisher, it may open the door for person B or another operator, but anyone other than person B would still likely have to contend with person B in any case themselves. If I could get paid a guaranteed fee per event or hourly rate, i would take that for sports images any day over a paid per image model when dealing with small distribution like that or a regional newspaper.

    As others have said, there is no ethics issue here. You could ask person B to give you their images and you pay them for any image sold, take a cut off the top etc, but whether that is manageable or not I can't say. Supply and demand I'm afraid, and businesses in fact most anyone will save a few $$ wherever they can.
    If I wanted to do the work you are doing, I would have no problem in providing my images in a competitive and tempting way for the publisher in order to win them over, with little regard for your situation.
    Understand what you're saying, Wayne, however, the agreement was changed for a reason. That reason being, and Kiwi has also mentioned similar, there is a very big difference between the actual hours spent covering an event as well as the travel costs and time in a big, wide region, and the amount of time the client thought it should take. It was previously hourly rate but was changed for that reason. Person B would have to quite his job to do what A does as much of it is on week days. Person B is also very inexperienced and needs quite a deal of improvement. Which perhaps he will have one day.

    After speaking with B on the day and explaining in detail his circumstances and agreement with P, A was not only surprised but absolutely flabbergasted to see that B had still gone ahead with supplying freebies. Particularly as all was quite friendly and B appeared to be very understanding and in total agreement. I presumed.

    This makes all the difference, why didn't you note it in the original post.
    If the above is the case, simply remind P of the agreement, but be prepared for P to quickly cease or significantly reduce the number of work orders you receive...
    I said A had an agreement, but my apologies for not being clear. Regardless, being written or otherwise, A still expects honesty from people with whom he endeavours to always go above and beyond his agreed responsibilities. I suppose A should live by his Grandfathers advice from many years ago when he said to never trust anything that you hear and only of what half you see.
    Last edited by norwest; 25-07-2012 at 4:06pm.

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    Quote Originally Posted by norwest View Post
    ... but what do you think of instance #1?
    I think that people will be people and that you will never guess what thoughts or ideas are bouncing around in other peoples heads. Expecting others to behave to your own standards, morals or ethics is not realistic when there is nothing that obliges them to do so, ie considerng photog B is not 'working' (ie making a living) in the field and is free to do as he pleases. Photog B has no obligation to you or the publisher. Even if he lied to you, all that does is set you straight in terms of how to relate to him in the future.

    Quote Originally Posted by norwest View Post
    ....

    P's written agreement with A has a provision for A to be the sole provider of photographs to P from events covered through a work order to A. A's agreement was previously altered to protect him from a couple of prior occasions when spending extended amounts of time and work costs fulfilling work order obligations and being gazumped by freebies after the fact.



    ....
    And it still didn't make any difference.

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    Everyone in business is out to ensure their bottom line is a positive number. At the end of the day, both photographers, the magazine/newspaper, and the event organiser are all out to make money.

    If anyone in the chain can get something cheaper they will.

    Does photographer A ask for a discount when he goes to upgrade his gear from his camera store? Does he gets deals from his local printer? How can photographer A lament someone selling something for cheaper, when he himself pushes his suppliers to provide stuff to him for cheaper?

    The newspaper owner also wants to make a few $, or has a boss who needs to report to the shareholders that he made a profit.

    Business today, not just photographer is basically about screwing the next person down to the lowest possible price to maximise their own returns.

    Morals and ethics do not exist in business anymore. Photographer A needs to learn that and adjust.

    Harsh, but that is the reality!
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    Quote Originally Posted by jjphoto View Post



    And it still didn't make any difference.
    No and obviously, is the subject of the thread.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by ricktas View Post
    Everyone in business is out to ensure their bottom line is a positive number. At the end of the day, both photographers, the magazine/newspaper, and the event organiser are all out to make money.

    If anyone in the chain can get something cheaper they will.

    Does photographer A ask for a discount when he goes to upgrade his gear from his camera store? Does he gets deals from his local printer? How can photographer A lament someone selling something for cheaper, when he himself pushes his suppliers to provide stuff to him for cheaper?
    Fine and dandy, Rick, if A was complaining about something being sold cheaper like your analogy insinuates, but he most certainly isn't, so why insinuate this? He doesn't expect suppliers to supply for zero dollars and that's the subject of the thread, along with the ignoring of an agreement and also being shafted by a hobbyist.


    The newspaper owner also wants to make a few $, or has a boss who needs to report to the shareholders that he made a profit.
    So, it's fine by yourself to dishonour an agreement if someone comes along with a give away product after you've completed your work because the newspaper wants to make a few dollars or has a boss who needs to report to the shareholders that he made a profit? Remember, the subject is not about discounts and has not been mentioned by myself at any stage, so please don't paint a picture about a non existent resentment of a business endeavouring to make a profit. That is not the case and has never been the case.

    Business today, not just photographer is basically about screwing the next person down to the lowest possible price to maximise their own returns.
    I repeat, it's not about the lowest price, it's about zero price and not honouring a written agreement.

    Morals and ethics do not exist in business anymore. Photographer A needs to learn that and adjust.

    Harsh, but that is the reality!
    Photographer A has learned that just like the building industry he was in for 25 years, which is notorious for scammers and lack of ethical behaviour, photography is also not immune to similar problems or people. And just like the building industry, those practising unethical behaviour are also low life trash benefiting from manufactured disadvantage to others.

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    A lot of reading to be had here.

    From what I have read, there is absolutely no ethical discussion to be had. If, as advised, the publisher had a contract with photographer A to only use images provided by him, then the issue is a simple breach of contract on the part of the publisher, plain simple and nothing to do with ethics
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    And..Every agreement has a start and finish date (or should). Photographer A can whinge all he/she wants, but as soon as the existing agreement expires, guess who will get all the work under the next agreement?

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    And whom will get the work under the next agreement, 'B'? Perhaps if B, a full time employee in another field and a bloke whom has supplied free soccer shots only, can be available 7 days a week and at short notice to cover events of all descriptions, sport of all descriptions including midweek school sports, social occasions and Mrs browns dog having a litter of puppies, then maybe 'B' will get it, but only if he still supplies for free as he's set a precedent that will not be altered. As was said in another thread in 'business' regarding a guy providing his time for zero charge. Whom, by the way, was given short shaft by many for doing so.

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    Administrator ricktas's Avatar
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    Actually it is more than likely that C will be the next one supply photos to the newspaper. Where C is anyone with a camera or phone who happens to be at a place at the right time and freely uploads their photo to the newspaper's website, in the hope they might get published and have their photo and name in the paper.

    And the newspaper owner will be rubbing his hands with glee, not having to pay anyone for the photos, or deal with a photographer in his office waving a contract, cause its all done on the net, and he gets to keep more of his turnover as profit.

    I know this is not a good scenario for A, or even B, but it is how the industry is heading, and photographer can either adjust or choose another career path.

    Can we come up with an answer on AP...Nup!
    Last edited by ricktas; 25-07-2012 at 8:32pm.

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