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Author Topic: Use or Abuse?  (Read 6503 times)
Rob C
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« on: December 13, 2010, 03:04:09 AM »
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I'd been thinking of keeping my old car, whether or not I bought another, and having it tarted up for sentimental reasons. Then the more I pondered the idea, the more it began to seem that the exercise might offer some photographic possibilites. So, I picked up a magazine I found lying around, called Practical Classics, and began to read. Here's some delightful fine print that I discovered:


"If Practical Classics publishes any of your text or photography by way of contributions to the magazine, you automatically and hereby grant to Bauer Media Ltd a perpetual, royalty free, irrevocable, non-exclusive right and license to use, reproduce, modify, publish, translate, create derivative works from and distribute such text or photography into any form, medium or technology now known or hereafter developed. In addition, as between you and Bauer, you assert and waive any and all moral rights in such text or photography."


Makes me think my passing idea was quite brilliant!

Does anyone actually make any money out of journalism?

;-)

Rob C



 
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feppe
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« Reply #1 on: December 13, 2010, 12:07:31 PM »
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You will always have the desperate person that work for free or almost free. Big groups are doing enormous profits robing basics "rights". This is the jungle law and a sort of agressive response from a system that is showing its madeness.

Nobody will ever again pay any serious money for a stock photograph which can be produced by a "desperate" marginally skilled middle-aged housewife on a lazy Sunday afternoon with a point-and-shoot. There will always be a market for advertising, wedding, art and some editorial, industrial and architecture - it most likely will be increasingly 3D, CGI or motion, but my point remains. Where a photographer should specialize is left as an exercise to the reader.

I assume by "syndicate structures" you mean trade unions which you've put forward previously. I guarantee there won't be any artificial barriers to entry into photography, ever. It's too late in the economic cycle for photographers to unionize, there is no great monetary or physical harm done by an incompetent photographer, and the industry is too fragmented and diverse for a meaningful union structure (editorial vs stock vs forensic vs PJ vs etc). Even if there was organization by photographers the customers are accustomed to low prices and will never go back to paying hundreds for a shot which takes a second to set up and shoot (read: black market run by desperate housewives would emerge).

I'm not sure what you mean by "big groups" and their "enormous profits," but if you're referring to printed media or advertising, neither industry is doing well.
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JoeKitchen
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« Reply #2 on: December 13, 2010, 12:34:05 PM »
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I feel there is one solution.  If you do not like where the stock market is heading, don't shoot stock.  
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Joe Kitchen
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"Photography is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent moving furniture."  Arnold Newman
"Try not to be just better than your rivals and contemporaries, try to be better than yourself."  William Faulkner
Rob C
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« Reply #3 on: December 13, 2010, 12:56:39 PM »
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I'm not sure what you mean by "big groups" and their "enormous profits," but if you're referring to printed media or advertising, neither industry is doing well.


If they are not doing well, and I tend to believe that, then they only have themselves to blame. Cut back on the images you publish, quality-wise and I do believe that you disenchant buyers. How long would Playboy have lasted if they pushed photography of the Reader's Wives variety? (Possibly a job opportunity there for the Desperate Housewife we mentioned earlier, she and her self-timer.) Where would Vogue be if it used untalented people to design, direct, shoot, take through print etc. and then market?

Referring to Fred's remark about young executives of today: I think many always thought like that: money first. I remember, decades ago, going to a big agency and chatting up the art buyer. He knew me, sort of by repute, and he said the nice things about my work that I was happy to hear. Then, when asked why he didn't use me, but did use a big studio in town, he replied that yes, my prints were much better, but the other guys were cheaper for all parts of the operation. Dead. Another chap, who gave me my first real break in advertising, with whom I'd created lots of nice stuff over the years, was taken over by another group. Work slowed to a dry trickle. I asked him and his wife over to dinner one night, and after the meal, the chat got to work, and he said the nice things too. Then, his wife said, to my surprise: why don't you work so much with Rob now? He was a bit embarrassed and said something about it being very difficult now.. that was circa '80? What was difficult? I already knew. New owners, new brooms in the top cupboard; the need to recoup the money spent buying somebody out. Rapidly recoup!

To be fair, this was an older guy - my age then - but others in their mid-twenties were exactly the same as Fred's friends.

I did a small brocure for a chain department store one day. We seemed to have enough money to spend to bring models up from London, have a 'name' hairdresser (why?) and then, when it came to lunch, the team went off to eat in the restaurant of the stately home we were working at whilst the twentysomething AD vanished: sat in his car and eat sandwiches. No, you tell me.

Rob C
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Rob C
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« Reply #4 on: December 13, 2010, 01:10:10 PM »
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I feel there is one solution.  If you do not like where the stock market is heading, don't shoot stock.  



I imagine that many have followed that advice. I sure did, before micro existed. It was ever a question of balancing return on investment. Since the main thing I did was people shots, the model fees and human transportation/lodging/feeding made anything other than the offshoots from commissioned work too risky for me.

The best advice I got from a stock agency owner in Barcelona was this: shoot as cheaply as you can. That was around '81 - '82; that agency is still around and seems to be doing just fine. I don't think the trouble with stock is so much one for the agencies as one for the suppliers of material. The agency takes no poduction risk; it employs the minimum number of people to service the work it already has; whether it sells ten at a hundred or a hundred at ten matters not a lot. To the supplier it matters very much indeed! In the old days, he was one amongst internal competition of say, a hundred? Now, there are literally thousands of people competing in the same agency. You fight more people and stand to win a fraction of what you once did, if you do get around to winning anything.

Your advice was sound.

Rob C
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Dick Roadnight
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« Reply #5 on: December 13, 2010, 02:59:17 PM »
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I feel there is one solution.  If you do not like where the stock market is heading, don't shoot stock.  

Are there any stock agencies that only sell quality MF work, and charge real money for it?

If someone want good hi-res photographs to print several square meters, where do they look?  ...are there any agencies on which you can filter by MF (or MF MS) pixel count?
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feppe
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« Reply #6 on: December 13, 2010, 03:04:14 PM »
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If they are not doing well, and I tend to believe that, then they only have themselves to blame. Cut back on the images you publish, quality-wise and I do believe that you disenchant buyers. How long would Playboy have lasted if they pushed photography of the Reader's Wives variety? (Possibly a job opportunity there for the Desperate Housewife we mentioned earlier, she and her self-timer.) Where would Vogue be if it used untalented people to design, direct, shoot, take through print etc. and then market?

Referring to Fred's remark about young executives of today: I think many always thought like that: money first. I remember, decades ago, going to a big agency and chatting up the art buyer. He knew me, sort of by repute, and he said the nice things about my work that I was happy to hear. Then, when asked why he didn't use me, but did use a big studio in town, he replied that yes, my prints were much better, but the other guys were cheaper for all parts of the operation. Dead. Another chap, who gave me my first real break in advertising, with whom I'd created lots of nice stuff over the years, was taken over by another group. Work slowed to a dry trickle. I asked him and his wife over to dinner one night, and after the meal, the chat got to work, and he said the nice things too. Then, his wife said, to my surprise: why don't you work so much with Rob now? He was a bit embarrassed and said something about it being very difficult now.. that was circa '80? What was difficult? I already knew. New owners, new brooms in the top cupboard; the need to recoup the money spent buying somebody out. Rapidly recoup!

To be fair, this was an older guy - my age then - but others in their mid-twenties were exactly the same as Fred's friends.

I did a small brocure for a chain department store one day. We seemed to have enough money to spend to bring models up from London, have a 'name' hairdresser (why?) and then, when it came to lunch, the team went off to eat in the restaurant of the stately home we were working at whilst the twentysomething AD vanished: sat in his car and eat sandwiches. No, you tell me.

Rob C

We're already witnessing in outsourced industries that there is practically no bottom in the race to the bottom. I'm afraid that's also true for much of photography, but would be glad to hear otherwise.

As I implied earlier and echoing Joe: the only winning move is not to play, and to find your own niche.
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feppe
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« Reply #7 on: December 13, 2010, 04:02:27 PM »
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It is admited by most economists that there is a medievalization of the economy profits. What does that means? That we belong basically to a modern middle class western society. Well, there is a process that is accelerating that the sharing of ressources and wealth is in hand of a more and more reduce hands. The middle class are slowly but surely being pushed in poverty while the money is distributed between different influence groups that escapes to the states themselves, exactly like in the middle age. It is both a decentralization (chaos), and a condensation (the people -or human factor- is each time less important).

Admitted by most economists - I thought I'd never hear that sentence. Do you have papers to back up that bold claim? The first good time series on income inequality I found is here (EHII) which is inconclusive on the global trends.

Income inequality is very difficult to gauge on older societies, but I'm positive that the top has always held onto vast majority of capital, and that there have been no significant, sustainable changes to that.
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JoeKitchen
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« Reply #8 on: December 13, 2010, 05:19:59 PM »
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First, let me say that I am not promoting that you give up playing the game.  Continue playing the game, but just not with stock agencies.  If you really feel like making money off of your spare images, market them yourself; not that hard in today's market.  

On the idea of unions, are you nuts?  There is, always has been, and always will be a large range of quality photographers produce, especially with what I shoot.  I would not feel good about being paid the same to shoot an interior as some other photographers out there; I would feel undervalued.  And plus we have the ASMP, PPA, and so on; many photographers out there refuse to join these organizations feeling they will tell them how to run the business.  Really funny to hear since I belong to the ASMP.  

And race to the bottom?  There has always been low ballers.  I may be too young to speak about this from first hand knowledge, but I have talked to many older shooters that have told me this, and I believe them.  I know many low ballers in my area; sometimes they win, others times they do not.  And if they win, so what, usually they just act as a case to justify my rates.  No scouting, no planning, no long discussions with the client about possible images, no budget for the proper lighting equipment, no tethered captures; they end up with flat images with burnt out areas, perspectives that are off, images that do not describe the space, images that will not sell, images that "Architecture" will never think about publishing.  So if they win, follow up and see how the images are working out for them.  

Remember, dont sell your photography, sell your service.  Photographs are nothing but a commodity, and commodities sell on price, end of story.  If you want high end rates, sell high end value.  
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Joe Kitchen
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« Reply #9 on: December 13, 2010, 07:12:01 PM »
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First, let me say that I am not promoting that you give up playing the game.  Continue playing the game, but just not with stock agencies.  If you really feel like making money off of your spare images, market them yourself; not that hard in today's market.  

To clarify: I wasn't advocating quitting photography, just getting out of the market segments which are being squeezed the hardest - unless you're sure you can hack it.
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Dick Roadnight
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« Reply #10 on: December 13, 2010, 08:42:42 PM »
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I know many low ballers in my area...  No scouting, no planning, no long discussions with the client about possible images, no budget for the proper lighting equipment, no tethered captures; they end up with flat images with burnt out areas, perspectives that are off, images that do not describe the space, images that will not sell, images that "Architecture" will never think about publishing.  So if they win, follow up and see how the images are working out for them.  

Remember, dont sell your photography, sell your service.  Photographs are nothing but a commodity, and commodities sell on price, end of story.  If you want high end rates, sell high end value.  
Yes - demand a good price for a good service ... but for most interiors you do not need £50,000's worth of camera, and lighting makes more difference than camera choice.
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« Reply #11 on: December 14, 2010, 12:50:34 PM »
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About the unions, I don't see in what photography is so different than other professions.

The French saved their cinema industry in the early 80's (at least stopped the hemoragy) because of their union power, and cinema is as diverse as photography. There is no one cinema but many.

DOPs have much more homogeneous industry than photographers, and as such easier to unionise.

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Doctors, (who are not specially comunists...I say that because it is too often associated with the trade unions) are also very organised and there are as much medecine than photographic genres, and oh yes, many of you are working with arquitects right? Isn't it this profession highly organised too? (or at least better organized)

An arquitect has to respond on his work if something's wrong? and the state has to respond in the same way on the other hand?

Plane pilots, aerial controlers (yes they abuse this power). Are there minimum standarts, minimum salaries?

All examples where incompetence costs lives and/or massive physical and financial damage, not relevant.

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Ask the British how good is their railway service since it has been completly denationalized and putted in hands of those wonderfull big capitalists groups...they are very proud of their railway now, and the custommer is in heaven... http://www.wordiq.com/definition/Privatization_of_British_railways

Ask the Finns (and many other countries' citizens) how they feel about privatization of telecoms, and you'll get very positive feedback. Cherrypicking the examples and anecdotal evidence is useless. Also, privatization can be done right or wrong.

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They are planing here to do the same and denationalized also the airports...we will have very soon some interesting wonderfull situations, remember what I'm saying here, and the accidents statistic curve is strangely going to grow very fast. This is not an apocalyptic dark vision, it is unfortunatly the way things works when there is no more regulation.

Do you have any data to back the claim that privatizing airports causes more accidents? I don't know where you draw the conclusion that privatization equals less regulation - in fact I wouldn't be surprised if it's the opposite.

Also, accidents are bad for business, so implying that private companies put profits before safety more so than public companies put costs before safety is disingenuous at best.

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Is it normal than anybody can declare him/herself professional photographer without any control anywhere? Who is responding in case of issues? Then you got the snappers irrupting into the scene, cutting prices and here you go. Why shouldn't they do it? Today I've just decided that I'm pro you see. Nothing is stopping me to do it. Legaly I have all the tools to officialize it without having touched a camera in my entire life. The organisations that currently exist in photography are a joke and fake unions with zero political power. Tomorrow images rights will just be a sweet reminder of a pasted time. So you are working, you have the talent and others are commercially exploiting this talent without you can do anything about it.

Adapt or perish, just like the rest of the working population.

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the terrain is free for the pirats, they take an enormous advantage of the situation. Very interesting indeed.
Back in the dark ages.

You're conflating issues here. Piracy has zero to do with (lack of) unions, and everything to do with lack of copyright enforcement, ease of copyright infringement, and lax ethics.

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Since I joined the commercial sphere as an assistant, and beleive me I have no other aim than learning and keep my mouth shut, it just bloody stinks from all parts.  The ideal is to find a reduced group of people that you know and like to work with, that are in some ways a sort of family. Out of that microsphere, it is the jungle to a point I rarelly saw in any other profession.

In fact, I think that creating our own healphy microworld is the only possible response to an each time more hostile and chaotic economy without rules, without values, without ethics and the inhability to think long term but short term easy profits, an economy that exploits 3/4 of the planet and put most human beings in slavery just to maintain and increase our wonderfull life standart with absolutly zero interest for the dammages and future generations. So we can enjoy for the moment our wonderfull devices, our fancy I.pads...for the moment yet.

I think there's a political party who might be interested in your views, but they have very little to do with the business of photography.
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« Reply #12 on: December 14, 2010, 04:00:14 PM »
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Oh yes, the political party that would like the millions of indians childrens working for confection and fashion industry for almost nothing in order to us, brave citizens, can get the fancy shoes and jeans for cheap.

The political party that would like to have the same chinese prisoners also working for free for the western industries in order to cut down prices and stay competitives, now they found that india at 1$ a day is too expensive. (and before you'd ask me for more prouf that I won't give but you can find those infos in internet, I just mention that some western companies that previously where "employing" the indian children have found a better way in the rehabilitation program of chinese prisoners that have a chance to work for the industry for free, so they saved the one $ a day they used to spend in India).

The political party that would like all those people that I have right now down my home looking into the garbage to find some food, each time more numerous and young, see, not even need to go to exotic places.

The political party that will finally bring one day in the US a proper healph care for everybody and specially for the most miserables and vulnerables. It seems that those people aren't humans being but I assure you that they truly are.

The political party that would like to have all those millions of africans wich ressources are been exploited by and for western governments through fancy dictators that they' ve put on power and manipulated in order to do so.
Check who lives in enormous luxury building in the Champs Elysées, it's very interesting.

The political party that also would like to have the Tibetans, the south americans, the palestinians and even this wonderfull nature, contaminated without restrictions by a plague on earth call the human being in the form it behave with everything, in fact in the form the powers act.

Or maybe the political party that would have like to have the americans in New Orleans after the deplorable vision of the first world's economical and military power unable to react and protect properly its citizens, but probably if the cyclon would have hit a white area, it would have been another story. But you know, those blackies in N.O aren't really human beings so why should we care?

And I could keep going with the list for a long time.

If such a political party existed, I'd be proud to be a member indeed.


Here's what the doctor ordered
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jeremypayne
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« Reply #13 on: December 14, 2010, 04:10:59 PM »
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Fred ... Take a deep breath and relax.

For the record, everyone in the US - including the most destitute illegal immigrant - gets healthcare.

What they don't have is health insurance.  Very important difference.
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fredjeang
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« Reply #14 on: December 14, 2010, 04:23:33 PM »
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Yes absolutly, this is an important precision Jeremy, thanks.

Just checking in wiki about that gives a good idea: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Health_care_in_the_United_States

Cheers
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Slobodan Blagojevic
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« Reply #15 on: December 14, 2010, 05:21:13 PM »
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… For the record, everyone in the US - including the most destitute illegal immigrant - gets healthcare.

What they don't have is health insurance.  Very important difference.

Jeremy, this is a huge spin and I am sure you know it. You are referring to getting "healthcare" in emergency situations, even if uninsured. That is not heathCARE, that is merely a palliative measure. There is a huge difference between getting a timely treatment, especially if preventive, and getting it only in emergencies.

Heck, even for us insured there is a difference between insurance plans: for years I had a decent coverage, though year after year the ubiquitous premium increases of 15-30% drove my company to go lower and lower on a healthcare plans scale… we ended up last year on a high-deductible plan, meaning we pay out-of-pocket the first $5,000-7,000 in medical expenses before the plan kicks in. In other words, it works more like a catastrophic insurance (i.e., in case of a catastrophic illness), than healthcare. Once you have to pay out of you own pocket for regular and preventive visits, although insured, you start, consciously or not, postponing or even canceling the visit to the doctor or the lab. There are already studies showing a negative effect on one's health as a result of this. For that matter, one doesn't need studies to understand the impact, just remember what happens when one avoids preventive and regular dentist visits and waits only for an unbearable toothache to go.
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Dick Roadnight
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« Reply #16 on: December 14, 2010, 08:52:31 PM »
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In the UK, decades ago, it was difficult to get any photographic qualification without doing a course, now every body can and does get letters after their name that mean nothing.

One of the top boffins in the Master Photographer's Association spoke to me at Focus and, like any other organization, you can qualify by submitting a few prints.
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« Reply #17 on: December 15, 2010, 10:59:09 AM »
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Its all abuse, and will continue until the future of publishing is decided.  Once things settle down and we have a generally accepted idea of where things are headed, and many of magazines/networks/papers disapear, and some sort of concensus is reached on what media best reach consumers, there will b a return to quality.  It is slowly dawning on people that 1000 cable channels is 990 too many.  That unlimited web bandwidth is 90% noise.  That 90% of what people own/desire to own is waste, and not that important to emotional and physical wellbeing.  We are headed in this direction, in fits and starts.  There is and will continue to be a shift towards quality and "authentisity.  Witness the "artisinal" movement.  Slow food.  The rise of organics.  The desire for substance, as evidenced by Leica staying in business and the Fuji X100.   This is an anti-commodification movement. This shift, which appears to be a a new Romantacism, will, when in full swing, create demand for more quality, for craftsmanship, and marketing to match.

And yes, the US healthcare system is a disgrace and a drag on the economy.  There would be more people willing to quit their jobs and strike out on their own, if the risk of failure didn't include living on the street or seriosuly risking your health.  I've had several assistants leave NYC after getting sick, being in a car wreck.  A very well known model friend of mine was going broke paying for her son's medical treatment after he hit the lifetime maximum on her AFTRA health policy. 
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fredjeang
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« Reply #18 on: December 15, 2010, 01:38:06 PM »
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Its all abuse, and will continue until the future of publishing is decided.  Once things settle down and we have a generally accepted idea of where things are headed, and many of magazines/networks/papers disapear, and some sort of concensus is reached on what media best reach consumers, there will b a return to quality.  It is slowly dawning on people that 1000 cable channels is 990 too many.  That unlimited web bandwidth is 90% noise.  That 90% of what people own/desire to own is waste, and not that important to emotional and physical wellbeing.  We are headed in this direction, in fits and starts.  There is and will continue to be a shift towards quality and "authentisity.  Witness the "artisinal" movement.  Slow food.  The rise of organics.  The desire for substance, as evidenced by Leica staying in business and the Fuji X100.   This is an anti-commodification movement. This shift, which appears to be a a new Romantacism, will, when in full swing, create demand for more quality, for craftsmanship, and marketing to match.

And yes, the US healthcare system is a disgrace and a drag on the economy.  There would be more people willing to quit their jobs and strike out on their own, if the risk of failure didn't include living on the street or seriosuly risking your health.  I've had several assistants leave NYC after getting sick, being in a car wreck.  A very well known model friend of mine was going broke paying for her son's medical treatment after he hit the lifetime maximum on her AFTRA health policy. 
I agree Tmark. There is a waking-up for more and more people in front of the desastrous world wide problems timing bombs and the mentalities are starting to evolve, fortunatly. It is possible that in all this chaos, when things will be stabilized there will have a return to quality and craft, even if that means a paralell economy could emerge, very different than the "official".
The artisanal movement is a great and necesary response to the cheap ready-made and the over saturation that we have on useless products.

I agree that there is a hope, proposals and each time more people steping away from the noise.
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JoeKitchen
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« Reply #19 on: December 15, 2010, 01:43:29 PM »
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That's right and I think the quality movement is a lot closer then all the whiners feel.  But lets not forget that waiting until it get here will be too long a wait.  Now is the time to start making connections. 

My goal this winter, meet with 25 new design firms, at least 5 of them being international firms. 
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Joe Kitchen
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"Photography is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent moving furniture."  Arnold Newman
"Try not to be just better than your rivals and contemporaries, try to be better than yourself."  William Faulkner
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