Tim Soter… blog.

I'm much better in person.

Contracts and the Freelance Isn’t Free Act.

Just last week the Freelance Isn’t Free Act passed here in NYC which certainly is a step towards helping those who are freelance gain some leverage in getting payments that they are owed.  I want to spend just a minute to think about a part of it, which is the language in the bill that states that clients will also be required to provide a written contract to freelancers working on projects for which they will be paid $800 or more.

I can see how this would help many freelancers but I can also envision how it’s going to hurt professional photographers.  I’ve often benefitted from a lack of a contract when I’m shooting.  I’m guessing if you surveyed my fellow shooters they would feel the same.

There is a trend in new contracts offered by clients, editorial and otherwise, to want to grab all of the rights to one’s photographs for a one-time fee.  It’s becoming more and more common.  Photographers can try and push back but in my experience they don’t have the leverage to get these contracts modified.  (Ironically or coincidentally because they is no “photographer’s union.”)  There is always another photographer willing to sign the contract, usually someone who is unaware of the concept of Usage in photography.  Usage refers quite simply to how the client plans on utilizing the images and the price is set accordingly.  There is a different price for using an image on social media versus a print advertisement.  Or using a photo for one time editorial use or being able to use that images in an unlimited capacity in perpetuity (the end of all time and space.)  When I send clients an estimate for every job I am sure to include the terms of Usage.  It lets everyone know exactly what they are getting for the service they are paying for.

So who drafts contracts?  A lawyer who wants to get the most for the company.  Rather than negotiating specific Usage per job it’s much easier (via a lawyer) to say:

1.              Vendor grants Agency, Client, and their subsidiaries, affiliates, agents, representatives, assigns, successors in interest and licensees an exclusive, royalty-free, irrevocable, worldwide, perpetual license to use, modify, copy, print, publish, display, distribute and prepare derivative works of all or any part of the materials (the “Materials”) created pursuant to this Agreement on media attendee social media channels, internal client recap and Client owned social media properties/networking sites (i.e. YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vine, Pinterest).”

 

This is taken from an actual current photography contract.  This grab to own freelance-created work is

like paying one month’s rent and expecting to own the apartment.

 

Often times the language allows for the reselling of the photograph by the client.  Or retaining the copyright which means the photographer may not even receive a credit of his/her name with the work and may not even use the image they shot for promotional use.  Now obviously every circumstance is different and needs to be evaluated accordingly but there must be a compensatory value for the photographer to agree to sign off on the transfer of copyright.

So how does this tie in to the Freelance Isn’t Free Act?  If clients and companies are going to be forced to create a standard contract for almost all freelancers, there are strong odds given the current climate that those standard contracts will include owning all of the rights.  Photography has been devalued by a number of factors; proliferation of photographers in a saturated market, incredibly inexpensive stock photography prices and shrinking budgets.  Contracts that require the signing away of rights and photographers willing to sign that contract blindly are an additional threat.

You can read a summary of what’s covered in the bill HERE.

You can read the actual bill HERE.

William Eggleston signs “The Democratic Forest, Selected Works.”

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William Eggleston, perhaps the founder of modern color photography (“perhaps” as I’ll leave a little space for argument) signed a new Steidl publication, “The Democratic Forest, Selected Works. at the Strand book store.  Dapper Bill was gloveless and quiet, but the the room of perhaps seventy-five people snaked throughout the rare book room were electrified by his presence, or perhaps more so by the chance to have their books signed.  His daughter sketched colorful patterns next to him, not looking up. Wristbands were distributed as admirers arrived, and even I, an assigned member of “Group 3” was concerned that at any moment this seemingly frail man might take a break and not return.  I think everyone had that thought during this rare opportunity, which made everyone in the room a little edgy and excited.  Bill spoke very little and signed only his name in Sharpie©, no personalization, in each book. I brought a copy of the original “Democratic Forest” to get signed alongside of the new release.

I had nothing specific to say while he signed my books offering only a “thank you, sir” when he was done.

He raised his eyes for the first time and gave me a polite nod, Southern gentleman style.

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Two modern users of the medium and obvious fans, Landon Nordeman and Jeff Mermelstein.

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Since it’s the week of Steidl at the Strand, Gerhard Steidl had shared generously shared the plan of how the sausage gets made.

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But without a doubt it was this fan who really scored the creative win.  I’m envious.

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Tuba.

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Duane Michals protests Trump.


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Sometimes you just have to get it out of your system, and Duane was passionate about going to Trump Towers to get the message out.  Interesting spontaneous discourse as that are of NYC offers a lot of visitors from around the country and Europe.  A few nut jobs, and one gay photographer for Trump (truth!) but mostly support for the message.  Some Germans disagreeing with the comparison and some pre-millennials giggling and selfie-ing, quite a Sunday crowd.

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Sacha Lecca – a night out!

01Had a great night out with photographer and Rolling Stone photo editor, Sacha Lecca.  I’ve know him for years but this was the most time we had spent together – he’s the type where you’d be hard pressed to find someone who wouldn’t say he’s an incredibly nice guy.  Sacha’s out most nights, even after a long day at the office – I didn’t discover the motive behind his stamina other than a passion for the music and the community. I LOVED getting back to my roots of shooting in clubs, harkening back to my days in the 90’s as the house photographer at Twilo.  But that’s another story.

Read Sacha’s instead, because it’s fantastic.  And beyond that, there’s some absolutely stunning photography.

RE: ThePhotographicJournal

FOR ONE TIME ONLY PLACEMENT! Any reuse must be cleared with photographer in writing. TimSoter.com tim@timsoter.com (917) 566-0848

FOR ONE TIME ONLY PLACEMENT! Any reuse must be cleared with photographer in writing. TimSoter.com tim@timsoter.com (917) 566-0848

FOR ONE TIME ONLY PLACEMENT! Any reuse must be cleared with photographer in writing. TimSoter.com tim@timsoter.com (917) 566-0848

AND… my days of Twilo.  Twenty years apart.

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Arthur Tress “Boy in the TV”

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Glad to get a print of this before the edition is gone for good.  Having been a child of the seventies, this one resonates with me – the cabinet TV, the architecture, the kid finding his own imaginary fun outside.  It’s all analog.

The Guardian wrote a nice piece about this photo, talking to Arthur about the series it came from, his most famous, “Dream Collector.”

In the late 1960s, an old schoolmate of mine started doing art projects with young kids. In one, they examined their dreams and used them as the inspiration for paintings and poetry. I was invited to photograph the kids and brought along costumes and masks so they could act out their dreams.

I decided to pursue the project further and came up with a title: Dream Collector. I made a list of themes from children’s dreams, and asked adult friends what they remembered from theirs.

I shot this in Boston on a wintry day in 1972. Children are wonderful actors. I would say I was doing a project on dreams and they would immediately understand – because the worlds of reality, illusion and play are close for them. I noticed this TV set dumped in an abandoned lot in Roxbury, on the edge of Boston. At the time, it was quite a rundown, black neighborhood. There had been riots a couple of years earlier after the death of Martin Luther King and a lot of arson.

A kid was running around playing with a toy gun, so I asked him to get inside the TV. There’s a feeling of anxiety and tension, which you get in dreams, but it is also what an urban boy might be feeling. Violence from around the world is brought to us by the media – even more so today with the internet – which makes the photograph still relevant.

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2016 Anamorphosis Prize shortlist winner!

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Happy to be on the shortlist for the 2016 Anamorphosis Prize!

The Anamorphosis Prize was established to promote excellence, dialogue and excitement in the field of self-published photobooks and photo-based artist books.

The word anamorphosis is derived from the Greek, ana meaning again and morphe meaning form. Anamorphosis is a distortion that demands a change in perspective from the viewer in order to be properly and completely viewed. This can be interpreted today as a whole new way of looking at things.

Self-publishing is creatively liberating. The most interesting and daring developments often occur on the margins. Allowing greater control over a creative vision and expression, self-publishing drives revolutionary change within the orbit of the photobook culture and enables the artist to autonomously sculpt a vocation.

The Anamorphosis Prize will be held 3 years in a row starting in 2015 and the winner will be chosen from a shortlist of 20 books, 3 of which will receive special jury mention. All submitted books will be donated to Franklin Furnace and the shortlist of 20 books will also be included in the MoMA library.

The winner will receive $10,000.

No strings attached.

 

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“TIM! GO AWAY!” unique Second Edition. UPDATED!

For the Second Printing of “TIM! GO AWAY!” I wanted to again make each copy of the book a unique piece.  In the First Edition, each book had a plate on the title page – a removed page from the book Duane Michals, Pantheon Books, 1986, personally embossed with my stamp.  It was a copy pulled from my library shelf that I dissected as a way to not only make each book its own exclusive piece but also to emphasize the obsessiveness of collecting and exalting an item.  It really just comes down to excitement, the excitement with which you react to something specific.  For the Second Printing of “TIM! GO AWAY!” I wanted to again make each copy of the book a unique piece.  I thought for some time as to how to create that without repeating myself.

I had an idea.  I asked Duane if he would give me a signed print, specifically for cutting up so that each book would have its very own piece of the print.  It’s less like a puzzle – which is meant to be reassembled – more like a piece of the Berlin Wall, though a verifiable, authentic piece!  Each rectangle, roughly an inch by two inches is housed inside the book in a small envelope, so that the piece can be taken out, examined and held.  I like the idea that for those who love Michals’ work but might not be able to afford a print, here they can have a portion of a print.  Or a very tiny print, depending on how you consider it.

Duane provided quite a nice silver gelatin print I have to say, one which was in excellent condition and printed beautifully.  And it was an image I hadn’t seen before.  That first cut was the toughest!

ORDER HERE.

UPDATE: Books will be randomly selected as orders are received, through a randomized lottery.  Starting with the first sale, everyone has a chance at receiving a piece containing a portion of Michals’ signature.

The books will be printed and ready to ship at the end of September.

Books are shipping now!

 

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Each book will be sold in order received, with the corresponding print piece.

UPDATE: Books will be randomly selected as orders are received, through a randomized lottery.  Starting with the first sale, everyone has a chance at receiving a piece containing a portion of Michals’ signature.

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Book copies will be randomly selected from this jar when each order is received.  Everyone has a chance at getting the piece that they want, a flower, a breast, Duane’s signature… it’s all up to fate!

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Walking photos : Harlem

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Creative mystery, writing and reading.

There are days when my the creative side of my brain has been really relaxed and and I’ve wandered around making photographs and being really connected to the day. But the following day when I looked at the photos, it’s like they were written in another language.

Today is one of those days, I just didn’t bring a camera.