Fair Wage For Fair Work.
By Simon Longhurst.
Often I hear from peers the challenges of making any money from surf photography, and in most instances, many can’t even make enough to pay back the gear they purchased. Regularly, the talented ones turn their back on the surf industry in seek of an industry that will actually pay them for their services.
In bodyboarding there is an expectation that photographers should provide images to people and companies for free, and in a lot of cases, photographers will provide a free service in an attempt to get their name out there.
This is a very complicated topic with a lot of moving parts (e.g. the decline of magazines and rise of Instagram). This article is designed to focus on one facet of the sport in an attempt to promote healthy discussion on improving the industry as a whole. Below are some questions designed to start the discussion.
*Does our expectation for free photos contribute to the invalidation of our own sport?
*Should we shift our focus from short term gratitude, to longer term thinking by nurturing a culture of professionalism and collaboration that is found in a lot of other successful industries?
*What would the sport look like if photographers were regularly paid for their services?
Some hypotheticals and there potential benefits below:
Magazines and brands pay photographers for the rights to use images on Instagram and in magazines.
1. More photographers dedicated to pursuing their craft, and more importantly capturing and promoting bodyboarding.
2. A sense of mutual respect and ongoing collaboration between industry professionals.
3. Decreased resentment from photographers who have turned their back on the sport because they were not paid for their service.
4. Slow change to the stigma of the sport, from one of unprofessional and fragmented, to professional and collaborative. This could potentially attract new stakeholders to invest in the sport.
Instead of expecting images to be provided for free, individuals should pay a small fee for the use of photos on Instagram. This would:
1. Creates a sense of professionalism within the industry.
2. Draws money from other industries into the sport (e.g. parents paying $20 for an image of their kid bodyboarding).
3.Small income for photographers promoting up and coming riders.
There is a wealth of photographers out there who have invested significant capital on photography equipment and spend time in the water shooting bodyboarders. We need to acknowledge and support these silent workhorses, for without their help, the sport wouldn’t be where it is today.
Tomorrow we chat with an experienced lenseman about his experiences and how he believes we as a sport can do better.