Posts Tagged ‘day rates’

The Curious Society

Wednesday, January 6th, 2021

The Curious Society is an initiative from an idea by Kenneth Jarecke of Contact Press Images to promote photojournalism, which is attempting to develop a different paying model for the genre, outside of commercial publications. Given the problems of photographers working for the current newspapers and magazines around the world I think we should welcome anything that helps photographers involved in serious photojournalism.

The underlining goal of the Curious Society is to preserve the institutional knowledge photographers and editors need to produce great photojournalism. This knowledge was once passed along in the field from old people to young people. today, most of the old folks aren’t working, so there exists a real danger of losing what they know.

https://www.curioussociety.org/faq

The major current problems putting the future of photojournalism under threat are financial and contractual. Often photojournalists now have to sign ‘work for hire’ contracts with magazines etc to get support for their projects, which means signing away their copyrights in their images for a risible ‘day rate’.

The Curious Society hopes to issue four high-quality collectable 256 page print issues a year, and to pay contributing photographers on a ‘space rate’ basis to licence their images, initially at $100 per page, but hoping to increase this as membership grows. It needs an initial 4,000 members to get off the ground for its first year, but hopes to get up to 20,000, which would enable it to increase the rate it pays photographers to $500 per page – the rate magazines like Time used once to pay.

The publications will not ‘technically’ carry any advertising, though they may accept some ‘sponsorship’ and turn it into grants or other things that will directly aid photojournalists, and they make clear that “we’re budgeted to be completely supported by our members, so the sponsors won’t be able to dictate what appears on our pages.” But this means that members have to pay the full cost of production, whereas most publications are largely paid for by advertising, turning them into vehicles to supply readers to the advertisers.

There is a lot more you can read on The Curious Society web site, with some stunning photographs. There is also an Instagram page, which they intend to be their only social media presence. Their publications will be only available to members and there will also be some member-only videos.

Although I welcome this initiative and wish it every success I do have some reservations. With individual membership at $300 per year it clearly isn’t something for me – and there are higher levels of contribution for those wanting to be more involved, as well as a half price student deal and some gift memberships for young aspiring photographers. It’s also a very USA-centric organisation, with an annual meeting in a small to medium sized town in the Rocky Mountain West – the first planned hopefully for September 2021.

Although a positive idea, it’s also one of a limited scale. At $100 per page it is only injecting around $100,000 per year into paying photojournalists, an amount that will not go far around. Welcome though it is, even if successful it will hardly have a huge impact on the industry.

I’m also just a little put off by the web site. Partly because of the kind of images that it presents, all very high impact and newsy, but perhaps sometimes more about the photographer than the subject. And perhaps not in the finest traditions of photojournalism, where the pictures that really tell the story are rather less dramatised. I also wish that the text was not all in CAPITAL LETTERS. I’m averse to being shouted at either in visuals or text.

The Curious Society
https://www.curioussociety.org/