January 2011

You are currently browsing the monthly archive for January 2011.

Mark Seliger has published a new book entitled ‘Listen”, but don’t expect to see any celebrities.  Thirty large scale prints can be seen through February 26 at the Steven Kasher Gallery in NYC…

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of JFK’s inauguration, Phil Stern is showing a collection of rare photographs at the Pacific Electric Lofts in Los Angeles. More information can be found in this article from blogdowntown.

Paul Couvrette has responded to Mayor Watson via an OpEd piece in today’s Ottawa Citizen. He also wrote the following letter to me with regard to the EP thread that I am posting here, as EP is a members only forum.

Hello Debra,

I wanted to thank you for your interest in the Photogate scandal here in Ottawa. Attached below is the text of the OpEd piece that will be published in tomorrow’s Ottawa Citizen, our main newspaper.

When we spoke a couple of days ago, there was discussion about some threads on EP concerning “Value” vs “Overhead” as a rationale for a photographer’s fees. My take is that both are correct.

While it seems that some question the value of your letter to the Mayor which I quoted in the OpEd, I would like to let them in on a little secret. While many people in many countries of the world dislike Americans….there is also an unstated admiration for the success of your country and your words did carry a lot of weight with the local media.

Let me be clear. This was never a battle about whether my invoice was correct or would not be paid. That alone would not have made headlines and caused thousands of social media messages and emails. What was, and is at stake here was a popular elected official stating on the front page of a newspaper that a contract for services which had been properly carried out was a “frivolous expense”. The Mayor undoubtedly was caught off guard and misspoke, but I believe it expressed an underlying theme that we all experience as pros every day…that somehow our work has less value because of a range of modern day tools and an avalanche of images that visually bombard us daily.

Frankly, the issue is not about myself or my images. It is about a profession under siege not just from our clientele, but from the general public as well.

I would ask that you post the OpEd piece and would also ask that you, or anyone reading this who wants to speak their mind drop a simple line or two to…letters@thecitizen.canwest.com

After writing and sending my letter to the Mayor of Ottawa (which can be seen in my previous post) referencing his criticism of photographer Paul Couvrette’s invoice, I posted the links to the Ottawa Citizen article and my blog on both FB and Editorial Photo. Much to my surprise the response I got on EP was not one of offering support for the photographer, but condemnation from a photographer for bringing to the mayor’s attention what it actually takes to run a successful photography business. He seemed rather upset that I had the audacity to mention money, when I should have been speaking to the value the photographer brings to the client. As we know, value is frequently perceived and determined by one’s cost. But they were already aware of Couvrette’s value given his very lengthy history with the city of Ottawa. Also, the issue here was the Mayor’s reaction to the amount of the invoice and his subsequent statements for which I believed Couvrette deserved an apology.

Perhaps I should not have been so surprised at the exchange which took place. Photographers seem to have a special ability when it comes to eating their own. There was a veritable feast when Jill Greenberg manipulated her images of John McCain, something she had every right to do since they were hers. Or the false accusations of child abuse when she created her “End Times” series. Or the so many occasions when photographers could have united to withstand the assaults on your ability to earn more than a decent living. Instead of standing up for your colleagues when they stand up for themselves, it becomes a contest to see who will knock them down first. At a time when so much about this industry is unsure, it may be time to let old habits die. Arlen Specter in his final Senate speech said,  “Defeating your own is a form of sophisticated cannibalism.”  Now there’s food for thought.