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.
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