Civilian contributors have always existed in the news media, the individual who has been caught in the middle of something exciting, dramatic, dangerous or just amusing, however I am concerned how the news media especially certain sections of it, including TV and agencies such as Big are exploiting Joe Public.
Not only are they robbing individuals of their images without payment they are also stealing any future potential of these images with all-rights grabbing contracts. OK, Joe Public is partially to be blamed for being gullible twats and giving away something that could potentially be worth many thousands of pounds in re-sale value, but the agencies themselves are just thieving b@stards.
One of the potentially biggest problems with the encouragement of CJs to go into places to get photographs to satisfy the greed of these companies is that one day, in this country, someone will suffer. Either, physical injury for which they are not insured, or a litigation action that will destroy them financially, or they will end up causing loss of life or injury to a member of the emergency services, who will have to come a rescue them when they have get into trouble.
Press Photographers are experienced in dealing with hazardous environments, caused by fires, accidents and explosions, we are taught, usually formally, through courses or by our peers and superiors as part of the on the job training. We go to riots, civil unrest, demonstrations and the like suitably clothed and equipped to enable us to look after ourselves. We also tend to make sure that those that we are working with or for know exactly where we are going and what we are doing.
There has already been a CJ incident in the states where a witness of a car fire, rather than try to help, decided to video the aftermath, the arrival of the emergency services and subsequent removal of bodies, to later find out that it was one of their relatives that died.
So before you fish out your camera phone and give your pictures away think about several points, firstly if you step on a celebrity’s foot and break a metatarsal can you afford the legal bills and compensation required to hold up a film-set for 6 weeks? Secondly before you photograph a film star snogging someone other than his wife, can you afford to defend yourself against some of the highest paid barristers in the world? Because Big, The BBC and Sky, even if they run the story will not defend you. Don’t believe me? Check out their terms and conditions.
If you are involved in an accident whilst trying to get a photograph and end up unable to do your real job, who will pay your wages, mortgage and bills for the months that you cannot work? If through your actions or inactions you cause the death or serious injury to another individual how will you live with yourself? If you caused the death or injury to one of my fellow press photographers you certainly wouldn’t be able to live with the publicity that you would get, or for that matter the beating you would get the next time a press photographer met you.
So before you think about searching for that award-winning photograph, arm yourself with some decent insurance, public liability and personal it is not that expensive. If you have happened to be in the right place and at the right time got a newsworthy photograph don’t EVER, EVER give it away for free to Sky TV or BBC, phone a reputable News/Press Agency and get them to negotiate a sensible price on your behalf, you may well be surprised that a decent exclusive celebrity picture may pay your mortgage for a year, if you are really lucky it may sell world-wide for the same overall value as your house.
UK First rights are frequently £5-10k, with a good second rights another £2-5K, a great international celebrity, such as Tom Cruise, you could probably make the same or more selling to the States as well.
Get something interesting you can always give me a call, I am happy to re-sell and split 50/50 your best stories and pictures.