Worth a read: American Photo’s How You Living series

“instead of trying to pick apart the meaning and motivation behind photographs, these articles will try to find out how photographers are actually surviving in 2013. I want to talk concretely about the challenges facing photographers, and the conditions that affect their work, both in the personal and professional sense of the word.” -Dan Abbe, Why How You Living?, American Photo

We’ve been on the subject of business in photography recently. American Photo has embarked on a fascinating series profiling photographers around the world and how they cobble together a living. Called “How You Living?” the series takes a candid look at what photographers do to get by. Here’s a short explanation about the motivation behind the series. The crux of the interviews, though, is something not often talked about in photography circles: how do you make a living? The short answer is that there are very few people who make their living entirely from taking pictures.

Only a couple of the photographers make some or a substantial part of their income by using a camera. Others fit in photography alongside full-time jobs, freelance design work, teaching, or whatever else it might take. For those of us making a go of freelance photography, this might not be news, but it’s refreshing to hear photographers speak openly about how they make things work. For those of you just starting out, know that you’ll probably need to supplement your photography with other work (or less interesting types of photography) for some time. I know I certainly did.

There are five articles in the series so far: Ed Panar, Peter Dixie, Mark King, Sean Marc Lee, and Jin Zhu.

The Atlantic runs Scientology paid content, apologizes

Screenshot of the Atlantic with sponsored Scientology article
Screenshot of the Atlantic with sponsored Scientology article

The Atlantic, a 156-year-old publication, has been at the forefront of digital media. Its diverse blogs (I read James Fallows and Ta-Nehisi Coates) and online projects (InFocus, Atlantic Cities and the Atlantic Wire, for instance) have helped the Atlantic lead the push into the new media environment, all while making the publication profitable again. That’s what makes Jan. 14’s missteps, publishing an ‘article’ sponsored by the Church of Scientology in the same format as the Atlantic’s online news, so confounding and laughable.

Here’s what happened: The Atlantic is experimenting with models of funding online journalism. The Atlantic decided to start running paid content in line with its regular reporting, the first of which was something called “David Miscavige Leads Scientology to Milestone Year” (archive of article with a few comments) posted at 12:25pm on Jan. 14, 2013. This article and some associated sidebar content looked indistinguishable from regular Atlantic content (and showed up in searches of the Atlantic’s online archive), though they were marked with the words “sponsored content.” The Atlantic’s marketing team was monitoring comments on the Scientology article and deleted a number of negative comments. Criticism of the article spread across social media. And at 11:35pm, less than 12 hours after it was published, the advertorial was removed from the site and links to it forwarded readers to a message stating, “We have temporarily suspended this advertising campaign pending a review of our policies that govern sponsor content and subsequent comment threads” and saying “We screwed up.”

Advertising content that looks like editorial content is nothing new. You can see “special advertising sections” in many newspapers and magazines. The Chinese and Russian governments have been particularly persistent with advertorials that look like news reporting in international news publications, including the Washington Post and New York Times. But the Atlantic’s Scientology debacle was a step too far for readers, not least because the Church of Scientology has a reputation for being a threat to democracy and unfriendly to those reporting or sharing information about the church.

For more about the Church of Scientology, make sure to read the New Yorker’s piece about director Paul Haggis and the Tampa Bay Times series investigating the inner workings of the Church.

And in the vein of editorial independence in online media, earlier this week a CNET writer resigned after CNET’s parent company CBS forbade the writer from giving a technology award to a company that CBS is currently suing.

(via Metafilter)

How much should I charge for photography?

Pricing creative work is a dark art, so here’s another helpful video to get you in the mindset of fair fees for your work. It’s primarily geared toward portrait and wedding photographers–the topic of licensing only comprises a few seconds of the video–but the lessons on realizing the real cost of doing business as a photographer are invaluable. Before you ever quote a number to a potential client, you need to figure out what it costs you just to go out and take pictures, making consideration for your time of course, but also for your equipment, taxes, transportation, rent, etc., not to mention a small profit.

(via A Photo Editor)