Editor's note: the following is a tongue-in-cheek, oftenirreverent, question and answer column published in the ASMP News solelyfor the entertainment of our readers. It does not necessarily reflect theviews of ASMP, the local chapter or other ASMP members. All opinions andanswers are solely those of the author, and he is welcome to them.

Readers' questions about any aspect of photography, or life ingeneral, are welcome and Dr. Photography will answer them in future columns,if he happens to feel like it. Send mail to:
Dear Dr. Photography

Dear Dr. Photography,

You are an idiot! In your last column, you implieda comparison of photographer's fees with those of the construction industry.The two businesses are completely different and should not even be consideredtogether in the same sentence. Why don't you compare photographers feesto the music industry, or some other creative field, rather than treatingus as just another bunch of laborers willing to work any job for a few bucks.Your poor taste in humor and stupid remarks have caused irreparable damageto the years of work that ASMP photographers like myself have done to furtherour image. And what other idiot is the editor who allows such drivel tobe published?

Infuriated in Inglewood


DP: While Dr. Photography might takeoffense at the tone of your letter, he understands that there are probablymany things you still have to learn about the business of photography andwill dismiss your cross attitude simply as immaturity.

Analogies between different businesses are always dangerous, simply becausebusinesses are, well... different. If a photographer applies thepractices of another industry to his or her business, they are courtingdisaster. Likewise, a building contractor who uses the wrong standards willultimately fail, as well.

You suggested comparing photography to the music industry, or perhapssome other creative field based upon a sensory perception, such as photographyis to vision.

Music has a history that is far longer than that of photography. Theexistence of primitive instruments dates back into early civilization. Correspondingly,the business of music has had many more years to develop into theinextricable tangle of licenses and royalties it has become today. Anyonewho has ever tried to license a particular recording, has found that permissionmust often be obtained and royalties paid to the composer(s), the publisher,the printer, the musicians, the unions, the recording company, the distributors,and any studios and agents involved.

While photographers have adopted some of the music industry's practices,including ASMP's current formation of a copyright collective, there areobviously going to be limits. When a client buys use of a photo, I doubtvery much that they will want to have to pay royalties to the models, thestylists, the lighting assistants, the art director, the booking agent,the location and prop owners, the processing lab and the caterer, in additionto what they owe the photographer.


The folly of analogies to other industries becomes clearer when you considerother creative arts that are based on the five physical senses. Imagineif the culinary arts industry adopted the business practices of the musicworld.

If you went to a fine restaurant for dinner, you would pay the maitred' for placement at a good table (OK, so that's not so unusual). You wouldthen pay a use fee to the vineyard that provided the wine (you're not buyingthe entire vintage, just use of a small bottle). Some people also considerthat buying a beverage is really only a rental, since you will only getto drink it once, will only possess it for a short time, and ultimately,will return most of it to the earth, anyway. Food, of course, can be thoughtof similarly.

When dinner arrived, you would owe a creative fee to the chef, usagefees to the restaurant owner, and license fees to everyone including thefarmers and their collectives who provided the raw materials. Sometime aftercoffee and dessert are served, you might find yourself once again tastingyour meal, traces of which resurfaced in a small belch. That would be asecond use of the meal and would require additional payments to all thoselisted above. If this was a business dinner, additional fees relative tothe business value of the meeting would also apply.

One's imagination could run wild trying to apply similar analogies toother sensory professions. Perfumes and fragrances are a multi-billion dollarindustry based solely on the sense of smell. Even sex, which has been arounda bit longer than photography or music, is an industry that is based solelyupon stimulation of the physical senses. It has even been considered tobe an art form by some.

The point of all this "drivel", as you put it, is to illustratethe dangers of analogy. The risk of drawing such, is that analogies mayexpose more differences than similarities, particularly when used to comparebusiness practices. Photography is photography, and being in business asa photographer does not mean you can run your business like a musician,a chef, a building contractor or a prostitute. You should run it like aphotographer.

Finally, to respond to your last question, the editor of this publicationhappens to be a highly paid professional, a personal friend of mine andof course, owes me money. The reason that any editor would publish "suchdrivel" is because they have been entrusted with the editorial directionand tone of their publication, and you have not. From your own puerile remarks,you should understand why.

(Return to Humor Index)


©1992 Scott Highton
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