Burning my negatives

Discussion in 'Casual Photo Conversations' started by jb-avril, Oct 20, 2009.

  1. Moved from the Philosophy forum because it's not the Rant forum.
    By the beginning of 2010, I'll burn one of my latest work negatives, about 20 BW films (36 exposures).
    I know it's a bit harsh, but there is a sort of logic behind it (at least for me).
    Here is the story: I worked more or less for a year on an architecture project on the centennial of Tel-Aviv, at the demand of one of the best contemporary art gallery in Israel. Came out with a serie of about 80 pictures, twelve of them being printed on silver gelatin (60x90 cm). The exibition, six weeks early 2009 was a success with a huge press coverage, and incidently a very large frequentation of the gallery. A book was also published by the gallery with 80 pics, and text.
    The bad side now: Never, absolutly never in my 20 years carrer as a photographer, I had to face such a vampirism. I had of course positive or negative answers to previous works around the workd, sometime with important delays, but there, every single approach I had wanted my work to be... just for free!
    - El Al (israel airline) inflight magazine loved publishing my work and text on five pages, but were not willing to even give a courtesy ticket in exchange. I was even told that "some people were paying to be published in their magazine".
    - The most important insurance compagny in the country which has a cultural dpt and a large exibition room at the headquater, wanted (and had) the exibition for two months, but no money for the artist. I was told that it was due to the financial crisis.
    - The curator of the Museum of Modern Art in Tel-Aviv requested my gallery to have two of the prints displayed at the museum for three months, as part as an important exibition "Tel-Aviv by international photographers", but paid nothing to help.
    - Various gvt institutions contacted me to use my work to illustrate various brochures and catalogues on Tel-Aviv centennial but "had absolutly no budget to pay for the photographs"
    - Many communities in France, Luxembourg and Geneva would have loved to have the prints and set up an exibition to celebrate the centennial of the city, but had also no money to participate to the needs of the artist.
    - A french magazine published me on six pages to celebrate in their portfolio section the event of the centennial, but of course no money...
    And so on...
    Of course, every single time I had the usual "you know, that will be such a good publicity for you!"
    With more than 40 pages of press on that work, plus web articles etc... I could live then on publicity till the end of my life!!!
    So I just got fed up.
    I believe that public and private institutions don't play their role into supporting the artistic life through the artists essential needs: money, grants, whatever you want to call it.
    So my work has to be for free! All right! As it has no value I don't see the need for it to physically exist much longer.
    I'll wait for the end of the centennial year and then burn the entire serie. Of course, I'll keep the set of these 12 large format silver gelatin prints, hoping they might (then) start to represent "something" on the market.
    Of course, the destruction of the negs will be done in public, filmed, displayed on medias like YouTube. I will even sent an invitation card to all these people and structures involved in such a fiasco. Don't think they'll come, don't even think they'll learn something about it :(
  2. Luxembourg has no money? I don't believe it. I work there, and they were cultural capital when? Two years ago? They have such huge culture budgets that other cities start to cry when you even just mention it... apart from that, in Luxembourg, everything is established through personal contacts, so if you're an outsider, they really want you or someone else gets you in. Sad sad story.
    Don't burn your films, though. Negatives are like your children, so don't treat them badly.
  3. I understand you Jean.
    Vampires... yep!
    Let me know when you post the video... I'll publish it everywhere.
  4. It would be a tragedy for valuable negatives to be destroyed. You have no way of knowing what value they might have in some future application beyond your lifetime.
  5. If El Al had no money, why did you let them publish your pictures? You could have said no.
    Why did you give the insurance company your work to exhibit if you weren't happy with the arrangements?
    You did not agree for Israeli government institutions to use your work w/o compensation, right?
    Why did your pictures appear in a French magazine if you weren't happy with the deal?
    How were the book sales? Print sales? Do you think all this exposure help with the sales?
    Museums normally do not pay artists for exhibitions, though they help find sponsors to defray printing/framing costs.
  6. Do what you like. They're your negatives.
  7. I'll be honnest, I will keep the digital files from scanned pictures. Nevertheless, the original files will be destroyed. For me, it will be like making a statement on how this "artistic" world is ridiculous...
    I had university scholars asking for my work, of course for free, to illustrate catalogues after seminars. They were surprised when I say I needed to make a living form my work!
    I has to remind them that at their bloody seminars and workshops, they had their fees to attempt. event the taxi driver taking them from the airport to the location of the congress didn't work for free. Even the waiter offering champagne at the opening ceremony was getting paid. For the photographer who's work will illustrate the object of their work: Nothing !
  8. To Luis G,
    I "played" the game till I realized how systematic the "use for free" was.
    I agreed I said yes a reasonnable amount of time, till it appeared that it had to be a rule :(
  9. As Luis G said, make arrangements for payment before giving the images. If you don't agree with the terms, don't give them the images. If they take them anyway, sue them for copyright infringement.

    Clearly, your pictures are wanted.. Destroying them won't benefit anyone. Store them in a bank vault until clients are willing to pay you for them. If that day doesn't come, safe them for future generations.
  10. Howard is right. Burning your negatives, as dramatic as that might be in the short term, would be a mistake that you would regret in the long term.
    But, you have uncovered one crucial difference between film and digital photography: The drama. Imagine a digital photographer announcing a public file deletion...
  11. The problem is that too many photographers let companies use their images for free, thinking that getting their name "out there" will pay off some day. Why would companies pay for images that they can get for free? Examples: An ad agency out of New York City wanted to use some of my images of the Calatrava addition to the Milwaukee Art Museum to put on city buses. I asked how much they were going to pay and they said that they couldn't pay me but would make sure they put my name in big bright letters. I told them to forget it, find some other chump. A major University was having an international architictural conference and wanted to use some of my Calatrava images for their website and brochures promoting the conference. Same old story, no money in the budget for the images but they would splash my name around. The University of course had money to fly people in from all over the world and put them up in nice hotels but no money for Timbo. I also told them, no th, find some other chump. I do let non-profits and charities use my photos for no charge on a case by case basis but I refuse to let money-making corporations use my photos for free. Every one of us has to do what we think is best for our particular situation and live with the consequences.
  12. Before taking any actions, do this one thing first...
    Google your name.
    It's up to you to decide how to use the name recognition factor. You might consider using this situation to both promote and publish your photos and make a more effective statement about your position on this situation.
  13. For me, it will be like making a statement on how this "artistic" world is ridiculous...​
    I have a feeling that the only person who will care about this is you. Initially, you will think you have made a statement to the rest of the world. After a while you will realise how foolish you were.
  14. Lex (perpendicularity consultant) Jenkins [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG], Oct 20, 2009; 09:23 a.m.
    Before taking any actions, do this one thing first...
    Google your name.
    Lex, I just did, and got several pages of hits on Jean .
    Tons o' free publicity that I wouldn't want to have to pay for.
    This whole thing sounds like a "cut off our nose to spite your face" situation.
    If you MUST burn something, burn the prints, but keep the negs, etc.
    I'd do something more positive, though.
    Bill P.
  15. I come from a family of artists, so let's avoid any notion that I'm just being contrary for the fun of it.

    If anyone has any doubt why much of the world rolls its eyes at artists, this is a grand example. The sense of entitlement to paying customers is appallingly pervasive. The reason there was no money to be had in that laundry list of venues? They didn't want or need the work badly enough to divert money from some other budget line item. Which means there was no market for it where you were looking. Two choices: produce work for which there is a market, or come to terms with the fact that the only paying customer that's interested is you, and you're buying the art from yourself with your time, instead of money.

    Perhaps, as mentoned above, a market for the work may appear later. Great. That means you've made an investment in creating the art. If you've made the art specifically to sell it, and nobody ever meets your necessary demands on price, then it was simply a bad investment - just like any other bad investment. It happens, and you move on, re-evaluating the market you're trying to capture.

    The tone of your post, J-B, would be a better fit if you had lined up paying customers, only to find that they'd changed their mind, later. Like the waiter and taxi driver you mentioned being told they'd get paid X for their work, and then getting stiffed. But they don't do their work without making arrangements to be paid. That taxi doesn't take on a passenger without an established understanding of the outcome. People need transportation more than they need a particular work of art, and that market is well defined as a result.

    Destroying your own work in a fit of pique is a tantrum in keeping with the sense of entitlement that seems to be at the heart of this whole rant. Unless this, like the proposed YouTube stunt, is all part of some indulgent performance art. There. How's that for a counter-rant.

    I definitely harbor my own frustrations when prospective customers don't understand the economics that drive what I have to ask for the photograph I sell them. But in my experience, the worst of those would-be customers are at their worst specifically because of the sense of entitlement that they're being trained to have as a world view. This is about to get even worse in the US, and it's up to people who actually create and produce and sell things and services to educate their fellow citizens about the reality and essential nature of markets.

    Stomp your feet over having wasted time pursuing a vaporous market for a particular product, or for having not done enough to create that market or demand within it. There's no point being personally indignant over the lack of prospective customers for any given service or product. The only fault, here, is in the misjudgement on your part over the actual value (to the market, as it operates at this moment, with the funds available) of your work. Nobody with a checkbook and a need for photographs is going to have their priorities changed by a video of you destroying your own work. Van Gogh's ear didn't buy him any respect at the time, either.

    I'm reminded of the classic scene from Blazing Saddles, where the new sherrif keeps the murderous lynch mob at bay by pointing a gun at his own head and promising to shoot himself if they don't change their tune. The difference is that I don't think you're producing satire, here. Unless you are, in which case it's truly sublime.
  16. I feel your frustration but don't burn the negs.
    That would just be selfish and that is precisely what we need to change.
    We all have to really stop giving usage for free and the entire micro stock thing is just a farce.
  17. I get a lot of inquiries about using my images for commercial stuff. I'm represented by an agency that deals with all that, so I just refer everybody to them. The agency usually scares the person off with demands for lots of money, which is fine by me. Once in awhile the person pays up; usually they give up. I'm one of those people that hates to disappoint others, and since I don't need to make a living from photography, my tendency is to just give things away. So it's nice to have a "bad cop" to look out for me. You should look into it...
  18. Matt Laur [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG], Oct 20, 2009; 09:49 a.m.
    There. How's that for a counter-rant......
    Actually, a well thought out and presented outlook on the situation.
    Bill P.
  19. One wonders if on plumber.net if plumbers also give away their work too?

    At some point you have to decide if you are business or a charity.

    Even Mr. Norton on the Honeymooners TV show got paid to clean out the sewers.

    One can shoot weddings for free; replace toilets for free; shovel manure for free; give away paintings or photos for free; give away furniture one makes for free too.

    The plumber can consider a tough job a work of art too; but usually they tend to charge for their work.

    Some charity in all businesses is a part of sales ie advertising.

    ****This lack of income is really is NOT a photography issue; but one of a lack of proper business plan/model.

    It is as old as man, At some point one has to charge something for ones spears; grain; corn; labor; whatever.
  20. Thank's to all for your comments & advices.
    What I'm trying to do is just to raise an issue, not among photographers (we all know what this job is about) but among people having some responsabilities within the art/communication market.
    Hundred of thousand of people in this field make a very decent monthly salary using the work of dead artists who died (for most of them) in poverty.
    You're right Matt, I'm staging this thing. Already with a cameraman friend, we're talking about how and where.
    I don't care about the negs in a way. The important was to do the work and to see that the result went accordingly to my vision of it. The important is, I believe, the mental ability to create something. The object is just an object.
    The point is to have some people (if it could happen) facing their responsabilities while they are confortably seated behind their desks.
    I've checked the web, and burning negs is an extremely rare things (but I know, the web is NOT everything).
    We'll see if it works! I'll keep you guys posted :)
    Cheers, and thank's!
  21. I'm trying to figure out which is more ridiculous...
    Letting people and businesses using you images for free and then ranting and raving about people and entities because the used your images for free.
    Claiming you will burn you negatives in protest of the images not being worthy of existing anymore while keeping scans of them because of your desire that they continue to exist.
    Wailing about others not valuing the work of artists while contributing to the devaluation of art by giving it out for free.
  22. It is a bit too late to copyright thge images,
    as the world has freely used these images and they
    have been published,.
    the actual inmages do exist in some form in the archives
    of el al and that french magazine.
    burning the negatives would only be symbolic.
    If they wanted to re-publish they could.
    Best option would be some kind of "time capsule"
    so future generations would have the ability to
    see the images as a historical record.
    However , viewing it another way, as an Evanelical Christian,
    the way things are going in this world and particularly in the USA,
    this old world as we know it now,
    may come to an unexpected and very sudden end.
  23. What I'm trying to do is just to raise an issue, not among photographers (we all know what this job is about) but among people having some responsabilities within the art/communication market.
    I very seriously doubt whether those people would agree that providing you with an income is among their responsibilities.
  24. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    It is a bit too late to copyright thge images​
    Assuming that the copyright laws of the country of the original poster are similar to those of the US, this is just not true. The images are automatically copyrighted.
    I very seriously doubt whether those people would agree that providing you with an income is among their responsibilities.​
  25. James G. Dainis

    James G. Dainis Moderator

    Early in his career, Ansel Adams would make a set amount of prints and then burn the negative. The idea was it would make the prints more valuable since no more prints could be made. He always regretted that decision.
  26. I understand that you want to make your point by burning the negs. No offense, as I'm sure you are a good photographer, but really, apart from yourself and some of us here at photo.net, will somebody "out there" care? The news are filled with horror pictures from all over the globe, Business Life will always find other pictures to suit their needs there and then, and "the man in the street" will probably not understand why.
    So what's left? You will make your statement - and tomorrow (at latest) no one remembers. Sorry. I'm a bit cynical here, but I think that you really, really should keep your negs. You might regret destroying them, some time in the future, maybe when someone really wanted to pay for their use.
  27. Got to teach and everything you learn
    will point to the fact that time is eternal
    (Drummond, Cauty)
  28. Permantly deleting all the digital files along with the burning of the original negatives, along with burning all the prints, and while you're at it along with all the money that you didn't get payed for it, THAT would be more like making a statement. I remember a news coverage a couple of years ago of an artist who burned ALL of his paintings because he couldn't find the funding / building anymore for the safe storage of his work and the governmentbuilding were he had been storing his paintings in he wasn't allowed to use any longer, unless for very high rent. He was making an artists statement by burning all of his work. Your action would simply be that of a photographer, artist or not, burning a set of his negatives but keeping the digital files of those negatives, hardly a big deal since the digital files can do anything ( and more ) the negatives could do, even making new negatives out of them.
    I believe that public and private institutions don't play their role into supporting the artistic life through the artists essential needs: money, grants, whatever you want to call it.​
    The artists essential needs are fulfilled through the artists drive for expression and communication, not through the collection of money.
  29. Maybe just roll on the floor and kick and scream?
    My kids always thought that was a good approach...and to me it makes about as much sense....
    You chose the venues...you knew the pay scale...cowboy up!
  30. "The artists essential needs are fulfilled through the artists drive towards expression and communication, not through the collection of money"
    Oh, I believe that your committement to photography doesn't go as far as trying to make a living out of it :))
  31. I don't care about the negs in a way. The important was to do the work and to see that the result went accordingly to my vision of it.​
    It sounds like you are making a statement, but not a sacrifice. And if you'll notice from the overwhelming tone in the responses so far, nobody's impressed.
    It sounds like you're getting what you deserved. You chose to give away your work for free, OVER AND OVER AGAIN. How can you then complain when down the road the next guy wanted to use it for free too?
    Maybe you shouldn't be working for free. It sounds extremely naive of you. If it's free, it had better not be work (maybe you do a hobby for free, or you help out your neighbors for free). But if it's work, you should make sure you're going to get paid before you invest too much of yourself into it.
    On another point: if you are doing photography that doesn't have a paying market, then you are competing against other photographers who are working for free. Don't be surprised when noone wants to pay for this kind of work, as it isn't commercial.
    Imagine if I were to come on this forum and say, "You can have my advice on this topic, but it will cost everyone $5 to read it." If my advice were worth money, I wouldn't be on here giving it away for free.
  32. Jean-Baptiste Avril [​IMG][​IMG], Oct 20, 2009; 11:36 a.m.
    "The artists essential needs are fulfilled through the artists drive towards expression and communication, not through the collection of money"
    Oh, I believe that your committement to photography doesn't go as far as trying to make a living out of it :))
    Okay then, if you're trying to make a living out of it, why do you give it away ?
    Bill P.
  33. "Oh, I believe that your committement to photography doesn't go as far as trying to make a living out of it :))"​
    I don't try to make a living out of it, I make a living out of it, the trying is more in successfully maintaining to make a living out of it. Although not through my personal photography, to which in fact I am so much committed ( too much maybe vs commercial photography ) that I don't expect or have the need for making any money out of it at all, let alone burn my negatives if nobody else other then me cares for them or is willing to spend money on them.
    But, where I quoted you you were talking about an artist, about "the artists needs", and not the commercial photographers' needs, who seems more fit to the description of someone who's commitment to photography goes as far as ( only ) trying to make a living out of it.
    You want to burn your negatives as a statement from the romantic perspective of the artist but at the same time derive the reasons for burning them - the not paying for the use of your images - from the perspective of the commercial photographer.
  34. You want to burn your negatives as a statement from the romantic perspective of the artist but at the same time derive the reasons for burning them - the not paying for the use of your images - from the perspective of the commercial photographer.

    That's really quite insightful, Phylo.
  35. Well, I've destroyed, and lost, many photos over the years, but I can't think of a time when I wanted to trash the work because I was dissatisfied about money. On the contrary, I've often wished I could sell more, or have more people see and enjoy or think about the photographs.
    Something that Matt wrote spoke to me about it. I was sitting in a coffeeshop the other day, talking with some other local artists, spitballing some ideas and generally chatting. What were we going to do to do better?
    The answer was, pretty much the same types of things we were doing already.
    Hey, sometimes it sucks and it just doesn't pay off. Truth is, maybe no one does want to look at it right now. Maybe they don't want to hear it, or see it, or be around it. Man, that can be a real kick in the crotch if that's the result of what you do.
    You're not going to gain anything by destroying the prints. Are you going to take your bat and your ball and go home? What's that?
    Then when I saw something like, I'm going to keep the digital images. What's that? Second thoughts?
    Hey, did you have a contract with those guys? If you did, and now you can't collect, I'm sure there's somebody in the worlds of Law or Finance who can help you. But, it is what it is, and the whole diatribe, above, is not going to sound good for you in the eyes of people who haven't attained those heights.
    Yeah, they all want it for free. When was the last time we did the opposite? Do you just walk in to other businesses and say, "Hi! I'd like to write you a check for some of your overhead. How's a thousand dollars sound? Consider it my gift to you?" When the shoe's on the other foot, we often don't do that, either.
    Just make some pictures and keep going, or put down the camera and do something else. When Samuel Morse stopped painting portraits and started investing in mechanical technology, he invented profitable improvements in telegraphy. Maybe this is not your thing.
    If you can't close the sale yourself, and you're not willing to continue, maybe it's time to work for somebody else.
  36. There were negatives burned in the Bettie Page era; Robert Kennedy in the Irving Klaw witch hunt by the Attorney General; Kennedy. Klaw burned about 80 percent of the pinup negatives. Comic books were attacked in the Kefauver hearings; this helped the US from juvenile delinquincy; and added the perfect Kennedy morals. :) Kefauver has a Senator from Tennesse.
  37. I understand your thinking, but it seems much like a kid throwing a tantrum because they are not getting what they want. Why is the kid not getting what they want? Because they feel powerless to change the situation. You need to fix your power-quotient and take control of your career. Buck up, and don't burn them.
  38. Burning the negs would be a great example of "I'll show you - I'll hurt me!".
    What if the images become high-demand items in the years to come? You'll have shot yourself squarely in the foot.
    You could put the shoe on the other foot...why not put up a web page and offer prints for sale, and reference the institutions and publications that used them as the images' 'pedigree'?
  39. Burning the negatives while keeping the digital scans?

    This sounds more like a publicity stunt to me. Although I honestly don't think it would draw much attention.

    I think you had some great opportunities to display your work.

    I am just curious, did you attach a business card or contact information to the frames/prints? Did you put price tags in the corners? You may have sold a couple of prints had you gone this route, but don't expect to get paid for "displaying" your work in someone's lobby. When you hang work in a gallery the pay day comes if someone wants to buy it. The gallery isn't going to pay you to display it. If you want to sell stock (bus sides) I would suggest using a stock agency.

    I think that the thing which needs to be evaluated here is your business model. I'm sorry to rain on your parade.
  40. jtk


    I've known a photographer and a painter, both successful recognition-wise, who destroyed their work. It was evidently good for them: they created new lives.
    Must be tough for someone who covers human misery in war to get attention for that work in later, equally grotesque wars.
    Same with architectural imagery...there's always something better. Or photo books...look at how many are remaindered.
  41. Let's see if I follow this interesting tale. Avril, you take on a self assignment to shoot pictures of buildings. Then offer them on speculation to El Al, museums, other agencies in Israel and elsewhere. After the use, you find that you got no monetary recognition or payment even and get the brushoff when you suggest same. Is that it? I find that a little hard to take too. And can understand the indigestion one might feel as a fellow artist of the camera aspirant. The inflight magazine said you got publicity snf put your name along side the photos.. You want to know how you can eat publicity and manage. Fair question... Well, if you were published by the airline in their mag with a full spread already, maybe you can shmooze with the editor and get some future work under contract. (?) All I am suggesting from afar is that all is not necessarily lost. We must seek the good in any situation. Tsedaka is tsedaka, but gelt buys the groceries as my uncle used to say. (Proverbs 10, verse 2 refers)
    I think you can pull something out of this yet. If not, as Pat Boone sang in the old tuneful days..." April love. Can slip right through your fingers...." I have been burned a couple times. It hurts. With burning in mind, don't immolate anything just yet. Give it six months and see then how you feel.
  42. jtk


    Gerry, damn, that's a great post. Fun. What can I say? Are you as good photographing as writing?
  43. ...you should read Fountainhead & Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand​
    Nobody older than college age should subject themselves to that. Nowadays Rand is strictly for pretentious hipsters. I recommend the illustrated version .
  44. What I'm trying to do is just to raise an issue, not among photographers (we all know what this job is about) but among people having some responsabilities within the art/communication market.

    A reality check is desperately needed here. The reason that the "art/communication market" so frequently expects photographers to provide work for free is because so many photographers provide their work for free. You called this sector a market. Guess what market means? Making money which means saving money where it can to do so to help the bottom line. No market is going to pay for things they can get for free. So when photographers give away work for free, the market as you called it, is not going to pay for it, nor does it have any responsibility for paying. It pays only if it needs to.
    Now who is among those that is causing this grand market devaluation by handing over work for free?

    You are my freind. You are.
    Indeed, you gave a set of images to, not one or two organizations, but six of them in a row. If you want to "raise an issue" about "people having some responsibilities" and have a modicum of credibility when doing so, tell them you need to be compensated for your work next time and you will not be handing it over for free.
  45. John Henneberger beat me to it.
    If I am a representative of some outfit that wants to use art in some way, I'll find the cheapest way to do so, that being part of my duty to my organization. I'll check first to see if I can get some for free....and there you are.
    Do you expect me to come up after the fact and say "oh, gosh, let me give you some money"? If so, why?
  46. Personally, I think the whole idea of an "artist" being expected to give away his art work for free is a total disrespect towards them. As far as I know there is no other field of endeavor that expects this of a person...or at least they don't get away with it. And it's not just the art work....it's the whole arena of art jobs. Just take a look in craigslist employment ads. The arts choice is about the only one that has "internship....no pay" as a compensation statement. It's like saying....the most creative minds on the planet are expected to create and provide stuff for everyone else........for free. That's a whole lot of BS if you ask me.
    sorry....my rant for the day
  47. Lex (perpendicularity consultant) Jenkins [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG], Oct 20, 2009; 08:55 p.m.
    ...you should read Fountainhead & Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
    Nobody older than college age should subject themselves to that. Nowadays Rand is strictly for pretentious hipsters. I recommend the illustrated version .
    Lex, I'm reading it now and it's great !
    Alan Greenspan should have stuck to reading comics instead of idolizing Ayn Rand.
    We'd be in a lot better shape today.
    Bill P.
  48. "ART" has always had "starving artists". It was a term in use 50 years ago.
    The starving word is sometimes attached to "actor" too; waiting to be discovered; making ends meet waiting on tables in Los Angeles.
    One could add "starving" to other jobs; teacher; government worker; plumber; rainmaker; fortune teller; farmer; writer.
    The WSJ the other day had an article about Michigan; it only has 500k manufacturing jobs today;and more in government jobs; in 600k plus. I forget the exact 6xx number; the WSJ is out in my car. Folks need ART less than toilets; thus one can pass by an artist selling his/her work; and use ones available cash to hire a plumber when there is an plumbing issue.
    A friends wife has made these art things now for about 3 decades; and still is waiting to be discovered. They are these weird 3D nude in a body bag thing that goes on the wall; to me it is just a butt ugly thing I would never buy ever. To the budding/starving artist it is a thing of beauty; a masterpiece; life work. The lady has gone to art schools; they don not have any kids; all her part time income goes to fund her workshop/studio. I made the "mistake" of asking about the meaning of the 3D art once; that was about 1986. I got an earfull that she is a professional; and has to be paid to talk about her work. At one low point about a decade ago the arts was going to burn alot of her nude in body bag 3D art; since some that she had given away she never got paid.
  49. That's all well and fine Kelly. I don't disagree with anything you have said. BUT, this is not the case i speak of. I speak of the expectation that artists and the like should give their stuff, or time, away for nothing. If people don't want to, or can't, buy the art..........fine, don't. But don't expect to get it for nothing. And by the way, that's why I brought up Ayn Rand's books. There are people who will read those books and get completely the wrong idea. The basic premise of her philosophy is (paraphrased) "Don't expect me to work for you for nothing, and I won't expect you to work for me for nothing".....and work is any product, service, creation, or invention.
  50. Thomas: you're missing the point. Artists aren't expected to give things away. Rather, millions of artists are anxious to give things away, since they either do it because they love it (the very definition of 'amateur' - which has nothing to do with skill, but rather with motivation and how the activity fits into daily life) or because they're certain that they need the exposure.

    No one expects "artists" (plural, meaning ... all of them) to give things away. But since so many of them are willing to, it has created a situation where looking for freebies is the first stop for many publications and institutions. Why shouldn't they? They may only get what they pay for, but they can set their own priorities and standards. If a publicity hound of an artist that has a day job to pay the bills is willing to give away his work in exchange for press, that is totally up to the artist.

    It's like saying....the most creative minds on the planet are expected to create and provide stuff for everyone else........for free

    Nah. It's like saying, "The artists who don't have solid representation or good business plan or can't be bothered to create something for which there is actual demand are expected to receive the exact share of the art-buying market's cash that they have actually earned."

    If an artist can't carve out a niche in the market, your only other two options are to let them continue to look for a market, or to give them money that nobody else would otherwise have spent on them. And thus you get government funded art. And that is subject to committee tastes, and political influence (see the recent flap over the White House looking to push out their political/policy messages using taxpayer/NEA-funded artists and programs).

    It's not BS, it's reality. Artists (just like anybody else) need willing patrons, or customers, or some other form of income. It's nobody else's responsibility to provide any of those things to them - it's up to the artist to demonstrate value and actually do something about it in front of people who choose to compensate them for it. I've seen lots of hard working, passionate, Really Serious artists who ... produce dreck for which they cannot attract a single buyer. I cannot think of a reason to let them off of that hook. If nobody "gets" them or can't imagine decorating their house/magazine/office/life with what they produce, then surely the artist has the intellectual integrity not expect a way to force others to pay for their time and materials?

    That's no more appropriate than forcing taxpayers to fund the making of cars that nobody wants. Ah, I see perhaps where the confusion is setting in. We live in interesting times.
  51. You want to make a statement? Set yourself on fire along with the negatives...
    Otherwise, this falls into the category defined by the sage, Otter, "I think that this situation absolutely requires a really futile and stupid gesture be done on somebody's part."
    And, that's exactly what you're doing...
  52. I'm curious, would burning negatives produce poisonous fumes, and would burning negatives in general be harmful to the environment? I'd get rid of them in a more eco-friendly way if they do.
  53. "...Nah. It's like saying, "The artists who don't have solid representation or good business plan or can't be bothered to create something for which there is actual demand are expected to receive the exact share of the art-buying market's cash that they have actually earned."..."
    No, that is actually the flip side of the coin...........where the producer expects someone to give them something for nothing. I'm not saying that, and never would condone it. I'm saying NOBODY should expect the other to give them something for nothing.
    If their work sucks, or the buying public don't want it.............so be it. But what you have now is a situation where because the hacks are willing to give their stuff away to get "recognized" the buyers expect even the best artists to do it also. Like the commenter above said, why shouldn't they try to get something for nothing. The artist is behind the curve even before they go out to promote their stuff.
    Have you gone out and actually looked at what galleries are promoting as good art lately? Some of it is really good.........but a lot of it is crap. And I don't mean it's crap because i don't like it.....I am very open minded to new ways of doing things and I give a lot of leeway to artists trying out new ideas. So I base whether it's good or not, on the success of the finished piece....but if it is crap, it's crap. I mean, in music, I like Beethoven....but I also like Nine Inch Nails....both of them are sheer geniuses in the way they carry out the completion of their particular idea. But, the way things are these days......If the artist came from a decent art school and has a BS or MS in Art....half the time that's all the gallery cares about. Make a decision based on just how great the art is..........ha!......that very seldom happens.... I grant, there are people who get in the arena solely because of how good they are.....but that is a low per centage.
    They shouldn't get government handouts either. Altho I see nothing wrong with private orgs or people supporting an artist. They do that of their own free will based on their estimation of the artists worth.
  54. ted_marcus|1

    ted_marcus|1 Ted R. Marcus

    How about this: Put the negatives in a bank vault. Then stage your public burning to prove your point, but with scrap film.
  55. Send them off in a helium balloon with an endangered monk seal inside the basket. You maybe need a good sales agent/ manager.
  56. fld


    OK, I will add my two cents worth: NEVER ever destroy your originals. 'Nuf said!
  57. Don't burn the negatives.
    If you burn anything, burn the prints. That's what you displayed, that's what you weren't compensated for. Burn some of the brochures and in-flight magazines. Don't burn your negatives.
    Burning your negatives implies that you don't value your images for their own sake; that you value them more for what they can make for you.
  58. Everything's the way it's supposed to be. Suffering is good for you. Helps your creativity. You want money? Go to a bank. It has nothing to do w/ anything creative. Van Gogh sold essentially nothing his entire life! No sales. Nada. Didn't keep him down, and you and I ain't Van Gogh quality. You're missing the whole point.
  59. Van Gogh shot himself and bled to death for two days after spending years in and out of mental institutions from the syphillus he contracted from his prostitute girlfriend, who was the only girl who would have him. He sold no paintings because they had no value and no-one wanted them. He cut his ear off after attempting to attack his only friend, Paul Gauguin with the same razor the night before. Besides all of that, Van Gogh was largely doing his work out of expression of his religious zeal and to illustrate his ideas about spirituality. He was not striving to become a professional artist. I think you have missed a few points there John.
    Jean, I think you should take it as a lesson. Don't give away your work for free anymore, and maybe contact a lawyer and see if you can get some of these organizations to kick you some cash. Businesses all work on the same model, it doesn't matter how big or how small they are. If they find something they want, they always wonder if they can get it for free. If you give it away for free, then they don't take you seriously. If you tell them they can't have it for free, one of two things will happen, they will find someone else who will give it to them for free, or they will pay you. And an important point... if you have not given away COPYRIGHT for free, then none of these businesses can use your images on merchandise or in advertisements. If you have given away your copyright for free... well... then I'm afraid you have just let yourself be suckered.
    At this point, your images are well known. Now that they are well known, someone will want to buy the rights for prints, t-shirts, mugs, posters and promotional materials. Burning your negatives won't fix this situation, it will only make it WORSE because you won't ever be able to prove that they are your images, and people will start selling them and you will get nothing. Either way, I would seriously consider contacting a lawyer who deals in copyright and see what can be done about these businesses.
  60. Don't burn your negatives! There will be a time later in your life that you will regret such an action!
  61. Off topic.
    Where is your book sold?
    I'd like to look through it, and buy it if I enjoy it.
  62. i'm finding some of these responses a bit weird. i am surprised that so many on this thread are arguing with you, fair enough you could have said no, but the thread is really about people's attitude towards your work - WORK, noun, what people do for recompense.
    as far as i can see, the OP is just venting about the fact that everywhere he turns people are asking for something for nothing. imho that is something it is ok to be frustrated by. as another poster stated "One wonders if on plumber.net if plumbers also give away their work too?"
    it does seem as though the first thing people think when they need photography is "hmmm, i'm sure i can get this done for free. " closely followed by "well, it's good for their portfolio. " and "it's only digital, doesn't cost them anything. "
    this common consensus is rife. it is expected that a photographer will be grateful to work for nothing, just for the opportunity. never mind that they have invested muchos money and time (time from their one and only precious life) and effort into their profession/art.
    i think i'll tell nikon that they should be grateful for me to take pictures with their camera and lenses. great exposure for them (no cheeky comments here). i'll bet my mortgage that they'd tell me to fork a roll.
    Jean-Baptiste Avril, i am in full support of your chagrin. you have captured my heart with your rant. rage, broil, rail and fury at the injustice of it. burn it all, burn the whole feckin world.
    good luck
    ps - i really hope you don't burn the negatives :)
  63. i am in full support of your chagrin. you have captured my heart with your rant. rage, broil, rail and fury at the injustice

    Really? Let's review where his fury is directed. Mr. Avril tells us "I believe that public and private institutions don't play their role into supporting the artistic life through the artists essential needs: money, grants, whatever you want to call it." In other words, he is furious that organizations, of all kinds, are not sending him money because he is an 'artist'. A more charitable portrayal, if you will, is that these organizations have some duty to give him money if they want to use his art. Of course that's nonsense unless they agree to do so in a contract or if his images were used in without permission or something like that.
    Now let's review, again, the actual reason why so many organizations do not agree to give Mr. Avril and other 'artists' money. The reason is because the 'artists' so frequently give away their art, that the art has lost its pecuniary value. If there were anyone Mr. Avril should direct his fury at then, it these 'artists' giving away work for free.
    It turns out that such fury need not be directed far away. Mr. Avril, himself, gave one body of work to six different organizations in a row. These organizations will now refuse to offer the next photographer any money because they learned, once again, this time by Mr. Avril's conduct, that photographers will just give away their work.
    Mr. Avril's fury should be directed at himself. He has contributed to the very "injustice" he is furious about.
  64. John Henneberger [​IMG], Oct 22, 2009; 10:06 p.m.
    i am in full support of your chagrin. you have captured my heart with your rant. rage, broil, rail and fury at the injustice....
    You know, not for no reason, this has become one of the longest and most pointless threads I've seen yet. This guy's gotten TONS of free publicity due to the childish attitude he's displaying. Yet we've seen no samples, no links, no nuthin', just a lot of narcissistic whining about who should pay this guy after the fact. He might be doing the world a favor by burning the negs.
    Day after day I wake up to "forum alerts" in my email hoping to find something constructive about the craft, and it's all about this guy burning his negs.
    This guy wants free publicity in a public forum ? We're giving it to him !
    What's next, I'm gonna see this guy on "Leno", hyping the event ?
    You know what, mail the negs to me, I'll burn 'em and then maybe we can get back to something a bit more constructive.
    Bill P.
  65. Yet we've seen no samples, no links, no nuthin', just a lot of narcissistic whining about who should pay this guy after the fact.
    There's a link to his website and portfolios of his photos on his community member page (just click on his name).
  66. Mike Dixon [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG], Oct 23, 2009; 07:07 a.m.
    Yet we've seen no samples, no links, no nuthin', just a lot of narcissistic whining about who should pay this guy after the fact.
    There's a link to his website and portfolios of his photos on his community member page (just click on his name).
    Okay, so I click on his name, go to the link, scroll through tons o' photos, there's a section marked Tel Aviv 2009.... are those the photos in question ?
    I have no idea, just more time wasted on this guy.
    If it's that important to him, post a link, or a photo.
    Bill P.
  67. The quality of the photos wasn't the issue he raised; he wasn't asking for a photo critique. A link to the photos in question isn't relevant to the discussion.
  68. Mike Dixon [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG], Oct 23, 2009; 07:43 a.m.
    The quality of the photos wasn't the issue he raised; he wasn't asking for a photo critique. A link to the photos in question isn't relevant to the discussion.
    True, Mike, he obviously wants the attention by staging this "grandstand play", I just wanted to see what all the hubbub was about.
    This guy's sucked up enough of my time.
    Just burn the d***ed things and be done with it.
    Bill P.
  69. Most all artists and photographers do their work for fun and not money. Most plumbers *tend* to get paid for dealing with poop; while artists wait to be *discovered* in their lifetime and make some actual sales that can be a decent income.

    A wedding photographer or plumber has an actual client; one that has a need; a deadline.
    The *lowly* photographer at Walmart who shoots kids photos is a pro; while an artist waiting to be discovered is an amateur. One has a real job; another is in dreamland. The artist looks *down* at the real photo job; because it pays; has to deal with deadlines; has to deal with rigid requirements and pesky kids.

    Artists purposely choose path of poverty; or one supported by another job; since the *long bomb* of their work being profitable is usually nil.

    Actors and Athletes also have a low chance of "breaking in" to a real professional paying job. Most of the images that folks shoot is traded; given away; it is NOT sold. Since is the bulk of folks are amateurs; only a tiny fraction of images are actually sold.

    Look and the daily upload of images just on Photo.net where folks get free exposure; and get free comments. In a real pro photo shoot one would actually have a real finicky human to please; a paying client; one with a deadline; one that might pay for ones work.

    The *mindset* of artists is to be discovered; that all this suffering is somehow going to pay off. The man in the sewer also suffers; while knee deep in poop; replacing a broken pipe at 2am in the morning in a manhole.
    The internet gives folks a real low cost of exposure; about free advertising. It also is a way that artists give away their works; be releasing high res images.

    When the economy is poorer; folks still want their plumbing to work; and thus the buying an artists cat of sunset images gets placed on the back burner.

    Here at the print shop we have hundreds of artist clients all waiting to be discovered; all supporting their cause by other means; a tiny few maybe are break even.

    Artists wanting to be discovered and paid for their creations is thousands of years old; many times their work is discovered after they are dead.
  70. Dear M. Flanigan
    I'll be honnest, I didn't read all the past comments, but I feel that I have to answer to your lastest.
    First of all, I know that "going public" about a personal decision is an open door to absolutly everything, and that's the game, but sometimes, it's enough.
    This is the second time I'm going public on this site (first time after having the "photo of the week" on a bosnian picture) and one thing strikes me. The most unnecessary comments usually come from people who have, let's say, less than 30/50 pics of their holidays, friends and family in their portfolio section. But they believe they have an appropriate opinion on everything.
    "Most all artists and photographers do their work for fun and not money. Most plumbers *tend* to get paid for dealing with poop".
    From what I can see on your portfolio, I am wondering if you're more into the plumber category than the artistic one. If that so, that's fine! we need plumbers too, even on this site.
    Plumber are nice people, and very helpfull. They also have the chance to do not have to commit themselves to something irrationnal and transcendental. They don't look in their professional life for a certain very special something. They also know that their work is going to help, but only in the vicinity of a kitchen or a bathroom, not into someone else's life bringing a specific testimony and/or an emotion.
    That what makes the difference with a author-photographer.
    To finish with; the fact that most artists died in poverty is not to be considered as something normal. Unless you may call "fate" people stupidity. Things can change, as long as some of us try to bring up something and not hide it in the closet.
    That what makes the difference between a man on his knees and a man standing up.
    PS// "the buying an artists cat of sunset images". sure the two words (sunset/art) belong to the same sentence :))
  71. Jean-Baptiste;

    About all the images I placed on Photo.net were just examples of stuff when my photo hosting sites were dead/boggy/down. Since I have shot photos for 55 years I really do not need to upload stuff to get comments; approvals; feelings.

    Heck I shot photos in High School to please a real editor and also local city newspaper in the late 1950's; ie an actual application. I shot wedding images for folks in the early 1960's with MF and 4x5;and sports stuff in the 1970's.

    Artists have always had this slacker:) attitude; waiting to be discovered; with no real clients.
    Artist photographers sometimes get discovered and make a profit; and manytimes they just go on with the ingrained waiting to be discovered mode.

    Most all of the worlds images shot are for fun and not profit.

    ***Most artist photographers cannot fit the rigid pro job of pleasing an actual client like a Walmart mom; Wedding Bridezilla; or Newspaper editor that wants 3 events covered at once; (ie shoot and scoot).

    ***Real life paid jobs like Photography; Plumbing and Printing are not always the ritzy dream jobs that artist- photographers want.

    You need to breakout of the amateur/give away ones work mindset you have and go pro; ie you want to make a living with photography.

    Some of us did this 50 years ago; ie because we wanted and NEEDED an income.

    There is nothing wrong with dreaming about being discovered; and the gravey train of cash flowing in.
    In printing for the public I deal with alot of dreamers; mostly folks waiting to be discovered . The choice of staying an amateur or going pro is yours. The point about plumbers are often more educated in business than artist-photographers; one is paid to shovel poop; one gives it away and cries because they are not being paid for the poop.:) Alot of art is really poop.

    IF I have two dreamer/artist/photographers in my print shop at once; each one will reply that the other artist's work is poop after the other chap leaves. That why in printing fine art is often joking called fine-fart work; each person does not think his/her own farts stink. With Art at some point the lack of income; lack of actual cash being paid for ones work needs to be addressed; if one wants to explore going pro.

    Whether one is writting poems or songs; making images or paintings; playing comic or actor; cutting yards or plumbing at some point ther has to be an income source to make ones craft sustainable; unless on has another job; or alot of savings or a rich uncle.

    Actors do this in LA; they wait on tables and eat beans until getting a lucky break.

    Burning ones negatives; paintings; sewer snakes; lawnmowers is a sign of being frustrated; folks do not appreciate ones work.

    What an actual paying client wants and is willing to pay is often way different than what an amateur dreams about. The movie industry can run some 12 hour days; a dreamer waiter actor in LA from Iowa may think it is just a few hours of work per day. Real life often has mundane tasks that a pro has to do for client; that dreamers take as demeaning.
    Many folks break in an industry by shear street smarts; a hussle factor. Find out what folks want and listen; they may glady pay for your work that is a tad different. The long bomb wish hoping to be discovered doesnt work for all budding actors, artists, photographers; some hussle factor helps.

    Good luck.
    This is a rough to peddle art when many at odds over the basics like having a job or paying for medical costs. There are many thousands of folks waiting to be discovered; all the give away images on todays web dilutes what art is worth. There is less pork money in the government to support starving artists.
  72. Burning one's negatives or tools makes a point; but may not help one be discovered. It is just an odd stunt; ie like the balloon boy affair. Having ones actual negatives might help in a copyright dispute.
    The bulk of all images shot in the world are for fun.

    The bulk of folks who play a musical instrument do it for fun.

    The bulk of comics do it for fun. I saw Roseanne Barr at the Comedy Store in LA in the early 1980's before she got discovered; the other stand-ups that night are still waiting to be discovered.

    Here is a shot of "Tess McGill" from 20 years ago; only about 12 episodes were shot for the TV series. Should I post a high res 4000 dpi scan of the 35mm slide; or hope someday it will be worth millions? :) :) Sandy's first movie was about the same time; ie Who Shot Pat ie Patakango. (1989)

    Thus do I burn the above image in protest; or save it as a memory?

    What good does destroying an original do?

    Do I burn the Bettie Page 4x5 film pack negative below I bought at the Semi Valley Swap meet about 20 to 25 years ago for a 50 cents? It was just "old stuff" then from a old magazine guys garage; old worthless crude being sold along with stuff to clean out the house. I bought it because Bettie was a 1950's heartthrob; the girl next door. This was before she got rediscovered again. Today the 4x5 original is worth more than 50 cents; even when includes inflation. The 4x5 Bettie page negative is worth more today than the Bullock 35mm slide if sold on Ebay.
    Would Kennedy been a happier if Klaw burned the 4x5 Klaw negative below (in the 1960's) that I have today?

  73. I had a boss that gave motivational talks to executives. Got no pay for them. He said "I do it because every so often I see a "gleam" in some manager's eye in the audience." You may have struck a spark in your work too or will...
    I really can appreciate your feelings about indifferent response to valuation of photo art and good photo reportage. Looking back to the infancy of our craft, when photography was tintype and dagguerrotype, little framed unique portraits were treasured an valued as we know. Photography, you must agree , is in a large sense a commodity. It is not really a commodity, and we here know that, but it is not given the recognition for the effort put into the job... like the garment store that asked me to do portraits in their sale window for speculation whatever that means.. I said thanks but no thanks folks...no budget again was the reason given.
    We just had our Passat worked on. $130.00 labor rate. Groan!. I could not barter photography for one hour of labor...so much for valuation.
    If you were to set salary for a photographer, (as is done) in what category would you place it in the Job Classification Manual (based on knowledge,skills and abilities). And in NYC vs Tel Aviv?
    Hard to do, right. Your point, Avril, is that it is worth more than a plum, zip....noone can dispute that. You can get some satisfaction and make the statement in graphic form. A performance art of sorts. More I think of it I say go for it with a gusto. And have it photographed and video recorded. Invite celebrity dissidents and musicians and unpublished writers,etc. (Sure, send Zoe and others a copy.)
    That will make it a real humdinger bonfire. Regards and aloha, gs
  74. I know the feeling ! My 2 c ? Just say "NO" to any free use ! And when told "it would make you good publicity", answer "advertising what? that I give my work away ?". I believe it was the Tel-Aviv museum who wanted to publish one of my photos in some of their publications, they had no budget (heard that before ?). I said "No budget, no photos !" I further asked "Does the printer print your book for free ? Do you get free electricity ? Do your staff members work for free ? Why should you pay these people and not me?". Guess what ? They paid and used the photo. What you need to understand is that EVERYONE will try to get free stuff. Just say "No money ? No stuff !". Simple as that. Just be careful to make it an iron-clad rule though, so you can't have someone trying to twist your arm "yeah, but this other person got to use some of your photos free". I'd hate to see you burn your negs.. however if you can raise enough attention and create a "buzz" it may be a good way to convey a message. Just make sure though your loss won't be bigger than you gain. Regards and less us know what happens....
  75. go for it with a gusto.

    Mr. Avril gave away his photos for free to six different organizations encouraging and emboldening them to adopt the same posture towards other photographers following him. He has the right to do that right but, if he plans to make a protest about the devalulation of photography, he should direct the protest at himself.
  76. Thanks for let us know that everyone is looking for a free lunch now a days.

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