Sunday, January 09, 2005

Sun Sets on a Contract

Last week The New York Sun sent out a hastily prepared contract to all of its freelance photographers. The contract contained some of the most aggressive and unnecessary language I have ever read. It takes the entire copyrights away from photographers and transfers everything to the paper.

I personally find this contract unwarranted and a slap in the face. I had my first cover photograph with the Sun in the summer of 2002. Since then, our relationship has grown to shooting regularly. I have contributed to the paper from all over the world including coverage from the 2004 Presidential election and the fall of Aristide in Haiti.

I am not sure what motivates a managing editor to conceive such a contract without consulting the photographers. Perhaps they think that anyone with a camera can take pictures? That might be true with the New York Post; however, the Sun gives our photographs nice play. We all enjoy seeing nice sized color photos both on the cover and on the inside.

The photographers have joined forces and are going to fight this. I am confidant that the Sun will make suitable changes and eventually things will be normal again. Nevertheless, this should make the corporate lawyers happy, as they will bill more hours during the contract negotiation. Without a doubt we are now forming a new relationship with management going forward. What is lost is trust and that handshake agreement. What has replaced that trust are 3 pages of lawyerly and business language, none of which are ever used at the photo-desk.

Ramin Talaie – Brooklyn, NY

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