You can listen to last nights panel discussion on The Future for Photography below. The panel began by giving a brief summary of where they thought the future of each sector – Staff, Freelance & Agency – lay, before the discussion was opened to the floor.
Whilst some were quite bleak about the future of press photography others said there was still a market for quality in editorial photography. The idea was raised that in order to continue making a living from press photography, photographers would have to charge a proper rate for online usage and that this might only happen when newspapers started charging users for content online.
Guardian staff photographer Martin Argles talked about the strong union activity in the Guardian chapel that had preserved good terms for the staff and freelance photographers. Report Digital owner John Harris said that his agency continued to hold NUJ rates for editorial photography, even online. And freelancer Kelvin Bruce said that while it was becoming harder to sell non-exclusive images, he was still able to make a living by covering niche subjects.
A contribution from the floor raised the idea of ‘Sub-Prime photographers’ whose consistent under-cutting picture rates meant they would never be successful longterm and that there should be collective action to combat bad rates. Another contribution from the floor said that the only way to earn a living was to make yourself indispensable, by finding a niche and charging the proper rate for your work.