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Wall of Shame

There should be a special site for photography’s worst offenders. Somewhere for everyone to be aware of those who steal images, those who infringe copyright on a regular basis, those who do not pay, and anyone that has their hearts set to painfully hurt our beloved profession.

Like a giant wall of shame. The photography wall of shame. A public place to denounce the dark cons of the some that just do not understand that this is a profession to be respected, if not  adored.

If such a wall existed, one of the first companies to be inscribed into it would be a French one, called Eyedea.  It is the remains of a failed merger of legendary Gamma, Rapho, Top, Explorer and other french agencies. A testament of the infinite damages of the corpocrates. A shrine to human stupidity and incompetency.

Eyedea is owned by a company called Green Recovery. No, no, it is not a self sustainable, environmentally friendly company. According to its own words, it is: “… a French industrial holding made up of independant (sic) poles of activities. The share holders of Green Recovery are business leaders. The group’s major investments concern primarily the takeover of companies in difficulty.

The group purchased Gamma, Rapho and the others out of the hands of Hachette who was, quite frankly, on the verge of closing the whole thing down. For an alleged 600,000 Euros, much less than a years’ worth of revenue. The company was not only leaking money from its front door, but also through the windows, the faucets, the bathroom, the cracks in the ceilings…well, from everywhere.

So off they go on a new path. They fire a few people, others leave, a handful of wise photographers pack their images and escape. After a few months of promises not kept, the future becomes clear. More of the same. But it gets worse. Like a Russia unwilling to admit its failure and building walls to block  its citizen from leaving, Eyedea decides it will not let free lance photographers leave anymore. Not only that, but they sit on their commission money. As a punishment for even attempting to leave.

The perestroika in charge even refuses to acknowledge any attempts to communicate and keeps a deafening Bolshevik silence. No one knows what is happening behind the thick walls of Eyedea’s management. The case is still unresolved and the photographer is still waiting for an answer. For the past 2 years. Who knows how many are out there in the same situation?

Running a photo agency used to be a gentleman sport. You represented photographers and if, for some reason, the relationship did not work out, regardless the contract, everyone would gently part their own way .  These days, contracts are like hammers, mostly used to crush a photographer into the ground.

To add ridicule to injury, Eyedea has now just announced that they have just open their  E-commerce solution: Selling T-shirts. Those T-shirts will have Eyedea’s pictures on it, maybe even some of the above -mentioned freelance photographer. Guess if you can’t sell images to magazines, the next best thing is to stick them on T-shirts and sell those.

It is really time for shamelessly incompetent and dangerously careless people to leave this industry. There is no money to be made and no glory to be achieved.  It is only insanely long hours, an ever changing landscape, perpetually changing tools, cranky photographers and even crankier clients. Nothing is ever finished : there is always a deadline behind a deadline, like an infinite dune desert. It is a perpetual card castle that stumbles every day only to be rebuild the next morning.

There is no legacy to be left, no finger prints. If you are succesful, the photographers gets the credit, if you are not, you get the blame. You are never the winner because there will always be someone who will beat you at your own game, if it is not today, it will be tomorrow.

this business is not a job, it is an addiction to which there is no cure.

So corpocrates of the world, from France and elsewhere, take your well thought off business meetings and take them somewhere else. Take your asskissers with you, those yesmen/ yes women that plague our industry with their expensive clothes and their shameless ignorance. Go invade some other industry where you can actually make money. There is nothing to manage here, nothing that  can be translated in an Excel sheet. It is time for you to go.

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