About Pictage Sponsor/Endorser Programs.
Wow ... So I’ve been waiting for the industry unrest to turn our way and I guess it has. Even though that’s true, I’m actually still enjoying reading most of what I’m seeing because it’s amazing how much you learn when someone is unhappy. (So hard to get people to tell you why though! ugh!). Anyway, the current stream of consciousness happens to be around whether or not Pictage pays photographers to say we’re great. I like the idea of that, but I have a sense that if we did that for any length of time we’d probably be in trouble, so the answer is no, we don’t. In the interest of transparency though, let’s take a look at what we do, do. (which I hope is not easily confused with doo doo!) ...
Pictage treats Joe Buissink like a member of our own staff (Hey, a guy can dream can’t he?) He’s the only “endorser” who’s actually on the Payroll. Think about that relationship kind of like a shoe company and a basketball player. Nike/Jordan if you will. Joe’s a heavy user. (Actually usually drops off his film himself!). He utilizes many of Pictage’s services and provides consistent feedback with regard to what he sees. In addition, I see Joe’s talks, conversations, etc., as helpful to the community (they are always bursting at the doors) and so I have no compunctions about this relationship and I make no apologies for it. Several other members of Pictage’s ad-hoc advisory board may get discounts on Pictage products or services as a form of compensation for the time they spend helping us get better. (that takes a lot of time). There is no other direct compensation for anyone who endorses Pictage. (so far as I know!)
Everyone else falls into a different category. All of Pictage’s educational activities are on a user volunteer basis. We don’t sponsor paid workshops. We may, in some cases, provide a free membership or other type of product for a photographer to use as a giveaway for a paid event but that’s about it. As an example, in the case of Mike Colon, we sponsor a dinner on the night of his workshops (we do the same for Dane’s where we provide lunch). Speakers for our own conference, PartnerCon, are selected through a process of abstract submission and user survey. (Who do you want to hear from?)
In addition, Pictage provides a level of financial support for events that we believe have educational value for Photographers. Recently we sponsored “Inspire Boston” and “Rebirth” (just concluded on the Mississippi Delta), two workshops with a slate of relatively unknown speakers (all working professional photographers), and a focus on providing a high quality experience to their attendees. We think this is inline with our own event, PartnerCon, held in New Orleans last year and this year in November. Pictage seeks to be a resource in these events, but we do not attempt to influence speakers, agenda, etc. We don’t see that as our place. (ask the organizers). I personally endorsed Carlos Baez’s workshop in Las Vegas because I knew it would be a hands on, direct learning experience with a lot of value for the attendees. I think Pictage bought Pizza for the folks who came.
Pictage does pay expenses in some cases. These are usually when there is a large expected turnout due to a lot of regional demand. (It’s important to note that Pictage only provides speakers like this when there is significant regional demand.). These expenses, in varying degrees can include travel, facilities rental, etc. Pictage only pays these expenses in situations where there is no charge to the photographer for attending the event.
Lastly, for all PUG leaders, and a few other folks, Pictage grants the membership fees for free. These folks bust their butts scheduling, planning, promoting and hosting the activities in their areas and that’s the least that we can do to help them out. Pictage pays for meals, etc., in these meetings, but we do not force a curriculum, speakers (including yours truly) or anything else. My view is that what happens in a particular community should be up to that community and not us or anyone else.
In the spirit of transparency I think that’s really the exhaustive list of everything we do. I’m not sure there’s much there to apologize for either. Times change. Where last year our users might have been clamoring for one speaker, this year they may be wanting to hear from someone else. The speakers with staying power are the ones who meet their audience’s needs. The ones who don’t meet those needs are charting their own courses. Supplying these speakers to the marketplace in a free to attend - free to not attend forum - is one of the services Pictage’s users expect and I think it is just that, a service. If you hear someone who rings your bell and you want to go to their workshop. Good for you and good for them. If you decide you can’t stand someone. Well, that’s ok too. (just let me know!)
I hope that helps to clear things up.