Are you a member of APA, ASMP or PP of A?
I joined my first professional organization soon after my first professional job decades ago. But to be honest, the only reason I joined was to gain eligibility for the group HMO plan. Self-employed individuals endure great frustration in their quest for affordable health care. The early 90's were among the scariest years I can remember as a business owner. All it took was one simple X-ray to be dropped from your health plan with a $3,000 deductible.
I'm a member of two pro organizations today, but that's because I've grown more political as I've gotten older. My circle of photographer friends care deeply about copyright issues, but I have to say, working with ignorant politicians is like getting teeth pulled with no novocaine (or reading posts from the ignorant around here).
No former assistant of mine (who has gone off on his own) can afford membership dues in pro organizations. These guys and gals are living from paycheck to paycheck, and they all seem to carry hefty balances at the rental shops. A working photographer in NYC often feels lucky if he can just lower his debt.
As for working for free, I know one 30-year-old photographer who just shot a spread in a famous fashion magazine. He's 2 months late on his rent (he needed that money to pay what the magazine would not pay, "editorial" ya know), and has no clue when he'll see his next paycheck.
I work hard not to judge people by what they can and cannot give. Everyone's capacity for giving is different. If you're a star, then I judge.
Working photographers are not a charity. We are not a Union. Many of us compete for the exact same job, and in this day of digital, where everyone with an iPhone and Photoshop is a pro photographer, we have no choice but to protect our style secrets if we wish to continue in this maddening job.
The concept of working together to help my fellow competitor is often at odds with protecting my business. There's always a delicate balance when it comes to giving support.
if photographers were better organized, they would have a stronger voice at Adobe.
Sorry, I just don't buy that. No voice is louder than yours, and there are plenty of pros who pay attention to what you have to say. If you
can't strong-arm Adobe to pay attention to pro issues, with your mouth to Thomas' ear, than nobody can.
Yes, there is power in numbers. If all photographers boycotted Adobe tomorrow, maybe we would see some action. We all know that ain't gonna happen because we're trapped. Until a competent competitor comes along, we're stuck with the monopoly.
From my perspective, Adobe is no Apple. The crash hit all of us hard in 2008, and Adobe failed to develop a new product that would take a new market by storm. They were stuck with many customers who did not buy into their 18-month upgrades. Many of those customers could not update without fear of a business shutdown or a costly IT bill. And there were thousands of customers who couldn't afford to stay current, with or without all their peripherals. This is a fact. This is the reality that surrounds me daily, listening to my former assistants for the past four years.
Adobe needed to do something to bring in more money, and we all see what they decided to do.
IMO, it's never a good thing for a business to create hating customers. And if there's one sure way to piss off a customer, double the price of something they've grown accustomed to using in their business. (Are there any female executives at Adobe who know what happens when a beauty salon doubles the price of a manicure?)
For the life of me, I don't understand why Adobe refused to consider the small-business photographer (and all those energetic, enterprising people who are dedicated to David Hobby). All Adobe had to do was set a reasonable parameter, like no incorporation or some kind of provable sole-proprietor status, and set a fair price. As long as Adobe provided a reasonable financial solution for this group, all the hate chatter would be unnecessary.
In the meantime, we're left with the perception that Adobe does not care one bit about its loyal small business customers or all the amateurs who got caught up with having the biggest and the best. The perception of a company saying FU, NOW PAY UP to any of its customers can never produce a positive result.