For just five or ten dollars per month, you can make my dream come true.
Derive support directly from my audiences, enabling me to not just survive, but thrive by supporting communities working for positive change.
Create a new market for community photography through crowdsourced micropayments.
Help rid the world of the notion that some people are "unphotogenic" more
Focus on the subjects that I know to be truly valuable rather than being dependent on the mainstream market and its constant catering to the lowest common denominator. Community support for this work will allow me to pick and choose which commercial work I take on.
Affirm and empower the communities around me through honest portraiture and joyous visual storytelling.
By finding magic in things often underdocumented and sharing it widely, I will create new connections and possibilities, helping to change the world.
I am not just a commercial photographer, but also a community photographer; I use my work to celebrate and empower people working for positive change in the world.
To that end, I make all of my images available online on a "pay what you can" basis for your personal use. (Suggested contribution is $10/download)
Your support helps me offer discounted rates and pro-bono services to artists and activists.
Sharing images online is easy, but it isn't as easy to share the costs associated with them. Creating these images is one of the hardest things that I've ever done. This work is my livelihood, and it requires tremendous physical, emotional, creative and financial investments.
I have already started to make this dream of community photography come true.
Every subscription will make it more of a sustainable reality.
Frequently asked questions:
It's hard for people to grasp the costs involved, but once photography is your livelihood, the associated costs actually make digital photography more expensive than film... I find myself doing the work that the lab used to; for every hour of shooting, there is associated administrative time, not to mention a lot of expensive equipment that needs constant repairs and upgrades.
The financial realities of being a professional photographer make it difficult to do community work, but with your support I can do more.
When you are viewing the image yourself, that's personal use (Suggested fee = $10/image). By posting an image to your Facebook profile or similar profile, you're already venturing into publication use, and should contribute more (Suggested fee = $25-50/image).
I can't track every little use by community members; it's up to you to support this work if you value it. Remember that while people are quite used to seeing all of their friends' images posted everywhere online, it's actually quite unusal for someone who makes their living from photography to allow such easy access to their unedited archives.
If you are using the image to promote an organization, activity, or service that you provide, then you should check in with me, as that falls within the realm of my commercial work.
Sometimes - but my clients pay me limited fees based on their limited use of the images in manners to which we have specifically agreed. I get the files directly to them, but make my web archive available to all for the benefit of the communities that I photograph.
If you are a client downloading images for which you have paid, for the specific uses to which we have agreed, then you can obviously disregard this notice. But if you are sharing the gallery with the subjects of a shoot, please remind them of the terms of our agreement.
If someone else has hired me to create the images that appeal to you, please do not assume that they have paid for your personal use; you should contribute in order to support that which you appreciate, much like I'll pay for shareware software that I find useful, or put some money in a musician's tip jar if I enjoy their performance.
Most people tend to get this backwards, unless they’re Art Directors or other folk used to working with both stock and assignment photography.
The question isn’t how much does it cost me to email you a picture, but rather what kind of fee does my business need to charge in order to make it viable to have created that image in the first place.
As a rule, assignment photography (hiring someone to create an image) is generally cheaper than stock photography (using an image that has already been created.) When I’ve created images myself, you already know exactly that I’ve created the image that you want, and it costs more because I’ve undertaken all of the costs of the shoot on my own. If you hire me to shoot for you, then you’re undertaking the risk (you don’t know exactly what the pictures are going to look like) while guaranteeing me some income, so I can guarantee you access to some of the images at a cheaper rate up front.
If you know that you’re going to need publication rights to good photographs, it’s going to make more sense to hire me ahead of time rather than to just hope that I do the work on my own and then ask me to give it away. I love sharing my images with the community, but there are economic realities to this business and my business model needs to be sustainable.
I don’t yet have enough support directly from my audience so that I can just shoot and share freely in a sustainable manner. (You can help change that via the subscription links to the right.) By making all of my images available online for personal use on a sliding scale contribution basis, I’m already sharing more than I should under the traditional models for stock or event photography. I do this because I value the impact that my work has on communities around me; if you value this as well, please contribute to the photo fund, as it will directly help support my community work.
When I'm shooting fast and spontaneously, I make it look easy and fun, but in reality I'm juggling twenty variables at a time in split second decisions, and it's a tremendous investment of creative energy. Long before I hit that button, I was observing everything in the room, measuring contrast gradients, assessing spacial relationships, anticipating interactions, calculating shutter speeds and apertures, all to be ready for that simple click.
People unfamiliar with photography tend to think of it as an hourly paid gig, but the value in an image isn't in how much time it took to create it. The value is in knowing how to create a compelling image. If I make a great shot in 1/125th of a second, does that make it worth pennies?
Imagine you needed a portrait: if it took me half an hour to take it rather than an hour, would it be worth less? No; as it's the same image and I took less of your time, so I'm better at my job and the image is worth more.
Shooting spontaneously and unobtrusively actually is a complex dance where a split-second or a fraction of an inch can make or break a composition. I hope you'll appreciate the effort that goes into creating these images. Not to mention administering a million-picture archive!.
Ah, if only I could live on photo credits alone, that would be swell. But sadly, photo credits don't pay the bills... If I put a sign outside of my house crediting my landlord, would that exempt me from having to pay rent? If you are deriving value from my work, you should pay me for it.
The sliding scale exists to support my community, but I need the community's support in return in order to continue making and sharing work in the future.
Sure you can. But remember, by simply downloading the images for viewing on your home computer, you are already getting value from the images, and should contribute to the best of your ability (Suggested fee = $10/image). If you republish them on a personal website, social networking profile, etc, then you should contribute a bit more (Suggested fee = $50/image). If you'd like to license them for any use beyond that, you should contact me for permission.
Photography is traditionally licensed on a per-year use. Because most clients can't afford to pay for long-term rights to an image, they pay instead for 1 or 2 years of a particular use, or more.
If you find yourself continuing to find pleasure in the images in the years to come, please consider signing up as a sustaining member of my community with a subscription payment, as this helps me to continue to provide ongoing access to these images and work with more community groups in the future.
Why community photography?
When I first photographed the Philadelphia Fringe Festival in 2003, I did it in a way that hadn't been done before. I documented not just the most famous stars, but the lesser known artists and the behind-the-scenes work of the technicians and administrators. Shooting thirty thousand frames in three weeks, I created a celebratory record not just of the festival, but of all the beautiful people involved with it.
Of course, I was going well above and beyond what I was actually being paid to do, but I found great personal rewards in sharing with these communities and helping to affirm the value of their work. This was work that fell more into the category of "public art" or "community media" than the traditional commercial models of photography.
Later that winter, I was invited on a trip to Florida to help document the building of a community radio station. Friends from the Prometheus Radio Project were working with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, an organization that has been making huge strides in advocating for human rights and decent working conditions in the agricultural industry.
This is where I really started to learn about the power of community media. It was also the moment when I gained some clarity on how I wanted to photograph. While other newspaper photographers breezed through for an hour, taking a few cursory pictures of the antenna and then running off to their next assignment, I wanted to be able to invest more deeply in the subject matter. I was able to spend the entire weekend capturing every facet of the work, creating hundreds of candid portraits of everyone involved along the way. With a hectic bit of rush turnaround, we were able to project their shining faces on the wall during the station's innaugural broadcast, allowing them to look back on all that they had just accomplished.
With their radio as an organizing tool, and a lot of broad community support, the CIW has gone on to victory after victory, and my images have been instrumental in helping tell their story as they make the world a better place. Meanwhile, I've gone on to many other successful collaborations with artists and activists, both in Philadelphia and elsewhere.
This is some of my most important work, but it is also that which "the market" values the least. If you watch mainstream media's coverage, you'll get a sense of what a few big corporations want you to think is important, but you'll never hear about most of the amazing things that are going on in your own community. And if you never hear about them, you'll never even have a chance to start to value them. That's why independent media is important. That's why I do this work.
I hope that by helping to share these stories, I can do my part to help shift our society's priorities. I focus my lens on things that I think are truly important and beautiful, even if there's little money to be made in it in the traditional market, because I know that the work that these artists and activists are doing has great value for all of us.
Until our society as a whole shifts its priorities, this will remain work that costs a lot and pays very little. I was able to subsidize all of this work with my secret day job for a while, but that left me paying for it all myself; as the realities of the costs of doing business in photography set in, I found myself able to do less and less community work when in fact I really wanted to do more.
Trying to do lots of community work on my own without other support is a surefire road to burnout. But I don't have to do it on my own. This work has connected me to an amazing community network, and one of the key tenets of community is to ask for help when you need it.
This is why I turn to you and ask you to consider signing up for small subscription payments to support my work. The whole point of crowdsourcing micropayments is to leverage the power of community. Individual small monthly payments aren't a burden on anyone, but can add up to thousands of dollars to support community projects. If you'd gladly buy me a sandwich once a month, then you can probably afford it.
If half of the people that appreciate my work took an active role in supporting it, then I would have a revenue stream that would allow me to both do a great deal more community work while also living a healthier life. If that revenue stream grew to the point where a photographer solely supporting artists and activists could thrive as well as one working in the traditional commercial model, then many more photographers would be able to better support their communities, and we would be well on our way to a revolution in media making, which would in turn help shift our society's priorities towards local efforts to strengthen and beautify our communities.
Another world is indeed possible, and I hope that you'll join me in helping build it.
Suggested contribution: $10 per image downloaded
or, if you're downloading many, then sign up for a subscription
to help sustain my community work.
Why subscribe? Every set of images has ongoing costs, and continued community support helps me make my work affordable for artists and activists.
There are certainly ways to do photography cheaply (especially today) - but not when you're doing it professionally. My clients expect me to work with the best gear available so as to get every shot. They expect me to have liability insurance, reliable data archiving, and everything else. They expect attention to every detail. I bring all of these same resources to my community work.
The things that make my photography good also make it expensive, and there's only so much that my business can afford to give to the community. The more my community supports me directly, the more I can use my skills to support artists and activists and help change our world for the better. Please help me do this work.
There's strength in numbers. The idea of distributed patronage of the arts isn't exactly new. When Rembrandt painted The Night Watch in 1642, sixteen militiamen each paid one hundred guilders to fund this documentation of their community. If you appreciate my documentation of your community, please sign up for a small subscription payment.
Buying prints online is another great way for everyone to connect to and support my work- they make great gifts: archive.jjtiziou.net
or, send a check to:
JJ Tiziou Photography
PO Box 42127
Philadelphia, PA 19101
(write "Community Photography" in the memo line)
This is a little talk on the importance of Arts in Activism that I threw
together for an Anti-Poverty event at the University of Pennsylvania that I wasn't able to attend in person due to a conflicting shoot.
"This isn't a free show ladies and gentlemen;
It's a donation situation..." - Kevin