A thoughtful response from art buyer Heather Morton to the hub-bub created by the NYTimes article of March 29th, For Photographers, the Image of a Shrinking Path. She makes reference to APE's post regarding Mariano Pastor. (I posted about these two items on the 29th right here.)
"But I can also think of some jobs in the last couple of years which used photography as an incidental part of the ad. For the photographers it was just executional, it was not particular, no style was employed, it was not special. There was nothing creative about it. And yet, arguably, we still pay the same type of fee and usage rates for this type of photography- is this sustainable? I think it might be delusional to think that in these cases, your creative effort has value that you will be able to retain against the tide of easy access to high resolution cameras and distribution methods."
She has a point that not all advertising photography is worth the same amount of money, however I can tell you that in the past year I have been offered too little for a very involved and creative campaign and downright ripped off over one that was just "executional". In both cases a buyout was demanded, no negotiation.
I do agree that not everything is worth top dollar but what we are experiencing now is a downright assault on fees and usage. It is in my opinion the age old story of Supply and Demand. Buyers of content have the upper hand at the moment and some people, even some great ones, will leave the business as the trend plays out.
I personally just want to work. I will entertain almost any offer from any level of client as I find being busy keeps me focused and creative. But in reality, if the rates go much lower it will be hard to keep the operation going. And hey, that's just life. I am not going to complain, too much. But when all the pros have been put out of business by the "democratization" of photography, well...
in the end you get what you pay for.