Nitro and Destyn Via’s Darragh Walsh has been getting some good exposure so far this season, most lately with a “Day in the Life of…” on Transfer Magazine’s website. The attached photos are ones are just a few that we took one sunny Spring day up at Northstar. Take a look at the web entry here and make sure you check out the video, which is pretty cool for a fun web edit, put together by fellow Sawmill Heights resident, Corey Turner. Too bad Transfer spelt my surname incorrectly…again!
This “Day in the Life of Darragh” was ear marked back in early March, and so I was happy to sacrifice a valuable day of riding when I knew the photos would make it online…and more so as I knew Transfer Magazine normally pay for photos used on their website. For a rider, getting exposure online is a great and simple way to maximise their “name”, brand and sponsors’ support, which in turn should hopefully lead to more (potentially financial) support from sponsors. It seems like everyone’s getting on the blog bandwagon, from Robbie Walker, Ryan Tiene…and even snowboard photographers, as a simple way to get some exposure on the world-wide-web.
But for photographers, videographers, and writers (“journalists” sounds too serious for snowboarding) there is very little future financial pay-off for online exposure, unless a site is willing to pay directly for content. This relates partly back to my previous entry about the value of a photo: because snowboarding (and the like) is such a fun lifestyle, there’s always someone willing to give away their hard-worked digital content for free – they are just stoked to see their creation online. This sort of mentality has helped what is known as the “crapification of everything”, including online publishing, whereby the level of visual content seen on websites (from writing, photos and video) is at a much lower level than you would see in print at the newsagent or on your TV. As Robert Capps says in his original article “The Good Enough Revolution”, with the increased use of new technology, rather than focus on the quality of a product or service:
“Instead, we’re now focused on three things: ease of use, continuous availability, and low price…We now favor flexibility over high fidelity, convenience over features, quick and dirty over slow and polished. Having it here and now is more important than having it perfect.”
With snowboarding websites, we want to see news and content immediately when it starts to provide news too slowly it starts to become irrelevant, we could instead buy a paper or pick up a magazine. So I think we are all willing to trade off a bit of online quality for immediacy and importantly, without having to pay for it.
So for this reason, I applaud websites, like Transfer, that are willing to help out seasoned photographers when publishing their content, as hopefully it raises the quality level of content on the web when there is a financial reward. Of course, we all have to start somewhere, and an online magazine is the logical place (outside a blog) to get some recognition. And there’s nothing wrong with volunteering your work to get it online for free when you are starting out, as honestly, it probably isn’t worth being paid for. I guess it’s like work experience. But at some point as you’re career chugs along, you have to take a stand and demand being paid (in one form or another) for your work.
All this made me think back about some of my work that has been published online, some of which I received payment for, and sometimes not.
This is the first snowboarding article I ever had published online, for just about the oldest-running snowboard website in the world, operating since 1996. I wrote the competition report when I was completing my Articles of Clerkship on the way to becoming a solicitor back in 2003. Of course I didn’t get any payment for this, but when it turned up in print in Australian Snowboarder Magazine in May 2004 I did…and I was hooked! It came out right before I flew off to a German Alps Spring snowboard camp, Gap Camp, where I met lots of pro riders and photogs, and it helped kickstart my desire not to return to law and instead see where a life in snowboarding might lead. I went on to contribute lots of items for BTW over the years, and Bear and Mouse were great to me, and publishing on Boardtheworld helped give me confidence in my work, an idea of how to write and operate more professionally, and it opened lots of doors for me in the snowboard industry.
After my first season at Falls Creek in 2004, Australia’s most popular snow website, ski.com.au, offered me the dream position of On-Mountain Representative at Falls for 2005 after I had piqued their interest with some articles I had sent them. I knew it was too good to be true: I basically got paid to snowboard every day, check the conditions, take a photo and write a report for that day, as well as liaise with ski.com.au advertisers, the resort and other parties…oh, and I got paid more each week than I was earning as a lawyer! The dream job couldn’t last after that season, but it gave me the unrealistic hope that more lucrative snow industry job offers would just appear from the ether. I’m still waiting.
It was hard to find any of my old blog entries or articles, but here is another competition report I put up on the site.
Transworld Snowboarding – 2008 Burton Australian Open:
With some persistent hassling I finally made in-roads at the biggest snowboard magazine in the world, Transworld. The Burton Australian Open was on again at Perisher (for the last time we were to discover unfortunately 10 months later) and Transworld wanted some gallery shots for their website, twsnow.com, to go along with the Burton press release and handful of shots by Dan Himbrechts. I think they paid me US$200 for each gallery, slopestyle and halfpipe, which I was happy with for a couple of days work – photos that I would have taken anyway. And fortunately, a couple of the photos also made it into the print magazine during the upcoming Northern Winter. Stoked!
See the halfpipe report here. (The gallery on the slopestyle page has disappeared unfortunately, but above is a photo of winner Torstein Horgmo, which also made it into print.)
Transworld Snowboarding- Oz Regional Report:
This was something I had been thinking about and proposing to the editors of Transworld for a couple of years, so I was really excited when they told me they wanted a regional report in the magazine. I went to all the main Aussie resorts in 2008 to get some Transworld-worthy photos (well, for a Regional Report anyway), but I don’t think many riders actually believed me when I said I was working on a project for Transworld. A shortened article made it into the last issue of Transworld for 2009, giving some lesser-known Aussie riders some epic international exposure, and I was even featured with a headshot as a contributor in the contents page. I sure felt like I had finally made it, getting some international industry recognition, and even better – I was paid for the print version, as well as for the online post.
Take a look at Transworld’s guide to snowboarding in Australia here.
And if you want to see what content of yours might have been put online without your knowledge, it’s always interesting to google yourself…that’s another problem with online content – but I’ll get into that some other time.
UPDATE: Speaking of googling yourself…I just came upon a lo res layout version of the double-page-spread I had in ESPN: The Magazine for their January 2008 Winter X Games issue. This magazine is similar to Sports Illustrated in the USA, althought perhaps not quite as prestigious, and so I was pretty excited to get a DPS…especially when they paid US$1000 for it too! The Senior Editor of the magazine has some of her work available for download. Take a look here.