Dutch photographers strike over falling rates

Dutch photographers at a a rally over falling rates; Photo: Jens Anders Wejsmark Sorensen

Photographers with their "Photojournalism has a price" banner during the day of action in The Hague in January

AROUND 500 photographers, including some members of NUJ Netherlands Branch, took part in "Photojournalism Has A Price" on 25 January. This was a national day of action, demo and strike against falling rates for photography.

The websites of many news outlets in the Netherlands appeared that day with blank spaces where photos or video would have been, as photographers refused to offer photos to picture libraries, with some colleagues refusing to handle photo stock and video footage in solidarity: see an example, from the Twitter feed of Thomas Bruning, General Secretary of Dutch journalists' union NVJ.

Thomas said on the day of the demo, "I've been a photographer since 1989. At the beginning we earned good money but recently, every year, the rates have got lower and lower. I know photographers who have stopped because they simply can't earn enough money. The profession is dying. Look around here, do you see anybody aged under 30? It's terrible to see your work sold for so little."

Dutch photographers outside the ANP offices; Photo: Jens Anders Wejsmark Sorensen

Photographers wearing yellow scarves gather outside the The Hague offices of news agency ANP

Photographers - from all over the Netherlands - gathered outside the offices of ANP, the country's biggest news agency, in The Hague. NVJ Freelance organiser Rosa Garcia Lopez, addressing the demonstration, said, "With the current rates of pay photojournalism will not survive. The rates for photojournalists must not be allowed to fall. We call upon the ANP and others to invest now in the future of photo-journalism."

One woman photographer said that the work she is offered "is less, appears to be less professional, less content, you are valued less. It’s like it is supposed to be a hobby instead of my work. Some newspapers still pay well but others pay very, very little, so little, €30 (£26) that you just can't survive on it."

Award-winning photographer Cynthia Boll told NPO1 radio how she had been devastated to see how she'd earned just 19 eurocents for the re-use of a "hard-fought" photo she'd taken in Afghanistan.

Further "aktiedagen" (days of action) are planned. The NUJ sent a message of support.

;NUJ Netherlands Branch Chair Tony Sheldon and Secretary Jens Anders Wejsmark Sorensen; Photo: Jens Anders Wejsmark Sorensen

NUJ Netherlands Branch Chair Tony Sheldon (left) and Secretary Jens Anders Wejsmark Sorensen (right) at the photographers' national day of action

  • Some members of the NUJ Netherlands Branch - representing journalists based in the Netherlands who work for UK publications or who write mostly in English, are also members of sister union NVJ (Nederlandse Vereniging van Journalisten, Association of Dutch Journalists), and meetings of NUJ Netherlands are held at the VNJ's Amsterdam offices. Nearly all of NUJ Netherlands Branch are freelances. The Freelance's deputy editor attended an NUJ Netherlands Branch meeting in November. The Branch had just had a successful recruitment campaign (similar to the those of NUJ Paris Branch and NUJ Brussels Branch).

    Other issues faced by NUJ freelances in the Netherlands include the recent appearance of "intermediaries", companies that source English-language academic editorial services for universities, taking a considerable cut from the editors and trying to impose dubious "monopoly contracts" under which anyone who does work for the university has to go through them.