Two years ago I was contacted by a magazine that was interested in running a piece I had been working on. The article related to the helicopter lifting operation to put the spire in the Trump Hotel and Tower here in Chicago. The spire was the final external construction piece of the building and its location and size meant that it wasn’t possible to use conventional cranes to assemble it. The whole process was going to be done using a helicopter. I had spent a considerable amount of time working with the helicopter operator to shoot the event and to build an article around it.
The magazine that contact me about using my proposal was PilotMag. They were interested in running the piece in their Oshkosh edition and were willing to pay a reasonable fee for the images and the text. I was very satisfied with the details they proposed and the article went into the magazine as planned. Shortly thereafter, I invoiced them for the work. That was two years ago. I haven’t seen a penny from them since.
I have had frequent correspondence with them since although not the person who commissioned the piece who is no longer with them. In common with a lot of print publications, things are tough for them at the moment. They are regularly advising me of how close they are in keeping the business afloat and how they will pay as soon as they can. They also suggest that they will pay in installments. At this point, I am looking for any sign that they will ever pay anything.
Why am I writing about this now? Because I am still mad about it and perhaps because I am looking for an opportunity to vent my frustrations. If they use Google to track their brand name, maybe they will read this and remember that they still owe me! Also, if anyone is contemplating writing a piece or submitting some images for this publication, it might allow you to go into that with your eyes open about the risks associated with getting paid by them. They may pay you before me since they need contributors to keep going. They may also want to contemplate how many people in this field I will be sharing my story with!
Come on guys. Stop coming up with excuses and start coming up with some cash!
Just make sure you never “work” with them again. I have a shit list of mags that have either gone back on agreements or simply abused their position and taken the piss.
They can find some other sucker (and they will) who will give work away for free “for five minutes of fame” and drive this industry further into the ground.
In the end their quality will decline as they get more desperate, their readership will go down, and they will cease to exist.