Outdoor Photographer ‘Grossly Mismanaged’ as Contributors Go Unpaid for Months
Multiple photographers and writers for Outdoor Photographer Magazine say they haven’t been paid for their work since last year and the publication’s new owner indicates that these contributors only have themselves to blame.
Outdoor Photographer Magazine (and the associated website) has been a major player in the photography space for many years. It was purchased by The BeBop Channel Corporation earlier this year as part of an acquisition of Madavor Media.
It seems that in that acquisition, BeBop also picked up significant debt as Outdoor Photographer has allegedly not paid multiple contributors for several months, stretching back into the fall of 2022. PetaPixel spoke to multiple photographers who say they are still owed upwards of thousands of dollars. All photographers mentioned are being kept anonymous for their legal protection.
One photographer says that an article he wrote that was accompanied by eight photos was published last November, for which he delivered all of the assets on August 16, 2022.
“Outdoor Photographer’s own contract stipulated payment within eight weeks,” they say. “Here we are, without payment, six to nine months later depending on how you’re counting [and] BeBop will not respond to anybody’s emails.”
“Outdoor Photographer Magazine owes me $1,500 for a cover photo and article that ran [last year]. The way they have handled their cash flow issues has been appalling and I’d personally never work with this publication again,” another photographer says.
“I have a long history with Outdoor Photographer, from the second issue in 1985,” another photographer adds. “Only two times since then have I not been paid. The first time was when the founders walked away in bankruptcy in 2015. When Madavor took over, they made restitution for my loss caused by their predecessor Werner. The second time is for my most recent column.”
This photographer says that they understand the publication’s editors were laid off last week and claims that at this point, Outdoor Photographer is effectively defunct.
“I worked with excellent editors Rob Sheppard, Chris Robinson, and Wes Pitts, and they gave me a forum to write whatever I wanted since my column launched in 1997. In my efforts to improve the overall quality of the magazine, I recommended many photographers that have appeared in their issues.”
BeBop CEO Foists the Blame on Contributors
BeBop’s CEO and Artistic Director Gregory Charles Royal responded to PetaPixel in an email regarding the claims and effectively says that the fault for this situation lands on the shoulders of contributors. He does not, however, deny that many remain unpaid.
All quotes from Mr. Royal are unchanged from the email PetaPixel received, and all grammar, syntax, and spelling errors in said quotes are his.
“In taking over this company that was grossly mismanaged on an unbelievable level, one glaring question arises for the 100+ contributors that find themselves in this predicament: Why on earth would you continue to work for a company that was not paying you. For months upon months!” Mr. Royal says.
Mr. Royal indicates that he believes these recent social media outbursts are tied to the displeasure that BeBop has elected to shut down multiple publications — for example, Imaging Resource was closed earlier this month in a fashion that was so sudden, it caught the publication’s founder by surprise.
“Your community wants to criticize because we have taken sites down etc,” Mr. Royal says.
“But these properties lost a lot of money, as to why the contributors were not paid- and it was reckless for them to be hired to the extent they were in the first pkace. No you can’t blame it Covid or paper shortages, it was arrogance and a total disregard by some in management and certain editors,” Royal continues.
“The chickens come home to roost.”
Broken Contracts, Payment Plans, and Unpaid Bills
When asked directly if The BeBop Channel Corporation would honor the payments owned to contributors, Mr. Royal said yes, but noted that such payments would be delivered over time.
“Of course, but they receive weekly payments (all be them incremental) to at least pay down their balances. They are distributed evenly across the board as to why some contributors are upset on the nominal weekly amounts.”
PetaPixel has learned of no less than 15 contributors to Outdoor Photographer remain either mostly or fully unpaid for their work. While some have been paid in part as Mr. Royal claims, others have not received any replies to their communications and remain fully unpaid.
Additionally, those that are seeing payments are seeing extremely low values. Some photographers claim they have only received about $60 to date out of the thousands that are owed and others say that the weekly payments range anywhere between $15 and $20.
“The new owners have been making steady payments to me, albeit at only $20 per week, since April 21,” one photographer confirms.
Another photographer tells PetaPixel that at the rate of $15 per week that they are currently receiving payments, it would take two years for them to be paid in full.
“I met their deadline to submit my materials in September 2022 but they have not honored the contract I signed which states that payment would be made no more than eight weeks after publication,” they say.
“I have at least three colleagues who had work in issues before mine who have not yet seen a dime, so the CEO is either mistaken or lying,” another photographer says in response to Mr. Royal’s claims.
BeBop CEO to the Photo Community: Pool Your Resources
As mentioned, Mr. Royal tells PetaPixel that he believes most of this outcry is related to his choice to shut down multiple photography websites. He believes that if the photography community truly misses these outlets, they should put their money where their mouth is, so to speak.
“In response to the scores of emails we receive from contributors and readers, we offer you to pool your resources and purchase these beloved photo properties that have this support we are constantly hearing about,” Mr. Royal says.
Mr. Royal shared a banner advertisement (below) that his company is currently running on several of the publications BeBop now owns, which is offering the “as is” bundle of Digital Photo Pro, Imaging Resource, Digital Photo, Image Creators Network, and Outdoor Photographer for $500,000.
A second, larger version of the ad is also running across the network of sites.
“Even though I am a horn player, I will not hold my breath or maybe the community proves me wrong!” he says, indicating he either does not believe the photo community is dedicated to preserving these outlets or that they are incapable of raising the capital — or both.
After PetaPixel thanked Mr. Royal for his time, he responded only with, “👍🏾👍🏾👍🏾✌️✌️✌️.”