Sports photojournalism woes continue as S.I. lays off three top photo employees


posted Monday, January 18, 2016 at 4:07 PM EDT


The photojournalism industry just took another hard hit as Sports Illustrated has laid off three of its top photo employees.

Director of Photography Brad Smith, Photo Editor Claire Bourgeois, and Photo Director John Blackmar have all been laid off. Perhaps the writing was on the wall last year when the final six Sports Illustrated staff photographers were laid off for economic reasons and internal restructuring.

Time Inc., the parent company of Sports Illustrated, created a controversial contract for photographers last year that went into effect a few weeks ago on January 1st. The new contract has been criticized for eliminating space rates, reducing the copyright ownership of the photographer, and relatively low pay rates.

For a publication that has been known for producing high-quality imagery over the years, it seems that Sports Illustrated's run as a resource for great sports photos may be coming to an end. Last January when the remaining staff photographers were let go, the now-unemployed Smith said, "SI is still committed to photography, but may be exploring new processes by which it obtains those photos…Our commitment to photography hasn't changed. We're still going to cover games…we will be at championships, we'll be there."

However, with no staff photographers, three high-level employees gone, and reportedly only about half of Time Inc.'s contributing photographers having signed Time's new contract, it is unclear how Sports Illustrated intends to be able to maintain their quality photographic coverage of the world's sporting events. Are these most recent layoffs a knockout blow to this once-great publication, or will Time's new direction prove to be a home run? 

For those interested in photojournalism and sports photography in general, below is a video of a talk that Brad Smith gave at the School of Visual Arts about the industry, the editing process, and how photographers can get their work into magazines. 

(Seen via PetaPixel