The Anaheim Ducks. The Boston Bruins. The Carolina Panthers. The LA Angels of Anaheim. The New Jersey Nets. The Orlando Magic. The Philadelphia 76ers, the Philadelphia Flyers. The Seattle Mariners. The Washington Capitals. The Washington Wizards.
If you've been to a single home game for any of these teams, you've definitely seen them. The teenaged photographers walking around in an obnoxious neon green shirt offering to take your photo that you can buy online for a ridiculously marked up price. As a sports spectator at these games, I never had a problem with them. They were always unintrusive and polite. The day I started having a problem with these photographers was the day I became one of them.
Needing to pick up some extra cash while on the recent-grad job hunt, I decided to become a Red Bow Photographer. Pay was good enough for what it was, and I got to be at the games for free! It seemed like a decent deal. On my first day I met some of the other photographers who were not only jaded but also almost bitter about their job and I wondered why. Turns out that Red Bow Photo doesn't believe in paying for services rendered on 'regular' terms. After my first shift, weeks went by and I never received a paycheck. I had a pretty bad feeling about the situation, so I decided to wait until I saw my first paycheck to work a second game.
Months have passed and seasons have ended, and still no paycheck. I called my immediate boss several times all within a reasonable time frame. Each time he promised me he would talk to payroll and get back to me. I can't say for sure if he ever contacted payroll on my behalf, but I never got a call from him once.
Several unsuccessful phone calls later, I decided to E-mail Red Bow corporate. The only form of communication offered on their site, however, was a fill in form where you input your name, E-mail, and a message. After being ignored for a period of time, I had almost decided to give up when I received an E-mail from the CEO of the company, Mr. Reginald Bowser. Mr. Bowser basically told us that they didn't have the money to pay us, but that "within the next ten days" a "business transaction" would be going through that would essentially allow him to pay all of us. Although my contract didn't allow for "IOUs" a far as I knew, I still felt better about the time I had spent with Red Bow, and jumped through all of the legal hoops that Mr. Bowser had set up to protect himself...understandably. I held up my end of the deal and despite his being so specific on timelines on when he would disperse payments, again we were all let down.
I'm not a CEO of a company, and I doubt I ever will be. I respect all of the hard work that goes into running a company, and I am not here just ripping apart one mistake. The way I see it, each unpaid employee is a mistake, and only those close to Mr. Bowser know just exactly how many mistakes he has made. I understand that times are tough, but no matter how hard they are, employees should never have to be hired under false pretences. I was obviously hired during a time where this company couldn't afford to pay a single person for one single shift, and I had no idea. It's plain unfair, and had I known that I never would have wasted my time. If communication had been clear from day 1, this would have been an entirely different story. That being said, I don't think that an employee should ever have to ASK for a paycheck in the first place, and it's just unexcusable to not have the funds to pay for employees. Mostly I'm surprised at how this company has secured accounts with so many sports teams and youth organizations with these practices. Although I stopped asking, I am still being promised money from Red Bow Photo. I essentially have an IOU with the company, along with an assumably large number of others.
I am also a photographer stiffed by Red Bow and Reginald Bowser. This company owes me money from photographing the inauguration in January 2009 and subsequent work for shooting Washington Wizards and Capitols games at the Verizon Center. I have received one check which was a partial payment. That check was handed to me by Jeremy Mikell employee of Red Bow at the Verizon Center. At that time we were sent emails that they would bring our checks if we agreed … more