Hi from the middle. Here's an update on the cancellation of the Buissink/Sallee School Tour.
I have had LONG talks with both Joe and JB. JB asked me to call him, and we spoke this morning for a long time. He is very passionate about his reputation, and felt that my saying that the tour was canceled because of low registration was one of the reasons why, but not the only reason.
Having to cancel a tour should not be a reflection of anything other than the changing tide of skepticism for workshops in general, most likely. It doesn't mean that the speakers aren't qualified, etc. because I know MANY people who are highly qualified who have had to cancel their seminars. It's just the way things are these days, and there should be no embarrassment for having to be financially practical and cancel appearances.
It happens often these days with concerts. It's not a blemish on anybody's reputation, as far as I'm concerned.
My issue was two-fold: 1) On the Sallee School website, on the first day of the tour (San Francisco), even though the entire tour had been canceled, on their website, every city said, "SOLD OUT" and 2) For a brief moment (according to JB he retracted this instantly) he posted on a Facebook page that he had canceled the tour because of a family emergency on Joe's side. However long it was up spread virally, as so many people really are attached to Joe.
JB explained that the reason his website said "sold out" was because as soon as he closes registration on a city, his cart defaults to "sold out" and there is no choice to say, "canceled". He insisted that this was not intentional.
I speak to Joe almost daily, and I know that there was no issue with his family that would have prevented him from going on the tour. He never asked the Sallee's to cancel the tour, he suggested that due to low attendance numbers, they should consider cancelling, and that Joe would be ok staying home to be with his family during a rough, but not debilitating time. The Sallees told me today that they unilaterally canceled it for Joe (without consulting him) because they knew how hard his family situation must be. I was provided an entire email trail from Joe that showed the chronology.
Many know that Joe had health issues a few years back, but he's really healthy at this point. What flummoxed him was that people were contacting him asking if his health was ok. This is how a rumour starts from "family emergency" to "Health situation". When he really did have health issues, he was forthcoming about it, but what happened was the top coordinators in L.A. and larger cities were loathe to refer him, because they didn't want to refer a photographer who might not be well enough to shoot the event. Joe's bookings dropped dramatically as a result, so understandably he would be sensitive about any announcement about his well-being.
All parties are burned on this. Joe had pretty much taken the month of July and part of August to do this tour, so there is lost revenue. The Sallees are in a crazy spot because they have to refund the ticket fees, cancel the venues, etc.
There is no contract between them (which is nutty for a commitment that is so involved) nor did any money change hands. JB is very very insistent that he is doing the tour to "help photographers" and that there wasn't a concern for the low attendance, as he would have gone to give the class anyway. I have no reason to believe or not believe him, but this much I'll say. He picked up the phone and called me, and that always is a great idea.
I took down the earlier post because the San Francisco event is over and 2) the website that said all of the cancelled cities were "Sold Out" has been taken down. JB explained that he is calling each of the photographers who signed up individually to arrange for refunds, and for that I certainly don't envy that task! If I were a seminar promoter, I would really take a wait-and-see position on making any plans for having audiences at shows. I can tell that people are burned out of the whole workshop mania, and everybody is staying home.