July 14, 2012

  • Sallee School and Joe Buissink

    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.

Comments (3)

  • Gary thanks for putting more info from both sides, which helps to give a better
    understanding of what has transpired. With you being a
    leader in the industry, I was very disappointed in the the first blog post. I
    really feel it was irresponsible for you to post without hearing from both
    sides. The tone that you directed toward JB in the first post did not seem to be
    from a position of the middle. I feel it could have been handled in a more
    diplomatic way… Maybe raising the question why? You stated in the post that
    JB’s announcement on his website hurt Joe even after he removed it from his
    page, saying the viral damage has already been done. In truth you did the same
    thing to the Sallee’s with your blog. We have to be careful with our leadership
    and use it to help and not to hurt our fellow photographers especially when the
    whole story is not out. This new post is better and gives more info but… I
    still feel you should post a true apology to the Sallee’s for your actions. I
    have been a fan of your leadership and entrepreneur vision…I own many of your
    products and have used them for years. I know you will do the right thing.

    As far as Joe is concerned I hope this has not put to much stress on him, I have
    never meet him but was looking forward to seeing and meeting him when the tour
    was scheduled for Dallas…he is truly a legend in this industry. I wish him the
    best.

    Tours…they are getting rough and there is a reason why, just to many of them
    and folks are getting selective in what they want to see and who. Most not all
    tours are about selling stuff…yes I said it! And rightfully so, because you
    can’t make any money with $49 admissions unless you have over 200 and to make
    good money you need to have 500. It just cost to much to put them on.
    We all are guilty of selling product, but when JB approach me for the first leg
    of the Sallee School tour he said we won’t be selling products in the back of
    the room. He said he wanted to do something different to help the industry and
    make all about education. I was all for it…sometimes you have to follow your
    heart and do what feels right. JB had all the risk I did not, he paid me a flat
    fee and we made it about education, it was awesome and all who attended really
    enjoyed the presentation. We had good attendance, I think we average around 70
    to 80 per city which is good these days. So I think we should commend JB
    for trying something new and trying to help. He as handled this situation like a
    professional…all are getting their money back and now to decide the the next
    phase of his school. Let’s try to lift each other up instead of throwing each
    other to the wolves.

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