Photographers - What are you paying for? (Part 2)

Be open minded about your camera gear

You can make a tripod for only a few dollars, tracing paper makes a great diffuser and a trip to a hardware store will give you very bright lights. Yes, there are downsides, and for the technically perfect photographer, these suggestions will be a very funny joke. The point here is keep and open mind and try new things before forking out $100 for a piece of shiny material that resembles a $5 dash board cover.

Unless you use a biscuit tin to take photos, eventually you will want to buy a new camera. Shop around, get advice, try out a friend’s and when you walk into the shop, don’t spend hundreds of dollars on accessories that you wont’ use. It doesn’t hurt to haggle a bit either. When the salesman tries to close the deal, my typical response is “what else are you throwing in?”

Studio Hire

So the first question you ask yourself is “Do I know anyone who already has a studio set up?” If the answer is yes. Skip the rest of this section, suck up your pride and ask them if you can visit and have a play.

The rest of you, ask yourself what you are paying for. Is it the chance to get a professionally lit shot? Maybe you could try a lighting course that will not only give you many opportunities to work with professional lights, but will teach you the theory and science of lighting. Often these courses are much cheaper than a similar amount of time in a rented studio. Do you want to try shooting in more controlled conditions? Try clearing out a room of your house and setting up a few scenes. The results may not be brilliant but it will give you a sense of how much time you can spend setting a shot up before you get to click the button. If you are certain that a proper studio is for you, consider hiring it out through a camera club for a discounted rate, or hiring it out with a couple of other photographers to minimise your expense.

Models and TFP

Models and photographers have one thing in common – they both need a portfolio of photos to proceed in their career. This is why Time For Photo shoots have become so popular. But before you jump up and down about using a free model take a second think about what is fair and ethical. At the end of the day, both you and the model should be happy with your arrangement. If someone feels short changed, you should consider modifying your approach.

This is my rule of thumb. If a model approaches me to take shots for her portfolio, and I am working to her brief, she should pay me. If we have put our heads together to come up with a project and proceed on equal footing where we both use the images, then neither should pay. And if I conceive and art direct the shoot and have priority over the image rights, I should pay the model. Basically whoever comes out on top should be paying the person who is doing them a favor. Then there are test shoots, these are almost always done on a time for photos basis. These shoots are a bit like ‘warm up’ shoots for the model and photographer to see if they want to work together properly. They are also a chance to test new ideas or equipment. Often the images taken in test shoots are less than great, and if they do turn out, they are most commonly shared equally between all parties. If you are requesting a model release form because you intend to profit from the images, in my opinion, the model should be paid or you should have an arrangement to split any profits.

My plan of attack is to put out a call for models. Then I will do a test shoot with the model who has contacted me and we either have equal rights to the shots or split them down the middle. If the test shoot goes well we may arrange to work together again. This might mean doing an even split of “her ideas” and “my ideas” for no payment, or it may be paid work if I am contracted to produce shots for a commercial job.

Photographers – What are you paying for? (Part One).

Journal Comments

  • Barssel
  • Steven  Lippis
  • jim painter
  • Stephen Mitchell
  • Bevsimages
  • Lisa Hill
  • pryere
  • JimFilmer
  • missymiss
  • fotensity