by J. Rae Chipera
Most photographers have heard at least one of these questions before. Regardless of how harmless they seem, they really hurt a photographer's soul. We all have our way of reacting to these questions. Here are a few funny (and a few serious) suggestions for those photographers who haven't heard them before. I hope you don't get caught off guard.
<<Disclaimer. This is intended to be funny.>>
QUESTION: Are you really a professional, though? You don’t have a degree.
ANSWER: No... me so stupidz me thinky four plus four is seven.
ANSWER: Actually, I just like taking pictures of naked people. Art school rejected me for that.
ANSWER: I fit into a unique group of professionals without a degree. Other members are Katy Perry, Halle Berry, Michael Dell, Michael Jackson, Rachel Ray, Steven Spielberg, and Henry Ford.
QUESTION: Your camera takes really nice pictures! Will you give me some advice on my photos?
ANSWER: That pen in your pocket must write some great novels. Will you give me some advice on writing best-sellers?
ANSWER: Yea all you have to do is point and shoot.
ANSWER: Sure. The best advice I can give is that the lens goes forward.
QUESTION: I want to learn how to use Photoshop. Will you give me your RAW files?
ANSWER: Sure. I can give you the RAW files I took of my dog pooping.
ANSWER: What's a RAW file? Is that like a negative?
ANSWER: I sell my RAW files for $1000 each. It is probably cheaper for you to just pay for one of my workshops.
QUESTION: Can’t you just photoshop that?
ANSWER: What's Photoshop? Is that like Picasa?
ANSWER: Yea, as long as you're willing to pay for the added time that will take. It might take up to 13 extra hours.
ANSWER: Unfortunately no. Photoshop can only fix dust spots and pimples.
QUESTION: Can I have all the reject photos too please?
ANSWER: I don't take reject photos.
ANSWER: That's what my parents said about reject kids, but they lied. They never wanted me.
ANSWER: Actually, they're all reject photos.
QUESTION: I wanted to invite you to my event. Can you bring your camera?
ANSWER: Sure, I'd love to. Tomorrow, I can give you an invoice so you know how much I charge for event photography.
ANSWER: What camera? I don't have a camera.
ANSWER: Why? Are there going to be any people there to take pictures of?
QUESTION: Isn't it just the camera? I mean if I had a camera like that, I could take the same photos you do.
ANSWER: By all means, use my camera. Let's show the world what you get.
ANSWER: Oh no. You've discovered my secret. Please don't tell anyone about this ripoff of a business.
ANSWER: Which way do the Canon balls go into this thing?
QUESTION: Is it easy to run a photography business?
ANSWER: As easy as it is to run any other type of business.
ANSWER: Wait... this is supposed to be a business?
ANSWER: No. It's really hard. The voices in my head keep telling me to click the shutter at different times. It's a constant war over art.
QUESTION: Isn't your job easy? I mean, all you do is click a button all day, right?
ANSWER: Yes it's really easy. In fact, I'm looking for an assistant next week when I go to ___________ (name of remote place requiring lots of physical strength to get to). Do you want to go with me and help carry my gear so I can click the button better?
ANSWER: That's not cool. I have a disability that makes it really hard to move my fingers. Except my middle one.
ANSWER: I guess the same could be said for those people who set off the dynamite with the push switch. I think I'll go do that for a while.
QUESTION: Which is better? A Canon or a Nikon?
ANSWER: Actually, the best camera on the market right now is an iPhone 6.
ANSWER: Well not this piece of crap camera. You need the most expensive one on the market if you want good pictures.
ANSWER: I prefer ________. They're the only camera you can completely submerge in water.
QUESTION: Can you post your photos onto Facebook without the watermark? My mom wants to print them out.
ANSWER: No, but I can print them without a watermark for your mom for the price of $______ , my going rate.
ANSWER: Sure. Should I put up the naked ones too? I'll make sure to send them directly to her wall.
ANSWER: Wait, which ones were the ones of you? Were they the ones in the strip club, or the ones at the nude beach?
QUESTION: Can I pay you in three installments over a year? My wedding took a lot of money out of my pockets.
ANSWER: Sure, I can let you pay in installments, but like any other business, I have to charge you interest. Most people end up paying at least 10% interest, depending on their credit score.
ANSWER: This is not a furniture store or a car dealership.
ANSWER: Only if I can take your images in three installments over a year.
QUESTION: I only need a few photos taken. Is that cheaper?
ANSWER: If you go to a restaurant and order your cheeseburger without pickles and onions, is that cheaper?
ANSWER: Your mom is cheaper.
ANSWER: If you can convince my cable network to only charge me for the seven channels I watch and not all of them, then yes.
QUESTION: Why is the background blurry like that?
ANSWER: I think you might need glasses. You seem to be nearsighted.
ANSWER: I didn't notice that before. There must be a ghost haunting you in the image.
ANSWER: That's a rip in the fabric of space. We were lucky to get out of there before we fell into hell.
QUESTION: Will you edit the selfie I took for my Facebook page?
ANSWER: Well that depends... do you still have the negative?
ANSWER: Sure, as long as you don't mind my making you look like a zombie.
ANSWER: Sure, as long as you want to look like an alien. I've been meaning to get more familiar with the blur tool.
QUESTION: Is there a discount if I edit the pictures myself? I have Picasa.
ANSWER: No, in fact I charge more for that because of added legal fees.
ANSWER: You use Picasa too? Best editing software ever!
ANSWER: Sure. Does Picasa read a RAW file?
QUESTION: I don't have to give you credit when I post your photo on my Facebook page, do I?
ANSWER: No, it's not necessary, as long as you don't mind me putting a giant watermark in the corner.
ANSWER: No you don't. I'll just make sure to take terrible pictures of you so that I don't mind not getting credit.
ANSWER: No, as long as you are willing to pose next to my cat.
QUESTION: Is it okay if I crop your watermark off the photo?
ANSWER: Sure, as long you're willing to pay an invoice for a photo without a watermark when I send it.
ANSWER: If you bribe me with enough alcohol, then still no.
ANSWER: Oh you can't crop off my watermark. It's made of real water, and it stains the picture like blood on white carpet. Oh... speaking of blood on white carpet, I need to go to the store.
Recently, there were some photographs stolen from female celebrities such as Jennifer Lawrence and Kate Upton
-- nude photos. And now, people everywhere have been talking about what is essentially cyber rape.
Some people blame the victims, saying they shouldn't have photos taken if they don't want them leaked. I have met very few people who have never taken a naked photo of themselves or had a photo made of themselves while they were naked. Whether that photo is for a spouse, a prospective date, for yourself, or for some sort of industry (modelling, glamour, porn, etc.) everyone deserves the same amount of privacy.
Some say "well if you don't want them on the internet, don't put them on the internet." Well let's discuss that. The images were stolen off iCloud. Cloud storage is something many photographers use. It's cheap, and it affords a lot of storage space. The storage there is safe from fire, flood, dropped hard drives, etc. Therefore, photographers love it. Many people in the modeling / fashion photography industry use the cloud (though, I do not unless it is for people who have consented to have their images stored there). Many photographers and models live on the road, and therefore, use of programs like Dropbox
are much more convenient for photograph delivery.
In what other ways can a photo be delivered? It could be mailed through the postal service, but it could get bent. It could also get stolen through those means, scanned, and put on the internet. It could get stolen out of a safe at home, scanned, and uploaded to the internet.
You don't actually have to have nude photos of yourself to be at risk of having them on the internet. Do you remember the scandal where a French magazine published images that were sneaked of British Princess Kate Middleton
I've also seen "well then, just never be naked if you don't want others to see." For those humans who take showers and / or want to reproduce some day, that is simply not an option. And blaming the victim for the crime is an act of misogyny that must stop if we want our women to have any thread of self esteem, and if we want our society to progress at all. So what, exactly, can be done to protect yourself from having photos of you on the internet?
The fact of the matter is, no matter what opinion you have, the display of naked photos of celebrities (or anyone else) over the internet without a model release from the star
and without holding the copyright of the images
is illegal. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act protects image theft. Therefore, if the images are selfies, the actresses have complete and total control over where the images are shared, by law. Period.
Say the images are not selfies. That means they are not the intellectual property of the stars, and therefore, the photographer or owner of the images will have to file the DMCA violation. What happens if the photographer doesn't want to do that? I would then hope that Lawrence, Upton, and the others had contracts and model releases with the photographer where it is discussed where the images can and cannot be used. If you are new to having nude photos taken (so, if you're not a famous model or something), make sure there is a model release signed. If the photographer refuses, they are not a professional photographer.
Chances are, the photographer wants to stay in business. Therefore, if the images are stolen from them and used in a way that is contrary to how a client wants them to be used, they will be right on board with filing that DMCA complaint at the federal copyright office. I will definitely do this for any client (AND I have done it in the past for a client whose clothed image was stolen off my social media account and altered for use in an advertisement without consent.)Here is how to file a DMCA complaint (you can do it even if it is a selfie taken with your mobile phone):
<<<<<<<<<<I am not an attorney>>>>>>>>>>
1) Check to see if your data is date / time-stamped. Chances are, it is. If it's not, you want to start doing that.
2) Create a letter of demand. Include the following: "This is a NOTICE OF INFRINGEMENT OF COPYRIGHT as authorized in § 512(c) of the U.S. Copyright Law under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). This content is an unauthorized reproduction of the copyrighted material originally found at (insert authorized uses here). Remove the content immediately, or the owner of this copyrighted material will file an official complaint with the U.S. Copyright Office, Google, and other pertinent parties. I am the copyright owner of this law, and the use here is illegal, and my exclusive rights as the owner are infringed. (Your full name, contact information)"
3) Search by image for any other unauthorized uses. If you find some, insert your notice into any comment lines underneath the stolen work.
4) Do a whois search to determine the web host from where the pirate rents server space, and ask them to take it down immediately.
5) If they don't take it down, ask your lawyer to help you draft a letter to the U.S. Federal Copyright Office or equivalent agency.
Moreover...... you want to do something about the infringement IMMEDIATELY when you see it. Copyright Law is complicated, but (last I checked with the Copyright Office), you have 90 days after the theft of a work to register it. If your work is registered, you can collect more money than just damages. (In other words, you can get awarded a penalty fine paid by the thief.) You want to register your work as soon as possible. You can register copyrighted works online here.
by J. Rae Chipera
When working with models, the pose can determine which genre of photography you are shooting. Professional models specializing in specific fields will know how to pose, but amateurs will not know. Then it becomes the photographer's job to ensure the pose is appropriate for the client, whether it is a magazine or a designer or otherwise.
The best way to illustrate the difference between poses is to state it in terms of fashion versus glamour. Models who have worked in the porn / glamour industry often arch their back more than fashion models do. This highlights features of the body that are more popular in glamour and men's magazines. Glamour models often tend to pose with their mouths open because the brain associates that with sex, even if the model is clothed in the image.
Glamour model Jessi June (Maxim, Playboy, Hustler etc.) poses in a Florida penthouse.
People who have watched America's Next Top Model have heard fashion modeling guru and host, Tyra Banks, yell at a girl, "that's too hoochy!" Unlike glamour photography, fashion photography is not about implying sex. Fashion photography needs to emphasize the clothing and not the model.
Fashion models should arch their back less than glamour models should. Fashion often utilizes more interesting poses, maybe bending sideways or forming odd angles. This catches the viewer's eye, and makes them interested in the product: the clothing. Fashion models can pose with an open mouth, but only slightly open. It should look relaxed if the mouth is open. Photographers need to watch this and tell them, "close your mouth" if it becomes too much about the model and less about the clothing.
Fashion photography is much more about creating height in a model than glamour photography is. For this reason, it is important to pose the model so that you can shoot slightly upward at them, even if they are already tall. It is also the photographer's responsibility to ensure the model is not doing something with the pose that makes her look shorter. Elongating the neck, legs, and arms make the model look much taller.
Fashion model Uzuri Sims poses outside Death Valley National Park. Designer: Fatima Jabwari.
by Steve Boyko
Special Guest Writer
Photography is usually about capturing an instant in time. Sometimes, though, we want to capture the feeling of motion in a scene. This article will talk about some ways to capture that feeling.
Freeze the Moment
The simplest way to capture motion is to use a high enough shutter speed to “freeze” any motion.
The shutter speed required depends on the relative speed of the object(s) in motion. If you’re photographing trains, like I often do, a shutter speed faster than 1/500s is often required to freeze the motion. For fast passenger trains crossing perpendicular to your sight line, even higher shutter speeds are required. Keep in mind that it is the relative motion that is important. An object traveling toward or away from the photographer will not need as high a shutter speed as an object crossing “sideways” through the scene.
In some cases it is not advantageous to completely stop the motion. For example, when photographing helicopters, if you use a high shutter speed, it appears the helicopter’s blades have stopped and it looks odd. It is beneficial to have just a bit of blur on the blades to show motion.
Shutter speed: 1/800s
In some cases you may want to pan as a vehicle or person moves across the scene. “Panning” is moving your camera to track the motion of the photo’s subject. This can be done while holding the camera, or while the camera is mounted on a tripod. Panning keeps the object in focus while blurring the background. Done correctly, this can create a powerful feeling of motion.
The key to a good pan is a low shutter speed. The photo above was taken with a 1/20s shutter speed. The relative motion determines the shutter speed required. I find for trains moving at around 40 MPH (65 km/hr) a shutter speed between 1/15 and 1/30s works best in daylight.
One advantage of a pan is that it can be used in low light situations where a high shutter speed is not available. That way you can still capture the object even though the available light is too low to stop the action with a high shutter speed.
The above photo was shot just before sunrise and the available light was very low. However, camera settings of 1/20s shutter, f/3.5 aperture and ISO 100 were sufficient to capture a serviceable photo of the locomotive.
Panning takes practice. The key to a good pan is to move the camera with the object in a smooth motion. Try it out - a local highway will provide all of the practice objects you will ever need! Steve Boyko is a photographer who especially enjoys chasing trains and documenting grain elevators. You can find him at www.traingeek.ca, on G+ at https://plus.google.com/+SteveBoyko, and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/TraingeekImages among others.
by J. Rae Chipera, owner
Photographing nude models (glamour photography) requires more than simply recruiting a model who is willing to pose nude. Obviously there are the photographic staples: lighting, set planning, composition, post-processing, etc. but there is even more than that to consider.
<<<<<Right off the bat, let’s cover some essential legal topics. Always always always check the model’s identification before allowing him or her to pose nude for you. I recommend keeping a photograph of the driver’s license for your records in case someone challenges the age of your model.>>>>>
Ok… now that my lawyers are satisfied, here’s the real article:
The decision to venture into the world of glamour photography will require you as an entrepreneurial photographer to prepare some answers to a few questions you will undoubtedly encounter when working in this field.
First, most models require a payment to pose nude even if they typically do not ask for payment otherwise. Decide whether or not you are financially capable of paying a model, and if you are, you should determine how much you are willing to pay. Models typically have a rate in mind. The industry standard for an average model is about $100. If the model is published in glamour magazines like Maxim or Playboy, expect to pay more – maybe significantly more.
There are clients who will be uncomfortable working with you if you have glamour or nude photographs in your portfolio. If your primary business as a photographer comes from these clients, then you may not want to shoot glamour. Shooting nude models will probably rule out clients who are of certain religious persuasions, and it could rule out photographing minors. This is not to say that you must choose between photographing children and photographing glamour models, but more questions will arise if you have both genres in your portfolio, even if you have pictures of the models’ driver’s licenses.
Model: Rebecca Carter, (C) 2014 J Rae Chip Productions
Earlier this year, I photographed Melissa Kat, one of the top models in the industry. She approached me about shooting topless in an interesting empty closet with a chain and punk wardrobe
. She wanted something that was more edgy than other work in her portfolio, and I thought it was a great idea. So we shot it. It was artistic and beautiful, and I was very flattered when a glamour photographer I admire praised the image. However, that image has been a new kind of adventure for me as an entrepreneur. Although neither Melissa nor I intended it this way, it was seen as a “bondage image.” Some models are uncomfortable with that. The difference between art and pornography is sometimes in the eyes of the viewer.
I have already branded myself as an edgy photographer, and it’s perceived that there are few emotional lines I will not cross for the sake of art. The vast majority of the people I know from back home – who knew me as a kid – would say I pole vaulted across a line in 2011 when I photographed Kailtyn Roberts in the Linda Vista Hospital. Some ideas from that series were hers. Some were mine.
The decision to shoot a nude model for the first time is like getting a misdemeanor. It stays on your record, and it’s something you can never undo. And it can keep you from working for certain people. Now that I have shot those photographs, I can never become appealing to certain markets. I will forever be the photographer who shot "bondage," who shot a girl nude on the set of SAW IV
, who shot the girl naked in church for Chrissakes
, and who shot the naked zombie in the abandoned barber shop
So in a nutshell, if the answer to any of these questions is no, then you might not want to shoot nude models:
- Do I want to be known as the photographer who shot that model nude, even if it was only once?
- Do I intend to photograph people who are under the age of 18 on a regular basis?
- Do I intend to work with a lot of clients who are Christian or Muslim?
- Am I prepared to have people call my art “pornography?”
- Do I want to ever work with clients who might be offended by what I am about to shoot?
- Am I prepared to get negative comments from the public if they are offended by my work?
- Would it bother me if certain organizations refused me as a member because I photographed nude models, even if it was artistic and not pornography?
- Do I want to become a controversial artist?
Finally, as I often say in my writing, it is important for you as a photographer to create what makes you happy. My reputation as a puritanical photographer was short-lived. But I’m glad.
Personally, I don’t get much joy out of shooting with children or puritans, so it doesn't bother me when people say my work is “not safe for work,” “of the devil” or “painful to the eyes.” I make it for me. And for the model. And seriously……. Not once has a model ever NOT had fun shooting with my crazy props. It’s like Halloween all the time over here, and who doesn’t like Halloween?
I will honestly say that I closed some doors to business that could be open if I had never taken those images in the hospital in 2011. That is something I will forever have to deal with. BUT it has been quite a lot of fun taking those images and all the “not safe for work” photographs after that. And like all things in life, some opportunities lost meant others were gained. I’ve met a lot of amazing models, photographers, and designers whose minds are similar to mine. And really, my art would be shit if I didn’t take photographs that I enjoy, so the clientele that is a “lost opportunity” probably wouldn’t be satisfied anyway.
by J Rae Chipera
Sometimes as a photographer, I get stuck in what I like to call "the abyss of the perfect frame." Film shooters might know more about what I'm saying. You go out with your camera and shoot 24 or 36 frames. Limiting yourself to just a few dozen photographs ensures you only shoot when everything is perfect. Then you develop the negatives, and when viewed under the enlarger, there is only one frame out of those few dozen that you think is worthy of your portfolio or just one that you think garners the vision you had for that particular shoot.
But that doesn't do if the client paid for more than one image. In fact, it can be a death sentence if you only have one frame you deem good enough. One saving grace is that inevitably, the client will always have a completely different opinion about which image is the perfect frame.
"The Haunted Shower" - model: Calissa Lieben
For this particular shoot, I wanted to shoot glamour model Calissa Lieben as the ghost haunting the shower. Though I had many shots, this was the only one that I thought really captured that story. But I needed more than one to satisfy the shoot. So what do I do?
Well sometimes, even though one image tells the story just fine, adding a few other frames gets the story better. Calissa didn't get to see the images after I took them, as I had to scurry back to California right away, but I have a good idea of what models like, and I discerned that she would like the last image in my series the best - the one that looked the least like a ghost and the most like a model.
These three images were not taken in this sequence, but when looking at each photo individually and rearranging the negatives or thumbnails in different ways, I was able to find the perfect three-photo series that tells the story of the sighting of the beautiful ghost and highlights just how beautiful Calissa is.
These are my two main objectives as a photographer who shoots horror: 1) Show the fear. 2) Show the beauty. The different emotions that Calissa was able to show on her face is an added bonus.
Adding the extra frames made me as the photographer - the creator - wonder what would happen if I took her hand in the last frame and followed her. I wondered how she died. What is she disgusted about in the second frame? If I as the photographer now have questions, the photo series tells the story needed.
by J. Rae Chipera
Every artist ends up with a style they become known for, photographers included. Most of the time, that means choosing a photographic genre like portraits, landscapes, wildlife, etc. Exhale, though, because that doesn’t mean you have to stick to the genre you choose exclusively. Even some of the greatest photographers of all time ventured outside their chosen specialty if there was a photo that was screaming to be taken.
Ansel Adams is known for black and white landscapes, but he also shot in color. He took some portraits too. Robert Capa took a few landscapes.
But how should you choose your genre? There are a few different approaches you should consider when answering this question.
First, there is the mind of the businessman to consider. Lots of photographers do this. If you put “what kind of photographer” into search, the first suggestion is “what kind of photographer makes the most money.” However, there is a reason why this doesn’t work for most entrepreneurs: how much money you make does not have anything to do with the subject matter you shoot. Instead, it has to do with how well you shoot, and to a greater extent how good you are about bragging about your work.
If you decide to photograph weddings because you think wedding photographers make a lot of money, you should do it if you like that style of photography. If you don’t like what you do as an artist, you will grow to be resentful of your own creation, and that is the recipe for failure every time.
Of course, I’ve known some photographers who have made a decent living shooting only what the world around them demands. They are photographers for the business and had no attachment to the art whatsoever. So it’s not all-exclusive that one must be an artist as a photographer, but I would say that at least 99% of photographers consider themselves artists at least to some extent.
It’s best to satisfy your artistic mind. Most people don’t become artists because of the high pay, but because they enjoy their medium, whether it is photography, painting, sculpting, or otherwise.
Photographers take pictures of what they like and inspires them. Ansel Adams was an environmentalist, so it makes sense that he mostly enjoyed landscape photography. Capa was a photojournalist and Co-founder of Magnum Photos. He liked living on the edge and documenting atrocities of war, but that doesn't mean he didn't enjoy a pretty view every now and then.
Following this train of thought, maybe you should look through the photos you have taken, and see what you like to photograph most often. Maybe you like sunsets. Maybe you like flowers. Maybe you like wildlife. The first consideration when choosing a photography genre should be what you enjoy shooting most.
But what if you can’t decide? What if you like photographing everything? Okay. Next consider where you live. Travel to other places is often expensive, so what is around you that you can photograph? If you live in the city, wildlife photography might not be the most affordable option for you. Maybe you also like shooting sports. Choose something that fits with the area nearby where you live.
Are you still having trouble deciding? This time, consider choosing a style instead of a genre. Maybe you simply want to be known as a black and white photographer, but not specify the subject matter. Maybe you have a specific mood or emotion you enjoy portraying, no matter the subject.
Most people should now have an idea of what kind or kinds of photography they want to specialize in. If you still don’t know what to pick, you would be best off remaining a holistic photographer. You might not be ready to choose one thing over everything else yet. If that’s you, then you probably just need some more time to do more exploring of everything you can make photographically. And that is perfectly okay.
by J. Rae Chip
When I was younger, I always thought New Years resolutions were dumb, and that people should live in the moment. However, since becoming an entrepreneur, I realize it's important to embrace the custom, at least just for the business. If you're a photographer, and you're looking for a good New Years resolution, maybe try some of these:
I will sell my work at a price that is fair to me, allows me to eat, pay rent, and live my life.
I will love my work, however flawed I see it as, because I created it in a moment when something was speaking to me.
I will be nice to other artists, respect them, the message they share, and the work they make, even if it is not something that I personally would hang on my walls.
I will never compare my work to someone else's work. I will remember that it is unfair of me to judge my image, which I have known for its whole life, with the image by someone else, which I have known for five minutes or less (not long enough to see the flaws).
I will create my work for me and not for other people. If other people like it, then that is great. If other people do not like it, then that is great too, because I like my work.
I will stop looking at my business as a way for me to pay for my photography gear, and I will start looking at my business as a way for me to live off my art, even if I don't quit my day job.
I will not idolize other photographers, but instead, I will respect all photographers as great artists in their own light, including myself.
I will not brag about my achievements, but I will be humble about them because many of my fans are also artists and also have achievements. That said, I will never discount the achievements of others, but rather support my friends.
I will discover how to be competitive in business, but friendly in person.
by J. Rae Chip
It's no secret that the photography world has more suppliers now than ever, and it's much harder to sell photography now than it was 20 years ago.
But you should sell your work.
From time to time, I hear photographers say they gave their work away in exchange for exposure. I'm not saying to never do that because there is a time and place for everything, but you should sell your work. I know a fair amount of photographers who utilize the creative commons business model. And again, I'm not saying to never do that, but you should sell your work.
Some of my peers in the professional photography business use a pricing strategy called "freenomics." Essentially, it means they give away their goods and services because working for free will bring more customers into the market. It has worked for Trey Ratcliff, owner of Stuckincustoms, with his HDR photography. In fact, it brought him so many customers that he was considered to be the inventor of HDR, even though the technology is older than his business. So why did it work for Stuckincustoms?
Trey Ratcliff is not a business dummy. Stuckincustoms penetrated the market, grabbing as many customers as possible and converting more. He even created more photographers, which created a market for his workshops and whatnot. By pitching the idea that watermarks make art less beautiful, he inadvertently (or maybe it was on purpose, I'm not Ratcliff, so I can't say), created a world in the HDR photography realm that helped him profit off his competitors. People see a brilliant HDR photograph and want to buy it. They can't find the author of it (because it is not watermarked), so they assume it belongs to Ratcliff. They visit the Stuckincustoms site looking for the photo, but they can't find it. Nevermind, though, because they've already forgotten about the original photo and found a few others they want to buy instead.
Ratcliff allows people to use his work on the internet for purposes that don't generate a profit for the consumer. Essentially, his Stuckincustoms uses a freenomics strategy.
You should sell your work. Ratcliff has already flourished off the freenomics model. Of course, he's not the only one using it. And it doesn't make his business any more or less legitimate or ethical. However, he has grabbed a majority of the HDR photography market using that technique. So much so, that if you try to use it, you won't be able to keep up with Ratcliff's established business. So try something else. Develop your own pricing strategy for your business.
J. Rae Chip Productions uses a different pricing strategy than Stuckincustoms does. And again, that doesn't make us any more legitimate or ethical. Our business model generates profit for us. Ratcliff's business model generates profit for him. And they're completely different.
Some of the threats to the photography business world are the decreased costs of equipment. DSLR cameras have become inexpensive. Most cell phones can now take a good enough photo that the news will use those photos in publications. Adobe Systems Incorporated has started utilizing a subscription-based price system instead of their traditional methods, making their software seemingly much more affordable for the consumer to use.
Selling photographic prints has become increasingly difficult because of the increase in photographs that are supplied to the market due to lowered production costs. Therefore, unless you are already established as a photographer like Ratcliff is, it probably will not benefit you to give work away for free unless you conduct good research. Pricing your work appropriately is obviously important, but you should do so in a way that will make you money. Your income should overtake your expenses.
There are those who say "I don't need to sell any of my work. I'm just a photo hobbyist, so I don't need people to pay me." I don't understand. If your work is good enough that someone wants it, your work is good enough to make a bit of money. To me, that's a way of selling yourself short. It doesn't matter if you're a full time professional, how much experience you have, or who you are... you should make money off your work if people want it.
I've also heard people say they can't make money off their work because people don't want to pay. Well... as an industry, photographers are saying that their work is not valuable enough to pay for because everyone is giving in to people who say "I really like your work, but I don't have a budget." Don't believe them! No matter how bad the economic conditions are, people still have money. Because the U.S. and the E.U. are in simultaneous recessions doesn't magically mean that there is no money on this planet. A recession means that people are not spending. They spend money only on what is important to them. How does giving work away for free help at all? All it does is tell them that photography is not as important as getting their hair done or going out for dinner.
I was approached by the Chick Fil-A nearby about photographing a banquet. They said "we really like your work, but we don't have a budget." They lied to me. Of course they have a budget, or else there would be no banquet. They're a Chick Fil-A. They were just being cheap, hoping some photographer, somewhere would take the bait when they said, "we will tell everyone who asks that you took the photos."
And I'm sure someone took the bait. And I'm sure they got screwed, because it was obvious to me when I spoke with the manager that Chick Fil-A just wanted free-quality snapshot work, and that they did not have the intention to spread any information about who took the photos.
My best advice is to be smart. You're not going to become rich by working for free. Often times, you'll hurt your own potential, and you'll hurt the industry as a whole. Value your work enough to ask people to be respectful enough to pay you for it. J Rae Chip Productions has given work away before. We broke into certain markets by doing "trial" work for clients to build portfolio work, and show them what we were capable of. But today, if someone asked us to shoot a horror scene for "exposure" we would definitely say no. Portfolio work has to be done in a smart way, too. Clients must be evaluated to determine whether or not they actually have the potential to benefit the business if free work is given to them.
Ratcliff has said on the record that if people can't afford his work now, that he trusts they will pay for it later. That seems to work for Stuckincustoms. J Rae Chip Productions did a "trial" shoot for a high-profile client back in 2007, showing them what we could do with a little fake blood. That turned into hundreds of bookings that generated real profits. We researched that client and discovered their success and networking connections. We did good work for them, and they talked about us to their connections, who wanted to pay us.
You might be wondering what the difference was between them and the Chick Fil-A. That client was in the fashion industry and was asking us to deliver quality work that they could publish next to other great work from more established photographers. We decided that having our photos next to other photographers, wearing clothing designed by great designers, had the potential to generate $xx,xxx for us. Chick Fil-A wanted us to photograph a private banquet for employees who had much lower incomes than the networking connections of the previous client. We estimated that the Chick Fil-A gig could have generated us $x,xxx. $x,xxx was less than what we would have charged for the banquet shoot. However, $xx,xxx was much more than we would have charged for the hour shoot we did.
In closing, how you price your product is completely up to you. But at least I hope I've convinced you why you should make money off your hard work as well as some tools to learn how to determine what free work to do and what is just someone trying to rip you off.
by J. Rae Chip
Ok so this is a blog post about fake blood, so it should be common sense, but just in case...THE IMAGE ASSOCIATED WITH THIS BLOG POST (BELOW THE TEAR LINE) MIGHT BE DISTURBING TO SOME AUDIENCES. PEOPLE UNDER THE AGE OF 18 OR THOSE WHO ARE SENSITIVE TO GRAPHIC SCENES SHOULD NOT VIEW THE IMAGE BELOW THE TEAR LINE.
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