Category Archives: Professionalism

Negotiating Exposure for the freelance

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This is Audrie Currie demonstrating a method of estimating the ideal kayak paddle length (you didn’t know there was such a thing as an ideal paddle length did you?) from a picture story of mine which appeared in an actual ink and paper Outdoors Magazine Special on boating and camping.

Although it is not the done thing for freelance writers and photographers to reveal how much they are paid for magazine work, I can reveal that I negotiated a fee close to $1000 for a spread of five photographs and 2000 words, which included a substantial amount for Audrie as model. We received two free copies of the magazine each as well.

This was at a time when such special interest magazines had a monthly, or total contributor budget of between $15,000 and $25,000, and sold around 8 to 10 thousand copies.

A far cry from what masquerades as magazine “publishing” today, where the dreaded words ‘payment for contributors’  is never mentioned in not so polite company, for fear of never working again.

Instead “creatives” (I think that refers to writers and photographers) submit work for the wondrous benefits of mythical “exposure” and the never to eventuate “promise of future work”, (to stroke their own vanity!) while models (they are lumped into either “creatives” or worse still “artists”), are beguiled by weasel words foremost amongst which are “it’ll be great for your folio”.

As a freelance writer, photographer and sometimes illustrator I do a yearly impromptu survey of as many magazines as possible, both newstand and online, and my research shows that of magazines of similar subject matter…outdoor recreation, boating camping, etc…(although in reality very few remain, and those which do are a mere shadow of their former glory)…none promote the need for freelance work, and those few who actually use freelance work pay in either magazine subscriptions, individual copies, or not at all.

This result seems to be typical stretching back at least ten years, and in some cases much longer.

No the era of the online magazine, especially of the vanity type, has arrived with a vengeance, and unfortunately for the majority of freelance writers and photographers, is set to stay.

And of course before this artless, directionless, poorly targeted and basically tacky shit is published at seemingly random intervals, every ‘creative’ involved has to supply a list to the publisher, of everyone who was remotely involved in the shoot, or the writing, including the pizza delivery guy, all their relatives and friends, and supposedly every person and their dog they have come into contact with, so that the “respectable publisher” can spam, bully and badger them into coughing up double the price of a newstand magazine for an ill conceived, poorly planned and hurriedly designed digital downloadwhich actually costs virtually nothing to produce.

Despite this their total sales range from less than ten for some, ( apparently no more than the writer, photographer and model and their mothers in many cases) and up to 500 or so for the better written, produced, marketed and advertised attempts.

Nevertheless, the freelance writer, photographer and model are expected to pay for their own copy.

You know the copy of the ‘magazine’ which is “great exposure for their work”!

 

©Copyright: Stephen Bennett, MMXVII

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I ADMIT IT!…i AM UNPROFESSIONAL!

blog unprofressional

It seems that any legitimate photographer, model, and even make up artist, cannot do, say, or post anything online without being labelled as ‘unprofessional’.
In fact it rolls trippingly off so many tongues and so often, akin to the use of it’s linguistic cousins, un-Oshtray-yun, and unna-Merican, that if it did once have some actual meaning, it has now lost all confrontational power: lost all devastational effect from the mouths of simple minded bullies: lost any semblance of insult to the meaningless murk of degraded words inhabited by ‘bugger’, ‘bum’, or ‘you silly, naughty person’
No, come to think of it, legitimate or not doesn’t matter,  as ‘unprofessional’ is the first go to accusation that fauxpros, pretenders, and other fraudsters are willing to make in public, even to each other, before rushing to their secret facebook hate groups to defame and vilify anyone who dares to say anything other than fatuous, sycophantic praise, albeit completely innocuous, about their ‘work’, their ‘passion’, their ‘art’.
Well if being unprofessional is what it is to expose, criticize, ridicule, unmask and satirize  the nonsense,the stupidity, the buffoonery, the con, the fraud, the honey trap, the manipulation, the exploitation and the abuse which epitomises the fauxpro photography ‘industry’ as it is today, and the manner in which it has called all decent photographers and photography as a whole into disrepute and total disorder, well I intend to remain one very active and extremely happy ‘unprofessional’.
I am even planning to describe myself as ‘UNPERFESHNAL TOG’ on my next order of business cards.

And besides they are always good for a laugh: if not for just their arrogance in thinking that they can somehow insult or bully their ‘competition’ into thinking that they are superior, not just to you but to everyone.

A serious case in point. It is but a few months since an amateur model I know well, posted on her facebook page that she would no longer consider shooting with ‘photographers’ unless they at least had an idea or theme for their shoot, and were willing at some stage to organize a time and location to work towards.

This attempt to rid herself of the constant annoyance of time wasters, pick up merchants, pretenders and wankers who think they have a right to monopolize the time of any girl who appears the least bit attractive, let alone announce herself as a model, resulted, to her astonishment for this quite reasonable, but possibly naive request, she was immediately bombarded with postings, messages and emails decrying her as extremely unprofessional, amongst other things to lewd to mention, and the subject of vilification and defamatory statements in multiple ‘photography groups’.

Those personally shredding her included complete strangers, and those who she had never even heard of; but unfortunately many were people she had previously regarded as more than mere photographers, or acquaintances, but as friends. She now will only model for legitimate photographers whom she not only knows very well, but trusts implicitly.

And who would blame her?

The most insulting and laughable example recently was an email from someone who was once genuine photographer, but whose apparent inability to adapt to the rapidly changing markets, as well as limited originality has turned him into a hack, basically living on the almost forgotten glory of a bygone career, who accused me of being unprofessional, not a real ‘professional photographer’ anyway because my phone number isn’t in the yellow pages (???), and that I was trying to  ‘live(vicariously) in the reflection of his professional standing”.

Why? I had simply agreed with an opinion he offered on a photography forum somewhere.

He seemed to have forgotten, or was blissfully unaware, or indeed had chosen to ignore, that it had been me, while editing a now long defunct print magazine, who had negotiated one of his first published photo essays, when he was merely a nerdy young lad with a shiny new camera, and stars in his eyes.

But it is apparently not the only the province of fauxpro photographers to drop the ‘unprofessional’ bomb.

I recently received an email from a photo agent, who I had sacked (fired, dismissed, given the heave-ho) many years ago due to his megalomaniac tendencies (why is it that so many photo agents seem to harbour latent megalomania, or is it part of the job description from the beginning?)
Yes, although it may sometimes appear to the contrary, you actually employ an agent to work for you, and your best interests.

This email extolled the virtues of a job which being an Australian photographer, living in Australia, was ‘right up my alley’ – no need to tell that this agent was resident overseas, and probably doesn’t know the difference between Austria and Australia.

This opportunity of a lifetime required me to:

  • -be in Esperance, W.A., the next day: from Sydney, (nearest airport to where I live) it is merely a 3,418 km trip, one way, and at my own expense…
  • -meet an unnamed middle eastern gentleman and his entourage, who in the agent’s words, was a ‘very, very, important celebrity’, that he (the agent) could vouch for, (a suspicion raising utterance in itself) and therefore would be ‘great exposure for my burgeoning career’…in typical weasel speak he actually said: great exposure for developing my ‘brand’…
  • -hire a car (luxury model of course), again at my own expense, and chauffeur said gentleman wherever in W.A. he wanted to go…
    photographically record all this gentleman’s travels and whims…
  • -surrender immediately at the end of the week, any and all of an undetermined number of photographs documenting the entire week’s activities, completely processed and edited, to the said gentleman’s entourage, including all rights and copyrights…
  • -keep this gentleman’s identity, and the purpose of his visit, secret not only during the trip, but for ever after…

Well so far so (ridiculously) good, until I inquired as how I would recognise this person I was supposed to meet, and yes, you guessed it, what remuneration I was to receive.

  • Then the ‘unprofessional’ word!
    Delivered curtly, and emphatically!
    How dare I suggest that to go to Esperance was too far based on such little detail!
  • I lived in Australia didn’t I, it can’t possibly be that far or that difficult to get to!
  • How dare I call myself a Professional! (well actually I don’t, only amateurs and pretenders call themselves ‘Professional’ Photographers)
  • Obviously I wasn’t serious about developing my career! (after 40 years in the freelance business?)
  • And I certainly wasn’t worthy of having an agent, let alone one with such a distinguished record as himself… (well I don’t have an agent, I don’t want an ‘agent’, and I did tell him in no uncertain terms to pull his head in, and bugger off many years ago)

Oh, and the remuneration for a week’s work as photographer / chauffeur,  including signing away all my rights to any and all photographs taken: (not even considering the unredeemable costs of transport across a continent, and hire of a luxury car) …

$AU 162.

No, not an hour, not a day, …

IN TOTAL!

Well maybe it was a mistake to write about this after all…the ultimate unprofessionalism if you will, for I have a nagging feeling that in the distance I can just hear the rumble of thousands of ‘professional’ photographers’ feet, as they scramble to pack their gear, and clamour to board the plane which will fly them to this ‘awesome opportunity’ to not only gain some very welcome ‘exposure’, but which will also be ‘great for their folios’, and ‘develop their brands’.

‘Welcome to the Planet of the Seven Suns, Captain Kirk.’

moon doll

I hope my wife isn’t reading this, for from where I sit to write, I can clearly see two framed photographs, prized because they show studio portraits of daughter, her husband and smiling grand-kids.

My problem with both these pictures however, is in a standard group portraiture set up such as this where a key light, a carefully placed shadowless fill, and maybe a rim light to separate the subjects from the background would have done the job not only adequately but quite competently, and have been aesthetically pleasing, that they also rather disconcertingly show not one, not even two, but seven distinct sets of hard edged shadows of even intensity from random, and to quote Mr Spock, illogical directions around the compass.

While the stark white background, and the outlines of the figures are completely blown out to give the illusion of a ghostly glow, the ‘photographer’, no doubt being a consummate professional, has obviously ‘fixed it in photoshop’ so that the identities of each individual can be made out through the gloomy, shadowy darkness of the almost totally unlit camera side of the subjects, and the resulting clods of digital noise resulting therefrom.

But maybe this particular ‘photographer’ followed the thinking that if it doesn’t quite look right yet, let’s add another light.

Or alternatively; I know I am totally incompetent, and this is a horrible mess I am creating, but at least I will impress these yobbos with the amount of expensive gear I have, and if I convert the photos to black and white, I can bullshit that I am a “creative artist”.

The viewing public has now become accustomed to the presence of multiple shadows, through the daily consumption of:

  • three point lighting schemes necessary to TV sitcoms and soap operas;

  • staging of music concerts, in which the presence of a multiple lightshow is so often used to disguise a lack of substance or musical talent

  • poor, unthinking photoshop compositing;

  • and the ubiquitous built in camera flash, which is used almost exclusively in the modern Gothic Horror genre known as ‘selfies’, as well as amateur and fauxpro ‘portraiture’.

Apparently the popular alternative to multi shadow lighting, amongst the fauxpro ranks at least, is ‘porn lighting’, which is completely shadowless, obliterating all form and modelling, giving more or less attractive models flat round featureless moon faces, and clothing the look of paper cut-outs affixed to cardboard dolls.

(Porn lighting was discussed recently in my blog entitled: Lip Service ? Or it Just Sux?)

It need not be said that his style of lighting is the worst imaginable, but is increasingly appearing in what fauxpros try to convince themselves is their ‘awesome’ attempt at ‘fashion’ photography, but is also found, and is equally unwelcome in glamour, makeover shots, and yes, you are way ahead of me, in ‘portraiture’ (?)

But with this daily exposure to a virtual galaxy of visual stimuli, with apparently naturally occurring and yet physically impossible lighting; coupled with an overwhelming amount of meaningless, uninspired, poorly conceived, exposed and processed crud masquerading as ‘professional’ photography, are we in danger of actually creating an alien culture of visual illiteracy?

The ramifications of this photo-diarrhoea overload may seem minor, and many may claim that I am simply being alarmist based on a petty non-issue, but when considered with the highly selective, edited, and manipulated pictures and video passed off as ‘factual’ in the mainstream press and television news and current affairs, not to mention the increasingly indiscriminate belief in online sources, ranging from the highly suspect to the downright fabrications of the so called ‘satire’ sites, there should at least be a worry.

Yes m’dear, naive Ensign Rand, don’t let it worry your pretty little head but, the camera always lies!

“…Aye Cap’ain she gonna blow any minute noo.”

The following illustration is a shadow map of an image picked at random from the daily spew of ‘awesome images’ that sully the pages of facebook. I should add that it was taken by a self proclaimed ‘facebook professional’ photographer with an ample following of fawning sycophants.

shadow map

(Derived under fair use provisions of the Copyright Act allowing exceptions for education, criticism or review)

To state the bleedin’ obvious…it is an ‘original artwork’, or to quote one of the sycophantic comments, ‘an inspired concept”, reminiscent of the century old, and done to death cliché of the ‘happy sailor glamour girl in the rigging’.

Who knows, in this funny old world of contemporary photography, maybe a copy from an inspiration of a theme from a copy of a derivative work based on a ‘mood board’ was used as the original (?) ‘inspo’.

The theme and composition seem to provoke little thought beyond ‘disembodied head next to ropes against a white background’.

Needless to say while there is a very distinct and no doubt ‘creative’ shadow of the ropes on the background, there is absolutely no corresponding shadow of the figure to match. Look closely and you will notice an extremely soft shadow of the girl, confusingly on the opposite, and seemingly impossible side of her.

And yet once you have seen this strange anomaly, you sense that there is still something not quite right, until you realise that the dominant light source projects shadows to the right, but the shadows on the face of the figure fall oddly to the left.

But needless to say the inspiring artwork still got more than it’s fair share of ‘great lighting’, ‘beautifully creative’ and ‘awesome capture’ comments.

In conclusion, to boldly stretch the Star Trek allusion beyond where no man has gone before:

“It’s photography Jim, but not as we know it!”

©Copyright: Stephen Bennett, MMXVI

Except as permitted by the copyright law applicable to you, you may not reproduce or communicate any of the content on this website, including any photographs and files down-loadable from this website, without the permission of the copyright owner.

The Australian Copyright Act allows certain uses of content on the internet without the copyright owner’s permission. This includes uses by educational institutions for educational purposes, and by Commonwealth and State government departments for government purposes, provided fair payment is made. For more information, see www.copyright.com.au and www.copyright.org.au.

We may change these terms of use from time to time. Check before re-using any content from this website.

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Lip Service? Or it just sux!

 

Jean Harlow by George Hurrell

The word ‘photography’, as just about every book or article written on the subject will tell you, translates as: writing, painting, or making graphic forms with light.

It is obvious that without light, photography would not exist, but it much more than that.

Many great photographers, sadly most of them from the past, maintain that the “art” of photography, a word bandied around far too much nowadays, is the study, and application of all the subtleties of light in its many forms and qualities to create an aesthetically pleasing composition.

The photo illustrating this blog post: Jean Harlow by George Hurrell, was recently posted on facebook by a genuine ‘student of the art’, as an example of ‘beautiful lighting’ worth at least commenting on, if not emulating.

The excellence of photographic lighting skills reached their pinnacle in the 1930’s/ 40’s with the emergence of the Film Noir movement in Germany and France, and in Hollywood with their sensual and almost erotic lighting of glamour starlets of the era, both on the soundstage and in the photographer’s studios.

Since then photographic and film lighting has of course developed, but basically the principles remain the same.

It is only since the digital ‘everyone can be a photographer’ era of the last say, twenty years that lighting expertise seems to have significantly declined, and in many cases ignored completely.

It seems that nowadays getting an image, any image, captured is an “awesome accomplishment”, if it obeys the rule of thirds more or less, it is a “great composition”, and if you can see some details, and the colours are more or less ‘correct’, it is “well lit”.

The qualities of light which photographers should be aware of as the most influential aspects of creating a composition which has modelling of form, definition, mood, control of focus points, information and variation of visibility (the very things artistic photographs are made of) are:

  • quantity…how much, and how little, and where it falls

  • intensity…the strength of the light overall

  • colour…range from black to white, and degrees of saturation of all colours included

  • distribution…where the light falls, what it reveals, and more importantly where it hides or masks details

  • texture….the softness/ hardness of light definition, beams and pools of light, and the quality and depth of shadows

However the majority of photographs which are seen today, seemingly exploit none of these aspects: the majority of ‘professional’ photographs appearing on facebook, flickr etc, where the largest potential audiences for photography gather, and garner the most of the trite, meaningless comments of ‘awesome capture’ and ‘wonderful, unique lighting’, seem all uniformly and flatly lit from edge to edge, with totally detailed shadows, and far too often not only blown out highlights, but starkly white faces, and either a complete lack of modelling, or grossly inappropriate shadows.

What used to be known in the business as ‘porn lighting’: full field and full frontal detail everywhere, so that everything is visible no matter what, and without any form or finesse.

This can be the result of one, or all of three different styles of photography:

  1. totally disregarding the light altogether, or having no understanding of lighting

  2. harsh and unsoftened, on camera, or close to on camera flash

  3. ‘studios” which are set up this way either intentionally or unknowingly.

With the daily bombardment of ‘awesome captures’ on the internet, and the current career trajectories of photographers being as they are: (day one- buy a dslr, day two, turn professional, day three; open my very own studio) is there any hope of returning to photography which is about capturing the subtleties of light on a subject, rather than just aiming, pressing the button and hoping for the best?

The proliferation of hire ‘studios’ is also to blame to a certain degree. I have ventured into several of these studios – read: glorified barns for amateurs not good enough to join a photography club to have a “bit of fun” – recently and found that the most prevalent lighting set up is indeed ‘porn lighting’: two far two big, overpriced and powerful softboxes set two metres apart, about three to four metres from the subject, both set to the same output, and hope for the best.

One studio owner became visibly heated under the collar, when I actually had the audacity to move the lights into the traditional key/fill positions, and adjust the outputs, and another made it impossible to adjust or reposition anything because the lights were affixed immovably to the ceiling and accessing the adjustment panel meant the need for a ladder, with of course none in evidence.

Mention the words ‘lighting ratio’ to one of the new breed of photographers, and you are almost universally met with a puzzled expression.

Unfortunately it seems from the majority of evidence that quality of light, has given way dramatically to mere quantity…in parallel with that other necessity of modern digital photography: quantity of images, and fix the best of a bad lot in photoshop has completely eclipsed actually striving for fewer quality photographs.

Which strikes me as rather odd: over 80 years ago, when photographers had to battle with inefficient and notoriously cantankerous lighting apparatus, slow lenses, and even slower emulsions (films for the uninitiated) they could come up with excellently lit and beautifully processed work as the above illustration demonstrates.

And yet today, when lighting is efficient, varied, good quality and very cheap, and cameras almost all perform so well that they need little more than a candle to produce good quality images, there is so little regard for good, aesthetic, and dare I say artistically creative lighting.

©Copyright: Stephen Bennett, MMXVI

Except as permitted by the copyright law applicable to you, you may not reproduce or communicate any of the content on this website, including any photographs and files down-loadable from this website, without the permission of the copyright owner.

The Australian Copyright Act allows certain uses of content on the internet without the copyright owner’s permission. This includes uses by educational institutions for educational purposes, and by Commonwealth and State government departments for government purposes, provided fair payment is made. For more information, see www.copyright.com.au and www.copyright.org.au.

We may change these terms of use from time to time. Check before re-using any content from this website.

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Six Ways to Improve as a Photographer:

 

1: Constantly research and study your market, and work to know, satisfy and please your customers…leave the “I do it my way” and “I photograph to please only myself” advocates to wallow in the mire of wannabes, or to paraphrase the classics; the photographer who works to please himself, has a fool for a client.

What sets a photographer apart from the rest of the teeming unwashed throng of wannabes is the ability to think on the move, solve any and all problems, (based on knowledge, past experience and creativity) and deliver the highest quality work to satisfy customers and clients, and acceptable (with no problem causing glitches) to graphic designers, printers, and other downstream technicians, and within budget.

2: Realise that the only competition you have is yourself…but you are only as good as your last job, so strive to be better tomorrow than you were today. The only “photographers” who fear and amplify the idea of “competition” are fauxpros, amateurs and fools who are are obsessed with their particular journey to the bottom.

3: Always continue learning as much as you can about technique, photography in general, it’s history and passed masters, exposure, composition (there are approx. 123 aspects of composition more important and relevant than the “rule of thirds” fix-all), and the ever changing requirements of related downstream techs such as designers, printers, and publishers. This should take at least several lifetimes, and things will have changed immeasurably by then anyway.

4: Find and develop a viable niche for yourself, something that isn’t done, or at least overdone by everyone else, but does have a potential market; become the go-to expert in it, and master it totally. That way you only have to be bloody good at everything else.

5: Be a trend setter, not a blind follower…don’t waste your time and energy, copying, recreating or being “inspired” by other people’s work, especially copies of recreations of copies of imitations of “inspos” of copies, as seems to be rife today.

And believe it or not, some of us who have worked with photographs for more than a week or two, actually recognise low quality crap versions of stuff obviously derived from original work from the 1960’s, ’70’s and ’80’s, and not just the incessant repetition of concepts that were regarded as overworked clichés even forty years ago…no everything old is not, and doesn’t deserve to be new again, especially in a low quality, rip off versions.

Likewise don’t waste time in directions or genres which have no commercial value…keep the amateur glamour girls, flowers, and sunsets for “personal projects” only. Remember people can die from “exposure”, so can careers.

6: Curb your ego. Free work for “exposure”, vanity online magazines, zombie* microstock sites, facebook “like” gathering, rights grab competitions (almost all competitions in the past 30 years), incessant forum posts and arguing from a low knowledge base, following “expert” ebook marketing guides (all written with seemingly little grasp on literacy, let alone marketing) are all examples of photographer egos being exploited due to their arrogance, for absolutely no gain, and usually for great loss, mostly of money, time and credibility.

Believing your work will live on after you have gone is the biggest ego conceit. According to a wide variety of internet commentators, every photographer pre digital is “old stuff” and apparently nameless and forgotten, with the exception of course of Ansel Adams whose name is bandied around on every forum on a daily basis…but you would be hard pressed to find one of these “experts” who knows any of his pictures, or has read and understands any of his theories.

Beginning to sound a bit like a real business, isn’t it?

*zombie microstock sites are those which promise the world, and deliver nothing, are usually low quality snapshot heavy, offer all kinds of member benefits and apparent perks, subscription memberships, frequent give-aways of free pictures, weekly competitions in which every entrant wins (nothing useful or tangible of course, except maybe bragging rights for a day), is run by incompetent management and administration, but does nothing to attract actual picture buying customers (the “built it and they will come” syndrome), and usually few or no actual sales.

My personal research shows that all but the top seven microstock picture agencies have enough zombie aspects to make them a complete waste of time dealing with.

©Copyright: Stephen Bennett, MMXVI
Except as permitted by the copyright law applicable to you, you may not reproduce or communicate any of the content on this website, including any  photographs  and files downloadable from this website, without the permission of the copyright owner.
The Australian Copyright Act allows certain uses of content on the internet without the copyright owner’s permission. This includes uses by educational institutions for educational purposes, and by Commonwealth and State government departments for government purposes, provided fair payment is made. For more information, see www.copyright.com.au and www.copyright.org.au.
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It’s Never Too Late…

…to take the Hypocritic Oath

arty pegs

With photography, as with television, and indeed the entire nation, entering a 21st century state of “Innovation”, “Great Imaginativization”(sic) and an unprecedented “Age of Creativity”,(well 16 years into the century isn’t too late) I have decided that if you can’t beat them, you join ’em, and “progress forward” to  what I should have done 40 years ago…the first day after buying my first camera in fact:

call myself not a working photographer,

not even a professional

…but an “Artist”.

This example of my work “images the beauty and everlasting memories of life, and the creativity of being, with a subtle existentialism which manifests itself not with me consuming the coffee, but frees the mind and elevates the soul as the coffee consumes me”.
My artistic statement of course will be refined further as arrogance slowly obliterates all my accumulated skills, and I nauseatingly embrace and strive for the highest of artistic planes…complete ignorance.
At least keen eyed aficionados will notice my subjects are totally unadorned by clothing, nor even a swathe of flowing material of any sort, wet,  windswept or otherwise, so without doubt this pic and the other 7,392 “captures” from the 10 hour (I’ll get them right in Photoshop) “shoot” will be “great for their folios”.

And now that my first attempt, and undoubted pinnacle of artistic integrity has been put before the most discerning of audiences on facebook, I eagerly await the sycophantic admiration and almost erudite ravings of my loyal “likers”, and harried and visually fatigued “followers”…
… “Awesome capture”
…”Amazing imaging”
…”you should turn professional”
… you must have a really good camera

Credit and permission to use this image for folio and self promotion purposes only, is begrudgingly given to the makeup girl, stylist, client, camera assistant, various other assistants, and assistants to the assistants, mothers, boyfriends, minders, wardrobe and other mistresses, sandwich truck driver, the boy who made the coffee (collectively known in the professional photography world as catering ) honorary holder of the reflector, the bloke who forever regales anyone who will listen with claims he is not a lawyer,nor does he play one on TV, but knows so much about model releases he wrote his own because no one ever considers the model’s rights, the guests,  all other assorted and misguided hangers on, and the rest of my fellow creatives” who attended the “shoot”, whether invited or not.

Everyone else, if indeed there is anyone else, is free to share, make money from, and claim this work as their own, under some Creative Common Copyright Agreement which states that anything on the internet is free to be stolen and exploited, and International Laws which require that artists must not only work for free, but must relinquish all their rights to people who have real  jobs, (such as politicians, venture capitalists and slush fund managers) and live penniless in a garret while “suffering for their art”.

And it’s not like I need the money, because I’ll have my social security allowances to pay the “submission fees” to all the online vanity magazines which guarantee to “publish” my “art”, which also guarantee a worldwide audience consisting mainly of myself, my model, and my model’s mother. I have already picked out my park bench, and put aside some old newspapers for when I may crave further “exposure”.

So now that I am “only an amateur” I can not only indulge my passion, I can advertise on my lavish website  that I charge less than the exorbitant fees that those extortionist professionals do.

I can also undercut all of my “creative colleagues” in my area, photographing only the subject matter I love such as :
-infinite numbers of clones of the Demi Moore pregnancy photo from the 1990’s.
-morbidly obese girls deluding themselves to be plus+size models, almost squeezing into fetish costumes
-equally deluded tattooed and expressionless girls playing model dress ups, standing gawkily in front of graffiti-ed walls, dressed as zombies or vampires with their choice of either troweled on slime and shine makeup, or sugar skull “art”
-obviously unhappy and mismatched “couples” standing and glaring under the regionally recognised posing tree
-and el cheapo weddings for “friends” who refuse to spring for a “real photographer”

But my real passion, which i shall specialise in, is “glamour makeovers”, and I can spatula on the pyramid sales company makeup, and false mail order nails myself, while making a wonderfully lucrative “business” for myself  hosting pyramid parties on the side.

Which reminds me, I no longer have to pay for that silly liability insurance, or business registration, taxes and those other useless overheads.

I can also convert my lounge room into “my studio” when it isn’t being used by the family, and sell off all my lighting equipment, because I find my cameras inbuilt flash is really great for “expressing my unique vision”. I realise I look “mega cool”  with all my “professional”  cameras and a case full of expensive “glass”; but i find now that I am doing most of my “serious work” with my smartphone.

I am really looking forward also to joining several of many of the secret facebook hate groups, for now instead of being the target of slander and innuendo, I will be welcomed solely on my ability to vilify anyone who is better than I am, or those for whom technique and integrity are a natural part of their work ethics.

It goes without saying that I will also develop a secret group of my own, grooming a harem of models for their own protection of course, warning them that any photographer who isn’t in my clique at the present moment is actually a dirty old pervert hiding behind a camera with intent to desecrate and exploit any naive girls’ virtue.

But I suppose what I relish most is my new found freedom to anonymously email abuse and insinuations to the “vile” writers of “twisted, out of touch and unprofessional” blogs such as this one.

Right now though I must go and do some “awesomely amazing”light painting “captures”, before burning down historical landmarks becomes a cliche in itself.

Ahhhh! Such is the life and 15 seconds of fame of the modern “artiste de camer…ah”.
… and funny how psychiatrists and other worthy souls always seem to put a “BS” in front of the word “artist”.

Picture Credits
Model: Winnie Pegg
Model: Dolly Dowell
MUA: Maxine “greasy girl” Amlon
Stylist: Jonnie C. Wan-Kerr

Specs
taken with a yphone,
927mm L series “creative distortion” lens, (an old kit 2nd hand kit lens off eBay I “innovatively repurposed” (painted white with a fancy red stripe),
1/teensy sec @ fstop,
at the “sweetspot” during “the golden hour”, using an autographed designer combination camera strap/posing pouch,  and wearing an internationally award winning photo vest.

 

©Copyright: Stephen Bennett, MMXV
Except as permitted by the copyright law applicable to you, you may not reproduce or communicate any of the content on this website, including any  photographs  and files downloadable from this website, without the permission of the copyright owner.
The Australian Copyright Act allows certain uses of content on the internet without the copyright owner’s permission. This includes uses by educational institutions for educational purposes, and by Commonwealth and State government departments for government purposes, provided fair payment is made. For more information, see www.copyright.com.au and www.copyright.org.au.
We may change these terms of use from time to time. Check before re-using any content from this website.
Interesting Links:
My Photography Webpage
Facebook page for Professional Photographers and Models
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How Do I Start Making Money as a Photographer?

following passion
Some guys and gals jus’ sittin’ around, following their passion

It happens at least once a week.

“I have been a photographer for a whole year now, and I think it’s time I turned pro. I have over 5000 photos on my hard drive: how do I start to make money from them?”

And then, wait for it…the ego driven amateur forever declaration: “I think most of them are really awesome!”

And no sooner is it posted somewhere on the internet, than the mug advice starts to flow, the majority of which falls into one camp or another:

From the utterly useless –

“Don’t take any notice of what anybody tells you, just follow your passion!”

To the completely ridiculous –

“Just keep taking as many photos as you can, of everything you see, and then before you know it, they will start selling!”

Well what kind of advice can you actually give apart from the bleedin’ obvious? Forget ideas of becoming a professional until you learn how to take a decent photograph, and then move on to learning how to take a saleable photograph, and keep practicing until you can do it time and time again, until at least six out of every ten photographs you take are potentially saleable?

OK, although it is completely arse about, and so amateur, rather than how a professional thinks, you could meticulously go through your five thousand photos, and pick the best to lodge with micro stock agencies. Experience says that after only one year as “a photographer”, out of 5000 pics, you will be lucky to find 50 which are in anyway good enough to be saleable, let alone “awesome”.

But fess up! Did you discard all of the over saturated sunsets, the pretty flowers, the snaps of little sis with her face smeared with chocolate at her birthday party, the long exposure water enveloped rocks, and the majority of featureless landscapes?

But go ahead and submit a couple of hundred of your best pics to not one, but a whole slew of micro stock agencies, or picture libraries as the more up market versions prefer to call themselves.

And you can bet London to a brick, that the 50 or so the agencies don’t reject, will be an entirely different 50 to the ones you favour.

You may sell a few in the first few months, but don’t put a deposit on the Ferrari just yet, or even on that luxury skateboard.

Statistics which are not so difficult to find if you know how to search for them, consistently show that photographers who have at least 10,000 , preferably more pictures lodged with libraries, can safely assume that for each of those, you may possibly earn $1 per year on average.

So 10,000 pics = $10,000 per annum earnings?…eee-z-eee murneeee!!!

Reality check! Any fewer, especially only a couple of hundred pictures on file as stock and you will may be just fortunate enough to sell one or a couple, maybe even a few, per year.

Well either way, hardly enough to pay the rent? But remember your cut (your royalty or commission) will only be roughly 0.22c in the dollar at today’s rates if you are in someway charmed….feeling like a professional yet?

So now that you have had at least a little dose of reality: did you actually have a look around those sites when you lodged your photos, to get a feel for the type of photo, the subject matter, the setting, the lighting, the colour schemes that they not only prefer, but the ones which are actually selling?
If not go back not only now, but several times a week and study what is actually in front of your eyes, and which so many look at, but few ever see.

In other words stop relying on luck, your “passion”, and your own perceived artistic genius, and start studying the market!

This is one of the main differences between a raw amateur, and a successful professional. While a mug will take photographs willy-nilly, to suit themselves,or on a whim, of subjects which interest them, in styles of setting, lighting, colour and composition which they consider being an artist with a camera, and then trying to find someone who will think highly enough of your artistic vision to shell out some money for them, this is a really sure fire way of wasting time and energy, and becoming penniless very quickly.

A professional on the other hand survives and thrives on the knowledge that he consistently supplies exactly what his chosen market wants and needs….no more and no less.

He studies each of his target markets, be they picture libraries, magazines, or individual clients for what the want, what they have accepted in the past, what they are looking for in the present.

He knows for instance that magazines of all persuasions do not want art, they do not want “I can do better than that”, they do not want cutting edge, or “out there”: but what they do want is more of exactly the same as they have been publishing for at least the last 12 months, and usually longer.

He also knows that his bride and groom for next weekend’s wedding, do not want anything different to the bride’s BFF’s wedding pictures from last June, tempered of course with what the bride’s parents want: nice pictures of their daughter, and all the guests in their best frocks and suits, and make sure Aunty Dorrie’s wart doesn’t dominate the picture too much.

This is possibly why wedding pictures are still plagued with lopsided horizons which came into accepted fashion in the 1980’s and are still far too evident, een amongst those who should know better, and why after five long years, wedding parties are still required to do the Toyota Leap in unison for that “special unique (?) image”.

So at least begin to think like the professional you aspire to be: study your market till it is second nature and then emulate it in every sense, especially technical aspects such as lighting, depth of field, lens choice, subject, colour use and composition. Once you have done that, and can do it, as stated earlier , at least 6 in every 10 “captures”, you can then start anticipating the trends, and changes as they happen, and more importantly establish your own style.

Then and only then: when, editors, picture curators or selectors, and clients say confidently: “that image is exactly what I was looking for, and I can tell you exactly who took that picture as well”, can you begin to consider yourself an established professional.

 

©Copyright: Stephen Bennett, MMXV
Except as permitted by the copyright law applicable to you, you may not reproduce or communicate any of the content on this website, including any photographs and files downloadable from this website, without the permission of the copyright owner.
The Australian Copyright Act allows certain uses of content on the internet without the copyright owner’s permission. This includes uses by educational institutions for educational purposes, and by Commonwealth and State government departments for government purposes, provided fair payment is made. For more information, see www.copyright.com.au and www.copyright.org.au.
We may change these terms of use from time to time. Check before re-using any content from this website.

Interesting Links:
My Photography Webpage
The Definite Article Photography and Video on Facebook

My other Blogs.
Mostly for models: http://thedefinitearticlephotographyandvideo.blogspot.com.au/

Mostly for Freelance Writers:
http://stephenssnippets.blogspot.com.au/