Tag Archives: survival

IS THAT ALL THERE IS ?

Or so sang Peggy Lee, in a bittersweet song about the ironies of despair.

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Behind the scenes pic of model Loula bae  and Yours Truly,                    by Shantel Smith

 

As many of you may have gathered, I have often regretted coming back to photography in recent years, and have constantly wondered what kind of mental impediment is stopping me from giving it all away, and taking up something much easier and far less stressful, such as do it yourself brain surgery…no doubt you can learn it on YouTube!

I have survived through the devaluing of a photograph’s worth from an era when tens, and in many cases hundreds of dollars were happily paid for a competent, serviceable picture; to a time when even high quality photos can be had for a small fraction of a dollar, and the rest for a mere coin or two.

I have heard the self serving bleating of the increasingly vocal agitators who would have us believe that all photographs, and the , ethics, behaviour, normsoutput of all the creative arts in fact, should be free for the taking, for ‘the benefit of mankind’. Unfortunately an increasing number of what I can only assume are brain dead ‘artists’ are actually now supporting this view as well.

Of late there are also a large number of ‘photographers’ who have readily adopted the ‘pay to be published’ lunacy, and the former demon of vanity publishing is slowly being accepted as mainstream and to actually be aspired to: no doubt for that marvellous and mythical creature – ‘exposure’, but as expected the results are of such a abysmal standard, that even the photographer’s mum would balk at forking out the extortionate prices.

For the majority of my photographic career, I have told would be models that all they really had to worry about was the odd sleazebag, who,  with a few skills and a keen bullshit radar, were relatively easy to deal with.

Over the past five years or so the number of sleazebags have exploded exponentially, but when you see what else has developed in that time,  sleazoids are the least of anyone’s worries.

During that time I have witnessed the aggressive monopolizing of any and all girls in the area with even an inkling of becoming a model, by a highly organised gang of pretenders, who promise the world, use them as camera fodder for two or three weeks, before spitting them out disillusioned and demoralised, their dreams shattered, having learned nothing, with little chance of ever getting anywhere in modelling, and with a couple of useless photos in their hot little hands, which if they risk the humiliation after their escapade in futility, agents will tell them, (as many already have,)  are “garbage”.

I have also been told of wannabe models being  reduced to tears, and vilified on social media, because they question the ‘necessity’ of baring all if they actually want to be a ‘real’ model, (and the assumption that they should automatically strip for the neighbourhood hack so he can ‘make them a star’) and others who were roundly criticized for not ” doing their model stuff” properly when given absolutely no direction, or even having the concept of the shoot explained to them.

Another who was a personal friend, was slandered relentlessly on social media simply because she would not continue negotiating by facebook messenger with “photographers” who would not commit to a shoot date and time, required her to come up with not only the theme for the shoot, but also arrange for stylist, and the makeup artist, and even provide the location, or book the studio at her own expense. Most of the criticism came however from her refusal to continue communications with ” photographers” whose only obvious intentions were to ‘chat her up’ or to see selfies of her ‘nekid’.

From the photographers point of view, all that had to worried about in the past, was the occasional jealous boyfriend, or the odd bruise from the biffo of the media scrum. But things have certainly changed now.

I have also seen the good names of photographers of long and proud reputation dragged through the mud by the innuendo and false accusations of secret hate groups on facebook, with no regard to people’s hard won and well established careers. The same despicable hate groups, consisting of what can only be described as gangs of photographic thugs, have also been responsible for issuing physical threats towards totally innocent people, they have never met, or have absolutely no knowledge of, based on no more than that particular photographer’s superior ethical behaviour, their obvious photographic knowledge and abilities which put them on a higher level than the gang members could ever dream of aspiring to, or they were simply seen as unwelcome “competition

I have heard many horror stories as well as personally witnessed photographers verbally, and in one case physically assaulted simply because he was covering an event where children were present…no not as an amateur, certainly not as a GWC, (the lowly regarded, perpetually slimy ‘guy with a camera’), but as staff professionals, and credentialed stringers doing the job they were being paid to do.

I have also been on the receiving end too many times to recall, when ‘mum and pop’ snap-shooters with their dinky point and shoot cameras, have forced their way to the front of a group of working photographers, got their snaps, and then with an organised barrage of friends planted themselves, intentionally and very intrusively forming a mobile wall to prevent anyone else getting a shot.

I have also been privy to paying customers (who incidentally paid dearly) returning to ‘photography studios’ to complain about the atrociously lit, ineptly exposed, hopelessly composed, and cheaply printed individual and family portrait wall prints…what I myself described as blurry mud maps of barely recognisable subjects… to be sent unceremoniously away with assertions that what they had received was ‘state of the art’, ‘creative’ and they wouldn’t get any better ‘art’ anywhere else.

In that time, we have all seen the proliferation of so much misinformation, confusion, lies and deception, trolling and abuse, and downright nonsense via  the internet, that lunacy has become the accepted norm, and mediocrity and ineptitude qualities to aspire to.

I haven’t bothered to mention the personal slander and vilification simply for refusing to be part of the photography gang of heavies, the online trolling and bullying tactics, the surreptitious and ‘poison pen’  emailing of potential models, ( which suddenly resulted in them cancelling shoot dates), the time wasted traveling to see and interviewing girls who never had any intention of standing in front of a camera, those who only wanted ‘pretty pictures’ at no cost, the increasing number of cheap tarts who were labouring under the illusion that merely offering to ‘git naked’ would buy anything and all they wanted.

Not to mention the hours of processing and editing for unappreciative models who had ‘changed their mind’ or decided that their selfies were much better after all. And all the lazy new generation of girls who believed that they would become instant models, (or public figures) and everything necessary would be done for them, their career and untold riches laid at their feet, without them even having to wash their hair, tidy their nails or clean their teeth, or apply a little deodorant.

But then I walk into our little studio, to be met by the enthusiasm, happiness, excitement, generosity, and sheer exhilaration on the faces of my creative director and her overwhelmingly eager assistant, and the beautiful, well thought out and very creative set they have designed and constructed, working voluntarily through the early hours of the morning,

…and I am reminded what it is all about.

And then to see the beaming smile on my favourite model, walk confidently, resplendent in her glamorous alter ego, onto that same set: the enthusiasm, the expectation, the creativity, the dedication, the happiness, the trust, the respect and yes, the love and genuine affection

…and all the shit disappears in an instant, into insignificance.

I know exactly why I started doing this, why I have stuck at it so long, and why I continue to do it now when there are far better and more lucrative things to be doing.

Right from the beginning with the beautiful Bronwen Creevey, who was the first girl I ever photographed, and who went on to modelling success at the top level,  who has been a loyal and wonderful friend for over forty years…

to the exceptional  Lucy Scott,  who has become a very special and cherished friend in just over four weeks…

and all the individual models in between, some who made it big, others who simply enjoyed their fifteen minutes in the spotlight,

but each and every one has made it worthwhile.

 

©Copyright: Stephen Bennett, MMXVII

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.

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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.

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Mostly for models: http://thedefinitearticlephotographyandvideo.blogspot.com.au/

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So You ant To Be A Professional ?

splash screen jpeg10 Ways to Stay in Business

Stephen Bennett has survived the rigours of being a freelance writer/photographer, both full and part time, for almost 40 years.

In that time I haves seen literally hundreds of wannabes, cowboys, faux-pros, scammers,

and Uncle Harry’s make a flurry, and then disappear into the murky depths.

I have found that rather than compete with them, it is far better to ignore them:-

while they may have an immediate effect on the industry, usually on prices, and a general lowering of accepted standards, they will soon disappear after discovering that their “business model”, if indeed they have one, is unsustainable, and what they thought would be a great way to fuel their “passion”, is actually damn hard work.

However they will undoubtedly be replaced by eager souls intent on providing the industry with their particular brand of untutored and cheap, tortured crap…however survival as a freelance creative business person is not to be won by joining them, but more by beating them.

By maintaining professional standards of technique, quality and pricing, and providing what you have found through experience and research, what the market wants, backed up by strong, well tested business acumen and procedure…beating them is a lot easier than first imagined.

What follows are all tried and true methods of doing business…they are all common procedures in the business world, and expected by fellow business people.

Deviate from them or indeed ignore them, preferring to lurch your freelance career along by laxity of business principles and adapting to what ever you feel fits at the time, is a sure way to telegraph that you are an amateur…you are not serious about your career or your business, but are merely playing at being a creative artist, and inviting the rest of the business community and your customers in general to regard you as ripe for being taken advantage of: and also perpetuating the myth in which all creative artists have long been regarded, that artistic endeavours are merely a hobby, and artists are too lost in mysticism, to notice that they are being ripped off.

So here are ten basic business principles, I think essential to

  • credibility and professionalism,
  • to put you on an equal footing with your fellow business people,
  • to procure and keep customers and clients,
  • and to put you way ahead of the faux-pros, and their petty foolish games.
  1. Know Our AbilitiesKnow your strengths, and weaknesses, and exploit them. Don’t accept jobs that are beyond you, your equipment or your time restraints… if you don’t know how to do something, or you have never done a similar assignment before, by all means learn how to do it and improve your skills base, but muddling through it for a paying customer is not the way to learn.

And of course, asking an online forum is no way to learn how to        do something new, but surely you already knew that.

As well as avoiding projects which are too big, or beyond your present knowledge, don’t reduce your normal quality and your reputation to chasing the “nickel and dime” jobs either, simply because money is short, or work is in a lean period…is it worth a couple of ready dollars to do work for someone who would probably value and appreciate a phone pic more….let the faux pros do the “work” which suits their abilities.

2 Know Your Value

 

and charge accordingly…work out your pricing based on your time, your equipment and its replacement value, your overheads, and your real costs of doing business. Factor in an amount for your knowledge, your reputation, your real talent, your experience and your quality: and then stick to it. Why do shoots like the guy down the road, or offer faddish techniques or products because your mate does it, or someone recommended it.

Do discounts, childishly designed coupons on your Facebook page, highly expensive, and creatively fiddly packages, actually entice the clients that you want …in other words are you wasting your time, talents and efforts playing at being in business, and trying to outdo those who will never have the wherewithal to be your competition?

  1. Beware the Bullshit Artists

There seems to be more absolutely useless guff published on internet forums, Facebook, in magazines and in blogs, and discussed amongst mates centred around the creative arts, especially in my field of photography and modelling, than any other area of expertise.

There also seem to be more scam artists, and more internet experts in these fields than any where else, and it is so pervasive that even professionals and usually more astute and knowledgeable practitioners often get caught up in the jargon, or fall for at least some of the nonsense.

It pays then to at least recognise some of the these buzzwords which seem to reoccur so often that they are easily overlooked:

  • good exposure,
  • great for your folio,
  • sure to lead to future work,
  • a really prestige opportunity

Experience soon shows that any offer that contains even one of these key buzzwords is basically a waste of time and effort.

  1. Get a Deposit

At the very least, a deposit will secure the job enough for you to begin preliminary work with a little assurance that you not wasting your time.

A non refundable deposit means that preliminary work may be eventually wasted but at least you have been paid for the time expended on it

And a deposit gives a customer a feeling that he has invested already, so he may as well go through with the rest.

However if a model or a portrait customer is only going through with the shoot because they don’t want to lose their deposit, you don’t achieve great work, simply because one member of the team does not want to be there, and final payment may become like extracting teeth.

  1. Get the Cash

A fundamental to good freelancing: you can’t survive on promises so make sure you get the money in your hot little hand, and although cheques are basically a thing of the past, there are so many more modern variations of “the cheque is in the mail”

  1. Don’t Work for Future Profits

Taking various forms such as a percentage of earnings, lots of future work and the all time favourite: “you will be looked on favourably”…empty promises don’t pay the bills.

There probably wont be any anyway, and how would you know about them anyway, because people who make empty promises don’t telegraph the fact that their windfalls actually paid off.

  1. Get an Advance in Full

for out of pocket expenses…at least you will be paid for your expenses, if payment for the work never eventuates. Paying for out of pocket expenses from profits from the previous work, simply means that if this job doesn’t pay, you have not only lost the money due for it, but you have lost some of your profits from the previous job as well.

  1. Document Everything

including:

  • the definition and scope of the job,
  • payment terms and conditions,
  • usage licenses,
  • releases,
  • expectations,
  • changes,
  • requested changes,
  • proposals,
  • emails,
  • phone calls,
  • discussions…

that is what email is so handy: it is so easy to “forget” or “remember something differently” later on, especially if one party needs an advantage over the others involved

  1. Don’t Deliver Work Until Final Payment is Made

and the cash is in the bank: again a fundamental of good freelance business practice, and yet too often not followed…always ending in tears.

  1. Use a Contract

get everything in writing and keep changes up to date.

A gentlemen’s agreement: requires two things:

  • gentlemen
  • and an agreement10 Plus: Monitor Usage of Your Work

and take action if and when breaches occur.

The only way you can make sure that your work has been used for the purposes for which it has been licensed: and you might be amazed at the uses it may be put to, or where it may turn up by either forgetfulness, assumption or creative reading of licenses.

And that is not even taking into account theft, “fair use” and internet sharing, and the like.

 

 

©Copyright: Stephen Bennett, MMXIV
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
The Definite Article Photography and Video on Facebook
My Pond 5 Page