That’s great! Congratulations! As a preface, none of this is meant to be elitist or to discourage anyone from doing it…..but it IS about learning weddings the responsible way, and not at the client’s expense. Weddings are one of the hardest and most demanding, and high liability genres of professional photography, and deserve to be handled with care. Some are cut out for it, others are not, ans that’s ok. Here is why….you have to know how to sell yourself as well as how to price your services, and have a portfolio to present, know what your bride wants, know the communication protocols with brides, and to know if you are the right fit for your client’s needs. Wedding photographers must understand wedding etiquette and politics…..also be the technically competent photographer who can think fast and deal with ever changing light and color temperatures, filling the gaps for delays and having to work in crunch time, and other unexpected things that DO happen. Wedding photographers must understand and know liabilities and contracts. Also how to console and calm a frantic bride or wedding party without losing your marbles. Equipment wise, you should have backup everything…..including bodies and lenses, ample memory, flashes, so you are prepared for an unexpected equipment failure, that way you thought ahead for the benefit of your client, and your own liability. When shooting weddings, you aren’t just the photographer….you are also the entertainer, psychologist, and diplomat. More to come later, but this gives you something to think about for now Next post I will discuss the most responsible ways to properly learn wedding photography.
Favorite music : The Cure, Depeche Mode, The Smiths, The Beatles, Zeppelin, Neil Young, The Eagles, 80′s music.
Movies: Green Mile, Clockwork Orange, Superbad, Me and you and everyone we know, Secondhand Lions, As Good As It gets.
Food: Mexican, Italian (but hold the ricotta and vinegarette), meat and potatoes, Gyros, soup and sandwiches, chocolate, most fruits and veggies, and breads. I hate pickles!
Drinks: I don’t drink much but do enjoy GOOD beer and wine sometimes…..I drink a ton of water, I don’t drink coffee, and will not drink diet crap. lol.
Fast Food: Chick Fil-A all the way!
Best car for the money these days : Honda. Though it’s hard to match the character of older cars.
Ugliest Cars: Kia Rondo, Dodge Caliber, Dodge Charger, and most hybrids.
Smoking: Nope. Cigarettes are bad, mkay !
Turn ons about people : Positivity and friendliness, people who aren’t nosy, those who keep their word, those who pull their weight.
Turn offs : Laziness, negativity, victim mentalities, selfishness, liars.
Personality quirks : Some OCD and odd humor. Share yours
Often no different than what you’d deliver to a client…….you are going for marketability, not how many photos to weigh down your albums…..but the standard answer is…..drumroll…..wait for it………..wait for it……..there’s no standard! It’s what’s agreed on prior to shooting….you remember, the pre shoot criteria you go over, because not everyone’s a perfect fit, and you have to weigh benefits to know you are shooting with the right person. Models, a couple key points for you to think about, and I am not being harsh or indifferent here….stop worrying about “how many” photos and worry about how good the ones you’ll get, really are and how that person’s work can enhance your portfolio! You know, the whole reason for doing such a shoot…….notice I said enhance and not expand. Stop freaking obsessing about quantity. You’re doing well to get 1-2 images per look, preferably retouched (and even that number takes time to do)…..and it’s not all the time you pull off every look. Most of your better photographers quality control their work and want only their best out there…..you should be the same way.
Know what to expect. If you see crappy guassian blur skin retouching from a certain photographer, that should tell you what to expect, and if that’s not your style, keep looking. Shoot with those who can give you what you can use, even if in small quantity, rather than someone giving you loads of crap. I’ve seen history repeat itself many times…..successful models with marketable portfolios have a portfolio made up of many photographers, close in quality. Newbies who have gotten bad advice or do not research what they are doing end up with many from the same shoot / photographer. You usually have no reason to use more than one photo per look from the same shoot. If you get 3-5 finished images from a shoot, all really strong images, you’ve won big. Of course also agree up front on medium, like watermarked web files, unwatermarked prints or hi res files, etc. If you get that, be grateful and don’t get greedy and try to get more. After so much care and time is taken to get a model something usable, the last thing we want to hear is about “more” or “the rest of them” Just lose that mentality and know what gets the successful ones ahead. It’s not quantity.
On Model Mayhem, when I have a chance to browse the active threads, it almost never fails there is a thread about how long images should take to get back from the photographer from a TFP / test shoot, in the model’s case…..a model flaking on a shoot (Read my other TFP posts below to address that issue and how to minimize that) and how many images they should get, oh yea and the dreaded escort topic. This is about duration of image completion.
Discuss this up front, if you don’t, you have no right to complain about how long it takes. This is one of the key elements to a beneficial trade shoot that need to be agreed on up front! Would you buy a used car and then have a mechanic check it out? That’s pretty dumb. So is not doing your homework! So here is the answer. There is no standard. It’s whatever is agreed on. In my case, the edit process takes time, and then once I’ve selected the best, I retouch them and prepare them for the model. The entire process usually takes me 2 – 4 weeks and it all depends on what I have on my plate at the time, how many images I have to sort through, and how much retouch is needed.
Photographers should do their best to keep their word and if they need more time, to tell the model. Models should not aggravate the photographer either just because they are getting antsy. Sorting and retouching takes time, and most better photographers don’t give in to the ridiculous request to give all image on disc to the model…….those of us who care about the quality control of our final product do things all in due process. Unfortunately not all are on the up and up, and don’t provide as they should, and it’s terrible this happens……I only recommend models sternly confront the photographer if the alloted time is well exceeded and they are avoiding contact. Communication helps a lot.
This can be a sensitive subject and you have to tread carefully for sure…..we’re in the day and age where peoples’ focus is so divided, it can be difficult to run a business, protect your appointment space, yet maintain a friendly demeanor with clients……but all of it has to be done. Of course if it’s a wedding or commercial photoshoot, I have a contract and / or a deposit to secure my services, because I’m guaranteeing my availability and services for that day, or those days. Not really the case with portrait or headshot clients. Usually simple appointment setting is fine….Sometimes rescheduling or no shows happen, no matter how well you follow up, and it really sucks but all you can do is keep it positive and try to make it right.
Any kind of advanced notice of cancellation or rescheduling from a client is all I can ask for, and I always appreciate it, and am happy to make them another appointment. I stay in touch with them throughout the process anyhow, to try to eliminate surprises, and even contact them a couple days before the appointment to confirm. Even well meaning people get mixed up or aren’t really good with schedule management so it’s my job to try to help, for our appointment. Even a call at last minute saying they can’t make it is better than not answering the phone after the appointment time, or not showing and not calling at all. In such an event, it’s frustrating but standard protocol would be to contact them later and say something like, Hi _________, I missed seeing you _________ and hope everything with you is allright, please let me know if you would like to set up another appointment. That goes over much better than preaching and sometimes they do come back. Resist the urge to show anger.
However, for clients who seem to have repeat history of being unreliable, you have to address the issue but not anger them either. I got a tip a while back from a senior photographer to stress to them that you’ve enacted a company policy starting this business year, requiring a 50% deposit to re-book for a missed appointment, due to lost revenue in past years. That way it gets the point across that your time is worth something, and you aren’t singling them out…..it’s a polite business reminder that they’d do themselves if it were them. That way if they do come back, they have a financial motivation.
Once you do follow ups and all that, it definitely reduces the risk of problems, or wasted appointment space. Now you’ve seen how important my own time is to me, and I don’t appreciate people wasting it, as I wouldn’t do to them. It costs every time someone wastes appointment space. The best thing to do is to keep your promises to one another. This means photographers don’t do anything stupid and make advances towards the model or do anything to make them uncomfortable, and follow through with your commitment, and for models to value the time of the photographer and keep their commitments.
Hey, life happens, understandable. In the case of a family emergency or something, a cancellation or rescheduling is inevitable. However, it should be a rare situation. And with as much advanced notice as humanly possible! When you set a date, be committed to it, and agree to all the particulars about the shoot, neither party should change terms at midstream! This means don’t ask for gas money to travel to me if we didn’t agree on this. Yes, gas is expensive, I live in the same economy, you either value having my work in your portfolio, or stay home LOL! Last minute cancellations or non responsiveness during the final follow ups, I will not book them again. With advanced notice and a legitimate reason, I will. There are even follow up procedures for clients, but the protocol is a bit different, I will touch on that later.
I treat it similarly to how as a client you would qualify the business or vendor you would hire. Everyone’s situation is different but everyone’s goal should be the same when taking on a test or TFP shoot…..to have smooth communication and follow up, a successful photoshoot without wasted time or appointment space. Sounds simple, but it isn’t always…..but why make it complicated by not using proper diligence? Here is how I go about it….because I don’t have a lot of time to do many of these, I have to make each one count, and I have had great results especially over the past couple years since being more thorough. Most I find, or find me online thorough Model Mayhem, a networking site http://www.modelmayhem.com
Often I have the opportunity to read an online bio….that can make or break the deal! If they stick to pertinent information and seem positive, win…..if they are demanding or air negativity about photographers they’ve worked with etc. it’s instant fail. I don’t have a need to work with any divas, I really don’t care how beautiful they are….there is always someone better who acts right. That’s part of upholding the value of my services. I make sure their look fits the project I want to do, and I can see our images telling the story intended. Most want me to use my concept, but sometimes we build one together in the communication stage…..or they do my concept and I do headshots or whatever else they need, for them. Here are some requirements.
-Phone contact info as well as email. It raises the level of accountability. I just don’t abuse it….I keep it friendly and brief, and to the point. I establish follow up guidelines and follow up timelines throughout the booking process.Concept and detail discussion, and stylist if applicable. If at any stage of the pre shoot confirmation process the communication stops, given the reasonable allotted time, I treat it as the shoot is off and I will no longer commit myself to it. That’s one reason I get a phone number, hearing their tone of voice and how they conduct themselves tells me a lot, especially about their enthusiasm level of the shoot. Also the day before confirmation is easier with an immediate form of communication, as opposed to waiting for them to return email. You have to use psychology here….it really saves wasted appointment space!
-I make sure they have passion about my work, and this project and see value in it. If I get the idea they are looking for cool photos for Myspace that they don’t have to pay for, they’re out.
-We discuss usage, approximate amount of images delivered in approximate time frame. If they try to get ALL images, it’s no go. I only provide the very best (3-5 average), to protect both our images and quality control, and deliver them retouched. Hey, that takes time LOL. It can take 2-4 weeks total after shoot. I want models who understand it’s not about how many, it’s about how good! If not, next. Nothing personal.
-They have to be ok without an “escort” I’m shooting this for me, and for the model…..I’ve addressed escorts before, I don’t need the risk of anything affecting the outcome of the shoot. If we haven’t established trust, there’s no need to shoot. I can get plenty of models who don’t need babysitters LOL.
Ok, some may say this sounds a bit one sided, but not really. I insist in follow up and no garbage, and in turn, they get turn key images for their book, print or high res file as well. I’ve seen photos given to models from other photographers who gave 40-50 images, none of which enhanced their portfolios or could use. This system works, if used in moderation, and when you raise the standard, and understand the value of it.
Traditionally, a test shoot is a brief test, of a photographer working with a model to see how they work together, how he or she photographs, etc. before making the official commitment to hire them. TFP is another term, stands for time for prints, which is a barter system between models and photographers, and sometimes even stylists. This is done to mutually benefit portfolios, and rather than exchange money, the model works with the photographer, and they both have photos to use in lieu of payment. It’s a great concept, that is often misused or bastardized, by drama and unwanted surprises, needlessly, because they don’t understand the concept or value of such a photoshoot. Played wisely, it’s a brilliant tool for your body of work, and marketing. I’ve heard people refer to them as “oh, just free shoots” which is more ignorant and wrong than anything. Many things need to be factored in before accepting such a photoshoot….time and date, concepts, how many photos in what media can be expected, in approximately what time frame, all that has to match up. It also helps for both parties to equally appreciate one anothers’ work, and time….and get along with one another. It takes a team effort to make a successful shoot, and it doesn’t make sense to give your time to an unworthy cause. It’s called upholding the value of your services.
Everyone’s goals are different with modeling or photography. I’m a professional photographer and get paid for my services, but I will never stop doing TFP shoots, because it keeps my artistic vision and creativity, as well as passion for my craft alive and sharp. That’s why you cannot look at this as a free shoot, you have to put 100 percent into it, it’s for you, your book, and your overall image! Which when you are hired, that’s not usually the case….. you still put in 100 percent, but you are producing photos your client needs. I can only do trade shoots as time allows, but I am selective when I do. I require effort on the model’s part, and make sure they understand the concept I’m writing about. Because of that, I have a high success rate for these types of shoots and don’t have to do a lot of them. And in turn they have helped me get more paid assignments and clients. Not everyone understands the value of a good or service they don’t pay for….those who do, are valuable to have as a muse collaboration. Those who don’t, I don’t collaborate with. More to come on successful barter shoot booking criteria.
I hope all of you are doing well! Business is picking up, and I’ve been working hard on not only the photoshoots and retouching I’m doing, but also networking, blogging, traffic and other web presence, and company image overall. I have a good friend who is a highly skilled designer, Emergente Designs, making me a company logo to brand myself. After lots of research, I’m convinced that a company logo adds polish to your overall image, and gives people something to recognize about you and your company…..so we’ll roll it! This way, there will be consistency and branding, with my site and blog headers, apparel, invoices, and other advertising tools.
Soon after that, I will be having tshirts made with company name and logo, as well as embroidered dress shirts for weddings. Word of mouth business is the best, but it never hurts to expand your circle and put enough of yourself out there for people to see repeatedly, and stick in their mind…..More to come, please stay tuned
You know, an individual with a wild eyed dream who is going to be the next big thing who will take you along when they hit it big, or the company (with no money) who will get you all this exposure and clout if you do a shoot for them, sans money…..most of the time it makes my ears bleed, and usually they are trying to find a sucker who doesn’t know better. Of course the usage is usually commercial, yet they can’t find a budget to pay a photographer to help them out? Puhlease….. Now, there have been times I’ve done pro-bono shoots, both the kind that was a farce, and the kind that was beneficial, like for a charity etc. Especially if you are a newer photographer, I urge you to use caution and choose wisely before accepting an offer like that….if it will really benefit you to have that material in your book, it may well be worth it….otherwise, why do it?
Some funny responses you may not actually want to use, but still funny.
-Who are you again?
-How nice of you to make me famous, can I polish your shoes for you too?
-Every time someone has a request like this, a giant panther destroys a Chinese village.
-Gets out rubber stamp…..denied denied denied!! LOL
-Does Kroger accept exposure as payment for groceries?
-I love Utopian societies, too bad we don’t live in one.
-Does assuming your business risks make me your vested business partner?
LOL LOL LOL
I hope all of you have had a great Memorial Day weekend! I’m back like a case of chronic clap, LOL! People have asked me my workflow process, and I have compared notes with others. I keep it simple. I have yet to use Aperture or Lightroom. I use the Macintosh platform, so if any of this sounds Greek, Finder is a similar program to Windows Picture viewer, and folders setup. Only it reads RAW files, without converting. I dump my card to a USB reader, make a folder, and subfolders if needed, and in due process of time, I begin to look through (this is the correct definition of the editing process, NOT retouching. I usually shoot RAW. I then copy the folder on my card and copy into a folder in Finder. Once I’ve taken time, on how ever many occasions it takes, to choose the best images, I open the images I am going to retouch in Photoshop, make any camera RAW adjustments, then open image and do the creative retouches in CS5.Because Finder reads RAW files, and I can proof images there, I really have no need to convert to jpg until saving a final retouched version, one as jpg one as tiff.
I went into specifics in an earlier post about how I edit images, so I won’t repeat that again…..it works for me and is very basic, I think most people do it differently. I really don’t even use Bridge. Of course I immediately backup immediately, and backup again once I have finished images, this I will repeat many times, I can’t stress how important it is
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