Today’s #WordyMonday word, Penguin, was suggested by Ms Hedgehog. I thought about interpreting it a little more creatively but in the end decided not to, since Jayne Torvill was even wearing black and white.
Highly social, Penguins move quite awkwardly on land and often travel by tobogganing over the ice, face-forward to their nesting sites.That’s why I chose this second image above.
WordyMonday is a word game that anyone can join. Someone suggests a word (you can see the current list here) and I try to interpret that word with a dance image. If you’d like to suggest a word (as a comment to this blog, to @CE_Images on Twitter or at Carole Edrich Photography on facebook) and anyone can take up the challenge by finding an image that reflects your interpretation of the word suggested for that week. If you do, please share what you’ve done by posting a link on this blog and use the #WordyMonday tag.
In writing this post I discovered that it’s difficult to write about my personal ethics without sounding as if my thoughts are all over the place or as if I’ve disappeared up my own backside. It shouldn’t have surprised me, I feel so strongly about personal ethics that I’ve built my life around them and have, instead of talking about them let the way I live do the talking for me. See what I mean – I sound alarmingly pretentious already!
How do you reflect and respect my desire for personal privacy with your photos?
I try not to intrude on those who, for personal reasons, may not want their photos taken. If I am obliged to do so I do my best to shoot images that reflect my respect the person, their situation and their environment and ideally images that in some way empower them.
If shooting dance classes I will always ask the teacher’s permission to take photographs. I will always suggest we ask the whole class if they mind being photographed, just in case there are individuals who do not want their photos published or even taken. However, whether this happens or not is the teachers’ choice and not mine.
I find it easier not to take any photos with these people in rather than try to weed out chance images afterwards. That said, if I’m covering a class and need a class-wide shot and am therefore forced to include them to fulfill my commission I take care to ensure their faces aren’t seen.
Are there exceptions?
If a dance class, performance or other event is in public or on the street or if the popular press have been invited to shoot the event I assume that the organiser has already sorted everything out.
If I’m shooting in a press photo call or similar I assume that everyone concerned has already given their consent to have their photos taken, sold and published.
Some street photography.
Why some street photography?
This is a very difficult call. I used to shoot people, then show them my image and ask if it was OK for me to keep it. If they said no, I used to delete the image in front of them. After a lot of soul searching I’ve changed this and only share the image with someone I shoot on the street if I’m particularly enthusiastic about it or if I’d like to take more photos of them. I’ve changed my behaviour because, if the more extreme personal rights protection was ever enshrined in law I’d lose the opportunity to do most of my documentary dance photography work and would therefore be unable to use it to earn a living. If the (in my opinion unstructured, fairly random, untrained or ignorant) demands of security and police to avoid taking certain photographs was enforced, this would impinge on the freedom of the press. I feel duty bound to resist both of these restrictions and, even though it has lead to a couple of interesting interactions with police and security (but never with the general public they claim to be protecting) have changed my habits as a result.
What about conflicts of interest or where you’re making money from other peoples’ suffering?
I specialise in dance, high motion and low light images, social events, extreme and endurance sport and related travel so – so far – the latter doesn’t apply. I do my best to help where I can, to be honest in my dealings and in the way I describe situations and to identify, forsee and manage in advance any potential conflicts of interest that may arise.
I don’t like some of the images you’ve produced and want you to take them down.
If you have already given me permission to take the shots I don’t feel obliged to take them down. If you’ve commissioned me in advance I might have had to ask your permission to post them in the first place.
In reality, if I have posted something that makes you uncomfortable and you tell me quickly I’ll probably change it out. It’s not to my advantage to make you feel bad, especially because I’m looking for long term relationships with people who are happy that I shoot them rehearsing, performing and interacting wherever they are over the coming years.
If, as has happened, you change your mind about an image that you had told me you liked, or that you or other people have already commented on I will not be happy to change or delete it and might well, on consideration, decide not to take down the photo at all. Life goes on. We can’t – and shouldn’t – rewrite history – and I am profoundly uncomfortable about deleting images and words that have already been posted. They’re already shared history. When other people have also commented, I feel it’s disrespectful and dishonest to delete the history and thought that their comments represent.
If you have commissioned me on a fixed price or per-diem rate, and our agreement is that you own these images in whole or part, you can indicate which (if any) images I can use in my blogs because you have already paid for them. In this case we will have already agreed a way of working together that keeps you happy, maintains my integrity and gives both of us the comfort and confidence we need.
You go on about being paid for your images, but do you pay the performers you shoot?
You can bet your bottom dollar that if I’m asking a performer to do something just for me we’ll have agreed a way forward before a single shot is taken.
by and (c) Carole Edrich
This follows on from my post Cop-Outs, Contracts and Commissions Part One . It consolidates some of the discussions I’ve had in the past and suggests when and how it’s appropriate for you to ask for free images.
I’ve given you access, why won’t you give me the free images I want in return?
For the same reason you’d not get them from another professional journalist or photographer. You’ve got me there because you or someone associated with you want the publicity, because you’d like to see details of the event published, broadcast or otherwise disseminated. I’ve given up my time because I see an opportunity to get a photo feature or other article published and to do more than this would damage my business.
But I gave you access to take photographs!
I’m a professional, did you pay me to take photos? Did you set up another way for me to earn money commensurate with my skills and the time I spent on them? If you did we’d not be having this conversation!
Do this for free and I’ll put work your way/pay you next time
That doesn’t pay the bills.
If I had a penny for every time someone had said this to me I’d be able to retire!
But I only want one image, why is it so expensive?
The first image is always the most expensive to produce. If you read my post on What’s Involved you’ll have a rough idea of what’s involved. If I’m giving you a choice, a ‘best of 10 shots’ for example, I have to select the ten shots from which you make that choice which also takes time. There is no way on Earth that I’m going to show you all my unprocessed shots (the reasons I won’t would make a whole other post). If I’m doing the work speculatively I’ll select and process all those images I think might work (which – you’ve got it – takes time). If I’ve been commissioned by an editor I’ll process a sufficient selection that the editor will be able to tell the story through the images or add depth or another perspective by including my images.
In summary, the fact that you only choose one image has little bearing on the work I’ve done and no bearing on the level of skill, something that has been built up over years and requires regular considered practice to keep.
Give me your images and I’ll give you exposure
Exposure doesn’t pay the bills.
I’m a specialist dance photographer and journalist with a combined online following that has generated over 895,000 unique visits since mid 2008. The people who follow me on facebook love photography and dance and my images are viewed thousands of times so while there are exceptions – even in social dance – most of the time it will be me getting you the exposure, not the other way around.
If you think you have a really good way of getting me exposure by all means suggest it but don’t insult me or my work. Be realistic. Remember that I’m a professional photographer who earns a living through photography. That means I need the kind of exposure that will one way or another help me make my photography pay my bills.
But you can make money from the people you’re shooting/other people there
If you really believe that you can set it up, sell the images and pay me a fixed fee commensurate with my skills, experience and the time it’s going to take me to take and process them. You can even keep the difference.
I can’t afford to pay for an image I particularly like. I’m not a company or a commercial organisation, just a dancer trying to make ends meet. Will you give it to me?
Possibly. Make me an offer that reflects the value of what I’ve produced (you’ve started well, read all of this post, What’s Involved and Help Me Get You Coverage and you’ll probably get some ideas). Consider the value of the photograph itself. You’ve come here and are reading this because you like my image and know that I’m one of the best. I’m not a hobbyist whose shots sometimes turn out OK, but a professional who has chosen dance photography as a career. Bear this in mind, think of the time it has taken me to get here, the time it takes to set up a shoot and create an image, the time needed to select and process a batch of images, the cost and duration of travel, the cost of equipment and its maintenance. Then think of any opportunity cost involved.
But I gave you the idea!
Thank you! Maybe you did and if you did I appreciate it. However there are far more ideas than space to print them, time to get them together or interested eyes to see them. It’s not ideas that count but the ability to get the ideas into the mainstream and specialist media and then carry the project through that gets the commission. If it worked any other way you’d probably be doing the project yourself.
by and (c) Carole Edrich
Maybe everyone who asks me for a free image thinks that I can provide it because it’s just a one-off. Many don’t seem to realise that a series of one-off freebies would result in escalating opportunity costs and then an inability to pay the bills. Maybe they really don’t understand about how a specialist photographer earns a living or maybe they’ve just not bothered to think. I don’t know and it doesn’t really matter. What does matter is that instead of losing time in email discussions with people who expect free work in the future I’ll be able to point them to this weeks posts.
How I pay the bills:
I earn a living through photography and photojournalism with one or a combination of the following;
· as a photojournalist or documentary photographer,
· by formal contract or editorial commission,
· as a commissioned artist,
· as a commercial photographer (such as for PR and advertising),
· through penalty fines from those who steal my work,
· per photo or number of images after the event (personal stock),
· through stock photography.
I’ve ordered these by the proportion of income I gained from them over the last three months. It’s ironic, but I now make more money from people who have stolen my work than I do through agency stock photography and my own stock photography combined.
What are formal contracts and direct commissions?
These occur when a client expressly asks for something in advance. They can be for anything from news or conference photography to family portraiture and range from brand imagining, corporate or academic brochures, images to support a particular article and actors’ portfolio shots. They might be editorial commissions agreed in advance of an event or a result of a pitch with or without some of my speculative work. They can cover random images, fine art, documentary photography, research or ad-hoc projects.
Most of my editorial commissions come in advance because the editor knows me already, because I’ve been recommended by someone they trust or as a result of my pitching an idea.
A contract to produce a piece of work, usually involving images and accompanying words, from an editor. This might be for print, news or the internet or might accompany, document or support a TV program or film.
How I value my work
My charging represents the value of the work I do and the length of time it takes. Find more about it on the post What’s Involved.
If the client chooses to own all of the images they’ll most likely be paying a fixed price or day rate. If the client has agreed to buy a minimum number of images from several shoot(s) or event(s) they’ll most likely be paying a deposit and sliding costs per image. Any requirement may change the value of what I’m producing and what I can charge, and the extent to which the client wants exclusivity and use to which the image(s) will be put are always considered.
Tell me about speculative exercises, stock building and the value of practice!
Sometimes it’s necessary to take the photos before getting the commission, especially when I’m looking to convince a new editor that my work is worth taking on board. In such a case I might set up a shoot or go to an event expecting to make good later.
There are no guarantees with this kind of work, so it’s important to be careful about what to choose.
As a dance photographer it’s vital that I have up to date images for as many different dance types as possible, so that when an editor asks if I have images of that dance I can deliver immediately. Although I contribute some news images to the photographic agencies I tend to concentrate on building my own image library. Dance photography is so specialised that contributing volumes of work to such agencies just doesn’t pay and building my own stock library is a long term investment.
It’s also vital that I keep my skills honed. To get good quality low-light, high-motion images of any kind it’s vital to make sure that I have a practiced eye and fingers that move without conscious thought. That doesn’t mean I need to process the images I’ve shot. Doing that on the off chance that someone might possibly buy one image carries a considerable opportunity cost.
In such a case I might set up a shoot or go to an event expecting to make good later. There are no guarantees with this kind of work, so it’s important to be careful about what to choose.
Are there any exceptions?
Of course there exceptions to everything. I’ve met some fantastic performers who just can’t afford to pay and when I’m able to do so I’m happy to discuss alternatives. However, I’m a professional photographer and need this work to pay my bills. Also, agreeing totally different sets of rules every time I shoot an image or find myself with a different opportunity isn’t a sustainable or business-like thing to do.
If we’ve agreed nothing in advance or if the exceptions aren’t clearly specified, the whole agreement defaults to what I’ve written above.
In exceptions, the price might go down but it might also go up. Examples include;
·Value added production photography
·Photography for advertising
·Fixed price agreements
·Really good PR
·Charities, non-profits and similar organisations I already believe in and want to support
·Performers with whom I want to establish a mutually beneficial long term relationship
I have a limit on all the above. Sometimes it takes so long to calculate a safe estimate for a fixed price contract that I might decided not to try. I also know I can afford to charge less or explore other alternatives for a small percentage of my work, so whether I’m willing to talk or not also depends on what else is going on and if I’m doing other work for which I’m not getting the income I need.
This series started with Help me get you coverage and What’s Involved?
by and (c) Carole Edrich
With so many people apparently expecting free images I thought it might be useful to write a post on what is involved in a normal on-location shoot in terms of value, time and expense. Most of my clients know this without being told, but I lose so much time talking to potential new clients, particularly individuals, that I’ve decided to point them here instead. The problem’s made worse because some very good amateur photographers give their images away. I wish they wouldn’t. Most of what I describe below applies to them as much as it does to me and they also deserve to be paid a reasonable rate for the projects they take on.
You just take the photo and send it to me, what’s the big deal?
Good cameras and lenses aren’t cheap and have to be maintained, the same is true for the accessories. The costs of processing software, computer and screen are astronomical. To get good dance shots I have good equipment and I have to get it serviced regularly. It’s heavy and, depending on the venue I need to pack it well and carry it securely and carefully. It takes time to set up a studio or arrange permissions with a venue, time to travel there and back, time to take the photos.
The National Union of Journalists says that the shortest time a photographer can take to deliver one shot is half a day. Selecting the photos to process is often the most time consuming part of the entire process.
Every photo must be tagged, described and archived twice since hard discs are known to fail. Final images must be uploaded which takes time and internet bandwidth. On top of all of this is the opportunity cost; the money that I could be earning while undertaking real commissions rather than producing speculative images.
I’m a specialist, dance photography (shooting images that move quickly under low or very variable light conditions) is a demanding branch of photography and the skills, which have been developed over years require regular considered practice.
So how much time does it take to process your images?
Never less than half a day and sometimes several days.
I don’t want a load of photos, just one. Why is it so expensive?
You’ve already read about some of the what’s involved in getting an image. The fact that you only choose one has little bearing on the work I’ve done and no bearing on the level of skill, something that has been built up over years and requires regular considered practice to stay as good as it currently is.
If I’m giving you a choice, a ‘best of 10 shots’ for example, I have to select the 10 which takes a long time. If I’m not I’ll process all those images I think might work (which takes time), and still have to take time selecting them.
The same is true for dancers, you know!
Absolutely! Sadly the skills and needs of professional dancers and associated photographers seem to have been devalued considerably as a result of the Cultural Olympics. Since we were happy to join in for the honour and experience then, it seems the world now expects to do everything for free. Join me and make a stand, if you dare…
And Another thing..
Shooting social dances where people are doing what they would normally do is one thing, asking them to pose for studio or specific shoots something different. In the latter cases I’m happy to come to a mutually agreeable arrangement. I’m sorry, but for the former, unless the social dance is unique or I’ve been given a budget, if I’m told what I should be doing with my shots, if the promoters impose too much or if (as happened once) the dancers threaten me or ask that what they previously said they liked is taken down unless I accede to their demands, I’ll just shoot my photos elsewhere or even (and I’ve done this once too) delete the lot and tell my editor I can’t complete the commission.
by, and (c) Carole Edrich
As a dance photojournalist I often find myself giving the same advice about how to help me get your project, troupe or performance covered in the press. Sometimes I forget to mention something, or take for granted that the person I’m talking to knows how it all works. This post makes a start on addressing how it works for me, but don’t assume it’ll work the same way with other photographers or journalists. We’re different people with different priorities and are excited by (and therefore more motivated to sell) very different things.
I hope the following helps and look forward to improving it as a result of your feedback.
How do I get you to cover my work in a magazine?
Tell me about what you’re doing in sufficient time for me to research it, craft good pitches, send them to editors and see what they think. The best way to tell me is through email or on this blog. Facebook, which seems to have a logic all of its own, often hides messages from new people, but if you must use it, DM Carole Edrich Dance Photography or join the facebook group ‘I want to be in a dance magazine’. I need at least 4 months to get a piece into a magazine (ideally more), at least 2 months to get a well thought-out pitch to a newspaper (although this is more difficult and I might decide it’s not worth trying) and very little time to get the piece online (which I’m more likely to do as a favour because of the very small returns).
How do you get commissions?
An editor might approach me directly with a request to provide images or an article. If this happens I’ll either contact the appropriate organisation or individuals directly or ask on facebook and (less often) twitter for whatever it is I need.
If I send the editor a pitch. This is a short summary that often takes as long – and occasionally longer – than the article itself. A good pitch has a good angle, it’s original, it has some kind of relationship to what’s going on in the rest of the world and demonstrates a reasonable level of background knowledge. If I think it’ll fly, I’ll probably ask you questions as part of the research for the pitch. Since this is all time consuming and unpaid I’m very careful about what I take on. I might also include sample images if I think it will help sell your story. Eventually (the time taken depends, on who I’m dealing with, how busy they are and whether they’ve bothered to read my email because busy editors who don’t know me might not) the editor or one of their representatives will let me know if they want the work.
If the editor wants the piece or the images I have to deliver the work by the deadline. That means fitting it around all the other things I’ve committed to and meeting – and photographing – you or your project at least once. If that particular editor doesn’t want the piece I might pitch it elsewhere. That will depend on whether there’s enough time, whether I think another publication might like the story and what else is on my plate.
Normal practice for most publications is to pay after the piece is delivered although some publications pay on receipt of my copy (words and images). That means it can be as long as 5 months between doing the work and getting paid for what I’ve done.
How do I help you maximise the chances of getting my project or performance into a magazine or newspaper?
The sooner you can tell me about it the better. If your project is timed to coincide with something else or is part of a bigger event tell me as that might help find the right angle. If you’re not sure whether your plans will go ahead or not, tell me that too. It’s better to tell me about something that doesn’t happen than it is to tell me at the last minute about something that does, because the editor will have already planned the publication and there won’t be any space left for your story, even if it’s right up their street.
So if you’re thinking of doing something in the future but aren’t sure if it will come off, tell me you want it embargoed. If you embargo it I know that we can’t publish anything about it until you lift the embargo, but I can tell this to the editor who will, if the idea is right, allow space for it in the media while setting up a contingency in case your project doesn’t go ahead.
How do I maximise the chances of getting my project or performance into one of your blogs?
I only ever use my own images on my blogs and always have more photographic opportunities than I can manage. If you’re unable to facilitate my taking photographs of your project, troupe, event or performance or are unable to tell me who can, I won’t have the time to try. If you are able to facilitate my taking photographs of your project either directly or by introducing me to the appropriate individual you are much more likely to get featured.
Because I don’t get paid to blog I prefer to cover projects, events and people related to things I’ve been commissioned to cover or that are associated with one of my longer term projects. Depending on how busy I am, I’ll consider anything else that’s interesting, provided I’m able to use my own images to support the blog post. I’ll be more enthusiastic about ideas that I can see developing over time or that I might be able to sell to mainstream or specialist press.
I’m particularly interested in dance snippets, things that add value, strange prizes, dance travel, different perspectives, different dance forms and other related experiences or in ideas that introduce me to a new audience or that introduce a new audience to this blog.
You asked if you could come to my event, what happens now?
I’ll take photos and do my best to get coverage. If I’ve asked you and it has been arranged in good time there is a good chance of this happening. If it’s weeks rather than months (or even days) the chance is very much smaller unless I’m responding to an editors’ specific request (if that is the case I will have told you).
Do you post images or words in return for money?
I accept sponsorship and sponsored experiences, free travel and tickets because without these I’d not be able to maintain the blog or do much of my other work. However those who provide such facilities have no control over what I post or when I will post it (because if I have sold a story to other media I won’t post anything online that detracts from the story I’ve sold until after it is published). If an experience has been specifically provided so that I can blog about it, you’ll read that in the post. Most PRs expect me to make some kind of guarantee up front, something I’m happy to do provided it doesn’t impinge on my ability to express myself freely and honestly. Examples can be seen here and here.
I’ve arranged or facilitated access so that you can take photos. What can I expect from you in return?
As a journalist I will do my best to get something on whatever it is you have facilitated published in the mainstream and/or specialist media. I may also write something about it on my blog. I may ask for feedback or clarification on related matters because I want my work to be as clear and accurate as possible. Occasionally I might show you a draft of what I’ve written or selection of images. This is because I want to be sure that what I’ve written is correct, but it doesn’t give you any rights to have anything changed you don’t like unless I’ve made a factual (or spelling) mistake. You also have no right to select different images for the piece, partly because that would compromise my journalistic integrity and partly because it is the editor and not me who makes the final choice.
by, and (c) Carole Edrich
If you know anything about Argentine tango you’ll know that traditional salon tango is played in tandas (groups of tunes) punctuated by cortinas (non-tango musical breaks). You might not, however, be aware of the huge diversity of ideas as to how to construct them. In conversation with my friend Ms Hedgehog (who has very clear ideas about what she likes) I decided it would be interesting to investigate this wealth of opinion further, pitched the idea to Dance Today and had a piece on it published this month.
I had to fit the essence of the pitch into 800 words and keep it relevant to the Dance Today readership. That was hard. The characters and concepts involved are quite wonderful and each individual has a deeply considered, well structured and passionately expressed set of opinions but was limited to a double page spread and therefore unable to show this or examine anything to an intellectually satisfying depth. There are no such constraints on this blog, so I’ve decided to create a series of pieces and share my discoveries properly. By including more of the opinions I uncovered, more about the beliefs and practices of the tango players I’ve interviewed and of course my own opinions I hope to be able to share the emotional and intellectual satisfaction of my work as well as a deeper understanding about the challenges and controversies of tanda construction.
What has all this to do with dance photography?
I believe that by understanding dance in all its forms (or at least as many as are humanly possible to learn) I can take more insightful photographs. Like others, I imagine, I hope to eventually be able to, in a single image or series, synthesise the spirit of the dance along with whatever story I’ve decided to display. I’d like to do this creatively in a way that resonates with people of different cultures and who have completely different levels of understanding and interest in that dance.
by Carole Edrich
I’ve suggested this shot, the opening image of ‘Noted’ (Yolande Yorke-Edgell’s new work that was performed at the Lilian Baylis Theatre last year) to represent the word ‘intense’, which was suggested by JokerXL That this image is far more conventionally composed than my normal shots, is deliberate, as it’s suppose to emphasize the intensity of the dancer at her desk.
Noted, Yolande Yorke-Edgell‘s new work for her company of eight dancers, is based on letters spanning five centuries written by historic or iconic figures. Their themes include humour, tragedy, excitement, beauty and anger. The shot depicts Madame De Sevigne’s day-to-day written gossip, through which a vivid picture of 17th century France in the time of Louis XIV was painted. The piece went on to show Johann Sebastian Bach writing an overly grateful letter to his patron, Queen Victoria expressing the extremity of her passion for husband Prince Albert; Marilyn Monroe writing to her psychiatrist after being committed to a clinic in New York suffering from mental exhaustion (Yorke-Edgell herself played Marilyn) and Hunter S Thompson ranting at film executive Holly Sorensen about the adaptation of one of his novels.
I went to the photo call for Dance Today because Anton du Becke was supposed to be attending. He didn’t turn up (often the case for such photo calls) so although I got a load of nice shots I didn’t manage to fulfil the Dance Today brief.
by Carole Edrich
I have a theory, but to see if it’s right I need your help. Please tell me which orientation of this image you prefer and – if you possibly can – why. This is the first of a new series of images, I’m going to call it SeriesX for now and will give a prize to the person closest to my working title.
This local garage, Stevens Motors, specialises in volkswagens and my family has been going there longer than I remember. I can’t recommend them too much. They’re efficient and friendly, they know what they’re doing and are honest at their own expense (once, I remember being told firmly that the car would rust before the part I had asked to be replaced would stop working). people and with me been I really enjoyed this shoot.
I really enjoyed the shoot – the garage is large and light, Felipe is a wonderful and talented artist, the bustle of a real working garage added to the fun and the surroundings look fantastic. Processing the images have also helped me understand how I can improve the next batch so I hope the owner will let me go back.
by Carole Edrich (as requested by GoogleAuthors)
I selected this photograph because the movement is clear and I love the young dancer’s expression. It’s the first in a series of shots I took some time ago at One Youth Dance. The organisation started in 2011 with a stated aim of ‘engaging underprivileged young people in high quality dance at a fraction of the normal price’. They’re doing well; after starting with just twelves dancers there are now around forty, all between eight and eighteen years old.
Sadly I didn’t take photos of them performing at the launch of Dance Photographer of the Year. I’ve since decided that I will take photos at events that I’m hosting, especially when those events celebrate the joys of photography!