What’s Involved? (My investment in your project)

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.

The Bees Knees dance the Charleston on a rainy Sunday, (c) Carole Edrich 2013

The Bees Knees dance the Charleston on a rainy Sunday, (c) Carole Edrich 2013

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. Don’t forget, my work, my images.

by, and (c)  Carole Edrich