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Not this monkey…

December 22nd, 2008 by admin


Photo by Carol Pakula.
Recently the photographer’s blogsphere has been going wild at a post written by The Strobist. I’m not going to go into the reasons for and against it, that has already been covered by more experienced photographers than I. I will instead share two relevant situations I have recently experienced. The first involves a totally new client (potential client to be accurate). The deal was, a friend of mine saw a post on a forum, where the poster was asking for a photographer to shoot some exotic cars in some excellent locations. I read the post and was interested so I asked the poster to contact me, which they promptly did. The brief was very appealing to me, over a million dollars worth of brand new exotic luxury rides, to be driven by the editorial guys on some of the state’s most scenic roads. Sounds like a dream assignment for me. However, their staff photographer was sick and pulled out last second, so the best they could offer me was to have the expenses paid, i.e. food (most likely fast or truck stop) and accommodation (again most likely of the budget variety). I did offer my standard day rate, even a slightly discounted one as it was going to be two consecutive days. The reply was that their budget did not allow for it, as they already have a staff photographer. Hmm.

I thought about taking the gig anyway and using it for two things; one to build my portfolio with some exotic cars. The local distributors would also see the photos, since they were the ones offering their cars for review, which could also open some opportunities with them. And secondly, to form a relationship with this new potential client. The first point was what made me thing about taking it. The second is what sealed the deal for me not to. Reason being, if I did one assignment for them for free, why would they pay the second one. Every single client I have ever had, always paid for my first gig. Even when I was working in another industry (Finance and IT), and was asked to shoot a car for a national magazine for the first time in my life, one of the first things they mentioned to me was the rate of pay. I would have done it for free back then, as it would have been an opportunity to get published and I knew little about how the industry worked, but since they did offer pay, I gladly accepted. So I guess I have the blogs of inspirational photographers like Vincent Laforet and John Harrington’s awesome Photo Business News blog, to thank for that.

The second situation involves a well established client for me, one whom I have worked with for a number of years. This situation might be more about the fact that there were too many management levels involved, but, the gist is, I was asked to shoot for two days, and I offered my discounted rate. The person I was speaking to said that should be fine, and will call tomorrow to confirm. The next day someone else calls, and said it has all been approved. So during the shoot, one of the more senior members of this company hinted at doing this job as a freebie, I brushed it off without giving an answer, as I was quite shocked to hear this coming out of his mouth. When it came time to deliver the photos, I basically said that I was not going to provide the images until I was paid. I have usually provided the photos the day or two after the shoot for almost all of my clients, but this situation led me to change my tact a little. I was promptly paid and delivered all photos.

2 Responses to “Not this monkey…”

  1. brasher Says:

    Interesting… Depending on the end use of the shots would be my determining factor, but how often do you get to shoot a gaggle of exotica? On one hand if you nail the shoot you have that to add to the folio in turn creating more clients/commercial prospects but on the other you have a family too feed and a 13BT to put in the MX5.

  2. MIchael Says:

    hrmm, that’s a close call.
    you’ll gradually find that you’ll be a lot more cautious with clients. perhaps have them pay you upfront for your work, or have the money agreed to be placed in a trust fund.

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