Bohemian Rhapsody :: Part 2 of 3

Welcome back! In part 1, we discussed the who, what, when and where of the Bohemian Rhapsody project. In part 3 we’ll discuss the how. Today, we’ll actually be showing the images from the shoot that made the cut and all the “why’s.” Why they made the cut, why I shot them in the first place and why I would bill them in so many different ways.

So, the work.

Before we jump directly into the work, remember I had multiple purposes on this shoot. One, my client needed images for her modeling portfolio. She wanted something a little different from her current commercial modeling portfolio’s reach. She specifically wanted something in the flowers and weeds and more bohemian in feel and fashion. This is not the type of stuff I usually shoot so I self-assigned a make believe editorial client; a new alt-country artist for NYLON magazine. I also needed to think about the possibility of selling some images to PASTE who likes a little different style than NYLON. Or what if her record label needed more stuff still? What about commercial interests? I had to tackle all these possibilities and in that order. 

Below are all the photographs that we scored and deemed usable in our 2.5 hours of work, 30 minutes of driving included.

These were my top two favorites of the day. They served her well and I could see them being nice editorial images. They also both had a very naturally lit feel (the second image was lit) which is what NYLON likes a lot of the time.

Here we moved more into the artsy realm and I like pictures like these after straight pictures to offer some variety. These are also nice for merchandise type images or album art. This first one has just a hint of motion blur. I’m also currently on a bit of a double exposure kick.

These images were more about serving her as a client but also for other styles of editorial and these could even go commercial. One thing I really try to do on a shoot is make the person look a lot different from picture to picture. I want a bunch of variety. We were lacking in wardrobe options but I still feel we accomplished what we set out to do and then some.

NOTE :: the rest of these are sort of alternates, not really first picks so to speak. I’ve given them some BW conversions along with the color version because they could go either way. Typically, my clients want my editing decisions about black and white or color or whatever but for editorial they have their own style it usually needs to fit so it’s a little looser with some of the editing. 

This definitely wasn’t the most looks I’ve gotten on a shoot but we scored a fair amount of looks out of our time together and our two locations. The first location was in an open field with no surrounding open shade at noon. Booooooooo! So, I was very concerned about getting to the woods ASAP. At a different time of day, we could’ve worked that location a little more and squeezed out a few more looks there. 

OK, so now that the photos are out there, let’s take a look at pricing. So, for editorial, the rates are terrible. As in, if it’s all you did, you’d be royally screwed.

So, hypothetically, NYLON hired me to shoot this job. My guess is they’d pay something dismal like $200 for an inside story. If you got the cover, it’d probably add maybe like $500 - $1,000 more but since this is an up and coming artist, chances are slim that she’d make the cover. They have a circulation of somewhere in the neighborhood of 225,000. That’s a lot of eyeballs. Then there’s all the online eyeballs. So, while I could make a lot more money shooting a commercial job for the local factory, I’m truly gaining some exposure to more potential clients (editorial, commercial & advertising.) Not that sort of exposure where a local magazine says “we’ll give you some exposure.” Don’t go for that. Complete bull. Get paid.

So, let’s say that Nylon paid me $200 (chances are they wouldn’t have hired a makeup artist / hair stylist.) I’ve just made enough in the afternoon to just scrape by for the day after expenses. Forget feeding your family, ever having a vacation or affording insurance. We’d probably have signed a six month license to a year for those images that they used. The leftovers, I could sell immediately to another magazine, some commercial / advertising interest, her label, or her family for that matter. Ha!

This is where I need to get photographer’s to put on their thinking caps and commit themselves to the longview if they’re going to stay in this dance. If I signed over my rights, $200 is all I could ever make off that shoot. That’s a waste of my time and talent. If I keep my rights, you never know where things could go. Let’s say PASTE (an online magazine only now) wanted to buy two of the pictures for another $200. I get 200 more bones and lots more eyeballs (free advertising + credibility). We sign another 6 month exclusive license for them. Meanwhile, our artist is picking up steam and is all of the sudden Nashville’s indie sweetheart. Her label wants to use another photo from this shoot for an album cover for $3,500 including ads and promotions specifically for this release but not any merch. I still keep the copyright. She keeps going and they want to use another artsy shot of mine for a t-shirt, another $1,200. She has a storied career and one day she dies prematurely. People magazine calls, another $1,500. Her biography is written and they need a cover image. Another $2,500. Someone uses the image without permission, another $20,000. A film comes out, a greatest hits record, etc. You get the point. Does every gig follow this path? Of course not. Do most? Nope. Do some? Absolutely. The point here is that photographers should never, read NEVER EVER sign away their copyright. Photographs are valuable and the photographer’s intellectual property and potential future revenue stream. 

For the buyer, the point is this, you probably never need the full buyout on a photo. Why pay for all the uses of a photo when you just want a license to use the image for 1 year on a single billboard. Photography generally works like this….. the more dollars a photo helps to make, the more dollars a photographer will ask for. So, when someone calls and says “we need perpetual rights for the picture of the boss at our company,” my immediate thought is “no you don’t.” I won’t say it like that but we’ll definitely have a conversation. If your boss is 40 and will probably retire when he’s 65, why do you want an image of him wearing clothes from 25 years ago, with his old haircut, when his hair was still black and he didn’t wear glasses? Where are you going to use that picture? Now, there are definitely times that picture could and should be used. But when investors receive this years corporate report, they better not have a picture of your boss from 1983 in there without a new photo too. But now, you could license that same image again for another $300 bucks or whatever, rather than the thousands you would’ve spent 30 years ago because you wanted full buyout. 

This licensing / usage thing is not the big scary monster that lots of people make it out to be. It’s there to make sure that photographers protect their work and can actually make a decent living. It’s also there for the buyers’ protection. No one else can use the image while you are or for the next two years if you want to buy that license. Or, you may not have to pay the photographer to shoot something, you could just buy the stock images from a shoot someone else paid for. Is it catered exactly to your needs? Nope. Might it work and not be the terribly mundane stock that is used all the time online from sights like istock? Maybe. It never hurts to ask. Buyers, negotiate a fair price. Photographers, negotiate a fair price. In closing; there are no set rules here. Every industry has it’s own set of standard practices but good businesses get creative and negotiate and make some compomises for the greater good. In a smaller market like where I live, lots of companies freak out when we talk about usages and licenses. Sometimes your images won’t ever serve another purpose outside of it’s original intent. When you are faced with that as a photgrapher, don’t sweat the usage conversation. Just adjust your billing to reflect what you need to make from the images and call it what it is. Still, make a contract. The images you give are non-transferable and copyright belongs to you. In other words, I won’t shoot an image for company X and then allow them to give the image to company Y. I shoot for X and license to X and Y. Don’t let them sell your images. Register your copyrights. Get releases. Dot your i’s. Cross your t’s. Eat your green’s. Stay in school.  

In the next installment of this series, we’ll be looking at specific lighting, gear and techniques used to shoot the images. Hope to see you soon. Plop any questions or comments below. Thanks for hanging in there. This was a long one. Here’s Part 3

Using Format