We did a photo shoot with a woman who has written a book about entertaining without stressing out. She’s in the process of putting her book together for publication and she needed photos for the author image and book cover. Here are a few of them. You can see all of them HERE.
A life that has frayed.
*****Just a warning: this image contains a bit of nudity. There are no bits and pieces showing, but you can tell the subject is nude.******
When I was in my mid 20’s I had a friend who was struggling with a heroine addiction. She was clean for long stretches of time, in which she was delightful and adventurous. Then she would fall into a pit. It was hard to watch her claw her way back to the surface.
She reached the point where she had exhausted the patience of her family and most of her friends. She came to me when she had no other place to go and asked if I would let her live with me for awhile. She knew I had my life together and would not put up with any bullshit. She promised me that she had entered an outpatient treatment program and was looking for a job. I agreed, on the condition that if I found out she was using again, I would make her leave.
After three months, I became suspicious. I searched her room and found a needle and a burnt spoon under her mattress. As soon as she came home, I took her key and told her she had 5 minutes to gather up what she needed, and she could bring a police escort with her to get the rest of it at some other time. She never came back for her things and I haven’t seen or spoken to her since.
During the time she was staying with me, I asked if I could take photos of her track marks. I wanted to do some implied nudes. When she took off her clothes, I was surprised to see that her back was covered in lash marks. I never asked her what happened. I think I was too frightened to know.
While I was browsing through my Facebook feed this morning, I ran across an article about a graphic designer who is getting some attention for his response when asked to work for free. He received an invitation from Showtime to submit an entry into a contest. The work he submitted, if chosen, would be displayed at an upcoming event held at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Here’s a screenshot of his response:
You can view the full article HERE.
This article, while hilarious, made me think about my creative journey and the choices I’ve made, and continue to make, in the pursuit of being a successful photographer.
If you were to ask most established artists in any field if they would do a job for free, you would get laughed at and told to buzz off. (Or publicly ridiculed, like the above example.) But then I’ve heard from some photographers that they remember the days when they worked for very little, or nothing, just to get the experience and exposure. So, what’s the right choice? Do you stick to your principles and say no to the jobs that don’t pay what you believe you and your work are worth? Or do you take every job that comes your way, regardless of the pay, and hope it pays off in the end?
I encounter this conundrum every day. In my search for jobs, I regularly come across Craigslist ads offering the amazing opportunity for the “right person” to have the good fortune to do work for an “up and coming” enterprise….for free. They offer the benefit of promoting your (free) work. They “know people” and can get your (free) work into the right hands. Hey, it’s a win-win situation, they insist.
On the other hand, there are people who say, I know this is lame, but I just started my own business and I have no photography skills and no money. Can we work out a way that I can pay you when I start making some money?
I’m much more inclined to work for a person for free, or cheap, when they understand that they are asking for, and receiving, something that is very valuable. I have worked for a couple people at a very discounted rate, not only because I wanted the experience, but also because they asked nicely and were really appreciative of my help. These relationships have turned out to be very beneficial in the long run. I have even gotten some other jobs and referrals out of it.
In addition to Craigslist, I have also used a website called Thumbtack. People who need photographers can request bids. Then photographers in the area receive an email that tells us what they need and how much their budget is. I am constantly astounded and dismayed at some of the unreasonable requests we see come through our inbox. Most of them are weddings with a budget of $200 to $300 dollars. I understand being broke and trying to do things on the cheap. But when you are only willing to pay $300 dollars for a wedding photographer, you might as well ask one of your friends to do it. It’s almost insulting. I don’t, however, think they mean to be insulting. I really do believe that most people have no idea how much work a wedding is. Not only will I spend 6 to 8 hours taking photos of the wedding. I will then spend double that on the editing process. So really, doing a wedding for that little is not worth it for me. (Especially when Thumbtack makes you pay to submit a bid, and you are not guaranteed to get the job.)
In conclusion, I don’t believe that the question of working for free has a clear cut answer. It depends on many different factors. Where are you in your career? What is the job? What are the long-term benefits? How do you feel about the person asking you to work for free? The answer to all of these will change with every new experience, and should be considered carefully before you decide to take the job or assignment. You don’t want to sell yourself short, but you also don’t want to have an empty portfolio and limited experience.
I’ve been working with photoshop for about 10 years. After about 3 years, I decided to take a photoshop class. I’m not a pro by any means. I still consult video tutorials and I bought a book for the version I work with. But today I impressed myself.
I’ve already posted photos of the pageant shoot we did recently. I’m still doing post-production on them. The girl in the photo is going to use them to enter Miss Rodeo Canada. She’s entering as the winner of her local pageant, so she needs photos of herself with the crown she won. The problem is, she lost the crown this year, and it now belongs to someone else. I told her it would be no problem to take it from another image and place it on the ones we took. But I forget that people think one photo is much like any other, so I didn’t specify that I needed a high quality image to work from. So I received low-res proofs from a previous shoot she did with another photographer. I have been pulling my hair out over these images. After 12 hours of work….SUCCESS! I’m pretty proud of how this turned out.
Here’s the original image:
And here’s the retouched image:
This is my mother-in-law! She’s a super tough lady who kicked cancer’s butt! Go like her story and show your support!
My cancer battle started in early February 2005, at the age of 44, when a doctor felt a lump in my left breast, almost to the armpit, that I had not felt on my own. A film mammogram, with the lump marked with a metal “BB”, showed nothing, not even a shadow, so we realized I had very dense breast tissue. The only family member that had breast cancer before me is my paternal aunt, who fought the battle well in the early ‘90’s, which had harder chemo and radiation treatment at the time. I started getting mammograms at age 40 because of her experience, but it was really interesting to hear doctors say that I shouldn’t be worried, since my aunt was on my Dad’s side; so much for that advice. Any family history should be taken into consideration- remember that ladies!
After a whirlwind of initial activity of…
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My photography company just started working with Debra Fox from Image Development Group. She works with girls who compete to become Miss Rodeo. In addition to helping them with their confidence in public speaking and personality training, she also coaches them on photo shoots. In our role as photographers, we got to work with Miss Airdrie 2013, Kelsey, on a photo shoot in preparation for her competition for Miss Rodeo Canada. Here are a couple of the photos. (I will be posting more very soon.)
I took this photo while waiting in Venice for a train to take me to Florence. There was a railroad worker strike, so I had a lot of time to go around taking photos.