(Humour) What if Hitmen Were Asked to Work for Free?

Photographers often get asked to shoot for free in exchange for experience, exposure, future work, and images for their portfolio. What if a hitman were approached with the same request?

That’s the idea found in the 4.5-minute sketch above by College Humor, titled “Guy Who’s Too Cheap To Pay An Assassin.” Oh, and it pokes fun at the world of crowdfunding personal projects as well. (Warning: there’s a bit of language and violence).

Original video by College Humor, linked from the awesome Petapixel – go check them both out!


Copyright – a reminder…

Recently I’ve had to remind a couple of people about the way copyright works.

It’s all too easy these days to post an image on Facebook or a blog that you found somewhere, but it’s important to remember you need permission from the person that owns that image to do so..

It doesn’t matter if you’re in the picture, and yes that includes if you’re a model on a photoshoot (paid or TF makes no difference), the copyright belongs to the photographer.

You can’t ignore this stuff, it’s important!

Here’s an interested blog article about the issue: http://www.blogher.com/bloggers-beware-you-can-get-sued-using-photos-your-blog-my-story

You should probably read this too: UK copyright Law Fact Sheet


An extract from the UK Copyright Service website:

Fact sheet P-16: Photography and copyright

Who owns the copyright on photographs?

Under law, it is the photographer who will own copyright on any photos he/she has taken, with the following exceptions:

  • If the photographer is an employee of the company the photos are taken for, or is an employee of a company instructed to take the photos, the photographer will be acting on behalf of his/her employer, and the company the photographer works for will own the copyright.
  • If there is an agreement that assigns copyright to another party.

In all other cases, the photographer will retain the copyright, if the photographer has been paid for his work, the payment will be for the photographer’s time and typically an allocated number of prints. The copyright to the photos will remain with the photographer, and therefore any reproduction without permission would be an infringement of copyright.”


As you can see, that’s really quite clear.  In all cases, the photographer, or photographic company own the copyright.  It doesn’t matter who’s in the image, the person who took the photo owns the rights unless there is a signed agreement to transfer the copyright.



It is the photographer’s right to be credited as the author of the photograph, and you should always do this unless they specifically tell you otherwise.

If images have a watermark or logo on, this MUST be left intact.  To remove or mis-attribute a photographer’s copyright is a very serious issue, and will be treated as such. For example,  I caught a national newspaper using my images without permission once, and it cost them a  LOT of money.

To give you an idea how serious this is, for a small image used on a website you could easily end up paying in excess of £1000 per image in penalties.   I know this as I sent the bill to the newspaper and they had to pay it.

One UK photographer was awarded more than £5,000 in damages for the use of a single image, and there are cases documented online where photographers have received tens of thousands in compensation (example). In one famous case a photographer was awarded $1.2 million when a company used photos they had posted on Twitter!

Here’s my page with my licensing / copyright information, I have asserted my rights to be identified as the author of all my photographs,  I expect to be properly credited where any photograph is used, and I expect anyone I work with to read this page!


Useful Links:


Can you do me a favour ?

It obviously nice that people like what I do, but sometimes it seems they don’t appreciate what it took to get there..

Often it seems that people assume that because you’re good at something “it comes naturally” or you just have “the knack”. How often have you heard someone say something like “well it’s easy for you..” as if you just magically woke up one morning with the skill and talent to do something?  Worse still, it’s usually said in the context that they would like you to do something for them, because they can’t do it themselves (or can’t be bothered to try) and you can, so they’d like you to do it for them “as a favour”.


So, lets stop to consider for a moment just why I might be able to so something which you can’t, or don’t want to, do yourself.

I didn’t just magically figure out how to take a decent photo.  I learned how. I have invested thousands of hours of my time in reading, asking questions, practicing etc.  I’ve invested thousands of pounds in equipment and training, and I’m still continuing to do so today.

The reason I know how to use Photoshop is because I’ve spent night after night up until gone 2am learning how, reading books, trawling through website tutorials etc. and actually practising this stuff.

Why then should you get the benefit of that for nothing if you’re not prepared to do so yourself?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m  happy to help people out and will occasionally do someone a favour with some photos or help with their graphic design or web projects etc.  But when I do, it would at least be nice to feel they appreciated just what had gone into that.  Remember, what might take me two hours, would probably take you two days, or even two weeks.  Now how valuable is my time?  

So, why the rant now?

Well basically there have just been too many occasions recently when people have been taking advantage of my good nature, and I’ve been guilty of putting myself out way too much for other people who really don’t appreciate it. Yes, of course I understand that different people have different skill sets, and I’m flattered that people think enough of some of mine that they want my help or advice, but also there comes a point when I’ve got to draw a line under it as I’m spending way too much time and energy on sorting out *other peoples stuff* and not enough time on my own projects so it’s come to the point I’ve simply got to switch those priorities around.



When it comes to my to-do list my order of priorities will be:

  1. Paying clients
  2. Collaborations with mutual benefit (i.e. TF model shoots)
  3. Personal Projects
  4. Favours for other people

So, if you’re #4 on the list, please remember that I’m doing you a favour, in my own time, for nothing.  I’m afraid that means you’ll just plain have to wait.  If I can do something, I’ll do it when I’ve got the time.  That might be a few days, or it might be a few weeks. I can’t make any promises.

If your ‘favour’ is urgent then I’d argue that it’s not actually something you should be relying on favours for in the first place.  Obviously if you want me to make you a priority you have the option jump right to the top of the queue and be a #1, but otherwise you need to remember the holy trinity of getting things done:


How do you want it done? Good, Fast or Cheap?  

Back in my former life as a software developer, there was the classic ‘development trilogy’.  i.e. How do you want it done, good, fast or cheap?

You can pick any two out of three.

Diagram, the development trilogy, good, fast or cheap.

Credit doesn’t pay the bills..

Obviously I’m always pleased when someone likes one of my photographs and wishes to use it on their website etc.  For personal sites and non-commercial use all I ask is that someone is polite enough to ask first and to credit me properly with a link to this site.  The important thing here though is personal use by a private individual on a non-commercial site.

This week I received another (all too frequent) email from a company who would like to use one of my images for promotional purposes. But they ‘can’t use the low-resolution web image so could they please have a high resolution copy?’.  Part of that message said “of course we’ll credit you when we use it”.

Oh really, how very gracious of you!

I guess I’m supposed to be flattered and grateful that someone wishes to use my photo.  It was after all a good photo that a large international company thinks is good enough to use for promotional purposes, whilst apparently placing a value of ‘nothing’ on it.

Maybe next time I go for a nice meal they’ll give it to me free if I promise to mention them on my blog, or perhaps I can get my car serviced free if I say how nice the mechanic is on Twitter?

Let’s be very clear: Getting credit for my work isn’t compensation.  If I created the image the right to credit is automatic, it is not something that someone does for me as a favour.

Credit doesn’t pay bills. I spent thousands of pounds on my photographic equipment, insurance, training etc. And years learning how to use it.  No amount of ‘credit’ will reimburse me for that investment, and it certainly won’t pay my electricity bill or council tax!

The work of an experienced photographer isn’t free.  I don’t expect you to do your job for nothing, please don’t expect me to to mine for nothing either.

If you’re interested in licensing my images for use in any commercial context you will need to obtain a commercial use license.  You can find more information about this on my sales and licensing page.

A nice cup of tea and a sit down…

Over the winter months it’s not always easy to get out and shoot so it’s a great time to take advantage of all that time stuck indoors to develop your digital darkroom skills and learn some new post-processing techniques etc.

I’ve had a few training enquiries recently from people who were pretty good photographers, but really felt overwhelmed by the complexity of the latest software packages and they simply didn’t know where to start.

Maybe I can help?

I am unashamedly a digital photographer, and over the years I’ve gained a lot of experience in digital imaging and post-processing techniques.  My software training, as with all my one-to-one teaching will be tailored to your individual requirements, whether that be to learn some basic editing skills, right through to implement a full digital asset management workflow from scratch.

Typical topics might include:

  • Choosing the right software packages to suit your needs
  • Importing your photos and organising your image library
  • Working with RAW files
  • Basic techniques (Cropping / straightening / resizing)
  • Digital Darkroom techniques (Exposure / Contrast / Colour corrections)
  • Monochrome Conversions
  • Sharpening / noise reduction
  • Preparing files for professional printing

Advanced topics

  • Photo stitching / digital panoramas
  • HDR Processing
  • Portrait retouching (‘Airbrushing’)
  • Digital Photo Restoration: Bring Old Photos Back to Life

Work Experience

A had something of an unusual week last month in that I had a work-experience student with me.  Alana was a friend-of-a-friend that I’d met when I shot a wedding earlier in the year and as she was studying A-level photography she’d asked if there was any possibility of spending some time with me to see how a ‘pro’ did things.

We had some pretty gnarly weather to contend with but still managed to fill our week with tutorials and workshop style shoots.  Alana is a natural with a good eye and clearly very interested in photography so it was an interesting week for me too and a lot of fun.

Here’s what she had to say about her week with me:

“Spent an absolutely amazing work experience with Rich, we spent the week covering as many elements of photography as we could – despite the awful weather of this years so called summer .

This week taught me more of the practical and technical side of photography, than my whole first year at A-level. If you’re passionate about photography and wish to develop them further Rich is an awesome teacher and has really inspired me to try out new ideas.He explains things in great detail as well as giving you visual examples to help your understanding.

The week allowed me to practice my photography skills and in a variety of different settings and types of photography.

I got some amazing results from some street photography around Bristol , natural portrait shoot, Bristol zoo , and some black and white shots of the old severn bridge. I also learnt various editing skills in different software packages so as i could improve my photos after I had taken them.

To anyone who would love to progress their skills with amazing photographic settings and opportunities I really recommend booking up some lessons with Rich. I guarantee you will see a massive difference in your abilities.”

Can’t say fairer than that can I.  Thanks!


I’ll add a small gallery of some of Alana’s images to this post soon!

“But why do the prints cost so much?”

Another classic from the “Tales of the Clueless..”

A couple of years ago I did some photos for someone at a bodybuilding competition. They liked the shots and bought quite a few prints. Then a friend of theirs who was in the same competition approached me and said ‘any chance of a copy of the pics which had me in?’ I said sure, no problem and game them a copy of my price list, to which they replied “How much??!! If I take them in Tesco they only charge 30p a print!”

So, I politely suggested that they should take their shots into Tesco and get them printed. Oh, but apparently the shots their girlfriend took on her compact camera ‘came out shit’ and mine were ‘loads better’.

Err, well DUH!

Here’s the bottom line: You’re not paying for the 50p it takes to print a photo onto a piece of paper. You’re buying a copy of a piece of art, produced by a professional photographer. You’re paying for the fact I’ve got nearly ten grands worth of gear in my bag and it’s taken me years to learn how to use it properly.

It’s not just pressing a button, it’s knowing which button to press..

I don’t do ‘snaps’..

Normally an invitation to a party or other such event is something to look forward to, but sadly as a photographer it’s becoming all too regular to receive an invite, often out of the blue and from someone you wouldn’t normally expect to receive one from that’s worded something like:

“Hey Rich, hope you’re well. We’re having a party on such and such a day, hope you can make it!”

Great! I think, that’ll be fun. Then you see the next bit..

“Don’t forget to bring your camera, we’d love to get some good snaps!”

Ahh, so that’s why you’re inviting me then. Because you actually want a professional photographer, but you just don’t want to pay for one.!

Well thanks for the invite, but the only time I take ‘snaps’ is when I’m on holiday, or I happen to spot something that I’d like to remember for later.  If you want me to take photos for your event then that’s a job, not a invitation to a party.


There’s an old tale about Picasso that goes something like this:

Picasso was in a park when a woman approached him and asked him to draw a portrait of her. Picasso agreed and quickly sketches her. After handing the sketch to her, she is pleased with the likeness and asks how much she owed to him. Picasso replied £5,000.

The woman screamed, “but it took you only five minutes”.

“No, madam, it took me all my life,” replied Picasso.

I wonder what sort of reaction you’d get if you invited your friend the electrician to your birthday and said “oh, don’t forget your tools, my shower is on the frizz”. Perhaps next time you have a barbecue you could invite a friend who’s a mechanic and ask them to service your car for free while they’re there too?

So yeah thanks for the invite, I’d love to come, but I’ll leave the camera at home thanks :)



Sensor Cleaning for Training Clients

I’ve had a couple of comments from recent clients who’ve discovered the scourge of the Digital SLR, dust on the sensor. This can manifest itself as dark splodges on your images, and will be particularly noticeable on smaller apertures.

Here’s an example of a blank image (just a piece of paper up against the window):
(It’s on flickr so click to biggify!)

Pretty grim eh? Imagine all the spotting and cloning you’d be doing in Photoshop if all your images were overlaid with that?
I realise that for many people the thought of cleaning the sensor in a thousand pounds worth of SLR can be rather daunting but it’s really not as scary as you might think as long as you’re careful.

Sensor Cleaning – £25

If you’re not confident in cleaning the sensor yourself then you’ll find most camera shops will offer it as a service in store, or now as an added service for my training clients I’ll clean your sensor for you on your training day for the discounted price of £25 (normally £40).. If you’re interested, please let me know in advance so I can ensure I have the right size swabs for your camera.

Here’s an ‘after’ shot..


If you’re interested, the system I use is made by Photographic Solutions. I use their Sensor Swabs and their ‘Eclipse’ soution. It pretty expensive as the swabs are single-use only but if you’re serious about keeping your sensor clean it’s a first class product.

I also have the option available for a full optics clean of your lenses too, where I’ll clean/degrease all the external elements of your lenses using professional cleaning solutions and special non-abrasive wipes. For a full optics clean, up to 5 lenses it’s just £25 (client price only), or if I do it at the same time as your sensor the full service is just £40.