Scarlett Jane, photo by Richard Olpin, taken at CoCo studios in Nottingham.

Number One.

Not only was this photo I took of Scarlett one of my favourite photos so far this year, this was the #1 most loved image on PurplePort yesterday. That’s the second time in the past couple of weeks I’ve been #1 – I’m pretty happy about that!

A bit of perspective for those of you who don’t frequent the model networking sites, PurplePort is the most popular modelling site in the UK now, with around 25,000 active members, upwards of 2500 images added per day, nearly 2 million images online, with 20,000+ images ‘loved’ each day it’s a big thing to even get on the ‘popular’ list, let alone #1.

I’m not going to lie, to do that twice in a week feels pretty flipping awesome..

Purple Port

See more of my images on PurplePort

Model: Scarlett Jane

Summer Holidays!

Oh dear, I’ve been neglecting this blog rather of late haven’t I..  Sorry about that.  I’ve not been neglecting my photography though and have been pretty busy over the past few months with training clients, and especially busy with my other passion which is my martial arts school.

There wasn’t a big point to this post other than dropping in to say that things are going great, I’m on holiday now for a couple of weeks and looking forward to a trip to Paris next week so expect some more regular updates again very soon!

Reasons Why Professional Photographers Cannot Work for Free

Dear potential photo buyer,

If you have been directed to this page, it is likely that you have requested the use of an image or images for free or minimal compensation.

As professional photographers, we receive requests for free images on a regular basis. In a perfect world, each of us would love to be able to respond in a positive manner and assist, especially with projects or efforts related to areas such as education, social issues, and conservation of natural resources. It is fair to say that in many cases, we wish we had the time and resources to do more to assist than just send photographs.

Unfortunately, such are the practicalities of life that we are often unable to respond, or that when we do, our replies are brief and do not convey an adequate sense of the reasons underlying our response.

Circumstances vary for each situation, but we have found that there are a number of recurring themes, which we have set out below with the objective of communicating more clearly with you, and hopefully avoiding misunderstandings or unintentionally engendering ill will.

Please take the following points in the constructive manner in which they are intended. We certainly hope that after you have had a chance to read this, we will be able to talk again and establish a mutually beneficial working relationship.

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Photographs Are Our Livelihood

Creating compelling images is the way we make our living. If we give away our images for free, or spend too much time responding to requests for free images, we cannot make a living.

We Do Support Worthy Causes With Images

Most of us do contribute photographs, sometimes more, to support certain causes. In many cases, we may have participated directly in projects that we support with images, or we may have a pre-existing personal relationship with key people involved with the efforts concerned. In other words, each of us can and does provide images without compensation on a selective basis.

We Have Time Constraints

Making a leap from such selective support to responding positively to every request we get for free photographs, however, is impractical, if for no other reason than the substantial amount of time required to respond to requests, exchange correspondence, prepare and send files, and then follow-up to find out how our images were used and what objectives, if any, were achieved. It takes a lot of time to respond to requests, and time is always in short supply.

Pleas of “We Have No Money” Are Often Difficult to Fathom

The primary rationale provided in nearly all requests for free photographs is budgetary constraint, meaning that the requestor pleads a lack of funds.

Such requests frequently originate from organisations with a lot of cash on hand, whether they be publicly listed companies, government or quasi-government agencies, or even NGOs. Often, it is a simple matter of taking a look at a public filing or other similar disclosure document to see that the entity concerned has access to significant funding, certainly more than enough to pay photographers a reasonable fee should they choose to do so.

To make matters worse, it is apparent that all too often, of all the parties involved in a project or particular effort, photographers are the only ones being asked to work for free. Everyone else gets paid.

Given considerations like this, you can perhaps understand why we frequently feel slighted when we are told that: “We have no money.” Such claims can come across as a cynical ploy intended to take advantage of gullible individuals.

We Have Real Budget Constraints

With some exceptions, photography is not a highly remunerative profession. We have chosen this path in large part due to the passion we have for visual communication, visual art, and the subject matters in which we specialise.

The substantial increase in photographs available via the internet in recent years, coupled with reduced budgets of many photo buyers, means that our already meager incomes have come under additional strain.

Moreover, being a professional photographer involves significant monetary investment.

Our profession is by nature equipment-intensive. We need to buy cameras, lenses, computers, software, storage devices, and more on a regular basis. Things break and need to be repaired. We need back-ups of all our data, as one ill-placed cup of coffee could literally erase years of work. For all of us, investment in essential hardware and software entails thousands of dollars a year, as we need to stay current with new technology and best practices.

In addition, travel is a big part of many of our businesses. We must spend a lot of money on transportation, lodging and other travel-related costs.

And of course, perhaps most importantly, there is a substantial sum associated with the time and experience we have invested to become proficient at what we do, as well as the personal risks we often take. Taking snapshots may only involve pressing the camera shutter release, but creating images requires skill, experience and judgement.

So the bottom line is that although we certainly understand and can sympathise with budget constraints, from a practical point of view, we simply cannot afford to subsidise everyone who asks.

Getting “Credit” Doesn’t Mean Much

Part and parcel with requests for free images premised on budgetary constraints is often the promise of providing “credit” and “exposure”, in the form or a watermark, link, or perhaps even a specific mention, as a form of compensation in lieu of commercial remuneration.

There are two major problems with this:

First, getting credit isn’t compensation. We did, after all, create the images concerned, so credit is automatic. It is not something that we hope a third party will be kind enough to grant us.

Second, credit doesn’t pay bills. As we hopefully made clear above, we work hard to make the money required to reinvest in our photographic equipment and to cover related business expenses. On top of that, we need to make enough to pay for basic necessities like food, housing, transportation, etc.

In short, receiving credit for an image we created is a given, not compensation, and credit is not a substitute for payment.

“You Are The Only Photographer Being Unreasonable”

When we do have time to engage in correspondence with people and entities who request free photos, the dialogue sometimes degenerates into an agitated statement directed toward us, asserting in essence that all other photographers the person or entity has contacted are more than delighted to provide photos for free, and that somehow, we are “the only photographer being unreasonable”.

We know that is not true.

We also know that no reasonable and competent photographer would agree to unreasonable conditions. We do allow for the fact that some inexperienced photographers or people who happen to own cameras may indeed agree to work for free, but as the folk wisdom goes: “You get what you pay for.”

Please Follow-Up

One other experience we have in common is that when we do provide photographs for free, we often do not receive updates, feedback or any other form of follow-up letting us know how the event or project unfolded, what goals (if any) were achieved, and what good (if any) our photos did.

All too often, we don’t even get responses to emails we send to follow-up, until, of course, the next time that someone wants free photographs.

In instances where we do agree to work for free, please have the courtesy to follow-up and let us know how things went. A little consideration will go a long way in making us feel more inclined to take time to provide additional images in the future.

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Wrap Up

We hope that the above points help elucidate why the relevant photographer listed below has sent you to this link. All of us are dedicated professionals, and we would be happy to work with you to move forward in a mutually beneficial manner.

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This text was written by Tony Wu. He has kindly allowed others to use the text under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

If you do, please provide take a moment to visit and provide a link to his page: http://photoprofessionals.wordpress.com/[/iconbox]

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The Advent Calendar Challenge

If you’ve never tried a ‘pic a day’ type challenge, here’s an ideal way to get started before you try a whole ‘365’..

Over on my forum we’re planning to do a little ‘Advent Calendar’ project to take a photo each day through December.

It’s really simple to get involved, all you need to do is take, and post one picture each day!  Starting Thursday 1st December, take at least one photo every day. It doesn’t matter what you shoot on, so no excuses because you’ve not got an SLR with you. Compact or camera phone is fine. Just try to find one interesting photo each day. Subject, composition and timing are the most important things. Make a thread on the forum in this projects section and call it something like ‘Rich’s Advent Calendar’ then post up your best photo from each day right up till xmas. Try to stick to one you’ve actually taken that day unless you’re *really* stuck as the whole point is to get you looking for potential shots and taking more photos so no digging through the archives!

Back in the loop!

Ooh crikey, it’s been a while since I’ve posted. I’ve been a little out of the loop for the past month or so as most of my spare time has been eaten up by my mum being poorly and she’d spent the last six weeks in hospital. Thankfully she’s well on the mend now and home again so it’s time to catch up a bit and get some quality photography time in!

Autumn is upon us now so it’s time to get out and capture those amazing colours. I’ll be heading out for some park shots soon I think, plus maybe another little Somerset tour and maybe it’s time for a trip to Westonbirt..

I’ll catch up with some posts about my recent trip to Paris too, plus plans for a couple more trips out there next year, and also some of my recent training clients.

As they say, watch this space..!

Bath

Busy day today, great fun though.

I had a meeting at the Royal Society in Bath this morning so I took my camera gear and met up with some friends this afternoon to spend a couple of hours mooching around the city taking photos, see:

Bath-0588_89_90

Bath in Black and White

I’m exploring this grungy black and white stuff at the moment towards a possible project for my next RPS distinction but it wasn’t all gloom!

I did meet a very friendly cat along the way, who lived on a boat – see:

Bath-0701

Not a terrorist..

If you read any of the major photography magazines you can’t fail to have seen all the fuss over the past few years about photographers getting stopped by the Police for the heinous crime of, wait for it… Taking Photographs…

OH NOES!

Anyway, thanks to the good folks of the I’m a Photographer, Not  A Terrorist campaign things are getting somewhat better. I’d urge you to visit their site and get up to speed, and you can also download their new leaflet detailing the history of the campaign.  I’ve still got a copy of the original PHNAT Bust Card in my bag

in January last year I spent the day in Trafalgar Square London at the Mass Photo gathering where over 2000 photographers turned out to show unity for photographer’s rights. Here are some photos from the day in (my flickr set here)

 

All things digital..

Popped up to Highnam yesterday morning for the Gloucester area RPS meeting, which this time was mainly focused on a showing of the images from the RPS Digital Imaging Group print exhibition. I’d not really thought about joining any of the special interest groups up until now but as I’m a big fan of the digital workflow it seems like a good idea so I’m going to join that one this week.

I did take up the prints from my successful distinction last week and showed them to some of the members who were very complimentary about the standard of both the images and the presentation/print quality which was very encouraging, indeed I was encouraged by several people to start working towards my ‘A’ panel as soon as possible which was ace.   A couple of people were asking about my digital workflow and how much work I’d done on the mono conversions etc. so I thought I’d post a quick before/after example of one of the successful images from my panel here.

And by popular request, lots more examples of this type coming soon!

 

 

Getting twitchy now..

So, only a few days to go until I present my panel to the Royal Photographic Society to be considered for the Licentiate Distinction.

I went down to Bath today to observe a distinctions advisory day where people bring their potential panels to show and to receive advice and feedback from some of the assessors who actually judge the disctinctions. I was really quite humbled by the standard of some of the images people had to show, some really amazing images.

I got some very useful tips on what the panels are looking for too and I must say I’m now feeling pretty nervous about my panel now. I know there are a few areas where I can definitely make improvements, but not in the next couple of days. I did order a couple of reprints yesterday which should be here in the morning but apart from that there’s nothing else I can really change at this stage which will make any difference so I’m going to take it along and see what feedback I get.

It’s all good experience and if I’m not successful this time I have a load of useful info on where I need to improve.

My proposed panel

(though it’s entirely likely to change before wednesday!)