5 Reasons Every Business Needs Professional Photos

by: Ashley Lipman

Collateral Benefits

Photography is important for a lot of reasons. Beyond the old maxim pertaining to information capture that most are familiar with—a picture says a thousand words—photography can have collateral benefits to your business that you may not have expected. This is one of many reasons you should have professional photography solutions silhouetting your operations. Following are five additional reasons worth considering:

  1.    Making The Right Impression Among Peers And Clients
  2.    Properly Showcasing Your Brand
  3.    Record Keeping
  4.    Organic Marketing Potential
  5.    Facilitation Of Employee Morale

Portrait of a small business owner.

Making The Right Impression Among Peers And Clients

This is the first and most notable benefit of professional photography. You want to present yourself well! You want to put your best foot forward, and make an excellent impression! Pictures that have a professional veneer which cannot be denied are a great way to do this.

For clients who have never worked with you before, such photography gives them a point of reference in a subconscious way which makes them comfortable with your business. Peers see that you’re a force to be respected and reckoned with, and altogether such things can help you retain competitive edge.

Properly Showcasing Your Brand

Tied to impressions is showcasing. Have you ever seen a picture of a meal like a fast food burger, or a dessert? Those pictures aren’t done with a smartphone in some corner of a kitchen. They’re staged with pristine ingredients and and styled within an inch of their lives. The right lighting is apportioned, the right angles are used, in some cases water is spritzed on the right areas to connote freshness—you get the idea!

Every picture of a burger from McDonald’s, Wendy’s, or Burger King has had just this treatment. When it comes to your brand, be it culinary or technological, the same kind of thinking is fundamental in order to showcase what you provide in a qualitative, desirable way. A new trend today involves using Instagram stories to exposit a given brand. Post professional photos, and you could gain a following just by “looking good”.

Photograph of the perfect juicy cheeseburger.

Record Keeping

Pictures that have been professionally taken can help you to define an era, identify employees, and keep track of things. This is a strange example, but there is a film called The Shining in which this is dramatically demonstrated.

Basically, a guy goes to curate a hotel in winter and gets cabin fever through the long lonely time with only his family. He goes on a crazed rampage and then dies in a frozen hedge maze. As the film ends, it is revealed that the same man was in a picture from a hundred years earlier, indicating he is either a ghost, or was possessed by one. Creepy!

Well, in a similar way, if you’ve got regular pictures of your brand, of your employees, of your management, of your varying production facilities, of upgrades, or newspaper clippings, etc., you can find secrets and forgotten information by perusing old photo albums. That information may not seem important, and for the most part may not be; but all you need is one picture with vital information to make a big impact.

Organic Marketing Potential

With the Internet of Things (IoT), Search Engine Optimization (SEO—here are ten considerable SEO tips), and Social Media Marketing (SMM), there is a lot of opportunity to reach a diverse body of viewers. If you’ve got engaging, professionally-done photos, you’re likely to increase your online visibility, which organically can make outbound marketing efforts more effective.

Facilitation Of Employee Morale

Last, but certainly not least, you want professionally done photos for the sake of your workers. If everything looks cheap or lackluster, employees will either believe you don’t care, or don’t have the resources, to do things better. If you’ve got professional photos, then they see that you value their business, and transitively, them.

Macro Photograph of the inside of a computer hard disk drive.

A Glimpse At The Future

A final reason to maintain professional photography in your regular operations regards remaining cutting edge. New means of photo capture and utility are being developed with regularity, and may come in handy down the line.

At photomodeler.com, you can find some very interesting solutions in terms of photography technology that can help you take professional photography to the next level; according to the site, “Using multiple photographs, we can compute the position of a point in 3D space by simple geometry…”

There are diverse uses for such tech, and they can be properly impactful to your business in facilitating the points outlined earlier, and in more dynamically exploiting photography.

 

International Color Awards – 11th Annual Edition

We picked up a couple of Honorable Mentions in the recent 11th Annual International Color Awards! This years specs were 5,642 entries were received from 73 countries! There is a slew of amazing imagery in this years gallery of winners. Head over here to check out the various galleries. Our wins were for Advertising for an image we did as part of a campaign for Lowe’s Home Improvement, and also in Wildlife for a personal portrait of one of my amazing rescue pups, Azzurro. This image was also featured in the “Something Personal” Exhibition for APA San Francisco and will also be included in this years “Off the Clock” Exhibition for APA Los Angeles (opening gala – Saturday April 21, 2018, 7:00pm – Free Event – Register Here!)

Photograph of an empty wall where photos use to hang showing that the paint has faded over time.

“The photos are moving with us. Not the Wall” © Dana Hursey Photography

Portrait of a white Siberian Husky / Samoyed mixed dog looking straight into camera

Azzurro © Dana Hursey Photography

 

Silliness on Set…

When we went to North Carolina to shoot a campaign for Lowe’s Home Improvement, most of us involved with the production were meeting each other in person for the first time. We were gong to be spending some long days together and while you can usually get a sense of peoples personalities over the phone, there is still the “unknown” factor when you come face to face, in close quarters, for extended periods of time.

The campaign called for doing 8 sets at a large production facility outside of Charlotte, NC, near Lowe’s corporate headquarters. When we first arrived we scouted the facility and scoped out a cozy corner of the massive complex were we had the luxury of a lot of space to be able to have 5 sets going simultaneously.. another set was slated to be created out in a garage on the complex grounds, while we would float in a simple flat for the 7th set and repurpose one of the original 5 sets for our final shot.

After surveying what would be our home for the next week, we roughed in a few camera angles, refined lighting visions with the crew, discussed how best to fine tune the sets that would be built, did a show and tell with the set stylist, and one with the wardrobe stylist.

Time to eat!

With less than a half day of interaction with the whole creative team, it was clear this was going to be fun. But really, when isn’t it?

On the second to last day of the shoot, we were doing a bathroom scene. The concept was that it was time for a face-lift as the bathroom in question had not seen the outside world since the 1970’s. The original layouts were skewed more towards a 1940’s bathroom but after a couple creative calls we all agreed 70’s would be way more groovy.

Joel Sarvis, our set stylist, had a heyday pulling together all of the various elements so make the bathroom sing.

The client? Totally supportive in letting us do what we do best! There were times where we would say to each other “Is this too over the top?” We’d look to the client and they would just shake their heads, shrug their shoulders and then put their hand out to us and say “Do what you think is best”.  :-O    (We LOVE when that happens!)

So we put the finishing touches on the set and captured the final approved image towards the end of the day. As we strike for the evening, Joel (set stylist) comes up and asks, could we leave the set up until the morning? “I would like to take a picture of myself in it, but want to wear something different than what I have on now.”… “No Problem!” We not only left the set but went ahead and left all the lighting in position as it would take no time to move to the next set in the morning (it was right behind us).

The next morning we get in and there is Joel dressed in 70’s garb, COLOR MATCHED to the set! PERFECT! He posed with his gold aviators, a glass of O.J., brushed his teeth with cigarette in hand, we were all laughing and having great fun..Then the Creative Director and I looked at each other knowing we had the same idea at the same time… “Joel.. one more shot….”

I love when projects allow you to churn out a great product, make the client happy, get to know a bunch of new people AND still leave time for a little levity.

Photograph of a man in a 1970's decorated bathroom with gaudy wallpaper and orange and gold accents standing in front of a toilet peeing with cigarette in hand.

“Joel… one more shot…”

Photograph of a1970's decorated bathroom with gaudy wallpaper and orange and gold accents. for Lowe's Home Improvement.

Approved shot

Photograph of a1970's decorated bathroom with gaudy wallpaper and orange and gold accents. for Lowe's Home Improvement.

Lowe’s final Ad

BTS Photo of the creative team

BTS Photo of the creative team.

Think Thin…

We recently shot a new campaign for Think Thin in which they introduce Grace and Mia. Two BFF’s that always have each other’s back. Think Thin has a wide array of heathy products and Grace and Mia had to try them all, so consequently we were in the studio for a long day to ensure we captured every bite. It was, as you can imagine, filled with a lot of shenanigans and hysterics. So now that the campaign has launched we are happy to share the fun with you. But you’ll have to run out and buy your own if you want the full sensory experience!

2017 International Color Awards…

Our image, “Let Your Voice Be Heard“, won an Honorable Mention in this years International Color Awards in the Professional Advertising category. We also had some of our images nominated in the Food, Portrait, and Architecture categories. This is always such a fun show to be a part of, due to its broad reach (entries from 75 countries)  and notable jurists, not to mention all the great imagery to peruse…

Photo of a mouse on a stool, speaking into a megaphone.

Let Your Voice Be Heard!

Cup Noodles…

Image of man slurping Cup Noodles
images of people slurping Cup Noodles
Okay, so you HAVE to know that casting and shooting this project for Cup Noodles was, well,… humorous to say the least! We had to cast three talent, and by the end of the day, the double entendre’s were flying. You see, we had to be sure that each talent was capable of well… slurping noodles! So at the end of a full day of seeing a couple hundred people and repeatedly telling them to “suck”, and then “suck harder!”…. we’ll I think you can let your imagination run with that, and probably still not approach the 4:30pm punchy hilarity of it all…

The shoot itself? Just more of the same… laughs, winks, and a fun finished product. Everyone played along and had a great time. So check out these new ads for a classic product!

Check out the animated banners too!

Here

Here

Here

and Here!

Creative once again by the talented folks at High Wide & Handsome.

Now go get some Cup Noodles!!!

Carlos Mendez Roca…

One of the things I love most about what I do is the variety. One day we could be photographing quirky humorous images with the new cameras in 2017 in North Carolina for Lowe’s, the next could be nitro cold brewed coffee for The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf in Los Angeles. Recently we were commissioned to create imagery for an exclusive boutique architectural and interior design firm in San Francisco. Part of the project was shooting portraits of the creatives that make up the firm. Rather than shooting the traditional “head shots” that adorn so may web sites and corporate brochures, we wanted to do something that was more iconic and spoke to the personality of the firm. We shot the images with the intent of using them in a black & white form, mimicking the graphic tone taken by the designers. However, after returning to the studio in Los Angeles and starting to play with the imagery from the shoot, I kept going back to the same frame of one of the principal’s, and I kept reverting it back to color. I worked a few different interpretations of the file, but after several hours of experimenting I found myself returning to the same visual direction… and what I was drawn to was an image that I felt had a classic, almost retro 1920’s/1930’s feel. It was and still is my favorite image from the session…

Portrait of Carlos Mendez Roca by Photographer Dana Hursey

Carlos Mendez Roca – © 2016 Dana Hursey Photography

New Work with Dean’s Dip…

We recently finished another campaign with one of our favorite agencies and favorite clients, High Wide & Handsome & Dean’s Dip (respectively). We always have a blast on these projects! Casting is always hysterical, and then it only becomes more fun as we get on set. You can check out some behind the scenes footage here. Thanks to everyone who contributes to make these productions sing!:

Arpen Productions
Eastside Studios – Casting
Jacob Rushing
Dillon Padgette
Zac Hardy Capture
Chris Monberg – BTS
Stephanie Greenleigh – Food Styling
Stacy Quackenbush – Wardrobe & Props
Stephanie Daniel – Hair & Makeup
and the rest of our amazing crew…

Below are a few samples of the finished work.

Photograph of man dipping a pizza crust into a tub of Dean's Dip Photograph of woman topping a baked potato with Dean's Dip Photograph of woman dipping a turkey leg into a tub of Dean's Dip

        
        
        

International Photography Awards 2016 (IPA’s)…

We are thrilled to announce (as we were just informed) that two of our images were awarded Honorable Mentions in this years International Photography Awards (IPA’s)!

With over 17,000 entries from 162 countries it is always an honor to be included in such a distinguished community of talented visual artists.

I love what I do, and genuinely love the amazing people I get to do it with. Every shot is always a team effort and I have been amazingly fortunate to be able to work with a generous and brilliant team.

Check out all the amazing imagery that is honored this year: IPA’s

Portrait of Man against Pink Background

Pondering Pink – Honorable Mention 2016 IPA’s – Advertising: Self Promotion

Photograph of a cocktail glass filled with punch.

Bubbling Pineapple Punch – Honorable Mention 2016 IPA’s – Advertising: Food

Benji is Back!!!

Remember back in the mid to late 70’s when wallabies, chocolate-brown corduroys and a yellow and orange stripped t-shirt were very likely to be your wardrobe? Well during that time there was a string of feel good movies that were all the rage staring and adorable pooch whose character name was… Benji…

Benji was a rescued mutt that went on to become world-famous through a string of films and TV specials.

Flash forward 40 years and Benji is Back! A few months ago we shared that we were on a super secret project and now we are finally able to say that Benji was that project. We were selected to shoot the very first pics of the New Benji and here he is…

Photograph of Benji the dog Photograph of Benji the dog on grass.

He is back with upcoming projects so check him out at Benji.com to keep up with all that he is doing.

You can also connect with Benji on his Facebook Page, on Twitter, and on Instagram.

We’re hoping to work a lot more with this adorable dog and his team as the day was fun, entertaining and surprisingly laid back for as hard as he worked (with plenty of doggie breaks)!

Creating Imagery for Lowe’s Movers Campaign…

So we recently started shooting imagery for Lowe’s Home Improvement. They have created a fun and humorous campaign revolving around helping people with the process of moving. Whether buying, selling, or renting, there is always a laundry list of things to take care of when you move from one abode to the next. Lowe’s Mover’s Program is meant to support everyone through that process, and we were more than thrilled to be selected to create imagery to humorously introduce people to the program. Here is one of the first images from the new campaign…

Woman peering over hedge through binoculars

These Recipes ROCK!!!….

Last month we did yet another shoot for Darling Magazine. This next issues has a Cuba theme. We shot three recipes:

  • Strawberry Rhubarb Semifreddo with Meringue Drops
  • Rose Wine & Red Currants Granita
  • Matcha n’Ice Cream w/ Pomegranate, Toasted Coconut and Chocolate Drizzle

OH MY GOD! As we shot and finished each set up we sampled the goods, and with each shot we stared bug-eyed at each other with how amazingly good each tasted, one after another, the food stylist, Kara Dykert, saying “Right?!”

I know, I know, I always sing the praises of this magazine and I am partial. But it is a beautifully produced quarterly and I am very proud to be able to contribute on a regular basis.

But if for no other reason than to get your hands on these three recipes, you NEED to get this issue! It hits the stands on the 15th.

Photo of Strawberry Rhubarb Semifreddo with Meringue Drops

Photo of Rose Wine & Red Currants Granita

Photo of Matcha n’Ice Cream w/ Pomegranate, Toasted Coconut and Chocolate Drizzle

 

Darling Issue 16 Cover

APA/LA Off The Clock Exhibition…

This Saturday is APA/LA‘s big annual exhibition called “Off The Clock“. It is a curated show of personal work from professional photographers from Los Angeles and across the country. This year the curator was Julie Grahame and she has put together a fantastic show of 100 images with wide-ranging perspectives. The Gala will be this Saturday night at Santa Monica Art Studios from 7:00pm to 10:00pm. This is part of MOPLA which is an annual event created by the Lucie Foundation to celebrate Photography in Los Angeles. We have two images in the exhibition this year, but the whole show is really what’s worth seeing. You can register here or just show up to share in the excitement of this fun annual event.

Off The Clock Logo

 

9th Annual International Color Awards…

This weekend we picked up an Honorable Mention in the 9th Annual International Color Awards in the Professional Portrait category with our photo of Jamesen Re. With a huge international submission it is quite an honor to be included in such a varied and talented group of artists! I can’t say enough about the amazing family of talented people I work with. On this particular project that would include Stacy Quackenbush on sets & wardrobe,  Stephanie Daniel on Hair & Makeup, and my preferred right hand Jacob Rushing. And of course huge shout out to Jamesen Re for owning it!

Check out our category, but also take the time to check out all the winners at http://www.colorawards.com, there are some really great images to experience!

Photo of Jamesen Re sitting on a Golden Couch

 

International Color Awards

Flying Through Boston (BOS) This Week?…

If you happen to be traveling through Logan International Airport (BOS) this week (March 22-27) check out our life-size imagery in terminals A, B, C & E! This is actually a good execution of taking an existing image and tailoring it to the client’s needs! If you do see it… snap a photo of yourself next to it and we’ll share it!

Photo of a man sitting in an all blue environment, "chilling". Images hanging at BOS

King King

In our last post we shared a couple of images we shot for Style Loves Adventure about some of the hot names in the music/club/festival world. Here is the other shot from the series. This is Mario Melendez, creator of King Kingthe club in Los Angeles..which has unfortunately closed – but who knows what may come next? 😉

You can read more in the SLA Article.

Again, amazing styling by Stacy Quackenbush, Grooming by Stephanie Daniel.

Photograph of Mario Melendez dress as a king.

Do You See Blue or Gold?…

It’s okay to say “Both!” While we have shared these photos in a few select venues, we have not shared the broadly as we were waiting for a few things to happy before we put them out to a wider audience. But now all cats are out of their respective bags so we can safely say… “Hey! Check out these images we shot of Dede Flemming (Co-Creator of Lightning in a Bottle and The Do LaB) and Jamesen Re (Producer / DJ / Entrepreneur)”

There is a third in the series that we’ll share in our next post, but needless to say we had a blast shooting these images for Style Loves Adventure!

Amazing Sets and Wardrobe by: Stacy Quackenbush
Grooming by: Stephanie Daniel

Photo of Dede Flemming dressed in Blue, holding a bottle with lightning inside Photo of Jamesen Re dressed in Gold sitting on a Golden Couch

We Have Issues with Darling Magazine!

And in the latest one you’ll find some great recipes for gelato that we had fun photographing! I’ve said it before, if you have not gotten your hands on an issue of Darling Magazine, you’re missing out! This is a beautifully crafted quarterly that is worth checking out!

Darling Magazine Issue #15 is available now!

Photo spread of gelato recipes.

 

Darling Magazine Cover

PDN – Photo District News

Dana Hursey featured in this month’s PDN “How I Got That Shot”.

We’ve been doing a bunch of interviews lately (did you see the one withe Suzanne Sease?) And we are super excited to be featured in the February issue of PDN! (Photo District News). PDN does a recurring feature called “How I Got That Shot” where they discuss a few images, and what the photographer did in order to achieve them. This month’s edition features our work! It looks at two images we did, one for a highly anticipated SLA (Style Loves Adventure) feature that will be out soon, and highlights the talents of Stacy Quackenbush and Stephanie Daniel.  The other is an image that made it into CA (Communication Arts) and features the set stylings of Oliver Martin, animal stylings of Animal Savvy and retouching magic of Lisa Carney. If you don’t subscribe to Photo District News, check it out on news stands now! The online version will be up in February!

Photo District News (PDN) Article on Los Angeles Photographer Dana Hursey

Darling, It’s Darling Time… Darling.

Okay… We had a LOT of fun with this one! Here are a couple of images from a Recipe Article we did in the Brand New Issue of Darling Magazine. #DarlingIssue14

There were tarps, and deflector boards, and turkey basters (and brooms and vacuums and rags – oh my!). But at the end of it all we had some dynamic shots and eventually a clean studio.

Go get the latest issue and enjoy the recipes and all of the great articles in this finely crafted magazine!

Photo of milk being poured onto a stack of cookies

Photo of a cake on a platter with ingredients raining down on it.

Cover of Darling Magazine - Issue 14

2015 International Photography Awards – The IPA’s…

We are thrilled to again be included with such an amazing collection of supremely talented photographers, in this years International Photography Awards (IPA’s). We were tapped with Three Honorable Mentions, in:

  • Professional: Advertising, Food
  • Professional: Fine Art, Other
  • Professional: Special, Night Photography

Check out all of the Honorees at IPA Awards.

The Alphabet as represented by Food Items

Professional: Advertising, Food

Photo of Salad Ingredients suspended in air against a black background

Professional: Fine Art, Other

Nighttime Photograph of The City of Arts and Sciences Complex in Valencia Spain

Professional: Special, Night Photography

The Photo Estimate Checklist…

Photo of a hand holding a pen filling out a form.

Over the years I have had a variety of solutions to try to support the process of asking all the right questions one must ask in order to put together a proper estimate. For a long time I had used a form I created in Microsoft Office that had space for most of the pertinent information. I would print up a stack and have them sitting next to the phone ready to go. A few years ago in my effort to be “paperless” I incorporated that information into my CRM (Daylite) as an embedded form I could pull up and fill out as I was talking to someone. But inevitably there would be questions I would ask that the client had not thought about, or did not have the answer to, and they would have to go away and talk to the other parties involved, in order to obtain the answers and “get back to me later”. There is no one size fits all solution, as each shoot has its own unique factors to take into account. But for me with the types of projects I shoot, there are some basic questions that go a long way to getting most of the needed information for any given project, and from there it is usually a simple email with one or two follow-up questions that get us the rest of the details needed in order to provide our clients with a spot-on estimate.

Recently I decided to create an online questionnaire that addressed the common key points and was readily available to my clients so that they could more efficiently collect the answers before making the initial request from us for an estimate.  It has been a big hit with my clients and has acted as a checklist for them to make sure they too, are addressing all the needs of their various projects. In addition it has been very helpful to folks who are new to the process and don’t even know the questions to ask in order to start visualizing how a production will be put together.

This week we took it one step further and incorporated the online version into an editable pdf, that can be emailed to someone to work on over time rather than having to do it all in one fell swoop online. So we thought we would go ahead and share it. Granted this Estimate Request Form is very much geared to our particular workflow and shooting style. If we shot Architecture or Sheet Metal (automotive) this form would probably look very different. But hey… whats to stop those who do, from taking this and moulding it to their own specialty or workflow?

We also hope this will be helpful to Art Buyers / Producers or Creatives to gather all the details they might want to relay to us in their RFP’s.

Again every unique project will usually require a couple follow-up communications, but for us, this goes a long way to eliminating the MULTIPLE “just one more question for you…”‘s as well as helping to educate those who may be doing this for the first time.

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Photography Licensing & Work for Hire – A Cautionary Tale…

Photo of a man on the phone, shot from behind grabbing his head in frustration.This week we did an estimate for an agency for a one day location shoot here in Los Angeles. The agency was from out-of-state and was coming to L.A. for our broader selection of location options. Their first point of contact was through our website where they used our new “Estimate Request Form“. (I will share more on that in another post.) The form has very specific call-outs for the various types of licensing options available.

Maybe I should back up and address licensing first. For the most part, “Licensing” is how most advertising photographers make money from our imagery. We get paid for photographing something based on how, when, and where the image is going to be used. The more exposure it gets, the more inherent value it has. For instance if I photograph a sprinkler head on a white background for Bob’s Plumbing down the street and it is going to appear in a one time advertisement in the local PennySaver, I am not going to charge Bob the same price for that simple shot as I am going to charge Coca-Cola for a shot of Beyoncé holding up a Coke can sitting on the shoulders of football players surrounded by swooning fans shot in a football stadium with fireworks exploding behind her that will be used all season in magazines and on billboards culminating in a Super Bowl campaign. The second photograph has a bit more inherent value.

The image on the left is going is more likely to have more inherent value as well as higher production costs, than the image on the right.

The image on the left is more likely to have more inherent value as well as higher production costs, than the image on the right.

As a general rule, most licensing is for a year. Meaning the client can use the imagery in the agreed upon media venues (i.e. Print Advertising, Internet, Billboards, Broadcast, Point of Purchase, etc.) for 12 months. If the image is not time sensitive, many advertisers will opt to license images for longer periods, 2 years, 3 years, 5 years, and some even licenses  images “in perpetuity” meaning they can use them forever. This all gets spelled out during the initial estimating process. The advertiser or ad agency will indicate their desired media,  length of time, region (i.e. local, national, worldwide etc.) and whether or not they want exclusive usage of the imagery (meaning the images cannot be used elsewhere, if they want exclusivity), and from that the photographer will negotiate an appropriate fee, based on these parameters, certainly also taking into account the complexity of the project and what it will take to produce the final image(s).

As I have discussed in previous posts, as a photographer, when you snap a photo you are instantly and legally the owner / author / copyright holder of that image… without doing anything additional. From there, you are now able to license your image to others to use per negotiated or agreed upon terms. In the advertising photography industry there are three general licensing models…

  1. Use in a specified media & region for a specified time.
  2. Unlimited / Unrestricted Usage.
  3. Buy Out.

Let’s take a look…

Specified Media, Region, & Time: The first is the most common. The advertiser / end-user wants to use the image in a specific media, in a specific region, for a specific amount of time. For instance; a bathing suit manufacturer wants to use a photo of a model wearing their latest creation in magazine advertisements and on their packaging for one year (because next year they will have a new & different style),only in the United States (they don’t have any foreign distributors so they don’t sell outside the U.S.). Variations on this theme are endless.

Unlimited / Unrestricted: The second is becoming much more common these days. The advertiser / end-user wants the flexibility to use the images whenever and wherever they want. They don’t want to have to worry if the license period is about to expire or expose themselves if someone in the company inadvertently uses it in a media that was not part of the original licensing agreement. So this licensing allows them to use the images however they want… forever. BUT the photographer still owns the images and holds the copyright. The end-user is NOT allowed to re-sell or re-license the images to a third-party. They can ONLY use the images for the brand that they were originally licensed for. This licensing model is going to be more expensive to the end-user. Rule of thumb? …The photo fee will most likely be double / triple that of a one year license.

Buy Out: The third is the least common. In this licensing model, the actual ownership and copyright of the imagery is transferred to the advertiser / end-user. With this, they truly can do whatever they want with the image, including re-selling or re-licensing it to other parties. There is rarely a real need for this type of licensing and with the photographer giving up all rights to the image, it will normally come with a premium price tag, usually 3x to 5x that of a one year license.

All of that being said, let’s get back to the tale at hand. So we received a request for an estimate for this upcoming L.A. based shoot. In the estimate request the agency ticked off the specific licenses that they wanted. The same licensing model was spelled out in subsequent email communications… Unlimited, Worldwide, Perpetual use. For all intents and purposes “Unlimited / Unrestricted Usage”. The client had a budget in mind which they shared with us. There was no way we could produce the job for the budget they specified, but we assured them we would do our utmost to be mean & lean with our production so as to get as close to that number as we possibly could. With that in mind and this being a new client we were very generous (read “low”) with our fees so as to accommodate the client as much as possible, while still giving them the unlimited / unrestricted usage they were asking for. We put together our estimate and packaged it up with a “treatment” (a multi-page document laying out our vision for the project and how we’d approach it, including sample imagery) and sent it off to the agency. After a couple of days of back and forth refinements (giving the agency options to present to the client) we were awarded the job. YAY!

During the “back and forth” things were looking hopeful, as they were setting me up as a vendor, and getting all the paperwork in order, so we held the prospective dates for production and started to line up crew and locations.

Once we were awarded the project we were told that a P.O. (Purchase Order) would follow later that day. Purchase orders are generally a simple formality but are an important part of the process if your agency or client uses them. Most P.O.’s are very basic and if they have any terms & conditions on them, they are usually just your normal boilerplate text. Later that day we received the promised P.O., and as I started to follow the instructions for submitting our advance invoice (we always get an advance on each project up front to cover the expenses incurred during production – our advances are either 50% of the total invoice or 75% of expenses, whichever is higher) I wandered into the Terms and Conditions section of the P.O. … and there it was… Really?….. REALLY?! Could this be true? Does this still really go on?… The P.O. Terms and Conditions indicated that anything created for this project would be considered “Work for Hire”! What’s “work for hire” you ask? Wikipedia does it justice. Basically the P.O. was saying that I was signing away any and all rights to the imagery I would produce. Uuuummmm No I’m Not! First and foremost that is NOT the licensing model I was asked to estimate. And secondly, No I’m Not!

Work for Hire Text

This is something one might see in a “Work for Hire” agreement.

In reality it is not a licensing model at all. Rather, it is a legal exception to the fact that the person who creates something is its author / owner. Negating the copyright one would normally have automatically when creating a photograph.

Seeing this in a P.O. in 2015 was surprising to say the least. I had truly thought these things were a relic of the past. That aside if the agency wanted to own the imagery, first have the decency to call it what it is .. a Buy Out. Don’t ask for an Unlimited / Unrestricted Usage and then hope that the fine print gets overlooked. I understand that this is the easy way to C.Y.A. in these litigious times. But we are a small community and really are all on the same side. Trying to provide compelling, great quality imagery for clients to help sell their brand and products.

I subsequently addressed the issue with the agency. Indicating that the T&C on the P.O. are not the same as the Licensing we negotiate and agreed to in our estimate, for which the job was ultimately awarded to us. I offered to strike the “work for hire” clause in the P.O. and proceed, or alternately renegotiate the licensing fees for an Unlimited / Unrestricted usage. The agency refused any alterations to the P.O..

There were other “red flags” that had popped up during the process but I had taken them with a grain of salt and shrugged my shoulders, saying, not a big deal, we’ll work through “that”. But with this change of licensing after the fact and in taking a step back and looking at the project as a whole, it was starting to look like there were too many red flags. Ultimately I had to walk away from the project. Which was too bad as we were going to produce some really great imagery for this client.

There is nothing illegal about work for hire and I completely get how it can be the easiest course of action to protect oneself when it comes to the convoluted world of intellectual property. My issue in this case was the lack or transparency upfront during the estimating process. Would I ever do work for hire? Hard to say… I haven’t yet. It has always made me feel “icky”. But I will say that I will never do it without knowing UP FRONT.

The morals of the story is:

  1. Make sure to always get a signed estimate or P.O. before starting production.
  2. Of course, always read the blocks of fine print, no matter how long… I know… 🙁
  3. Be upfront, honest, and transparent.
  4. Don’t do “work for hire” if it makes you feel “icky”, you won’t be alone. (if you have to, make sure you charge appropriately – we all have to make a living!)

I am an advocate for elevating quality in advertising photography, both in its visual execution, and in the business and production of all that surrounds that execution. The more advocates there are, the higher the elevation will be, and the faster it will occur! Then we can just focus on what’s important; making great imagery for our clients.

Photo of classic Mercedes Benz driving across a bridge

Brand Name and Production Costs have a lot to do with an image’s value.

Yogurtland…

 

A photograph of a cup of Yogurtland Strawberry Yogurt

We recently helped out the folks at Yogurtland and Amusement Park create their new campaign called “Top This!”, encouraging  patrons to create their own towering masterpieces. It was of course a delicious day and we had a blast exploring all kinds of delectable combinations. From the Whimsical, to the Decadent, to the Colossal… each was a challenge in its own right. But with speed and stealth (and the food stylings of Nicole Kruzick @ Belly Food Style) we captured some mouth-watering combinations that were a feast for the… well they were a feast. Head over to your nearest Yogurtland and step up to the Ultimate Toppings Challenge! We’ll be keeping an eye out to see who wins!

Photo Of Yogurtland yogurt with all kinds of delicious toppings.

Photo of an extra large cup of Yogurtland yogurt with bountiful toppings.

 

 

WHY That Photo’s Not Free!…

The Alphabet - constructed from food products that start with each respective letter.

Let’s spell it out…

I recently wrote a post on the topic of using images from the web titled “That Photo’s Not Free!…“I touched on copyright issues surrounding the practice of grabbing an image online and using it without permission from (or compensation to) the photographer who created it. After I posted the article and got great response, a colleague of mine offered up the brilliant idea of a follow-up post explaining WHY that photo IS NOT and SHOULD NOT be free.

The first and foremost reason why it SHOULD NOT be free is because once people get the idea in their minds that photos could be free, they soon start to EXPECT them all to be free from now until eternity. This is a difficult place from which to rewind.

Allow me to now lay out the case for why images should not be free, based on the investment we photographers make in both time and money to create valuable assets, assets for which the creator is due compensation. This will of course be from my personal perspective, attempting to illustrate what is necessary to stay current, and maintain a thriving commercial photography studio.

In order to create these assets, we have expenses. But before we get to the nuts and bolts of our associated costs, let’s talk about the foundation on which the photography industry is built. Education.

Some of us do indeed go through 2-4 year programs at accredited universities or community colleges in order to hone our craft. Yet, not everyone goes this traditional route. Some take the apprenticeship approach, learning on the job alongside a professional. Others are self-taught. No matter how the education happens, it involves deep investments of both time and money, and in some cases it can be upwards of hundreds of thousands of dollars and many years. For all of which there is no direct compensation. Education is just one of the many “investments” we make in order to excel at our craft.

I recently read a statement that I love. It was a photographer’s response to a client who took issue with paying what was perceived to be an exorbitant amount of money for a shoot that the photographer was able to accomplish rather quickly. It went something like this: “You are not paying for how long it takes me to do the job. You are paying for the decades of experience which I have accumulated that allows me to do the job at this high level.”

Most professional photographers are people who have invested a significant number of years fine-tuning their skills, developing a style, and refining their voices. This is no small feat and is something that is ONLY compensated (monetarily) when they get a gig or sell an image.

Photo of Cowboys eating take-out Chinese Food

Most professional photographers “Test.” Testing means shooting a project for yourself for the purpose of developing or adding to your portfolio. It is both a form of self-expression and a way to show clients your “personal work.” But who PAYS for the test? The photographer does. This particular test was fairly elaborate and cost thousands of dollars.

Now let’s get into the nitty-gritty… It’s sharing time.

I am going to share my personal gear list with you to demonstrate the kinds of investments a real-life photographer like me has as overhead. Every professional photographer is going to have his or her preferred gear. How much gear depends on the photographer and also the type of work they do. I don’t think I am anywhere near the high-end of the spectrum in regards to how much I own, but I do have a substantial amount of equipment. Keep in mind, this is the equipment I have now and does not reflect all of the equipment that has gone by the wayside over the years which would EASILY double my investment from the list below.

This is my current equipment investment in all its glory. I doubt this list is exhaustive and I encourage others to add their two cents. In fact, I intentionally omitted a lot of small things here and there because otherwise this post would go on almost forever.

PHOTOGRAPHIC EQUIPMENT VALUE
Avenger Super Clamp, Stand Adapter, and Grip Head $75
Avenger 40″ C Stands w/ Grip Head, Ext Arm x 4 @ $175 $700
Bogen Pro Digital Geared Head 405 $350
Calument 42″ Lightdisk Kit $60
Canon EF 100mm 2.8 Macro USM Lens $475
Canon EF 16mm-35mm f2.8 Series II USM AF Lens $1,800
Canon EF 35mm-350mm AF Lens $1,790
Canon EF85mm 1.2L AF USM Lens $1,500
Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III Digital Camera w/extra battery $8,250
Canon EOS 1D X Digital Camera Body $6,799
Canon Extension Tube EF25 $150
Chimera Super Pro Soft Box (Lg) $440
Chimera Super Pro Soft Box (sm) $170
Comet Grid Spot Set (3 grids) $145
Extension Cords – 50′ x 6 @ $35 $210
Gel-Stor Roll-Up $35
Gitzo Performance Rapid GT3340 L Tripod $550
GoPro Hero 3+ Black with extra battery, 2 x 32 GB Micro SD Cards, Multi Grip, Strap Mount, and Gecko Mount $675
Grip Package (various small grip items, A Clamps, Super Clamps, Studs, J-Hooks, etc.) $500
Hasselblad 120mm HC 4.0 Macro Lens $3,400
Hasselblad 28mm HCD 4.0 Lens $3,730
Hasselblad 50-110mm HC 3.5-4.5 Zoom Lens $3,500
Hasselblad 80mm HC 2.8 Lens Included w/ Camera Body
Hasselblad Battery Grip x 2 $420
Hasselblad DC Power Grip $325
Hasselblad H13mm Extension Tube $300
Hasselblad H3D-39II   39MP Camera Body $32,000
Hasselblad Pro Lens Shade V/H 6095 w/ 77mm & 95mm Mount Rings $750
Hassleblad H3D II   39MP Digital Back Included w/ Camera Body
Lensbaby Composer Pro with Canon Mount $300
Lexar High Speed Card Reader $50
Light Stands x 4 @ $45.00 $180
Lightware Strobe Head Case T4444 x 2 @ $365 $730
Lightware 50 Flip Lid Case C5042 $225
Lightware 50 Flip Lid Case C6050 $200
Lightware CARGO 32 CASE $140
Lightware CASE #1420 x 3 $1,025
Lightware MF1015 Camera Bag / Case x 2 @$269.00 $538
Lightware Tool Kit Wallet A8700 $80
Lowepro Pro Roller x200 Camera Bag $325
Magliner Gemini JR Hand Truck w/top shelf $600
Manfrotto 685B Monopod $120
Manfrotto 131DB Side Arm $100
Monitor Tray 13″ with Steadi-Cam Pin for mounting on Magliner $225
Motorola Talkabout two-way radios x 4 $200
Photek Umbrellas x 4 @ $65.00 $260
Photoflex Reflector 52″ $86
Pocket Wizard Radio Slaves x 2 (1 Transmitter / 1 Transceiver) $300
Pocket Wizard Plus III Transceiver $150
Pocket Wizard Plus X Transceiver $84
Profoto 5M Head Extension Cable $260
Profoto Acute / D4 Ring Light 330513 $750
Profoto Acute2 / D4 Strobe Head w/Zomm Reflector 2 and Cover $1,150
Profoto Acute2 / D4 Strobe Head w/Zomm Reflector 2 and Cover $1,150
Profoto Acute2 / D4 Strobe Head w/Reflector and Cover $950
Profoto Acute2 / D4 Strobe Head w/Reflector and Cover $950
Profoto Acute2 / D4 Strobe Head w/Reflector and Cover $950
Profoto Acute2 / D4 Strobe Head w/Reflector and Cover $950
Profoto D4 2400R Strobe Pack $8,250
Profoto D4 2400R Strobe Pack $8,250
Profoto SpeedRing QR $140
Profoto WideSoft Reflector for RingFlash $275
RawWorkFlow WhiBal Pocket & Studio Full Kit Bundle $150
Sand Bags (25 Lb) x 6 @ $35.00 $210
Sandisk Extreme Pro 16GB CF Cards x 3 $500
Sandisk Extreme IV 2 GB CompactFlash Card x 6 @ $125 $750
Sekonic Flash Meter L-358 with RT Module $400
Smarter Tools STGP-9500EB Generator $850
Sony DSC RX1R Camera with extra batter, charger, and 2x32GB SD Cards $3,200
Speedotron Set of 4 7″ Grids $100
Tamrac 332 Tripod Padded Bag $75
Tamrac 603 Zoom Traveler Camera Bag $80
Tamrac Big Wheels Backpack Camera Case (697) $350
Tenba RS-M24 Wheeled Air Case $600
Tiffen 77mm Polarizing Filter $60
Visible Dust Full Size Pro 1.0x Bundle $200
Wescott 3515 Speed Ring $45
Wescott 4830 16×22 Soft Box $130
Wescott 7′ Parabolic Umbrella with Diffuser $125
Wescott 47″ Zepplin Parabolic with Profoto Bracket and diffuser plate $750
Westcott 42 x 72 Scrim Jim Kit (1893) $250
Sub Total / Photo Equipment $107,867
COMPUTER EQUIPMENT – Stationary
Advent Powered Speakers (x2) AV 570/570G $290
AirPort Extreme 802.11n Base Station $200
AirPort Extreme 802.11n Base Station $200
AirPort Extreme Base Station $200
APC Battery Backup XS 1500 $150
APC Battery Backup BN700MC $125
APC Battery Backup Pro 1000 $150
Apple 27″ Thunderbolt Display $1,000
Apple 27″ Thunderbolt Display $1,000
Apple iMac 27″ 3.4GHz Intel Quad Core i7, 16GB Ram, 2TB HD + 256GB SSHD, Radeon 6970M Graphics, Apple Care,Creature Speakers $3,500
Apple Mac Pro 2.7GHz 12-Core, 1TB SSHD, 32GB Ram, Dual D700 GPU, Apple Care $9,335
Cabling $750
Epson Photo Stylus R2880 w/ extra ink cartridges $1,000
Epson Stylus Pro 7800 w/8 220mml ink cartridges $4,000
Eye One Pro Spectrometer and Print Matching System $1,400
Areca ARC-8050 Thunderbolt Drive Enclosure $1,500
hp LaserJet M1522nf $500
Innovative 7500 Deluxe LCD Monitor Arm – Heavy Duty LCD Mount $300
Lacie 3TB USB 3.0 Drive $160
LaCie Rugged 1 TB Thunderbolt Drive x 3 $600
Lexar FireWire Compact FlashCard Reader $50
MGBurly8PM – Burly 8 Bay Drive Enclosure w/Port Multiplier $1,050
Seagate Barracuda Internal Drives 1TB x 12 & 2TB x 2 & 3TB x 9 $3,500
Software & Storage Media $5,000
OWC Mercury Pro Dual Drive Enclosure $300
Wacom Intuos 4 Large Tablet $500
Sub Total / Computer Equipment – Stationary $36,760
COMPUTER EQUIPMENT – Mobile
Apple iPad Air 32GB, Extra Cables, Smart Cover, and Case $850
Apple 15″ MacBook Pro 2.2GHz Intel i7 Quad Core 8GB RAM 256GB SSHD, Super Drive, HR Display w/ Apple Care $3,500
Sub Total / Computer Equipment – Mobile $4,350
Grand Total $148,977

Whew!

So far, NOT INCLUDING all of the equipment that has come and gone over the years (Think 4 or 5 film-based camera systems and countless computers.), my investment in my career including my education and equipment stands around a quarter of a million dollars. I guess I better get out there and start getting some jobs through the door! To that end, the next step is to connect with those who would hire me and let them know I exist. And I need to have a body of work to show them that I can indeed deliver. What does that entail? Another list of expenses…

Photo of a mouse speaking into a megaphone

While “Testing” can be a drain on the pocketbook, it can often pay off in exposure. The expenses on this test were minimal (props / set and animal trainer) but they were well worth the investment. This image won a Communication Arts Award and was featured in the CA Photography Annual

Let’s talk about Monthly Expenses…

As my work is evenly split between studio shoots and location shoots, I choose not to incur the overhead of maintaining an actual physical studio. For those who do, you can expect to add $2500 – $5000+ per month in costs.

Here is a list of my on-going expenses broken down to monthly charges (even though some may be paid on an annual basis). I have not included job-related expense because those are generally charged directly to the client (e.g. talent fees, props, wardrobe, hair and make-up, locations, etc.).

Accounting & Legal fees $60
Advertising in At-Edge $665
Advertising in Workbook $575
Yodelist List Service $100
Various other web-based portfolio sites $25
eBlasts & Site tracking $450
Web Hosting / Domain Names $15
Printed Promotional Pieces $100
Competitions $35
Delivery & Postage $36
Professional Organization Dues $32
Software Subscriptions $29
Equipment Maintenance $25
Business Insurance $160
Office Expenses $95
Parking $35 (while showing portfolios etc.)
Telephone $175
Testing & Portfolio Expense $350
Travel (visiting agencies to solicit work) $675

Total = $3637 per month.

Again, this does not include ANYTHING that is related to an actual job. It also does not include employees if you need help around the office. You’ll also notice I did not include things like:

  • Rent / Mortgage
  • Car payments
  • Non-business insurances (auto, home, health, life)
  • Student loans
  • Gasoline
  • Utilities
  • Oh… food!
  • Clothing
  • Recreation / entertainment
  • Providing for a family (What?!)
  • Updated equipment
  • Business Gifts, which I send every year

These are simply “costs of doing business” and I have to pay them whether I work or not! Plus, every few years you need to factor in capital investments for new cameras and computers.

So as a professional photographer, EVERYTHING I have listed above comes out of my own pocket, out of my “photography fee“. So it becomes quite a challenge to stay in business when your “fee” for a photograph is…. ZERO.

Photo of a woman circa 1960 holding a toothbrush and toothpaste as a sales pitch

Shooting personal work is a cost of doing business. As a commercial photographer, you’ve always got to be developing new work to stay fresh in the eyes of your prospective clients. It is a necessary investment of both time and money.

Hey, we photographers are a passionate bunch and we and LOVE what we do. We CELEBRATE the fact that so many people share our passion to take photos, make beautiful imagery, and express themselves. But for the tens of thousands of us who call this our profession and our ONLY source of income, THIS is WHY that photo is not free!

Please, share your thoughts and expenses that I may have missed!

Interview with APA…

American Photographic Artists

APA – American Photographic Artists – is a national organization that supports and advocates for the elevation of industry standards and rights of photographers nationwide. Check out this recent profile they did of me.

 

That Photo’s Not Free!…

Photo of Hulopo'e Bay on the Island of Lana'i

Recently I have had a few clients and friends initiate the conversation about using photographs from the web. You know, just pulling the image off of a site and using it for your own purposes, say a Facebook post, or a blog article, or god forbid, for marketing purposes or even an ad. The average person thinks this is okay, acceptable, not illegal. Some are under the impression that as long as you are not using it for monetary gain, that it is completely allowable. It’s not any of these.

First and foremost let’s be VERY CLEAR about photographic copyright. The moment you snap a photo, it is copyrighted. And that copyright belongs to you… the author of that image. There are a few exceptions -i.e. if you are doing “work for hire” or are under contract where the contract specifically states copyright belongs to a third-party. But aside from specifically called out exceptions, when you take a photo, you are instantly the owner and copyright holder of that image.

Registering with the Copyright Office is not required to establish your copyright but it does give you added remedies should someone violate your copyright. Heather Elder has a great blog post that explores this topic really well.

So back to the title… It is illegal to use a photograph, that is not yours, without first obtaining permission from the author or licensing the image. That being said, there are a lot of photos out there that actually are free to use. One source is WikiMedia Commons, where people post their images with the intent of letting others use them for free. But the point is that you need to be sure that you are allowed to use imagery before you simply copy and post it.

This is not just about the very valid argument that artists make their very real living from creating their art, and by simply taking it and using it you are not just disrespecting them and their craft, you are also, quite literally, stealing from them. No different from walking in their front door while they are not home and taking their computer.  There are also legal ramifications to YOU.

More often than not, if someone sees that you are using one of their images without licensing it or obtaining permission, you will get some form of a “cease and desist” communication, requesting that you immediately stop using the image. BUT should the author choose to, they could pursue legal action and damages. It’s just not worth the risk!

This long-winded preamble brings my to the point of my post… one of the questions asked  was “How do you find out if an image is copyrighted and who the author is?”  The truth is, more often than not, this is difficult to do, but let me give you two ways to start the process. Most professional photographers will embed both their copyright and contact info within their images. I do this to every single one of my images. And if you care about preserving your copyright, you should as well. If you go to my website or to any post on my blog and pull and image off, my info will be embedded. The unfortunate part is that if, rather than “pulling” the image off the website, you do a “screen grab” of it, none of my embedded information is included in the resulting file. This is where the trouble starts. But let’s be optimistic and say you are working with a file that magically still has the embedded info. You can then open that image, either in Photoshop,

  • Open the image in Photoshop
  • Goto: File > File Info…
  • And you will see a tabbed widow:

Photoshop File Info Window

or even a simple application that comes with your operating system (“Preview” for Mac OS, “Photo Viewer” for Windows) and view the file info or IPTC data.

  • Open the File in Preview
  • Goto: Tools > Show Inspector
  • Click on the “i” tab
  • Select the “IPTC” sub-tab

(the operation should be similar in “Photo Viewer”)

Preview Window

IF the author has embedded the info and the image is not a “screen grab” then the information should be there for you.

The more likely scenario will be that these windows will show up empty.. with no info… should this be the case there is another route to pursue. Go to Google Images.

Go to google.com and click on the word “Images” in the upper right corner.

google1

In the resulting window click on the camera icon in the search box.

google2

In the pop-up window click on the “Upload an Image” tab.

google3

Then select “Choose File” and navigate to the image that you have dragged to your computer.  When you select the file, Google will find as many matching instances of that file on the web as it is able to. By investigating the search results you hopefully will be able to find the author of the image.

Whether you find them through the file’s metadata or the Google search, once you track down the author, reach out to them and ask permission to use the image. If you are not using it for commercial purposes, most will let you use it if you attribute the photo to them / give them credit, and link to their site. Hey… it’s free PR and will hopefully drive more traffic to their site! If it is for commercial purposes, try to negotiate an affordable fee that benefits both you AND the author! But don’t be offended if their price is too high… remember it cost them money to produce that fantastic image AND this is how they put food on their table!

If you are unable to track down the author and the image does not come from a site indicating that the image is free to use, DON’T USE IT, just don’t. You would not want someone taking something of yours without your permission. Don’t fall victim to the erroneous concept that just “because it’s on the web, it’s free.”