Check out a new interview entitled:
The Art of the Personal Project: Dana Hursey
by Photo Editor Suzanne Sease:
Check out a new interview entitled:
by Photo Editor Suzanne Sease:
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!
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:
Check out all of the Honorees at IPA Awards.
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.
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.
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…
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!
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:
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.
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!
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.
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.
|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|
|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|
|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|
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…
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
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.)
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:
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.
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!
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,
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.
(the operation should be similar in “Photo Viewer”)
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.
In the resulting window click on the camera icon in the search box.
In the pop-up window click on the “Upload an Image” tab.
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.”
I feel very honored to once again be included as a finalist in the Hasselblad Masters competition. The imagery included in the various categories, as you can imagine, is stunning! And to be part of such a distinguished group is truly humbling. As of today, Public Voting is now open! So check out the galleries and cast you vote for the top three in each section. My selected image is in the “Product” category and is a photo I shot for Darling Magazine – an article about Heirloom L.A.
We recently had a project come through, where we needed to shoot and feature a hamburger. Unfortunately several issues prohibited us from having a food stylist on set for this particular project. Consequently I was a bit disappointed with the outcome. It wasn’t that we didn’t get a nice shot, it’s just that I know how much better it COULD have been had circumstances been a bit different.
So… what did this provide? An Opportunity!! What a perfect chance to talk to one of our favorite food stylists, Stephanie Greenleigh, get a quick critique, but more interestingly get her take on what a good food stylist does and can do for any given project. And maybe get her to share a few trade secrets along the way 😉
First off here is the finished shot that sparked the conversation:
And we might as well show the unretouched shot that came out of the camera as well:
Stephanie and I have worked together on many occasions. Most recently we did a shoot for Dean’s Dip where she crafted, well…, some perfect burgers!
Let’s dig in…
DHP: Looking at the shot we ended up with, what did they do right?
SG: They captured a realistic looking burger with “appetite appeal” in a natural setting.
DHP: What did they do wrong? / What would you do differently?
SG: I would have constructed the burger differently by building in more symmetry and stair-stepping the ingredients. I probably would have chosen a lettuce leaf that was more graceful and interesting. The top bun could have been a better fit. Redo on the cheese melt.
DHP: What is the most difficult part about styling a burger?
SG: It’s all tough. Finding the right hamburger buns, building the sandwich structure, melting the cheese and applying the condiments at the last-minute on-set. You can imagine how difficult it is keeping the lettuce and tomatoes fresh and spritzed, while melting the cheese and heating the patty!
DHP: What does a food stylist “bring to the table” in situations like these?
SG: Experience. Stylists are used to dealing with constraints (product, layout, location, etc.) —and of then of course being able to meet client needs. Also, a good sense of timing, the right tools and patience.
DHP: Are there things you CAN’T do (i.e. legally) when shooting a burger that is actually the product? And, what if anything is different if the burger is NOT the product but rather just a prop?
SG: When the product is the actual burger, you must use the client-supplied meat, and depending on the client, the buns and cheese. Most fresh ingredients and condiments can be store-bought (with the exception of proprietary sauces).
When food is featured as a prop (i.e., not the product being sold), the sky’s the limit. You can even substitute dark turkey meat for hamburger meat, and use fake pickle chips.
DHP: What is the most important tool in your styling kit
SG: Without a doubt my long-handled tweezers. Ninety percent of the time spent on set is moving around small items without disturbing other ingredients —it’s a game of pick-up-sticks.
DHP: Is there a “secret” you are willing to share that would make this or any other food product “sing”
SG: I’m not sure this is a secret, but I would lightly brush the top bun with a small amount of oil to give it a nice sheen and look hot, and hollow out the top of the bun so that its “sits” comfortably on the top of the burger. As a final touch, I would spritz the lettuce and tomatoes with a small amount of glycerin and water to enhance the look of freshness.
DHP: How did you get started in this industry?
SG: I studied design and art history in college while running a restaurant.
My first job out of school was in textile design, which eventually led me to start a children’s clothing line.
This kind of crazy, eclectic background turned out to be a good resume for a stylist. After assisting established food stylists in the field for a couple of years, I put together a portfolio of my work and starting calling on photographers. I was lucky, my first project was a cookbook which helped expand my portfolio and gave me experience styling a variety of food —everything from appetizers to desserts.
DHP: Advice for anyone thinking about food styling as a career?
SG: Make sure your personality is compatible with working on set. I’ve seen a lot of people coming from a culinary background who are used to a fast-paced environment. Food photography is different; it’s a “hurry up and wait” environment. Styling a bowl of cereal may take up to 4 hours, with stakeholders asking you to move a cereal flake over 1/32nd of an inch. There’s a lot of patience involved.
DHP: What is the biggest misconception about Food Stylists?
SG: That we are magicians with secret potions.
DHP: What is involved in prepping for a job from your end?
SG: It starts with a shopping list which evolves as the pre-production layouts/boards are finalized. There are many trips to the grocery store. Some items can be purchased a couple of days ahead, others immediately before the shoot.
On the Dean’s Dip shoot, we needed to determine the exact size of the finished burger. The ad’s story was that this container was large enough to dip an entire burger into it. The challenge was that the talent needed to be able to comfortably place the burger in the container and yet it still had to be large enough to emphasize the story.
The first step was finding the perfect bun that was also the correct size – not easy! After two days of constant searching we ended up having the buns custom-made. We then had to determine the size of the patties so that they would fit the bun properly. We experimented with the type of hamburger meat, what diameter to shape the patty to allow for shrinkage after the patty was cooked and the best cooking method to brown the meat consistently.
The tomatoes and onion were cut to size and the pickles sorted. All food and equipment was properly stored and packed, making sure everything was ready to go for an early morning call time the next day.
DHP: What questions are you sure to ask before starting production?
SG: I ask to see the updated layouts/boards, how many shots per day and will talent be involved?
Does the client have a particular way that they’d like to see to product portrayed?
Will the client supply the product? If so, how much will be sent.
What is the budget?
DHP: Budgets are tight everywhere today… I know the answer to this, but can you explain from your perspective why it is worth the additional expense to have a food stylist on set?
SG: A chef’s main concern is that the food tastes good, a stylist’s concern is that it looks good.
Food is generally prepared differently for the camera —we focus on preserving and enhancing its shape, color and texture.
We also understand layouts and camera angles which can be tricky for someone not used to considering these constraints, and how these things ultimately will determine how the food is presented.
We also understand the photo shoot process and what our role is within the photo team to produce a successful shoot.
DHP: What can a client or photographer do to elevate the aesthetic when a Stylist is simply not an option?
SG: I would imagine the photographer and client need to have a clear vision of how they would like to see the food prepared and a shared aesthetic sense.
DHP: What do you want people to know about you / your profession?
SG: It’s a creative and rewarding profession, but not always glamorous. There’s a lot of schlepping and dishwashing involved.
Stephanie is an AMAZING food stylist and you can see more of her work on her website: http://www.sgreenleigh.com
And you can see us both in action in this Behind the Scenes Video from the shoot!
So! The latest edition of Darling Magazine is hot off the press! In this issue we had a little fun photographing molecular structures made from the fruit in which the structure is most common. It was a fun play on concept and color. We shot the fruit on glass floating above a complimentary color, did a few tweaks in post, and came up with some great vibrant and graphic images! It will be interesting to read the accompanying article!
But wait! There’s More! This quarter Darling is offering a $5 off promotion! Goto: shop.darlingmagazine.org and enter promo code ISSUE12CONTRIBUTOR (that’s me!) to get your discount. If you have not seen Darling Magazine, you should! It is a super high quality “art magazine” with unique and engaging articles centered around “the art of being a woman” (their tagline).
So here are a few more images from our recent cookbook project. We tried to use as much natural light as possible, with a few accents of course. The theme of these shots were soup’s, and congee bowls. While we have pretty much wrapped this project , we have just started yet another cookbook, so hopefully we’ll be able to share some of that imagery with you later this year. Thanks again to Nicole Kruzick of Belly Food Style for making everything look so yummy!
We have been working on a variety of projects lately that have been a bit “hush-hush”, one of them is a cookbook. While we are not able to say anything about the cookbook itself, we ARE able to share some of the images we have done for it! We’ll post a few today and some more next week, but the shoot has gone super smoothly and we are pretty pleased with the finished images… styled by the lovely Nicole Kruzick / Belly Food Style.
We just wrapped another project with the great folks at High Wide & Handsome. This time it was for Rosatello Wines. It was a fun project to be a part of as we were producing the print portion of a multimedia campaign. We actually do this a lot, working in tandem with a film crew to make the most efficient use of talent, location, and crew. While it would seem that it might be chaotic, the production was smooth and easy, and given that we had to produce a print ad and a 30 second spot in one day, that is saying something! The key is working TOGETHER. Having done this many times before, I have certainly seen my share of crews working against each other, which has never made sense to me. We are working for the same client and most of the time through the same agency.. all headed toward the same goal. So to have anything other than a mutually supportive attitude is counter productive. But I digress… THIS set was easy, relaxed, super productive and lighthearted! The clients even got into the spirit … which is always Fun!
(I LOVE when clients have have a blast on set!)
We’ve recently started working with the folks at The Habit Burger Grill. Our projects have been very early morning productions as we are shooting in actual restaurant locations and we have to get everything done and be wrapped out in time for them to open for lunch. We have mostly been shooting new menu items, so we get to check out their latest offerings right as they are introduced. The weird part is having your mouth water for a juicy burger at 8:30 in the morning! Hop over to your local Habit and see what’s new on the menu! (it will probably be one of our photos!)
We have had the great fortune to work with the amazing folks at Darling Magazine for the past year! In the latest Issue that released this week we have three spreads! One article is on Spring Salads and share three delectable recipes. The other is about Pencils of Promise, a charitable organization striving to ensure a quality education for all children regardless of where they are born. Check out these articles and all the other great features in the latest issue of Darling Magazine!
The latest issue of Darling Magazine is out and we have two feature articles in this issue! The first is on cookies and we shot some beautifully hand decorated cookies by Bethany Wiseman of Batch Please Cookies. Bethany does intricate custom cookies that you would be more likely to want to frame than eat (but they’re so tasty you have to eat them too!) It’s like having art in your tummy! There are five delicious recipes that accompany the article, so that should be incentive enough to seek out this issue!
The second article is on canning / preserving. This article had a little mix of everything… a little fashion, a little beauty, a little humor, a little food.. and again… Recipes to be had!
Check out both articles in Issue No.10 of Darling Magazine. And Look for us in Issue No.11 as well!
Now what you ask? ENJOY!
That is what we are about to do… take a little time off, sit back, relax and feast. We have much to be thankful for and we’re going to take the opportunity to do so and share it with friends and family! We hope your Thanksgiving Holiday is filled with Family, Friends, Love, and Sharing! See ya on the other side, just in time for the NEXT holiday! Happy Thanksgiving!
Wow! Just Wow! What a whirlwind! It feels like we were just here! Well, no sense in fighting it, and there’s never a bad time to be thankful! So as we push headlong into this holiday season we hope that you have plenty to be thankful for and that you are able to take some time to reflect on the good and brush away anything that’s not! But don’t relax too much! The year is not over yet! There is still much to do and plenty of time to do it! So enjoy THIS holiday and keep the spirit!
We received a couple of Honorable Mentions in this years IPA’s (International Photography Awards)! It is always so great to be included with such a distinguish group of professionals and we love the winning imagery this year! So much talent out there! Thanks so much to the judges for including two of our images in the mix!
Toshiba knows this. The great team at LehmanMillet asked us to help them illustrate that fact in our latest photo shoot. This new campaign, directed at the medical industry, is geared towards making sure that the professionals that use Toshiba Medical Products know that Toshiba is listening to them and incorporating their input! In a simple and graphic way we represented the various constituencies that utilize Toshiba products and “Gave Them a Voice”!
Here is the third ad from our recent shoot for Dean’s Dip with High, Wide & Handsome. This image was a bit of a challenge as it was shot on location in Los Angeles at the height of summer (it was literally one of the hottest days of the year) and in the midst of our lovely drought. The responsible homeowners of the cool (looking, not temperature) location we were shooting at had pulled back on their watering so as to conserve. That however made for some unfortunately yellow grass and background. What came to the rescue was the extensive background library we keep in-house. I am ALWAYS shooting grass, skies, and textures of all types so as to have a healthy arsenal for just such circumstances. We had been shooting into some bamboo that was fairly burnt on the tips and of course the grass was none-to-happy either. So instead we ended up stripping in some heathy Ficus and dropping in a bit of grass from Versailles, no… really! That is royal French grass you’re looking at! So if you see me out there pointing my camera at what looks like nothing, it’s probably something… like grass.
As the new campaign rolls out, here is another image from out recent shoot for Dean’s Dip. We shot the whole campaign at a really cool mid-century modern home in Pacific Palisades, CA. It gave us some great variety for living room, kitchen and outdoor spaces. In addition to a great client and agency (see our last post) we had a great crew, including Arpen Productions, Stacy Quackenbush on prop & wardrobe styling, Stephanie Daniel on hair & make-up and Stephanie Greenleigh doing food styling! All simply Amazing!
We recently completed a project for Dean’s Dip and the campaign has just launched. It was two fun-filled days of wacky and over the top expressions to illustrate how some folks are SERIOUS about their dipping! We got the opportunity to work with the great creatives over at L.A. based High, Wide & Handsome as well as the wonderful folks at Dean’s Dip. The whole project, from casting to completion kept a smile on my face and we had an amazing crew and cast of characters! Keep an eye out for additional shots from the campaign or check out the “Behind the Scenes” video from the shoot!
LAST year we did a photo shoot for a “hush-hush” product and at the time we were not allowed to share about it (because it was “hush-hush”!) But now the cat is out of the bag so we can talk about how much fun we had! It was a great couple of days where we were looking for energy and excitement from our talent about the new product. We also had the opportunity to work with some GREAT gymnasts who performed some amazing feats in front of the lens! We have already posted a “behind the scenes” video of the shoot. But also wanted to share some of the finished imagery as well!
One of the (many) incredible things about this profession (okay TWO) are 1.) The GREAT people you get the chance to work with (and this shoot was no exception!). The Agency folks at LehmanMillet and the Client (Exact Sciences) were all SO GREAT! and 2.) The fun and different stuff you get to do every day, just makes this one of the best professions out there!
Thanks to everyone involved in this production! From client to agency to cast and crew. It was ALMOST too much fun to be paid for!
Check out the latest edition of Darling Magazine! We photographed an article on “Food as Art” featuring recipes from Heirloom L.A. – a boutique catering company in Los Angeles. Executive Chef – Matt Poley – did the styling in what was a very impromptu decision on look and style. It was fun and challenging to work “in the moment” and we were very happy with the results. There are a lot of other great articles in this high-end, BEAUTIFULLY PRINTED publication, so get your hands on an issue!
We have just returned from a weeklong, whirlwind, multi-city trip. Along the way, one of the stops was Valencia, Spain. While there, we had just enough time to check out La Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias. Wow! What an amazing complex! Unfortunately, the hour at which we were there, the entire complex was basically closed, so that meant exterior exploration only… 🙁 But it was still SO MUCH FUN to wander the complex and shoot some imagery! I would have loved to have been able to stay longer and fully experience the facility in its entirety, but alas, I may just need to schedule another trip. If you are ever in Valencia, this is something I would not miss!
Here are just a few of the images we captured:
Late last year we did a VERY fun shoot and have been excited to share the results. However, the product we did the shoot for had not been released to the general public and we were under NDA’s (Non Disclosure Agreements) until the official product launch. Well, just this past week the client was finally able to launch and so we’re thrilled to be able to start sharing some of the imagery! We’ll do that in the coming weeks.. but first, since we are in BTS (Behind the Scenes) mode already….
We are just wrapping up post-production on a shoot we did for Dean’s Dip. What a fun couple of days! Despite being the hottest days in Malibu in recent history, we enjoyed the hospitality of our location, and had a wonderfully smooth production! Client, Agency, Crew… ALL Fantastic. We are looking forward to sharing the final results but in the meantime here is a little Behind the Scenes Action!