As I'm sure you already know by now, there are some things that just don’t fly with photographers. I think every professional, regardless of field of work, has a few of these things he can’t stand to hear or go through, for various reasons. They might make them feel disrespected, underestimated, unappreciated, etc. I didn’t write this article to make a public complain on behalf of us, photographers, among which, I believe it’s fair to say, there are more sensitive personalities. I did however make this short list to try and laugh about all those things we hear or experience from our clients and editors, things that usually sting and make us uncomfortable. Here they are.
The client’s sudden need to crop your photos
Let’s say you’re doing a commercial shoot for a product. Tampons, chainsaws, dental floss, you name it. The concept of the ad and the final look of the image have all been discussed. You shoot it, everything goes well, you retire to your den of creation to do the post processing, and at the end of the day you actually feel like giving yourself a pat on the back for a job well done. You can’t wait to see the satisfied look on your client’s face, so you send the photos over. Only to see the ad running a few days later, but instead of how you shot it (and meticulously composed it) it’s now in a square format, kind of Instagram-ish. You ask why, and the answer you’re probably going to get, is that the board had a change of heart regarding the overall look of the photo, but no less, great job on your behalf!
The use of your images without your permission
Don’t you just love it when a friend sends you a link to an obscure website with one of your photos right in the middle, without you having any idea who those people are? Yeah, I bet you do. Even if you are completely fair to yourself and feel a temporary eco boost (after all, they chose your photo instead of others), it’s still called stealing. When things like this happen, proceed at your discretion, although you should make sure you have energy and time to spare for the trial.
The “here is how we reward you” photo-credit
Photo credits are awesome when you’re just starting photography. After a while though, it’s just something completely normal, but by no means should it be the single method of payment. It’s not payment at all in fact. You did the job, your name should be there, along with some hard earned cash in the account.
The editor with the gigantic ego
We all have egos and that’s fine, but some photo editors think they’re God’s way of guiding photographers. You’ll recognize those guys from the first 30 seconds of the conversation. It’s not that they’re cocky or confident in their abilities, but the fact that they disrespect photographers could make the paint job on their car an easy target.
Being asked to copy another photographer’s style
Talk about a kick in the crotch. It’s almost like hearing “we really love the BMW, but we only have money for the Hyundai”. Guess which one you are in that situation. It’s insulting, disrespectful, but sometimes necessary. Of course, you’d have to be absolutely mental not to do it your way in the end.
The difficult –to- contact clients.
A steady and constant flow of communication between a client or and editor and the photographer is crucial. If you have a question about the project, provided you don’t call at one in the morning, you should be dealt with and given full support. It can be very frustrating to have a client with the communication skills and availability of a brick wall.
The expected, unlimited use of images, at no extra cost
I know I’m not alone when I say a lot of clients expect you to give them full rights, forever at just the cost of production plus your fee. It’s called intellectual property, although some clients will think of you as a plumber with fancier tools. Do yourself a favor and get that discussion of the way in the beginning.
The messed up schedule
Good photography happens with discipline, and discipline means sticking to a schedule. Sadly, you’re not doing it all by yourself, and it’s funny how some of the people you deal with wear wristwatches just as jewelry. Being ten or fifteen minutes late for a shoot is fine. Traffic might be bad; the makeup might be taking a bit longer than expected, and so on. But when you totally miss the best light because of somebody not showing up or because the hairstylist thought it should be his day of the week to experiment, it’s not going to turn out ok for anybody.
Clients and editors who don’t understand the job
Too many people still think that all we do is push a button, download the pictures and apply some filters. While there are a few of those camera users out there, and shame on them, we all know what’s like in the real world. The problem is that those extremely busy folks in the fancy offices expect miracles of us, and they expect them fast. I have a friend who did a shoot for a high profile company and of the directors was present. He didn’t like some of the trees that were in the frame (it was an ad shoot) and actually asked if there was anything he could do about them from the camera, without wasting time on a computer. No comment.
The tricks behind your back
Sometimes, when discussing a future shoot, it can feel like you’re negotiating with a local merchant at a bazar in Morocco. Some clients will try anything to come out cheaper. They try to expand assignments, and stretch them from a negotiated 2-3 hours, to a full day, but at the same price. That’s just one example, but sadly, there are a lot of others. Often photographers feel pressured into accepting, because they hope it will get them more work or recommendations. Hardly worth it in my opinion.
The request for unedited work only
A lot of clients ask for all the files and sometimes it’s fine to give them. But there are some who only want those files and don’t want you to touch them in any way “because they’ve a got a guy down at design who knows Photoshop.” So, basically, even though you were hired based on portfolio (which was also put together with editing), they’ll only buy half of what you can really do. It’s almost like buying half of an iPhone.
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Image credit: dolgachov / 123RF Stock Photo Image credit: phakimata / 123RF Stock Photo Image credit: blueiz60 / 123RF Stock Photo Image credit: 01-12-08 © Peeter Viisimaa Image credit: 01-15-08 © Tomaz Levstek