5 things you don't say to a photographer
I've been doing photography for several years now – check out my portfolio here. During that time, I've experienced some horror stories. Or even – horror phone calls! I've listed some of them as a warning to anyone who has photographer friends.
Here's what not to say to any photographer, ever:
1. Don't demand free photos
"Hello! We have seen your photographs and love your work. Would you like to shoot so and so for us and gain some exposure that way? No, we wouldn't pay. We said exposure."
It doesn't work that way! A camera is a device that wears out over time. Some mechanical parts of it are made with the fixed amount of usage in mind. And then, there's the time to do a gig, the cost of transport, or, god forbid, the lighting.
Sometimes I'm forced to delay and postpone my personal photo projects just because I don't have enough time. Do you really think you can just show up, offer no money, and have top priority?
This does not mean I never photograph for free. But, if you want a cooperation like that, wait for me to contact you! You won't persuade me my portfolio is lacking the very same thing you want the shots of for free. But if I know what it's lacking and know that you can help me with that, I'll certainly find you.
2. Don't ask for just any photograph ever taken
"Hey man, what's up! Oh, never mind that. Remember when you photographed me near the river, two years ago? Great! Can you send me the photograph you've deleted because it was out of focus? I look so fuckin' hot in that one! Need it for a CV."
If a photo is out of focus or technically flawed in any other way, any even slightly serious photographer wouldn't even transfer it from the memory card. That means it would be long gone and formatted away in a couple of weeks' time. It doesn't matter whether I'm doing a paid gig or shooting pro bono, out of love or for booze – if my photographs are gonna end up in public, I want them to retain at least some technical value. OOF or shaken photographs are below that.
Also, why would you even want an old out of focus photograph for your CV? Why not ask me to do another shoot?
3. Don't ask "can you bring a camera"
"I'm inviting you to my birthday / party / wedding / christening / farewell party / concert, but I'm counting on you to bring your camera, wink wink."
If you just invite me to something, chances are I will bring a camera. That does not mean you can expect me to shoot the whole thing and deliver a thousand photos on a CD the following day.
If you do expect that, we have a problem. Guests are one kind of people at a party and photographers are another. I've never met a person who is able to be both at the same time. You're either going to have fun and get hammered, or you're going to take photos of other people doing that.
Event photography is hard work. If I'm shooting an event, I'm likely not to drink at all. When you carry a load of (not so cheap) photo gear over your shoulder, you're bound to act far less spontaneous than when you just come for a party.
Nothing is hard when you're doing it for a friend, right? But, eventually, it all comes down to an angry friend saying something like "It doesn't matter you've been shooting the whole day in a formal dress and high heels and you missed the lunch because of that, HOW COME I HAVE ONLY TWO PHOTOS WITH MY AUNTS FROM SWITZERLAND?!"
4. Don't underestimate the post-production
"What do you mean, you're charging for editing? Who said I want my photos EDITED?!"
Technically, you can get straight out of camera JPEGs, but – they're also edited. SOOC JPEGs are edited by the camera itself, probably different than a photographer who took it would.
In digital photography, a photographer should already have an idea what would he be able to do with a photograph in post when he takes it. If he shoots only RAW (a format that's literally raw data of what the camera's sensor "saw"), those files should be developed in order for you to get your JPEGs to put on Facebook.
When you hire a photographer whose style you like, do have in mind that the style also comes from the way they edit the photos in post. Not every editing action is obvious.
I will never just let you to copy my whole memory card (along with the OOF shots) and go away. There is always going to be at least some minimal editing. What do you want, or do not want done to the photos you hired me to take is alway negotiable.
There are also people who complain about their photographs not being edited enough! That mostly refers to skin retouching. Now, if you want to look like on the cover of Vogue, that kind of editing can take up to several hours per photo, and should be paid for accordingly.
5. Never act like photography's no effort
"It's not like you don't take photos all the time!"
It's not like you don't go grocery shopping all the time, but I'm not asking you to fill up my fridge as well.