A couple of nasty niggling little events which have occurred recently are making me have second thoughts about photographing circus companies.
I’m usually pretty generous in A: the time I pass, and B: the rates I charge to photograph a ‘shooting’ but this has backfired recently and I’m wondering if it might be better to just stop all together.
The first company called me a few weeks ago, knowing that they were coming to Auch, and wanting to arrange a ‘shooting’ to be able to have a series of images to use for their grant demands, general promotion etc.
I told them my rates (which the chap I spoke to on the phone found extremely cheap) and we agreed on an afternoon shoot during their second week in Auch. I called in on them a few days before to introduce myself, and confirm that I would be there on the day, and that went well. I spent the afternoon with the company on the date agreed and sent them an album of over 100 images, some of which (in my opinion) made very suitable promotional material.
I heard nothing for four days, then, on the Saturday I received a call from the company asking whether it would be at all possible for me to come and repeat the exercise on the Sunday afternoon as while they were happy with the images, they didn’t like the clothes they were wearing. I agreed (reluctantly – it WAS a Sunday after all) and we re-did the shooting on the Sunday afternoon.
Over a week later, I received a mail explaining that they had selected roughly 20 images and asking what was the total number they could chose? I explained that as I had effectively done two afternoons work, that the total of 30 images per shooting would be doubled to 60. Very rapidly I received another mail explaining that as they only needed about 20 images, and that that would involve less work for me, couldn’t I not just forget the second shooting and charge for one?
I can’t help thinking that I’m being made to pay for their inability to decide anything – for instance, choose the right clothes for the photographs. I use a system of forfait – I charge a sum, finished images included, and you take it or leave it. I am not responsible for the fact they don’t think what they are doing.
I’m seriously questioning whether I will actually send the finished images at all.
The second event was another circus company who were well aware of the fact that I would come to photograph the artists working, but instead of a shooting this was just a regular ‘follow up’ of a new company coming to Auch – this is done to keep an archive of the people who pass by here, and the images are sometimes used for exhibitions etc. So I don’t actually get paid for the work, but at the same time, the companies generally get a couple of images.
In the event, knowing that I was free on the Monday, the director asked me to come on the Saturday – great. When I got there I felt the atmosphere was almost like a shooting, with the director moving me around all over the place and suggesting shots etc.
I finally managed to get away around lunchtime, and sent them an album the same afternoon. We had agreed in advance that I would offer them two free images.
The mail I received left me speechless – the wanted a whole mass of retouching on one of the images they had chosen, and on the second image I was supposed to use the body of the female artist from a previous shot!
I wrote back explaining that A: I wasn’t a Photoshop artists, that B: I had never suggested I would retouch to such an extent and C: that I never created ‘virtual’ images from various files, and that they could take it or leave it.
I think, in retrospect, that the fault is mine – I should have taken a written contract with me for both companies to read and sign so that everyone would be on the same page. If there are no boundaries, relying on people being reasonable just does not work – they are all out for as much as they can get, sadly forgetting that my rates are some of the cheapest around.
Oh well, live and learn.