“I’d like to think that the actions we take today will allow others in the future to discover the wonders of landscapes we helped protect but never had the chance to enjoy ourselves. – Annie Leibovitz”
It’s time again, for another article on the Art of Composition! Today’s article is about my philosophy behind What Do You Shoot For? and how I am going to achieve it.
If you’ve just picked up learning photography, I strongly urge you to check out my basic tutorials on my website. They’ll definitely be of some use to you!
As my blog hits its one month anniversary, it is time to sit down and do some goal adjustments and vision alignments. As more and more people begin to approach me to do photoshoots, there is no better time to review what works and what didn’t. In essence, I was forced to ask myself -
“What do I want to achieve with MONDO // PHOTOG?”
I want to develop myself both as a person and as a photographer. I want to shoot what I want to shoot, and have enough time to do what I want to do. I want to hit the goals I have set for myself and my website. I need to move in the direction that allows me to realize my wants.
Shooting for Free or Shooting for Me?
I thought long and hard on how to achieve this. Personally, I felt slightly demoralized that there was not a high enough degree of reciprocity from my shoots. I needed a way to increase the benefits reaped after pouring in hours of my weekend week after week.
People often do not realize that time is a resource. Every hour slaved away at the computer Photoshopping away is another hour I could have been doing something else. The “Opportunity Cost” you incur cumulates until you realized that you’ve wasted far too many hours of your life. Essentially, if you’re not doing it out of the love for Photography (or hair styling, website design, etc), without any benefit to yourself, you’ve just wasted your own time.
In other words, you’re doing it wrong.
The commercialisation of MONDO // PHOTOG
As of today, I have not charged anyone for a shoot yet. I think that my reluctance to step out of my comfort zone has been a hindrance to myself, more than a help. After trawling the Internet, these are some points I agree with.
1.No one insures your gear on a free shoot – nor pays for the repairs or replacement of essential items
2.It does not help you grow in the area that matters most – the confidence to now that your work has value
3.It does not help you move from what you are shooting now to what you want to be shooting
4.You’ll always be stuck as the photographer that does the small stuff – free doesn’t get big
5.It brands you as the free photographers
As wizwow pointed out, if there is no benefit to the work, and no access to leverage the work, then it really is ‘shooting for free’. And that makes nobody wealthy – nor does it cover the gear charges.
He goes on to say that one should always ask oneself:
1.Will the image be worth it? Will it be something that others would recognize as something valuable?
2.Will the image be something that you will be able to market and create buzz?
3.Will you do what it takes to do the hard work that it takes to get that buzz?
4.Is this something that anyone could do? Something stupid/simple? Chances are that image isn’t worth your time. It is probably worth money.
5.Is it something that you can put into your portfolio, and then show it to get some more work in that genre?
I think that this list is simply great, because it automatically helps you prioritize what you should do with your time.
ChrisDavid42 points out rightly that, “Art has always existed at a cross-roads between commerce and human expression. Artists who wish to benefit from their art will always be subject to the aesthetic of those who are willing to commission, or pay, for that work.” In addition, he goes on to say that, “It was photography because it was a labor of love for the craft.”
These points are all valid, and I feel that they bear a severe significance to me and my goals. After going through a long period of consideration, I will be begin to charge money for my photoshoots. This will achieve the following things:
1.Making our time worth it. The payment of fees helps to cover the costs incurred from using my gear, the cost of my time and ensures that a commitment is forged between the service provider and requesters. In turn, I promise that I will meet your requests to the best of my ability. In addition, if I feel I cannot acquiesce to your request, I will politely turn down your offer. I feel this is fair for both me and you.
2.Management of clientele expectations. When the client is paying for the shoot, there has to be a clear understanding and communication of his desired outcome. With clarity of requirements come smoother transactions and a higher quality of photoshoots. This helps to build positive rapport between me and my client base.
3.Developing me as a person and photographer. When money is involved, it comes with a sense of responsibility and dedication to the cause. Managing the stress and challenges that come with commercialisation will force me to grow and adapt.
Exceptions to the Norm
I have decided to adopt Chase Jarvis’s approach. I don’t pretend to be as good as him, or have the skills nor gear to match his, but I look to him as a role model worth learning from. From his blog:
“So, I am approaching people that I want to photograph and offering to do it directly for them, at no charge. And that includes usage, too – no holding back. That is my offer – I photograph you, and in exchange for your time you get what I hope will be high-quality images to use.
That usage does not extend to a third party – for example, the subject’s publisher, etc. In that case, there would have to be payment involved. It is important to take that into account to keep yourself from being taken advantage of.
This is because I want to grow by photographing extremely interesting people”
Well said Chase. Yeah, me too.
On that note, as part of my Get Featured! Project, Get Featured! Photoshoots will remain free. I will be approaching people and businesses I would love to feature on MONDO // PHOTOG. In exchange, I need you to do your part to help promote my website through a simple blog post, or a shout-out. This is all I ask of you in exchange for coverage on MONDO // PHOTOG.
I will also be adopting his stand on usage details – if you do intend to use it elsewhere, there would have to be some payment involved.
I feel that I have undergone a paradigm shift of sorts, and magically grew a couple of years wiser in the process. Being forced to realize what I want, and how I need to go about doing it marks a fresh new start for my website. More importantly, I hope you, the reader, has gleaned some insight on how to develop yourself further.
So, what do you shoot for? Let me know in the comments.
By the way, this is what I initially started off the article with:
My Art of Composition and Get Featured! series being great hits with online audience
My website hitting over 4000 views in a month
Positive responses from Twitter, Flickr and Facebook
Not enough active discussion
Working towards greater exposure and website visibility
Incorrect management of clientele expectations