See Also : Part 1 : The Flake
It sounds like a win-win situation. Model needs images, photographer needs images, both have the time, energy, equipment to make it happen. Let’s get these two together and life is beautiful. End of story. Happily ever after and all that… couldn’t be easier right?
I wish it were so…
If you visit the forums on various web sites, you’ll see countless tales of woe when really, all we’re trying to do is to get two (sometimes more) people in the same place at the same time with the same goal.
Quantity vs Quality
Every so often I’m chatting with a new model and I get asked the question “Can I have all the images on a USB stick?” or can they be emailed or dropboxxed or something along those lines.
Now my answer is always going to be no, but what’s important here is not necessarily the murky line between content creator and collaborators, but it comes down common sense, diversity, the impact on other people’s impressions of your work and finally managing expectations and open communication. Let’s begin.
In a typical shoot, we might take between 300-500 images taking up about 10GB of space.
10 GIGA bytes. You’re not emailing 10 GIGA nothing to anybody without your server complaining. A free Dropbox account is 2GB, that should tell you something about how much data you’re being asked for.
Just because I deliver jpegs, doesn’t mean I shoot jpegs. In fact like many other photographers, I prefer to shoot in RAW, in my case, I produce Canon CR2 files. Now unless you know for certain you have software that can read these files, what can you do with them?
OK, so we can solve the first problem by using a USB stick, we can solve the second problem by converting all the files from CR2 to JPG. That still leaves you with hundreds of files, some a split second apart, to go through.
Now at the end of my modelling sessions, myself and all the team go through the images and select the ones we like – the model makes his/her selection just like everyone else. From 300 we might get down to 30 that we really like.
So rather than ask for every image, ask to be part of the selection process. Some photographers may object to this, but for me, it’s part of what I’m prepared to ‘barter’ in exchange for your time.
Once we’ve nailed down the 30 that we like, the culling doesn’t stop. Those 30 are just the ones we want to mull over before making our final selection. The reason for this, aside from the editing time required for 30 images, is simple. Your portfolio should be diverse – different outfits, different expressions, close-ups, full-length etc. You want to show a wide-range of looks so that you can get work far-and-wide. If we do 3 looks during our session, do you really want 4 very similar images from each look? At most you need 1 or 2. Your next photographer can help give you another few, and the next and so on. Your portfolio should be 10-12 images of the highest quality.
So you don’t need 300 raw files, you don’t need 30 jpgs. you really just need 3-6 retouched, high quality files.
Other people’s impressions.
My camera and my software tag each image I take with my name, address, copyright information and various other details – this is known as metadata. It helps search engines like Google correctly index the images. So if someone does a search for my name, an image I shot of a model will still show up because somewhere in the metadata is “Brhum”. The information is applied the moment I take the image.
But every image I take needs to be tweaked – sometimes just a crop or contrast adjustment but in many cases, the image is just the beginning of a long process where the skin gets cleaned, the hair gets tidied, blemishes get removed. If your garment tag is visible in the shot but everything else is perfect then I’ll take it out to finish the composition. If the image works better as a black and white than a colour, then that’s where it’ll end up. There’s always something to do, sometimes 5 minutes of work, sometimes 5 hours.
Now when all of that is done, when all these different bits have been put together, then and only then, do we have a finished product that I can happily let Google index. It represents what I produce. If people search for my name, this finished image is the one that I want them to see, not the one that came straight from the camera.
Giving away an unfinished image still carrying your name in the metadata is the equivalent of Ford giving you the parts for a car and letting you build it yourself, you might not build it to their standards, the wheels might be misaligned, the headlights off a bit, the roof might leak. You added something from another company because it looks ‘cool’ to you. Everyone who sees it sees Ford, even if it breaks down because of your work, even it it’s a terrible ride or a safety hazard. It says ‘Ford’ on the badge so it must be a Ford and this is what Ford produce. Search for ‘Ford’ and this vehicle will show up.
I value my reputation and I want to showcase what I deliver to my clients so that my next clients can see my work and call me. I have to maintain the highest possible standard that I have set for myself. But if the raw images, which are already tagged with my info, make it out on to the Internet, my quality takes a hit.
No ifs, no buts, if you value your reputation, don’t give out the parts, give out the product.
The answer to this issue is simple. Manage the expectations of the team. Explain to everyone who wants more than what you’re prepared to deliver why you have concerns. I’m not rigid in this. If I agree to work with a model and deliver 2 images per look, but the model comes with 3 stunning outfits for one of the looks, I’m going to be flexible and offer them 3 from that set – it makes sense, they can choose to use all 3 or they may choose 2 for their portfolio and send one to family and friends. The point being that the model came prepared, the work went well and I’m willing to go the extra mile to show that I appreciate it. If a model travels from far away to work with me, I’ll do likewise. Give and take but at all times be 100% clear with your model what they can expect to receive and when – “I can give you X shots per look and I can get them to you, retouched and ready for your portfolio in about N weeks.”