Sunday, 4 April 2010

The Business of Photography

Since the events of yesterday will have brought dozens of fresh eyes to this blog and my twitter feed, I'd like to say a few quick words about the business of photography

Professional photography can be a very expensive venture. Since I'm best known for shooting UFC events, here's a run-down of what I cart around to each event on average
  • Two Nikon D3 digitial SLR's
  • One Nikkor AF-S 70-200mm f/2.8 VR lens
  • One Nikkor AF-S 24-70mm f/2.8 lens
  • Three Nikon SB-800 flashguns
  • Two Nikon SD-8a battery packs
  • One Lastolite EzyBox Hotshoe 24" softbox
  • One Lastolite tri-flector Mk II
  • Three Calumet lightstands
  • Two Sandisk 16Gb CF cards
  • Six Sandisk 4Gb CF cards
  • One Pelican 1510 case
  • One Dell Precision M4300 laptop
  • Miscellaneous accessories for the above
Add all that together and you'd be looking at about £14,000 at today's prices; I've not factored for the cost of maintaining an ever-growing image library and keeping up-to-date with software, applications, insurance - not to mention incidental costs such as meals, travel and accommodation when I go to shoot these events.

All these costs add up and it is therefore essential that my photography is treated as a business. I license my images to editorial and commercial clients in an effort to recoup the expenses I incur and hopefully also eventually turn a profit - all in an effort to support my spouse, children and dog,

I enjoy what I do. I get great pleasure from it - an immense personal satisfaction from knowing that I've done a job well; that I'm one of the few people out there who shoots the sport of MMA at the upper levels, fortunate enough to call folk like Daniel Herbertson, Esther Lin, Ed Mulholland, Paul Thatcher, Lee Whitehead and Tracy Lee both friends and my peers. (Sorry, Lee - couldn't find your website details!)

For all that, simply enjoying what I do doesn't pay the rent, nor feed or clothe my family. The 21st century society in which I live dictates that I have to earn money; I choose to do this via my skill as a photographer.

To do this, good business sense is required to overcome the all too common challenges, hurdles and sometimes outright seemingly nonsensical requests that are faced by creative content producers when dealing with potential clients. I could try to explain these issues but these following two videos do a far better job of it than I ever could

The Vendor Client Relationship by Scofield Editorial - a wry take on common client requests

Harlan Ellison on Getting Paid - warning.. not wholly SFW in terms of language!

So: work at what you love and do it well, but ensure that you're being fairly and adequately compensated when you do so. There are still many great clients out there who understand the value of creativity but it always pays to be prepared and approach all opportunities in a businesslike manner.

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