It might go without saying, but outside of being a first-rate photographer, staying flexible and having solid communication skills can help land jobs and increase your sales. When negotiating your rate, you have to be clear and understand the client’s budget and if it’s going to work for you. After you’re hired and briefed on a shoot, it’s up to you to ask all the right questions to make sure you understand what they want so you can deliver. But what happens when there’s a breakdown or problem somewhere along the line?
Things happen. As a photographer, if you’re willing to stay flexible and be accommodating—without going outside of what your comfortable with or what the budget allows—then you’re likely to come out on top. London-based photographer, Filip Gierlinski, recently shared his story about how he re-shot an image for a brief because he ran into an unforeseen roadblock with the original releases. His story offers a good behind-the-scenes look at some of the process that goes on surrounding a brief.
Thanks to his interaction with the client—and with the aid of our account rep, Missy—it shows how you can tip the scales in your favor if you’re ambitious and willing to be flexible.
There’s quite the story behind what happened with this brief. You ended up selling the image, but what happened?
“I was initially excited to see the brief as I knew I had some good images to submit, and so sent through several shots to the initial brief. Then a while later I was informed that the client was interested in licensing my shot, for a nice amount too, so I was pleased. It was an informal office shot of two ladies having a chat/meeting and discussing an idea over a pad/papers. The shot was part of a different shoot and so I didn’t have access to the models/releases at the time and obtaining the releases turned out to be tricky. I spent a long time tracking down the models, and managed to get hold of one of them and they were happy to sign a release, but didn’t have any contact for the other model. So after a long time and finding my path blocked, I would have had to tell the client they couldn’t use that chosen image, so I had an idea: would the client still be interested if I could get them a similar shot, and similar style?”
“After awhile [the client] agreed to this, and so I had to get everything rolling fast, as the license date was coming up soon. It sounded simple enough. I had to find a suitable location that would have the same feel and look, had to find two models who looked similar in age and style and look, and had to get wardrobe and makeup to match. Eventually I found a office hire agent who had suitable locations on their books and booked out a meeting room for two hours. Then I found several models through agencies and an old model contact of mine and did a quick casting call over Skype. It was all coming together.”
“So models were chosen, location booked, and artists on board and things were looking good. We all met in London one morning, and went to the offices. We just managed to get set up and did the shoot within our allocated time, and I came back with several shots I thought would be perfect. I had taken a bit of a risk as I was hoping the clients would like the new images I had produced. The basic theme here is to never give up. [The client] wanted an image, so I suggested I create a new one just for them. Not the usual way, but it was doable and I knew I could pull it off and took a risk. I could have just said, ‘no, I can’t get the releases, sorry’ and ended it there, but I pushed and hustled and got them to agree to doing a new shoot. Perfect.”
Do you have any advice for photographers about getting model releases?
“I regret not getting the model releases in the first place. Would have saved a whole load of time, money, and effort, but it wasn’t really possible under the circumstances. I generally try to obtain the releases as we shoot, but it’s not always possible. For photographers it is always up to you to arrange the releases and your responsibility.”
How do you work with your models (i.e. profit sharing, etc.)?
“Working with models depends on the arrangement. Sometimes it’s a profit share, but this occasion I knew my budget for each part of the shoot, so it was a flat fee for the job. They were happy with that. Some agencies work on the timing, clients, and licensing specifics on what they charge for models. My advice is to find a good agency and get to know the bookers who can help you as they know their models and can tailor to suit your needs.”