Recently I, along with others, was on the receiving end of some criticism for the style of images that I post on a certain user group on Facebook. The group is comprised of outdoors enthusiasts that specifically enjoy the number and variety of waterfalls in Hamilton, Ontario (The Waterfall Capital of the World – 140 waterfalls) Many of the members post images of the various falls that they visit on their outings and the comments (usually positive) ensue.
Recently however one member decided to post his image (which was very good) but added the caption “This was taken with a camera” to which he followed “My photos are not “PLAYED WITH”. All I do is a little color correction and exposure setting and maybe a little unsharp mask. I try to get it right in the camera first and not rely on photo shop to fix what should have been done in the camera.”
As you might expect the flaming arrows started to fly back and forth. I sat back and followed the thread with interest to see where it would go. Part way along the moderator intervened to control the situation and to his credit he did not delete any of the posts. There were a few additional posts of support for the original “not “PLAYED WITH”” guy as well as his detractors who like me “PLAY WITH” our photos.
Below is one of my photos (before and after) that I am sure was the subject of the “PLAYED WITH” comment. My minds eye saw an image that my camera could not capture. With the help of Adobe Lightroom I got pretty close to the image I had envisioned when I pressed the shutter release.
So here is my question, when is it OK to edit a photo and when do you stop?
I was recently approached by an individual who was interested in purchasing one of my digital images that they had seen on an event gallery. This person is a customer from years past and I thought great, they remember me and still want to do business. I asked if they were looking for a web resolution image and they replied “no, I want the full size image”.
At this point I had a dilemma. I traditionally don’t sell my full resolution images. By doing so I essentially give full control of how the image is used and I generally prefer not to have that happen. I know contracts can be signed to limit usage, etc. but as a freelancer I can’t afford the legal follow up should someone not adhere to an agreement.
Traditionally I sell prints, with the average price being $20 for an 8″ X 10″ and have known people to scan my prints and re purpose them for the web and who knows what else. So this got me thinking, why not sell this photo? It would be better for the world to see my work than have it “gather dust” sitting buried on one of my hard drives so I said sure I’ll sell the shot.
Now comes my next dilemma, how much? I sat and thought about it for a while. I figured that I had a full day invested with 4 hours of round trip driving to the event where the shot was taken. I was equipped with about $8,000 of photo gear that day. I have years of experience knowing what angle to get for what result. And with all of that I nailed this particular shot. Light, color, mood, etc.. It had it all.
As far as I am concerned, this shot is worth decent money but I was still at a loss to come up with a price. So I did what any good shooter would do, I called some other photographer buddies and said “how much would you charge?” I showed them the shot and between us we figured $150 minimum would be a fair price. Particularity since we know this photo is going to be used for marketing and advertising purposes. The way I look at it, if my customer is going to use my photo to make money, I should make some money too! Pretty fair don’t you think?
Well it seems my customer didn’t think so. After numerous emails back and forth to identify which photo, size, etc. that they wanted I sent a final message quoting them the price and giving them directions of how they can easily purchase it with PayPal and I will email them the image. That was the last of the correspondence on this deal.
So it now seems that this photo, that I “nailed”, is destined to “gather dust” in the dark recesses of my LaCie hard drive only to be viewed by me when I scan through the thumbnails of the event.
As a photographer it’s frustrating to know that some people think that what you do is worth so little. I just have to remind myself, I love what I do, I do it well and there are many more people out there who know what my talent is worth.