Sustainable Prospects Week 8 / by Chris Chucas

In this week’s presentations we’ve been looking at other factors involved in being professionals or for and focusing more on who buys photography how to price work and other legal factors. Broken down into the simplest form photography is sold to 3 different markets:

  • The consumer market
  • The commercial market
  • The art market

As I mentioned in some previous posts my personal history with photography today is that I make a living from stills and motion work mostly in the consumer market and also in the small-scale commercial market. It’s really interesting to know how things work in the higher end of the industry especially when dealing with agencies and is communications companies. There was a huge amount of information disseminated in this week’s notes all of which was really interesting but I’m only going to talk about the elements that I feel are applicable to me. After looking at what I shoot and how I work I would like to work more in the commercial markets but in the higher end and not the small businesses that I already work with, but I am also keen to keep shooting personal projects and produce photo books and maybe sell prints which would fall into the art market.

Before coming to this module I always thought that one would have to choose between one market or another but it’s been reassuring to hear feedback from lecturers and people giving presentations that not only is it totally achievable to be working both markets but in most cases it’s actually beneficial to do both. For example an art producer or agency looking to hire a photographer for commercial projects will often look at the personal work and use that to get a feel for the artists to see if they could potentially be a good fit for the commission. As with those interesting people can work with music labels directly and not through ad agencies most of my work is heavily influenced and also directly covering music subject matter that most of the bands and individuals that I work with are very underground and on DIY labels so it would be interesting for me to look into how things might work in a different area of music that includes agencies and record labels. The something about the DIY punk rock scene which is special because it isn’t amazing at making money that I really appreciate admire and respect.

My personal experience has mostly been within the consumer market where I would say the amount of time spent on actually producing work is very little compared to the time taken with communicating with clients, marketing, running day-to-day small-business tasks. The thought of working for an agency with an agent and in the high end of the commercial industry seems very attractive because as an artist I can actually spend more time producing work and developing myself to get better at my craft. I’ve worked with several small businesses to brace and have produced licensed images with the quick turnaround and very small budgets. I’ve learnt from my mistakes and I know the importance of having the correct forms and contracts in place. Every job that I work on or have a contract with terms and conditions what is expected of me the conversation I expect to receive and what happens either party in the event of one being unable to continue. My experience I’ve always found that being crystal-clear and talking about what happens in these unlikely situations is a lot better for everyone involved if one of those situations does happen. one example that springs to mind was I was hired by the National Museum to produce stills and video for interactive content to support another artist. The director of the project Changes mind on what the actual delivered product was going to be and after the first three days of shooting try changing the entire project without paying extra and when that was unable to happen tried to dismiss me and is not pay me. But I have a contract in place with what was expected from me was expected from them how much I expected to be paid. After politely reminding them that I was more than happy to see the project through but unable to scrap out of the work I’ve already done and do the same at work again for no extra cost I brought to the contract and I was paid in full.

Another thing I noticed with test shoots and promotional networking work where everybody my get-together to do work expanding portfolio and image licensing agreement is needed to be discussed agreed and signed before the work  is released. I’ve worked on a few style shoots in order to gai links from reputable websites which is quite valuable from a marketing point of view.  trial and error I’ve realised that a chat explain everything followed by an E contract with terms and conditions that explain the the image licence terms and that copyright remains with me the photographer and the image is only to be used with a working link to whatever website I have asked for. I think the main thing I’ve learned is to have good communication skills people I also be adaptable to the person you’re dealing with. I’ve also been hired for events and for products shots, the companies I’ve worked for being so small and don’t really understand image licensing which is why the terms I have given out on the smaller jobs have been unlimited use worldwide territory but mostly social and web use only, the file sizes that I send them and the resolution will enforce that they are not printed.

On my last shoot which was at the EP launch of Bristol band the run up I decided to not only shoot the way that I normally do but to try and shoot a few things slightly differently. The EP launch was at a bookshop called Hydra which is very left-leaning and rustic looking with communist literature and adverts for local vegan businesses, so I try to include this into the work as it adds to the narrative. From chelation point of view whether or not these images make it into the work will depend on factors like how they influence pitches next to and around them sometimes pictures attacks can be quite literal and hijacked the picture or the meaning, the viewer’s personal history with the subject matter might steer them down and editorial path where they make a decision to view it just like all the other leftist community’ . So part of the inspiration for me to start the project was to show people outside of the punk rock community what it is actually like which I thought would defy most people’s stereotypical expectations, I have a slight moral ethical and editorial decision to make when these stereotypical motifs come into the work, do not include them might be considered misleading but also to include them might take emphasis away from what I’m trying to show.

The way that I have worked and think is a strength of mine is the ability to shoot a variety of material and then make the editorial decisions later on. Like I also mentioned I am very conservative about publishing work now after having my own thoughts of being careful on what you publish reinforced by some of the guest lecturers like Maximus Barnett and Anna so just because I have shot work that doesn’t mean it will make the cut in the finished product that I think it is important to have the option if you have an inclination that I might work.