It was such perfect timing to photograph an old high school classmate and her partner before I left for my se asia trip as she was due only weeks after. Through facebook, I found out the Jenny was expecting, so I quickly contacted her to see if she would be interested in some family portraits in exchange for a sign model release that i can use for my stock collection. She and her partner participate in Burning Man every year so I wanted to photograph them wearing something that reflect their bohemian lifestyle.
Sometimes its a hard knock life for freelance photographers: an over-saturated market with photographers, small budgets, less publication space, selective audiences, etc. etc. etc. Since I've been laid off from my newspaper job, I've done fairly well in trying to grasp the business and maintain some work to get me by. I've learned to diversify my photography by breaking into stock and lifestyle photography and weddings, with all the while still shooting photojournalism. And with a little help from friends, I photograph their family portraits. Here are three scenarios that i take as one to grow on in my first official year in the freelance business.
1) I recently had a commercial job that i got via a friend (thank you alli) who called me up to see if i was available. I took the job, no contract, all negotiations over the phone, i sent an estimate for approval, i mean, it was a situation that was pretty much set in stone verbally. I sent in the final estimate, I shot the job, and mailed the images and invoice. My contract was the invoice which had our terms that we negotiated over the phone and that was that. Granted, it was friend who hired me, but still, it was bigger then editorial paid job.
2) For the past several months I had been waiting on payment from a client for two editorial jobs. I still await one more payment. The contract terms was vague. I gave the agency the benefit of the doubt that I would be paid on time. However, what I failed to do, was question their payment timeline. That even though they have a contract, I still need to work with each client with my contract needs, and that includes being paid within a reasonable time frame.
3) Over the summer, I received a phone call from a local wedding photographer who wanted to know if i would be interested in being a contract shooter for their business...on their terms. I was fine with the shooting rate, though less then I would normally charge, and our agreements for shooting and editing fees were made in person during our initial meeting and over the phone. However things got complicated when I sent my invoice in and they were certain i had agreed to a rate via email. Now, this job was significantly less, not only was its less in terms of rates, but the difference in payment between us was $40. Now, I made no such agreement, but this was a very small job that ironically I should put all verbal agreements into the contract prior to working on a job with them. I regret that I didn't do that. But I take it as a $40 dollar lesson, that no matter how small or big a job is, their terms or mine, a contract is everything; it guarantees specific agreements and payments. (Or at least it should).
hmmm...all these babies & pregnant mommas had made me feel quite domestic, a far throw from my aspirations as a foreign correspondent! Now I'm ironing my backdrops for photo shoots! Here's a recent maternity shoot. A great person to shoot and had great clothes to shoot with, lots of colorful scarves, and a great fur coat. I hope that they are enjoying their album and pictures.
Stay tune....I'm updating my website which will include more of my lifestyle photography. Also, if you can catch the local Napa Valley magazine, Inside Napa Valley, look for my ad! I'm featuring a little offer:
Book your wedding by March and receive a complimentary engagement session! I know its tough times out there, and my rates are lower then average because I am building my wedding portfolio. Especially now since I no longer work for a newspaper. Eventually, I will contribute a significant percentage of my wedding income to my documentary fund so that I can continue to work on photography projects that spread awareness on social issues. Afterall, I'm a photojournalist at heart!
Last tuesday I was laid off my newspaper job -- not a sudden change in life plans, however just shy of expecting it, just not so soon, i had been preparing for the...unexpected. I began shooting my friends and small shooting gigs on the lifestyle side of my journalism. Thanks to my many pregnant momma friends, I have been able to slowly build a small maternity & baby portfolio. And, I continue to build my wedding portfolio however now, it will become my main income to support my photojournalism ambitions, because ultimately, I love doing journalism, and miss it very much. This spring I'll be making a two month trip to Mexico for a bridal shower in San Miguel de Allende, a trip to Haiti to work on a story about hiv positive mothers who volunteer their time to educate and care for other hiv positive mothers in port-au-prince, and then later in may to help shoot a couple of weddings. The slow death of newspapers has made me think about diversifying my photography, and it has been a fun exploration, as photography is, a life-long journey.