The trials of being a ‘one-man-band’

Lots of things have come together in the last month or so to make me think a lot about my life as a ‘one-man-band’ in the worlds of editorial and corporate photography. The trigger for writing this blog was a survey being conducted by the company that supplies my accounting software. Like most surveys it didn’t ask the questions that I wanted to answer. The attraction of a free-prize-draw for those who took part made me complete it anyway. However, it did make me think about how (very) small businesses and the self-employed are treated by those with whom we do business.

The corporate side of my work is definitely better paid than the editorial but it comes with lots more preparation, admin and general hassle.


Photographic policy

Just in case you haven’t noticed, I’m a photographer. I also teach a bit of photography and write about the subject too. The latest addition to my ‘portfolio career’ is what I can only describe as photographic consultancy. I have done a few corporate training sessions aimed at people who aren’t necessarily shooting pictures but who are handling them on behalf of their employer. It started off with some PR managers from a range of Universities a few years ago and has been a very small part of what I do ever since then.

This week, I did a bespoke session for an NGO talking about copyright, licensing, permissions, model release, photographing children and how to get PR pictures used in the media. All of that in less than one day meant that we didn’t get right down into the finer details. For some organisations the knowledge that they need to do more will be enough to get them going. A company wide photographic policy has to be a ‘must-have’ with the amount of images, websites, pamphlets, brochures, publications and social media in circulation (officially and otherwise).

We are in the Christmas party season and a good, well publicised policy telling staff what is and is not acceptable would be very useful. Twitter, Facebook, Flickr and the rest are public platforms and un-wisely placed images or video are bad news. It isn’t only about stopping bad stuff happening though; good pictures need to be licensed, captioned and stored properly. The quantity of pictures held on company systems seems to have expanded exponentially and it makes sense to have policies that make use of the good stuff whilst making that the bad, the off-message and the out of date images are never seen.

As a professional photographer it is really hard to see photographs sourced from keen amateurs, micro stock sites and crowd-sourcing as anything other than lost income but that is the way the world has gone and we need to learn to work with it. People like me, with a lot of experience in the industry, can help to form policies for small, medium and even large businesses based on our knowledge of the law, ethics and technical matters. It isn’t going to cost a fortune and any company who ignores the concept of a photography policy could end up regretting it.