pr

Mission Creep

I have lost count of the number of times I have agreed the details of an assignment with a client only to find out that they want to add a few “little extras” on the day of the shoot. Sometimes it is a job where we agreed to do a dozen headshots only to find out that they’ve added another six or seven. It can be a school prospectus shoot which was meant to end with the school day where, over a cup of coffee, they casually add an after-school club that doesn’t start until after you were supposed to be off-site. In the most extreme case I can remember it was to do half of the job in central London and the rest of it a two-hour drive away on the outskirts of Coventry.

The military term “mission creep” sort of covers this except that most definitions use the word “unintentionally” whereas this kind of “job expansion” is pretty often entirely intentional. How you handle this regular occurrence says a lot about you as a photographer and can define your relationship with that client for years to come. What might seem as a harmless addition to the brief can leave you with extra work, less time to shoot parts of the original brief and can get you into a row with the client.

For me the worst part of mission creep is the almost inevitable additional time that will have to be spent in post production. It stands to reason that even if you can shoot extra pictures in the time given for the job there will be a greater number of images to be sorted, captioned, cropped and toned. The client almost always ends up getting what they perceive as more pictures for the same fee. (more…)

Tinkering with my folio

I spent a long time working as a photographer specialising in education and I spent as long as the rest of you in full-time education as a pupil and a student too. I think that those two facts combine to make me feel that “new year feeling” in September as the kids go back to school and the not-so-young ones go away to university. January is the new year of course and April sees the beginning of the financial year but September feels like to ‘work new year’ to me.

And it is at this time of year I start to think about getting out there with my folio looking for new and interesting work and, at the same time, I like to have at least a minor refresh with my on-line folio too. (more…)

Batteries – can you ever have too many?

Canon batteries August 2019. © Neil Turner

A few weeks ago I was on a simple PR job alongside a small video crew and another photographer. Like most jobs we talked about what we needed, let the video team go first and then shot our pictures. As the day progressed the pattern was repeated until just after lunch the other photographer ran out of power for his camera. He was using a single Canon EOS5D MkIII and I was shooting with two EOS5D MkIVs so we had the same type of battery and I offered to lend him one of my spares. When asked how many spares I had I said that I had four in my camera bag and another four in the car along with a battery charger that would run in the car or on mains should I get desperate. He was amazed that one photographer could own so many and I was equally amazed that anyone doing this for a living wouldn’t. Since then I have been asking around and it turns out that I am quite unusual. (more…)

Location lighting half day workshop in London

Thursday 23rd May at the wonderful Cherryduck Studios in Wapping.

For anyone who remembers that far back my www.dg28.com website started out as a vehicle for me to post updates about the work that I was doing along with some technique examples that I rather pompously called “photographer education”. Well, that was in 1999 and a couple of years later I started doing occasional workshops and lectures about my use of portable flash on location. I have done a lot of talks over the years including a couple on behalf of The BPPA to coincide with exhibitions that were held on the old SS Robin at Canary Wharf. SS Robin attendee Steven Frischling said

“He’s good folks… totally worth the price of admisssion, got off the plane and went right to work with what I learned from you within hours”.  
(Steven had flown from Pennsylvania and was en route to Germany!) (more…)

How big do you want them?

This chart is for one “average” photo and represents a comparison for that picture as a guide. Closed image file sizes vary widely due to their content. The photo in question is an environmental portrait taken with a Canon EOS5D MkIV.

Sometimes I post blogs which describe how I do things and others are intended to be conversation starters and thought promoters. This one falls directly into both camps but it was originally written to start discussions.

How we deliver images to our clients is a subject that photographers can debate until the cows come home or until the technology changes and the debate has to start all over again. For the kind of work that I do most of the time (editorial, PR and corporate) there are a huge number of compromises to be made – most of which are dictated by a small number of factors:

  1. Does the client have a digital asset management system?
  2. Will the client want to do anything to the pictures before sending them out?
  3. Who are the end users and what will they want?

Once you start to gather the answers to these questions you can start to discount a lot of options that, as photographers, we would like to see. Ninety-nine percent of the pictures that I deliver are in JPEG format. It isn’t the best format for quality but it is almost universally recognised and it offers the ability to compress the files. It makes sense to us to save our images at the highest quality available and to deliver the pictures in a way that allows for that quality to be maintained but a surprising number of clients simply don’t want or can’t handle that. A modern DSLR with a 24 megapixel chip produces very large files – even as JPEGs; Too large to safely email. Too large for them to be stored easily unless the client has a decent server or at least a method of storing (and retrieving) a lot of data. (more…)

Style sheets and client expectations

When I returned to the world of freelancing ten years ago one of the biggest changes that I noticed was the arrival of the “style sheet”. Almost every commercial and PR client had a prepared guide that let you know what they wanted from a commissioned shoot and a few pointers of what they, or their end client, liked and didn’t like in their pictures. These ranged from really helpful pointers about what kind of clothing should be worn for portraits or whether or not images should have unfussy backgrounds through the obvious such as “images should be properly exposed” to the mildly bizarre “avoid any and all references to money”. I wish that I had kept them all – they would have provided me with a mixture of useful references and a good laugh.

Recently I have seen two rather odd things in style sheets provided to me by three totally unconnected clients. The first oddity appeared when talking to a PR company about an upcoming commission. They are based in London and the job was for an insurance company. Their style sheet featured three identical pictures and one completely identical paragraph to a style sheet supplied to me previously by a Manchester PR company. I cannot see a connection between the two PR companies and so you have to think that they are getting their style sheets from a single supplier or that they have both copied something from a third PR company. Either way, it explains why so much of the PR and corporate sector has come to look like a catalogue for a stock photography company. Bland people doing bland things with even lighting is a bit dull and I’m pretty sure that every single one of the photographers involved would have been capable of something way more interesting.

The second oddity came when a PR firm working for an educational establishment sent me a style sheet with one of my own photographs used in it. A picture that I created almost twenty years ago and which bore no resemblance to anything that I was being asked to do. When I asked them where they had obtained the images for their style sheet they told me that they had got them from Google Images over the years. Bizarre indeed. (more…)

Instagram… finally!

Gates to a disused Royal Mail sorting office, Christchurch, Dorset. ©Neil Turner. November 2013

I’m not actually sure why but I have avoided Instagram since it was launched. I am aware that it can be used as a good shop window for photographers and I am equally aware that it can suck hours from your day. The thing that finally made me sign up and dive in was when a third picture editor informed me that they didn’t look at portfolios unless they’d seen an Instagram feed first.

When it happened for the first time I wrote it off as the narrow silliness of a very young picture editor. The second time made me think that the whole industry was going nuts but when it happened a third time I decided that I had to move with the times. Now this isn’t the first time that I have been (too) late to a party. I used Flickr when it first came out but deleted my account fairly promptly before getting back in the saddle a couple of years later. I had perviously used EyeEm as a mini-folio but that appeared to be a waste of effort after several months of putting effort into it. Could Instagram be the answer for me? (more…)