wisdom

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…)

Photography as a discussion

Pensioners at a bus stop in Bournemouth town centre on a wet afternoon. ©Neil Turner

About thirty seconds after starting to read yet another essay about photography that doesn’t include any pictures I normally categorise it as one of the following:

  • useful
  • derivative
  • nonsense
  • worse than nonsense

This week there was an exception – in fact quite a big exception. (more…)

Five weeks with Photo Mechanic 6

Towards the end of last month I was excited about the arrival of the production version of Camera Bits new update to their excellent (and indispensable) workflow application Photo Mechanic. I have been using this version (with two updates and counting) for the last five weeks and I am about ready to say that I have settled into enough to put my early opinions down here in the blog.

It’s very good.

People say that they like short and concise reviews and that, ladies and gentlemen, was it. For those who prefer an expanded and more considered opinion I guess that I am going to have to write on because it hasn’t all been lovely. Camera Bits have been asking everyone for feedback and the fact that they have released two extra builds since the launch of version 6 five weeks ago tells me that they are working hard to make this the best version so far and free from faults and niggles.

Let’s start with a few of those niggles: (more…)

The Workflow Nerd strikes again

On January 22nd in London I’m going to be running a workshop for photographers who want to expand their knowledge of the various options for speeding up the IPTC captioning part of their workflow. We will be drilling right down into autocomplete, code replacements and variables and even using more than one of them at the same time.

Most of us use the techniques that we know and tend to keep using them until we are persuaded to try something new. This is an opportunity to come and find out what I know and see if you can improve your own workflow at the same time.

If you are interested, the booking is open through Eventbrite and the standard price is just £25.00 with a £15.00 concessionary price for members of The BPPA.

Workflow “greatest hits”

The other day I was chatting to a young photographer and trying to explain why a consistent and logical workflow was so important. I confidently referred to my own (this) blog and the many years that I have been writing about photography in general and about workflow specifically. Much to my own embarrassment it took me a few minutes to find the posts that I was looking for. I made a note to come back and create some “greatest hits” lists of posts for various topics and this is the first one – workflow and Photo Mechanic. (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…)