A photographers protection
March 4, 2014
A photographers protection is something that is almost always taken in vein. When I’m looking over various message boards, talking to potential clients and reading what others are saying on Facebook, the biggest thing being touted is “Model Safety” “Models should protect references” and so on. There’s one thing that I hardly see and it bothers me:
In my 14 years of professional photography, I have learned many things. The first and most important thing I’ve learned is; “All photographers are pervs”. This is something that bothers me, but nothing I’ve never let get to me. However, I did come across something that made me want to blog about it. What? Let’s discuss a bit later.
When I first started out in photography, I was mentored by someone who I came to learn was less professional than I had thought. At that point in my career, he took amazing images and I was happy to align myself with him. I learned a few things at that time and was happy. My Wife was never thrilled with him and said he was bad. I thought to myself: “How can I protect myself?” And pondered it for several years. I finally came up with the most honest solution; document EVERYTHING! I got to a point to where I never spoke with a client on the phone, everything was done via emails. This way I had a working history of everything that was discussed. This worked for me as it kept me honest as I could refer back to what I promised and they agreed upon. As with anything, that only protected me so much, I had to get bigger and better.
In 2003 I purchased a camcorder for my wife for Mother’s Day. She wanted something to capture our then small children. She didn’t want a camera (I was still film way back then). This camcorder was a super bad standard definition Sanyo standard definition Hi-8 camcorder. It took Hi-8 Cassette tapes and lasted either 60 or 120 minutes. This honestly, is partially why my sessions to this day last no longer than two hours as I’ve gotten conditioned to meet and greet and shoot and be done before the tape ran out. This camcorder had a big cover that you had to flip up to put the cassette in. I didn’t have three light stands so I had to put it in my pocket. Or prop it on the kitchen bar. As time went on and technology advanced, I upgraded my rig as well. 2006 saw me upgrade and get a Sony Digital 8 and I owned the world!
I don’t remember much from when I got that camcorder, only that the world changed right in front of my eyes! EXCELLENT and CRISP images and an amazing 2.0 MP photo capture. By this time in my career I had actually four or five light stands so I was able to set it up and not be a problem. I went on capturing my sessions and began to use them not only as documentation of my entire session, but when I took photos with lighting and poses I liked, I watched the videos back to see where I placed the lights, what pushed us into that pose/style? and how can I duplicate it again? Watching them back was invaluable as I was able to learn and teach myself…from…myself. On the contrary, when I had terrible images I could look at the video and see what NEVER to do again!
2009 I upgraded to a Canon XL1. HUGE! White and very in your face, this camera gave me true hd image for the time. This camera sat and worked with me for 2 whole years! I used it for the Carlotta Champagne super shoot and many other shoots! This camera was my workhorse! I loved having it and working with it. It was great. Early 2011 that camcorder died. I was out shooting outdoors and forgot it at home. I came home and all my daughters were huddled in a corner, eyes wide and none willing to talk to me. I noticed right away that the camera was sparkling clean and WET! With it plugged in, my baby at the time decided to wash the camcorder. I was O.K. with it as it was older technology and no one was hurt. I did milk it for a bit. I was renting a studio space and noticed the old creeper was hanging out a lot at the space. When I was cleaning up my stuff and ready to go, I noticed there was a camcorder sitting on some boxes. I didn’t want to leave it since I didn’t know if it was my models, so I took it. I have my own suspicions as to what happened, but that’s for another time over some beers when we meet in person. This was a small Sony handy cam camcorder.
Since that time, I’ve been using that Sony handy cam. It’s worked out great and it further records my way around the world. Now you’re asking; Why are you blogging? you promised to tell us why!
A few days ago, one of the Editors of Glamour Model Magazine posted to a Facebook group looking for models that wanted to be in the paper mag. The owner of the group posted saying: “You should know, your photographer has a reputation of being a major perv” I was informed of this and was shocked! What? Then I calmed down and realized this was another wannabe photographer who feels the need to destroy those more successful than he, to make himself feel better. I had a moment to look at his work and in fact, he’s actually a porn wannabe photographer. His work was far below average and his assaults at me were to cover up what he does. I responded and told him if ANY models have that to say about me, tell me which ones and I would GLADLY host their ENTIRE photo session on my server so he can point out where I was being a “major perv” he banned me from the group and blocked me on facebook.
I am SO thankful that I record all my sessions and keep all my written correspondence! I am well insulated from above moronic claims and have no worries when people say things.
Finally, how I do it is simple: follow the rules!
1.) At the start of every session, start recording a few minutes BEFORE the client gets there.
2.) State client name, date, time and what styles you’ll be shooting.
3.) Make sure camcorder is in view-able but unobstructed place.
4.) At completion of session, state client name, date, end time and what you shot and models attitude when she arrived and left.
5.) Make sure there aren’t ANY breaks in recording.
I’ve had one young lady say that I was less than professional and she told another potential client. The client expressed interest in booking me, but wasn’t sure because of rumors she had heard. I uploaded the entire video shoot and she watched. Soon after she booked a session and has been one of my longest standing clients ever!
As a photographer, what’s your protection?