Increasingly, it would appear, that buyers of images seem to think that professional photographers can live on air. A week or so ago, I was contacted by someone who was setting up a slide show on a plasma screen in a restaurant in the UK with an Australian theme. I don't know if the restaurant is actually owned by Aussies or this is just a one off thing. They asked if they could use several of my images but and now I quote from the email "We are on a v limited budget and don't have lots of money to play with sadly. Not sure how you will feel about this request but images are so great and we'd love to showcase them. Would it possible to get even a few as donations as a one off?
Look fwd to hearing from you,
I quoted a very reasonble fee per image and suggested if they bought four, I would "donate" the fifth. Never heard from them again.
And about a year ago, I was approached by our national television broadcaster asking me permission to use some of my images for a staff development website. I always know when I see the term "permission to use" really means a freebie! I quoted a very reasonable fee and I received a short "we don't have a budget for photography". I suggested to this young woman that the ABC has a budget for her salary, her producer's salary and the web developers fees but strangely they don't have a budget for the photographer. Of course, I received no response.
Sigh. I am always at a loss to fathom why folk expect photographers to constantly donate their work. They appear to think that we are not a profession at all and we just wander around the streets and countryside snapping away in the hope that someone will send us an email asking us to donate our work. Oh joy! Never mind the enormous expense of professional digital cameras and good glass plus the ever ending updating of Photoshop and computer gear. And when on the rare occasion they do expect to pay, the fees they offer are ludicrous. A couple of days ago, an Indian publisher (part of a large UK publisher) approached me via one of my sites asking my fee for an image to be placed on a front cover of a new title. He said that their fee for front covers was 3,000 rupees which I thought was a nice sum until I checked a currency converter to find it was $65.00! I told him to get back to me with a more realistic offer but he said that was what they paid. By the way, the average fee for such use using a couple of stock library calculators is around $600. Now I know that was a reasonable fee back in the good old days before microstocks but to be offered 10% is a joke. Conversely, I get surprised when one does work out. A Rumanian casino contacted me, asked for a fee for use on a small poster in one of their shopping centres. The image was model released, I quoted a fee, they didn't quibble and I got paid within 24 hours. No worries. I'll definitely send him a Christmas card. As will I to a German medical company who paid for their image within two hours of my quote.
Sorry about the rant. It's Monday morning here and we are back to standard eastern time and our beloved cat Dougal's body clock is still an hour ahead and he demands to be fed his breakfast even though its pitch black outside.
Using Topaz Spicify, the image has been enhanced in both colour and "pop". This may be a tad OTT but when printed out, it looks rather good (even if I say so myself!!).
Image enhancing filters
I have recently been experimenting with different filters for post processing images. Topaz has been one of them. Using the adjust filter, one can change rather dramatically an image which may (or may not) need enhancing. Purists argue that one should not enhance or change an image but in this era, we are bombarded with enhanced movies so it seems a natural progression to enhance still images. The pic directly above is the original image (shot RAW and converted using Adobe Camera RAW).
Rather boring shot of Sydney Harbour
I am going to show how a somewhat boring shot of Sydney Harbour (if there ever could be one!) can be turned into something a little more spectacular. Below is the original shot (shot in RAW format with my Canon 5D) and taken off the back of the Manly ferry.
Using Adobe Camera Raw ("ACR"), I converted the raw image with parameters: Blacks 7, brightness +31, Contrast +61, Clarity +77, Vibrance +7, Saturation 72 and a bit of Curves which brought me to the below image.
Flood filter conversion
I then produced a "reflection" using Flaming Pear flood filter. For those unfamiliar with this filter, it gives the image a perception of a reflection (poetical!) and I see it often in publications and I find myself examining ALL images with reflections to see if the photographer had used this very handy filter. I have details of the conversion if anyone is interested but to post it would be a tad boring. Flaming pair flood filters can be found here
I was on my lunch hour when I was strolling around The Rocks area of Sydney when I saw a group of private schoolgirls on an excursion. As soon as I saw their hats, I knew that there was a good opportunity to get a good snap. As luck would have it, they started to cross the street to where I was standing. I knew in my head the image I was looking for and I had to be above them. With an enormous amount of good fortune, a ramp up to a shop in this old area of Sydney was a few metres away. I raced up the ramp and shot this image. It was taken with my Canon 70-200 f/4L at f/5.6 which gave me a shallow depth of field leaving the centre hat in sharp focus and the rest of the hats out of focus. I submitted this image in late 2005 to the Black and White Spider Awards and it won Outstanding Achievement - People and also won me the Photographer of the Year 2005 - amateur. It really is nice to get recognition of one's work and even though I am now a professional, it still gives me a warm feeling when I look at my certificate!
This is an image on which I have added a "flood" filter. It is quite effective and quite a nice shot in any event. Flood filters can be found here and they are worth every cent. There is always a debate regarding "Photoshopping" images but as long as one is honest about the origin and digital changes to the image, I think its legimate. The original image, taken in our garden, of the cockatoo actually landing on the lawn, had a piece of its left hand side wing missing so I "replaced" it in Photoshop CS4. Cockatoos actually dislike water and when they start attacking the timber balustrades on our verandah, all I have to do is get out the spray bottle and walk towards them. They are endearing creatures, very intelligent but are enormously destructive. They are very long lived (up to 80 years) so don't even think of buying one unless you plan to outlive it and put up with the high decibels of squawking! I really hate seeing them in cages and they must long to be free when they see a large flock passing by.
Late one afternoon, I was snapping at Avalon Beach, Sydney, when a storm approached. This did not stop a late surfer. This image is available as a print via my RedBubble site. Click on image which will take you to the print site.
An abstract look at the famous icon. It is very difficult to take any pics of the Opera House as everyone and their brother has done it before. For this particular image, I used Optikvervlabs filter.
I took this shot of a leopard seal exhaling bubbles at Taronga Zoo in Sydney. This is, apparently, one of the few leopard seals in captivity. Apparently it was found injured awhile back and is happy in its huge enclosure at the Zoo along with its mate. Through a stock library, this image is to appear as a full page in a textbook.
This is one of my favourite images of Alice, an elderly aboriginal lady who sadly is now deceased. I would occasionally see her at Circular Quay in Sydney and she would often smile at me. I used a Dragan filter to bring out more texture to the image. I am often asked if I have ever been challenged when photographing candid subjects. Only on one occasion, I was asked not to take a photograph of a female street performer which was odd as that is where they often make their money. So, of course, I acceded to her wishes. Many buskers or street performers expect payment for taking their photograph and its something I always do as its their living, as taking photographs is mine. One of my most popular galleries on my website is one of Sydney Aborigines and I have many kind comments on my work. I did have one person, a Sydney academic, who actually called me a thief as she was under the erroneous impression that I was selling images of these colourful folk without payment which in fact is not true. I have model releases from many and I have made subsequent payments to them.
Mudda Mudda (aka Cedric) is an aboriginal busker who is often found at Circular Quay, in Sydney, accompanying other aboriginal buskers. He has such a great face and this image won me a UK award last year for traditional portraiture here