Photographers Get No Credit

I have been thinking on this subject a lot recently. Partly because I had an interesting experience with this, but the reality is Photographers get no credit for the images and work we create. I’m not really sure why, to be honest, because so many other creative artists get credit for their work, why not photographers?

Let me explain a little about what happened to be recently, and I want to be clear, some of this is my fault, and I know and recognize that.

A few months ago my wife got a gig working as a Special Effects Makeup Artist on the set of a small independent movie. She was very excited because the film was being produced specifically for an upcoming film festival. A few days before the film was to start shooting a call went out from those in charge of the film asking if anyone knew a photographer who could shoot behind the scenes shots. Of course Leslie suggested me and showed the producers my work, which they were delighted by and asked her to speak to me about being on set. I of course agreed, but was surprised that I was never contacted directly. Like ever.

The first day of filming arrived and I had still not heard a word from anyone on set. I had no idea what the producers, director, or anyone else for that matter was looking for. So I shot an email to the director asking a series of questions.

  • What kind of photographs did he want?
  • What is the turn around time?
  • How many images did he expect?

When he got back to me his answers were all very vague, but the bottom line was he wanted BTS shots, movie poster shots, group photos, etc.

Now this is the part that is my fault. I agreed to what he was asking for and did not have him sign any kind of agreement.

  • Lesson Learned – Folks if you are doing work as a photographer always and I mean ALWAYS have your client sign an agreement!

This is why they say experience is the best teacher, but more on that later.

So I showed up, had full and complete access to the set and took some pretty amazing shots including BTS, a very cool movie poster image, and a lot of great images of the cast and crew.

Now one thing I forgot to mention. The film festival that this movie was being shot for had one single requirement, everyone who worked on set could not get paid. So everyone from the Director down to the actors were doing this for free. Which, to be honest, I thought was a very cool challenge.

Making films takes a lot of people with a lot of skills. Skills that are usually expensive. So for a producer and director to convince all these people to come together and offer their services free of charge was a monumental feat in and of itself.

Now, fast forward a few days after filming had wrapped. I had taken over 6000 images on set and had a lot of photos to work though, but despite all of that I had managed to find 20 images that I had pulled and edited right away. One of them was the Movie poster image…

These are some of the images without all the movie information included, because I am not trashing on the movie, its actors, director, or producers. To be honest working with this cast was a pleasure and I would do it again in a heart beat. This is just a personal rant about how little credit Photographers seem to get.

What surprised me, and what I personally have been struggling with since is this…A few days later someone from the film was attending a conference where they were a guest. As a guest they were selling headshots and posters, and I noticed that one of the images from above was included.

Now this is where not having a contract comes in, and why experience is the best teacher. I had never said the cast and crew couldn’t use the image. I had no contract requiring the cast and crew to purchase the image and/or rights to the image. But it has bothered me ever since that someone used an image that I created and designed, to make money and profit, without my consent or permission.

But the truth of the matter is this happens all the time! Photographers, who put a great deal of effort into creating, designing, editing, and printing their images get almost no recognition for their work. Think of your favorite movie poster…who took the picture or pictures to make that image? Think of your favorite picture…do you know the photographers name that took it?

What I can’t figure out is this, do photographers get little credit because we created this reality? Every year I see photographers offering discounts, package deals, holiday specials, and very very cheap photo sessions. Did we the photographers create a market where our skills and services are just not seen as valuable? And if we did how do we reclaim our worth and change public perception?

I don’t really have any answers for that, but it is certainly a question to consider. If you have any thoughts leave a comment down below. Also if you would like VIP access to some of my photography, prints, and thoughts don’t forget that I have a Patreon you can sign up for. However, if Patreon is not your favorite feel free to follow me on Instagram or Twitter.

What Photographers See

Photographers are a very interesting breed of person. Their passion is to see and photograph things that most people take for granted. Their talent is to find beauty in the mundane. A photographer sees what sometimes no one else can, what no one else wants to admit, what no one else believes. What does a photographer see? Art.

Yesterday I talked about an event that took place here in Orlando FL at SelfieWRLD. Models and photographers from all over the state gather to network, meet, and of course, create. While I was working through the various scenes and backdrops I heard models say over and over…

“I’m not very pretty.” “Can you hide (insert perceived flaw)?” “I don’t think I am very good.”

Photographers hear these and various related phrases all the time from people they work with, and I am going to tell you something that you should remember the next time you work with a photographer…They will never believe you!

Whatever flaw you see in yourself, there is a VERY good chance that YOU are the ONLY person who sees it. We are our biggest naysayers, but despite all that, a photographer’s job is to see beyond your insecurities and worries. What a photographer sees is your truest potential. Your best self. The real you.

It is through this gift that photographers are able to bring out powerful emotions in a single image. They are able to capture what’s really there instead of what someone fears are there. Because they can see what others can’t and with a photograph, show the world what they see.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy speaks to the press in the town of Bucha, UkraineRonaldo Schemidt/AFP
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy speaks to the press in the town of Bucha, UkraineRonaldo Schemidt/AFP

When I work with different models I sometimes catch a glimpse of who or what that person is. It honestly depends on the situation and the person as to how this bit of inspiration occurs, but it does happen, and it did happen while working the event at SelfieWRLD.

I was walking through the event and I stumbled upon Shaun. He was working with a few other photographers, but something stopped me and made me take note of him. He had a presence or an aura about him and I wanted to take his photograph.

When it came time for my turn to work with Shaun I asked him a simple question. I asked him to close his eye and think about the man he wanted to be in 5 years. I told him I would count to 3 and when I said 3 I wanted him to open his eyes and make his future self proud. I think he understood the assignment.

As I was editing this image the words of Muhammad Ali came to mind.

I’m a show you how great I am!

If only those in front of our cameras could see what we photographers can. If they could there would be more worldwide belief in one’s self, and more people would go out and show themselves just how great they can be!

Thanks for stopping by. I would love to hear what you think about all this. Feel free to leave a comment or reach out on Instagram, Twitter, Patreon, or Vero.

Unsupportive Photographers

Unsupportive Photographers
A candid shot I took and edited at my Cousin Hannah’s wedding

I want to share a story with all of you about an experience I had over ten years ago with a group of unsupportive photographers. It’s an experience that has stayed with me, and even now, 10 years later, when I think back on it the memory remains clear.

When I started learning the art of photography I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. At the suggestion of a friend of mine I bought a couple of Scott Kelby books on photography and learned enough to try my hand at aperture photography. What I mean by that is I shot in aperture priority mode, because at the time shooting in manual scared the hell out of me.

I knew I wanted to shoot people, and thankfully I had two friends who agreed to do a shoot in a hollowed-out abandoned building. I took the shots and I knew they needed work, so I posted a few of the shots to a Facebook photography group I was a member of. I probably should have known better, but the feedback I got from literally hundreds of unsupportive photographers was overwhelming. I was called amateur, newb, pathetic, childish, and more. The number of negative comments from unsupportive photographers was enough for me to pull the post down, and NEVER comment or share in that group again.

Now keep in mind…The photos I posted I knew needed work, and I said in my post that I was looking for feedback and advice on how I could improve. The post received 203 comments and not one single person offered me any kind of advice. No one talked to me about lighting, posing techniques, or editing suggestions. Not one.

Fast-forward 10 years later. I am an accomplished photographer. I’ve worked with a variety of clients, businesses, and settings. I am in no way perfect and continue to learn, but I am certainly none of the things those unsupportive photographers called me 10 years ago. How did I do it? How did I improve? By following the advice of supportive photographers like Peter Mckinnon, Sorelle Amore, Jeremy Siers, Denny Den and so many more. Denny as a matter of record owes me nothing yet has always found the time to answer any questions I have ever sent his way on IG. That level of encouragement and support is the kind of photographer I think we should all try to emulate.

Being a supportive photographer is remembering we all start somewhere. Everyone starts at the beginning, and everyone has to learn. So the next time you see a photo from a photographer asking for advice, help, or support…choose to be kind.

Unsupportive Photographers
A shot I took at my Nieces dress rehearsal for Into The Woods

I Will Never Understand Christianity

Having a piece of content you created go viral is always a surreal experience. It’s usually unexpected, and the reaction from the audience is never what you think it will be. Over the years I have had 1 or two things go viral, and overall I can’t say I have ever really enjoyed the experience. When it happens you are filled with an intense sense of vulnerability as hundreds of eyes are watching you, and deep down you know you are being looked at by predators.

That is all the internet really is these days, a hunting ground for predators.

So I was not really surprised when one of my latest Instagram posts started attracting the attention of the right-wing, conservative, religious zealots. Desperate to save our Hell-bound souls through Jesus Christ and his forgiving love.

I will never understand how Christians can talk about God’s love and devotion to the human race, and in the very next breath belittle and name-call those who behave or believe differently than they do. I don’t recall ever reading any stories in scripture about Jesus doing such things. In fact, I seem to recall Jesus asking God to forgive the very men who crucified him. So where did Christianity adopt intolerance? When did Christians choose to behave as cruel people hell-bent on condemnation and punishment?

I don’t understand it, and I am not sure I ever will.

Adventures in Scouting – Part 1

I am, and was fortunate enough, to have grown up with a father who enjoyed the outdoors. Around the time I was 8 years old my father started taking me on campouts with the local Boy Scout troop, of which he was the Scout Master. To be honest those early years of camping were difficult for me due to my age. Being a young child I was still in Cub Scouts which included boys up to the ages of 11. Once you turned 12 you could join the Boy Scouts. But that didn’t stop my Dad from taking me on all the campouts with the older boys.

As you can probably imagine I was picked on and teased a little, being the youngest, and weakest, but I loved being in the outdoors, surrounded by the sights and sounds of nature. Sitting by a warm fire, far away from any city lights, I could look up into the sky and see too many stars to count. Being outside brought me peace. Being in nature I felt safe.

Taken at Wekiwa Springs State Park 2022

Being around humans, specifically older boys was another matter entirely. Being the youngest and smallest I was an easy target. One campout I remember I was picked up into the air by an older scout who was probably 16 or 17 and literally body slammed down onto a protruding stump. I was lucky that I wasn’t seriously hurt, and the scout that had picked me up soon saw the fury my Father could wield as he came out of no where, and “calmly” explained to the young man what he thought about him body slamming his son. I wish I could say that experiences like this “toughened me up” but they didn’t. I was just a naïve little kid who just wanted to be left alone, and allowed to enjoy going on campouts with his Dad.

Thankfully not every campout that I tagged along on was bad. For a few years my family lived in Hollywood City FL, and the church we attended had an annual father and son canoe trip. This was one of my favorite annual activities, and I always looked forward to it. One year, after we had made it to our campsite for the night, me and some of the younger boys were sitting near the edge of the water listening to what we thought were frogs. We were talking about how big these frogs must be because the night air was filled with their sounds. That was when one of the fathers of the group came over and shined a flashlight out onto the water, and suddenly we could see all the glowing eyes of many alligators floating in the water. As you can imagine, me and the other boys decided not to sit so close to the water after that.

A few years after that my family and I moved to Plano TX, and eventually I was old enough to join the Boy Scouts. This meant that I could now earn merit badges, and go to summer camps. Now I am not really sure why, but at this time in my life I had decided scouting was not for me. Maybe it was the endless and never ending bullying I had received, or maybe I just wanted to stay home and read more comic books. Who knows, but I wanted out. Now you can imagine, my Father was not a fan of this new found desire to leave scouting, and he made it very clear that I was not allowed to leave scouting until I had earned the highest rank scouting offered its members, the Eagle Scout Award.

To obtain your Eagle Scout Award at the time there was a long list of requirements that a scout had to meet. This included earning many many different kinds of merit badges, going on a certain number of campouts, doing a certain amount of community service, and completing an Eagle Scout Service Project.

Taken at Wekiwa Springs State Park 2022

The merit badges were not a problem. Much to the irritation of my fellow scouts I sort of collected merit badges with ease, and very little effort. You see, like the Eagle Scout Award, merit badges had lists of requirements you had to do in order to earn the merit badge in question. These requirements, and more were always listed inside the specific topics merit badge book. Now most scouts who were going after a merit badge, say wilderness survival, would obtain the wilderness survival merit badge book and study it. Each book would be filled with helpful information on the specific topic, like how to build a fire with no matches, and how to make a shelter out of sticks, and the information would relate back to whatever the requirements of the badge were. A lot of scouts would spend a lot of time reading and studying these books before they would ever even think about trying to “pass off” the checklist of requirements for the merit badge. I however, had a different approach. I had a reputation within my troop of NEVER reading the merit badge books. Just wasn’t my style. When I wanted a merit badge I would just find the list of requirements, and I would just figure out how to “pass off” each and every item on the list on my own. I didn’t need a book to tell me how to do something, I would go find someone who knew, watch them do it, and after seeing it once or twice I would inherently know how to do it myself.

An example I remember vividly was during a week long scout camporee. I had decided that I wanted to earn my sailing merit badge, and as one might expect, one of the requirements for the merit badge was to actually show a certain skill for sailing. Easy…There was just one small problem…I had absolutely no idea how to sail and had never done it before. So I went down to the marina, and watched. For hours I watched every kid sailing out on the lake. I watched how they moved, the knots they tired, and how they steered these small little one man sail boats. The requirements for the sailing merit badge were pretty straight forward. You had to show you knew the proper safety procedures in case something went wrong, you had to pass a swim test, show basic understanding and demonstrate skill with tying certain knots, and then you had to sail a boat, on your own, out and around a buoy, and back. Easy right?

So after spending the better part of the day watching all the kids sailing I was pretty sure I knew what I was doing. So the next day I walked down to the marina, found one of the leaders who could sign off on my requirements, and told him I wanted to pass off all the skills for my sailing merit badge. The leader must have been having a slow day because he was willing. I passed the swim test with both hands tied behind my back and my eyes closed. My parents had put me in swim lessons practically the day I was born and I was a natural in the water. Afterwards the leader called out a few basic knots and asked me to tie them, which I did. I do recall getting one of them wrong, but the leader showed me my mistake and allowed me to do it again. Once the knots were out of the way he questioned me on the safety procedures of sailing a boat, and I passed, having memorized the list the night before in my tent. Now came the big check off item. Now I had to actually sail a boat. Something that I had never done before, and for which was the big main requirement of earning your sailing merit badge.

As you can imagine, I was a little nervous, but I had watched carefully the day before and I was confident that I could sail this boat. I pulled the boat down to the water with the aid of the leader, and set about inspecting the boat, the ropes, and the sails as I had seen the scouts do the day before. Finding no damage I jumped into the boat and the leader shoved me off into the water. Copying the movements of what I had observed the day before I got the sail up, and within a couple minutes the wind caught the sail, and I was moving. I remember being REALLY surprised at how much lean there was to the boat, and for a split second I thought how silly I would feel if I tipped the boat over. But I managed to steer the boat straight, and the wind wasn’t strong enough to pull the boat over. After a few minutes I reached the designated buoy and steered my boat around it and back towards shore. I had done it.

About 10 minutes later I was back on shore pulling the boat up onto land with the leader, and after it was tucked back into storage properly he signed me off on all my skills for the sailing merit badge. I had accomplished in 2 days what most scouts took all summer to do, and I was pretty proud of myself that I had found a loop hole in the system.

Looking back on that now as an adult I shake my head with a smile. Had I found a loop hole, yes. Had I found a way to use my skill in learning to my advantage, also yes. Had I missed the point of what earning merit badges was all about, you betcha! I was so focused on getting out of scouts, which required me to earn my Eagle Scout Award, that the only thing I was paying attention to was the long list of requirements I needed to accomplish. Had I technically done everything I was supposed to to earn my sailing merit badge…Yes. Did I actually learn how to sail? No. A classic case of being too focused on the destination, not the adventure of the journey.

While I had found a loop hole in the system, my friends spent all summer out on the water. Each time out was a new memory, and a new story to tell. Their summer was filled with learning something cool, while I was busy figuring out how to cross something off a list.

The Wedding Weekend

This past weekend I had the opportunity to travel to Woodstock GA with my beautiful wife Leslie to participate in my baby cousin’s wedding. Hannah and her now-husband asked me to even perform the ceremony, and it was my great honor to do so.

This is the second wedding ceremony I have had the honor of performing, and I hope it won’t be the last. As I prepared for these two wedding ceremonies I thought of all the bad advice I have been given and heard over the years. So I wanted to take the bad advice I had received and turn it into good advice for the couples I was marrying. It occurred that some of this advice could benefit others, not just those rare couples who ask me to perform their ceremonies. So below I would like to share some good marriage advice.

  1. Go To Bed Angry – Nope, you all heard me correctly, I said go to bed angry.  In marriage disagreements and fights will happen.  It’s a fact of life, and when these small arguments become a reality, we have a choice to make.  We can either solider on tired, worn out, and arguing into the wee hours of the night, or we can respect our partner’s need for sleep, we can respect their boundaries, and give them time to process.  It has been my experience that things don’t always feel or seem as bleak in morning rays of light.
  2. The little things matter more than the big things. –The moments in my marriage with my partner, that mean the most to me is when she cooks me breakfast because she knows I am exhausted from work. When she agreed to watch all 11 seasons of Frasier bc she knew it was my comfort show. And when she was my safe place when I needed to cry.  Those were the moments that meant the most to me.  You both probably already have some of these small moments together…When you find those small moments…Cherish them.
  3. Communicate – This is the holy grail of all relationships.  Talk to your partner and tell them what you want, need, and feel. Too many people will say something like “If my partner truly cared for me, they would just know______” or they will say “If my partner really knew me they would just know ______” These kinds of thoughts poison relationships.  If you haven’t communicated something it is not your partner’s fault for not being psychic.  If you need something ask for it.  If you want something express it.  You should always feel safe communicating with your partner.

I don’t have very many photos of my parents. OK, that is a lie. I don’t have very many good photos of my parents, and that’s because my parents are very good at making faces whenever a camera is pointing at them. However, during the reception, I was walking around like a Gremlin taking photos, and I am so pleased to have gotten some really nice photos of my parents. I am even happier to know that I was the one to take and create those images.

Through The Window

“Where ever I am I always find myself looking out the window wishing I was somewhere else.” – Angelina Jolie.

Talk about the story of my life. So many places I want to see and travel to. I have moved around most of my life living in many different states and cities along the way. Most of my travel has been in and around The United States, and truth be told I have forgotten more about the places I have visited, traveled to, and lived in then I probably have a right to. Some areas I have solid memory of, others I hardly remember at all. But I have always dreamed of traveling to distant areas of the world where no one knows who I am and just wandering.

It is something I have decided to do more of locally, since I can not currently do it abroad. Last week I explored The Apopka Trail Loop, last night I was looking up details to explore the Orlando Museum of Art, and I am hoping once I return from Atlanta, to travel down to the Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park to photograph the night sky in an area devoid of most light pollution. Perhaps these adventures will curb or at least satisfy my ever growing wanderlust bug.

Because as the quote says above, I am always thinking about a place far away, and that thought probably distracts me from the adventure and sites to explore where I am now. So stay tuned for my wanderlust adventure in and around the Orlando FL area. I will do my best to share them all with you.

Till then, be well and thanks for stopping by. -AS

I saw a couple shots on Pinterest recently of photographers taking shots through window glass. So since I just had my windows cleaned, and before we mess them up again I decided to try my hand at a few shots. This was the result.