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.