Fantastic Opportunity to work for FREE!
Anyone fancy working for FREE?
Imagine a job request looking for someone to work for free, but not just ‘anyone’ they specifically looking for someone that is highly skilled, with years of experience, thousands of pounds of high end equipment, an extensive portfolio, ability to work independently and in groups, with their own transport and links to get articles / images / published in international high end publications.
I often come across or are tagged in a ”fantastic opportunity” that arises from someone that needing an “amazing photographer” and professional service but who does not want an amateur and at the same time to pay for professional expertise.
Reserved for Creatives
If you are not in the creative industry (including but not limited to writers, photographers, dancers, graphic designers, web designers, journalists, artists, musicians) you may have read this so far with a raised eyebrow, or a puzzled look. It doesn’t seem to quite make sense? but this offer to work for free , is an offer we (the creative community) get often.
After nearly 10 years of being full time, it kind of grates on you. Having spent all these years perfecting and improving my art (yes there is much more to it than simply buying a camera pressing a button), after having spent a small mortgage on equipment and training, having worked hard to get to the point where I have been published and work internationally, why do people continue to ask photographers (and other creatives) to work for free?
Work for FREE?
So again you may be scratching your head thinking “I’ve never heard anyone ask a photographer to work for free”. But it doesn’t present itself so direct and clearcut, it comes out in other guises, it has pseudonyms and disguises. No one (well not in my experience to date) comes to you and says “Hey professional photographer, can you come and work for free for me” .
To anyone in the creative community, being asked to work for free will not be a new story, but an age old one, rehashed again and again, but the one thing it generally has in common, the thing that does not change about this story is that your payment is usually EXPOSURE, we call it ‘exposure pounds’ in the industry. It doesn’t pay for new cameras, travel, courses or insurance. Some of the things photographers need to pay for to stay in business.
It is not accepted at ASDA when I do my grocery shopping, it is not accepted online when I want to buy a new lens, it is interestingly not accepted as payment terms by the very people offering this as a way of paying you!
The Work for FREE pitch
The sell usually goes along the lines of “everyone will see your work in our newsletter / on our instagram / website / Facebook and naturally this will bring you lots of pain work”.
So lets test this common sell. Ask yourself when was the last time you read an article in a newsletter or on a website and took time to look at who the photographer was?
If you can remember the last time you did this, then when was the last time this lead to you contacting them for business? If you knew they worked x event free, when was the last time this lead to you hiring them for paid work? Facts show that less than 1% of consumers look for the creator or any piece of online content.
I did look up a photographer from an online image a couple times. I saw an amazing image on google, it was one of those images on the holder screen when you are about deciding which Netflix program to watch, I looked up the photographer, flicked through his Instagram, didn’t even actually add him, and carried on with my binge tv day.
Are you still with us?
I expect many of you haven’t even got to this point – looking up a photographer from an image you see online or in print – let alone an image on a company page / bloggers instagram / corporate website, because in my experience, when these same people want a ‘proper’ job doing, they contact the highly paid professional, not the one valuing their work as ZERO being prepared to work for free. You see, this type of ‘pro bono’ ‘fantastic opportunity’ offer has little value or appeal for most photographers, once they are established.
It’s a LOT of work
Six hours shooting a conference could range from an average of £500 – 1000 for many photographers, is this ‘exposure payment’ going to be worth that amount? And what if you end up getting a potential booking for a big paid job on the same day? Do you turn down the paid booking to work for free? Or break your agreement for the non paying client, for a paying one? Now, if someone wants to paint my house in return for a job such as shooting a conference, that may be pro bono I would accept (painting takes so long!), but funnily enough, no one wants to work for free, not THAT hard for FREE … because that’s just outrageous!
SOME OF ITS DISGUISES
In case anyone needs any tips on recognising when someone is asking you to work for free or even when you are asking someone to work for free, here are a few of the forms it takes:
1. PRO BONO
Payment : Exposure, portfolio images, credit
A “pro bono opportunity”
The conversation usually goes along the lines of – we have an event coming up that we would love some amazing images of that we can use across our social media and printed platforms. We have some amazing speakers and we have spent so much on the venue and food that we have no money for a photographer. You will be able to use the images for your portfolio, and we will credit you. Notice no one actually says the words ‘work for free’.
My response – “sorry I do not bring out thousands of pounds worth of equipment I use to make my everyday living with for free”.
Points to note
It is also worth noting that crediting the copyright owner (the photographer) is legal, not something the photographer is being given as part of their payment.
The photographer being able to use their own images in their portfolio is also something that is legal, not something they are given by the organisation/ person they are shooting images for. So this takes the exchange to simply ‘exposure’ and work for free.
The organisation thinks everyone will see these amazing images of a regular event like a conference (of which you probably have tons of examples already in your portfolio), contact the organisation to see who shot their images, find out you were free, but somehow want to pay for your services.
An amazing image or two
(Here are a couple of our conference / event images by the way, we do cover them, if you are blown away by this image, please feel free to contact us for our services).
I have on previous occasions suggested £600 worth of their services or products in return, which would be the cost of an average conference, but that is usually seen as an outrageous exchange.
Please shoot my line for free
I was contacted by a blogger / influencer / insta model who had a clothing line with Pretty Little Thing or Asos I can’t quite remember which one it was now, but to have a line on either of these multi million pound businesses is pretty major in my book
She wanted me to shoot this – for FREE. It would of course be an amazing opportunity to get my images on such a huge platform (which shows no credit to photographers anyway), and her instagram (which does credit photographers) that has thousands of followers. I suggested £600 worth of clothes, but this was so ridiculous to her, I could literally hear the laugh through the text message.
So in reality you are well …working for free.
It is also worth noting that a 6 hour conference would also accrue a couple hours of kit preparation at home, maybe 1.5 hours travel there and back, another 5 hours of image culling, editing, storage and delivery; so you have in fact done near on two days work for free.
PAYMENT – Exposure, Credit, Sandwiches and Drink (sometimes a free bag for life with the charity logo printed on it)
A Charitable Cause
It’s for the poor
The conversation is usually along the lines of – we work for x charity, and do some amazing work with x community. We are looking for someone to come along to shoot our event and support our cause, we will credit you on all out social media platforms and there will be drinks and sandwiches at the event that you are also welcome to have.
My response – “I respect your charitable organisation, I am a for profit business and sorry I do not bring out thousands of pounds worth of equipment I use to make my everyday living with, for free”. It is also worth noting here that many of these charities have bosses with 6 figure salaries, millions in the business bank account and not doing too bad at all. They may not be ‘for profit’ but many are in heck of a better financial situation than myself or most photographers I know!
3. AN INVITE
PAYMENT – Exposure, credit, having a great day / night out
Just come along … and bring your camera.
This conversation usually goes along the lines of – I’m having a birthday party / launch event / christening / wedding, I would love you to come if you can make it. Can you also bring your camera and “grab a few shots while you are here”.
This actually means you are the event photographer, organising groups, individual shots, wearing working clothes to the event not heels and a nice dress that I may otherwise wear, with the responsibility of making sure everything is covered.
Your work for free soon becomes very professional when the person that made the request comes back to you and ask why there is not a photo of x person, or when x spoke, or when x cut the cake – even though you were supposed to be just “grabbing a few shots”.
My response “I’m sorry but I can’t be a guest and your photographer at the same time, as a guest I do not bring out thousands of pounds worth of equipment I use to make my everyday living with, on a night / day out”
4. PORTFOLIO BUILDING
PAYMENT – Exposure, portfolio enhancement
As above – but it is stressed that these will be great portfolio images
This is especially so, if it is an event there may be some celebrities there. If it is a wedding it will be an amazing wedding, with a beautiful couple in an amazing venue. If a fashion show, there will be some amazing new talent showing.
You will be able to use the images for you portfolio as they will be so amazing. My response “Have you had a chance to take a look at my website, I have quite an extensive and varied portfolio” – having shot amazing weddings in the UK and as far
afield as Rwanda; public figures such as Barak Obama and celebrities such as Jamie Fox. I also shoot London Fashion Week and The Diamond League athletics – just to highlight some of my diverse work. So to date, I am pretty happy with my portfolio, and dare I say, I have some amazing content.
My response “I already have an extensive portfolio that I use to show clients the quality of my work. I am also sorry but I do not bring out thousands of pounds worth of equipment I use to make my everyday living with, for free”.
It is worth noting here that they rely on you being so blown away by the idea of shooting a celebrity, that that will suddenly mean you have no desire to get paid for your job.
If a wedding they rely on the idea that because they are a beautiful couple or are booking a nice venue, you don’t already have beautiful couples and great venues in your portfolio; Or that conventional stereotypical beauty is worth more. All established photographers will already have experience and a portfolio.
5. JUST GIVING A FREE IMAGE
PAYMENT – Exposure, credit, seeing your image in print / or a popular platform
“Can we use your x image for free in perpetuity, across all our platforms with credit to yourself”
This is usually line from newspapers and magazines, if you scroll through twitter you will often see tweets from newspapers asking to use images they find online.
It is also common with wedding and such venues after you have covered an event in their venue. Some of these usages would literally cost hundreds of pounds, sometimes thousands if there were to pay the going rate for it. I often get this after fashion shows from models, or events from the people present.
It’s just a photo, its not worth anything
Somehow, some people believe that giving away something of this value is not working for free. There is also a huge misconception that because they feature in the image, they have a right to it. This may come as a surprise to many but being the subject of an image gives you no more right over than image than not being in it. Celebrities do not own the images thousands of photographers take of them, royalty do not own the images taken of them. I also remember my mom having to pay for images that featured me when I was at school. Whats the difference?
The image was created because of the equipment and education you invested thousands in to be able to create it. If you are not compensated for this investment, you are again …working for free. My response to this type of request is “I am a full time photographer, as such all of my images are licensed, as part of my income, I can send you my licensing rates if you would like / the price is x”.
6. SPEAKING TO OUR GROUP
PAYMENT – A thank you
“We would like you to come and talk to our group of up and coming photographers, share some of your knowledge and tips”
I have spent a lot of money on education to get to my position; some of that money was spent with other photographers imparting their knowledge to me. I paid for their expertise.
I paid for the shortcut to know how to do particular things, because they had already put years into perfecting that thing. Knowledge has a value. Students pay thousands of pounds to go University …to gain knowledge.
That’s a little stingy of you, not everyone can afford to pay
This is the way of the world. We would not question BMW for not having their cars at a price everyone can afford. No one would complain to Apple for not making their iPhones at a price we can all afford.
A small business is no different.
My response to this type of request is “I am a full time photographer, as such my time and knowledge has a value, this is my income and I do not work for free”.
PAYMENT – Amazing images you can use for your portfolio to gain exposure and experience from
“Do you collaborate with other businesses / do you do collaboration shoots?”
If I come up with a crazy idea that I would like try out to test my artistic genes, this is a collaboration. A business contacting you for commercial images they need to market their business, is a commercial shoot, not a collaboration.
That’s a little stingy of you, not everyone can afford to pay
Yes some people can’t, they may be a small business like Lensi, and will have to do without some things they need.
Sometimes they are a huge business who wants to give shareholders extra money rather than paying a small business. Sometimes they see no value in photography, therefore just don’t want to pay for it.
But you do not need to take only these few thought out examples as gospel, the internet is littered with websites exposing the same.
Photographers also need to make a living too.
My response to this type of request is “I am a full time photographer, this is a commercial shoot not a collaboration, the cost would be x ”.
GENERAL CONSIDERATIONS WHEN WORKING FOR FREE
Just like a car, a camera has what I call “click mileage” a certain number of actuations and wear and tear, before it needs a major costly service, then before it dies altogether.
Yes camera’s has a life expectancy! They do not go on forever.
Enough of these free jobs brings it closer to this point, without contributing towards its repair or replacement. If photography is your business, your living, this makes little business sense. To keep using something, building up the wear and tear and click mileage, without any payment to replace that very thing. Imagine and Uber driver giving away free rides to charities, or for exposure because they are carrying celebrities and such. There then comes a day when they actually have a huge fare, someone that wants to travel from London to Birmingham for example, a nice payday … but unfortunately they cannot take up the offer because …their car has broken down due to the extensive free rides! Now working for free has actually ended up costing you the loss of real money!
DAMAGED OR BROKEN KIT
Another consideration when doing a free job, if something were to happen on this job, who pays? Who would pay for your kit if something is stolen or damaged at this free job?
You are already working for free, so is this organisation / person going to then say “I know we were not paying you for this gig, but here is £2000 for your stolen camera / here is £500 to repair the lens your dropped while covering our event” …
Would you simply get a sorry and an extra ham sandwich?
An insurance claim may cost you an excess of at least £250, so on top of the costs of working for free, this could cost the photographer quite a lot, all with any payment.
If the worst were to happen, and you had a paid job the next day, it would be irritating in the least, having to pay to hire a lens for a paid job, because the lens you own was damaged or stolen on a FREE JOB
WHAT USALLY HAPPENS WHEN YOU CANNOT AFFORD A SERVICE OR PRODUCT?
My last general consideration here is where I ask you to question what happens if you want a service or product you cant afford.
You have a few options:
- Steal it
- Do without it
- Buy a cheaper version
- Restructure your priorities / save for it
I can think of very few cases where I would ask for it for free, or steal it. So just for fun, I have given you a few examples of putting the same exposure requests that creatives get to other businesses and services.
WORKING FOR FREE REQUESTS
GYM OR FITNESS CLASSES
I would love to have a few months worth of sessions for free to enable me to get into shape.
I do loads of great work in the community and you would really be helping me out. Unfortunately, I don’t have the money to pay for this … but … I will credit you on social media every time I am at a class, naming the gym and instructor. I will also bring extra water with me to class for you to hydrate yourself with.
I need a new bathroom plumbing in. It is a lovely modern home which would be amazing on your website. A real show piece. I cannot afford to pay for the plumbing because I have already paid an electrician so much. I have also invested in some great designer artwork for the walls. You will be able to use images of my bathroom on your leaflets and website to show the quality of your work. I will also give you a great review.
Come along to my BBQ that I am having on Sunday, while you are here can you just bring your hair kit and give me a quick wash and blow dry! It is going to be a great day, great music and my famous BBQ spare ribs. It shouldn’t take you long.
SOME OF MY PERSONAL FAVOURITES OFFERS
(yes I have been personally approached with all these amazing opportunities)
1. A local council that had had their budgets cut during austerity. They were putting on a conference, but didn’t have the money to pay for this conference, so were asking everyone involved to work for free. Interestingly though, the council workers were being paid as it was part of their day job, so it was actually only small businesses that were being asked to work for free. The bigger businesses such as the one where the event was being held had been paid. I have a policy to never ‘help’ established multi million pound organisations or companies with FREE WORK.
2. A magazine who contacted me for an image they did not want to pay for (i.e free), to accompany an article about people not wanting to pay photographers. (I kid you not).
3. A very high end fashion house (think dresses in excess of 15k), think A list celebs, contacting me to use an image for free, not sure why as they had their own paid photographer at the event, maybe they did not capture the image that i did … who knows.
I have a policy of not giving free stuff to companies who have dresses that cost more than my car or what some people earn in a year.
4. This was was experienced by a colleague. He had shot a wedding a venue, the venue approached him to use a photo from this wedding. He was willing to do this and asked if in return he would use the venue for a styled shoot. The venues response “there would be an applicable hire charge for this, as a commercial venue for hire”.
So yes … we will happily have your work for for FREE, but please do not be so ridiculous as to ask to use our venue for free.
BEFORE I GO
Before all the critics rolls in, let me also clear up a few things I am expecting.
1. Everyone was new to the business once
People who are just starting in the business, with entry level kit and little experience will take up these opportunities; I did myself; but these are not the types of photographers the people who pay with ‘exposure pounds’ are looking for. Your value increases with the more experience (and kit) you accrue.
Think about how much you may pay a newly qualified solicitor compared to a Barrister. How much a Newly qualified teacher may get paid, compared to a year Head or Principal; an Actress with decades of Hollywood Blockbusters under her belt compared to someone just getting into the business. A consultant compared to a newly qualified doctor.
2. Lots of people do voluntary work.
Volunteer – “a person who OFFERS to take part on an enterprise or undertake a task” – see the key difference there?
3. Remember where you came from or started
I do. I remember starting at the bottom and spending thousands of pounds on courses, training and equipment, and investing thousands upon thousands of hours gaining the expertise that allows me to shoot and capture images the way I currently do. But I see no correlation between remembering your humble beginnings and being asked to work for free.
Just like some of the professions I have named above, I have done my ‘internship’ of FREE WORK. If you were asked to earn the same in your job that you have been in for many years, the same as someone who is not even qualified in it yet, would it slightly raise the irritation levels?
4. I would be overjoyed to have my image in print / on the instagram page of x organisation / x celebrity
Thats fine, and your choice. I would rather be paid with real money.
I will update this article periodically, but as of its publication that last time I was asked to work for free was August 2019.
5. I cannot see the big deal, what are photographers going on about, it is just a picture.
Try saying this to Karen Anvil who is rumoured to have made £50,000 from a photo she took on her phone of The young Royals on their Christmas walk.
Photos are how I pay my bills. Yes in todays world they have become so accessible. But each photo is worth something to a photographer, especially full time ones. Imagine being asked to come into work for one month for free …would you be jumping for joy at the opportunity or working for no pay.
My free work offers so far in 2019 total to £7,000 (August 2019)
I would be interested to see which other average everyday people give this amount to charity in a year.
This is what some other creatives have said about it?
My hope for this article.
I hope the article reaches some of the people it needs to…
We (creatives) hope those who ask people to work for free understand their request.
I wish that professionals that work for free understand what they are giving away.
Thanks to all my clients for the respect of paying me in real recognised currencies!!
Follow us on instagram to view some of our working for pay jobs!
No Photos in Church Please – Wedding Photography
“No Photos in Church Please” – Wedding Photography
As a wedding photographer this may seem like a crazy statement to see or hear, Wedding Photography is all about taking photos in Church or a Gudwara or any other religious place, but this has literally been what we have ben told in some churches when covering some weddings “No Photos in Church Please”.
You may be reading this with a puzzled look on your face, I certainly thought that the first time I was told this by a Minister.
Some churches (and I find this is common in churches of a certain denomination – naming no names, we have never had this in any other religious ceremony) and we cover all kinds of Weddings in Birmingham and beyond, from Muslim Weddings to Sikh Weddings to Christian Weddings to Hindu Weddings and secular weddings.
This seems to have been a topic in many forums, with wedding photographers firm on each side.
There are photographers who believe that the Minister’s wishes for his / her church are paramount, and will happily sit at the back of a church for the whole ceremony, and only get shots when he bride is walking in, walking out and signing the register, which is what is allowed by that Minister.
There are other photographers who believe that their clients (the Bride and Groom) wishes are paramount, and if they want images of their ceremony, even if that means going against the Minsters wishes, so be it
I genuinely find that many couples do not know that some churches do not allow Wedding Photography or are not friendly to Wedding Photography at their venue. I photograph a lot of Asian Weddings where it is common for at least 4 photographers and cinematographers to be at one wedding, but not uncommon for there to be as many as 8 staff capturing the day.
So what are the reasons for this, these have been reasons we have been given:
1. Over zealous previous photographers, rolling on the floor etc to take photos.
I have never personally seen over excited photographer rolling on the floor etc during a service . I do not know any photographers that have personally seen this at a wedding, and I have a lot of photographers in my circles.
2. The couple need to concentrate on the vows they are making before God.
You have to question if having pictures taken make them think any less about what they are undertaking.
3. It distracts the guests / couple.
Wedding Photography and Cinematography are now such a normal part of a Wedding Day, again I would question who it distracts. I know that when I photograph weddings, I wear soft loafer shoes (as do my other staff), and dress in all black, a ninja would be hard pressed to be more slight than me.
On the guests side, I find guests phones pinging, children crying in church, and guest photographers with iPhones and iPads that need to go right up to the Bride and Groom or couple to get a shot, much more distractive.
Churches have people in them, as such there will be children playing, people crying, people laughing all kinds of things that people COULD get distracted by.
4. The couple will remember it better if they concentrate on what is happening.
I find that for many brides especially, the day goes by in whirlwind, they have been planning their wedding day for years, and before they know it, their wedding day is over. So what do they have to remember their wedding day by? Their Wedding Photography and Wedding Cinematography.
5. It is Gods House and it is disrespectful for anyone to be snapping away or moving about the place.
Some churches stream church services to millions across the world. Images taken in churches are so common now.
Some churches have no problem with wedding photography, so it makes you question what is it about particular churches that do not see it in this way?
We live in a world documented by images, and sharing so many parts of our lives.
Imagine if on one of …if not the biggest day of your life, and whole chunks of it are missing, because the minister was not happy with it? In fact if you have a minister like this, and you follow their wishes instead of stating yours, you may end up having more photos from your works trip to Nandos than you do of your wedding ceremony? This somehow just does not seem right.
6. Data Protection (especially when signing the register)
When this reason is given you may question, if the data that is being protected, the data of the same Bride and Groom whose wedding you are photographing for them? It’s their data, their signatures, their names?
This data later becomes a publicly available document that can be looked up in any library or obtained online for a few pounds? So if you are given this reason, does it add up.
Previously we have photographed weddings where Ministers have suggested a shot where the Bride and Groom hold up their register towards the camera. So not every minster feels this way, which points towards the idea the idea that this is the personal choice of each minister.
7. We simply do not allow it! No Photography in Church please!
If you are given this reason, you have paid for a photographer to deliver a service. You have also paid to have your wedding at a church and a Minster deliver a service. If one vendor (the photographer or Minster) obstructs the other and stops them delivering that service, are they doing the best for their customer? The Bride and Groom or wedding couple?
The guests on the other hand, can snap away at any point, and more than a few with have DSLR cameras …. for all of us at Lensi, the Wedding is always about the Bride and Groom, we will advise so that they get the best from their day, and always do our best for them.
Now this is not meant to sound like a moan about churches or other religious or wedding establishments, we have worked with some fantastic Ministers, Churches and places of worship and celebration, in fact most of them have been, but just a short post for you to consider when choosing a church for your Wedding Day.
If you have read this and thought … oh that wont apply to us, we are getting married in a …country house, register office etc. Think again, we have also seen this at non religious establishments.
If you have already chosen and booked your church, this is something worth explicitly stating to your minister or person leading your service.
It is something most couples do not know, so we share it to make your planning journey a little bit more informed. This has genuinely only happened at weddings we have photographed a few times, but when it has happened the Bride and Groom were not made aware of this rule about wedding photography, and therefore did not have the chance to question it.
Their photographer has either had to ignore the Minsters wishes, much to their disdain. Debate with the Minster, again also much to their disdain, or not get any pictures during their ceremony, only images of them coming into church, walking back up the aisle, and signing the register! And thats it!
So when you are looking at a venue for your Wedding Photography, consider all the things you normally would for your wedding day. The sentimental links that church may have to your family, its location, how beautiful it looks, if it can hold all of your weddings guests, how far it is for you to travel….and also if they have issues with photography!
If you are happy with limited images during your ceremony, none of the guests or mom and dad smiling or crying during the service. If you are content with no close ups of the special exchange or rings moment, none of the bride looking into the yes of the groom or vice versa, this is fine.
If not think about asking the question on their approach to photographers in the ceremony! And decide if you want photography or not, it may be such an issue where you have to consider changing your venue (if you want Wedding Photography!).
Press Photography – 10 Tips for Shooting at 10 Downing Street
Press Photography at 10 Downing Street
Lensi Photography offer Press Photography in Birmingham and Nationally.
We have captured some of the major news events we all see on front pages of the worlds medisAs press photographers we though it may be useful to offer tips for those wanting to do more press photography, and what more iconic press photography is there than photography at one of the most famous streets in the UK. Number 10 Downing Street, the Home of the Uk Prime Minister.
Press Photography – Number 10 Downing Street
We have all seen those iconic images shot in one of the UK’s most iconic and well known streets, Lady Margaret Thatcher leaving number 10 with a tear in her eye after three consecutive terms in office.
Gordon Brown walking out of Downing Street with his family.
The Chancellor of each Parliament preparing to deliver the budget.
You may be wondering how you get to shoot at the famous number ten?
Here are ten tips for this :
1 – you must have an NUJ (National Union of Journalists) Press Card. It proves you are an official journalist, nothing else will be excepted. See the NUJ website on acquiring one of these if you do not already have one.
2 – Be prepared for an airport style search and scan of all your equipment. The street was gated in during the time that the IRA were very active; so everyone will be searched.
3 – The Press Pen is about 30 feet away from the door, a 70-200mm on a full frame camera is an ideal length. Some photographers also bring something longer, most will also have a wide angle with them too.
4 – Getting a Good Spot – the prime spot is smack bang opposite number 10. Most photographers will pile around this area, you may need to get there early to get this spot.
5 – Bring a ladder – as everyone wants the central spot, there will be a clump of photographers around this area, on varying height ladders; with those at the back being on 6ft and above sized ladders. As always be prepared to not be precious over personal space, photographers pack in tight!
6 – Wear / bring something warm – Even on a hot day the press pit is in the shade, so gets none of the natural sunlight. You will often be waiting for hours to ensure you get a good spot before your shoot begins. It’s no fun being cold when you are shooting.
7 – Be prepared – although you may have been waiting for hours, your shooting time will literally be minutes, even seconds in some cases. The Prime Minster or an official guest leaving or arriving, and not even really posing for the cameras. I recently shot the US first family the Obamas, Michelle waved as the entered and left number 10, her daughters and mother who accompanied her literally did not look at the camera. Be aware that not all guests will pose. Know who you are there to shoot and what they look like, again if that person steps out of a car that you do not expect, you want to be ready to get the shot that you need to get
8 – Commit to how you are going to shoot before hand – what do you need from the arrival? what is the money shot? Will you use flash or not? I was shooting with a 24-105 and 70-200 on one occasion, and int he seconds it took me to lift one camera from my strap and drop the other (still also attached to my harness – don’t worry) I missed a crucial wave by David Cameron and his guests. Lesson learnt, shoot with whatever you have in your hand at the time, a no perfect shot is better than non at all.
9 – Speed – most people will be shooting for agencies or publications, as soon as the main event is over, a myriad of photographers will drop to the floor or retire to ‘the wall’ with coats over their heads to see the screen and begin to file their images. If you have a 4Gee Internet dongle it works in double speed in Downing Street, so this is the best place to file your images.
10 – These are some images, copyright of Lensi Photography of The First Lady Michelle Obama’s visit to David Cameron at number 10 Downing Street. We were working for two photo agencies in delivering these images, which were filed and online within minutes. This type of press photography or event photography is not for for everyone, but it does harness you with excellent skills for other types of photography, such as speed in getting images edited, shooting in a fashion where only minimal editing is needed, and planning your shots beforehand.
Event Photography for Festivals – Ten Tips on How to Photograph a Festival
Event Photography for Festivals – Ten Tips on How to Photograph a Festival
Lensi Photography offer event photography for festivals and all types of events, from conferences to corporate events to personal events.
This year Lensi Photography were one of the event photographers for The Parklife Festival in Manchester. As always The Parklife Festival 2015 did not disappoint, a great mixture of Artists and DJ’s, a myriad of tents and stages that festival goers would be entertained by, great security and planning, all in all a great festival.
If you are a photographer, and are covering a festival for the first time, this blog may be of use.
HOW TO COVER A FESTIVAL
1 – GET THERE IN PLENTY TIME BEFORE THE FIRST ACT YOU WANT TO PHOTOGRAPH
Photographers will all give you stories of no one knowing how to direct them to the press room, confirmed passes not being where they should be, having to drag heavy kit across a field of drunk revellers or the press room simply being miles away.
So if the first act you plan to shoot is on at 1, get there at at least 12, especially on the first day.
2 – FOOTWEAR AND CLOTHING
As a photographer, although it is hard work covering a festival (wear the most comfy footwear you have) and don’t be fooled by there being no rain, the festival WILL be muddy, wear your your wellies to be safe. Also bring a number of layers to pile on as it gets colder in the evening, I started out in shorts and a top, built up to a sweater, then a hoody on top of that, then changed shorts for leggings, and finally added a coat … once the sun drops it gets pretty cold, and although it may look and feel great in the day to be in your summer festival clothes, many women looked on at me envious by the time night came.
3 – ACTS PERFORMING
Know your acts!! There will be a host of celebrities and public figuresThe highlight of this years festival for me was Grace Jones, what a legend! What an honour to be able to shoot (photograph in none photographer speak) someone like her, the trail blazer for artists like Lady Gaga, and even at age 67, she still has it, and all minus cosmetic surgery! The press pit was full for her performance, which shows this was the shot that everyone wanted.
It will be impossible to cover everything, so work out who you want to cover beforehand or at the start of the day so that you have a plan. This will depend on who you are shooting for, some photographers need lots of crowd shots, some only need main stage acts and so on, you just need to be clear on what you need to shoot.
4 – EQUIPMENT
I carry two bodies on a Black Rapid Double Strap to a festival like this. Two Canon 5d3’s a wide angle and a telephoto zoom, one body would be lighter, but I prefer to carry two for speed when a shot appears and you need to suddenly have a different angle. Carrying my camera around my neck simply does not work for me, its painful and uncomfortable, being able to carry my equipment on my body is much more comfortable.
Some photographers also bring a 300mm (or above) in case we have a shoot from the mixer. Others also bring a super wide angle (if we are really close to the stage) or a fish eye (for those fun type shots), but this is just too much to carry around for me.
5 – WALKING, GETTING TO AND FROM STAGES
Most photographers will be filing back to their respective agencies / magazines / publications, so there will be a lot of time spent doing and fringe getting to the various stages, then heading back to the press room to upload your images. A plus for this year was that we were transported via buggy a few times, which really saved on the legs! (image courtesy of fellow tog and Friend Paul Torode)
6 – HAVE AN IDEA OF WHAT TYPES OF IMAGES YOU WANT
Research images from pervious events, it will give you an idea of what kind of spaces and backdrops you will be working with. From an image point of view images taken at night or in the various tents look amazing as the lighting is always well put together.
The more you photograph these events the more you learn and know what to look out for, for example Rudimental who have won awards for their festival performances always enter stage with a jump from their front guy, going out into the crowd to shot the main stage from far away once your press pit time is over also may get you some exclusives as well as a great full stage shots, such as the ‘Disclosure’ shot in this set.
I also shoot video snippets (which can be found on our YouTube Channel) as it adds a little more life to your coverage, and is great for most agencies and publications.
7 – SHOOT WIDE AND TIGHT, NEAR AND FAR, USE YOUR 15 MINS / THREE SONGS WISELY
You will get the first three songs or 15 minutes of a DJ set in the pit. Use this time effectively. Resist any temptation you may have to let go and enjoy the music, you are not there to party! Get your shots, and then you may relax for a bit …until you have to head to the next stage.
It can be tempting to get close up shots of some of your favourite artists, shots where they can clearly be seen, but be sure to also get wide ones, where they form a tiny part of the image. Some of my favourite shots from this year are shot way away from the stage, after your time has finished in the pit, don’t be scared to walk into the crowd to get a different angle. I shot these once our 15 mins were finished in the pit.
8 – MAKE FRIENDS!
Your first time at a festival can be daunting! The pros will know where to go for what time, the quickest way to the different tents and so on. I remember my first festival I fought my way through crowds many times to get to a particular stage, to then find out that photographers can take a backstage route!
Festivals are generally friendly places, (not all photography environments are!) and I have made some really good friends who are also fellow photographers there. I have helped people out with batteries and memory cards and shooting, as they have me. It’s also nice to be able to work and have someone to talk to and laugh with. It is most definitely still work, but it is great fun too!
9 – EARPLUGS
Bring some unless you wish to sacrifice your hearing for the sake of getting your shots! The speakers are designed to project to thousands of people in front of a stage, and you are standing next to them ….figure that one out!
10 – TOILETS
Bring sanitiser and tissue, these are festival toilets, need I say more?!! Unless you have VIP tickets, which have assigned cleaners who monitor the tissue, cleanliness etc.
Roll on next year, and more festivals!
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