Month: September, 2009

Pigeon Point Park – Beaufort | Pensive Portrait

September 28, 2009

Deep in Thoughts

This photograph was taken at Pigeon Point Park in Beaufort during a lull in the hustle and bustle of week-end activities.

One wonders what our young model might be contemplating on this sunny day.

Insurance? For my Photographer? Who Cares?!

September 26, 2009

It’s a reality of life: everyone has insurance in one form or another: Car insurance, home insurance, life insurance, etc… We rarely use it, but we (more or less) gladly pay for it. We get it because we realize that IF something should happen, it will at least cover costs or allow us to replace what we’re lost.

Businesses are no different. If you enter a store and a ceiling tile falls on your head, the store is liable for your medial expenses. If a client walks into a glass door and breaks his nose, the store might face a lawsuit. For a small business, this could be devastating! All smart business people cary liability insurance. I don’t think any landlord in their right mind would let a business rent space without insurance.

What does this have to do with photography, especially when done on location, away from a studio? Here are some plausible scenarios. Feel free to imagine your own:

The photographer comes to your home to take portraits. He accidentally knocks over your $2000 waterford crystal lamp to the floor. If the photographer is not insured, it will probably come out of his pocket unless he can convince you to put it through your homeowner’s insurance. You then face a premium increase and in the end, the insurance company might still knock on the photographer’s door to recover their cost. If the photographer has insurance, then he shouldn’t have any problems calling his insurance company and getting the lamp replaced.

You are shooting on location and trying to get a cool shot of you standing on a tree stump/pic-nic table/rock/… You stumble and break your leg. A photographer’s insurance should pay your out of pocket medical costs.

In fact, some venues will insist on the photographer having insurance and providing a Certificate Of Insurance (COI) naming the venue as being insured. This is in case the venue gets sued as a result of a photographic incident like a guest tripping on a photographer’s light at a wedding. With a COI, the venue is covered by the insurance policy.

In such a venue, if you have a photographer shoot a wedding without a COI, the venue might get hopping mad and disallow photography altogether, or they might charge you an extra fee so they can get insurance. Who needs such hassles on their wedding day!

Will any of this happen to you? I sincerely hope not. The odds are against it, but if you are the unfortunate one in a thousand, it would be nice to know you’re covered.

CSS Hunley Funeral Procession

September 24, 2009

CSS Hunley - Women in Mourning Clothes

This photograph was taken on April 17, 2004 in Charleston – during the CSS Hunley funeral procession.

This was the last official funeral of the US Civil War.

The CSS H. L. Hunley was the first submarine to successfully sink an enemy warship. While they were successful in their mission, they sank while returning to shore.  The CSS Hunley was raised in 2000. The 8 crewmen were laid to rest the day this photograph was taken.

In memoriam

Lieutenant George E. Dixon

Frank Collins

Joseph F. Ridgaway

James A. Wicks

Arnold Becker

Corporal J. F. Carlsen

C. Lumpkin


Contracts? We don’t need no stinkin’ Contracts!

September 24, 2009

When dealing with a commercial photographer,  there will almost always be some sort of agreement you must sign. Sometimes, it might be just a few lines while other times, it might be a multi-page document. To be clear, the contract is not there to protect the photographer. It is there so that everyone knows what the ground rules are and what to expect! It is impossible for an agreement to cover every possible situation that could come up, but a detailed one will cover the most common ones.

Wedding Photography is the area where you are most likely to encounter a contract.  It is not surprising since this is probably the biggest investment a couple will make in photography. Not to mention that there rarely is a makeover.  In our case, the wedding photo agreement is 5 pages!

The first page contains the basic details: name and contact info for the couple and their parents, the event information (Ceremony and Reception venue), a list of key players (wedding coordinator, location manager, officiator, etc…) as well as cell phone number of two contact persons on the day of the wedding, should something need to be clarified. The couple will be busy enough! They don’t need to be bothered by things like tracking down Uncle Vern for the family photo.

The second page contains the costs and details of the photography package purchased. Any travel costs incurred, taxes, when the payment must be made, etc.. We then have 2 pages of clauses and the last page contains the signature block. Here are typical clauses you will find in photography agreements.

COPYRIGHT: You will typically find this in all photography agreements. In the US, any photographic image is copyrighted by the photographer who presses the shutter release. It’s the law. This means that the photographers controls who can have a copy of their image. It will typically say that you have the right to use the image for your personal enjoyment, but can’t make money off them.

PRODUCT DELIVERY: When will the final image be available?  You sometimes hear horror stories about couples not getting their images for a year or more. This makes it clear when you should expect to receive your photographs.

PAYMENT SCHEDULE: In wedding photography, you typically pay a retainer to the photographer to book the wedding date. Most photographers also insist on full payment before the wedding. This explains when payments should be received.

CANCELLATION: What happens if you cancel the agreement with the photographer? Most times, the photographer keeps the deposit, but sometimes if they can find another wedding for the same date, they might issue a refund.

EXHIBITION: Most photographers want the ability to use photographs they take on their web site, in their brochure, in sample books, etc… This might also cover entering photographic contests.

MODEL RELEASE: Some contract include a model release which in effect says that they can use pictures they take of you for any purpose they so choose.  This would include commercial use like Ads, Billboards, TV Spots or any other such thing.

FORCE MAJEURE: What happens if the photographer breaks a leg?  There are riots in the street?  A hurricane is coming to town?  In these cases, most contracts provide for a full refund.

SATISFACTION GUARANTEE: A few contracts provide for the eventuality that if you don’t like any of the photographs taken, you might be entitled to a refund or a reshoot. These are few and far between, but certainly can provide peace of mind.

There are many other elements that could be present in an agreement. In any case, your photographer should explain all of them clearly and to your satisfaction.  You could even have your own lawyer review the agreement if you were so inclined.  I don’t think any serious photographer would object.

At the end of the day, regardless of the type or length of the contract, you should be comfortable with the photographer as a person. They will be around you for hours on end! You want someone you get along with and that will treat you with respect.

Trip’s Birthday Party

September 20, 2009

This week-end we had the opportunity to attend Master Trip’s Birthday party.
The theme of the evening was PIRATES!
What would a pirate story be without fair maidens?
And here is Pirate Trip being spurned by one of the maiden…
It appears that Pirate Trip is a chip off the old block…just look at mom’s true color!

You need family photos NOW!

September 18, 2009

It does not matter if you are single, newly wed or retired; parents or grand-parents. You need photographs of your loved ones now!

Use a disposable camera, a point & shoot or even a polaroid (does it even still exist?). It doesn’t matter. Just get photos!

Photographs are the only visible reminder most of us have of our loved ones once they are gone. No matter how many photos of them you have, you will want more. Most folks have a fair number of kid pictures but when the children become teenagers, fewer and fewer pictures get taken. As people move into adulthood, picture taking slowly trickles to a stop.

When I lost my father, I had a few black & white photos of him as a young man and a newly wed. There is also a few young couple snapshots from the family album, but only a very few of him as a middle-aged man. Only a single snapshot of the entire family exists. I wish there was more.

I recently lost another family member. There are simply not enough photos of them.

Don’t wait until it’s too late. Take pictures now. Who cares if they are candid shots! When you remember your loved ones, it won’t matter.

You need family photos NOW! · September 18, 2009 · 5:16 am · Musings · Add Comment

Don’t let your naked prints languish!

September 16, 2009

Most people are sadly afflicted with naked printitis. It’s the habit of getting photographs and sticking them in a shoe box. It doesn’t matter if the photos are family snapshots, school pictures or professional portraits. You get some 4×6, 5×7, maybe a 8×10 and they stay naked in the envelope.

Some photographs do make it to the “family album” but more often than not, the album sits on a shelf somewhere, forgotten. Let’s be honest, when was the last time you took your photo album out?

A few lucky prints make it to a picture frame. THAT is how it should be! A good photo is something that should be enjoyed all the time! It has to be out in the world!

While small frames are great to place on shelves and desks, their impact is very localized. How about kicking it up a notch? Most homes have lots and lots of blank walls. Why not put those blank canvases to good use and hang photographs on the wall. Good photos not only connect us to our past, but they are also a piece of artwork.

Even if you only have small photographs, consider using mats. You can even find collage mats which have openings for multiple images in a single frame. This provides a great way to display small prints.

We try hard not to let our prints leave the studio naked.

Brittany near USCB

September 7, 2009

Brittany at USCB Brittany at USCB

Britanny is a lovely young woman I had the pleasure of photographing last week.

These images were taken on the USCB North Campus, near the Beaufort River.

While both poses are very similar, they have a totally different feel.

The one on the right looks much more playful. I believe the Black & White treatment makes it more dynamic.

Brittany near USCB · September 7, 2009 · 4:39 pm · Portraits · Add Comment

Choose Photographers based on your needs

September 4, 2009

When you are looking at a photographer, you really need to take into account the type of photography you want. Contemporary photojournalistic wedding photography has very little to do with studio portrait photography; commercial product photography is unrelated to fashion photography.

If you live in a large photography market, you can find photographers that specialize in a specific type of photography. Wedding Photography lends itself to specialization: David Ziser is a long established wedding photographer in the Cincinnati area; Jasmine Star is a great California based photographer. Most metropolitan areas will have a number of wedding photographers to choose from.

Other photographic specialties include: Portraits, Senior Pictures, Commercial Photography (itself having numerous sub-specialties), Stock Photography, Sports Photography, Event Photography, Photojournalism, and the list goes on.

In a small market (like Beaufort), most photographers need to diversify. It is not unusual for photographers to offer the big three: Wedding, Senior Sessions and Child Photography. If a photographer is not a specialist, it does not mean they don’t have an excellent product. It is simply that the business reality is such that they can’t do their preferred work all the time.

They key is to look at a photographer’s portfolio and choose one you like.

Or, if you’re lucky, you can find a photographer that doesn’t charge anything unless you’re satisfied with the end product :)

Boy at Korean War Memorial

September 3, 2009

During a DC trip, we visited the various memorials on the mall.

The boy was mesmerized by the Korean War Memorial. It is such a powerful image.

Boy at Korean War Memorial