Know when you’re the tail, and when you are actually the dog

So it has taken me more than a year to write my newest blog post. Mostly because I fell pregnant, had a very complicated pregnancy with a super premature little baby girl, and it has taken me a long time to adjust to all these events. I can happily state that my whole family and I, including two puppies, are all healthy and well.

The main other reason, was that I experienced extreme criticism after my previous blog post on what makeup-artists should NOT do for their photographer to love them. One of these artists came to my house for the sole purpose of personally attacking me, my character, and even my assistant’s personality. I’ve spent a VERY long time considering what, and IF I should even take the time to respond. I still stand by every word written in the blog, and if anyone feels personally offended because their work was featured more than the rest, they should up their game and not give me a reason to single out their mistakes. Fashion photography is an extremely competitive field, so if finding out you are not perfect makes you bring out the claws, I don’t think you have much of a future.

Having said that, the whole incident made me think about the fact that we are often the tail thinking we are wagging the dog. One of the things the furious makeup-artist who got featured the most (not my fault – hers!), brought up, was how dare I use HER images. HER IMAGES??????? Excuse me, unless you book me for a portfolio shoot, they are not your images. The money you got paid was all that counts as yours. It is the photographer’s prerogative to extend any stylist the courtesy of free images, but by no means a right to receive it. So I thought that I’d write a blog about when who is in charge.

1. TFCD shoots

In these scenarios, everyone pitches in their talent, and no one gets paid any money. This means that the model, photographer and stylists all essentially work for free, and all have equal opportunity to use these images (although copyright actually still remains the photographer’s). Here one should always negotiate beforehand how many images of what will be given to whom. Often when starting out, most creatives work like this to build their portfolios. In this case, a stylist can insist on images, as that will be the payment for the work done.

2. Commissioned shoots

Here whoever pays the bills, makes the rules. Whoever commissions the shoot, is the boss. The person bankrolling the shoot, inevitably has the last say. Practically this means that if a magazine commissions a shoot, the magazine has the final say in what should be done, how the end result should look, and can use these images as per the contract with the photographer. If a client commissions the shoot, for instance an interior architect commissioning images of a space they’ve designed, that person has the final say. I have had to redo the editing to a client’s liking more times than I care to count, as I often feel that the way they prefer it, is inferior. Ultimately, however, when they are paying me, I am very much the tail and definitely not the dog. That means I need to shut up and redo it until the paying client is happy, or else I will not get booked again.
This also means that if a makeup artist books a photographer for a portfolio shoot, pays both him and the model, ONLY then does it count as his/her own images. If you simply work on a shoot, the images are not by any means yours just because you were involved with the styling.If a photographer commissions a shoot, either for a personal project or for stock or whatever purpose, and he or she pays everyone involved, that photographer is most definitely the dog.

In short, it can be said that whoever pays for a shoot to take place, is the person in control, the person with the final decisions to make and the one everyone else need to impress. In other words, that person is the dog wagging the tail!.

I have been very fortunate to be accepted in the prestigious Photography Mastered program, an international program mentored by industry legends, such as the amazing photographer Nick Knight. My next blog will be about the first completed project in this program.

In the meantime, here is an image of the little girl that caused so much upheaval in my life, but who’ve made amends ten times over by being a complete joy of a baby:


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