Shooting famous people, advice needed

Discussion in 'Presentation & Marketing' started by maxbloom, Feb 2, 2007.

  1. maxbloom

    maxbloom Member

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    Okay so I'm no Avedon...yet. But I'm going to photographing a number of pretty famous music celebrities in february/march. Does anyone have any experience with this in terms of licensing? I'm in need of some advice concerning rights management for this sort of thing. Is it usually on a case-by-case basis depending on who you're shooting? Are they all going to want rights-sharing? etc etc.

    Thanks in advance for any help.
     
  2. jstraw

    jstraw Member

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    What is the initial impetus for these photographs and are these studio or performance situations?

    Relinquish as few rights as you must to get the contract signed. Don't do "work-for-hire" if you can avoid it. Sell one-time-usage rights or limited-time-exclusive rights if you can. Reserve rights to sell for other media, for exhibition and prints, if at all possible.
     
  3. maxbloom

    maxbloom Member

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    These are studio, not performance...though I may do a few performance shots on the side just for kicks.

    Thanks for the advice.
     
  4. maxbloom

    maxbloom Member

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    I was thinking shared publication rights for 6 months, and then exclusive publication and exhibition rights for myself. Should I opt for granting one-time-use rights instead? What are the disadvantages of rights-sharing?
     
  5. jstraw

    jstraw Member

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    Well, I still don't know what the impetus for these images is. That has a lot to do with what rights they will have to be able to purchase from you. I mean, if you're shooting someone's portrait for their album cover, you'd probably have to be prepared to only be able to publish or exhibit the image as it relates to your own portfolio and self-promotion. You'd want to make sure you had the right to make the image availble for reproduction in a book or article about you or on a poster that promotes you. For most media they may demand the purchase of all rights in perptuity. There's also the issue of rights to outtakes.

    I'm just speaking in generalities. I'm sure there are people here that really know the nuts and bolts of this stuff.
     
  6. RebeccaSC

    RebeccaSC Member

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    Are the artists signed to a record company i.e do they have a deal?

    Are you being paid for the shoot?

    Rebecca
     
  7. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    Unless you have to sign some sort of agreement, or there's a verbal agreement before making the images then don't worry - you can do what you like with the images you take.

    Over the years I've shot numerous well known rock musicians and they are quite happy for me to use the images as I wish.

    Of course if you are being paid to shoot the images then the copyright belongs to you and the people commissioning the images (under UK law anyway).

    Ian
     
  8. jstraw

    jstraw Member

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    Ian makes an excellent point. Sometimes the best agreement is no agreement at all because in the absence of the explict transfer of rights, they're all yours.
     
  9. bill schwab

    bill schwab Advertiser Advertiser

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    When I left the music business there was never a shoot without some kind of an agreement on how the images were to be used. If they are truly "famous", I am sure you are going to have to sign something. This still does not mean you can't use them in other ways however. A lot of my work that was shot with one expressed purpose ended up being used in other ways. Only one "star" ever made trouble over this and it never went very far.

    Best of luck,

    Bill
     
  10. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    Not sure about written agreements. I started shooting rock bands in the early 1970's and then in 1976 for a record company, since I started I've never even seen a contract.

    However when I've had backstage passes or been on the official guest list (as a photographer) I've always made a point of showing and offering images.

    There is a kind of implicit agreement, if you're given certain privileges you should at least ask if your images are going to be used in a commercial way.

    More recently the boot has been on both feet as I was a director of a record label, and I had to try and make sure the bands only used the best possible images of themselves in their publicity etc.

    Photographing bands is hard work and the hours are often unsocial, particularly if you work 9-5 as well. For example this April I'll photograph 30 rock bands live on stage, as well as a location shoot with each band. Finding 30 different locations or settings is bad enough, let alone relying on the British weather. So there's no contract, no verbal agreement, just an imlicit understanding the record company and the bands will get the images I think they need, I have been working with the director of music since the late 70's though.

    At the end of the day it is also about your own reputation, and you don't get repeat work is you abuse situations.

    Ian
     
  11. maxbloom

    maxbloom Member

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    I'm co-director of an upcoming gathering of musicians and scholars at my university. I probably will shoot some photos of them performing, but the other co-director and I will be hosting some interviews with them and the like, which is when i'll mostly be shooting them. Yes the artists are signed, and very well known. So I suppose I will end up having to go over this contract crap with their PR people.

    So I guess what i'm looking for here is just some advice on how to deal with them. I suppose i'll just have to feel it out/haggle with them over rights, but I just wanted an idea of where I should start. Or more specifically, what I ought to shoot for/what rights I most likely won't be able to secure. In all honesty, I probably won't be publishing these photos. I would consider publishing them if I got some sort of offer, but mostly they're just for my own personal portfolio/exhibition.

    Thanks everyone for the responses thus far.