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  1. #1

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    Jan 2012
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    photography job: CD cover

    Hopefully this is the right forum to post this thread.

    A couple months ago, a guy saw me taking photos with my camera (fully mechanical 35mm SLR) in the city. Long story short, he asked me if I could photograph him for a CD cover. Yesterday he calls me up and asks if I'll be ready at the end of the week. I need some advice and I'm not sure where to ask for it. I've never shot professionally before.

    1. Will I need any extra equipment? Lights/strobes? Light meter? (I have a built-in light meter which is fairly accurate, should I get a handheld meter to be certain of my exposures?) We'll be shooting mainly outdoors in a city/downtown type setting. I assume this would be the wrong time to learn to use these, as I've never shot with lights/strobes before.

    2. The issue of 'rights'. I'd like to retain the ownership of my photos, and give him distribution rights, if that makes sense. What sort of paperwork should be drawn up? I'll be meeting with the artist to shoot him, can it be signed by him or do I need to get anyone else (like the record company) involved?

    3. Price. We basically agreed that I'd give him a fair price because I'm an amateur. I'll also be designing the typography on the album cover. What would be appropriate to ask?

    4. Generally, how does this sort of thing work? He didn't seem too knowledgeable on the topic when I spoke to him on the phone.

    If you have anything else to add, any advice would be appreciated to ease my nervousness and uncertainty

  2. #2

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    Hey Eralen,

    In terms of extra equipment it really depends on what you are doing, if they want shots of the band then it might be a good idea to bring a little equipment. I think you're right in say it'd be a bad time to start learning strobes, but you might try bringing a reflector, just so you have the option of filling shadows in a little bit. Are you shooting black and white, or color? I've found that although proper exposure is always preferable you have a little more latitude with black and white film than with color.

    As for rights I'm not very familiar with that process, sorry!

    I did an album cover about three months back, and I too am an amateur. The deal I worked with the band was that I wouldn't produce more that one copy of the photos they wanted for my own portfolio, and they would always come back to me if they wanted more copies, or copies that are higher resolution than an album cover.

    My only other piece of advice would be to get at least half of the money upfront, I had someone decide they didn't like the price we agreed on, after I gave them the photos, and they decided to pay me less than half of the agreed cost.

    Good luck to you! And please, take my words with a grain of salt, I am no pro.

  3. #3
    jp498's Avatar
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    I would guess that if they were a well established band, they'd have some preferences for photographers and you wouldn't be it if he didn't know you previously. I suspect it's probably a small start-up artist with no established history of success yet. You could say it's one price if they make less than X-thousand CDs (and related promotional materials), and it's an price if they hit it big time (which is statistically a lottery ticket).

    More important than your equipment and light meter is to communicate and converse with the client to help figure out what they want. Go over some of his favorite album covers to see what he's after or wishes to depart from. If he's not learned in visual arts, he probably can't concisely and clearly tell you what he wants, you'll need to work it out of him before taking photos. Outdoors, a minimal lighting choice is a reflector kit (westcott 5 in 1 reflector is what I have) and a volunteer or tripod & tape to hold it in place. Completely wysiwyg outdoors, unlike fill flash on film.

  4. #4

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    Honestly speaking....

    If you are not doing this professionally and are new at this, I'd be modest in demands. Charge him to cover your cost and expenses and some but not the "market rate." Based on the type of questions you are asking, you will be relying on a chance that you might get a good exposure and good enough quality image for product use, right? You can't yet say.... put a light here, put another one here, meter here and there.... that ought to give me THIS kind of result! right? I think $100 for your time, material, and trouble is about right.

    You can give him the "use license" not the "copyright" so that you, too, can use the image. But really, is it worth the trouble? Wouldn't the image basically end up in your album, possibly on your wall?

    If you have NEVER used lights or meters, right, this is not the right time to try to learn those things. If I were doing this, I'd limit it to using natural light, and possibly one or two reflectors.

    I take portrait for my friends, co-workers, and few strangers. I take EVERYTHING I have so I am prepared to deal with unusual situations but I usually end up using just a few equipment. Which usually means one flash and umbrella and few reflectors. Quite honestly, that's all I can handle.

    As to fees, I charge anywhere from absolutely nothing to a token of thanks. At one time, I actually refused some because I thought it was excessive.
    Develop, stop, fix.... wait.... where's my film?



 

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