My Worst Critic


There’s this guy; hard to please. You know the type. Every once in a while, he’ll like one of my images, but he’s never really satisfied with my work. That guy is me. I think I am producing some of the best work of my career right now. Not every single image is a winner, but I have more hits than misses and the hits are pretty good. But I’m still not where I want to be. I am, at least, reassured by looking at my past work. I can look at my work from a year ago and wince a little. It was the same the year before that. It’s a sign of personal growth.

I’ve done “before and after” comparisons before (links at the end of this post). This time, I am comparing my own work. I recently had the opportunity to photograph a property that I shot in 2010.

Living Room

Before

This first one isn’t terrible, but the color seems a bit off and it would be nice to see what’s outside that window.

Living Room

After

That’s better. A slightly different composition but the room seems a bit brighter. Here’s the reverse angle:

Living Room

Before

Living Room

After

Next is the master bedroom:

Master Bedroom

Before

I think I was trying too hard to show the TV in the shot (clients ask for it). So I decided to take a different approach.

Master Bed

After

Again, you can see out the window and the color and lighting is a bit more pleasing. How about the master bath?

Master Bath

Before

Master Bath

After

Ouch. Enough said.

Bedroom

Before

Bedroom

After

That last one is pretty much the same story. I’ve learned a lot over the last few years, mostly through trial and error. I develop new techniques and refine them. When you do something over and over again, it begins to take shape. I hope I can look back at my work next year and see improvement.

Can’t get enough of the before and after stuff? Check out these past posts:

Before and After: A Tale of Two Villas

Why Realtors Should Use Professional Photography

Before and After Real Estate Photos

Avoid Lens Flare With A Clean Lens


In a recent post, I showed how a UV filter in low light can produce ghosting and flare. You can also get some unwanted results if dust and lint is on your lens. Most dust is not a problem; even small scratches may not appear in your image. But in a high contrast situation, that dust can have a big impact. Take a look at this photo:

Bedroom-Before

 

You can see on the right side of the image a large white spot. This is, of course, an area of high contrast between the bright window and dark curtain. Operating with a narrow aperture (I’m typically at f/10) can also reveal imperfections. If you have dust on your sensor, for example, it will be more noticeable at f/22 than at f/4. When I saw this, I immediately checked the front of my lens and noticed some dust and lint. I blew it off with an air blower then used the brush on the LensPen. Then I took another shot:

Bedroom After

 

Just like that, it’s gone. I did not use Photoshop to alter the “after” image; I simply cleaned out the dust and lint on my lens. The image still needs work and is not the final version I delivered to the client. But if you ever spot the same problem on your images, it wouldn’t hurt to check your lens for dust. Oh, a couple of tips: do not use your breath to blow on the lens and do not use compressed air.

There Are No Free Lunches


This is a quick update to my last post. If you didn’t read it, go get caught up. I’ll wait.

[insert Jeopardy music]

…and we’re back. After a sternly worded email to Gate 3 Design and copied to Applebee’s marketing department, they came back and offered me $100 for 3 images. That amounts to about $33 for an indefinite use of my images. Paltry when you consider commercial photography licenses go for thousands of dollars. Don’t believe me? Photographers billed NBC’s Syfy channel $3,500 for each of 9 images the network allegedly used without permission. Article here: http://petapixel.com/2013/08/28/syfys-heroes-of-cosplay-show-accused-of-serious-copyright-infringement/

Or check out this sample invoice for a commercial shoot: http://www.aphotoeditor.com/2013/08/13/pricing-negotiating-portraits-of-real-customers-for-advertising-shoot/. Here’s the short version:

Considering the use, size/prominence of the client…  I set the fee at 8000.00 for each of the four portraits and 4000.00 for each of the candids. I bundled it all together as an overall licensing/creative fee of 48000.00. Blinkbid’s bid consultant provided a range of 9450.00-13,500.00 per image, or 226,800.00-324,000.00 for all eight. Corbis quoted 17,500.00 per image for the first year. Fotoquote suggested 30,976.00 per image for the use.

Yeah, that’s how commercial photographers make a living, They charge for the work and they charge license fees for usage. So the next time you see a billboard, think about how much the image(s) cost.

Anyway, I’m torn about what to do. On the one hand, I am inclined to accept the offer because it was never about the money for me, but rather the principle. I took those images for personal use and never intended to sell them. If my professional work, which is interior and real estate, was in question there would be no debate and I would refuse. Honestly, if they had offered me a gift certificate for a free appetizer it would at least have been a gesture acknowledging that photography has value.

On the other hand, I am inclined to refuse because I want to know that they are also compensating everyone else. Am I the only person who objected and therefore the only person being offered the money?

It boggles my mind that this company sat around a table and came up with this idea and set a budget of exactly ZERO dollars. They just assumed people would be flattered to have their pictures displayed in a restaurant and hand them over. Sadly, I suspect many people did just that.

So what do you think I should do? Leave a comment and let me know what you would do.