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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Through the Photographers Lens

Welcome to Through the Photographers Lens,

In this week’s post I thought I would address some of the questions posed to me by some of the readers of my last post “Surviving the Casting Call”. I have had many conversations with artists of all types wanting to know how to tell a real casting call from a fraud and my favorite question so of all, why do I have to pay for casting calls or pictures?

As a business person you should be able to separate from your inner artist long enough to see the environment at hand. Pay Attention!!! Here are some things to look out for in the casting call.

Producers/Casting Agents who are a little too touchy feely! You know the type, those that want you to take off more than you are willing or comfortable with and get just a little too grabby. Remember its your body and no-one has the right to touch you in any way you are not comfortable with, especially if you dont know them.

READ EVERYTHING BEFORE YOU SIGN ANYTHING!!! I have seen producers tell people to “Just sign it, it’s a standard agreement.” First and foremost there is no such thing as a standard agreement. All agreements cater to the needs of the author of that agreement. They generally say what they can and can not do with your intellectual properties, likeness and image. There are some agreements out there that models have come to me with questions about and I always tell them not to sign anything you don’t understand. It is written that way for a reason.

Everyone with a camera is not a photographer. Many of my photographer friends will agree that one of the biggest problems in photography today is people who go out and buy cameras and want to take pictures of good looking people wearing next to nothing for their own purposes and not yours. Any one claiming to be a professional photographer will have a business card, samples of their work, and references you can call or visit and verify. There are a lot of perverts with cameras out there and you need to be wise with who you allow to take your picture.

Inconsistent Producers/Casting Agents. Listen carefully and pay attention to what is being said. Make sure that any literature you are handed at the casting call in consistent with what is being said and what you see happening at the casting call. As a photographer I have walked off sets because what I was told by a producer or casting agent was not consistent with the terms of our agreement were. If the story changes chances are the story will continue to change and you will only find the truth the hard way. Usually when its too late. Don’t be afraid to ask questions! If the business is legitimate then the answers to the questions will come easily and consistently.

Fees! Let’s face it no one likes to pay fees especially in these harsh economic times. But fees are necessary. There are some fees that are real and some that just pad the pockets of the producer/casting agent. Understand that fees have to go to cover staff, studio rental, photographer’s day fees, DJ fees, lighting and video fees for your audition and in some cases the casting call is catered. Yes, that is a fee that has to be covered as well. These are all covered by your audition fee so the project does not go bankrupt before the casting is completed. There are some other fees that you should question and those questions need to be asked before signing or agreeing to anything. Most casting calls have a small production fee associated with them and that covers the list I mentioned above and in return you should get a CD/DVD of all your images and in some (albeit very few) cases video of your audition. Remember it is your image and likeness at steak and you have a right to a copy of any media that bares it.

Photography fees. If I had a dollar for every time I was asked “Am I supposed to pay for photography fees,” I would have retired years ago. The answer is “YES!!!” But let us for a minute examine what that means. If you go to a casting call and do not have your own pictures no one can tell you that you MUST use their photographer. At best they can only recommend that you use their photographer and provide you with that photographers contact information or set up a meeting with them, samples of that photographers work and verifiable references for them. This is valuable information because it protects you from scams and hustlers. No professional photographer will take your pictures for free. This is our job, not our hobby. Most professional photographers will also offer you a new comers rate to help you build your book. Again you don’t have to use that photographer but you can use their pricing as a guide while shopping around for other photographers to compare them to. If a project has its own photographer then you are in luck as that photographer is there for you to talk to and question and get the information you need before making a decision. I am always open to answering questions on set that pertain to photography only!!! Don’t be afraid to ask the photographer about his company and its history and ask for samples of their work. I generally point people to my website and tell them to go through the galleries and see the different types of projects I have worked on and email me with questions.

Last but not least, when should you be compensated for your modeling? There are many ways to be compensated for your modeling talents. TFCD (Time for CD of your images), TFP (Time for prints of your images) and cash/check (My personal favorites). Most photographer and models have the same agenda, which is to keep their books as current with fresh new ideas as possible. TFCD and TFP is the best way for both the model and photographer to help each other out. If you are called directly by an agent, producer or photographer to come and model for a photo session then you should be compensated in some form from the list described above. If you are calling for a photo session then you should be prepared to compensate your photographer. You should always be compensated for any project that is going to make profit for the producer or director. Meaning if you are shooting an ad campaign for a product line then you should be compensated by the producer or that product line and you should also ask about your royalties thereafter.

Be wise about the business of your art!!!

What are your thoughts?

Rahim Baskett


MindSoulVision Photography




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