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Steve Douglas

Get Paid for What You Do/ Don't undercut for credit

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Well the costs of the UK 'HSE commercial media' cert and medicals puts alot of people off... But thats only valid in this country if you want to 'work' in the media industry shooting U/W ... Although i've heard the BBC insist their shooters have it worldwide...

 

Does any other country have an equiv or can you just pick up a camera and get on with it ???

 

Dive safe

 

DeanB

 

Dean

 

The Part IV (which I DO have) is just another bit of paper and IMHO a pretty meaningless one - its one of my pet hates and originates from the commercial diving world where Health & Safety was originally a necessity in an industry well known for accidents and deaths. Now its more of a protectionist mechanism and is in my opinion is all too often used in order to protect people from 'unfair' but better competition - it certainly has little to do with 'real world' health and safety. I have nothing good to say about the controls placed on diving in the UK. They operate harshly on those who adhere to their requirements but fail entirely to control those who don't, and as usual with UK legislation, are as full of holes as a cullinder! The medical's not a bad idea regardless though and isn't that expensive.

 

On pricing I'd still make my usual comment, I sell information not images these days, or if I do film work, I'm shooting stuff because I know where it is and what it is. There has always been and always will be, cheap competition - as ever you simply need an edge, a good reason to sell yourself and your work above the cheaper opposition.

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University of Life.

 

We were all young once.

 

When I started as a photographer I did assignments for nothing or very little. Those that commissioned me always thought of me as someone who'd work for free.

 

Later I charged a hell of a lot. Those I worked for knew me as being very expensive.

 

Very expensive equals good. Cheap equals cheap.

 

We all have to learn the lesson.

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Very expensive equals good. Cheap equals cheap.

 

We all have to learn the lesson.

Only good equals good. The rest is just perception.

 

Cor

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I find that very expensive rarely equals good.

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This is a great thread, guys! I've wanted to talk about this for some time.

 

Aside from the issue of charging standard rates (which always is proceeded by the question, "What are standard rates?"), there is another element that sets apart shooters: courtesy. At the last couple of DEMAs, Eli (co-editor at Wetpixel Quarterly), Matt and I were accosted rudely by two well-known individuals in the industry who had nothing good to say about what we were doing. After taking (free) copies of Wetpixel Quarterly, they proceeded to pry into financials and fee standards, which are none of their business anyway. In particular, they talked about the OWU/DEEP contest issues, and said that we were taking advantage of photographers by publishing their images (didn't matter that the images end up in more than 50 publications worldwide, all tied to the contest announcement). But everyone who was published as a winner of those contests won prizes with values far exceeding what a low-circulation magazine would pay. Compensation isn't the issue, though. The issue is that we state up front that we can publish winners to announce, celebrate or promote the magazine (and we certainly don't have rights to use them in any other way). But it's right there in the rules, and it's easy to just not participate if you disagree.

 

In any case, the negative people are few (and you can believe that I won't ever have anything to do with them in the future). I'm sure there are many others who disagree with us about our policies, but at least they are polite about it (e.g. they just don't participate). The fact is that we are a struggling magazine in a field where no other magazine like this has ever survived more than a few years. I am unashamed about asking friends for favors to make this work, as we are all making tremendous sacrifices for the product.

 

So having been on the publishing side, I am suddenly much more understanding. I still get requests every day for free imagery, but the tone of my responses has changed a lot. And during the rare instances that I give something away, I sometimes even get something for it. The last time I gave out images for free, the company was so impressed with the images that they took me on as a photographer for stock. Now, I get checks from them every quarter.

 

Aside from creating a union, there isn't much you can do about an eager, young photographer or videographer wanting to get published to get experience or to create a portfolio. All you can do is to outshoot them and be more consistent as a resource. Those organizations that rely on free work get all the baggage that comes along with it -- they are more likely to get shoddy, inconsistent work. If their products aren't designed to take advantage of that, they will suffer over time, along with the success of their business. It's capitalism at work!

 

I realize that this is a discussion about video, but all of this applies to commercial media in general. Just exchange "image" for "second of footage." :huh:

 

Very well said Eric. There really isn't much we can do about others undercutting just to get a credit name. However, for the large number of contributers on this forum there can be a sense of 'That's something I won't do'. While I have met in person very few of all those here, I really do feel a fiduciary obligation to keep my end of the bargain and not just be a sucker for a credit. Sure, I've donated footage to schools and a couple of charities but that is another story and really not the issue at hand.

Steve

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Dean

 

The Part IV (which I DO have) is just another bit of paper and IMHO a pretty meaningless one - its one of my pet hates and originates from the commercial diving world where Health & Safety was originally a necessity in an industry well known for accidents and deaths. Now its more of a protectionist mechanism and is in my opinion is all too often used in order to protect people from 'unfair' but better competition - it certainly has little to do with 'real world' health and safety. I have nothing good to say about the controls placed on diving in the UK. They operate harshly on those who adhere to their requirements but fail entirely to control those who don't, and as usual with UK legislation, are as full of holes as a cullinder! The medical's not a bad idea regardless though and isn't that expensive.

 

 

Couldn't agree more Paul. I've got HSE part IV (as does Dean), but so far I've found it a hindrance rather than a help. Those that require it as a prerequisite still wont employ me, the only difference being that their excuse has gone from "You need HSE Part IV" to "Ah, erm, we like to use our own guys...". While at the other extreme clients that don't know about HSE diving at work regulations boggle at the complexity of it all and baulk as their budgets jump from manageable to unaffordable. I know of at least two projects that were cancelled and the main suspect is the cost of complying with HSE regs. We all want to be safe at work that goes without saying, but when you need a 3 or 4 man team just for bimbling along in 5m it does make you want to scream at the red tape...

 

Cheers, Simon

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We all want to be safe at work that goes without saying, but when you need a 3 or 4 man team just for bimbling along in 5m it does make you want to scream at the red tape...

 

Cheers, Simon

 

I hear you mate... It was ment to open doors not scare people off... Should have been presenting my own series by now...Thanks HSE :huh:

 

Dive safe

 

DeanB

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well some interesting threads on a general topic guys. Im new to this industry and yes have been quilty of doing one for pro rata. Still i then on sold some of the images to local media that repaid the time so I quess it all worked out. I don't want to undercut the industry eith but do agree that experience and what your shooting with plays a part in what you should be asking. But it seems that already I need to rethink that level.

 

Oh and it does get confusing as my parents used to say, give and you shell receive, where as my old sales boss demanded, never give with out getting first.....Time t go for a dive. Cheers

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I've given footage away for good causes that I wanted to support etc and I've received footage from others to use for free because of similar reasons. A number of people have contributed footage or time for free to "Sharks in British Seas"

 

Cheers, Simon

 

Subtle piece of advertising there me old mate :pardon: I mean to say "Sharks in British Seas" in mid convo is a bit obvious well to me... I mean Saying "Sharks in British Seas" is okay really i suppose because the mention of "Sharks in British Seas" is for a good cause and im quite excited about the release of "Sharks in British Seas"... So in reflection "Sharks in British Seas" is defo worth mentioning on this occasion whether intentionally or not... :)

 

Dive "Sharks in British Seas" Safe

 

Dean(Sharks in British Seas)B

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To right Mr Spear... keep pluggin and good luck with 'Sharks in British Seas' I'm sure it will be a massive success.

 

Any news on a release date?

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Heya Jon

 

Release date is Feb 27th at all good retailers :) (always wanted to say that hehe).

 

Cheer, Simon

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Guys, trust me - it's not always about how good you are. I think I'm a decent underwater shooter and a great storyteller, but there are a ton of people doing what I'm doing that are better than me on the technical side that don't get the gig because they're dicks to work with. I can't tell you how many shoots I've been assigned and then been told afterwards that it wasn't so much that I was a good shooter, but that I was a pleasure to have on-location.

 

Get good at your craft, yes. Always. But never, ever give into u/w imaging snobbery. It'll be your downfall quicker than a bad air fill.

Edited by peacedog

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VERY WELL SAID ARRON!! Ill never forget a rental I did last year where the photographer rented a system from us, claimed he was a professional, needed no instruction on the equipment that he picked up because he was a "pro shooter", only to have him come back with the rental a day later demanding his money back because none of his shots for the magazine were in focus, and of course it had to be the equipment's fault (until I snapped a picture in focus first try right in front of him). Needless to say, I did not refund the rental.

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Heya Jon

 

Release date is Feb 27th at all good retailers :) (always wanted to say that hehe).

 

Cheer, Simon

 

 

Is it going to be available in the U.S.? Will make sure to pick one up when it comes out. Looking forward to seeing it....

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Ok, time to get in trouble. As a long time business owner I understand wanting to get paid for what you do. Now here comes the BUT... I am a 30yr veteran of "exporting jobs to China" not something that endeared us to our competition here in the USA. Reality is buyers will always look for the best combination of price and quality and bluntly study after study shows Price is the major factor. As a new company trying to break into a market, pay the bills you do what you have to get in the door. Deal with it. While I agree with the video clip, everyone starts out as an amateur and I wonder how the subject of the video got his start?

 

As a rank amateur with a lot of money invested in gear and trips of course I want to see my stuff somewhere beyond my website. In all reality (IMHO) more and more amateurs are going to get into this "market" and prices are going to keep going down. Keeping pricing secret, to your professional self, just makes it harder for those of us who get the occasional inquiry to know what to do. IMHO this industry is not going the way of buggy whip factories but the playing field is going to radically change, contract for full time pros.

 

Short term the best thing anyone could do is circulate a basic primer of pricing and get it posted as many places possible to stem the tide.

 

Bring on the flames. :)

Edited by NWDiver

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I think someone awhile back (it could have been Steve) did post a list of prices that they have used per second and Nick Hope publishes his prices on his web page which is right up front and out there for anyone to see, so I don't think it is hidden in any way.

 

The problem with the 'Film Industry' in general is that there are a host of people always prepared to work literally for free and there are a lot of employers that actually advertise for placements where no salary or form of payment will be made on the justification that 'you will gain experience' or that it would be 'good for your CV'. It wouldn't happen in any other industry but the allure of 'stardom' often causes many to loose a few million brain cells and fall for it. Look into it and I think you'd be surprised just how often it goes on and just how many people are prepared to work for no pay in the hope that it will pay off for them in the long run. Would anyone in their right mind in a normal business undertake a contract, incur substantial costs and expect no remuneration or more importantly any prospect of it?

 

When you add the number of people who will work for free to the number of people out there who will gladly sell their grandmother just to get their face/footage/name on TV then you have a whole new can of worms to open. The last two years have certainly opened my eyes to all kinds of shenanigans, backstabbing and blatant rip offs. Just this last Sunday I was watching a documentary and up popped a couple of mins of my footage. It had been used without permission, credit or payment and this is not the first time this has happened. Just because I love filming underwater does that mean that I should freely give out my services at no charge just so that someone else can earn money off my back? Hell no.

 

This really can be a very, very, very nasty and dirty business at times.

 

Hopefully this doesn't come across as a flame as I'm just attempting to give some insight into the thoughts of a part timer who films for the love of it and not the money, but refuses to get downtrodden despite what feels like being constantly crapped on.

 

Cheers, Simon

 

P.S. Drew I'll PM you with the details - don't want to take over a good thread with my adverts :)

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Simon, no worries. People working for free has been around for a looooong time and is wide spread. In the business world they are called interns. Same applies to this industry pros just call them amateurs. IMHO as time passes the line between hobbiest, semi-pro and pro is just going to continue to blur.

Edited by NWDiver

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Let's face it.. technology has advanced so much that it enables hobbists to be able to compete in the big league for not a massive expense.

 

It wasn't that long ago that editing was a great deal harder... we have gone in 15 years from editing on a super expensive AVID system, now we have the complete other extreme where someone can create a reasonable production on imovie.

Cameras both still and video have become of a fantastic standard; on a different level look at RED... it allows smaller production companies to challenge the big league of Hollywood!... I wonder if they are having a similar discussion regarding smaller 'video dudes' who work for peanuts competing in the the world of film..

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Just this last Sunday I was watching a documentary and up popped a couple of mins of my footage. It had been used without permission, credit or payment and this is not the first time this has happened. Just because I love filming underwater does that mean that I should freely give out my services at no charge just so that someone else can earn money off my back? Hell no.

 

Hey Simon - I'm curious how someone got a hold of broadcast quality footage of yours without you knowing? A couple minutes no less?!?! It's one thing to snag it off the web. Seems hard to believe?

 

Bryce

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NWDiver - I think you have to draw the line between an intern which is supposed to be a training position(?) and people working for free in what should otherwise be a salaried position. I don't think the original example in this post was that of an intern - it was someone looking for a break and prepared to work for free in what would have otherwise been a salaried position because they believed it would help them out. The production company was clearly prepared to employ someone for payment in that position, but got what they thought was a better offer financially. Provided the standard of camera work was acceptable then the production company got a pretty good deal out of it. Could you work for free? I suppose if you had enough money you could, but many people don't have that luxury. In my own business I couldn't work for free and neither could anyone else doing it because there would be too many costs involved. The film industry and media industry in general seems to be pretty unique in this regard.

 

Jon - couldn't agree more - it's why I've been able to work from time to time doing something I love to do. 10 years ago I wouldn't have been able to that's for sure. I think the influx of hobbyists turned semi pro/part timers has been a good thing though. You look at some of the videos posted here and on other websites for example and they knock the socks off of what you often see on broadcast TV. Being an Amateur doesn't necessarily mean a lowering of standards. Someone once told me to remember that amateurs built the Ark, while professionals built the Titanic! :)

 

Bryce - It appears it was lifted off of an evaluation DVD - it wasn't particularly good footage, but it was mine and they didn't have the rights to use it. I've also had it happen with HD web content (which I've now stopped posting). Not every production company out there requires HD CAM as a requirement for footage I guess!

 

Cheers, Simon

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I know how you feel Simon. I'm filled with feelings of anger and injustice when I find out I've been ripped off. Then the time and thought involved in seeking compensation can almost take over your life. So are you sueing them?

 

Here's another online reference, now we're talking about rates for stock footage.

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As a "Newbie" on this site, maybe I shouldn't cut in on this discussion, but I've found it to be extremely informative and somewhat (?) of a relief that you professionals are experiencing some of the same problems I have had as a "proamateur". While I play on a much smaller field, I have found that pricing my work has been much more difficult than any of the shooting or editing of my videos! At this point, this is not my primary source of income, but I would like to make it that within the next 12 months -- not only underwater video, but other video work as well.

 

In this endeavor, as in others I have made in times past, I have found it necessary to stick to my guns in certain situations, rather than devalue my effort and my time. I recently produced a short demo video of some machinery for my husband's company. He wanted me to "give" it to them, but I held the footage hostage until we had come to an agreement on price. After viewing the production, they were more than willing to pay the price I requested. However, this was a 5-minute video --- I can't produce a more elaborate offering on the hope that "once they see it, they will pay". The one thing I have going in my favor, is that with most of my projects, it's either my product or nothing (quite different from the commercial broadcast type work you have been discussing.) Still, I would be much more comfortable if I had some guidelines as to what a "fair" price is. Any comments for us "local" producers?

 

Cathie

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I know how you feel Simon. I'm filled with feelings of anger and injustice when I find out I've been ripped off. Then the time and thought involved in seeking compensation can almost take over your life. So are you sueing them?

 

 

Yeah Nick, it makes you feel like crap doesn't it? :) I wouldn't rule out legal action, but I hope that it's resolved way before it gets to that stage. The film has apparently been shown in at least five countries but the company responsible is based in the UK where we have a reasonably transparent legal system. For me it would be a whole different ball game in some other parts of the world....

Edited by SimonSpear

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One of the best bits of advice I received regarding pricing, is to charge whatever you feel comfortable asking. It sounds blatantly obvious but these words stuck in my mind. If you wince when you quote a figure, you've probably gone too high.

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