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DPChallenge Forums >> Photography Discussion >> advice for band photography
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08/03/2006 02:29:30 PM · #1
I posted this in the business of photography section w/ little response.

I shoot for my friends who are in a band. they are starting to do really well, they landed some big gigs this summer and put out their first studio album. They are playing NorthEast Kingdom Music Fest and Camp Bisco V this august. When I do their photos, I don't charge them now because they are my friends, and when they can pay me significantly they will, I don't want their $20 here and there.

Because of them, I have shot a lot of other bands that they play with or open for. Some of them are Seth Yacavone, New Mastersounds, Page McConell, Dave Grippo, Spam Allstars etc...

My question is how to make money from this. I know some of the bands are smaller and can't pay and just want to use some photos for websites and I get a credit. Fine.

Other bands are signed and ask for photos while Im shooting and hand off their business cards.

What is the proper way to sell photos to these people? I never know what they plan to do with them because they don't even know. The photos could end up on websites, used for posters, album art, sent to magazines.

Any insight would be great. Demand kind of came out of nowhere and Im getting emails requesting photos from recent shows, especially when people like Page or Mike Gordon show up out of nowhere.

Need advice quickly. Thank you.
08/03/2006 02:32:52 PM · #2
im no expert obviously.
But Tell them what they can use those photos for [ only for web, only for print, etc.] & charge them that way. never give your services away free. the smaller the band, the smaller the price. & the larger, the larger the price. dont feel bad for one band or the other. i dont noe if this is of any help, or even if its good advice. its just something i would do.
08/03/2006 03:24:21 PM · #3
I used to own a small record label. And in all my business dealings with bands my only advice is: You have friends and then you have business dealings with bands. Don't confuse the two. If you want to be paid for your photos treat them as business first, friends second. If you want them to be friends(and remain that way), then don't do business with them, give your work away and never expect or ask for any compensation ever.

A tough fact of life with bands is that when they are small they say, thanks so much, we really appriciate this, when we get money we will pay you, if we get big we will remember you ect... This WILL all change the minute a larger label/manager deals with them. A true fact is that when they sign with most of the labels they are actually no longer in control of who does thier art ect... For the most part that is in the hands of the creative team at the label, and they already have "thier people".

I have had dealings with all sorts of bands large and small, I even did a live recording for The Fray several years ago, and now they have the #1 album on Itunes and are Platnium. I have seen how success changes everything.

My advice if you want to do this for profit is to get your money up front, $20 here and $20 there. If they can't scrounge some money for photos, then they will not respect how hard you have to work for them, and will take you for granted. Or if you want to do them to be friendly, then do just that and never ask for money for your work from that band. All that asking for money later will do is ruin your friendship with them. Bands have an super-natural incredibly short memory. I would maybe even recomend a simple contract.

I am sure when they play a gig, they ask for something in return. Your photos are your gig, and you deserve something besides the "pleasure" of working with a band that will probably never be as famous as they think they should, probably are not as good as they think they are, and will more than likely change members and break up at the first sign of success.

Shoot me an e-mail if you have any more questions on this subject. I would love to share anything I know.

Message edited by author 2006-08-03 15:29:08.
08/03/2006 03:40:23 PM · #4
I appreciate the info. The band I shoot for free (my friends) are not my concern. I know how to deal w/ them, I help out w/ booking and I take their photos. I enjoy it and when the time comes, they will pay me. I also know how much they make and what it gets spent on. I guess what they pay me in now is exposure. I have a contact email on their website with teh booking agent and the band email. I get credit for all photos on the site. Whenever they need promo stuff, its always mine. they turn away other photogs on a weekly basis, Im usually the only one to get a photo pass for shows, free tickets to festivals.

What is happening now is other bands are asking me to do work for them becasue they see me shooting at venues, they know who I "work for" and hopefully like what I do. I really don't know how to deal w/ other bands managers/promo people. For instance New Mastersounds, a band from England played w/ my boys the other day. The manager for Mastersounds wants photos. What do I do?

08/03/2006 03:53:01 PM · #5
I would do the same thing that most people do around here for portraits. I would probably set up a session fee schedule, and stick to it. If you really wanted to get down to it you could have them contract you and you could write your terms into the contract. For instance if you shoot thier photos and they use one for an album cover, you would say that if the album sells x number of copies that they would owe you x number of dollars. This would allow you to charge small amounts up front and then if they go big, you would get a higher amount than if they never sold a copy. Or you could just say $200 a session x number of hours at x location.

One thing I failed to mention is that bands like to screw with things, and by that I mean that there is always a member that thinks he is better at photoshop(or anything else for that matter) than anybody else in the world. So that goofball will take your work and "fix it" to thier liking (usually messing it up royal with every advanced filter he can download). It is another reason why you might think of contracting the work. Then if you deliver final images to them, you could have in the contract that they are not to "re-do" your art. Or you could just shoot it for x dollars, and give them a disc and say have fun.
08/03/2006 04:04:51 PM · #6
Thats funny about the know it all. One of the members of my friends band was like that. I say was because 1 time he was working on something for hours and I came over. I asked him what he was trying to do, he said what he wanted. I asked him to open the original file and I got the result he needed in I would say under 2 minutes, I didn't even sit down I just did it over his shoulder. Luckily for me his girlfriend is a graphic designer so she is pretty good at getting the desired look. Even better is she can vocalize what they actually want in photos which makes my life easier.

What would you charge per photo for a band signed to a decent label. The same label as String Cheese Incident.

Give me your high rate and your lowball rate.
08/03/2006 04:07:00 PM · #7
Check out some of Bob's work i love it...... BOB

Message edited by author 2006-08-03 16:07:12.
08/03/2006 04:08:33 PM · #8
by the way, you know music. Check www.japhyryder.com there is a link to their myspace which has some samples from shows and a studio track. YOu can also find them on jambase.com. Let me know what you think of them.
08/03/2006 04:44:21 PM · #9
My friend asked me to shoot his band for him. He asked how much I would charge, and I told him nothing. Accepting money from a friend, and making him now a customer, to me, is a bad idea. I have seen many, many, many friendships get trashed due to money or business.

Talk to your friends band about it, tell them you'd appreciate word of mouth advertising if they meet any other bands that need stuff done. Than, it's as simple as telling the bands that approach you what your fee is. What I would do is offer 1 of 2 different things. I'd offer a CD of the raw images for a fee. I'd offer a CD of the processed, touched up and stylized images for a higher fee. Typically, they aren't going to want prints or anything like that. Mostly everything they'd use it for is having something for their website, maybe for an album they want to put out. I let them worry about getting their prints or posters made. (Note: I would reccomend having a business card for whatever print shop or camera store you use, and include that in the package as a favor to your regular shop. You don't personally get anything from it, but generally it's a nice thing to do.)

You'd have to come up with your own prices, really. Remember they are asking you to do it, you're not asking them. So now you are in power. I personally would charge 50$ for raw images, and depending on how many images there are, from 100-300$ for processed images. I usually shoot a LOT of pictures, so processing can take a long time. Another thing you might offer is a cheaper version if they are a smaller band, a CD with resized images meant for web. Perhaps 5 images at 1000+ pixels, and everything else at 800x533. This way, they can't ever really make decent prints or posters, only really web related stuff. Charge maybe 10-25$ for it, and if they want a larger image for some reason in the future, that's an opportunity to charge for the larger file.

08/03/2006 08:12:16 PM · #10
I used to pay $150-300 to a photographer to do the artists that I was representing for a day shoot no editing to be used for album art work. I have no idea what others might charge because I was a pretty small label. I do know that the photographer was happy to get that money.

And yes, there is always one in the band that can do everything. Drives me nuts. They are better at mixing sound than the sound engineer that has platnium and gold albums on the wall, they are better at art work than guys that have done graphic arts for large companies and commercials, they are better at playing thier insterment than anybody, they have the best sound(usually horrible) and it is the engineer or producers fault if it doesn't come alive during tracking, they take better pictures with thier disposable than a pro photog, and they certianlly dress better than you. Oh ya, they know people that are going to make them huge, and they really don't see a reason that they should have to carry thier own gear to the gig. There is always one of these guys, sometimes 2.
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