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04-16-2008, 05:41 PM   #1
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Small foray in to quasi-professionalism

One of my quirky hobbies is theatrical costume design and construction. I have costumed several plays for the Highschool theatre specialty program my son is involved with. Now that I have this camera I sat through a dress rehearsal and a performance and took, oh, over 500 shots of the performances, mainly to get some decent shots of my work in action.

Weeeellllll, the shots have been so well received that the director wants me to do up proof sheets and take orders for prints at the shows this weekend. I thought sure why not, and I'll give half the proceeds back to the booster organization.

So far so good. Except for now there's a small discrepancy as to what constitutes a proceed. In my mind it's the leftovers after expenses. They say it's half of the amount collected for the print, minus the cost of the print. I have a few more expenses than just the cost paid for the actual print. I was going to add up income, subtract outgo, then split that.

I have logged immeasurable hours on this venture since they suggested it. I know there is no way I will recoup compensation for that and that's fine. But I'm doing the lion's share of the work (they're collecting the orders and that's basically it). Honestly the idea of any ill-feelings about the money part of this venture makes me nauseaous, to the point of wanting to back out.

Anyone have any experience with situations like this? I've never done this before, did not go in to shoot the production with this in mind and was in no way planning ahead for this sort of thing. It just kind of blindsided me. Now I'm not sure how to proceed on the money/split part. I don't like confrontations.

Any suggestions? Thanks in advance.


Last edited by mel; 04-16-2008 at 06:58 PM. Reason: typos due to brain-frying from sorting thru 500+ shots
04-16-2008, 05:56 PM   #2
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Wow, that's horrible. Sounds like a sit-down talk with whoever you talked to is required. List all your expenses and time, plus the cost of the camera and lenses, maybe they'll come around to see your point.

I would agree with you though, half the proceeds = half the profits.
04-16-2008, 06:40 PM   #3
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I do have a couple of suggestions for you. First, keep in mind that fairness is relative, not absolute. That is, a $100 asking price is fair for a brand new DA* lens but not for a lens cap. So what I'd suggest is to break out your "costs" into 3 categories:
1) Equipment rental fees: use a simple percentage, such as 5%, of the actual equipment costs. So if the equipment you used cost you $1,000, charge 5% of the purchase cost or $50. You can refer to this website:
CameraLensRentals.com - Online Camera Lens Rentals for Canon Cameras
where you can show that the cost of renting photographic equipment for a week is at least 4-5% of the purchase cost.
2) Labor costs: use the minimum wage rate, a simple wage rate multiplier such as 2x, and the actual amount of hours you've spent on location. I think most reasonable people will be OK with a labor rate of 1-2x minimum wage for skilled services and they should know the number of hours you've spent on location.
3) Document the direct costs of consumables, such as batteries, and travel costs based on either just gasoline costs or a standard tax travel rate (I think it's $0.425/mile) based on the mileage from your home to the shoot location.

I know there are quite a few other costs associated with on location photography (because I do quite a bit myself) but this simplistic formula will allow you to quote a cost that is easily explained and justified. Good luck and please let us know how things work out for you.

QuoteOriginally posted by mel Quote
One of my quirky hobbies is theatrical costume design and construction. I have costumed several plays for the Highschool theatre specialty program my son is involved with. Now that I have this camera I sat through a dress rehearsal and a performance and took, oh, over 500 shots of the performances, mainly to get some decent shots of my work in action.

Weeeellllll, the shots have been so well received that the director wants me to do up proof sheets and take orders for prints and the shows this weekend. I thought sure why not, and I'll give half the proceeds back to the booster organization.

So far so good. Except for now there's a small discrepancy as to what constitutes a proceed. In my mind it's the leftovers after expenses. They say it's half of the amount collected for the print, minus the cost of the print. I have a few more expenses than just the cost paid for the actual print. I was going to add up income, subtract outgo, then split that.

I have logged immeasurable hours on this venture since they suggested it. I know there is no way I will recoup compensation for that and that's fine. But I'm doing the lion's share of the work (they're collecting the orders and that's basically it). Honestly the idea of any ill-feelings about the money part of this venture makes me nauseaous, to the point of wanting to back out.

Anyone have any experience with situations like this? I've never done this before, did not go in to shoot the production with this in mind and was in no way planning ahead for this sort of thing. It just kind of blindsided me. Now I'm not sure how to proceed on the money/split part. I don't like confrontations.

Any suggestions? Thanks in advance.
04-17-2008, 09:34 AM   #4
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Thanks for the suggestions. The teacher/director that started the booster's organization responded to my email and is in agreement with my interpretation of the split so I'm not going to fret about it anymore.

I'm certainly not going to expect any kind of hourly or equipment compensation as I originally went to shoot the production to get pictures of the costumes I designed and created for a portfolio. This other bit developed after. I'm happy helping out the organization. I just don't want to get soaked in the process.

I sent in a few sample 5x7s to the school and the director has been showing them around. Apparently even students who were NOT in the production want to purchase prints. It's quite a high to have my work so well received.

04-17-2008, 01:03 PM   #5
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First of all, congratulations on both the facts that you were recognised AND, that a WIN-WIN agreement was reached.

I was about to say that for this work (this shooting in particular) you wouldn't charge for equipment and time up to and including the shoot since you weren't there for the purpose. We agree there.

As for the remainder yes, 50/50 AFTER expenses. They are afterall getting 50% for the trouble of taking orders. The harder they work the more they make.

Again, congrats. Are the images on you flickr site?
04-17-2008, 01:48 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by JCSullivan Quote
First of all, congratulations on both the facts that you were recognised AND, that a WIN-WIN agreement was reached.

I was about to say that for this work (this shooting in particular) you wouldn't charge for equipment and time up to and including the shoot since you weren't there for the purpose. We agree there.

As for the remainder yes, 50/50 AFTER expenses. They are afterall getting 50% for the trouble of taking orders. The harder they work the more they make.

Again, congrats. Are the images on you flickr site?
Thanks!!!

I'm not going to post them on flickr for a while. The London shots I have up there were taken on a trip with the theatre group and everyone involved knows they're there. The production shots are for sale so I plan to postpone posting the good ones for a couple months. I don't see the point of giving them away just yet. After the main interest has waned I'll put up some of the best ones.
04-25-2008, 07:30 PM   #7
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As a follow up for those that were so kind as to offer suggestions, I received orders for 58 prints total from 41 individual shots. Small potatoes in the grand scheme but I don't feel it's too bad for not intending to shoot to sell in the first place.
04-26-2008, 03:58 AM   #8
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Excellent, well done.

04-26-2008, 05:52 AM   #9
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Congratulations to you on having your efforts so very well received.

It strikes me that the director must have a set of brass balls each roughly the size of the moon. Since you're volunteering to donate the money, where does he get off telling you how you're to calculate it? If it were about how much to charge for prints, I could see his expressing an opinion on that.
04-26-2008, 06:04 AM   #10
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Mel, let me (us) know when you do post the shots.
Thanks
04-26-2008, 08:58 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Mike Cash Quote
Congratulations to you on having your efforts so very well received.

It strikes me that the director must have a set of brass balls each roughly the size of the moon. Since you're volunteering to donate the money, where does he get off telling you how you're to calculate it? If it were about how much to charge for prints, I could see his expressing an opinion on that.
Actually the director was on my side of this. It was a booster association officer (the recipients) that was telling my how to do the split. I think it's all worked out now so all should be good. I hope. They'll be disappointed when they see how little money it actually amounts to though.

Thanks!

QuoteOriginally posted by JCSullivan Quote
Mel, let me (us) know when you do post the shots.
Thanks
I'd post a few here but I can't ever seem to get the upload to complete. I may try from work tomorrow where I have a faster connection.

There's a few that are, in my own humble opinion, fairly decent. The rest I think are just so-so. But considering that I was shooting from a fixed position (I had to stay in my seat), in a dark theater, with a not veryl fast lens, moving bodies, and wacky stage lights, I'm surprised that any of them turned out at all.


Thanks again!
04-26-2008, 09:08 AM   #12
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Glad it all worked out so well when you weren't even expecting this additional attention. 58 prints is a fair amount of interest. I agree with Mike cash and JC's thoughts on this. Good of you to Volunteer some of the proceeds.

If you wanted to post some samples but concerned about someone copying the work, just postedm with watermarks across the center. No one will bother to copy those for printing. You can post up to 1mb sized images to the gallery here and link them to this thread.

Congrats on the project and how it was recieved. Anything they get is a bonus since they didn't expect it either.
04-26-2008, 08:36 PM   #13
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I'm on the other side of the world, but I'm interested in what the purchasers are paying for a photo and its size - just so I can have some idea what to charge if I get in a similar situation.

Dan.

Last edited by dosdan; 04-26-2008 at 10:22 PM.
04-27-2008, 04:44 AM   #14
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I don't know if Mel was here when Mike shared his positive kabuki experience - it all sounds similar. The reason I'm saying this is, maybe Mel will be invited back and given freedom to move around.
04-29-2008, 02:48 PM   #15
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play shots

I think I got the attachment thing figured out now. My files were too big before. Now that all the prints are done and delivered I made some smaller ones. So here are a few.

They look kind of blurry here though but really they are not. I hate putting up stuff that isn't the absolute best quality that I know it really is but here are some nonetheless. Don't be too hard on me. They really do look better than what is seen here. I'm still trying to get all this resolution/dimension/file size/compression business worked out. I'm sure I overkilled the files I sent for printing but I figure better overkill than underkill and have poor quality prints.

I've definitely learned a LOT from this experience. There are several things I would do differently if I were going in with this end in mind at the beginning.

Thanks to everyone for the help, advice, encouragement, and congratulations.

Last edited by mel; 04-26-2014 at 02:04 PM.
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