A story and tips for smaller business people

by James Rea, 9. April 2019

Dear potential business customer,

shitty, low quality photos suck. I understand that you don’t always have a great budget, but then you need to look for another solution than to go for the free option.

This is a photo of me. It is not one I would use as a business photo on my profile unless as a side-note. If it was my main photo, you would question my quality, as customers question yours.

What happened recently shocked me a bit and I have to express it here. I photographed at an event. All parties involved in performing at that event were very interested in receiving photos. Not a single party from the main protagonists wanted to make me an offer, for whatever reason. I was paid by the organiser to do specific photos for him and he gave me permission to sell to the actors / performers, even suggesting €40 per photo. This is nice, and is a fair price for a press photo. If it is a bunch of press photos, then it is different and a price would then be negotiated.

What shocked me and the reason I am writing this is for all to learn. I can give away my photos to whomever I please, and I do so. I am not pleased, when a company, which performs all around Germany, asks me for photos, but then upon delivering a wide variety (not usable, with a big logo across the middle for preview purposes only), being told after a month that not only do they not want the photos but the reason is that they got ok photos for free from someone in the crowd. Please bear in mind that I had not set a price. I told them that I would make them a fair offer if they decided they wanted photos. I didn’t care that they did not want my photos. This is fine. What annoyed me was this need to be so petty and to tell me that they got other photos for free. They needed good photos. The photos on their site are less than professional quality.

How could this have been handled better? Simple, a simple, no thanks, we like what we have….

What if you are a broke Berlin person?

The following ideas….

  • Be honest with the photographer. If you are on a tight budget, say so. Maybe the photographer will find a compromise.
  • Can you offer the photographer anything useful? Can you help him or her with what they need? A sensible person does not try to fill his cup from an empty well.
    • Maybe the photographer likes your look and would like to do a portfolio shoot with you or your group. All elements of the agreement can then easily be clarified.
  • Never offer exposure or anything similar. Exposure on your site brings nothing. If you are going to praise their photography, do it first, just praise their photos, share what they post on social media, recommend them so that people, who can pay, can see and trust your recommendation. This cannot be fake otherwise it is worth nothing.

Is there anything left to say on this subject?

I doubt it, but would say that the photo I chose for the main photo for this post is a photo of an excellent DJ and friend of mine, who was a broke Berliner, but is now a rising star in the DJ world and a business man in his own right. I did a shoot for him, which helped him and helped me (portfolio) at the time, and then we did some silly shots, as he has a good sense of humour. The photo has no meaning.

Later he needed someone to do a shoot for his guitar brand. Who did he call?

We found a basis to work together and grow in our chosen fields. So, maybe consider what you can do for the other person, before you ask for something for free and it can lead to some fun stuff later on. The woman in the photo here is Beatrice Bini.