Industrial Photographer? Photographers Rights are Shot!

oil rig, aerial oil rig, landscape, lake turkana.

Oil Rig lost in the landscape near Lake Turkana

As a professional corporate photographer the most effective way of obtaining new clients is to constantly update my portfolio with stunning new images and video clips. These can then be sent out to my agent and potential clients by email for her to promote. This is easier said than done, for a number of reasons that many aspiring photographers may not realise.

aerial, clearing land, road through the desert,

Preparing a future camp in Mozambique

There is the job of choosing which new pictures you think will make someone want to hire you as oppose to someone else. It might not necessarily be the shot that took 4 hours to take against all odds, or the one that your client raves about.  I do a lot of industrial and oil and gas photography but never know what to show, so I usually end up narrowing it down and asking a couple of other visually minded pro’s their opinion.

For most industrial, landscape and lifestyle  I especially ask Melody, my agent http://www.melodygeorge.com whose judgement I trust.   However I digress, as this is not my point.

The main issue is copyright and the right to publish your own work. I work mostly for large international corporations and my contracts with them are often 30 pages long. Written into every single one of them are paragraphs about copyright, sometimes very artfully worded but inevitably denying the photographer the right to publish any pictures appertaining to the brief of the photo shoot.

oil and gas worker, worker on rig, safety harness on rig,

Man in safety harness high on a rig in Africa.

As far as the client is concerned, I am working for them, they pay me and all my expenses, so therefore the work is theirs. As a photographer I will argue that I made that picture the way it is, therefore, although they have all rights to use it as per the contract, the actual image belongs to me! I have had many long discussions over copyright with agents, other photographers and lawyers on both sides. It is a sticky issue that is becoming rapidly in favour of the client.

oil rigs, oil pipes, oil and gas photography,

Oil pipes

I understand their reasons, particularly in oil and gas photography, which is a controversial topic anyway. There is a big market in stock photography and some of it comes from assignments paid for by companies for their self-promotion and they do not want to see it misrepresented elsewhere. Publishing images of people without model releases is a dangerous way to go anyway. All main agencies such as Getty ask for all images to be rights free.

In view of the above, the best I have negotiated is to be allowed to use my images to promote myself. This means publishing them on my website, in blogs and sending out some recent images to prospective clients as copyrighted images. I hear you say, ‘that is not so bad’, except that I have to ask them first and I have had a lot of  ‘we would rather you didn’t show that!’

Personally, I have always protected my clients and never irresponsibly sold my images. A couple of years ago I was contacted by someone who saw one of my oil and gas images in my portfolio and asked me if her company could buy it for use in an external marketing campaign. Although it was tempting I had to refuse. I told her why and she congratulated me on my integrity. ‘You are exactly the sort of person we would like working for us’, she said. I’m still waiting!

 

Preparing upcoming Photography Tours and Workshops to Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Sicily in late 2017/18

Photography Tour to Myanmar

Monks playing football in Myanmar

Myanmar, Sicily and Sri Lanka are going to be my focus for upcoming Photography Tours and Workshops.  They are all places that I know really well, are unbelievably photogenic and just spectacular.  I have been to all of them very recently, the latest Myanmar trip was a great success and the next one will be even better!  Sri Lanka and Sicily are new venues and I have pages of notes, tons of photos,  already written blogs on them and am now going back into action! It is a lot of work!  I am a photographer not a tour operator, but I love organizing things, in fact I may have missed my vocation of becoming an events planner… on second thoughts, nah, becoming a photographer is the best and only choice I could ever have made!

First of all, I list all the places I would like to take my photographer travelers to, which may not necessarily be exactly the same ones as the last trip there. I then work out the best route and the best way to get to each place. I love experiencing local transport, especially traveling by train in both Myanmar and Sri Lanka. There are terrific photographs to take both from the train, the platform, and life in the train itself. It is not realistic or particularly fun to take them for hours on end so I plan them carefully. In Myanmar for example we will take 2 local train journeys but on most legs of the journey we will fly, giving us more time in those spectacular places that I have chosen. A journey on a local bus can be fun too but it all has to be organized and worked out. In Sri Lanka we will have a minivan and driver but will still do a couple of train journeys.

We photographers like good light wherever possible.  Certain places really should be seen at sunrise and sunset so wherever it is feasible that option is available. Myanmar offers some exceptional dawn and dusk photography. If someone wants to sleep in, that’s fine, we’ll come back and get you! In Sri Lanka, the sites don’t open until 7.00 am which is one hour after sunrise. Having said that, a good vantage point can usually be found. It is however impossible just to visit places during those few hours of good light. In Sicily and Sri Lanka those perpetual blue skies are not guaranteed either, but still offer terrific photography. Images with umbrellas, misty mornings and colorful clothes all add depth to the portfolio of photos that you will take.

In Asia I work with local travel agents who arrange the transport, provide local guides who are primed on what we are looking for, they will book our tickets and hotels, which we choose very carefully together. I believe in responsible travel, trying to give something back to the local communities where possible. I favor comfortable air-conditioned hotels with all amenities but usually locally owned and not too far from the sites we have come to see. I do not exclude a night in a ‘home stay or monastery, for the experience. In Sicily there are some superb bed and breakfasts that I often favor over hotels. Many telephone conversations and e mails later, things crossed out and others added they will be ready for publication on www.annasphototraveltours.com.

The difference between a regular tour or going on your own and a photography tour or workshop is that in addition to visiting the best places at the best times in a small group of similar minded people, you can learn endless tips on how to take better pictures and make them look how you want them to.   I am available the whole time to coach, help, talk and encourage you.  There will be some work to do, but the whole idea is that it is totally enjoyable whilst being instructive and constructive.  This tour can be a complete learning experience whilst traveling or can just be a fun and easy way to obtain better pictures than you could ever imagine.