Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Give the Model Copies - or Not?

Up this this point, I have consistently - each and every time - provided models who've worked with me a copy of every photo we've taken in a session.  Every one of them, except for those I've culled right off the bat for being little more than a waste of storage space (flash not firing, eyes blinking, out of focus, etc.).  The copies I send the models are "as shot", except for maybe doing a white balance adjustment.  They're not large copies, usually between 640 and 1000 pixels on the long side.  Still, large enough for the model to have a good idea of how the shot came out.  There are a lot of reasons I provide these to the model, though recently I'm rethinking this.  Should I really be doing this?

There are many photographers who do not give copies of all photos, and a good many who never give a single photo from the session.  (I'm excluding from this discussion TFP or work for hire sessions; I'm talking about when I hire and pay the model).  I know this to be the case from discussions had with the many different models I've worked with.  Many models express a great amount of gratitude at being able to receive a copy of every photo, and I'm happy when my models are happy.  I really try to make the experience rewarding and fun for everyone.

I like for the model to have a chance to see how she came off in the photo.  Was her pose good? Did she hold her line?  How was the facial expression?  What about the eyes?  I know that some models carefully study the photos as a way of perfecting their own craft; something I wholeheartedly applaud.  Also, I know that there are occasional mishaps (goofy looks, wardrobe malfunction, unintended bits of "nudity", etc.) and the model is provided an opportunity to inform me of any shots she doesn't want published (within reason).  I prefer the model just relax and not worry about anything during the shoot, so we can edit things out later if need be.  I often give the model a chance to tell me a few of her favorites which I will subsequently retouch.  So there are lots of good reasons to continue providing copies of each shot.

On the other hand, there are legitimate reasons to NOT provide copies of every shot.  I've had a few not-so-positive occurrences stemming from doing so.  There was at least one case where the model never bothered to download the shots.  That sort of bothered me after I'd gone to the trouble to make the JPEGs and send them to her.  (Later, as I reflected on her posing ability, it wasn't all that surprising).  Another time, I had a model who was very demanding of my retouching something like 15 photos.  Furthermore, the same model gave me a list of over 80 photos she didn't want me to publish.  I wouldn't have anyway (they weren't good photos), but it was a book-keeping headache.  I almost stopped providing copies at that time; it was quite an unpleasant experience.

There is also the philosophy, a very sound one, that a photographer (or any artist) should let only their best work leave their studio.  That means, never let your marginal stuff into the hands of anyone else.  When I first heard this, it really made me stop and think.  In fact, I'm still thinking about this, and it's one of the strongest arguments for not providing copies.

I remember a few occasions where the model went ahead and posted the as-shot pics on their Facebook or Flickr accounts without checking with me first (I ask them to check with me, to give me first right of refusal to edit, or whatever).  On one occasion, I remember seeing a photo I'd shot where the white balance was horrendously skewed, creating a special effect (special to someone, no doubt).  It really isn't how I would have treated the photo, and I didn't particularly care to have my name associated with that manifestation, but this wasn't all that upsetting to me.  After all, I'm not famous or anything.

Not famous - heck I'm not even a pro.  And I still don't know what I will do about this decision.  However, I've often heard it said "If you want to be a pro, act like one".  In that vein, I suppose a pro doesn't really let raw copies of their photos go off without a big watermark or some kind of control on them.  Hmm.... something to think about.  Meanwhile, I'll probably err on the side of keeping my models happy.  :)  Leave me a comment if you have any thoughts about this.

No comments:

Post a Comment