As the ship was towed past where I was on the shore I decided that it was time to get the pictures out.
I returned to my Landrover and powered up the laptop and got everything ready to download my pictures. Because I had plenty of time to prepare for this job, which doesn’t always happen of course, everything was ready to go, folder structure was already created to bring my RAW images into, my file info was good to go in Photo Mechanic and I had already written a news release with some general details on what was planned including a brief history on the ship.
After ingesting the pictures with Photo Mechanic, including renaming them and applying general file info, I quickly viewed through and ‘tagged’ up any I liked, Photo Mechanic is a brilliant piece of software for this, very quick and easy to use, after tagging my ‘take’ I brought them up in a separate screen and began to bring them into Photoshop CS2 for editing.
Editing is kept to a minimum, with basic adjustments made such as a quick levels tweak if required, a quick crop, again if needed, although I try to compose as close as I can in camera to what I want at the end to save on the editing time. Then they are saved into what I call my ‘HI RES’ folder, this contains all my edited pictures at their full size. At this stage I add any picture specific file info that is extra to what I originally attached, this could include for example, an individuals name or something about a picture relevant to the story that isn’t included in the general file info.
Once again through Photo Mechanic I resave all these pictures into a ‘LOW RES’ folder, this contains the pictures I intend to wire out at the appropriate size for the papers.
In preparation for this, the day before, I had called everyone I was going to send pictures to and given them a heads up so they knew to expect some pictures. This avoids, hopefully, my email going unseen in an inbox somewhere, especially on a Sunday as this was and it also ‘sows the seed’ for the story. Then the images were attached to an email with the news release and sent out apart from one which was sent by ftp.
Almost straight away I called the desks to let them know that I had sent some pictures in and that it would be with them soon. At this point I packed my gear away and headed home, for me, about a 15 minute drive from where I had taken the pictures. After getting home and getting a brew on I began to call the desks once again to see if the email had arrived. This proved useful because a couple of the desks said they hadn’t received it, so after resending it I decided that I had done all I could to get the pictures out.
It had taken approximately 15 to 20 minutes from returning to my car to attaching the photos ready to send out.
As a freelance you have a number of difficulties doing this work off your own back and not working to a commission, most of which are financially based problems. The papers have a number of options open to them to get there pictures from an event like this…
- They use their own staff photographers’ work whose wages they already pay.
- They use work off the ‘wire’ supplied by agency phots – Reuters, Getty, PA, AP etc, agencies that they pay a ‘subscription’ to each year in order to use their images.
- They can take on a regional agency to cover the job having already established a contract with them.
- They can decide to use a freelance photographers work based on a commission for that particular job.
As you can tell from this list, for a newspaper to use a photo from another source – an on spec submission from a freelance for example, that they have to pay for is unlikely when they have all the above options open to them. Exceptions to this would be a huge story which was exclusive to the freelance tog.
So what results for my efforts. Unfortunately, nothing this time, a quick scan of the papers I had submitted to revealed that of those who ran the story they had all used pictures by their own staffers or from an agency.
This is the game though, you win some and you lose some, does it piss me off? Of course it does, it’s a lot of work for nothing to show, financially, but in the freelance game if you give yourself a hard time each time you get a poor result your going to get very disappointed after a while. The best thing I find to do after each job is to carry out a quick analysis on the story and see what I could have done differently on my side to make sure I can do it as quickly and as professionally as possible and at the best quality and make any adjustments as necessary and then move on and forget about it. Unless you can secure a commission then this is going to be the difficulty faced each time.
Although I do have two more papers to check yet so you never know…now, what’s next?