I recently returned from a trip to China where I was tasked with photography an epic resort – and I don’t use that word lightly. With hundreds of rooms, private villas, and drool-worthy penthouses, it was an assignment I won’t soon forget. I’ll get around the posting a full trip report when I come up from air after another whirlwind travel schedule, but here is a taster of what’s to come.
Photographer Trent Bell and architect Eric Reinholdt recently teamed up to make this video and and the result is a rare insight into both the mind of an architect and a photographer. Eric as designer and Trent as his long time photographer have a great relationship and it shows; and the insight provided by their creative relationship is very valuable.
One of the most recognizable buildings I had the chance to photograph for my book New Architecture Los Angeles was the Broad Museum, a beautiful project in downtown LA designed by Diller Scofidio+Renfro. As it’s literally one of the most photographed subjects in the entire city, I wanted to make sure I created images that were actually different than everybody else’s.
It’s an email I get weekly. “My name is John and I work for this massive publisher, and we love your image of that thing. We’re creating a book for our client, and want to use your beautiful image as a spread in the book – can we get permission?”
I’m always happy when publishers, corporations, or individuals want to use my images in their books.
I recently participated in an open forum on Reddit, the self-proclaimed “front page of the internet.” The idea of the thread was “ask me anything,” a popular interview-type format where readers submit questions about anything under the sun for the host to answer.
As a child of the internet, I’ll always have a soft spot in my heart for forums, listservs, and any type of community-driven gathering space as they are where I really became familiar with photography and learned how to operate a camera.
Over the past few years, my gear bag has been reduced to the absolute bare minimum. This is to make my traveling life easier, to reduce weight so my herniated disc doesn’t flare up every third minute, and to keep breakage and repair troubles far away – after all, the less things there are to break, the less things break.
It’s a struggle that every creative professional deals with all too often, especially early in your career: chasing invoices, non-responsive clients, unauthorized usage of assets, the list goes on. Here I’ve compiled some of my favorite links and videos that will help you light a fire to get paid for your work – and if nothing else, will inspire you to re-write those contracts so you never get yanked around again!
KH Asks: Can you explain how you handle copyright infringement across multiple platforms including social media? It seems incredibly easy for a business to steal work and use it for their gain. I noticed on your personal website there are no watermarks. On IG and anything I’ve seen on FB, no watermarks or copyright symbol within the post.
Instagram can be an incredibly powerful tool, but also a very annoying, almost disheartening thorn in your side. While it has great promotional value, the flipside is that it is rife with image theft, copyright infringement, enough vagaries to make your head spin, and the unavoidable irritation that comes with constantly comparing yourself to others.
When it comes to negotiations, as a photographer (or any freelance artist, for that matter) you’ve got to master the art of not being emotionally invested in the outcome – something that is nearly impossible to do. But without it, you’ll never be able to break free of difficult clients and underpaid gigs.
D Asks: How does one find out exactly who owns / manages a building? Ask your client if they know, or know someone who knows. Failing that, walk inside and speak to whoever is at the front desk. Make up a good story, or tell the truth, depending on the neighborhood you’re in, and get a business card of someone you can contact.
Any photographer who has tried to take pictures in any moderately urban environment is familiar: the security guard, keeping us safe from the “terrorists” with cameras, protecting the interests of “the man” from purported “liabilities,” and whatever other nonsense boogeyman they’ve dreamt up that doesn’t exist.
R asks: When trying to expand and grow your network and brand as a photographer, do you think “mailers” with a small handwritten note can work or what do you suggest to getting more clients to work with you?
In the past I think this worked, today, not so much. An email introduction done right and not done creepily is all you need.
Getting paid to travel is simultaneously the single most amazing thing and single most overrated thing about being a working photographer. On one hand – exposure to new cultures, places, food, languages, and photo subjects is incredible. On the other hand, when it goes wrong, it can go very, very, wrong and make you question why you even bothered saying yes to the job in the first place.
Over the past few weeks, APA has…grown…a little bit, into something I’m beginning to feel slightly proud of. In the background, I’ve gotten many questions about architectural photography from our small but fiercely interested reader base. Rather than let these questions slowly fall into the fires of Mount Doom, ah, I meant page two of our gmail account, I thought it would be great to begin to publicly answer them.
Darren Bradley: TED talker, Dwell cover boy, global traveller and book author. Not bad for an architectural photographer! I met Darren a few years ago at an AIA award ceremony and instantly found him fascinating; so I couldn’t be happier to make this interview happen. Darren has dodged alligators, run from security guards, and slept in Florida’s sketchiest hotels in his quest to be one of the world’s preeminent Mid Century Modern specialists.
A notorious sticking point for any photographer, the rush turnaround can be a great tool in your bag or it can turn into a living nightmare that threatens to create a rift between you and your client. Over the years I’ve been able to transition from the rush turnaround being a dreaded ‘ugh’ moment into something that is relatively effortless.