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FORUMS Photography Talk by Genre Weddings & Other Family Events Talk
Thread started 02 Jul 2012 (Monday) 14:42
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WWYD: Primary photog wants to duplicate my LR settings. Do I tell?

 
mirrorrim
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Jul 02, 2012 14:42 |  #1

This sort of involves a back story, but the thread's title is my main question. This is my first wedding season, I'm very cheap, I've shot 2 weddings on my own with 5 more coming up, and I want more experience. I found an ad on CL about a photographer looking for an intern/second shooter to work for free for some weddings. So I respond and am working as a second for her for about 7 weddings this year.

She charges triple what I do, this is her 3rd wedding season, and she's shot a total of 12 weddings so far, with 10 more to go this year. Based on her not-so-updated website, I think my work is comparable to hers and this would be a good working relationship. I'd get more experience, she'd get lots more photos to deliver to clients. She has told me I can give people my business card at weddings (I haven't), and I can use the photos for my advertising. She is very open to 'sharing the wealth' and treats me as an equal.

Turns out...people are liking my photos a lot. She said it's okay for me to post 'sneak peeks' on facebook, and I have a faster turnaround processing my images, so people are seeing my photos first and loving them, and I think she's noticed.

Today she asked me what LR settings I used for a shoot we did together so that she can make sure both sets of our photos look cohesive for a wedding magazine article. I told her that I'm providing all my RAW photos to her so that she can process them in the style she prefers. She then said she really likes my aesthetic and that's what she wants to have in her photos. She asked me to email her step by step instructions. I may or may not get photo credit.

Honestly, I feel uncomfortable doing this. We have competed for clients before and she has booked them. She is a very good marketer, great personality, and has more experience than I do, so I understand them choosing her. She's been so great at letting me tag along to weddings and I really appreciate it. But basically my only advantage is my processing and how my photos look--if I give it over to her, she has it all!

Do I need to be put in my place? I keep reminding them of the intangible benefits--experience, networking with the vendors at weddings I wouldnt be present at if it wasnt for her, gaining a personal work relationship so we can cover each other's backs if one of us gets sick, she invited me to the fake wedding she organized for a wedding magazine--I might get published! etc.

I know this post is long but I wanted to give as much detail as possible. Am I right, wrong, stupid, naive, smart, what? What would you suggest? What would you do? (Note: I dont have any special processing presets, it's just very basic stuff that adds a lil more pop, contrast, etc). Edit: I've also given her a ton of advice in other aspects like marketing that she wasnt doing, new trends I researched, a few specific LR adjustments I make, advice on posing, album software, etc. So it's not like I haven't done anything for her.

Update: Thanks everyone for all your comments. I thought I'd put some of my updates from this thread here so people know what happened:

I gave her a general run down of how I use LR. Nothing specific, because I dont have anything specific that I use. Basically just advice like "I use tone curve for contrast, instead of the slider," "I dont touch the saturation slider, but I like to boost up the clarity and vibrance a bit."

She emailed back and thanked me and basically she knew everything I told her.

I also wont and have not given out my business card at her weddings. I think that goes too far. The topic came up because before our first wedding I asked if she had extra cards so that when guests ask I can give them one of hers. Also, I'm not friends with any of her brides so they would never see my FB posts of their wedding images. But this photog is friends with me and saw my friends' comments about liking the photos. Then she suggested I post on her wall some of the images/asked for my LR settings.

Anyway, that's that. I still think the intangible benefits are worth it. But after our last planned wedding together, I will ask for pay if she wants me to second some more.




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tnis0612
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Jul 02, 2012 14:49 |  #2

As long as you are two separate photographers who happen to be working together, I don't see why you would show her step-by-step how you edit your photos. If she likes your editing style better then she can pay you to edit all of the photos.

If she's not paying you at all then you have got to be crazy to be taking half of the photos and also showing her exactly how you edit, even if you are getting other benefits. If the two of you want to go into business together and work out a split of the revenue then that's a whole other story.

You may be working with her, but YOU are a photographer and SHE is a different photographer. Until you become a team that shares $$$..I woudlnt share editing styles.


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nicksan
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Jul 02, 2012 15:31 |  #3

Sounds like you have a very loosy goosy relationship with her, at the same time when push comes to shove, things may turn ugly, b/c that's what money does.

So I would be careful. Perhaps she slowly realizing you are becoming her competition.

I definitely would not share complete processing settings and you shouldn't either. Your processing is what makes your photography YOURS. Keep it that way.


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marleneguild
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Jul 02, 2012 16:21 |  #4

nicksan wrote in post #14661606external link
I definitely would not share complete processing settings and you shouldn't either. Your processing is what make your photography YOURS. Keep it that way.

I was about to respond and then realized that this is basically what I would've said exactly. Don't do it!!


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mirrorrim
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Jul 02, 2012 16:55 |  #5

Okay, thanks everyone for setting me straight. I was hoping I'd learn a bit more photographically-speaking, but I realize I'm ahead of her in that regard. I'm not going to continue photographing weddings for her for free after I've finished the ones we agreed on. @ Quizzical_Squirrel, this is what my family keeps telling me, but I'm hoping the intangible benefits I mentioned will help long term.




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tim
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Jul 02, 2012 17:33 |  #6

She doesn't sound professional. If you shoot for someone they should get the RAW files and process them all together, present them as one set. Presenting them different from each photographer's really unprofessional.

Help educate her, let her educate you, and work as a team not two individuals.


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jamiewexler
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Jul 02, 2012 18:19 |  #7

So let me get this straight - you are gaining experience by shooting for her for free? So you are shooting the clients that she won through her marketing money and sales process and business savvy? And you are getting images for your portfolio on the back of her hard work? And you are presuming to post the images on Facebook for the clients to see before they get to see the images from the photographer they hired? I'm sorry, but the least you can do for her is share your LR presets, and count yourself lucky that she hasn't fired you on the spot. One day, when you've been in business a few years, and people start asking you to tag along so that they can gain experience off of your clients, you may realize that she was the one doing you a huge favor, and that posting your images before she does is a poor way to repay the favor. Just MHO...

I'm editing this because it sounded really harsh - you have a tone of humility in your original post that didn't warrant the ferocity of my reply. So here's my advice FWIW. You said that she is really good at marketing and sales. In my experience as a full time wedding photographer, great sales and marketing skills are far more important in running a business than what you can do to a photo in LR. People are coming up with preset packs for sale every day, and it's only a matter of time before someone is better at processing photos than you. So offer to give her lessons in LR, if she will give you lessons in sales and marketing. You'll definitely end up on the winning end of that deal!


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jamiewexler
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Jul 02, 2012 18:28 |  #8

tnis0612 wrote in post #14661421external link
...
If she's not paying you at all then you have got to be crazy to be taking half of the photos and also showing her exactly how you edit, even if you are getting other benefits. If the two of you want to go into business together and work out a split of the revenue then that's a whole other story.

You may be working with her, but YOU are a photographer and SHE is a different photographer. Until you become a team that shares $$$..I woudlnt share editing styles.

And if that was the attitude that the original photographer had, then the OP wouldn't be getting a chance to shoot weddings that she didn't have to sell. The original photographer was taking a huge chance on the OP, just by inviting her along. The "I'm going to take from you, but not give anything back" attitude really sucks, and could serve to damage what has the potential to become a valuable business relationship.

There are two ways to look at this. You could say: "I am better than her, and know more about LR, so I am going to take what I want...and screw her for asking how I do it." An attitude like that will likely come through in your relationship, and you probably won't be too friendly even if you make it through the weddings that you promised to help her with. If it were me, and I was sensing that attitude from someone that I was helping out than I would let them go.

-OR-

You could take the attitude that this is a relationship that you want to foster, and pay her back for her good deed done to you. You could share with her, like she is sharing with you. That would likely be more profitable in the future, as great relationships with other photographers in your area tend to lead to referrals from them on dates that they are already booked.

That's how I like to relate to my "competition" anyway. I'm a firm believer in karma/sowing and reaping/the golden rule/whatever you want to call it...

And those of you that think that LR presets are the key to being a successful photography business owner, are not likely to be successful photography business owners for long.


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mirrorrim
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Jul 02, 2012 18:43 |  #9

jamiewexler wrote in post #14662253external link
So let me get this straight - you are gaining experience by shooting for her for free? So you are shooting the clients that she won through her marketing money and sales process and business savvy? And you are getting images for your portfolio on the back of her hard work? And you are presuming to post the images on Facebook for the clients to see before they get to see the images from the photographer they hired? I'm sorry, but the least you can do for her is share your LR presets, and count yourself lucky that she hasn't fired you on the spot. One day, when you've been in business a few years, and people start asking you to tag along so that they can gain experience off of your clients, you may realize that she was the one doing you a huge favor, and that posting your images before she does is a poor way to repay the favor. Just MHO...

Umm, I think you missed the part where she wholeheartedly agreed to all this. I would never ask to give clients my business card while working for her--she suggested it and I've declined to do so. I said I would love experience, she suggested I use it for my portfolio. I had some photos ready for a sneak peek that I was going to post on my own facebook page (WITH a link to her as primary)--I was waiting to post til she had her photos up-- and she suggested I post it to her page so her clients could see. My website has a link to her as primary photographer for any weddings I've shot as her second.

I know exactly how one 'should' behave as a second and I've been extremely lucky that she's been so easygoing. Perhaps you glanced over all my comments about how appreciative I am? I've also given her a TON of advice about improving our businesses as noted in my "edit" note. Anyway, you definitely took my post in a completely different perspective than I intended, but thanks for the heads up.

Quizzical_Squirrel
Re: WWYD: Primary photog wants to duplicate my LR settings. Do I tell?
It just seems to me there's a possibilty this lady has recognized you as her prime competitor and has thus taken you out of the running by getting you to work for her (for free) while she harvests all your good ideas.

That might not have been the original intention at all but right now, on paper, it looks like where it's heading.

Yes, I'm beginning to suspect this. Even though I'm her second and I'm doing my best to create interesting poses/images for her, she will notice I'm doing something unique and come behind my back and take the same shot...I've already taken it for her, so why does she need to take the same shot?

tim
Re: WWYD: Primary photog wants to duplicate my LR settings. Do I tell?
She doesn't sound professional. If you shoot for someone they should get the RAW files and process them all together, present them as one set. Presenting them different from each photographer's really unprofessional.

Help educate her, let her educate you, and work as a team not two individuals.

She is getting all my RAW files to add to her own so that she can process them all together. The thing is she now wants to know how I processed mine for my personal site so that she can duplicate it for her work. Her clients will never know which is which unless they visited my website.




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mirrorrim
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Jul 02, 2012 18:52 |  #10

jamiewexler wrote in post #14662274external link
And if that was the attitude that the original photographer had, then the OP wouldn't be getting a chance to shoot weddings that she didn't have to sell. The original photographer was taking a huge chance on the OP, just by inviting her along. The "I'm going to take from you, but not give anything back" attitude really sucks, and could serve to damage what has the potential to become a valuable business relationship.

There are two ways to look at this. You could say: "I am better than her, and know more about LR, so I am going to take what I want...and screw her for asking how I do it." An attitude like that will likely come through in your relationship, and you probably won't be too friendly even if you make it through the weddings that you promised to help her with. If it were me, and I was sensing that attitude from someone that I was helping out than I would let them go.

-OR-

You could take the attitude that this is a relationship that you want to foster, and pay her back for her good deed done to you. You could share with her, like she is sharing with you. That would likely be more profitable in the future, as great relationships with other photographers in your area tend to lead to referrals from them on dates that they are already booked.

That's how I like to relate to my "competition" anyway. I'm a firm believer in karma/sowing and reaping/the golden rule/whatever you want to call it...

And those of you that think that LR presets are the key to being a successful photography business owner, are not likely to be successful photography business owners for long.

Bold part: It's interesting you've mentioned this, because this is what everyone thinks she is doing to me.

I think I've helped her a lot--I've mentioned lots of examples in previous posts. She has followed most of my advice. And I have given her a general run down of what I do in LR--I dont have any magic presets!! It really is just basic things, like +10 this, -5 that, etc. The issue is she wants step by step to create exact copies and I cant really give that without going through each photo and basically holding a LR seminar. I guess I feel like I've given a lot for her and hopefully make her look amazing to present and future clients. This one thing just feels too much. But this is why I came here, to figure out if I'm totally wrong or justified :)




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jamiewexler
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Jul 02, 2012 19:11 |  #11

I totally realize you are honestly asking about this, and appreciate your continued attitude of humility. Like any relationship, I think it comes down to whether you think you are getting enough to justify what you are giving. If not, I would communicate that to her, and try to find someone else to work with. If you guys already feel like you are competing when you are trying to work together, then it sounds like there's already something out of whack with the relationship.

But think about this, before you chuck it in. It is very unlikely that you will find someone else that will give you the keys to her Porsche like she is. If I pay people to second shoot for me, let alone tag along to gain experience, I give them my business cards to hand out. The fact that she's letting (heck encouraging you) you hand out your cards, and post your own images before she does is a golden opportunity for your future business. That doesn't sound like she is trying to compete with you. You have a LOT more to gain from getting your name out there, while getting real wedding experience, and potentially getting her future referral business than she does by getting a LR seminar from you.

As a business owner, you have to check your ego at the door to be successful. And that's really hard for us, because artists tend to have bigger egos than any other profession (with the exception of, maybe, lawyers). But I have known a lot of really talented artists who have failed at running wedding photography businesses because the art part got in the way of the business part. From a purely cold, calculating, business perspective, you have far more to gain from this relationship than she does.

And that's my yearly dose of business advice :). I know what side of my bread is buttered, and, while I am willing to share everything I know about photography technique, I rarely ever give business advice. I don't care if my competition knows how to take pretty photos...it's when they get good at business that I worry :).


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davisphotos
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Jul 02, 2012 22:04 |  #12

How fancy are your LR settings? It seems it would be relatively easy to reverse engineer a set of adjustments. I would have no problem sharing my settings with another photographer-I talk shop with other photographers pretty frequently, and share plenty of 'secrets' Most of what I know isn't anything somebody couldn't learn with some time searching online, and I gain more by maintaining good relationships with other photographers than I lose by sharing knowledge.


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tfizzle
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Jul 03, 2012 04:50 |  #13

jamiewexler wrote in post #14662435external link
someone else that will give you the keys to her Porsche like she is.

But once you end up being able to shift the gears just right to get a lap ahead should he go ahead and teach her exactly how he does it?

My personal opinion is that it's really none of her business on how you post process your images that you use for your own portfolio. I do agree with jamie that it is really, really, really nice that she lets you go on these gigs but you are shooting for FREE. If I were you I'd much rather, especially if you are able to produce good stuff, shoot a wedding solo for $500 or at least enough to pay for your time/equipment.

If I were in your shoes I'd probably just say/do something along these lines, "Dear first shooter. I love the time that you are investing in me being around. However, I am spending part of my time learning my own style and it will take a long time to get across to you the way I look at images and then come to terms on how to process them. It would take more of my time to teach you the process. So I've included in this email a preset that I've saved to be used in lightroom that I've used on this RAW file. You have the RAW file on your computer. Please run the preset on the file and then look at the values that I've given the processing modules. You'll be able to see what I've done and try to replicate it yourself."

I'd throw a bone but I surely wouldn't sit down and give a step-by-step process on multiple images.

I've seen the style of other photographers and they've offered to give me presets/actions for free that they've developed but they also don't shoot free for me.




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mirrorrim
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Jul 03, 2012 08:21 |  #14

davisphotos wrote in post #14663134external link
How fancy are your LR settings? It seems it would be relatively easy to reverse engineer a set of adjustments. I would have no problem sharing my settings with another photographer-I talk shop with other photographers pretty frequently, and share plenty of 'secrets' Most of what I know isn't anything somebody couldn't learn with some time searching online, and I gain more by maintaining good relationships with other photographers than I lose by sharing knowledge.

Yes, it would be very easy to figure out.

tfizzle

If I were in your shoes I'd probably just say/do something along these lines, "Dear first shooter. I love the time that you are investing in me being around. However, I am spending part of my time learning my own style and it will take a long time to get across to you the way I look at images and then come to terms on how to process them. It would take more of my time to teach you the process. So I've included in this email a preset that I've saved to be used in lightroom that I've used on this RAW file. You have the RAW file on your computer. Please run the preset on the file and then look at the values that I've given the processing modules. You'll be able to see what I've done and try to replicate it yourself."

I'd throw a bone but I surely wouldn't sit down and give a step-by-step process on multiple images.

I've seen the style of other photographers and they've offered to give me presets/actions for free that they've developed but they also don't shoot free for me.

I think this is what I'm going to do. I convinced her to switch over to LR to process her RAWs, so I'm gonna give a basic run down of what each slider does. She probably could easily figure it all out, since she is an avid photoshop user.




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mikeinctown
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Jul 03, 2012 08:21 |  #15

Jamie has some very good points. I don't think it is appropriate that you post photos on your site before she has a chance to give them to her clients. I also think you shouldn't be giving step by step details of how you do something, but perhaps you could give her a basic setting guide. I liked the idea that you said "And I have given her a general run down of what I do in LR--I dont have any magic presets!! It really is just basic things, like +10 this, -5 that, etc.". This is your artistic side and it is done by eye and instinct.

If I was the OP, I may sit down with the lady and explain that you don't have magical presets and that if people like your work that much better then maybe she could hire you to do the processing. If people really do like the photos that much, and you are shooting for free, I would think it would benefit both by having a good mutual working relationship. you are already giving her some work for free. There is no reason to give her all your work for free.

There is no better advertisement than word of mouth and happy customers (and upset ones too) can be significantly influential.


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