OTMFC is a collective of great photographers and assistants that come to your job with a truck load of experience and equipment to get it done right. I caught up with David Hudgins, one of the founders, to see what this is all about.
Heidi: Have to ask, how did you come up with the logo?
David: The logo was drawn up on a bar napkin.
When you don’t want to drop the f bomb, what’s the replacement?
Over The Moon For Christ is one of our favorites, but we always prefer to drop the F Bomb!
How did this business idea come about?
We got tired of showing up to a shoot and realizing that we forgot to order that one little piece of equipment that we could not do without. We decided to build a truck and have it come standard with all of those little pieces. All you had to do was book the truck and you would have everything you needed to do a photo shoot. It made our life and everyone else’s life easier. When you focus on creating a product that works great for your client, the successful business follows.
You have 3 kitted out trucks right now, do you have plans to expand your fleet?
We are always looking at ways to improve what we are doing. When we decide to take action will depend on the needs of our clients.
How did you decide what each of the 3 trucks would be kitted with?
Through years of experience working on set and placing orders, we knew what equipment we would need for different size shoots and budgets. We tailored equipment packages around these parameters.
Can you do a la carte and or is it a flat fee?
We provide both! We have trucks that come as a package at a set price. We also have trucks and cargo vans that are a la carte and can be built out to accommodate any size shoot. You can also have equipment delivered and picked up from your set.
Have you ever been on a job where the photographer has SO MUCH to choose from they go into option paralysis or they keep changing their set up?
Once we had a whole truck load of equipment, 50,000 watts of light, motion picture lights, etc. The assistants spent hours lighting the set to perfection then the photographer turned in the opposite direction and shot talent with an on camera flash. They never even used the set! That has happened to us so many times we have lost count.
One of the biggest problems photographers seem to have is editing. Whether it is narrowing down the images from your shoot, deciding what couture gown talent will wear, or deciding which lighting setup you will use, a photographer always likes to have options so they can pick the best solution.
Does it ever happen where someone orders the biggest set up you have and then shoots available light? Would you call that your dream client?
Again, that happens all the time. We had a shoot last week where we hauled the contents of a whole truck, including generators onto the roof of a building. The assistants setup all of the lights, and the photographer used a flex fill for the first 2 shots and a flashlight for the last 2. They are not necessarily dream clients, because you still have to setup and breakdown the equipment. The dream client would be the one that gets a truck of gear then tells you to leave it all IN THE TRUCK and then lights available light.
We have a joke about “available light,” because when a photographer says they are going to shoot available light, you think it will be an easy day…then they end up setting up every light you have available and it becomes a long brutal day.
What’s the advantage of hiring you over let’s say renting individual items, cost I assume and variety? Why else?
Passion and experience.
How much new equipment do you invest in on a yearly basis?
This depends on what equipment comes out. Some years have more new toys that others.
How do handle the lighting demands of a still and video shoot on a job where they require both and need to be shot at the same time? Are you noticing a trend towards continuous lighting?
There is a lot of convergence between continuous and strobe lighting. The challenge is finding, understanding, and providing the tools to give the photographer their look with both options.
Your site has an extensive roster of available crew, how do you get on the list? Who vets them?
The people that are on our list, are people we have known and worked with. There are a lot of great assistants in LA that we have not had the pleasure of working with. We try to add people after they have worked with several other assistants on our list and have been recommended by them and our clients.
Are any of your guys aspiring photographers or are you all committed to running this business?
There are a handful of us that are dedicated to running the company. The rest are great assistants and great photographers.
“I’m a child and photographer of the digital generation. My work usually doesn’t exist outside of ones and zeros on a computer, and to have it physically now gives it life. It’s been reborn in a very different way, and it gives it an existence in the real world that will live on whether or not there’s electricity. It took years for me to get a book from Iraq published. I had to win an award to do it because no one wanted to publish an Iraq book. Photo books take a loss financially, and then for it to be about Iraq, a subject that most Americans and Westerners want to forget…”
The Critical Mass 2011 top 50 is out and as always it’s an outstanding resource for anyone looking for photographers to hire. Take a look and congratulations to those who made the cut. Go here to see the list with pictures.
Jane Fulton Alt
Mary Ellen Bartley
Nigel Gordon Dickinson
Kenneth O Halloran
Philipp Scholz Rittermann
Geoffrey H. Short
There’s never been a better time to do creative work than right now. You can get stuff started. You can get it out to people. And you can turn it into a business if it’s decent. And there are more ways to get work to material. And it’s easier to get work. We are at a peak. Everything about our country is going to hell. Our politics, industry — like this is the one part of America which is actually going great.
As we’ve discussed in a previous post, structuring photographic fees on the basis of a day rate vs, space is customary for many national magazines and is generally the most equitable for both the photographer and the client. But we’re increasingly seeing publications prefer to pay flat fees for photo shoots. While working this way can keep the costs predictable for the client, it puts all the financial risk on the photographer. Any unforeseen expenses can eat into your creative fee quickly if you’re not careful. Here are a few things to consider as you negotiate your next magazine job.
For starters, it’s important that you don’t immediately jump into a budget discussion when a client first contacts you. It can be disconcerting to a client, editorial or otherwise, if you show more interest in the money than the project. Yes, it’s important to understand their budget, but save that conversation until after you’ve expressed an interest in the assignment and an understanding of the concept.
Once you’ve heard the details of the shoot, ask the client if they have a contract or if they’d like to work with yours. Then, ask if they have a budget set for the shoot or would they would like to see an estimate. Unlike a lot of commercial projects, most magazines have a pretty clear idea of what they expect to pay for a given assignment. If the client is offering a flat rate, that can mean one of three things. Either it’s a flat creative fee plus photographic and travel expenses, or it’s a flat fee including photographic expenses plus travel expenses (like this assignment for Fast Company). Or, it’s a flat fee including all expenses.
When presented with a flat budget, it can be tempting to decide on the spot whether the rate is satisfactory for the time, skill, licensing and expenses involved. But in most cases, it’s prudent to call the client back after you’ve had a chance to run the numbers and review their contract. What seems like a lot of money at first may be less impressive once you subtract off all your costs and account for the licensing. And of course, be clear before you hang up the phone about what the “flat” rate covers and what it doesn’t.
Figure out how you’re going to execute the job and then list all of the expenses you’ll incur—subtracting them from the total budget. Compare what’s left to the amount of work involved and the licensing required. Is it reasonable? If it isn’t, don’t assume that it’s a take-it-or-leave-it situation. Most clients are willing to negotiate if you handle it in a thoughtful way. Determine what would make it work for you. Then try to understand which items are important to your client and which aren’t, so that you can make an offer that satisfies their needs without giving away the farm. For some clients, the rights are most important and they’ll be willing to bend on price. Other clients will have a strict limit on what they can spend and they will be more willing to negotiate the licensing. We were recently negotiating a contract with a casino whose legal department completely rewrote our contract. It didn’t take a genius to see what their priorities were. So rather than giving them limited licensing for a moderate fee, we gave them all the terms they wanted and simply raised the rate commensurately.
In another recent situation, we were presented with a contract from a custom publisher that specified that they could use all “works” created on the assignment for editorial use forever. We felt that the fee they were offering would be reasonable for their initial needs (which was four images), but that to have use of any or all of the images from the shoot was excessive. The photo editor was sympathetic to our concerns, but her legal department wasn’t willing to modify their contract. Then we saw that it was actually the assignment brief that defined what constituted the “works.” So the photo editor just rewrote the brief to define the “works” as just four images and specify that use of additional images would be negotiated separately (which they later were). This simple change was enough to satisfy the photographer, the photo editor and her legal folks too. A win-win-win.
Here’s an example of one magazine’s flat rate contract:
Most of the terms are similar to our day rate against space contract, except for paragraph 2:
COMPENSATION – The Client will pay the Photographer a flat fee, inclusive of all normal expenses, to be agreed upon per assignment, for a specified usage.
Once the contract is in place, all you have to settle on for each assignment is the fee and the usage. We’re normally comfortable with a simple email from the client saying, for example, that for xxxx.xx including expenses they would use a full-page opener plus an additional half-page picture.
There are a lot of limitations in the rest of the contract that you can negotiate to keep in or take out. But as with any contract, the main thing is to be clear about what you’re going to get and what they’re going to get.
For more information on Wonderful Machine’s consulting services, please contact Craig Oppenheimer at firstname.lastname@example.org or 610.260.0200.
“Entertainers try to please their audience – artists do what they do and the audience comes to them. I don’t think about my audience whatsoever.”
Suddenly I felt like a cheap carnival hawker. Not only do I consider the audience for my work, I confess that I aim to entertain. Is this pathetic? I guess it depends on the definition of entertainment.
Check out this behind the scenes video where Kid Rock has this to say about Clay Patrick McBride:
I love working with Clay McBride, because it’s fast, he gets it done. If a light needs to be moved he grabs it himself, he’s pleasant to the people he works with hes nice of course he takes great pictures or he wouldn’t be here. Once I find a good thing I kind of stick with it. They’re always trying to get me to work with different people at every level and I’m like if somethings not broke we don’t got to reinvent the wheel here. I love Clays pictures, he’s take a lot of great shots for me throughout the years album covers, magazines and other sorts of stuff, he’s just a pleasant person to be around. I consider him a friend and we work well together.
Knowing how strong-willed these business leaders were, I gave the assignment to the photographer Albert Watson. The project needed a photographer who possessed not only a sharp eye, but an equally strong will.
via SPD.ORG – Grids.
A few weeks ago, I outed myself for having created a male-centric photo-book review column. Rather than embracing the gender bias, I sought to rectify the problem, good feminist that I am. (My wife went to Vassar and Smith, so my credentials are solid.) So of course, this week, just to keep you guessing, I’m offering up a week of guy books. Most men, as we all know, like cars, sports, and blowing stuff up. With that in mind…
“The New Cars 1964” is a blue, hard cover book by Lee Friedlander, recently released by Fraenkel Gallery in San Francisco. (Not content to merely put on exhibitions, those guys are a serious publishing house as well.) In our aerodynamic present, where a Hyundai can look like a Mercedes, and Nissan commercials mock the Chevy Volt for having a gas tank, it’s hard to imagine anyone bragging on a new gas-guzzler with a bitchin’ set of shark fins. Big, heavy, lumbering behemoths from Detroit are a part of our nation’s history, not the present. Which is what makes this book so much fun. It’s just straight up vintage. Apparently, Mr. Friedlander was commissioned by Harper’s Bazaar to photograph the secret new 1964 models, and he did it in a style to which we’ve since become accustomed. The photographs, not exactly glamorous advertisements, were rejected, and sat in a box until very recently. The images are busy, witty, and headache-inducing, as we might expect. It’s a cool opportunity to see a bit of Americana, timestamped in (mostly) Motown circa 1963.
Bottom Line: Never-before-seen vintage work
“Weird Sports” is a smooth, hard cover monograph by Sol Neelman, recently published by Keher Verlag in Germany. Does the title give away the content? You bet it does. This is not a book that will make you feel like you are boning up on brain cells in a quest to cure cancer. It will, however, make you chuckle, and develop an appreciation for the absurd and countless ways people choose to amuse themselves. If you were to sit down, get stoned, and write a list of the silliest things that anyone could invent and call a sport, you probably wouldn’t be as creative as the lunatics that Mr. Neelman found in his global quest. Doubt me? Here are some examples: Extreme Pencil Fighting, Lingerie Football, Mutton Busting, Live Monster Wrestling, Head Pulling, and Cardboard Tube Fighting. Obviously, there are some less ridiculous offerings in this book, but it’s a terrific collection of images, and must have required a hefty travel budget. Between Mr. Neelman’s wit, well-constructed compositions, and facility with color, I find it hard to believe that anyone wouldn’t enjoy “Weird Sports.” (Though I’m sure you’ll let me know if I’m wrong.)
Bottom Line: Hilariously human
Though I joked about mens’ love of blowing shit up, and my tone thus far has been breezy, there’s nothing funny about “Antipersonnel,” a new hard cover monograph by Raphaël Dallaporta. This edition was published by the Musée de L’Élysée in Lausanne and Éditions Xavier Barral, though I believe there was an edition of this project previously released. The book contains a suite of stark images of land mines, shot straight up, in studio, against a black background. Killing machines, decontextualized. Each image is paired with a text page that gives the code, country of origin, size and a description for each bomb. It’s a dry, categorical approach to looking closely at a messy, destructive, borderline evil subject matter. The viewer supplies the emotion through our imagination, as we mentally project the screams and shrieks that each model has no doubt produced. The project was supported by Amnesty International, and it’s easy to understand why.
Bottom Line: Important
Full Disclosure: Books and scans were provided by Photo-Eye in exchange for links back for purchase. Please support Photo-Eye if you find this feature useful.
You know, what we put into our pictures is not a smart idea. What we put into our pictures is our whole life and our whole intellectual discourse. Everything we know and everything we have done and everything that’s in our history goes into every single picture we take.
— Fred Herzog
via Street Reverb Magazine thx, Howard
Tricia Scott of Merge Left Reps sent me an email recently about a new cooking app called Matt’s Pantry that was shot by one of her photographers, Matthew Furman. What caught my attention was that the agency produced the app. I’ve talked with many photographers recently about providing finished products to clients where photography and video are only components of what’s being delivered. This is along those lines, so I asked Tricia a few questions to find out what she was up to.
Rob: Why did you decide to produce this yourself?
Tricia: I wanted to own the content and it was a bit of an experiment. I feel like the business has gotten so out of control, everyone is complaining about it but not doing anything. I wanted some control over my destiny. The photography industry is shrinking, fees are shrinking and usage is being squeezed. Why not own the content and the actual app itself.
Shouldn’t you go looking for someone producing a cookbook app to hire your photographers?
I love producing work for our clients, but to me, the future of photography is uncertain. I hired a developer and kept the rights to the wireframes, so I can now reach out to others who might have a need for this type of app, and create it for them. We had a meeting recently with a medium size book publisher that we’ve shot for before and they are interested in the app because for them, it’s an unknown still and I’ve done all the legwork.
Do you think this could be a real revenu stream?
The production costs and time of a cookbook app are high, but Matt Furman shot it, the chef brought the recipes to the table and I brought the money. We will all get proceeds and everyone is happy. The key to making money with an app is in the marketing and that is where you really have to put a ton of time. As a photo agent, I don’t have that time, and need to delegate that responsibility.
It was really a great project for Matt, since he isn’t a food photographer, but of course did a beautiful job. He and the chef grew up together – and we all had lunch one day. I left there thinking I wanted to do an app with them, and here we are – it’s done. I think pigeonholing photographers is in the nature of the business but it was great to see him out of his comfort zone and pushing himself to do something he wouldn’t normally do.
What about producing apps for clients, is that something you see happening?
I have more ideas for apps cooking (no pun intended) – I have a good relationship with Soho Interactive – they developed it, who I met through an art director client, Todd Lynch.
I’ve had people politely, even regretfully tell me they didn’t care for my work. I am kind and respectful towards them, because I don’t expect the majority of people to like my work. I tell them they’re in a majority. And I’m cool with that. This makes them feel better. Sometimes it even makes them feel better about me. And on occasion, it has made them feel better about my art. A win-win all around.