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September 22, 2010 Published by . Leave your thoughts

Last night I took event photos at a ChickChat event at Mars Gallery. And I ate a lot of cupcakes. ChickChat puts together different types of networking events and soirees mostly for women to meet each other and build their professional skills and connections.

The theme for last night’s event was “girls giving back,” and featured non-profit organizations who connect young girls with powerful women role models. And cupcakes.

To make these events happen, the ChickChat organizers need the support and contributions of sponsors- who also get to have booths at the events where they can meet the patrons and promote their products or services. And naturally, to help the organizers attract more sponsors in the future, they’re going to need photos of them and their booths at an event so future sponsors can get an idea of what kind of exposure they would be getting.

So that’s what I did- I took lots of photos of the booths and the happy young women enjoying cupcakes, cookies, chocolate, and other snacks. I love my job, by the way.

You have the right to own photos of you

August 6, 2010 Published by . Leave your thoughts

I think a lot of people who choose me for their headshots do so because I actually give them their photos when we’re done taking them. Strangely, this is kind of a revolutionary idea for photographers: that the person hiring you to take their photo should be allowed to have, keep, and use that photo however they wish. I’ve gotten a lot of phone calls from very wary headshot shoppers who choose me over another photographer because the other photographer wanted them to sign away the rights to their own photo for a certain number of years.

That just seems rude to me. “Alright sir; we just spent an hour taking photos of you and you have paid me a ridiculous amount of money. What? You want copies of all the photos we took today so you can put them on the internet, print them, and use them for stuff? HA HA HA!”

Most people come to me for headshots not because they weren’t doing anything better that day and thought it would be fun to have their photo taken… but because something is going on in their life that they need to have their photo taken- a bio page for their website, a job search on LinkedIn, a program photo for a conference, etc… So they already have a use for the photo in mind, and it would be insulting for me to say something like, “well here are some low-resolution images with my watermark on them that you can’t print or use for anything… if you want to use them, I own the copyright and you have to pay me extra for a high-enough resolution copy of it without a watermark.”

Now I understand why most photographers want to retain the rights to their photos- even utilitarian photography like headshots is still an art form and a learned craft. And frankly, if you’ve ever seen a photograph you’ve taken appear in a newspaper or on a billboard without credit given to you as the creator of that photo… it feels a little like your boyfriend just cheated on you or something. See the above photo of “Comedians You Should Know:” a comedy troupe I took photos for, as an example.

But from the client’s perspective- this comedy troupe had me take their photos BECAUSE they needed something to give to newspapers and booking agents, and should be able to submit photos of themselves to these places without worrying about an angry photographer beating down their door later. The job of promoting yourself is difficult enough as it is.

So use your photos, I say! You have the right. Viva La Revolucion!

Michelle does not do weddings… except for when she does.

June 21, 2010 Published by . Leave your thoughts

I get asked now and then if I photograph weddings, since everyone’s looking for a good wedding photographer to have in their rolodex. And I usually don’t book myself for weddings… Because I eat way too much cake at weddings and end up with a sugar hangover.
This weekend, however, I found myself at a lovely wedding for two Neo-Futurists: cast members from a local Chicago theatre company with a 21-year run of the production of “Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind,” a collection of 30 rotating short plays done in 60 minutes. (A great show if you haven’t seen it yet. Go see it.) The highlight of the ceremony was a short comedic play on love performed by two other cast members, just before the rings and vows were exchanged.

I was the second camera operator for my good friend and fellow photographer, Johnny Knight, who does more weddings than I and ate more pecan pie at this wedding than I ate. I am, naturally, including an embarrassing photo of him that I snagged as he walked across the dance floor balancing a couple cameras and a piece of pie. Now that’s talent.

Now THAT’S indie

May 20, 2010 Published by . Leave your thoughts

Yesterday I had the pleasure of interviewing local filmmaker Coquie Hughes for an upcoming article in my column with CU-Blogfidential on independent filmmaking in Chicago. Coquie is a truly inspirational filmmaker because she’s the ultimate independent, home-grown, grassroots artist. She’s an African American lesbian mother who had a confrontation with a friend of hers who one day told her that now that she’s a mother, she needs to stop being a lesbian.
Angered by the audacity of this woman, she decided to make a documentary film about the social issues of being an African American lesbian mother, and started interviewing children and mothers in the community to explore their opinions and share their stories.

For these filmmaker interviews I like to take photos of my subjects, so Coquie and I went outside for an impromptu photo shoot. I got to take advantage of the murals on the wall across from my building- which I’ve been looking forward to shooting since I moved in a month ago. After spending 30 seconds with the spunky fresh Ms. Hughes, I knew we HAD to take her photo in this underpass.