A Little Lesson in Photo Etiquette

So on my last shoot, I got into a quick chat with a bassist buddy of mine, who actually did me a major solid mid-show. I crept up by the gear cases near the stage to try and get a nice clean shot of the keyboardist, and, with absolutely no obligation on his part, the bassist stepped aside and waved me a bit forward to stand by his amp for a cleaner shot. I’m very grateful for that favor (and yes, the shots were fabulous), and as a result we got to talking about photographer etiquette at concerts.

I think it’s high time I did a comprehensive post about it.

Make no mistake, guys: being a photographer is a job. If you think that all it is is someone “taking pictures for a few hours”, you’re deluding yourself by even formulating that thought. Pictures require processing, which takes hours. And Photoshop? Not a cheap software at the best of times. Lightroom, if that’s all you need? Not free either. Photographers who are at the top of their game also invest thousands of thousands of dollars into their equipment, which has to be the best on the market. I recently bought a lens the price tag of which still makes me cringe – that’s after a discount – and it’s only one of three such lenses that I will need to invest in to have the gear bag that I require. I’m not even talking about the cam body that I am thinking about investing into; that alone is making my wallet ache. All of this adds up to a ton of money. It would, honest-to-all, add up to $20,000 if I want to buy the gear and software that would complete my “best of” gear bag, and that’s half my annual salary. This is what it takes to be a pro photographer, so next time your photog gives you a bill, you pay it and be glad it’s not double the amount.

And the thing about concert photography is that you have no idea what you’re walking into, far as lighting conditions go. So when you’re shooting a concert, if you’re lucky enough to have a vantage point that lets you capture all the good angles easily, you’re ahead of the game. But, if you’re like I was at my regular shoot, maneuvering around a stage, then you would need to get a little creative.

But, regardless of whether or not you’re front row at a theater or floating around on a boat-concert gig, here are some do’s and don’ts for my fellow concert photogs:


– Use flash. Regardless of whether or not the venue allows it, it’s always distracting to the musicians. No one likes a flash going off in their faces. You know how everyone complains about someone blinking right at the shutter click? Well, this is what happens when the flash goes off; your brain wants to move to protect the retinas from flash burn. Because, as someone who had a flash of someone else’s camera go off right into my own eyes one time too many, I can tell you, flash burn is no picnic. Worse in dim lighting. So how do the musicians feel when that flash goes off?

Remember: if you go into Program (P on your camera) and tweak your flash compensation and ISO a little, you won’t need the flash in a concert shoot. If you worry about grain, then there’s an Exposure control adjustment in Photoshop where the Gamma slider will eliminate a lot of that grain. Or, conversely, you can go overboard on the grain and do a stylistic little thing with it. In my experience, in a well-lit stage (Blue Note as an example), grain is at a minimum even if my ISO is set to 6400 and I’m shooting with my f4 rather than my f2.8.

– Block someone’s view. Never, ever, ever get in people’s way. To be blunt, your ass isn’t transparent. The audience paid to watch the musicians play, not your behind trying to maneuver for a good angle. Mind the people around you. It’s plain and basic courtesy. If you want a closeup, pop on a telephoto lens; otherwise, down in front.

If you want to change positions, do so quickly. Dodge out of the way of the audience, get to a spot that will let you have your angle with the least amount of hassle from the people sitting close to where you want to be, get the frames you want, and vamoose. But under no circumstances are you to block people’s way.

– Cop an attitude with the musicians. The musicians are the one earning the money for everyone, including themselves, and indirectly, that includes you. They come first. Respect what they’re doing. As a courtesy, before the show, ask them if they’d like any particular frames shot of themselves. Don’t act like you’re all that and a bag of spicy Doritos because you have a camera. You’re working too, but so are the musicians: they’re the ones giving you material for the production, for your portfolio, for your practice, etc. They come first. Never forget that.

– Cop an attitude with the production. If they hired you, this goes triple. Never bite the hand that feeds you, under absolutely no circumstances. Productions, artists, fellow photographers – each and every one of them has a blacklist. You don’t want to find yourself on it, and the fastest way to find yourself blacklisted is to act like a jerk.

– Cop an attitude, period. You may be good, but there’s always room to improve. Never forget that photography is a learning process, like all art forms inevitably are. If you walk around like you’re all that and a bag of chips, then you better show that you have the portfolio that backs the attitude – and you still better take that down a notch.

– Expect anything”extra” as part of your photo gig. Usually, most hired photogs are treated as part of the band – discount drinks, food, comped admission, etc. – but this is definitely not the case universally. Many clubs or festivals will just give you an okay to shoot, but they’d expect you to pay your own admission, food, drink, etc. Bands can guest-list you, or photo-list you, but there’s no guarantee that you’ll be allowed to partake in the band discount on food and drink if they do so. Or that there even is a band discount. The important thing is: do not expect special treatment. Ever. If you get it, great, but never lose sight that unless you have a Staff lanyard, you’re another audience member with a camera.

– Get judgmental of other photographers, whether aspiring or seasoned. Fastest way to make a fool of yourself. Don’t ever get judgey of someone else’s gear. Don’t get snippy if someone else asks you about yours. See above about copping an attitude. Don’t do it. You will be the one looking like an ass at the end of the day.

Now that we got that out of the way…


– Ask in advance about clearance. Never assume that just because you’ve shot somewhere once, twice, three times, you’d be allowed to keep going as you are. I made that mistake before; a club changed its management without me being aware of it, and the new manager wasn’t so keen on photos, even if the musician didn’t necessarily care either way. Awkward? Very. Since I’m a regular there for smooth-jazz gigs, the manager did relent on me shooting, after a point, but the lesson has been learned: ask ahead. You don’t want egg on your face later.

– Case your location and arrive early to do so. If you have the good luck of getting into the venue earlier than showtime, or even earlier than door time, you have the benefit of scoping our your vantage points in advance. This can make all the difference between a bad shoot and a good one. If you’re lucky enough to walk into the venue while they’re also testing out their lighting, and the house lights are down, it’s the perfect chance to tune your camera settings to the show’s lighting setup. If you have never been there before, you can ask politely to see if you can check it out. Whether they’d let you is another matter, of course, but preparation is a great advantage.

– Make friends with the “official” photographers if you, yourself, are not hired for a shoot gig. I cannot tell you how important that is. The best and easiest way to get your chops, grow your skills, or to later get your own gig, is to start out shooting as someone’s B-Reel. In other words, assist someone. They’ll teach you a few things. And the best recommendations and references will always come from the people for whom you’ve shot B-Reel in the past, especially if your B-Reel is as good as or better than their master reel. I’m always glad to tweak the settings on someone’s rig, lend them a lens, etc. Why? It pays it forward, because I had people teach me all of those things. No one ever got anywhere without a little encouragement. If I tweak the ISO and program settings on a guy’s rig and he gets the best photos possible as a result, then I can promise you that he’ll remember that when someone asks him to tune up their cameras too, some years down the line. Pay it forward.

One of the best experiences I had was in San Diego and once before on Capital Jazz’s cruise, when I let fellow photogs borrow my 70-300 f4 lens. Why? It was the first time they shot with that sort of a range on a lens. It changed their perspective, and made them think more about what they could get out of their rigs. I consider it a job well done on my part.

– Make friends with the musicians whom you shoot, and their management, if that’s possible. They will become your clients later. They will remember the way you treat them, and your professionalism. Key word is professionalism. How you present yourself is how you will be referenced.

– Make friends with the promoters, if possible. Same reason as musicians. Always be professional, courteous, and maintain your connections. You never know what may pan out later.

– Keep an eye on what’s behind the scenes. It’s actually pretty important to know the blow-by-blow of how a gig comes about, from a business perspective. Some musicians’ contracts may require that photos of a show are contained to only certain mediums – and if you’re shooting, then you really need to know what those mediums are. Never lose sight that showbiz is 1% show, 99% biz. When you get a contract to shoot a gig, ask ahead what happens to the photos: do you get to watermark them when you distribute? Does the artist want a hi-rez set before you make it public? Does their management? How do first-publication rights play? You need to know that.

– Always have a sense of ethics. I can’t put enough of an emphasis on that. How you conduct yourself and your business is how people know you. The grapevine is very real, very swift, and above all, merciless. If your business ethics are beyond reproach, believe me, it is worth the reward. Integrity does pay in this business.

– Own up to your mistakes. You will make them. It’s called being human. But what marks you is how you deal with them. You own up and own them, and their consequences. Yes, it’ll suck, but know what? Welcome to being a businessperson. Welcome to being an adult. You made the mistake, deal with the fallout.

– Always be courteous. See all of above that I said about perception, professionalism, and presentation. Courtesy plays in a LOT of that.


I won’t lie, it took me a long while to get used to, well, everything that being a concert photog entails. And again: it’s still a learning process. I’m still figuring a lot of stuff out. I made quite a lot of behind-the-scenes connections, and learned about the business side of the music world the old-school way – trial and error – but never would I get so presumptuous as to say I know everything. I don’t. I don’t think I ever will.

But what I do know, I try to make the best of, and to pass some along to the next shutterbug ahead.


Good News!! – Magazine is out!!!

There is good news today as well, and this has come as a surprise out of my blog stats…

Earlier this year, I met Bridgette Lewis of CA, who’s a media maven on all accounts, who asked me to write a bit and for usage of my shots. To say I cannot recommend Bridgette Lewis enough is an understatement.

Today, the magazine is up!!!

LINK: http://issuu.com/ms.bridgette/docs/ctjm_winter2013

You will find my photos, with some cover words, on P. 43, and one of my George Duke shots in his tribute article as well.

Enjoy! And have a coffee!

Again, with feeling: WE DO NOT WORK FOR FREE.

Okay, folks. If I’m making this public, you know it’s something that infuriated me.

More than once, at a show, I’m asked to send my pictures to someone. I don’t mind that. What I take a severe umbrage with is the fact that these people expect my pictures with absolutely nothing in return.

I. Don’t. Think so.

Listen up, people, and listen well. You do not, under any circumstances, ask someone who is in the creative world to work for free, for any reason. Your entitlement does not justify someone working for free. You’re simply not that special for someone to forgo paying their bills to work for you at no charge. That’s not the way it works in the world.

I have seen a rash of ads for musicians where they could “play for exposure” – and that’s a damned travesty. Because what all of those restaurant and club owners fail to wrap their brains around is that their sudden influx of revenue comes from the people who follow the artist. Once the artist leaves, so do the crowds, and they’re back at square one. And why should an artist play for free when he’s shelling out money for merchandise to sell at the gig, gas, backup band, sound guy? What makes that club or that club owner so absolutely overweeningly special that the musician would take a loss – because this is his JOB – in order to play at that establishment? Why should he do that, when at a place a couple of miles away, he’d get all of that paid for?

The same is with photography. I’m very much _done_ with the idea that someone has to shoot “for exposure” or shoot for free, period. Folks, let me break this down for you: over the seven years that I’ve been in the jazz scene, of which I’ve designed for one year and been shooting for three on top of that, I know most of the artists already. If I don’t know them directly, I know them through someone. So please don’t give me the old song-and-dance about “shooting for exposure”. People die from exposure. And the only time I want to concern myself with exposure is when I’m in the Shop and I’m correcting my shots.

And considering that I’m 1. 28 years old 2. in a scene that’s mostly filled with people twice my age, 3. look reasonably cute in a black dress, I’ve had to fight to be taken seriously first. It’s a continuous ongoing battle, to boot. I have no illusions about that being part and parcel of the deal if I’m going to work in the music industry. That’s how it is. I get it. But at this point, my photos and my ability speak for themselves, and I am more than justified in getting paid for my labors. For all the love I have for this genre and the people in it, love doesn’t pay the electric bill, and my photography is not a hobby. It’s a _business_ and it’s a business that I fully intend to cut a profit from. And though I can get creative with my tax returns, I am done taking a business loss just because someone thinks that they shouldn’t have to pay the cute girl with the camera for the usage rights.

Let me break this down for you. This is what an average gig day looks like:
– Admission: $30
– Transit (if it’s an out of town gig)- $25 (on average, depends on location)
– Hotel, if it’s far enough: $125
– Meal: $30
Total spent for me to shoot one out-of-town gig: $210.

I’m taking a $210 loss de facto with an out of town gig, and again: why the hell are you thinking you’re entitled to my photos for free?

This is exactly why I copyright my images. That logo that you see on the bottom isn’t there by accident.

Remember this, people: I own the master rights to every single photo I take, no matter how old it may be, no matter where it’s posted, and no matter who views it. I own these shots. If you want to use them, you require a licensing agreement and a fee for the rights of use. This is how it works. This is how it has always worked. My fault lies in not enforcing this as egregiously as I ought to. I don’t stiff on rights, but don’t think or believe for a second that you’ll ever get an image out of me for free. You want to do a marketing campaign with my shots? Great! You want to put them on the artist’s website? Fabulous! You want to submit them to a magazine! Awesome! – AS LONG AS YOU SIGN THE AGREEMENT. And pay the bill. I can negotiate on the price, but there’s no way it will be zero. I shell out enough money in order to build my brand and expand my product. It’s more than high time for me to get a return on my investment.

After all, I don’t come into your place of business and expect a free cleaning or free medical services, right? So what makes you think you can treat the photographers and the musicians that way?

And while yes, I will freely admit that I’ll do someone a favor and do a freebie then, believe you me: it is not the majority. There are only two, maybe three people in the world who will get free services out of me. And if you’re amazed that I refuse to work for free, then chances are you ain’t one of them.



Chasing Music 2013

You know, it’s been a long time since I’ve written about music.

In part because the political matters in this country had gotten to be intense enough to become distracting, and in part because I’ve gotten way busy – long story! – I’ve almost forgotten all the things I’ve had the chance to see this year, so far. But how can I forget? I have all the photos I’ve taken, thousands of them, that commemorate the shows I’ve seen, and that bring back some of the finest memories of the year.

Of course, I write this in the ramp-up towards another photo jaunt, this one planned well in advance. What’s absolutely most important about this jaunt is that there’s a buzz to see what I will turn out. Not just my own as an adventure-loving photographer, but turns out that my audience has been wider than I originally anticipated. My photos were seen, actually seen, and they are an anticipated thing. It’s a heady, exhilarating sort of feeling, to know that your venture is gathering buzz and success. And this upcoming adventure…well. :) We’re going to see what that’ll turn out.

This has been an interesting year for music so far, and I’m glad to say that there have been new experiences. I’ve had to sit out Newport Beach Jazz Festival – the lineup didn’t strike my fancy – but I had the chance to go to the Capital Jazz Festival in Maryland in June, and that was certainly an experience. My first time in MD, my first time at the Cap Fest, and my first time having people whom, for the life of me, I can’t recall by name, asking me about the pictures. But the hallmark of that fest, who else but Dave Koz?

Dave Koz and Summer Horns, a tour and a force to be reckoned with. Mindi Abair, Gerald Albright, Richard Elliot, and the Koz himself – with a handpicked backing band – didn’t just take over the festival. They dominated the stage. And not just with music out of their catalogs, no; they took all the classic horn-section-powerhouse artists – Earth, Wind & Fire, James Brown, Tower of Power – and reimagined it. Four powerful saxophones, all the music close to your heart, and an energy that defies description. If you have never seen a pavilionful of people up on their feet, having a grand ol’ party within the first five minutes of a song, then you have not attended a Summer Horns show. And, considering that that tour is coming back next year, I say that it’s imperative you see it.

Even at the gig that I went to later on, the Ridgefield Playhouse, back in August, the entire theater was up and partying within moments of Got to Get You Into My Life. But the show-stoppers were, hands down, Gerald Albright breaking out his inner James Brown, and Richard Elliot taking front and center on Reasons. I’m definitely a EW&F fan, even though I wasn’t even a concept in the universe when most of that music has been released – well, most of the good music has been around well before I was born, anyway – but Richard on that particular tune… Blazing sax doesn’t quite cover it. Explosive doesn’t do it justice. The way that Reasons rolls off the bell of Richard Elliot’s tenor sax is something that has to be seen and heard to be experienced; it floods every nerve in your system, well after the initial Good Music Goosebumps. You know what I mean. Even if you have never heard the song in its original variation, when Richard Elliot will get into it, you will remember it very, very firmly. You just don’t hear a rendition like that every day, and right now, looking through the Ridgefield shots, I feel the same heady thrill that I felt when I heard it strike up and the roar of the crowd as they remembered their favorite old-school song.

No school like the old school, eh?

And of course, there’s Dave, turning the last bit of the show into Dave Koz & the Sunshine Band. Yes, I’m going there, and everyone in the audience at both Cap Fest and Ridgefield can relate to what I mean.

You know, guys, this is a huge part of why I love to photograph live music. These things will grab you by your heart and soul and not let go.

One of the other pivotal moments in this year of music photography and music listening was the Long Beach Jazz Festival – Long Island’s Long Beach, that is – and it’s all the more crucial considering that Long Beach was never quite the same after Hurricane Sandy. I’ve not been able to – mentally, mostly – set foot there much prior to the fest. Just couldn’t put myself up to seeing the storm-ravaged town that, prior thereto, has been a home away from home, a place that I’d go out to just to while away a long weekend, see some music friends, and hang out on the boardwalk. Sandy, of course, wiped the original boardwalk out of existence.

But the new one has been finished up in time to open the first sections well before the festival. And of course, I had to go. The LBJF has been a staple of my life since 2007, and I wasn’t about to miss it. It was a sweet, lovely festival, complete with not your everyday swing band – Uppercut – and old known favorites: Special EFX, Edmar Castaneda, Steve Adelson, who put this entire thing together time and again… It’s always the place where I can have a lovely reunion with friends, as well as crank up my photo mojo.

Another new thing on the musical radar was my first foray into the Lyman Center series, that is to say the concerts at the John Lyman Center for the Performing Arts. Every year, they have a great music series, and every year, the music series sells out like nobody’s business. I see why: the lineup is stellar! I got my season tickets early and right now, in retrospect, am I glad I did. The lineup is all the people I enjoy seeing, and all the people whom I enjoy photographing too: Marion Meadows & Cindy Bradley as a double bill, Boney James just two days ago, Acoustic Alchemy… I won’t be seeing Najee and Alex Bugnon, though. Can’t be in two places at once…whoops.

Yeah, there have been a lot of places for me this time around. Rochester, NY and West Point Academy’s Ike Hall (no photos from either of those – drat), Ridgefield, CT, Baltimore… and very soon, I’ll be embarking on yet another photo adventure; very very soon, I’ll be on a ship headed to many a beautiful island, where the music and the landscapes both await only one thing: my camera shutter.

And to think: all of this started with someone I know convincing me, back in May of 2008, to take a trip aboard a ship departing Miami in January of 2009. My very first Caribbean trip was, by all accounts, a life-changing experience, and it continues to pay itself off in more than just any money I earn through photography: it pays off in memories, experiences, and connections. And that, in and of itself, is what makes this life of mine colorful.

But this year also, there’s something else that’s very different. Since the trip is in November, not October like the usual, I’m also participating in NaNoWriMo while aboard. So I get to back-to-back photography and novel-writing. To say that it’ll be a busy trip is an understatement, and I’m sure I’ll need to set aside a few days for just sleeping everything off. Won’t happen, though; I know my life.


Summer Horns at the Capital Jazz Festival: http://kgilrainejazz.smugmug.com/Music/Jazz/Summerhornscapjazz

Summer Horns at Ridgefield Playhouse: http://kgilrainejazz.smugmug.com/Music/Jazz/Summer-Horns-at-Ridgefield


Until the next adventure…


Public Service Announcement

No idea who created this, but it gets the point across
No idea who created this, but it gets the point across

Found this on FB, and I cannot begin to tell you just how true this is, and how many times this needs to be said.

If I had a dollar for every time someone had asked me to shoot “for exposure”, I’d likely be able to retire. My answer is and always will be a resounding no. I shot for exposure when I first got my camera and when I first began experimenting with photography. That’s what happens when you’re a beginner. But I’m no longer a beginner, and I take this seriously, and by no means is what I do easy or free.

Now, you know that I do primarily (not exclusively) concert photography. I do it because more than one party benefits. Seriously, let’s look at it this way: these photos that I produce are not just for the artists. The artists benefit first, because it’s their show, and those photos are their faces, and their energy, and their promo. But the same goes for the venues hosting these concerts. How does it look for the venue that someone can turn out photos like that? How does the venue’s appeal change when people see some fabulous concert shots? They’d want to attend more shows there, right? There you have it. This is not just for the artists’ benefit, but the venue’s too.

Consider also this: concert photo is a very tricky thing to execute. You don’t know what lighting conditions you’re heading into. For all you know, you may take 400 frames, and not have a single worthwhile shot if the club’s lighting is odd. And believe me, that has happened to me more than once, where I’d go in, snap a good 300 and spend a week nose-deep in Photoshop to make them passable. But I love it, because it’s a challenge, and because shooting in weird lighting is the best way to learn about photography, lighting, shutter speed, and your camera sensors.

You’re thinking, “Well, if you’re good, you wouldn’t need 3-400 frames!” Bull. Thanks for demostrating that you don’t get it. You do require 300 frames with some concerts. Granted, that’s depending on your lighting and your gear, but if you’re shooting concert, you’re going to get a variety of poses and expressions, none of which are within the photographer’s control. Get it? You can’t ask a musician, while he’s mid-note, “Hey, turn this way, lift the sax a little more!” Nope. You control nothing in a concert shoot. The only thing you control is where you sit, and the settings on your rig. And yeah, you’re going to get 300 frames, most of which capture all different angles of the performer, and all the lighting changes, etc. It’s your job, as the photographer, to weed out the best ones and use them.

So those pictures up on my Facebook page, those pictures on SmugMug? They take work to execute. I didn’t become a good photographer overnight. It took me practice, more than one bad shoot, several conversations with other photographers, reconnoitering manuals, and then, repeatedly, practicing and applying what I learn. Retouching a photo should be the last resort for processing; then you become a graphic designer. Luckily, that’s what I do as well.

And if you want to use my images, then please purchase the rights of use. It’s not just courtesy, it’s business. You’re purchasing a product, a product that I have worked hard to execute, a product that I ensure meets a certain standard. You can also get the rights of use if you – just a suggestion! – contract me to execute the shoot in advance, for a set fee. Moreover, until you have the rights of use, you do not have any control over the images, legally, since you do not own them, one (the photographer owns the images unless they sell master rights), and you’ve not been permitted to use them. It’s simple truth: regardless of where you post them, or how you use them, legally, I’m the one in charge of them, unless you have a license agreement from me that delineates how long you have the rights of use and how they’re abridged, if at all. Don’t worry, I don’t bite. I don’t stiff on use rights. I don’t ever stiff on use rights. But if you’re using these images without my permission, I can, perfectly legally and within my rights as the creator and owner of the photograph, put out a cease-and-desist order to any medium that you send them to. So if you want a photo that I snapped to run in a magazine, then you will either 1. pay for the right to have it there, or 2. deal with the consequences of me bringing a cease-and-desist order straight to the publisher.

You can view them free. Always. You can view them. But if you want to use them, that’s when we get serious.

You think, “But people share your Facebook pictures!” True, but that’s what they’re there for, and by no means are they all my shots. Facebook only sees a small percentage of my work; SmugMug has the rest, and Smug, unlike FB, doesn’t appropriate usage rights without permission. Facebook is open country for photos; if I post it, it can be reposted, and reused as need be. This is why I’ve taken to curtailing what I put up there. This is also why SmugMug, which I am paying for out of my own hard-earned cash, is my primary photo repository. Not only it offers beautiful prints – which are my product, by the by – but it, above all, it has no impact on usage rights. I can share them, and other people can share them, but I remain as the owner and distributor. And, like everyone else in the creative world, I would very much like to be paid for the work that I do. A musician doesn’t get on stage for free, either.

I make money, as a photographer, in three ways: advance contracts for shoots, sale of usage rights, or sale of prints.

So really, if you have a photographer at a show, and they turn out some great images, and you want to use them, pay the photographer. Chances are it’s not a hobby for them, it’s what they do. They, like you, have to keep the lights on. It’s not just snapping pictures; considering some of us travel, we’re also paying serious expenses in order to execute those shots. If I have to travel to photograph you, then please at least make an effort to defray my travel costs. And considering that I’m a bargain maven, then trust me, it won’t cost that much.

The only exposure I care about is the Photoshop setting when I touch up my shots. To ask someone to “shoot for exposure” is ridiculous. You don’t expect your dentist to work on your teeth for practice, would you?

Don’t expect the same of your photographer.


Why My Photos Are on SmugMug

Also could be entitled No Photographer Or Creative Person Works For Free.

The furor with Instagram doesn’t really concern me; I barely attempted to use that service, but gave up on it pretty quick. Until recently, I was, however, a big fan of posting my photos on Facebook – with a watermark stating my copyright, of course – and it came to my attention that Facebook’s latest TOS already have a clause that gives them claim to whatever users post. Including photos.

Big, huge no-no for a photographer.

And let me explain why I will keep my Facebook photo posts to a minimum. The simple reason is that I don’t like giving usage rights over to anyone who isn’t giving me my dues.

This is how I make money off my photos:

1. Sales of usage rights.

You can view them, yes. I always send out viewing copies, but if you want to use them, that’s where money and legalities are involved. Until I draft and receive back a signed contract that delineates use of the images, I remain the sole person with rights of use. So in the event any musician in my clientele will use any image without that signed contract, I can – and I will – immediately contact him/her and anyone else involved with a cease-and-desist order. As the sole owner of the usage rights (remember, no contract = no usage), as well as the master rights to the images, I have the final say on where any photos go.

So Facebook suddenly having the right to do as they please with my images doesn’t sit well with me. That is the real reason I put a copyright clause into my shots: not because it will prevent Facebook, but it makes it that much less appealing for them to use. Because they appear on FB, they have the right to use them anyway. I may as well make it less appealing by embedding the copyright.

I do give breaks. I do give usage rights without charge from time to time. But bear in mind that it always comes back to me one way or the next.

2. Print copies

Self-explanatory. People do ask me for prints, and I’m happy to provide them. That is why I’m a SmugMug member: Smug prints full-res, custom-sized print copies, and I can make available whatever size I feel is best. For instance, there is a canvas option that I’ve test-driven and the result is stunning. But the wallet-size defeats the purpose of the photo.

3. Pre-arranged Contract/Barter

I’ll admit that it’s rare that I get a pre-paid call to shoot, but I do get bartered arrangements for photography on a regular basis. Barter is payment, and it’s payment I do accept, but please don’t tell me that I’m shooting “for exposure” – ever. The only exposure that concerns me is the exposure levels in Photoshop when I’m revising and correcting aberrations in photos. Exposure as a photographer I already have, and the thinly veiled implication by a statement like that is that my work is not seen as valuable.

Paying, or bartering with a photographer is simply a matter of respect for the photographer and the work they produce. They put money and time into their gear and into their work. If you check out B&H Photo and look at camera prices, you’ll see: this stuff ain’t cheap. My own gear is actually budget-priced, compared to the gear I’d like to acquire. Tell me, please, how long do you think would a photographer, who had invested that much time and energy into learning their work, would keep working for free?


This is also part and parcel of why I’ll keep my music shots on SmugMug. Because my prints can maybe make a buck while they’re up there. I’m also considering putting some of my non-music images up on iStockPhoto, because that is a great resource for graphic designers and can make me some money as well.

But above all, the person who keeps the rights with those options is myself. And considering the emphasis put on master copyright, that is important to me.


Link to my galleries: http://kgilrainejazz.smugmug.com

So I’ve been noodling around this idea of an anthology of music-themed stories, art, and poetry. I’m no poet, but I do know several who may do well being featured. This anthology will not be just mine.

I have also signed up for Duotrope, and will attempt to find a paying market or two for some of the stories, because hey – won’t hurt. That and if there’s a trad-pub market that will like some of these stories, all the better.

Now, for what this anthology will contain:

The Haunted Club Series: I was thinking about Etta James after putting up her commemorative story, and how every time that we lose a great musician, I always say, “They’re at the grand jam session in the sky.” Well…this, in turn, gave me an idea: how about I write about what some of those jam sessions are like? Let’s cross decade boundaries and time, and put Count Basie together in the same room as George Howard. The reason for it being a series – of short stories, not novels! – is because there’s just too many pairings that I can have fun with. Benny Goodman and Wayman Tisdale? Duke Ellington and Grover? There can be a lot of potential genre crossovers.

– Photo & Art: There are a lot of great photographers and artists in the contemp-jazz world. Jerry “JB” Brooks shoots a great set. So does Ron Hancox. So does Keith McD. So why not feature them? Also, Bettie Grace Miner’s paintings are gorgeous. Nathan East is on Flickr.

Musicians’ Insights: This is an endless set of possibilities as well. I’ve read Mindi Abair’s columns in Wine and Jazz, and Matt Marshak’s blog posts. Bob Baldwin is trying his hand at being a book author as well. I will see who is willing to contribute what, and I have no idea what I’ll get. This is a little exciting.

– Commemoratives: Self-explanatory.

Altogether, I’m looking for about fifty pieces to go into this anthology. I will have to figure out how copyright and royalties will work, depending on how many people will be contributing. They will get fair share of their royalties, and I will publish them in a medium that is beneficial to all of them. Yes, I plan on paying the contributors if the anthology will be selling. No, I have no intention of running a small press, but I do not think that it’s right for me to take a contribution and not give something back for it. Not how I roll.

Lots to think about, and I will have to do plenty of research.