This week we would like you to meet one of our Individual Creator Members, Denise Crew.
1. What was the inspiration behind becoming a Professional Photographer? What do you enjoy most about the creative process?
Photography is my second career. I always wanted to do something creative but I never listened to my heart. So I spent a decade doing what I thought I was supposed to do. And then when I looked at my life trajectory, I realized I’d rather be poor and homeless than not doing what fueled my soul. So I guess you might say that I didn’t have a choice — photography chose me. My favorite thing about the creative process is the collaboration with other creatives and bringing ideas to life.
2. Can you take us through your process? How long does it take? Does everything you produce make money?
No, not everything you shoot makes money. And that’s okay as it’s all part of the journey and experience. But someone early in my career told me that I should have my images working for me 24/7 and that I should explore all channels to make that happen. It was shrewd business advice that I appreciate because creatives don’t always make the best business decisions. So I have a stock agency and a licensing agency, and I just opened an online print shop to sell personal work. And I’d like to get gallery representation for limited edition artwork next. The opportunities feel endless. Of course, that’s all above and beyond the day to day work of shooting for brands and magazines. Every shoot is totally different. Most of my professional work can take weeks of planning and involve dozens of people. It starts with an ad agency, brand or magazine contacting you with an opportunity. But sometimes you pitch ideas to them too. And when an advertising agency calls, they usually have a concept that they need to produce. So you spend a lot of time asking questions and sharing ideas. Sometimes that’s simple and just one phone call and sometimes it’s multiple emails and phone calls with many people over weeks or months. Then you create an estimate or a bid for what it will cost to produce that shoot. If you get awarded the job, you then work with a team to make it happen. After the shoot, there’s editing, post production and then finally the completed photo or photos. The challenge, of course, within this process is to remain inspired, committed and close to the work you want to produce and not get lost in the business.
3. What do you think is the biggest misconception about your line of work?
I think many people believe images create themselves and they don’t understand the production value of what it took to create an image.
4. Have you experienced copyright infringement and if so how has it affected you personally and financially?
Not to my knowledge, I haven’t. I’m proud of the agencies that represent my work. They are vigilant and on the cutting edge of sussing out infringement. But not being credited for my photos on social media feels like an infringement on some level. And that happens frequently.
5. What’s the best advice you would give other creators in your field about copyright and how to protect themselves?
As soon as you press the shutter, that image you created and captured belongs to you. Know your rights and don’t give your images away for free. If your client wants to own it in perpetuity, make sure you know the value of your work and get paid for that fairly. If you don’t, you devalue the work of every other photographer and set a precedent that devalues the work of an entire industry. Also, make sure you add your copyright to the metadata — it’s an important step in the post production process and is easy to do. It’s against the law to strip away that copyright notice.