Ashley Morrison's Blog

August 30, 2014

A selfie

Email in from Ireland’s Homes Interiors & living magazine to say:

Hi Ashley

I am sure you know we are approaching our 20th birthday and we are planning on dedicating a page to our contributors over the years, we would like to include you in this page, would you be able to supply me with a head shot of yourself and 50 words or so on working with the magazine. Could you also ask Marie to do the same. If you could send this in in the next couple of weeks that would be great.

So I replied by saying:

Time to call up David Bailey or Annie Leibovitz, and ask them for a wee favour then 🙂

Hard to believe it’s been 20 years, as it really doesn’t seem that long ago – as I do still remember those early days like it was only yesterday.

Anyway, no problems – I have plenty of shots of Marie – so I’ll let her pick.
Pictures of me – those are few and far between – but I’m sure I’ll find something that makes me look 20 years younger 🙂

A selfie is a self-portrait photograph, typically taken with a hand-held digital camera – and since David & Annie were currently unavailable for obvious reasons, then I reckoned it was therefore going to be a selfie.

So out with the Canon, a 50mm lens attached and with the aid of a reflector, I started to snap.

Looking old…
Ashley Morrison
.. but they do say the camera never lies rolleyes

Ah well, so I guess is how I now look 20 years on – after having produce thousands of memorable images of people and their homes.

Included this one…
The sitting room in Marie & Alan McMillen's home in Belfast.
.. which was actually one of the last homes I shot on film, before buying my first digital system almost 15 years ago.

Remember thinking at the time, this girl has worked hard – and so wasn’t surprised that Ireland’s Homes Interiors & living magazine liked it too – and so ran with this home on the cover of their February 2000 issue…
The cover plus pages 86 to 96 in the February 2000 issue of Ireland's Homes Interiors & Living magazine.
.. which was actually around the time they changed their name, to become an all Ireland magazine as well.

So what was so memorable about this one you ask !!

Well for one, we shot it again in 2004…
The sitting room in Marie & Alan McMillen's home in Belfast.
.. and then in it again in 2005 for some Ulster Carpet ads…
Carpet by Ulster Carpets.
.. which were a lot of fun and the begining of a whole new look…
Carpet by Ulster Carpets.
.. so we shot it again in 2006…
The sitting room in Marie & Alan McMillen's home in Belfast at Christmas time.
.. and again in 2007…
Marie McMillen in the sitting room of her home in Belfast at Christmas time.
.. this time with the homeowner in it – looking rather please with herself wink

And at the end of 2008, after may other shoots in it for various company’s ads etc, I shot it for the last time…
The sitting room in Marie & Alan McMillen's home in Belfast.
.. to help them sell it – and so this became by far the most photographed home in the country I reckon – and probably the most featured home in the the UK too, as I think we managed to get this one featured in almost every publication there is.

But I guess the main reason for this one being so memorable – if you haven’t already guessed – is this is where I first met Marie, as this was her home.

So I’ve seen lots of changes over the years, including both the style of Marie’s work and my own, since we first met via this magazine – and then I take another look at that picture of myself and think “ah well, I guess I’ve changed too” smile

Now just need to think of 50 words or so on working with the magazine, to sum all of this up and the doors of opportunity they opened, which really I guess has been the big thing, which I’d like to thank them for.

Cheers,
Ashley
www.ashleymorrison.com

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August 28, 2014

Classic

Interesting request in last week from a PR agency in England, who was looking for someone to produce some images for them to use to help them promote their client, who it seems “makes very high quality doors for houses”… according to them.

Not sure how they came across my name, as they also asked to see my portfolio / website – but anyway, after sending them a link to it, I realised they probably wouldn’t see that many images on our website of just doors – which I assume is that they would want to see – so I quickly dug-out a few actually ‘door type images’ that I had on file, like this one…
Enterence hallway door
.. and this one…
Enterence hallway door
.. which I explained to them in an email, were images which were produced along with a set of other images those days, for mainly ‘editorial use’ in various home interior type magazines – both nationally as well as locally.

Which was basically the same market that they were hoping to target here too, with these images which they were asking me to produce and then provide them with for them and their client to use.

Also sent them this image…
Door by Hayburn Wood Products
.. which was produced almost 10 years ago, and is still being used by Hayburn Wood Products to promote the fact that they also produced beautiful doors too – to show a slightly different style, which is more ‘advertising’ like – being puncher, cleaner and eye catching – due to a number of factors.

So in other words, I wanted them to see that even something as simple as ‘an image of a door’, could be made to look very different – which it may need to here, to appeal to her target market and get them the desired results.
Which is at the end of the day, is what it’s all about. i.e. me helping them get results.

So anyway, that all when down well and they loved what they saw – so then came the big question: How much?

Well as always, the answer is “it depends” – as there are more than 100 different ways to shoot any subject.
And so the questions at my end often are: “How good do the images need to be ?” and “How much are you prepare to spend ?”.
However, I know there is no point in actually asking a client those questions, because I already know what they would say if I did, which would be: “We want them to look amazing but we don’t want to pay very much.” wink

So instead, I ask them what did they need to use the image for, as that will then help me to determine not only what they may be worth to them but also what I may have to do to ensure I get it right for them.

And in this case, they said they where needing them for PR use, as they would be sending them to the various home interest magazines (like the ones we would often submit our work to) for them to use in the “How to get the look” section – which you would often see at the end of a feature, etc.
Period of use – well forever naturally, especially if it doesn’t cost anymore – and the Territory of use would be Worldwide, especially if it didn’t cost anymore.
But it does – because producing an image which someone would actually want to use more, usually means it will need to be better and more timeless looking – which again I need to take into account – as well as, who their target market is, i.e. local people, national people or even international people – as what the style may need to be, to appeal to each of those could be very different.

So anyway, with this information on hand, I sent them through this quote…
Quote-00016856
.. to get the ball rolling here – as this is what I reckoned the minimum would need to be – both in terms of what I’d need to charge to cover my basic production costs; as well as, what they would actually be needing to use these images for too.

Which is based on what I would consider to be ‘Standard use’ – that is, for me to produce and then provide them with a number of images here, that would be good enough for them to want to use in this one media for at least the next two years in throughout the UK & Ireland.

To which they relied:

“Hi happy with that but we don’t want a restriction on use.
Please can you look at that and take that off and re-send the invoice?
Thanks so much”

Classic, I thought rolleyes

So now instead of me producing some images that she may want to use for more than 2 years PR use, she now wants what exactly ?

For me to produce some image here that she would want to use for in multiple media for the next 10+ years throughout the world, which would obviously cost a hell of a lot more OR for me to just take some quick pictures here that she could use if she wanted to… and stay within that budget ??

As it’s obviously the budget here, that will ultimately determine what I can or can not afford to do – which in turn will then determine how much she will actually want to use the images for afterwards.

So that could be like the difference between me providing her with something like this…
Preview use only
.. or this…
One time only editorial use
.. or even this…
Multiple media use for 10+ years
.. depending on how money I had to play with.

So, since I know I can take some quick shots for her – should she not want to spend much money – and I also know I can produce some images which she may want to use a bit more or even use a lot more (if I really ‘go for it’ and bring in a team to help me) – then what are we talking about here now !!

Or let me put it another way, for £510, for me to produce and then provide you with 4 images for you to use – which of the above 3 images do you think you would be getting from me at the end of the day, for you to use for whatever you liked ?
(keeping in mind that there is at least 2 or 3 hours travelling involved here too).

In other words, what would your exceptions be here ? – because I sure wouldn’t like to disappoint you and get this wrong !!

Now obviously if what they were simply just asking me to do here, was to take some pictures – and it was all sitting-up camera ready, and perfect to shoot – then no problems at all. However, after looking at the recce image that they sent me of what the door actually looked like ‘as is’ – it was very obviously to both of us, that for me to create some images here that they would actually want to use a lot, then a lot was going to be needed to be done. Otherwise, they would just end-up with some images which they could use a lot, but probably won’t want to use very much.

So the question for me is: What do they want me to produce and then provide them with here ? – and: How much would they be willing to pay for that ?

Well if they are only prepared to pay £510 and where wanting to use the images as much as they like, then obviously I’d need to say within my budget and keep my costs down to a minimum – especially if I was wanting to maximise my profits.
So naturally I’m not going to want to do anything more than I would absolutely need to – because this for me, is all about making as much money as possible at the end of the day – as opposed to me wanting some really great images here, because I personally needed to use them for something.

So really, the only reason why I’d want to go the extra mile here and produce some amazing images, is if either:
(a) I needed to use them for something.
OR
(b) If I felt that would increase the value of them, i.e. the amount that others would be prepared to pay me for the use of them – because then there would be a real incentive in place.

But obviously if you remove that incentive, by saying something like: it’s a fixed fee for unlimited use, then trying to produce better images that others would want to use a lot more, all becomes very counter productive – as this is like saying: it doesn’t really matter how good they are any more.

That’s obviously not really a great way to work, especially for a creative person, who will naturally always want to their best – but since I’m a ‘professional’ photographer (who is a person who takes photographs to make money, rather than an amateur, who may take photographs for pleasure and to record an event, emotion, place, without a monetary motivation) – then taking photographs to make money means, that the money side of things needs to come first – otherwise, what I’d be doing, would really be no difference to what an ‘amateur’ would do.

So the question for me is: If you want me to provide you with more, how much more are you willing to pay ?

Which in this cased turned-out to be a lot more, for the same amount of money that I had quoted here.

Sorry, but that doesn’t work for me – and so that was basically the end of it – as there is simply no way I’m going to provide something that is possibly worth thousands of pounds, for just a few hundred.

So would love to hear from others here, as to how you go about handling requests like this – whereby a client specifically asks you to give them a price for one thing, but then says they want you to provide them with something totally different afterwards… for the same price.

August 18, 2014

Our needs V’s Their needs.

Was over shooting at Marie’s the other day – and so while she was busy and very focused on doing her thing here…
Marie at work.
.. to create a series of lovely banner images like this…
Bed linen and cushions.
.. to show the new head board she is selling, as well as cushions and lamps, etc – which I must say all looked very well…
Bed linen and cushions.
.. as she mixed & matched them…
Bed linen and cushions.
… to show how simple changes could completely change the look.

I on the other hand, was busy thinking about a solution, to the new terms agreement which IPC Media have recently introduced.

This being the problem:-

IPC Media has updated its rights agreements to reflect our needs as a multi platform business. Our previous agreements were written when all content was produced for print, but now our customers expect to be able to access content on whichever platform they chose to experience it – in print, on tablet, on smartphones, online or through events and other experiences.
The rights we are buying are All Rights, in return for IPC’s agreement to pay the fees agreed for each commission.
All Rights means the assignment to IPC of all of your right, title and interest in, and to, the copyright and all other rights of every kind or description in the material(s) commissioned from you, throughout the World whether those rights are now known or are created in the future and in each case for the full period of existence of those rights.

This assignment to IPC is made with full title guarantee, which means that you guarantee to IPC that you have the right to pass to us the entire ownership of the rights in the material(s) i.e. you have not copied anyone else’s work, and only you have been involved in the preparation of the material(s).

And it is a problem on different levels too – as agreeing to this would not only mean the end of additional usage sale – which I personally do count on to cover the extra cost of hiring people like Marie here, to help me produce the type of images that these people would want to use – but it would also remover any & all incentives to do anything more than the bare minimum anymore.

Because producing ‘better images’ is clearly now not going to make us any more money – and so the last thing one would want to do, is give them some images that they would want to use that much – as the more they would use those images, the less they would need to use us.

So it’s all very counter productive in away, as it’s like ‘just about good enough’ will now become the norm – as the incentive to do more than that, has just been removed.
Because a quick snap-shot, which may be of little use to them or anyone – is now worth exactly the same to the photographer, as an amazing image which may be worth thousands to them or possibly other people – as they are now talking about a fixed fee for ‘All Rights’.

Which basically means it doesn’t really matter what the images look like anymore – as it’s not going to make any difference to what they are worth.
At least not as far as we (the photographers) will be concerned.

But it doesn’t just stop there – as agreeing to this would also mean we are no longer just talking about ‘Editorial use’ – and so we would now need to let the homeowners know that – as these images which we are about to take in their home, could now be use in almost any media for almost anything, including advertising.
And we would have no say in that – as IPC Media would own the Rights – to do as they please with the images.

And incase you’re thinking “No, surely not” – I can assure you it can and most likely will, as I’ve been down this road before and that’s exactly what started to happened.

So take this image that we produce in Marie’s house the other day…
Bed linen and cushions.
.. if we agreed to IPC Media’s terms here – then they would own All Rights to it – which means neither Marie (the homeowner in this case as well as being the stylist) or I would have any say in either how IPC Media used it or even who else they sold it to, for them to use.

So she could easily see pictures like this of her home, being used by not only other magazines in different parts of the world over the next few years, but also being used for advertising by others too – on Billboards, Posters, Ambient; Brochures, Direct Mail, Magazine ads, Newspaper ads, Point of sale, Television as well as on the Worldwide web – as we are no longer talking about just a one time only editorial feature anymore, in one magazine, in one country.

Because “All Rights means the assignment to IPC of all of your right, title and interest in, and to, the copyright and all other rights of every kind or description in the material(s) commissioned from you, throughout the World whether those rights are now known or are created in the future and in each case for the full period of existence of those rights.”

So that’s the problem – now what’s the solutions ??

Henry Ford once said:

If there is any one secret of success, it lies in the ability to get the other person’s point of view and see things from that person’s angle as well as from your own.

So would love to hear from others, especially those who may also be directly effected by this new agreement – not to dwell on the problem, but to hear what you feel would be a good solution here – as that is what we need find, before this all ends in tears.

As that is exactly what is going to happen here, if we don’t – as this could very well be the end of ‘editorial work’ as we know it – for everyone… including them.

Cheers
Ashley
www.ampimage.com

August 11, 2014

Back in action.

Well it’s been a while – mainly due to me not being well, which is another story – but anyway, we were back in action this week…
Setting up the shot in Donna Wilson's guest room above her garage near Greenisland in County Antrim.
.. shooting a room which Donna, a good friend of Marie & Stuart, had been working on above her garage.

So it was just like old times – ‘Deep in thought’ as Stuart said here, when he sent this image through…
Deep in thought.
.. of the girls studying the image on the laptop screen, while I’m trying to figure out how to work the camera by the looks of things wink

Anyway, both Stuart & Marie worked their magic….
Setting up the shot in Donna Wilson's guest room above her garage near Greenisland in County Antrim.
.. and so before long the first image of Donna, sitting so as not to disturb the cushions…
Donna Wilson in the guest room above her garage near Greenisland in County Antrim.
.. was in the bag.

Then it was detail shots…
Setting up the shot in Donna Wilson's guest room above her garage near Greenisland in County Antrim.
.. which Stuart once again titled ‘Many hands’…
Setting up the shot in Donna Wilson's guest room above her garage near Greenisland in County Antrim.
.. which they did indeed made light work here…
Chair in Donna Wilson's guest room above her garage near Greenisland in County Antrim.
.. and so before long we were almost done.

Still there was the return angle to shoot – so Marie took a quick picture with her iPad here…
Marie's image.
.. to show use all what she felt should be the shot.

So while I set-up the camera to see what it would look like…
Setting up the shot in Donna Wilson's guest room above her garage near Greenisland in County Antrim.
.. Marie explained her vision of how she saw it:

“Bathroom door closed – grey sofas just cutting in each side – cushions on white day bed framing the shot 🙂
Graphic/Classy.”

Right – so how about this…
Side table in Donna Wilson's guest room above her garage near Greenisland in County Antrim.
.. was my thinking – which by the look on Marie’s face here…
Setting up the shot in Donna Wilson's guest room above her garage near Greenisland in County Antrim.
.. wasn’t quite what she was thinking wink

Anyway, it was good to be back – and finish with my personal favourite image…
Donna Wilson's guest room above her garage near Greenisland in County Antrim.
.. which I’m hoping the editors will like too.

So this is just a wee note from me to say thank you to all of you guys – and especially to Donna for inviting us in – an amazing job, so thank you.

From Marie, Stuart & me @ ampimage.com

August 2, 2014

Victorian Vintage.

Is the title of our latest published work in the September 2014 issue of Ireland’s Homes Interiors & Living magazine…
Pages 82 to 95 in the September 2014 issue of Ireland's Homes Interiors & Living magazine featuring Keith and Amanda Cunningham's renovated double fronted mid terrace house in Belfast.
.. on pages 82 to 95 – featuring Keith and Amanda Cunningham’s renovated double fronted mid terrace house in Belfast.

“Amanda and Keith used vintage inspiration and shabby chic furniture to transform dingy workplace offices into a stunning forever family home in Belfast.”

Which we talked about here: Never work with children or animals – when we shot it.

Anyway, a massive 14 page spread which looks really stunning – so this is just a quick note to say a big thanks to everyone involved here – and congratulations to Keith and Amanda here…
Amanda Cunningham in the living room of her renovated double fronted mid terrace home in Belfast.
.. once again, for this time making it into this beautifully printed Irish glossy magazine.

From Marie, Mandi & me @ ampimage.com

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