So recently I learned a rather disheartening lesson about, in my area at least, how some photographers feel that they can charge whatever they want, and not set basis for these rates, as well as do behind the scenes bait and switch charger. More so, it seems to be "in vogue" to belittle and speak trash about other photographers. I was very disappointed at some very unprofessional and immature behavior as of late, and unlike these people, I will not be stating names or be posting any private conversations, let alone give indication of who the other party is.
Last month I had attended a cosplay picnic, and some hobbyist photographers had said they would be present and offering free shots for attendees. Now, this is a nice gesture, and outwardly gives an implication that they do such a small service for love of the art and for fellow fans of cosplay. No mention of any charges for larger copies of the pictures was made by any involved, so one would logically conclude that requesting a larger image for their own collections was included in the free shots.
Upon contacting one of the photographers, I was met with a charge of $20 for four pictures of myself and another person. Initially, I though it was for a CD of the whole event, and was rather dismayed that this charge was for only four pictures. This photographer had earlier said that their full shoot rates would be $20, which I thought was a fair price, as my previous experiences was 15 to 20 pictures in a shoot, and I hadn't paid more than $35 to other photographers I'd booked time with, photographers already onsite no less. So if this was a indication of rates, $5 a picture, and a full shoot would run 15 to 20 pictures, that means a full shoot with this individual would run someone towards $100 or more, for a shoot that they did not have to hire this person for to travel to the site.
This, I felt, was not exactly fair pricing, merely stated my previous experience, and was told to hope that one of the previous photographers I'd worked with would be at an upcoming convention I was attending, and told "tough luck". I was then told that the price was for "copyright release" as well, something that is not owned by a photographer unless release forms are SIGNED at the time or prior to the shoot. In essence, I was being charged for something that this person had no legal rights to. I consulted other people on that matter, and they felt I was being over charged for this, and illegally charged for something the photographer had no contacted or legal rights to.
I felt the matter go. It was a purely business matter and disagreement that should not have been considered personal, and I did not take it as such. The photographer in question, however, did, and very immaturely and unprofessionally posted online saying they were quitting photography for cosplay, and then posted the entire chat log online, only changing a name, all for the intent of gathering people to their own side for sympathy. I thought that this attitude was isolated, but sadly, some other local photographers felt that this behavior was perfectly reasonable, and that having any lack of forms and contracts signed was perfect grounds for claiming copyright on photographs of costume material legally owned by other corporations.
I found myself highly discouraged from contracting then any of this "cosplay friendly" photographers, who seemed it fair to change rates and announce charges on a spot, and for some unprofessional behavior to be considered "the proper thing". As such, at least two local photographers have lost potential business from myself at others who read about this and decided to seek other resources for their own needs. The addition of this other, unnamed photographer came as a result of their rather rude and condescending attitude toward an individual I had worked with some years ago, claiming that they "charges basically nothing because he takes basically nothing".
If this is the prevalent views of the local photography community that works with costumers, and claims to be amiable toward them, I think I'm going to continue shopping around with someone else. I know a number of professional photographers within the local 501st chapter alone who would probably find this behavior insulting and degrading to their chosen field. Most likely, I'll be checking with them for pricing, giving them the business that I had planned for someone else I considered a friend. As a note, several other fandom groups have been informed of what happened, and also have chosen to seek other venues.
Lesson Learned; What some people say is not what they mean, and when you call them on it, they act like children. As well is the lesson that should be learned by others; be careful how you treat your clientele. If you pull a bait and switch, then go bemoaning to everyone else for sympathy when there's a business disagreement, you will lose business as a result. Word spreading goes both ways.