Long before I ever picked up a camera my medium was in words. From writing short stories to read to my family as a child to news articles for a newspaper as a young adult – it has played a significant role in my life.

Working in marketing for the better part of a decade did not get me to look at words more than I did previously, but it did get me to look at words differently.

Now, as a photographer with a background both as a writer and as a marketer, I am fascinated by words and how words are used to promote businesses selling either products or services.

I’ve narrowed my focus to a few combinations of words that can easily give the wrong impression to those reading it. In particular the statements, slogans, sales pitches and marketing messages that photographers are using in attempts to generate business from modeling talents.

“Shooting submission for (and then a list of very large national/international publications).”

The reader understands that not only will they receive photos from the photo shoot, but further is given the impression that their images will be showcased to the editors and decision makers at these top level publications. Although it is not stated, it is inferred that the creative photographer has an in with the publication and its staff. But what does the statement really say?

It says that the photographer will be submitting any images shot to a magazine or magazines. It does not say they have a relationship with the magazine, whether or not they know anyone at the magazine nor the potential the images will be picked up by the magazine. It simply just says the images will be submitted. Most publications have an info@magazinenamegoeshere.com e-mail address that is a general receptacle that is typically overlooked. But there technically was not a lie in what was said. The images were shot and submitted and that is where they could forever lay.

So when you see statements like these, look into the portfolio. Are they currently (or have they previously) been published with the magazines? Inquire if they have contacts and if there are any shots on the upcoming editorial calendar that they are trying to get.

“I shoot for (and then a list of very large national/international publications).

This is a spin-off statement similar to the one above that I’ve noticed quite often. Let me illustrate how it is used how it can be misleading.

I can state that I shoot for 20 magazines right now. That would technically be a lie. Even though you could pick up 20 different magazines to find my work in, I realistically only shoot for anywhere between 3-5 in any given month.

To state that one “shoots for” implies they are hired, commissioned and/or assigned work from the publication.

Having work published, purchased or picked up after it has already been created and submitted is not technically “shooting for” but instead being “published in” or “featured in.”

That stated, I cannot say that I shoot for 20 publications. I can say that I shoot for 3-to-5 but am published in more than 50.

“These photos won’t be for public consumption.”

This merits the question of why the images are being created as well as who will be “consuming” the images if not the public? I’ve discussed with multiple talents their stories on images they created “not for public consumption” appearing in places they did not expect or anticipate. It is important for a talent to always discuss the usage of the images with the photographer. Where the images can go, what they can and cannot be used for – by both parties.

These are three examples of what is no doubt many that perhaps you personally have encountered. However the point of this article is not to give the impression that all statements similar to these are misleading fallacies. Instead it is to encourage you as talents (and more importantly, as paying clients) to peel back the layers of what is being said, to get comfortable at asking important questions and to then be able to make more informed decisions.

Best wishes in shooting!

James Patrick
Twitter @jpphotography
Instagram @jpatrickphoto