Monday, March 24, 2008

When A Shoot Goes Bad

All to often, I hear stories about shoots gone bad. Not bad as in, the photos were horrible, but bad as in "the model tripped", or the lightstand crashed into that antique table..." bad. These are the kinds of incidents that turn the shoot from profitable to you into an expensive debacle that you'd just as soon have stayed in bed for instead of shooting it.

Enter photographers working for the upstart Desi Life magazine, launched under a year ago by the Toronto Star in Canada, serving the niche South-Asian community in the area.

Many photographers who find themselves working for startups are conned into accepting "startup" pay scales. These are photographers who, in many cases, don't have their act together when it comes to having their bases covered when things like insurance and so forth. I don't know the photographer who shot the cover in question, he may well have his insurance in line, but many many others don't.

Insurance? Who needs insurance?

(Continued after the Jump)

You do, when you're on set and the lion that is your prop attacks (even playfully) the human subject for your cover! To see the video (via RobGalbraith.com) of the attack, click here. It seems that four broken ribs occured during the lion's throw-down if it's prey.

I previously wrote about liability insurance as it pertains to sports photographers (10/23/07, Speculative Photography - Risks and Liabilities for Leagues, Venues, and Teams) where I outlined the risks of taking to the field without the proper insurance. In fact, there is a huge risk to the players and the league when individuals without the proper insurance coverage are allowed to be near multi-million dollar players where they could injure them and then not be accountable.

So too, when you're working on an assignment in a museum near priceless paintings, or with a celebrity where a wayward light stand could strike them, you have to have insurance. You need only read this report (and see the accompanying photo!) about former supermodel Lauren Hutton's shiner which happened recently on a photo shoot to get the idea!

If you don't know what a COI is, call your insurance provider and ask about them. If you don't have insurance for your business, what are you doing in business? You could lose your house, your savings, and everything you've ever worked for if something goes awry!

Please post your comments by clicking the link below. If you've got questions, please pose them in our Photo Business Forum Flickr Group Discussion Threads.

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

I hope that this is a lesson to all starting photographers. Photography is a business and if you're not prepared to treat it as such you will pay dearly.

Having liability insurance is an essential tools for the editorial photographer. Go without it and the day you have talent slip and fall on your set is the day you close up shop.

Anonymous said...

that's almost funny; a martial arts 'expert', a devotee of a martial art inspired by the animal kingdom no less, who has no idea when a 400lb animal is jumping on her and clearly no ability to fall without damaging herself.

aren't martial arts supposed to teach you that stuff?

on the photography note, even simple things like someone tripping over your tripod legs in the street can land you in a LOT of trouble without insurance.

get it or don't call yourself a photographer, i say.

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised the model doesn't own that zoo or the newspaper by now. What kind of contract does the lion trainer work with????

Anonymous said...

With all the BS she was spouting about how much of a master of this art she was; that lion surely kicked her ass.

Take that "young grasshopper".

Anonymous said...

1. The cost of liability insurance is very cheap -- it's a no brainer to have it (i.e., $700/year for $2 million liability plus equipment coverage for a basic kit).

2. You should have a separate policy to cover every major shoot, or at least those that are dangerous. Add a line item in your estimates.

3. Get an insurance agent.

JQ said...

A quick solution for this example would be to just photograph the elements separately and combine them in post. Looks like both the model(kung fu master) and lion suffered the consequences of doing it otherwise.

Walter Dufresne said...

We use insurance agents who provide certificates of insurance (for both liability *and* workers' comp) at no extra charge. I can't tell you how often including those certificates in a *proposal* (when we don't yet have the assignment) has, suddenly, made such certificates a *requirement* for all bidding parties. It's kind of a FUD tactic we've used with some success on mid-sized and larger corporate projects: the project manager suddenly remembers that such certificates are a part of the intended scope of work.

Anonymous said...

Mr.JG, it is an editorial shoot. it is for real ,not some photoshop wet dream.

Repeat - it is an editorial shoot. Not a photoshop wet dream. Get it. Respect that editorial, even if is controlled, is still - real.

Anonymous said...

Anon, I guess controlled is four broken ribs and I also didn't realize all cover assignments were "real".

I won't repeat this to sound condescending since I know you can read it twice.

Anonymous said...

It seems as though the author of this post didn't quite read the story over at Galbraith, which starts off by clearly identifying the photographer involved in the shoot as a staffer at the Toronto Star, which I'd imagine is quite well insured, and certainly is "conning" anyone with startup pay scales.

Anonymous said...

the final photo used on the cover has an out of focus lion.

if my cat saw something smaller than her that was moving around the way she was, she would've pounced on it too.

surprised that the animal handlers allowed the shoot to continue, since the lion was obviously extremely frisky.

liability insurance is extremely important. but i would think any professional photographer willing to accept such an assignment would make sure the contract stated that liability for any of the lion's actions DID NOT rest with the photographer.

yes, the photoshop route would've prevented this incident. even if it is EDITORIAL, nothing's wrong with doing a photoshop composite, as long as it's captioned as such. even national geographic continues to use "photo illustrations" in their features (i'm not talking about the pyramid fiasco of a couple decades ago either). wired magazine covers are another example that pops to mind.

Alexie said...

[...] These are photographers who, in many cases, don't have their act together when it comes to having their bases covered when things like insurance and so forth.[...]

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