Dance UK Photography Information Sheet

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1 Dance UK Photography Information Sheet Originally written January 2007 by Helen Burrows This is a general information sheet for Dance UK members on basic information that will be useful in commissioning photography. It is written by Helen Burrows, Dance UK's ex-information and Communications Officer. She is a freelance professional photographer who has photographed widely in the dance and arts world. She is particularly interested in dance photography and portraits. Her work can be seen on her website and she can be contacted at or if you would like to discuss commissioning her to shoot your work or show. Dance UK is always looking for strong images which we can use in our quarterly newsletter Dance UK News and on our website. If you have images you are happy for us to use please contact us at We will need a maximum of your best 4 images from any one recent production or event. These must be at least 300 dpi at 4x6 jpegs, although larger is preferred (see 2 below) and correctly credited (see 4e below). Table of Contents 1. Different file types jpegs, tiffs, and RAW files etc File sizes what do they measure, and how big is big enough Images for screen/ web and print why they are different The difference between film and digital, brief information on scanning Commissioning photographers Different file types jpegs, tiffs, and RAW files etc The short answer: These are different types of photographic file jpegs are the most universal and easiest to open. Tiffs are better quality but larger files. RAW files are what professional photographers shoot in they will then run these files through a programme to create jpegs or Tiffs for their client at a specified size. Jpegs or Joint Photographic Expert Group the most usual and universal format in which to have your images. File names end.jpg e.g. dancer1.jpg Tiffs or Tagged Image File Format another format in which to have your images these tend to be better quality / hold more information than jpegs correspondingly the file size of each image will be larger. File names end.tif e.g. dancer1.tif Raw RAW image format a variety of image files used by digital cameras containing unprocessed data from the sensor. Most professional photographers shoot in RAW and then run the files through a programme afterward to create jpeg or tiff files. RAW files can only be opened by specific photographic programmes, whereas jpegs can be opened by lots of different programmes. In this sense, a RAW photographic file is as a negative to a photographic print. File name ending can vary, but will usually end something like 0365.CR2 as this is prior to the photographer naming the file. 1

2 2. File sizes what do they measure, and how big is big enough The short answer: For print your files need to be 300 dpi at the actual physical measurement the image will run. For web your files need to be 72 dpi at the actual physical measurement the image will run. So for example, to run as a cover image for an A4 magazine, the file of the image needs to be 81/2 inches by 12 inches at 300 dpi. DPI stands for dots per inch. This is, literally, the number of dots of ink per inch. To be able to print as a photograph on photographic paper, or in a good quality magazine, an image must be 300 dots per inch at the actual physical size it is to be printed. Clearly, this is a relative measure an image file which is 300 dpi at 9 by 12 (large enough to be the cover of an A4 magazine) will be larger than an image file with is 300 dpi at 4 x6. To have good images for press use, I would advise that you request your photographers to create for you a set of image that are large enough to be able to run full page A4 at 300 dpi in a glossy magazine. A too small image CANNOT be made larger. So if your image is 300 dpi at 4x6, this is the maxim size it can be printed in a magazine no computer programme can add in information that is not there. On the other hand, a large image can be made smaller. Therefore, always err on the side of requesting larger rather than smaller files. Pixels the actual number of distinct pieces in a digital image this is crucial on screen only and so although it is related to the dpi, the dpi is a better and more universal measure. High res and Low res res being short for resolution. Generic terms to describe image file sizes clearly high res images are larger than low res, but the term is indistinct and does not guarantee that they will be large enough to print from at any particular size. File size how large the actual image file is in megabytes. This is a rough guide to how large an image is I know for example, that a jpeg image file which is less that 1mb in size cannot possibly have enough information in it to print at A4 size at 300 dpi. Files which have sufficient information are generally about 6mb each. However, if your photographer produces several hundred images for you, you may not want to sort through or store several hundred 6mb files (they can be slow to open and quickly build up to take up lots of disc space). If this is an issue for you, perhaps ask them to make you a small set of jpegs for editing and then pick out a top 10 or 20 that you would like to have on file as large, print quality, 9x dpi files. 3. Images for screen/ web and print why they are different A short answer: Images for use on screen ing and websites should be significantly smaller than images for print. This is because all screens have a dpi (dots per inch) of 72 - that is, their resolution is four times, or 400% less than the 300dpi that is required for print. This is why an image can look good and clear at a large size on screen but still not print well. For screen use (eflyers, s and your websites) it is best to have an image which is just large enough to be sufficient to look good on screen anything larger is unnecessary it will just use your bandwidth (if they are on your website) or perhaps irritate the people you are ing large files take longer to download (especially on dial up). Images for print need to be larger, as described in 2. above. 2

3 4. The difference between film and digital, brief information on scanning A short answer: Film is analogue, digital is digital (think of the difference between analogue and digital watches continuously moving hands, or distinct segments of information). These days the majority of photographers work digitally most of the time, especially for commissioned work. Many still choose to use film for personal projects. Is digital cheaper? No, not if your photographer is providing you with high quality magazine printable images. The cost in a budget that used to be spent on film and processing at a lab, is now electronic processing done by your photographer. So when I worked on film, I used to charge 100 for a small job, with a further 100 to cover the cost of film and processing (usually budgeted at 25 per roll). After a shoot, I d go to the lab and drop off my film, go back the next day to collect it, edit it and then take it to my client. Now I d charge a straight 200 for that job yes, I do keep that money, but now rather than two brief trips to the lab I will spend half a day processing the images I have shot into jpegs that my client can use. Processing costs haven t disappeared, they ve just moved to an electronic process. Which is better, film or digital? This is hotly and constantly debated in the photographic world, and there is no easy answer. Digital is becoming more and more widely used, to the point where it is a norm as it is swifter and more flexible. Although it is not strictly cheaper, it does provide you with more cost control you don t have to print images to be able to see them, you can keep files digitally and print them if you need them. On the other hand, while I work digitally most of the time I am working on an art project for which I am still using film to me film does have a texture and subtly that digital lacks. Digital also means that as a client you can view what your photographer is shooting while or immediately after they have taken the pictures this should make it easier for you to have a quick look at the kind of images of your show they are taking, so that you can provide feedback on guidance on how well they meet your needs and brief during the shoot. Hopefully it minimises the possibility of getting images that are not what you wanted. Digital images can be supplied directly to the press. If you have images that were shot on film, or on slide transparency they will have to be scanned for the press, or you will have to get copies of prints made so the press can scan them themselves. If you do have images on film you will probably need to get them professionally scanned to be able to use them for press or marketing purposes. A good professional photographic lab (in London, try Metro, Primary, Tapestry or Ceta) should be able to advise you on what type of scan you need for this, as should a design company that you might be using. Scans from the kind of flat bed scanner you might have in your office will be good enough for the web, but not if you need to print your images. 3

4 5. Commissioning photographers a) How to brief them Think hard about what you want or need. Are these pictures for your website? For your files or archive? To get you great press coverage? For the programme? Portraits or headshots of the cast? What kind of images you need for each of these questions may differ. For archive, it may be important to photograph every scene. For great press coverage, you don t need every scene, but rather one or two dynamic images. For the programme you might need something which captures the atmosphere of the piece, or gives a sense of different parts of the story. Identifying which needs you have and which of these is the most important to you will help you to brief your photographer. We just need some pictures is something I hear a lot, but it is not helpful. Collect dance images that you do and don t like, and have these ready when you first meet the photographer even if you can t identify why you like or dislike them, it will provide useful information for your photographer and a point to start discussion. If you need to use your images for s and websites, and print, tell your photographer this. They should be able to provide you with two sets of files small ones for sorting through, web and use, and large ones that you can use for flyers, press and especially magazines. Make sure you get a clear brief in writing (or ) agreed and acknowledged with your photographer it should detail what kind of images you are looking for, any shots you really very much want to get, what size of images you want (e.g. small files for web use only, or large files for print only, or both. Or maybe you want some prints too.), and what you want to use them for (website only? Press only? Flyers only? General marketing use for 1 year?) b) Finding and choosing a photographer On the one hand, there are plenty of photographers around the advent of digital has made it a much easier business to get into and photography in general more affordable for many more organisations. On the other hand, choosing the right person can be difficult. Ask around for personal recommendations. Perhaps approach art colleges or universities if you have any near you. Londondance.com has several photographers listed, although if you are not based in London, it may not be worth paying their travel out to you. Perhaps put an advert in your programme or flyer mentioning that you are looking for photographers. Do some web searches. Have a look at the AoP (Association of Photographers website). After this meet them, and ask them to bring their portfolio with them and especially any similar work they have previously done perhaps in theatre, if not in dance. If they have no previous experience in the area, it doesn t necessarily matter but I think it would then be acceptable to ask them to do a trial before going ahead and commissioning them. Look at their portfolio and ask them questions about it. It is often an instinctive choice someone you can communicate with well and quickly understands you is much easier to brief and work with, as is someone who is already interested in dance. c) Costs and fees, what you are paying for As with everything in life, you get what you pay for. Photography can seem very expensive, but a great image which secures you good press coverage, or a cover story, will bring you marketing value well beyond the few hundred pounds you might have paid the photographer. Fees can range from 100 probably the minimum for 1-2 hours shooting, up to 1000 and beyond. As a rule of thumb remember that every one hour shooting results in two hours in processing and post production for a photographer, so the money you pay them is also their preparation prior to and especially their time processing and editing after the shoot. The price will depend on the scope of the job, the experience and reputation of your photographer, for what and for how long you want to use the images for. On the other hand, it is possible to get good images without spending too much. Photography, like the dance world, is very competitive, and this means there are lots of young photographers around keen and hungry for experience. As in the dance world, people in photography can get het up about the principles involved in using young or student photographers at reduced fees, or for the experience or press cuttings. In my opinion it is acceptable after all, as a young photographer you do need to learn and get experience from somewhere, as long as, as the client you: 4

5 i Act responsibly don t take advantage a young or student photographer might do the first job or two for you for free or at a reduced rate, but if they do a good job for you and you like the images, you should pay them after that. And: ii you are aware that by using a younger and more inexperienced photographer, you are taking a bigger risk you might be lucky and get some amazing shots cheaply or for free, equally, it might go wrong, or just not very well, and the images you get won t be so great. If they are not, remember it was your choice to go for a cheaper, riskier, option, rather than their fault for failing to deliver. If great images are crucial for a good flyer, or to drive your press coverage, consider setting aside some money in your budget to hire someone more established and experienced. If you find someone you like, perhaps suggest a regular fee with them regular work is great for a photographer, and for a commitment that you will use them a certain number of times a year, you may be able to negotiate a reduction in their fee. Their expertise a good photographer will be able to provide you with image files large enough for print use, and small enough for web use. They will be able to advise you or organise for you printing for you. Once they have seen the production, they should be able to discuss with you what kind of images they feel they can produce. Try to be as clear as possible in what you would like, and listen if they say something may be an issue. For example, a darkly light production can be difficult to photograph (see below). As freelancers, photographers own the rights to their work. For your fee, you are buying their time, and the right to use their images for a specified time and in specified places, which you should negotiate with them. (see below). d) Lighting and what is creatively possible Light is everything to a photographer, and what appears well lit to the naked eye does not always mean it is from a technical, photographic point of view. Your photographer should have a light meter to measure how bright a production is. Low level light may mean they are not able to shoot at fast enough shutter speeds to get the kind of clear, crisp images that the press tend to prefer. An experienced photographer should be able to advise you on what is and isn t possible you may need to weigh up whether to set aside some time in rehearsal to get the images you want. If you need clear, crisp images, you may need to allow your photographer to shoot with flash for some of the time to get this your dancers may not like this, but if clear images are important to you, ask them to bear with you for one rehearsal or performance. Essentially, what I am saying here is that sometimes the needs of your dancers and the needs of a photographer in order to get good images may conflict. As their commissioner, you should make the final judgement call on whether to, say, not use flash and accept that you might not get the images you need, or ask the dancers to be understanding for one rehearsal or performance. Time, in general, is important time to discuss with your photographer what the production is about, time, perhaps, for them to see the production or rehearsals before they start photographing to get a sense of the piece. Often photographers find themselves photographing a production having never seen it before, with little background knowledge or information this makes it much tougher to get that seminal shot which sums up the mood of the piece. Of course you will have lots of issues before a show opens which are demanding your time and attention, but planning a little further ahead and giving your photographer more information and time with the dancers will make a difference to the photographs you get. e) Licensing, crediting, permission, young people and archiving Photographers, like choreographers, own the rights to their work. It is a common myth that because you commissioned them, the images belong to you. They do not. However, as part of your commission, discuss your usage needs and your photographer should issue you with a license to use the images. The license should specify what the images are being used for (web only, web and press only, web and press and marketing only, web, press, marketing and press advertising only) how long the images are being used for (my standard license is one year) and where the images are being used (my standard license is for UK use only if you are going on tour, ask for an international license). In general, the more usage you want to have, the more you should pay your photographer. If you have a short usage for now, you can extend this with permission from, and perhaps a further fee paid to the photographer. This is to stop you paying a photographer 100 and then using that image for a national advertising campaign what they are paid should be proportional to how widely that image will be used. 5

6 If you think you might want to use the images in an ongoing way, discuss this with your photographer. In general, in principle, signing away any right to an image in perpetuity is seen as a bad thing for a photographer to do, but I have recently agreed to a 15 year license with a charity I work for, so they can continue to use the images on their marketing information, without having to request my permission every time. Crediting whenever you use the images you should always credit the photographer. Wherever possible you should also credit, and keep on file with the images: The choreographer, the dancers featured (unless under 16), the set designer, the costume designer, the production they are in, the company and the date. Ideally, we would like all this information for photographs we use in Dance UK News. Ideally you should have the permission from your dancers to photograph them written into their contracts, or agreed separately in writing. Young people as standard young people (those under 16) are not named individually in dance images. If they are from a school, they will be credited as, say Dancer from Central School of Ballet. If you have children or young people in your production, make their parents aware from the outset if you will be photographing the show, and for what purpose that is (an internal record? marketing?). If you are getting written permission from parents that their children take part, it would be a good idea to add into this a request for their permission that the show will be photographed. If you have an image which very obviously features a young person as a focal point and you want to use it for marketing, it would be wise to run that by their parents first recalling a set of posters you have had printed if you find out in retrospect the child s parents are not pleased, will, at the very least, disrupt your marketing campaign. Archiving most images these days are supplied on CD. Be aware that CDs can corrupt, so make sure you make a back up copy and / or back them up or store them on a hard disc or intranet. Image files are large, so it won t take many shoots to begin filling the hard disc of any one PC (which you will probably know are also, ultimately, vulnerable to corruption). Separate hard discs for storing large amounts of data are not expensive and may be a better and more reliable long term solution than filling up the computers you are working on every day. 6

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