Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Getting closer to Yosemite

Phil was down in London today training for his El Cap climb with Andy and Paul. This video from the Telegraph shows Phil's rather natty paragliding harness/seat. He's already passed his million pound target in money raised for Help for Heroes I wonder how much we can get to with this challenge?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Getting paid for pics

One of the biggest questions facing budding professional photographers is how much to sell your photos for. It can often be quite flattering for a first timer just to have their photos chosen and published and some are even tempted to let their work be used for free. Other snappers seem to put an unrealistic value on their work. For instance I hear of one photographer who was offered £300 per pic by a UK Outdoor company, it was fairly likely this company would have chosen half a dozen pics without requiring exclusive use. So potentially £1800, which surely is a decent payday in any ones books. So where does the balance lie?

I remember my first sale was to Rab Equipment where I sold 7 or 8 shots for a total of £150. Looking back that seems a pitifully small amount but at the time I was pretty happy with that - I was after all the first photographer to get paid in cash by Rab instead of fleece or down! Since then I've got a little more savvy an have managed a fair few sales for several thousand pounds. From my experience here are a few guidelines:

1. Does the company have a set rate card? Some companies such as Patagonia and almost all magazines have a defined a price per size of image and type of use. If they do and are happy with this go with it. Some photographers don't agree with this an will try to negotiate some special higher rate, my opinion is that will more than likely to alienate editors or marketing bosses and although you might occasionally win out you are just as likely to lose future business.

2. If the company has no rate card then expect to have to pitch a price and negotiate. This is obviously the tricky part for the inexperienced, here's a few tips:

- Don't be intimidated or nervous after all this is business and the company will be used to talking money everyday. Be confident, you have quality images that the company would like to use. However don't be arrogant or rude, word gets around amongst different companies and you will get a reputation as difficult to work with.

- Do some research on the size of the company and the scale of the marketing use. There is usually a sliding scale of use from a single small image on the web at one end through to annual catalogue cover or billboard advert at the other end.

- It is normal to have different charges for different market places i.e. UK, European and then Global.- It is also typical to define the exact use of the image and specify a timescale, mine is usually a non exclusive license for 2 years. If the company wants to use the image for several different marketing purposes i.e. in store publicity, in their printed catalogue, on their website and in a poster in a magazine then each of these would increase the value of the sale.

- If a company wants exclusive use then this is usually for a set period of time (1 year, 2 years etc), they would then have to re-negotiate and pay for a further extension if they wanted to use the image beyond that. If they wanted complete copyright (you loose all rights to that image) then they should expect to pay a significant amount of money.

- Always head into a negotiation with a plan of what you want. Have two figures in your mind, 1. your ideal price for the sale and 2. a figure that would be the lowest you would be happy with for that sale. Your first pitch will be number 1 and this maybe excepted immediately. In this instance it is tempting to be disappointed and think they would have been willing to pay more, don't be, you've got your ideal price and have learnt a bit about that type of company for future sales. If the company is unwilling to match your ideal price ask them what they would expect to pay, and then you can either negotiate a halfway settlement or move on if it's below price 2.

- Be realistic. Photographers make their living through sustained sales not one off fluke winfalls. I've often felt as satisfied getting £30 for a website image for a British one man company as I have for £1000 from a multi national's global campaign.

There is actually a reasonable amount of information on the net. The following is a great article and although it's American biased has some great links to give a few ideas and guidelines.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

A day of contrasts

In the middle of the traditional (at least for the last few years) May Monsoon in the UK it's easy to get demoralised and return indoors to the climbing wall. To counteract that I went out looking for dry rock, and hopefully a crag that can survive the downpours. Jon and I ended up at Willersley and while there was a fair amount of damp patches there was still enough dry stuff to keep us entertained. Willersley is a pretty unfashionable crag nowadays understandably getting overlooked with the immaculate High Tor nearby. Modern trends now see places such as Long Tor Quarry seeing the queues and one thing Willersley isn't is a modern crag. The keywords to describe the place would be big, butch, brambly and polished, polished, polished. Despite this I think it's rather fine. It's a place of character and the adventurous part of me is drawn to it's awkward, ugly struggles. In fact Willersley has a fair variety of climbs. We initially tackled Grasper a Dennis Gray HVS 5b from the 50s that climbs a wide crack emerging from a small cave. The guidebook gives it no stars and the description describes it as "a struggle from start to finish", it also has one of the most painful jams Ive come across, a fist jam that made my fingertips completely numb, all in all I thought the route excellent. We then changed styles and attempted Blessed are the Weak a 7a+ sport route there. The crux was wet (and pretty hard) so there was no tick but again it was a really good route that I'll definitely come back for. Willersley has had some access issues due to unsociable crag behaviour, and many of the top outs require care but its offers a great batch of memorable routes, particularly if the rest of our summer is going to continue like May.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Congratulations Phil

Just seen on the BBC news that Phil Packer has completed his London marathon today
Phil has almost no mobility in his legs but managed to complete the course on crutches over the last 14 days. A massive physical and mental effort by Phil, who is trying top raise a million quid for the Help the Heroes challenge, he's now up to £725,000.

In just over 3 weeks I'll be part of a team assisting Phil with his next challenge, climbing El Capitan in Yosemite. He's obviously a really tough cooking and I'm really looking forward to spending some time on "the big stone" with him. You can read more about Phil's story and donate at

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Back to El Cap but with a difference

In a months time I'm heading over to Yosemite for the first time in almost a decade. Yosemite is of course home to El Cap probably the most magnificent bit of rock we've got. During my previous visits Ive been lucky enough to climb El Cap 10 times, sometimes with a party of friends, sometimes on my own, sometimes fast (ish - in a day) and sometimes more slowly (8 days I think on Wyoming Sheep Ranch). So why go back?

Well if I was good enough I could go free climb the Salathe but I'm not. Instead this trip will be something a little different. The plan is for myself, Andy Kirkpatrick and Paul Tattersall to join Phil Packer. Andy and Paul are "experienced big wall cats" but Phil as far as I know hasn't climbed before. However that's not the crux of the challenge. In February last year when serving in Iraq Phil lost the use of his legs in an incident following a rocket attack in Basra. As a paraplegic Phil has taken on a variety of challenges in his aim to raise a million pounds for the Help for Heroes charity, which assists injured servicemen and women. So far he's raised half of that amount through rowing across the channel and presently he's halfway round the London Marathon on crutches (his hobble round will take 2 weeks).

For me as well as a chance to return to the amazing El Cap and hopefully get some good photos and film, it's exciting to be involved with someone taking on a challenge that will be genuinely be pushing their very limits. You can read more about Phil's fund raising efforts here