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Thread: My "niche", many photos, and a bunch of questions

  1. #1

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    My "niche", many photos, and a bunch of questions

    I think I found a nice little niche for my photo passion…
    and I don’t know what to do about it (other than be happy that I found it )

    Specifically – I found that I can come to a dress rehearsal of the dance studio where my daughter takes her ballet classes, and I can take a bunch of quality photos (at least to me they look high quality and I received some positive feedback from the others who saw them), and then… then I don’t know what to do with them.

    Side note: I realize that not all photos there look equally nice. I just wasn’t motivated enough to post-process them all to the full extent. There are too many… (And that could very well be part of my problem!)
    It’s kind of shame to just leave them there at Picasa web site. They’ll just be forgotten pretty soon by everybody, I am pretty sure… One reason I don’t want that to happen is because it took a lot of time and effort to come up with that set.

    One friend of mine – retired pro photographer – recommended that I host them online, where people can order prints for themselves (like smugmug). That would be very much UNlike anything I’ve done in my life. I’ve never sold ANYTHING,.. other than my time working for my employers. All my photo work goes out as presents so far.

    So, my questions for this forum are these:
    Is the quality of those photos really high enough for people to want to buy them?
    Is there any chance (even if the quality is good) that people will want those prints?
    How should the agreement with the dance studio look, if I am going to put them out for sale?
    That is – should there be permission from the studio to sell those photos? And if (hypothetically) I do sell any – should studio benefit from that?
    Are there just TOO MANY of them? Should I just concentrate on one or two (and then I would be less worried about what to do with them )

    I realize that these are marketing questions rather than photography questions, but I am pretty sure there is a lot of relevant expertise among the members here and I’ll appreciate all the advice.

    Here is a couple of my favorites from the set, and if you’d like to just C&C on those – please do

    My "niche", many photos, and a bunch of questions

    My "niche", many photos, and a bunch of questions

    My "niche", many photos, and a bunch of questions

    All taken with Pentax K-5, DA*50-135mm f/2.8 lens, shutter 1/350, aperture 2.8 to 3.5, Auto ISO (TAv mode).
    Last edited by vladimir; 24th January 2012 at 12:36 AM.

  2. #2
    Fit's Avatar
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    Re: My "niche", many photos, and a bunch of questions

    Excellent subject matter!

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    Re: My "niche", many photos, and a bunch of questions

    Quote Originally Posted by Fit View Post
    Excellent subject matter!
    Hi Chris,
    Which subject matter is excellent? The thread - or the photos?
    ...or both?

  4. #4
    Fit's Avatar
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    Re: My "niche", many photos, and a bunch of questions

    Heh- your pictures' theme

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    Re: My "niche", many photos, and a bunch of questions

    I like them a lot. Can't help with online selling I'm afraid - but would the dancers, family members, theatre buy prints?

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    Re: My "niche", many photos, and a bunch of questions

    Hi Vladimir

    These are excellent shots of a very high technical standard. Beautiful colour and lighting. I'm sure there would be people who would love to have copies.

    Dave

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    Re: My "niche", many photos, and a bunch of questions

    Good pics
    And you were lucky enough to get good lighting.

    As for your questions: before putting them up for public display, get some legal advice about required permissions, releases and such. Rules differ between countries, and can depend on the age of the subjects (less hassle with adults). And getting good advice is probably cheaper (and better for your peace of mind) than solving the problems afterwards.

    Also, a lot might depend on who you want to sell to, and for what use: if the photos stay 'in the family' (only sold to dancers and their families) you might not have the same needs for releases as when they are published on the web. And if the dance studio wants to use them for promotional purposes, you might have yet another case.

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    Re: My "niche", many photos, and a bunch of questions

    Thanks for your kind reviews, everybody!
    I think I have a plan now. I think I will open an account some place (probably on smugmug), where people can order prints at basic prices, and then I'll see how it goes...

    With releases - I think the studio has them for each of their students. The question is - will they apply to my pics? I guess - as long as I have permission from the studio to display them - they should apply?

    And I am still not sure about one basic thing:
    In a situation like this - when they dance, and I take pictures - who owns the pictures?
    Me?
    Them (studio)?
    Both - me and them?
    Obviously, I am missing the basics...

  9. #9
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    Re: My "niche", many photos, and a bunch of questions

    Zenfolio has a pretty good setup as well, if you're looking to sell online...

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    Re: My "niche", many photos, and a bunch of questions

    Hi there
    Great subject and great results.
    I would start with asking the studio owner/management about who owns what.
    I do stage & Dance photography for a school. I only post online images of students whose parents have given me permission & only 'solo' images, if it is a group shot, then lots more people to get permission from.

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    Re: My "niche", many photos, and a bunch of questions

    Quote Originally Posted by vladimir View Post
    With releases - I think the studio has them for each of their students.
    The question is - will they apply to my pics? I guess - as long as I have permission from the studio to display them - they should apply?

    And I am still not sure about one basic thing:
    In a situation like this - when they dance, and I take pictures - who owns the pictures?
    Me?
    Them (studio)?
    Both - me and them?
    Obviously, I am missing the basics...
    San Diego California ? ? ? i.e. the USA.?

    If you made these in California USA, the rules are different to making the photos here, in Sydney Australia – however I believe I can offer some advice:

    You’d be best advised to seek 15 minutes legal advice to get a broad brush of the fundamentals - with a Lawyer who specializes in these matters – i.e. Copyright Law and the Sale of Photographic Images involving - People (likely Professional Performers) whilst Performing.

    I suggest you have all details apropos your dealings and arrangements (aural and written) with the Performers, the Dance Company Management and the Theatre Owners, clear in your head before that meeting with the Lawyer.

    ***

    From my understanding of the laws in CA, USA

    To answer your question (not legal advice) it is very most likely– you own the Copyright to the images and that was deemed so as soon as the exposure was made.

    HOWEVER – the issue is NOT about COPYRIGHT, but rather it is all about whether you have the right under the laws of CA, and the USA to SELL those images; and perhaps even to DISPLAY them for sale.

    The internet is overstocked with misinformation, and, with absolute respect for members here – I suggest that you do NOT seek legal advice here and neither in other forums – but rather do see a lawyer before you even think of posting any of the images for sale.

    The pictures are wonderful.

    WW

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    Re: My "niche", many photos, and a bunch of questions

    Totally agree on all points

    And more specifically: DO NOT ask the dance studio for advice, in my experience such organisations are no better informed than the general public, and they might have a bias towards their advantage and safety.
    Ask a legal professional, and, don't forget to ask about the rules concerning minors (children), they tend to be stricter. (I noticed you had pictures with young performers on your website, thus my addition).

    And it would be a pity if your pictures had to stay in a drawer, or caused you trouble. Very nice stuff

    Remco

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    Re: My "niche", many photos, and a bunch of questions

    All three are beautifully, well executed images. Congratulations on your photography skills!
    Last edited by FrankMi; 27th January 2012 at 08:07 PM.

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    Re: My "niche", many photos, and a bunch of questions

    Hi Vladimir,

    I too thought you were lucky with the light there, but none the less it took skill to get them all well matched in WB (even if that was just to use fixed and not rely on AWB which has a habit of changing shot to shot). The exposure, choice of shutter speed, etc. are also very good.

    My only concern (apart from the legal one) is that while they look good small in the Google+ gallery, enlarged for printing, with some, you may struggle for sufficient resolution and/or subject sharpness - even the bigger ones shown here are only 800px and may (depending on how much you had to crop) not look so great at 6 or 8 inches on the longest side - I hope I'm wrong and you have plenty 'in hand'. UPDATE: I just discovered they can be viewed bigger on Google+ and yes they aren't as bad as I perhaps feared.

    However, it is a really impressive set and no mistake, I'd be well pleased if I had shot them.

    All the best,

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    Re: My "niche", many photos, and a bunch of questions

    Ah, all these great comments!.. Thank you so much!

    William and Remco,
    Your posts are EXACTLY the kind of advice I was looking for when I started this thread. I did come to the right place to ask those questions, after all. Now my next step is to go talk to a lawyer... I'll post an update after I do... (If she - the lawyer - lets me )

    Just to clarify why I think the studio does have the releases: it's because these performances are recorded by pro video people, and then DVD's are sold back to us, the parents. Another reason - we signed one of those for my daughter. So, it looks like the studio does know what they are doing - unlike me...

    Another thing - I've been in contact with studio director all the way - I got her permission to come to the rehearsal to take pictures, I showed her the pictures online before I showed them to anybody else, and I had her OK to show them to other people. Of course, selling them to other people is a whole different story, and that's why my next stop is a consultation a lawyer. And after that I am going to keep talking to the director. I have to stay friends with her, so we can produce more of the nice pics, like these.

    Dave,
    Thanks for your attention to the detail! (pun intended )

    Lighting was fine, but it wasn't great. It was "normal" theatrical lighting. I think what really helped to the look of a good lighting were the abilities of the camera at high ISO and the very, very good lens (Pentax DA* 50-135, which I actually bought for this very occasion!)
    WB at the moment of shooting was irrelevant - it was all raw. And then - in PP - a lot of white color in costumes helped
    For the resolution and sharpness: those concern me too. I noticed that at 2.8 I couldn't get them as sharp as when stepped down to 3.2-3.5. Still unsure why - maybe the auto focus was missing a bit, or maybe just the lens is not as sharp wide open? I'll have to educate myself on those issues some more...

    However - out of 500+ shots I made - I think the ones I show on Picasa should mostly work for print of even bigger than 8 inches on a side. (After some sharpening, maybe?) The ones online are all scaled down a lot from the originals.

    And about Google+ - that thing just drives me crazy... I click on my own link, thinking I am going to Picasa page, and sometimes I end up on Google+,.. and other times - on Picasa... Can't figure out what's happening with that... But what I am trying to say is that if you can get to Picasa itself to look at those pictures - than you get to control the zoom, and to even see the EXIF.

  16. #16

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    Re: My "niche", many photos, and a bunch of questions

    Quote Originally Posted by vladimir View Post
    Ah, all these great comments!.. Thank you so much!

    William and Remco,
    Your posts are EXACTLY the kind of advice I was looking for when I started this thread. I did come to the right place to ask those questions, after all. Now my next step is to go talk to a lawyer... I'll post an update after I do... (If she - the lawyer - lets me )
    Thank you And please do keep us posted.

    Just to clarify why I think the studio does have the releases: it's because these performances are recorded by pro video people, and then DVD's are sold back to us, the parents. Another reason - we signed one of those for my daughter. So, it looks like the studio does know what they are doing - unlike me...

    Another thing - I've been in contact with studio director all the way - I got her permission to come to the rehearsal to take pictures, I showed her the pictures online before I showed them to anybody else, and I had her OK to show them to other people. Of course, selling them to other people is a whole different story, and that's why my next stop is a consultation a lawyer. And after that I am going to keep talking to the director. I have to stay friends with her, so we can produce more of the nice pics, like these.
    My daughter also follows dancing lessons, and we were also asked to sign a release. But, I'm not sure that that release gives them any rights (not specific enough), and whether they can transfer those rights to anyone else (as long as no one protests, they are fine, of course). That might depend on the exact wording.

    And by all means, keep talking to the studio director and the dance teachers, that's how you got access in the first place. All I ment to say was, that you shouldn't trust their legal advice to be correct. I usually give some prints to the teachers and the dancers as well (postcard size), that's usually appreciated.

    Dave,
    Thanks for your attention to the detail! (pun intended )

    Lighting was fine, but it wasn't great. It was "normal" theatrical lighting. I think what really helped to the look of a good lighting were the abilities of the camera at high ISO and the very, very good lens (Pentax DA* 50-135, which I actually bought for this very occasion!)
    WB at the moment of shooting was irrelevant - it was all raw. And then - in PP - a lot of white color in costumes helped
    For the resolution and sharpness: those concern me too. I noticed that at 2.8 I couldn't get them as sharp as when stepped down to 3.2-3.5. Still unsure why - maybe the auto focus was missing a bit, or maybe just the lens is not as sharp wide open? I'll have to educate myself on those issues some more...

    However - out of 500+ shots I made - I think the ones I show on Picasa should mostly work for print of even bigger than 8 inches on a side. (After some sharpening, maybe?) The ones online are all scaled down a lot from the originals.
    ...
    What I noticed in the lighting was the low contrast (relatively speaking...) Sometimes theatrical lighting can be very hard and contrasted, making it impossible to keep any shadow detail (and HDR is rather difficult in this situation). And if you get a director that likes low levels of strongly coloured lights, you really have fun

    I noticed that the K-5 has a 16 MP sensor, so as long as the pics aren't cropped (or not more than needed to get the correct aspect ratio), you should be fine for any size of print. If you search a bit in the forum, you can find more about image size related to printing than you'd like to read (Colin Southern has a couple of good posts about it).

    Remco

  17. #17
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    Re: My "niche", many photos, and a bunch of questions

    I have always wanted to shoot ballet dancers. However, I'd like to do that in a practice sudio.

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    Re: My "niche", many photos, and a bunch of questions

    Update from the "legal" front:
    I called the lawyer. The conversation was very short and not very interesting.
    He said - if studio has the releases and I have a paper from the studio, allowing me to sell pictures of their performance - I am fine.
    Next stop - conversation with the studio people
    I'll have some prints with me when I go talk to them

    While I was looking for the information about all this - found this website:
    http://www.danheller.com/
    I think it's excellent.

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    Re: My "niche", many photos, and a bunch of questions

    Quote Originally Posted by rpcrowe View Post
    I have always wanted to shoot ballet dancers. However, I'd like to do that in a practice sudio.
    Richard, your comment makes me feel very lucky
    I tried the studio too. Nothing good came out of that, though.
    It's crowded there. The whole room is smaller than the stage in the theater. The light is dim, the walls have distracting stuff on them... My new lens is a little too long for that... In short - no luck there at all...

  20. #20

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    Re: My "niche", many photos, and a bunch of questions

    i would imagine your best way to sell any of the pictures would be to the parents of the dancers,i talked to a lady who's child performs at ballet competitions and this is what she said
    "there is a photographer there who sets up a backdrop and takes pics of the dancer,i end up spending a fortune because when its your own child you cant just buy one or two can you ?"
    if you get good pictures of the dancers performing then thats something the parents cannot do (usually),it can be a lucrative market,cheers martyn ps i do dance pics but the general public is more interested in wildlife photos to hang on there wall,

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