I recently did a free shoot for my portfolio... This is common. It happens all the time. You see something that could make your work stand out. It's something that you normally don't get to shoot. And you know you can make an amazing image... What do you do? You make it happen. You take it on board as a personal project.
I arranged a shoot with the bartenders in a very cool little spot in the valley... Kerbside. But there was a communication breakdown. I had organized the shoot to get a couple of great shots for personal promotion. And I gave the people involved permission to use them for their own personal promotion. My only stipulation was that if the bar wanted to use the images, the parent company could license them for commercial use. This is pretty common too...
The bartenders at Kerbside (with whom I had arranged the shoot) understood it differently. They thought that the final images were for unlimited useage for themselves and the bar. You can imagine the conversation that followed. It wasn't pleasant. They took a stance, I took a stance... It was a total stalemate. They wanted full use of the images and I wanted proper recognition and remuneration...
We hung up the phone at an impasse. It was a very negative headspace to be in and after that conversation there was total animosity surrounding the images. An animosity surrounding 2 of my newest and favorite images... That's a shitty place to be.
So I spent a couple weeks thinking about it all. I was trying to decide what action to take.
I considered what I wanted out of the situation and what I could do to get that result. I know it sounds like a pretty simple concept, but how often do we look at a crap situation and try to see it objectively?
There were 2 things I wanted.
1. I wanted to eliminate the animosity surrounding the images. Every time I looked at them I got frustrated and started running that dialog in my head... Not healthy. And not fun. Plus, the people in the shots were angry about them!
2. I wanted people to see the shots. As many as possible.
I realizd that I was going to have to suck it up and take one on the chin. You see, what I failed to do was get all the details on paper and have everyone sign it. It's what I'd normally do for a regular paid shoot... But for some reason, I haven't been doing it for personal stuff...
So, I decided to send an email... explaining my unhappiness with the whole situation and my error that ultimately caused the whole mess. I gave them (and the bar) permission to use the shots however they wanted. I realized that a big part of the negativity toward the images came from my mistake and the resultant 'hanging on to my position' (ego!) that "I'm Right"... No matter what happened on their end (whether they accepted my apology and replied positively or not) I felt a lot better about it all.
Sure enough, I got a reply expressing their relief... eliminating their frustration with the shots. Now everyone was happy AND the images will be out there for the world to see.
Lesson learned? Yup. Get it signed.