Lessons Learned: Christa Meola
Now I want to bring on my friend krista meola she's a photographer very seasoned boudoir photographer she's been practicing for about ten years she's been a professional photographer and so she's got a lot of war stories so she's going to tell us a little bit about some of the experiences that she's had with her intellectual property being misappropriated and things that she had to do ok, so we'll have a quick conversation and weaken see how she's you know, use some of the methods that I'm talking about to protect herself in her business hey hey, rachel so you just could add up I think you're introducing may actually got a note a connection now yes, I think so you're a little fuzzy but I still see you know it is what you're gonna hear me that's what's important right? So you are kicking but I love how passionate you get about belotti here you get me jazzed about it so big great listening. Tio yeah, I am so happy to tell my war stories like, oh, friends, you know, honestly if it can hel...
p and I know it can help if help other photographers out there who are just starting out or who haven't gotten their legal ducks in a row oh, yet totally willing tio let you hear my must steaks and how awful it was sam, you can kind of it s so where do you want to begin? Because I've made all of the mistakes why don't we talk about your experience getting some of your boudoir photography misappropriated tell us that story because I think I think all photographers have experienced that in one way or another s so let's talk about that right? Well I found out from one of my subjects one of my clients she found out from a friend got an email randomly from london that an escort service was using my pictures of her and others tio promote their services wow, kara find that is horrifying, especially for her you know it makes it look like she's kind of a prostitute, you know it the worst case scenario I don't I don't mind other photographers still work all the time and I don't mind because I don't think they're really going to be able to build a business with that it's, you know, disingenuous and unfortunate for society, but when one of my clients had their images on an escort service I freaked out and this I called my lawyer very expensive lawyer and yeah, so basically, you know, he eventually got them taken down it was a lot of money though, and he said they're simply, well, one easy way to prevent this is, um, water marking your images so ever since then I've watermarked everyone yes yes, you know those air good learning experiences toe have certain practices that you build into your business because at first you think it's too much work it's you know, the amount of photos that I have is so immense you know, anyone really gonna do that? What? So what what's the worst thing that could happen right now and everyone is so nice and you know yeah he's going to ever find it where my photos or my web site I don't know I guess you start out thinking everyone I'm so naive still to this day but I haven't learned my lesson but anyway, yeah, yeah one of the things we've been talking about today is how valuable photos actually are the intellectual party that you're creating in your business has a lot of value those photos you can preserve the right to it too cell two different companies you obviously khun, you know, sell licensed to use the photos with your client's s so it's really, really important to protect it and obviously the reason why it's stolen so much is because it has a lot of values. So that's one of the things I really want to drive home today is that you know, your intellectual property has a ton of value and so you have to think about it as being a very valuable thing so you wouldn't take your gorgeous diamond ring and leave your door open you know your front door of a house and leave it on the counter for someone to come and take and so you've got to treat your photos the same way that's such a good analogy and I love that and you're right it's actually the most valuable thing if you're a photographer that you have actually yeah so agree with you yeah you it's definitely you know ah highly valuable asset that sitting in your business that you can use in a variety of different ways so awesome so let's also talk about one thing that we just finished talking about was model releases oh yeah another big one big mistake well, you know the reason you know, a little bit of the story I didn't require model releases to be signed because my, you know, philosophy was I'm shooting boudoir or nude and you know, you deserve to have beautiful photography without me sharing it with the world right on dh then I learned like I was shooting some of my best stuff and I be crushed still I can't to this day share it and then it's hard to find the person or sometimes or to get them to you know, think of it after the fact yes oh I loved your recommendation about and I actually just used it this weekend I shot maternity for a woman who previously like a year and a half ago I had shot and she did not find a model release and I wasn't able to share those photos which I loved right cut tio this weekend I said up front that you will have to sign a month model release and I don't have to share all of them but I you know, my policy is that I share a least ten from every shoot yes, so I use your line yes, I love it also she signed a moderately so yeah and I guess I didn't think I would want to do anything with them like in the beginning I was just so happy to have clients that was just what yet? And I think I know some of my students that I teach her a little afraid that people will shy away yeah, but if you get into the practice and you do tell them why plus you add in clauses so as you know you can customize it with you know we can eliminate the nude ones we don't you know you can have a final approval of the ones you want me to share a least ten you can pick or whatever wherever you want to do it there's ways there's a lot of gray area yeah, exactly you can customize it to what fits your business and obviously with boudoir photography is definitely different from other photos where, you know, maybe someone would be okay with you using them. But as long as they're not identifiable in the photos or something like that, there you go. Yeah. And you can you can always customize it however way you you want. But if you preserve that right to use some of the photos and, you know, in whatever way you want, you know, for example, you know, you have a book on boudoir photography. Obviously he wanted to share your photos in that book, and so that enables you to take that I p and use it in another way. That's, right, that's, right. Um, and, you know, there were a couple of people that said, oh, yeah, you can do whatever you want with my photos. And then when I went back to go giving this book published and, like, went back a couple of years to talk to them, they're like no, I don't think so anymore. Yes, so they changed their mind. So honestly, even if you get, like, full people totally on board, you still need them to sign it, right? That exactly that's what I said, you know, be a hard ass and your agreements make sure they have in writing your rights. Is to use the photos and make money from those photos and whatever way you choose on dh then you can always like I said create limitations or, you know, tell the client well, let's look at these ten and and choose which ones s oh, one other thing I wanted to get to is your practice that really protects your photos, which I think is awesome that I've shared a little bit about, which is that when a client when you're showing them the photos, you do it via skype session instead of sending them all of the photos yeah, yeah, absolutely well, I'm pretty I love in person sales, I think in service to the client and they really appreciate that time that I sit down with him one on one soon used to be when I had a studio in l a all my clients were in town and we would sit down right now I'm in new york and most of my clients flying and we're not able to have that one on one sit down sometimes before they leave town, so I do it over skype brynn we will take a long as they need I say I'll book you an hour and if you need more we can schedule another appointment you can have as many people with you that you want to see the photos, yes um, we can do a conference call if you want your art director or husband or whoever isn't sitting next to you. Oh, see them as well, and we'll go through all of the best. And we can pick your favorites and that's how I do it. Yes. Which, you know, has a couple of things built in, like you said, it creates that sort of in person sales experience. It's the best way to go for that? Yeah. Yeah, because you, khun and I think a lot of people want sort of reassurance about which photos are beautiful and as a professional, you know? Yes, I took your photo. Exactly. Exactly. So, you know, I get your opinion on it and you can tell me which ones are your favorites. And then I also love that you showed me different ways of editing it. Like, you know, we can change this lighting here, weakened change this background here and so being able to look like yes, assume dinner. Yeah, exactly. So you get to see the pictures in different ways, which helps you sell more pictures, which is what we all want. Right? But then, thea other built in thing is that you don't have your pictures out there with the client. To use or possibly misuse you know in any way they want so you're really limiting how the client has access to their photos and then making it so that the client only has access to the photos that they've actually purchased you know, which again encourages them to purchase which we like absolutely, yeah, yeah I loved I loved that practice, so I just wanted to share that with them because it has that built in copyright protection so you know a lot of times when you're protecting your intellectual property it's not like it's bad for business it's actually good for business, you know, on dh that's one great example of that it's so true it's so true I feel so good and we're since we had that chat and I checked all of your must do's on my list. Yes, it just I could breathe, breathe easily and work with bucket seats here. Yeah, and all you're right when you're hard us it just it is having boundaries and they're healthy for you and it's healthy for them and it avoids disasters for everyone and it gets everybody on the same page of what as to what to expect says there is no there's, no disadvantage there's no disadvantage there might be just the uncomfortableness of approaching this topic which seems overwhelming, but you do such an amazing job of breaking it down and putting it in layman's terms and for people who are like phobic to this type of thing like me, yes, so proud, you're doing this for creative life. Awesome. Well, thank you, you've been a fabulous guest. I think that people will get a lot out of the, you know what you shared here, and hopefully that provide some encouragement for them to take those steps, too, because I think, like you said, it provides a lot of peace of mind to know that your work is protected, that clients are on the same page with you. It just avoids disasters like he said, right, thank you so much, rachel. Thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy day. Totally. If the pleasure, yeah, I will write. I'll talk to you soon, but by