Q and A with Keith Brofsky
You had another little story you wanted to share with us the way we were sitting out there if I recall uh put me on the spot heroes so sorry trying to think what that was well, there was there was the when I came to seattle there was the time where I uh I mean this is getting away from budgets it's more about following your heart right in here it's about markets and whatnot but I was I left denver in eighty nine because I thought that the well denver had its own recession in those days and it was a boom bust town for a long time. Yeah, it was the oil shale thing ironically, even in those days that fell through and if you could just hear the wind sucking out of denver I mean, it was just there was just nothing going on and, you know, and I had a few decent clients but it just felt like a dead end street and while all this was happening I was saw the shooting different I don't need to go into the clients. But the point is I was I realized at that point time that I was really drawn to peo...
ple photography because I just feel like I'm good with people like put him at ease and I realized that that was a talent that not everyone has a right and so uh and I love the the creativity that goes along with er with with the peril and the fashion industry so I thought I knew I didn't want to live in new york and I knew I didn't you know just not drawn a major metropolitan areas except a visit and so I made a conscious choice that seattle I remember looking through cia and seattle was lot of good stuff yeah yeah, it was page after page of award winning work and a lot of it was you know, jin era code blue and all these all these apparel they were hot yeah yeah and so I was one of those people that uh uh I was drawn to this place for that reason thinking that I could skip the whole uh you know, go to europe and be a fashion tarver in milan and then you know, I was already getting, uh, old long in the tooth at that point I was in my thirties so anyway, I, uh e mean for a fashion photographer, right? But anyway, I did do a little bit of it and uh it was fun but it didn't pay well and I think there is that once again I guess it does tie in because it's about perception and the clients knew that there are a lot of tarver's that wanted to shoot for them so then they didn't feel they had to pay much had some leverage yeah yeah so that's true it does tie in and I you know the same time I was doing corporate work which paid a heck of a lot better and uh so I finally I went to a consultant and it happened I was in new york and I went to this uh uh thiss the little lady who was uh great uh consultant she was once in a rap in the industry for years and years and yes, she had her advice was not do both you know just get off the fence, choose one of the other and then best advice was to apply the techniques that I admire in the fashion trade in fashion photography and apply that to the corporate photography and that will make my work stand out all right and so that I took the advice and uh yeah I think it was pretty good yeah it did make sense I think so you so you began to focus the way you the way you were lighting and thinking about the way you shot so basically you're building your expertise by using these techniques that you've learned from your experience in the fashion world right? Right yeah in other words because I think corporate work and just look stodgy by first you of the fact that we're photographing regular people wearing suits uh least in those days they wore suits and and in office settings I mean it could be pretty dry and so to this day I use uh uh some techniques I mean justice getting people walk towards the camera is a big it's amazing how much more natural they can look so so my goal all along has always been to make put people at ease and, uh make them look natural in front of the camera whether it's staged or not you know, just have it have that that breath of spontaneity right right and I guess it's you know as a result I've gotten a reputation for you know, having conveying emotion in my work and so it's always been uh uh my mantra like my mission statement I guess yeah right, right, yeah, cool still wouldn't mind being a fashion photographer so I wanted to ask you uh what about the licensing thing? You know, it just seems like it's gone away, you know? I mean it's just it's not completely. I mean, the bigger projects clients are sensitive to the fact that you know, you were gonna pay some licensing, right? But man, you know it sze almost like what's happened in the economy as a whole where the there's the upper you know, a couple of percent you know they're big budgets and then there's all what the middle seems to have fallen out so people don't even bring it up anymore and and that's that's been a big frustration I am definitely not an expert in licensing yeah, I am not an expert in licensing and to their other people who who could answer questions about it much more from a background of much more knowledge than I have but personally I've always felt that I would like to hire photographers or any other creative person and pay a feed and then get the use and not have to worry about all these details of whether or not it was then used in an ad or was on the internet or you know, was here or was there and of course I was not in advertising I was always on the design side but but I preferred so you know, I understand the concept of if if a photograph is used in publications that are that are, you know, high, you know, selling hye in goods all over the planet that the photograph should be worth more than if it's in a newsletter or you know, just a little online promotion or something, right? So I understand the concept of it, but but I've always felt that the negotiation should be over the photograph you know, the work and the person and the value and then you were done with it, you know? It just seems like so much simpler and of course personally I'm a terrible record keeper, so yeah, I never wanted to have to worry about the you know the future of that licensing however when I had a design business I had people who have skills with numbers and could keep track of things and stuff like that wasn't an issue but but I have always liked the clean deal where way make a bargain and we pay some money and we get something in return and everyone's happy but okay but so but you could bring it up right turk about noon I think that I've got it's such a uh can of worms you know, because people don't want to pay it uh s o I tend to want to at least mentioned because it's a value right there receiving value well, you're negotiating the number one rule there's only one reason to negotiate and that is to get as much as you can so and because we're in a business where we're trying to maintain our relationship we balance our our need to get as much as we can with the need to make the other person feel okay about our relationship going forwards balancing factor there so if if licensing is away to get as much as you can I would I would use licensing rights or anything else for that matter yeah yeah yeah exactly lately it's been uh uh retouching sure I mean it's a whole another skill set right? Right? I call myself a cheap plastic surgeon yeah, yeah absolutely yeah, exactly take these ten fifteen years off yeah, absolutely it's something I've always enjoyed take take those years are clean so along those lines actually at keep v in virginia was wondering what are some of the strong points that you mentioned during negotiations to bring up your reputation or increase your value in the great question it is a good question I have a hard time tooting my own horn you know I'm just I'm just kind of humble about it and uh I don't know dive yeah this is good I really need a copy of that what it all might because it's a hard one you know I don't want to sound like I'm boasting about my you know well, I've got about thirty years experience you know it's just it's hard to say it without sounding like it's a sales pitch you know and it's inauthentic so humble in proud focused on what's nasty next not past achievements that's the that's the way me I phrased that so we're humbled and proud at the same time there are humbling problem yeah I'll give you a copy I like that I'll give your copy yeah yeah because it's still true I uh I mean I think the work speaks for itself. I like to think so and, uh, it always has been about the presentation uh uh, you know, once you know once the website starts taking on a life of its own it looks solid, I think then you know, people I think they do respect mohr that they're getting something really valuable. Yeah, but, uh yeah that's what? That is a question and, uh uh, yeah it's it's a contradiction it's a balancing act. Okay, this was a great one that photo yogi brought up on. I think every industry has something like this, but I'm going to talk specifically about photography. You mentioned licensing and that's a subject that a lot of clients aren't even aware of the issue, that if you do work for them, they don't automatically own the copyright to those images and so you have to kind of explain that to them. So how do you deal in negotiations with topics that they hadn't even thought of and that you have to explain to them and educate them about how do you deal with those it's it's a constant challenge. And I, uh I had a client not too long ago. Luckily, I remember this one. I was really proud of my response. Uh, and and and he got it and he actually said, ok, since you put it that way I understand I described to him so he says, I is this a guy that sells widgets, you know, his view is your you're I'm hiring you I'm paying you for your time and I don't understand how you own the copyright and I was trying to downplay it I said really at this point it's more semantics than anything else but I retained the copyright for a number of reasons I said it's it's first of all it's just I have take pride in my work in my name so I what my name attached to the work at all times uh if second but you know in a business sense if you were to use the image and plastered all over the world on billboards then obviously it's worth more than your initial intended use uh he still didn't he still didn't buy that you know and I said okay, let me put it this way I thought of this at the last moment I said if if I happen to shoot pulitzer prize winning image while under assignment on assignment for you hoo hoo wins the pulitzer prize you or me if your name's attached to the image then I don't get the pulitzer prize and I'm the guy that created it and he actually respected that highway so I thought I'm going to keep that one in right keep that in mind remember that one yeah I mean it is an abstract concept you know and and and by the way I did over the years I have sort of molded it and tried to simplify the whole concept and so for me it's uh if it's a consumer ad campaign let's say then it's worth more than say interested online image of website so there's you know used to be printed material collateral work over here advertising here it's still still that way in many respects rancher and then in genius genius has a final kind of clarification or extension of that question wonders whether you think it's bogging down the meeting by trying to explain licensing or does it add value by displaying more knowledge and I would also add beyond that head do you think this is something that you bring up during the discussion or is this something that you put into the proposal slash contract and then if they ask questions about it than you talk about it, I know you want to bring all these things up verbally you want it you really want them to thes written documents are only only as good as the as the trust that people put into the conversation and in my view so you need to have a conversation and say here's what the deal is and you'll be really, really clear about it and then the written contract should just reinforce what you've already agreed to max that this idea is what if we like as creatives those photographers we do this as the explanation in our white board brief with our clients like go through that like, you know, when we're laying everything out with him in the white board meeting it's like maybe that's the part that you go over with you absolutely yeah, these are the terms that I would take this project on and yeah, absolutely all right, so I actually do have a couple more questions many p and denver jae in particular discussing the concept of scope creep yeah, which is where you agree to something on the day you agreed to eight hours of work and then on the day they say oh, do you mind just staying an extra hour or do you mind just giving us five extra images or designing an extra page for the site? Whatever happens to be, how do you guys handle that? You have to be ready to go to basically say change order you just have to be ready to do that and you know, we agreed that this was going to be, you know, three days and, uh, you know, whatever the skull push agreed agreed to and this is beyond that sculpt. So I need to make sure that you know that I'll be charging an extra fee for that you still doing at the only ask you to do the more that they asked you, right? Or you could like not remember to do that because you're busy, and you're preoccupied, need to go. Wait a minute. I needed to do that and go back to them and, say, sally or bob whatever, by the way, before I go ahead with those extra shots, look, let me make this clear that I need to charge us an extra money for causes beyond the scope of the work, but you need to do it very soon after, so that it doesn't creep into, you know, and after the fact is there's no better way. We're faster way to lose a client than to have a financial surprise after the fact, guaranteed problems guaranteed potential loss of client.