Odd phone call....

MBuzzy

Grandmaster
MTS Alumni
Joined
Aug 15, 2006
Messages
5,328
Reaction score
107
Location
West Melbourne, FL
My wife recently started an Equine Photography business in our area. Meaning she ONLY shoots horses and horse shows - kind of a niche market. There are no other local photographers who specialize in horses, but a few who take the jobs. It is way too small of a market to make a full time business out of.

Well, one of the shows that we put a proposal in for has a photographer. It is not apparent at all that he is the photographer though, he isn't listed as the official photographer on any show bills, websites, no where. The only reason that we knew was that the show owner called back to tell us that they had one. Well, yesterday we get a phone call from this guy. First, he called my cell phone, not the number on the business cards and knew some details that aren't exactly public, but that we put in the e-mail to the show owner (i.e. she forwarded it to him). The basic jist of the phone call was that he wants to go to coffee with my wife to "discuss photography in the area and make sure that they don't step on each other's toes." I have no clue what the guy wants....what do you think? Is this an attempt to get her to agree not to take his jobs? To "talk shop?" To try to push her out of the market? I'm definiately not letting her go alone anyway, but I am her business manager and scheduler (as well as shoot assistant), so I have an interest anyway.

Something else to know about Horse photography. When and how you shoot the horse is very important. Catching the legs in the right configuration, lighting, moving target, getting the horse in the right part of the arena, poses, tack, show clothes, etc all come into play when taking these photos and the horse owners are VERY particular. So having a background in horses helps a great deal, which is why my wife got into this. The other photographer has NO background in horses....he is a sports photographer that just got the job. So his photography isn't bad....it just isn't HORSE photography (no emphasis placed on the positioning of the legs or horse in the frame, taking pictures at the wrong points in the show, etc). He is probably a great photographer (though he has no website).....but just kind of fell into this market.

So what do you think we should do about this and what do you think is on this guy's mind? Has anyone ever heard of this or done it?
 

Tames D

RECKLESS
MTS Alumni
Joined
Apr 18, 2006
Messages
5,133
Reaction score
664
Location
Los Angeles, CA
Your wife's time is far too valuable for a business meeting over coffee. Tell him your wife and you will meet him for lunch, on him. You may find out he's trying to "lean" on her or there may be a profitable business venture in it for her. Either way you'll get to the bottom of it, and know better how to deal with him.
 

CoryKS

Senior Master
Joined
Aug 30, 2006
Messages
4,403
Reaction score
183
Location
Olathe, KS
Not sure what you mean by "put a proposal in", is this advertising? Sounds like the guy has an existing customer base and wants to make sure your wife doesn't contact them. Sounds like he's not friendly to competition. Good call on you going with your wife to the meeting.
 

mwd0818

Green Belt
Joined
Jul 23, 2009
Messages
174
Reaction score
9
Location
Louisville, KY
I generally give people the benefit of the doubt until I have reasons not to do so. There's a chance this guy actually wants to let your wife know what he's up to, what he does and doesn't want HER upset at him for doing this job. Definitely go - coffee is a cheap and easy gesture - and see what the story is. You should get a pretty quick vibe of what he's up to:

1) Sorry about this, I didn't realize someone who specializes in horse photography was around and I just got this handed to me. Can you help? Can I refer people to you in exchange for you referring them to me for sports? Can we work together somehow? etc.

2) Hey, here are people I deal with. You are a horrible photographer and don't bother with contacting them.

3) Hey, have you seen the new Canon? It does HD Video!!! I've always shot with Canon's for action, but you actually use Nikon? Interesting . . .

Hopefully the guy is well-intentioned and is just wanted options 1 or 3 or some combination or variant thereof. If he's trying to push or bully her around, make sure you ordered the biggest, most expensive coffee you could have, that he paid for it, and walk out. That, or just make sure to ask for your coffee "extra-hot" so it'll do more damage when you throw it on him. :)
 

Bob Hubbard

Retired
MT Mentor
Founding Member
Lifetime Supporting Member
MTS Alumni
Joined
Aug 4, 2001
Messages
47,245
Reaction score
769
Location
Land of the Free
I've talked shop with a few photographers. In most cases, it's been cool. In a few it's been a "turf stake out". (One didn't want me watching him shoot my wife so I wouldn't "steal his ideas". He ended up creeping her out big time by asking her to do nudes, every other comment.)

It sounds like the show owners gave him confidential info, and he's now looking to stake out "turf". The whole "you dont bother my clients, I wont bother you clients" bit. My clients are whomever likes my work and will pay me for it.

But, go with her, be polite, see what he has to say. It could also be an opportunity to collaborate on some projects together than individually neither would get. Case in point, I'm assisting ShelleyK with a sorority shoot on the 2nd that I wouldn't have thought to go for on my own. We're competitors, but we can work together too.
 
OP
MBuzzy

MBuzzy

Grandmaster
MTS Alumni
Joined
Aug 15, 2006
Messages
5,328
Reaction score
107
Location
West Melbourne, FL
Cory,

Well, there are basically 3 major clubs in the area that do horse shows. One of them signed her as the official photographer for all of their shows. Apparently their other photographer was a flake, didn't show once and was hard to contact. They took a look at my wife's portfolio and hired her.
The other two clubs, we went an informal e-mail just inquiring if they had an official photographer for upcoming shows and giving them the website for her portfolio and information. Basically asking if they were interested in hiring her. We were very careful to say that we had no intention of "moving in on someone else's turf," but we were just inquiring and letting them know that we were here. We also mentioned that we would like to buy sponsorships for their shows....basically that amounts to an ad in the program and a link on the website. We're kind of torn on that one, because if there IS an official photographer already, it is kind of an ethics thing, you know? Putting our ad right next to his in the program for the show that he's shooting...

One of them also offered us a vendor's booth, to set up and advertise at their show...that is the show that this guy is shooting, so that's another ethics thing. We kind of feel that if the show has an official photographer, we shouldn't be showing up with a booth trying to "steal" clients.

The thing is - a big part of the horse photography business is barn calls...going out to where they keep their horses and taking photos there...the shows are just the way to get your name out to go do those. Shows don't bring in much money, barn calls bring in A LOT of money.
 
OP
MBuzzy

MBuzzy

Grandmaster
MTS Alumni
Joined
Aug 15, 2006
Messages
5,328
Reaction score
107
Location
West Melbourne, FL
I generally give people the benefit of the doubt until I have reasons not to do so. There's a chance this guy actually wants to let your wife know what he's up to, what he does and doesn't want HER upset at him for doing this job. Definitely go - coffee is a cheap and easy gesture - and see what the story is. You should get a pretty quick vibe of what he's up to:

1) Sorry about this, I didn't realize someone who specializes in horse photography was around and I just got this handed to me. Can you help? Can I refer people to you in exchange for you referring them to me for sports? Can we work together somehow? etc.

2) Hey, here are people I deal with. You are a horrible photographer and don't bother with contacting them.

3) Hey, have you seen the new Canon? It does HD Video!!! I've always shot with Canon's for action, but you actually use Nikon? Interesting . . .

Hopefully the guy is well-intentioned and is just wanted options 1 or 3 or some combination or variant thereof. If he's trying to push or bully her around, make sure you ordered the biggest, most expensive coffee you could have, that he paid for it, and walk out. That, or just make sure to ask for your coffee "extra-hot" so it'll do more damage when you throw it on him. :)

From what we can tell (thanks to some e-stalking), he has a daughter or wife that is into horses and does the sports thing, so he just does it out of convenience. Basically it looks like he is going to be at the shows anyway, so he takes some shots. He is also a member of this horse club, so I doubt that they would ever actually hire my wife....since they have a member who is already a photographer. I'm a bit biased, but I think her work is a lot better, not to mention that her work takes into accoutn all of the nuances of photographing horses, where his does not.

I'm hoping that it is 1 or 3, but fearing for 2....another reason I want to go. Maybe I'll take my sword.
 
OP
MBuzzy

MBuzzy

Grandmaster
MTS Alumni
Joined
Aug 15, 2006
Messages
5,328
Reaction score
107
Location
West Melbourne, FL
I've talked shop with a few photographers. In most cases, it's been cool. In a few it's been a "turf stake out". (One didn't want me watching him shoot my wife so I wouldn't "steal his ideas". He ended up creeping her out big time by asking her to do nudes, every other comment.)

It sounds like the show owners gave him confidential info, and he's now looking to stake out "turf". The whole "you dont bother my clients, I wont bother you clients" bit. My clients are whomever likes my work and will pay me for it.

But, go with her, be polite, see what he has to say. It could also be an opportunity to collaborate on some projects together than individually neither would get. Case in point, I'm assisting ShelleyK with a sorority shoot on the 2nd that I wouldn't have thought to go for on my own. We're competitors, but we can work together too.

There are certainly opportunities for collaboration, but I really don't think that he has the knowledge or quality to put in a proposal for the big shows. We're about 2 hours north of like, the Hombu-Dojo of a certain type of Horse riding. A single sponsorship for a show costs over $20,000 and 30-40 photographers put in proposals for each show every year (that is multiple shows per weekend). That's something that you need an army of photographers to do....or a REALLY established full timer.
 

Carol

Crazy like a...
MT Mentor
Lifetime Supporting Member
MTS Alumni
Joined
Jan 16, 2006
Messages
20,311
Reaction score
541
Location
NH
What information was actually communicated to the show owner?

Was this an actual proposal where information such as pricing and terms of service were discussed?

Or was this more of a putting-out-feelers e-mail where no buisness was discussed?
 
OP
MBuzzy

MBuzzy

Grandmaster
MTS Alumni
Joined
Aug 15, 2006
Messages
5,328
Reaction score
107
Location
West Melbourne, FL
Just told the show holder that we were new to the area, an equine photographer, asked about if the show had a photographer, and sent links to various portfolios and websites. Since the show holder doesn't actually pay anything, nothing real official was discussed - more of a putting out feelers e-mail.
 

Carol

Crazy like a...
MT Mentor
Lifetime Supporting Member
MTS Alumni
Joined
Jan 16, 2006
Messages
20,311
Reaction score
541
Location
NH
OK gotcha.

Now granted, I know nuttin' about the photography business and how it works, but it sounds to me like he's sizing her up.

He wants to know what she knows, including contacts, and he may even be concerned that she is undercutting him.

Be careful. :)
 

MA-Caver

Sr. Grandmaster
MT Mentor
Joined
Aug 21, 2003
Messages
14,960
Reaction score
312
Location
Chattanooga, TN
My thought is if he's inviting you (both) to coffee (meaning HE pays for it :lol: ) then go and feel him out and see what he has to say.
Your missus is a specialized photographer so it seems logical that she would do the shoot.
There might be a collaboration in it... if so get every detail on paper and have a lawyer crawl up that paper's *** with a microscope to see everyone is getting a fair shake in it.
She could use the shoot on her resume' (and gain experience as well).
Could be also a collaboration would result in the show hiring her exclusive for next year... as long as they get to see her work at THEIR show :wink1:
Talking with the guy isn't going to hurt. Let him lead and see where he wants to take you guys. Sure meeting HIM where HE wants to meet is giving him the reins but one's true colors come out when they think they're in control. :wink2:
Offer no more information than necessary but try not to be evasive.
 

KELLYG

2nd Black Belt
Joined
Apr 16, 2008
Messages
717
Reaction score
21
Location
North Carolina
Three things about this guy concerns me. 1) he new the cell phone number. 2) He has access to information that is not general public knowledge 3) He wants to meet to meet with you wife in person.

I would make sure she did not go alone. However I would be curious to know what his deal is. He either wants her help or wants to set the ground rules in their business dealings.
 
OP
MBuzzy

MBuzzy

Grandmaster
MTS Alumni
Joined
Aug 15, 2006
Messages
5,328
Reaction score
107
Location
West Melbourne, FL
He never called us back. I'm debating calling him tonight. The show is this weekend, so we may just go and meet up with him at the show that he is photographing. I kind of expected him to call back...
 

Carol

Crazy like a...
MT Mentor
Lifetime Supporting Member
MTS Alumni
Joined
Jan 16, 2006
Messages
20,311
Reaction score
541
Location
NH
He never called us back. I'm debating calling him tonight. The show is this weekend, so we may just go and meet up with him at the show that he is photographing. I kind of expected him to call back...

Well...not actually being there...if it were me, I wouldn't...at least not for a person that is as you describe (no appearance of an establish business, not a good quality equine photog).

If he wants to talk turf that badly, let him commit to the legwork and see what he presents. But that's just me. :)
 
OP
MBuzzy

MBuzzy

Grandmaster
MTS Alumni
Joined
Aug 15, 2006
Messages
5,328
Reaction score
107
Location
West Melbourne, FL
Well...not actually being there...if it were me, I wouldn't...at least not for a person that is as you describe (no appearance of an establish business, not a good quality equine photog).

If he wants to talk turf that badly, let him commit to the legwork and see what he presents. But that's just me. :)

That's not a bad idea. We'll be at the show this weekend....so we'll see how that goes. I might wear my hat that says "Stephanie Mills Photography" and see what happens! :)
 
Top