So, I am going to start this post by saying this is what I feel is right for me. Just me. I have no judgment if anyone does things differently, but I feel like I need to have a place of explanation for the future.
For the most part, I plan to decline when I am asked to submit my photos for review before publication.
I can’t say never, because I don’t have a crystal ball. I have great relationships with PR folks and bands from all over the world. Who knows what situation will come up down the road.
However, recently, I have had several PR reps ask for review. It was a bunch in a row. Almost every time that requirement has not been in the release I signed. Also, it was added as a 11th hour request, which means if I had pulled out just for that, I would have felt fairly silly.
Fast forward to my experiences of the review. Several times now I have had only about 1/4 of the photos that I presented approved, leaving me with 5-10 for my post, when I normally have a gallery of around 20 (or many more!) in my posts. And let’s be honest, people more often come to look at my photos over the reviews, so that leaves me in a bit of a bind.
The other part that is very important: I have just spent a bunch of time editing photos that I can’t use anywhere. If we were equating my normal freelance rate – that is a lot of lost income.
But that’s the thing. For the most part, I am not directly paid for work on this blog. It’s an in-kind earned media situation. I love it and would not trade it for the world, but as with most music publications, I am not going to retire from it.
This is an editorial publication that reviews concerts, and while I never consider myself a “critic,” I have been lucky to be around 17+ years and have built a reputation and a following. Which is why PR and bands ask me to come cover their shows in the first place.
That is not to say I don’t understand the motivation here. Press reps are in the business of promoting and protecting their artists and want to show them in their best light. I get that, 100%. I personally feel though, that the selection process could be more choosy at the front end. Don’t approve outlets to cover a show that you don’t trust to photograph your bands in a way you think they will like. Or, if you would like to achieve something specific, feel free to reach out and hire me (or anyone) directly and we can talk about catering to the clients wishes.
That, my friends, is paid or sponsored media and a more equitable exchange for that type of work. And something I have also done on this site since bloggers started working with brands, and I have also always followed the FTC guidelines about disclosing such relationships.
I consider approvals to photo a show as a “you win some, you lose some” proposition for a million different reasons. It’s OK to tell us no.
I am very, very thankful for all the opportunities I have been lucky enough to get along the way. But it’s also a whole lot of work. In turn, I cherish the symbiotic relationship I have with many folks in the industry and I hope we can continue that for a long time to come.