What would you do?


Staff member
As some of you may know, I am currently conducting research into the culture and community of ballroom and dancesport (look here if you want more information http://web.archive.org/web/20091024213207/http://geocities.com/_ynot_/Home.html ). Last Saturday I was at the Southern California Amateur Championships and, as the result of a medical emergency, the contracted photographer was unavailable and the event organizer had asked me to help out. This brought a nagging issue to mind, which I would appreciate your perspectives about.

For the SoCal event I had already been provided with a press pass, including full access to the podium and the food and drinks for the judges and staff back stage. In contrast to this situation, last year I was conducting research at an event where I was provided with tickets to the day sessions but not to the night sessions because (as I was informed) "those are the shows." One of the evenings, since I had friends competing, I paid for a ticket to watch them. Well, to make a long story short, there was no photographer in attendance and, seeing that I had a good camera set up and seemed to know what I was doing, an event organizer asked me to shoot the line ups, etc., for them. I gave the organizer copies of all the line up shots I got and also provided pictures to Dance Beat which were used for their coverage of that event. While the organizer who had asked me to help out did thank me (profusely) am I being petty in feeling that I should have, at the least, been reimbursed for the price of my admission? One of the regular ballroom circuit photographers I spoke too had told me that I should have charged for the shots I gave them (which actually would have been more then the price of admission).

I see the organizers at various events from time to time and feel somewhat bitter. Am I being petty? If not, should I say something?

Thanks, in advance, for your input, and keep dancing!
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I would absolutely charge them for both your time and product. While "profuse thank-you's" are well and good, they would have been paying the other photographer and would certainly have budgeted for such. Next time you see them, you may gently remind them that you haven't received their check yet. Offer an "out" to alleviate their embarassment, for example, "I know things were really hectic just then, and I'm sure it's just an oversight...". Perhaps their sense of professionalism will take over and you will get the compensation you deserve. If they don't get your not-so-subtle hint, you could keep a fee schedule handy for the next time they impose upon your good nature and willingness to help out. At their roots, dance competitions are a business above all.


One approach would be to mail him a bill and note the expenses in a line item fashion. That way he is given the choice to do the right thing without a direct confrontation. You might also ask him to write a "thank you letter" to use as a reference for you to get work in the future. And one last idea...ask if you could receive a private lesson at his studio in exchange for the help you provided. Hope this brainstorming helps. :wink:
I definitely would seek reimbursement for your admission ticket. It is, after all, only fair AND you gave them the photos & your services for free besides! Speak to the event organizer!

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