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Show Notes for Episode 24: Working with Researchers to Get THE Shot ft. Larry Charids
Larry’s interest in working with researchers was inspired by Wayne Lynch, Canadian photographer.

Science is a tough field and has never been well-funded. People doing scientific research in enviornmental conditions don’t have the funding or expertise to document what they do. It’s not cheap but we do a lot of things on the shoestring.

The goal is to shoot images that tell the researcher’s story with good documentary photographs, which are also artistic too, with the intent that people might take more pause to see what’s going on in the scientific world. Doing this helps research, garners more funding, and supports their work.

As a photographer, your photographs are helping them to tell their story and share their findings, similar to advertising for science. Another huge way that it helps them is that the photos sometimes capture details that they couldn’t see at the time, such as louse flies, etc.

Larry says the work is very exciting – you get to go places you’ve never been before and probably wouldn’t go otherwise. You get to see things that nobody gets to see, and you get to explore new worlds.

You are essentially donating the photos, although you keep the copyrights. You can ask the researchers for photo credits, and you can put your copyright in the metadata and your signature/watermark on the photo. You are providing them a service, but you’re also giving, and in this day and age that’s pretty important. You get a good feeling doing it, and there are rewards, maybe even long-term.

How to get started:

You’ll need to start out by volunteering, and it may be a while before you can do what you really want to do. It’s very important to develop a level of trust with them. Before developing your reputation as a bonafide photographer, you might find yourself volunteering to empty garbage cans or do some surveys while working your way up to a point where you’ve developed a level of trust.

Have a portfolio and a plan to present along with your resume. “Here’s what I’ve done, and here’s what I think I can do for you as a photographer.”

Then, you want to start approaching management to ask if you can go out with some researchers. Approach them, ask to speak with their volunteer coordinator. Ask for opportunities and tell them what you can do.

When you’re able to start talking with scientists, ask them what they do, then offer what you can do for them. Ask if they are publishing images that they take themselves – usually they aren’t able to. Sometimes it takes some convincing. Share your resume and portfolio. Show them that they NEED your images and how you will help them in your role. You will develop a relationship with them as you work with them.

Once you start providing images and proving how what you do can help them, then you can request certain photos.

Places to volunteer:
All of the state facilities, parks, etc. thrive on volunteers. Check out both nongovernment organizations (NGOs) and government organizations. Examples include: zoo, conservancies, Friends of the Florida Panther Refuge group. It doesn’t have to be outdoors! Universities perform research in almost every science department.

While working at the zoo, he has gotten to meet and work with National Geographic, research scientists from all over the world, the Giraffe foundation, and others. The zoo brings in volunteers all the time, and the volunteers can photograph quite a bit – and sometimes the zoo will use them!

Larry typically has a verbal contract with researchers, and informs them that yes, he intends to try to sell the images down the road. You just have to respect the ethical line of trust between yourself and the researcher. When Larry lets the researchers review the photos, he asks if there are any photos that they don’t want the public to see.

For your first expedition, ask the researcher what they’ll be doing so that you can assess what camera and equipment you’ll need by how close your quarters will be, what the conditions will be, etc.

When taking bat photos, Larry typically uses the following equipment:
– full-frame camera
– 16-35mm with top flash
– 100mm macro with macro flash attachment

NEVER use your photography in any way that will embarass the researcher. Don’t violate their trust. It can ruin the work they are doing. You will quickly land yourself on a blacklist amongst researchers that way.

“I have a purpose out there. I want these people to do good work and I want it to show in my images.”
– Larry Richardson

Larry wants to assure new photographers that all the successful photographers in the world who have done wonderful things in photography started out just like you, knocking on doors and asking for opportunities.

“Be ready for anything.”
– Larry Richardson

Top tips for photographing resesarch:

Know your equipment.

Anticipate and go through some scenarios to be prepared with different settings.

Always shoot in RAW.

“Relationships are key.”
– Larry Richardson

Top tips for working with researchers:

Be humble.

Ask – never demand.

Show them what you can do and what you are doing.

You have to work your way into your situation.

It’s all about relationships.

Contact Larry Richardson:

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