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This Week In Photography Books: Nate Larson and Marni Shindelman

A Photo Editor's Blog - 3 hours 40 min ago

by Jonathan Blaustein

The gorilla stench clings to my nostril hairs, like Pigpen’s fog. Surely, I can’t still smell the gorillas? But my nose crinkles just the same.

I saw those gorillas in the Albuquerque Zoo on Sunday morning. We took the kids down to the “big” city, (irony intended) as when you raise your children in a horse pasture, they need to get out every once in a while.

My daughter, now 3.5, had never seen zoo animals in person before. It was time.

So we put on our coats to fight the 9am chill, and decided to walk off our big breakfast at the Central Grill, a fantastic restaurant that sits astride old Route 66. It came highly recommended by my old friend David Bram, and now I’m passing the tip along to you.

I could tweet it, if I really wanted to, but I don’t think I’ll bother.

The gorillas are the first thing you come to at the Albuquerque Zoo, and I think they might want to re-think that decision. The smell traveled across a fair distance, and felt like it took up residence in my nasal cavity. You’ll have to trust me: it was awful. (Because you’re reading it on the Internet, it must be true.)

It is one of life’s deep pleasures, to introduce a child to the wonder of a kookaburra’s surreal call, the magnificence of a family of hippos exiting their pond, or the quiet, regal menace of a snow leopard sitting in its pen, perfectly still.

For most of us, seeing such creatures from a safe distance, their danger muted by cage bars, is the only way we’ll ever experience them in the real world. Unless you have mad cash to splurge on a safari, or live in a place where a tiger might actually pounce and eat you, the mediated experience is all we have.

The only time I felt scared was walking below a mountain lion, who paced back and forth in his elevated cage. My fear was real, because those monsters live very close to my house. I could presumably see one, though I hope it never happens. My brain was able to suss out the difference, so my heart beat quickened.

Thump. Thump. Thump.

The oddest moment, by far, was at the very end. (Just before we walked through the gorilla stink, which by then had managed to hang in the air, 200 feet from their habitat.) Our last visit was to the polar bear, who had no interest in swimming in his frigid water on a cold morning.

Back and forth he walked, on a concrete precipice above his abundant blue pool.

Back and forth.
Back and forth.
Back and forth.

The problem was, to the naked eye, he didn’t look real. He was only 20 feet away, true, but my brain read him as digital. A trick of the light, I’m sure, but still, I checked with my 8-year-old, who’s been raised on screens, and he agreed.

I couldn’t shake the feeling that he was a hi-resolution projection. A figment of the digi-verse, transposed onto reality by some next-gen projector, sitting just out the frame.

What a trip.

Are you surprised? Have you ever had the feeling before, that reality was no longer real enough? That your eyes, so accustomed to screen time, could no longer tell the difference?

I’m asking, having just put down “Geolocation,” an excellent new book by Nate Larson and Marni Shindelman, recently published by Flash Powder Projects. (A new publishing venture by the aforementioned David Bram, and his partner Jennifer Schwartz. I’ve reviewed friend’s books before, so this is no precedent. But I thought you should know, and I’ll do my best to be objective.)

I’d heard of this project before, but somehow never seen it. The premise is conceptually tight: the artists take other people’s geo-tagged tweets, track down the location where they were tweeted, photograph it, and then pair the tweet with the image.

We’ve seen stalker art before, (see Albuquerque’s own Jessamyn Lovell,) but this is something new. It has to be, as it’s based on contemporary technology. But innovation is not a guarantor of quality, so I was curious to see the book and decide for myself.

The key to the project’s success is that they choose tweets that range from random and silly, to poignant and personal. Someone dies. Someone else craves love.

The tweet suggesting that life is just like the “Harry Truman” show brings the book together. Both the ridiculous faux pas, of course, and because unlike Jim Carrey’s Truman, so many of us now choose to be observed. To proffer our lives as other people’s entertainment. (Myself included. In this very space.)

The photographs are strong, as well as diverse. We see Canada, England, New York, California, Indiana, and places in between. No-place places and someplace places. It all fits.

In general, I think the work is really strong, and I’m glad to share it with you. The flaws in the book, such as they are, come in the way the sequencing of text and imagery happens. As the publishers are very new to this, (the book is their co-launch,) and I’ve reviewed at least 200 books over the last 4.5 years, I thought it appropriate to mention this.

There are too many pictures, and the poems and mini-essays that pop up, from curators and other trendy types on the photo scene, seem placed at intervals meant to challenge our attention span. Some books need smart people to tell us that they are “IMPORTANT.”

This isn’t one of them. The combination of concept and execution means that almost any audience will get this work. It’s funny and smart and the pictures are not boring.

In the best photobooks, less is more. More is not more, because it causes our eyes to glaze over, and incites a desire to skip ahead. Narrative flow, furthermore, is a delicate beast, like a hummingbird. (It needs to be handled carefully.)

So I wholeheartedly recommend this one, and give props the artists for their diligent work, done over hundreds of days on the road. To the publishers, I also give a big thumbs up, for sticking your fresh necks out to support this collaboration. I hope you’ll take my advice in the spirit in which it was intended, and I look forward to seeing what comes next.

Bottom Line: Innovative, witty, tweet-worthy 21st C photo series.

To Purchase “Geolocation” Go Here.

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Categories: Business

The Art of the Personal Project: Pete Barrett

A Photo Editor's Blog - Thu, 02/11/2016 - 9:37am

As a former Art Producer, I have always been drawn to personal projects because they are the sole vision of the photographer and not an extension of an art director, photo editor, or graphic designer. This new column, “The Art of the Personal Project” will feature the personal projects of photographers using the Yodelist marketing database. You can read their blog at http://yodelist.wordpress.com. Projects are discovered online and submissions are not accepted.

Today’s featured photographer is: Pete Barrett

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How long have you been shooting?
I started shooting on my own in 1995.

Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
I went to school for photography but really learned the business by doing. I assisted for a few years and then did production work for a few years for some pretty high profile shooters. I learned a lot those years and folded that knowledge into what would become a pretty decent photo career.

With this particular project, what was your inspiration to shoot it?
The American Worker Project was actually a branch of another project I am working on. You see my wife suggested a few years back how great it would be to get an RV and travel all over the country and I could plan shoots wherever we go. The plan was to set out across the country and see as much as we can see and shoot everywhere we go stopping the journey periodically whenever work calls to hop on a plane and shoot whatever jobs we get, then pick up where we left off… I had lengthy discussions with my rep and others about what types of things I could shoot while on the road. Beyond the obvious subject of shooting in the many great locations we are going to travel to, what stood out more to me were the various interesting people we will meet along the way. I’ve always been interested finding out what people do for a living. Who they are and what they do. When you dig just a little, you find that people have pretty interesting stories and there are a ton of great visual stories to be told.

Well after what seemed like a year of planning we set out on our adventure back in September. So far it has been a whirlwind trip. Out of everything we are shooting The American Worker Project seems to be taking the forefront. The idea really resonates with people and I have a nonstop stream of people who are asking to be involved or are giving me suggestions that point me in the next direction to travel. I have never been busier than we are right now. Between shooting our travels and the people I meet and having to stop and fly out for actual jobs it has been a blur. We had to hit the pause button around the holidays just to make time to actually get caught up on a huge backlog of images that I need to edit, retouch and finish and start putting out there in front of people.

How many years have you been shooting this project before you decided to present it?
We are really just getting started as I said before. But we are off to a great start. There is really no end of potential people we can shoot.

How long do you spend on a personal project before deciding if it is working?
I’ve done personal projects in the past but none that has the legs that this one does. This one is working and shows no sign of stalling out. I could see myself exploring this for at least a year or maybe longer at the pace we are doing and perhaps producing a book and/or even doing some gallery shows with the finished series.

Since shooting for your portfolio is different from personal work, how do you feel when the work is different?
This project in particular has been very freeing for me. While my normal lifestyle work is very loose and natural it still tends to feel like I have to shoot with a certain idea, subject or end client in mind, which can be somewhat restricting. With this project I have been thinking less about those things and really just concentrating on exploring the person and the environment before me and trying my best to tell their story. I have always found that when you let go and experiment, that is often times when you make some of your best work.

Have you ever posted your personal work on social media venues such as Reddit, Tumblr, Instagram or Facebook?
In addition to showing my work on the normal channels of my sourcebooks, my website and blog, I also share on Facebook, twitter, Instagram, Behance and LinkedIn. I’ve also got people working the phones a few times a month just reaching out to clients and trying to guide them to see the work.

If so, has the work ever gone viral and possibly with great press?
I’ve never had it go viral per se but I have been able to get myself some great press in the past. Less for my personal work but more for some of the higher profile national advertising work we have shot. For this particular project as it seems to resonate with so many people, I’ve hired a publicist to assist me in getting the word out as well so we can hopefully create a more rounded story that will get picked up across social media platforms and get shared over and over.

Have you printed your personal projects for your marketing to reach potential clients?
I’ve printed small runs and mailed them to targeted clients but never on a large scale like we do with my more commercial work. I will with this one though as we have so much to share. I will most likely do a series of small mini books featuring 4-5 people in each one and send them out every few months but still keep the print runs relatively small and only send out to select clients.

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For nearly two decades award winning photographer Pete Barrett has created imagery for a virtual who’s who list of creatives, advertising agencies and clients on a national level. Pete’s work which spans the genres of people, lifestyle and sports lifestyle imagery is portrayed in a way that is timeless and captures real life moments in a way that is very natural and organic.

Growing up in the northeast, Pete was instilled early with a “whatever it takes” type of work ethic and a sharp witted sense of humor. Pete has a tireless, fun & creative energy about him and surrounds himself with like minded people. Regardless of the size of the production, large or small Pete and his crew apply the same meticulous attention to detail, service and creativity. This consistent level of high production value, and creativity that Pete and his team bring to every shoot, has resulted in many happy and loyal clients who repeatedly come back to work with him on many different shoots and campaigns throughout the years.

You can follow Pete and his ongoing travels and projects on his website @
http://www.petebarrett.com/ or on his blog @ http://blog.petebarrett.com/ Follow along on Instagram @PeteBarrettPhoto

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APE contributor Suzanne Sease currently works as a consultant for photographers and illustrators around the world. She has been involved in the photography and illustration industry since the mid 80s, after establishing the art buying department at The Martin Agency then working for Kaplan-Thaler, Capital One, Best Buy and numerous smaller agencies and companies. She has a new Twitter feed with helpful marketing information believing that marketing should be driven by a brand and not specialty. Follow her on twitter at SuzanneSease.

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Categories: Business

Prospecting Like a Pro

ASMP's Strictly Business - Thu, 02/11/2016 - 6:16am

Shotgun marketing has become less effective in a population that would prefer to opt in rather than opt out. That means up front research is more important than ever if you want to make the most of your time and money.

Where to Begin You could always buy an email or mailing list from a list service (there are several great ones out there), but if you can’t afford that investment, I have several stand-by resources you could try.

Step One: Be Aware of Who Does What Spend time online, spend time reading publications – especially industry publications – to see what marketers are doing. What brand, company or type of work gets you excited? For the most current peek into the industry, I love Agency Spy, which is a free service of AdWeek.

Step Two: Honest Assessment How would your work be compatible with the brands that you want to do work with? Is your sensibility and style a match? Is your level of production and professionalism appropriate to meet their expectations? You may need an objective opinion on whether you’re an appropriate match to that potential client, so consult with a trusted professional so you can make the best first impression

Step Three: Find Out Who Does the Work AgencyCompile.com is my favorite resource for finding out which agency works on a particular brand. It’s a wealth of information and better yet, it’s FREE. As with all resources, it’s only as good as the information that’s been provided to them, so you need to do further research to make sure the listings are current.

Step Four: Dig Deeper Once you find out who is doing the work, continue to research the company/agency/ people doing the work. In the case of an agency, go to the agency’s website and research not only the work they do for a particular client, but ALL their work. That will give you a sense of their aesthetic and if your work is compatible. Sometimes, all you want to know is who the agencies or design firms are for a certain location. Workbook.com is my go-to source for researching all things creative, and it’s ideal for finding potential clients both locally and nationally. The directory is robust and it’s FREE!

Step Five: Find the Entry Point There may be several entry points within an organization. You want to find  the one with the checkbook for the services you provide. Some companies have Art Buyers or Art Producers to coordinate purchases. In others, the Art Director or Creative Director make the purchases. Sometimes the Procurement department makes the purchases. The only way to know is to buy a list or to ask.

For years, Kat Dalager has been helping photographers discover gold by using the right tools. 

Categories: Business, Photo Industry

Validating a Prospector’s Approach

ASMP's Strictly Business - Wed, 02/10/2016 - 6:02am

In my twenties I wanted to be a field biologist. I loved the idea of being outside, engaging with the elements, and how naturalists develop broad conclusions based on specific behaviors and occurrences. I appreciated that research never ends; that there was always more to learn, deeper to look, farther to go. I respected the particular feature of the scientific method that data could both validate and deny preconceptions. Scientists have to remain open to change because the scientific method’s job is disproving preconceptions as much as proving them. That’s how science moves forward.

Sadly, a neurotic disinclination towards algebra made passing chemistry an impossibility for me and since chemistry is a requirement for a biology degree, away went that dream. I did get to know a few highly accomplished biologists and I was fascinated at how they had to closely focus on their subject matter while simultaneously casting their attention far-and-wide to help confirm if their efforts were relevant to their research. They were on the lookout for failures as well as successes while aiming for the validation that meant their preconceptions were correct. It’s a nice feeling to be validated, whether you are a scientist or not.

I try to do the same as I prospect for clients.

Since I photograph the built environment and people, any magazine or newspaper article that mentions a designer gets my attention and creates a data point for me. Trade and shelter magazines and websites are numerous, and most provide free newsletters promoting their content which creates more data points. Out in the field, designers very conveniently like to put their names on construction sites, along with their contact information. Contractors may conveniently list designers they work with on their websites. All good data points.

Designer’s websites quickly reveal two things: if their work is any good, and if they care enough to hire professional photographers to document it. Designers who don’t meet these two criteria, are not likely to pay my rates, so they get voted off my private island. If the designer is not in my geographic area and all their work is local to them that removes them from being relevant.

If their website is old (tiny fonts, small pictures, old-style design), they are also not relevant to me. If they meet my standards and they have pictures of people in their architectural photography, that is even better. Since I also produce portraits and documentary work, and sometimes get hired specifically because I do both, this becomes the best kind of data validation.

I used to think that developing large lists of potential clients would result in more work for me. I kept telling myself that people with crummy websites were just dying to get their hands on a clever professional like me to bring their marketing to a higher level. That theory turned out to be a poor use of data for a simple reason: because it was just not true. It did however cure me of believing that larger data samples would lead to more work; an unbelievable waste of time. When you’re self-employed, time really is money, so I want to be sure I have enough free time to fall asleep on the couch in front of the TV like a normal person instead of contacting people who will never hire me.

Once I’ve sifted through my data and located a possible client I click to their website and enter their information into my database. I include: name/s, contact information, areas of specialty, along with anything special relating to my experience. If I can find out from their website the person is that hires people like me, I call them up. If not, I call the company and try to find out who the correct person is to speak with or send an email to. All the while, I am looking for a response that validates my preconception they need my services, testing my data.

If they turn out to be my kind of client, great, they remain on my list of contacts. If not, off the island they go. Then I start the process all over again, looking for data and looking for validation. There is no greater validation than getting hired, and no way to get there without good data.

Barry Schwartz is a photographer, educator, and writer in Los Angeles who believes that all known data validates his need to fall asleep on his couch.

Categories: Business, Photo Industry

The Daily Edit – Benjamin Rasmussen: TIME

A Photo Editor's Blog - Tue, 02/09/2016 - 10:31am

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TIME


Creative Director: D.W. Pine
Director of Photography and Visual Enterprise: Kira Pollack
Deputy Director of Photography and Visual Enterprise: Paul Moakley
Photographer: Benjamin Rasmussen

Was this your first project with Time?
Yes, this was my first assignment with Time magazine, so I was pretty terrified going into it. I grew up in the rural Philippines and every couple of months we would get our mail and there would be a pile of Time magazines to explore. It has always been the one that got away and has a lot of my favorite photo editors, so I was both incredibly excited and anxious. I got the call for the assignment on Thursday and then flew out Friday night and shot Saturday and Sunday.

What type of direction did you get from the magazine?
Paul Moakley wanted clean environmental portraits of newly engaged voters. He referenced work that I had done of protestors in Ferguson for Bloomberg Businessweek, which is a style that I usually shoot on Polaroid in really active and sunny situations. It is a flat lighting style that relies on the energy and personality of the person being photographed to carry the frame. I tweaked it a bit because of shooting digital medium format instead of Polaroid and because we were photographing in grey and snowy Iowa.

How did you decide who to approach for a portrait?
Because the style relied so much on the subject, I was really intentional about trying to find people who had a presence to them that could translate photographically. But because they needed to be newly engaged voters and were going to be quoted, they also needed to be thoughtful and articulate. Sam Frizell, the writer from Time, and I would talk with people in line and then tap one another if they would work visually or for the story.

How did you engage them during the shoot? 
I would chat at the beginning and build some rapport as we walked from the line to where we were set up to shoot; I would try to listen as Sam interviewed them. During the shoot I would ask them to think through a specific scenario, which would change depending on what they had said during the interview. One man said that the only candidates he had ever liked were Ronald Reagan, Ron Paul and Donald Trump; so I asked him to imagine sitting with the three of them for five minutes and what he would want them to discuss. Or I would ask a person to image the feeling of the evening of November 8 and their candidate declaring victory.   This would put people in a thoughtful and internal space, which tended to carry into the portraits.

How long was each portrait?
Sam would interview people for about five minutes or so, and I would photograph them often times for just a few minutes more. We were typically taking people in groups of two – four and were rushing to get them back to the line so that they wouldn’t lose their spot.

I know this was your first job with Time, did you send them promos? Is that how they connected with you or did you have meetings with them prior to the assignment?
Time
was near the top of my list when I started doing promo books five or six years ago. And I would always try to come by when I was in New York with my book and show new work and get their thoughts on it. My project By The Olive Trees that I did with Michael Friberg was featured on Lightbox and I have had other interactions with the crew there as well.

I tend to take a pretty long view with these kinds of relationships. I like and respect the folks at Time because I think that they are really good at what they do and they have a passion for good photography. Whether or not I work with them immediately, or ever, doesn’t directly impact how I feel about them. Some of my favorite photo editors work at places that I am not a good fit for, but I will still always keep up with them and reach out because I respect them and love getting their insights.

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Categories: Business

The Many Faces of Client Research

ASMP's Strictly Business - Tue, 02/09/2016 - 5:43am

[by Jenna Close]

Researching clients is a significant part of how I market my services. I’ve found that there isn’t really a one size fits all solution, so I use many different tactics, largely dependent on what type of prospect I am trying to reach.

Agencies: Using a list service, like Yodelist or Agency Access, can be useful, but it must be managed with extreme care. Many photographers use this method and as such, creative directors and art buyers tend to get a lot of mail. A list should be extensively researched and fine tuned down to prospects that specifically match what you shoot and the style you shoot in. For example, if an agency specializes in food and beverage, and my focus is as a corporate and industrial photographer I would not put them on my list. Another advantage of a list service is that you can use it to research prospects in a specific geographic area. If I know I’m going to be traveling somewhere, I will search for relevant agencies in that area and contact them to try and set up a meeting for when I’m in town.

B2B: A significant number of my clients come by way of referral from in-house marketing directors. LinkedIn is an excellent for finding contacts especially ones with which you have a mutual connection. It’s also a great way to keep track of your current clients and to be alerted if they move or get a promotion. Google can also be helpful, but I typically use it in tandem with LinkedIn. The best rate of return comes when you can meet a prospect face-to-face, especially with B2B professionals who aren’t used to dealing with the marketing methods of photographers.

Out of the box opportunities: Trade shows, chamber of commerce meetings, referral groups like BNI or LeTip and community events are other great ways to research and meet prospective clients. Depending on your specialty, researching for these types of interactions can yield excellent results. I work a lot in the solar industry and frequently attend trade shows geared toward that market. It’s an excellent way to meet people face to face and the atmosphere is welcoming because everyone understands that marketing is the primary reason for the event. Over the period of the show, it’s easy to build a targeted and relevant list of prospects simply by walking around the floor and talking to people.

In every situation, sensitivity to a prospect’s time and privacy are critical. Kindness and professionalism can go a long way. It’s easy to get stuck thinking, “I need to convince this person that I can help them meet their objectives and I need to get hired.” I prefer to approach all marketing research with the opposite thought in mind: “What does this person need to be successful at what they do and can I help this person accomplish that?””

Jenna Close is a commercial photographer in San Diego. She doesn’t love marketing, but she does it anyway.

Categories: Business, Photo Industry

The Daily Promo: Daniel Dorsa

A Photo Editor's Blog - Mon, 02/08/2016 - 9:38am

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Daniel Dorsa


Who printed it?
The cassette tapes were made by MilkTape, I printed the J Cards myself, and the business card was printed by Mama Sauce.

Who designed it?
A long term friend of mine, Devin Jacocviello, designed the tape as well my business cards.

Who edited the images?
I edited the images myself.

How many did you make?
I made a limited run of the thirty.

How many times a year do you send out promos?
This is my first promo ever so I’ve only mailed out one a year!  I plan on sending out promos twice a year though.

How did this promo idea develop?
I decided to create this promo for a few different reasons. First off, I love music and have loved it since I was young. I would create mixtapes of the radio and share them with friends. Once CD’s and downloading became prevalent, I was making tons of mix CD’s for my friends in high school and would always be having new music bump in my car. Without really realizing it, it was my first form of creative expression.

While figuring out what type of promo to make, I was a bit unsure the best route. I was considering making a zine, but I felt like people may not really pay attention to it if the work didn’t speak to them directly. I wanted to make something a bit obscure so that people would give my work a chance, but also practical. My roommate suggested I make vinyl records and send those with a zine, but there was no real concept with that. That suggestion though got me thinking of something relating to my love for music and after some research, I found these tapes. It was the perfect blend of something practical, interesting, and personal. It took months for me to actually receive the tapes, but it was well worth it.

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Categories: Business

Creating Client Connections

ASMP's Strictly Business - Mon, 02/08/2016 - 7:07am

[by Chris Winton-Stahle]

How and why I do research

Research is an essential part to finding clients that fit with my brand. It helps me to eliminate the marginal clients and focus on clients that really might be interested in working with me.  Currently, I subscribe to a mailing list but I have also created my own.

My marketing service of choice is Agency Access . Through them I have a team of people working on my behalf, advising and assisting me in creating very targeted mailing lists. My four lists include national advertising agencies, local advertising agencies, national magazines, and entertainment. Each list is marketed in a unique and different manner.

What I want to know

Once I know the brands I wanted to work with, then I thoroughly research the advertising agencies that represent those brands. I deepen my understanding of those agencies by looking at the clients they represent. I also learn who works for each agency including the art producers, creative directors and art directors. I find out who manages the accounts of interest, look at other work those individuals have done, what awards they’ve won, and what their interests might be.  This information is particularly useful when I meet with creatives. Sometimes it helps me to make a  personal and professional connection. My lists are hosted with Agency Access but I also keep a personal database. Their database has fields for storing information such as birthdays, hobbies, and previous conversation headlines.  Facebook has a great birthday reminder system which I also use for closer contacts

Research tools I use

Agency websites often have interesting and relevant information about their team. I also utilize social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram to glean additional information about agency staff members. I personally look for creatives who are exceptionally innovative and award winning.

Over time my team establishes a very refined hand-picked list of potential clients. After this step is completed I press forward to invest more time and money creating special promos or specialize portfolios that I put directly into the hands of the right people.

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© Chris Winton-Stahle. A portfolio designed as a special promotion for a prospective new client

When a lead looks exceptionally promising, I might email or call them and request a meeting. If they request samples or a pdf portfolio, I send work that fits the brands their agency represents. The final step is to meet with the creatives in person and establish a trusting business relationship.

Chris Winton-Stahle is an award-winning photographer and accomplished photo illustration artist who sees the camera as only half of his process in creating great imagery. Chris often pulls components from multiple images and CGI when creating his work for clients in advertising, magazines and entertainment.

 

 

Categories: Business, Photo Industry

This Week In Photography Books: Karen Knorr

A Photo Editor's Blog - Fri, 02/05/2016 - 9:47am

by Jonathan Blaustein

It’s Tuesday, the morning after the Iowa Caucuses. (When I’m writing this. You’re likely reading on Friday, of course.)

Today marks the beginning of the end of Donald Trump’s incessant march to colonize Earth. Wouldn’t you just love to see the TRUMP insignia emblazoned on the side of the White House? I mean, after you moved to Canada, wouldn’t you find it funny? (Instead of tragic and/or shocking?)

I’ve said since the first Republican debate that my money was on Marco Rubio, so I’m sticking with that. The Republicans have a great habit of rallying around whomever is “most electable,” and he fits the bill.

Ted Cruz, who won the contest, seems more unlikeable than a genetically engineered TRex that’s about to eat your face off. A smugger man, I’ve not yet seen. And the hubris to pretend to be a man “of the people” when you’re educated at Princeton and Harvard?

We haven’t witnessed that degree of fakery since George W. was photographed “clearing brush” in Texas. (Oh George. Where have you gone? How we miss your bumbling mispronunciations.)

No, Ted Cruz will not be the next President of the United States. You heard it here. But then, neither will the Donald, a man who would gladly take the Malkovichian punishment of living inside his own head, surrounded by clones who spoke only his own name, were he given the chance.

“Trump?”

“Trump.”

“Trump Trump Trump?”

“Trump Trump.”

If we’ve learned anything from Donald’s six-month-performance-art-piece, it’s that how much money you have is not a marker of your intelligence, nor your worth to the rest of us. That guy clearly has billions, but he acts like a scared, insecure bully on the playground, making sure to charge $5 admission to the swing-set, just because he can.

He may have money, but as they say, money can’t buy class. In this case, I actually speak from experience. Back in 1996, I worked on a movie called “The Devil’s Advocate,” and personally delivered a $50,000 check to his assistant, made out to Donald Trump, for the use of his 57th St penthouse for ONE DAY.

That’s right. 50 grand for a day, not that he needed the money. The walls were covered in plated gold, something I’ve never seen before or since. Tacky beyond belief. An Emperor is how the man sees himself. (A taller Napoleon with bad hair.)

But gold walls or gold toilets do not make a better person. Not better than any of us. Just better at wasting precious resources.

The homes we live in, the trinkets we acquire, the animal pelts we collect, these do not reflect the quality of our character. The idea of aristocracy was misguided from the beginning. Much as some would like to believe it grew out of a reality that some families are superior to others, I’d proffer that it’s simply that some are driven to acquire wealth and power by any means necessary.

And others are not.

As I rarely get political, (though I’ve staunchly avoided mention of whom I support in 2016,) I couldn’t help myself after looking at “Belgravia,” a new book by Karen Knorr, released last year by Stanley/Barker.

Once you see it, the above rant will fit snugly into context, like a medicine cap on a bottle of Prozac. As the book brings us inside the homes, and minds, of the English elite, circa 1976. (Has there ever been a more photogenic decade?)

According to the end notes, though not hard to suss out from the content, Belgravia is a posh neighborhood in London, near Buckingham Palace. It is likely to West London conservatism what the East End is to hipsterism these days. (And if I’m wrong, I’m sure one of our many London-based readers will correct me.)

The portraits, staged in fancy rooms with grand fireplaces, are paired with snippets of conversation the artist recalled from chatting with her subjects. They fit, in the sense that we can imagine “these people” saying such things, despite the obvious artifice.

My favorite part was that several of the crops are not clean. Photographs like this, of formal people in formal rooms, are so often meticulously made. Every cut is perfect. Each composition as exacting as a valet cleaning off a just-used dinner jacket.

But these are rougher than that. They’re close to formal, but often deviate in observable ways. Rebellion, via composition? And the lighting is not perfect either. It’s often flat, rather than glamourous.

I counted at least 2 zebra-pelts, assuming they’re real. And other objects collected from around the Empire. Lions, cheetahs, elephants. Knick-knacks from the hinterlands.

Honestly, I didn’t love this book. But that’s the point, no? These people aren’t lovable. They’re just rich. They look normal, for the most part. (Not the Platonic ideal of a human, like a baby made by the unholy English union of David Beckham and Sienna Miller.)

That’s what the Upper Class look like in our minds, no? All jutting, cleft chins and wide-set blue eyes. They look better than we do, attended superior schools, so they deserve to rule?

No, this book just shows some lonely-looking, repressed rich people, clinging to their religion and their guns. (Sorry. That was an Obama quote.) I mean, clinging to their fancy things and big rooms.

Bottom Line: Ironic, old school pics of the British ruling Elite

To Purchase “Belgravia” Visit Photo-Eye

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Categories: Business

Advancing a Small Claims Solution to Infringements

ASMP's Strictly Business - Fri, 02/05/2016 - 12:01am

[by Tom Kennedy]

The arrival of the digital age has brought with it a series of opportunities and challenges that are creating a world of paradox for independent creators, including ASMP members. On the one hand, digital technology aids and abets the expression of creative vision in ways unimaginable even just a generation ago. On the other hand, the same technology has fueled a great expansion of the possibilities for infringement as digital images get appropriated and shared without credit or compensation across a plethora of social media platforms.

The ability to control work and benefit from one’s creation has been a part of the copyright system since the founding of the Republic. Indeed, James Madison, in the Federalist Papers described the concept of copyright as one in which “the public good…fully coincides with the claims of the individuals.” The system was designed to facilitate the expansion of public discourse to produce an enlightened citizenry while also offering sufficient incentives to creators to continue to create work facilitating twin goals of “progress of science” and free speech.

Since its inception in 1790, U.S. copyright ’s original terms have been redefined and expanded to address new forms of media expression such as photographs, movies, and sound recordings, while also acknowledging the implications of new mediums of distribution including broadcasting and now the Internet.

Given the expansion of infringements fueled by the Internet, it is essential that the copyright laws be updated to account for the ways in which the media landscape is being reshaped by digital technology. It is equally imperative that such updating includes the ability for individual creators like ASMP members to secure effective remedies to address infringements.

Going forward, ASMP believes that there is a need for the creation of a small claims tribunal system as an alternative mechanism for dealing with infringement. Many infringements that do not rise to a sufficient threshold to incentivize attorneys to bring cases to federal court still constitute a significant income loss to the creator.

This is the discrepancy we want to address.

We believe photographers, among others, need a mechanism that promotes speedy, fair, and low cost adjudication so that effective remedies are within reach for all creators.

We are working now with Michael Klipper, a Washington D.C. attorney to develop a framework for this proposal. We see it as a crucial element as the House Judiciary Committee continues discussion of solutions to be included in future copyright reform legislation. In developing a framework that would pass muster with the U.S, Copyright Office in concept and execution, and be ratified in law by an act of Congress, we are working with groups such as the APA, DMLA, GAG, NPPA, and PPA representing all manner of visual artists. We believe full development of an effective remedy can best be accomplished if all visual groups work toward a consensus position that is then articulated as the basis for legislative action.

While other elements of copyright reform legislation previously addressed are also under discussion, we see effective remedy for infringements as central to addressing imbalances that left unchecked would propel the entire photographic community toward the cliff of market failure.

ASMP Executive Director Tom Kennedy is an internationally known visual journalist with 35 years of print and online journalism experience including positions as Managing Editor for Multimedia at The Washington Post and Director of Photography at the National Geographic Society.

Categories: Business, Photo Industry

The Art of the Personal Project: Russ Quackenbush

A Photo Editor's Blog - Thu, 02/04/2016 - 9:41am

As a former Art Producer, I have always been drawn to personal projects because they are the sole vision of the photographer and not an extension of an art director, photo editor, or graphic designer. This new column, “The Art of the Personal Project” will feature the personal projects of photographers using the Yodelist marketing database. You can read their blog at http://yodelist.wordpress.com. Projects are discovered online and submissions are not accepted.

Today’s featured photographer is: Russ Quackenbush

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How long have you been shooting?
I’ve been shooting professionally for 20 years.

Are you self-taught or photography school taught?
I have a BFA from the Art Institute of Boston now called Lesley College of Art and Design.

With this particular project, what was your inspiration to shoot it?
My wife at the time had a storefront space on Lincoln Blvd in Santa Monica, CA. I stopped by one day while she was prepping for a job and noticed a decent amount of interesting people walking by. I learned that some of the people were getting their car washed on one side and walking buy to Starbucks on the other side. I ended up renting a space next to hers for a short period of time. So I set up a backdrop and one light and decided to photograph these people as they were passing by. I offered them 5 dollars to answer 5 questions and then sit for four minutes. Which turned into 5 minutes of total time. The inspiration was that I got to meet all these cool people that I might have never otherwise.

How many years have you been shooting this project before you decided to present it?
I only worked on it off and on for about 6 months. Then I moved out of the space and haven’t touched it since.

How long do you spend on a personal project before deciding if it is working?
That a great question! It’s something I’ve struggled with throughout my career. Not the knowing if I like it part, but the continuation of completion. I tend to get tired of projects that I start and move on. They never end, but just go dormant. I have several projects that I’d like to continue at some point. To answer your question, I guess if I like it enough to hang it on my wall then it’s working for me.

Since shooting for your portfolio is different from personal work, how do you feel when the work is different?
I don’t see the two as being different. I shoot what I like and then it goes into the portfolio. Not all my personal projects are a perfect fit for the portfolio, but I’ll still put them up online for a little while. It’s really important to follow that inspiration your feeling because it will always bring something new to your work. My Wild Kingdom series isn’t in my portfolio, but it’s something I enjoy shooting and now I have some images for my wall.

Have you ever posted your personal work on social media venues such as Reddit, Tumblr, Instagram or Facebook?
I tend to use social media more as a timeline of my personal life than for marketing. Some stuff goes up on Facebook but it’s pretty small in comparison to my personal stuff.

If so, has the work ever gone viral and possibly with great press?
Not as of yet! Perhaps, this post could be the first to get that ball rolling :-)

Have you printed your personal projects for your marketing to reach potential clients?
All the time! That’s the most important thing for any photographer. Show your personal work.

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Russ Quackenbush creates visual images of humanity that reflect the qualities we cherish most in each other. In his portraiture, he gently documents the relics of a subject’s life experiences as they unfold and present themselves in the emotions of their face, the language of their body, and the energy of their being. Russ’ photography gives us license to laugh, play, rejoice, or to mourn. It is through his images that we are led respectfully and thoughtfully into the life of another.

Emotionally charged landscape photography compliments his portraiture work. Russ embraces the powerful energy of place as presented to him in textures, tones, and colors. Through these he creates a complex visual record that conveys the rich history of the site. One gets a clear sense of what has come before and what is destined to be.

It is these same sensibilities that he brings to his work in commercial advertising. Traveling throughout the United States and abroad, Russ is always inspired by new environments and motivated by new challenges. Ultimately, it is his love of photography that is reflected in final result.

Upon starting his business in 1996, he has received a myriad of awards from the Photography and Advertising Annuals of Communication Arts, The Ad Club, and The One Show. Creativity Magazine, Archive, and Photo District News have all featured Russ and his work. It was 2001, that Photo District News distinguished Russ in their “30 Under 30”, presenting him as a young talent worth keeping an eye on. He has certainly lived up to that prediction.


APE contributor Suzanne Sease currently works as a consultant for photographers and illustrators around the world. She has been involved in the photography and illustration industry since the mid 80s, after establishing the art buying department at The Martin Agency then working for Kaplan-Thaler, Capital One, Best Buy and numerous smaller agencies and companies. She has a new Twitter feed with helpful marketing information believing that marketing should be driven by a brand and not specialty. Follow her on twitter at SuzanneSease.

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Categories: Business

Making the Most Out of Your Attorney Search and Meetings

ASMP's Strictly Business - Thu, 02/04/2016 - 12:01am

[by Bruce Bellingham, Peter McCall & Scott Burroughs]

Note: If you missed ASMP’s Business as unUsual webinar, You’ve Been Infringed, Now What? featuring Bruce Bellingham, Peter McCall & Scott Burroughs, you can watch the recording at: www.vimeo.com/153457379, Password: ASMPinfringed.

Many people you know are eager to recommend a good lawyer, but forming an attorney-client relation for a copyright infringement action presents some unique issues. Most people cannot afford to pay hourly legal fees. The Copyright Act provides special remedies and the possibility of shifting the prevailing party’s own legal fees to the losing party; thus, most photographers should seek a lawyer who will represent their cause on a contingent fee basis. In such relationships, the lawyer gets paid from a portion of the award if you win your case, but she will not charge you fees if you lose. In effect, by representing you, the contingent fee lawyer is making a business decision similar to offering a forgivable loan measured in the currency of her professional services.

Because they understand the possible special damages provisions of the Act, only lawyers with some experience in copyright enforcement are likely to accept a contingent fee arrangement. They recognize the accused infringer’s defenses, and they are used to judging these risks. This means you should approach the lawyer somewhat as a loan applicant approaches a banker: you must sell your case to them. There is no better way to show that you are serious than to come to a consultation with all the documentation necessary and a basic understanding of what the process will entail.

The key to a successful first meeting is bringing what the lawyer needs. This must include:

1) the images which you believe have been infringed;

2) the copyright registration certificate for these images and any evidence you have of your depositing the images with the Copyright Office (if you registered them);

3) the works that you believe show that the potential defendant unlawfully copied your works;

4) any licenses or other paperwork if you ever had business dealings with the potential defendant; and

5) any evidence of your monetary loss such as licenses you issued for the infringed work.

If you have additional documentation about the uses the infringer made of your work, or its practices of infringing others, those will all be welcome. While not necessary to prove copyright infringement, the lawyer will also be very interested in evidence of your experience and stature as a professional photographer such as a detailed resume, awards, etc. as well as evidence that you take photographs for a living such as business incorporation, agency representation, etc.

Once you find a prospective lawyer with copyright experience, she will set up a meeting to review the facts of your case and your expectations. Sometimes, if a firm is specialized, a paralegal will conduct an initial review to get your papers in order and to provide a summary to the lawyer. If so, provide as much information as possible, keeping in mind that an attorney will review the summary and, if it looks like you have a solid claim, call you back for another meeting.

During your meeting, make sure to talk about money. No one will be offended. To start with, will the firm charge you for the initial consultation? Generally, a lawyer who wants such payment probably does little copyright work for individuals. Contingent fee counsel may still require you to pay out of pocket costs, and they will never pay you for your own lost working time or for your expenses. Ask about all potential financial and time burdens. If you decide to bring an action against an infringer, you must feel comfortable with how your claim is being handled and be prepared for the stresses and expenses of litigation.

Once your attorney reviews the documentation, you should have a frank conversation about where that attorney sees your case going. Some attorneys may see your case as a short term settlement matter of modest value. Others may see your case as a high-worth investment worth taking to trial. Either of those approaches may be acceptable to you, but you should understand how that attorney views your case before you make any commitment. Do not be shy about asking any attorney you interview about her plan. For example, all your friends may say that your infringement claim is a goldmine, but a lawyer may want to settle for $2,000 and believes that, if push comes to shove, you should not bring suit. That lawyer may be right or wrong, but you should not retain her unless you accept her reasoning.

Don’t be afraid to shop around. Valuing a case is not an exact science and equally competent lawyers may have different risk tolerances. Some lawyers will not want to represent photographers who have not registered their works because registration is needed for statutory damages and an award of attorney’s fees. No sensible lawyer will mind you politely thanking her for her time and saying that you want to speak to others.

The most important thing you can do while searching for an attorney is listen closely. You are looking for an attorney who understands your claim and who has a similar vision of how it will work out. The attorney is looking for a client who she believes will be reliable and organized so that she can focus her energies on the legal aspects of the claim. Since the attorney is looking to invest a great deal of time and effort in your case, they also want to see signs that you are looking to do the same. Most lawyers are quite worried about a misunderstanding between the client and herself regarding expectations. It is paramount to come to an understanding of the goals, monetary and time commitments, and other stressors associated with the process before you decide to retain an attorney to enforce your rights. For better or worse, your relationship with your attorney is going to be a business transaction. So approach it, from the start, as you would any other business meeting.

Bruce Bellingham has been an attorney at Spector Gadon & Rosen, PC, in Philadelphia since 2001.  His practice is approximately 20% copyright and arts representation and 80% general commercial litigation.  Before attending law school he was an Assistant and Associate Professor at Florida State University for 15 years.   He is active in the Philadelphia Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts which named him “Volunteer of the Year” in 2009.

Peter McCall is an associate at Spector Gadon and Rosen, P.C. During law school, he concentrated his studies on intellectual property and business with a special focus on protecting the copyright and trademark interests of individuals and small businesses. As a practicing attorney he continues to assist small and growing businesses with the many challenges facing them in and around the Philadelphia area. He is a contributor to various media outlets, publishing articles on issues surrounding the preservation of artists rights under the U.S. Copyright Act.

Scott Alan Burroughs is a partner at Doniger / Burroughs in Venice, California. His firm is passionate about protecting the rights of content creators, and handles more copyright and artist disputes than any other firm in the United States. He has obtained numerous six- and seven-figure results for his clients, and has prevailed before judges, juries, and courts of appeal across the country.

Watch the recording of their Business as unUsual webinar, You’ve Been Infringed, Now What? at www.vimeo.com/153457379,Password: ASMPinfringed.

 

Categories: Business, Photo Industry

What Happens When Your Images Go Viral: Eric Pickersgill’s REMOVED

A Photo Editor's Blog - Wed, 02/03/2016 - 9:36am

by Efrem Zelony-Mindell, aCurator

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You’ve probably seen and possibly heard the story of Eric Pickersgill’s body of work: REMOVED. How Eric noticed a family in a coffee shop all staring at their personal devices and simultaneously feeling disgusted dejected and realizing that he was that same family. So he created a series of images with the phones removed, “to show just how weird that can be”.

What you probably haven’t heard is what happens to a photographer when a series of images goes viral. And what can be done to harness some of that viral-ity to money and attention to the photographer whose images have been co-opted by the internet.

“It happened so fast. It still seems a little unreal,” Pickersgill chuckles. 2015 was already shaping up to be a great year for him as an emerging photographer, even before a friend at Business Insider asked to feature his work. Business Insider was the start. Views of Pickersgill’s feature quickly went from a few hundred to tens of thousands. A day later the work started popping up on other blog’s and online publications. How is a little hazy, as some of these early posts were used without an e-mail to him. This additional coverage helped push the work further; this is when sensible inquiries started. USE USE USE, WANT WANT WANT, e-mail after e-mail requesting images for publications we view every day.

The emails quickly ramped up to over 300 a day and Eric says, “money floated into my mind as an afterthought, but I soon realized I was going to need some help.” Almost without exception, the expectation was that images would be given for publication for free. He did not get too many “it will be great exposure for you” insults, but the sense was he would be eager to be published. And Eric was very eager to be published and a number of websites and blogs benefitted.

On the third day of this Eric called photo professional Julie Grahame, who he was introduced to by a mutual business friend. “I wasn’t sure the first time we spoke. I thought the work might just fizzle,” Grahame said. It’s funny to note that both Pickersgill and Grahame shared this thought upon first interactions before they agreed on working together. Pickersgill quickly came back around to Grahame after a day or so attempting the Internet solo. “Other countries started calling for the work. The Netherlands, South Africa, on and on.”

With so many inquiries on the table, Julie set out with Eric to prioritize those likely to have a budget. They agreed to just not get back to a bunch of people until they had managed the more practical clients. That was hard for Eric, he had to understand he wasn’t being rude, he was just staying sane. A couple of things likely slipped through the cracks, because it was so overwhelming, but they soon had several invoices out to various countries, and as each publication came out, they perpetuated the interest.

“Some clients I expected to have a budget said no, and when we refused to play, managed to find a little bit of cash”, says Julie of their interactions with clients. One German journalist said “I’m sure they do have a budget, I’ve just never seen it used” and then found them $200. They had to be creative and flexible – one client who Eric did an interview with had to process the fee as an equipment expense. With all the best intentions and efforts it is difficult to get a publisher to pay up-front but they did manage it on a few occasions.

Lots of people wanted interviews as well, but they still insisted on license fees for the majority of them. They also let go a bunch of websites who used images without permission that they felt it would be impractical to pursue.

“Collecting the money is the usual ongoing effort but we’ve done really well!”, says Julie, “I would like to add we have negotiated licenses that include an ad campaign, and a music video.” (As an aside, managing tax issues and incoming wire transfers from all over the world is a bit of a pain.)

There were also several requests for prints but Eric decided that “instead of jumping to make quick sales, he waited until he found a gallery who was interested in the work and who would then fulfill the print requests for him.” This manifested in an enthusiastic agreement with Rick Wester Fine Art, in New York within a month of going viral.

Family sitting next to me at Illium café in Troy, NY is so disconnected from one another. Not much talking. Father and two daughters have their own phones out. Mom doesn’t have one or chooses to leave it put away. She stares out the window, sad and alone in the company of her closest family. Dad looks up every so often to announce some obscure piece of info he found online. Twice he goes on about a large fish that was caught. No one replies. Eric is saddened by the use of technology for interaction in exchange for not interacting. This has never happened before and he doubts we have scratched the surface of the social impact of this new experience. Mom has her phone out now. This is Pickersgill’s story, this is how it all began.

The photos are deeper, they delve into a history of portraiture, and they are as sculptural as they are narrative. Pickersgill’s images bridge a gap between fine art and editorial. They are full of repose and gesture and curiously, the hands of the subjects with their devices removed, create a nebulous sense of vacuum. Composition informs the subject’s relation; tonality and print quality capture awkward moments of estranged intimacy. In Pickersgill’s own words, “I have a strong connection to the body and photographing people.”

REMOVED incites a certain sense of joy hidden in the images’ absurdity. That’s not to say they’re a joke, laughter ensues because the photos allow a viewer to realize just how complicated they’ve made themselves. There’s a freedom in that.

Eric’s future isn’t clear, but there’s a whole lot of potential. The work will continue, and so too will the obsession with REMOVED. As long as people need reminding it seems pretty clear Pickersgill will have subjects to photograph. The body goes on adapting and relying, submitting itself. And maybe that’s the ultimate realization the work can impart. I don’t get the feeling that his photos are trying to say put down the technology, but to grow with each other and to raise the platform. The blinking lights and fun little gadgets will catch up.

Efrem Zelony-Mindell, aCurator

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Categories: Business

ImageRights for Copyright Enforcement – the Better Alternative to DIY Infringement Management

ASMP's Strictly Business - Wed, 02/03/2016 - 12:01am

[by Eric Bowers]

After a job layoff in 2013, I found myself more dependent than ever on income from my photography. To build up my freelance business, I began researching search engine optimization (SEO). In that process, I discovered that my photography was already scattered about the web, but on business and commercial websites for companies I had never heard of, and to whom I had definitely never licensed usage rights.

Many creators have bemoaned the abundance of photographs in existence now, putting downward pressure on photographers’ pricing power with clients. Although this is a problem that remains for all in the business, there is also much higher demand for quality photographs now in this age of the Internet, as can be seen by the rampant unauthorized usage of many professionals’ copyrighted works. Many users today assume they are entitled to exploit whatever Google shows them in an image search result, but with active copyright enforcement built into one’s workflow, it is very realistic to mitigate the lost income from image piracy, and to secure another steady income stream for one’s business.

Both out of frustration and a need to make money off my work, I began making some surprise visits to the offices of local commercial infringers – invoice in hand, along with W-9 tax documentation and my Square card reader. I got results, but constantly deferring my own life, as well as the other aspects of running a photography business to deal with infringements on my own was a soul-draining ordeal. Plus, often, when I tried to settle a matter without formal legal representation, the infringers acted as if I should be grateful to them for removing the offending photo, forgetting the fact that many of them had already been exploiting my work for quite some time – a year, two years or even longer.

Hoping to free up more time for my business and to increase my odds for monetary recovery from copyright infringements, I decided ImageRights was an obvious choice.

Since getting started with ImageRights over a year ago, my income from copyright infringement settlement money has become the most consistent and reliable income stream for my freelancing operation. It is not an overstatement at all when I say that having this stream of income is a game-changer – it has allowed me to weather the inevitable troughs in assignment and stock license sales and still meet my fixed expenses.

Now that I’ve started really paying attention to all the ways my work is being used, I’ve noticed that the range of copyright infringement cases can vary. When the infringer is one of those “Get Rich Quick in Real Estate” seminars, motivational speakers, or clickbait websites, utilizing ImageRights to monetize these unauthorized uses of my work is a gratifying experience. I’ve also noticed a major recurring theme in that many infringements come from website design firms or freelancers who land their clients in legal hot water because they are accustomed to harvesting “free” website photography and graphics from Google Image Search. That bargain-basement quote from a site designer is only affordable if the clients don’t get hit with infringement claims resulting from their new business website being festooned with copyright infringed photography and graphics.

But the spectrum of cases that ImageRights finds also includes more innocuous uses, such as a church lady convention, promoted by a website that was probably done for free by one of the attendees or their kids. Though technically still an enforceable infringement, I see these cases as less of a priority so I take extra time to assess each case ImageRights brings to my attention and only approve those I think are appropriate to pursue.

Because stock agencies such as Getty Images build a clause into their contracts with photographers giving them the right to decide which infringements to pursue, how to pursue them, when to settle, and also lets them keep a hefty percentage of any recoveries, I have found that is in my own best interest to maximize my direct stock image sales by tending to my own SEO, while also having the “hedge to the downside” of ImageRights and infringement recovery built into my operation.

Clearly, infringement settlements and the threat of litigation are an imperfect solution for all involved parties, but being able to quickly monetize copyright infringements has become a vital part of my own business, and it can make all the difference in keeping the lights on during the occasional slow period in business.

Eric Bowers is a Kansas City based architectural, real estate and commercial photographer with a substantial collection of Kansas City stock images including documentation of downtown Kansas City’s revitalization, the construction progress of the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts and the final years of open-outcry wheat futures trading at the Kansas City Board of Trade. See his work at: www.ericbowersphoto.com.

Categories: Business, Photo Industry

The Daily Edit – Kenji Aoki: Real Simple

A Photo Editor's Blog - Tue, 02/02/2016 - 9:42am

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Real Simple

Creative Director: Janet Froelich
Photo Editor: Alice Jones

Photo Editor: Emily Kinni
Photographer: Kenji Aoki

 


What type of direction did you get from the magazine?
The magazine was seeking something conceptual and abstract based on some of my earlier work.

Tell us about your creative process for this simple, elegant solution for stress.
The article was about stress and how stress can be a positive motivation depending on its type and cause; so I thought about these four key words from the article: “Chaos”, “Calm”, “Pressure”, and “Relief/Release.”I find working through language in this way is often the most important first step before shooting.

Is there a pattern to when or where you ideas occur?
Focusing on one word can conjure many images, in this case I felt I could best extract the essence of these concepts by using geometric conceptualizations. Rather than trying to think up ideas, I sought a resolution by ridding myself of all unnecessary information and focusing on these few words.

Do you have a journal for your ideas, sketchbook?
Having studied design, I find it very helpful to draw rough sketches before shooting, so yes, I keep a sketchbook.

What is that white ball of lines: fishing line, wire?
We used thread for “Chaos” and wire for “Calm”, but we tried to shoot them in such a way as to not be recognizable as such.

For the two contrasting opening spread images, how closely did you work with the art department on your ideas, especially for the type placement?
Prior to the magazine’s release, I wasn’t sure how exactly my images would be used. The typography and layout was done by Janet Froelich, the creative director. Her layouts are always amazing and I am always inspired by her work.

 

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Categories: Business

Working with the Copyright Defense League

ASMP's Strictly Business - Tue, 02/02/2016 - 12:01am

[by Tom Salyer]

Back in 2013, the Copyright Defense League invited me to submit images as part of their testing and ramping up process. I don’t have a huge image library but I have some 2000 or so stock images out in the world so I thought “What the heck, why not?”

I gave CDL thumbnails of my stock images and they ran them through their system. They told me that their computer would put out a report of all the hits, and then someone from CDL would go through that list and cull it down to the ones they feel can be successfully pursued. They’re not going to go after someone’s grandma or anything like that. They’re really looking for unauthorized commercial uses in the United States.

Within a month or so, they sent me the first print out of potential infringements they wanted to pursue and then, every month or so after that, I’d get another one. Each spreadsheet has a column with the image number, a web link for the infringement and fields where you need to confirm that it’s really your image, tell them if it’s registered and if so, what the registration number is, and whether this use was authorized.

In some cases, since these images were licensed through agencies, I wouldn’t know whether the use was authorized or not, so I’d have to ask the agency to double check. All in all, it took me a few afternoons to go through and fill out the spreadsheets.

Luckily, answering the registration question was easy for me – I register pretty much everything! Since going digital, any time I shoot anything – even an iPhone picture of my cat – I bring it into Lightroom, where I have an action that automatically creates a thumbnail for the Library of Congress. If it’s a big job, I’ll register it right away but no matter what I send a registration into the Copyright Office every couple of months. So, for my digital images, all I had to do was search those thumbnails for the file name and I could easily pull up the registration number for that batch.

I started registering everything in 1998. Back then, I’d put all my chromes on a light table, shoot a negative, send that over to Eckert Drug Store and have them make 2 prints – one for me and one for the Copyright Office. So all my film work was registered but it was little harder to track the registration number for the specific images because I didn’t use the best naming and tracking system in those days, but it was still manageable.

Pretty soon, I started getting updates about the settlements they were pursuing and then the checks started showing up. Some of the settlements are small – $300 for a car dealership that lifted one of my sunset photos – but others have gone up to $7500.   Once they deduct their expenses and we split what’s left, I’m getting around 27% of the total settlement. By Spring 2014, they had brought in around $23,000 in total and I got around $6000 of that.

To me, that’s very satisfactory. These aren’t high value celebrity images and I don’t have tens of thousands of images out there. It was a minimal amount of effort on my part to get this money and it’s all for uses that I never would have otherwise even known about.

The real key here is registration. If I hadn’t registered my work, none of this would have been possible. ASMP was talking about this back in ’97 or ’98 and that’s why I started registering all of my images. The only tool I have as the little guy is registration.

I continually run into people who say, “Oh it’s too much work.” or “I only register my best images.” I say, you’re putting everything into your Lightroom archive anyway, just set it up to run thumbnails every couple of months –make it part of your workflow. It’s really pretty easy to do.

If you’re one of those people who haven’t started registering all of your work yet, just start doing it now and make it a habit moving forward. Don’t worry about your archives, just start with your new work. In a few years, you’ll have a pretty big body of registered work.

I say that I register because it’s the only tool I have as the little guy, but as the little guy, going to Federal Court is a really big deal. It’s time consuming and expensive, and it’s just not worth it for smaller infringements. It’s great to have CDL and their law firm take care of this for me. I’d rather get a few hundred bucks from some car company that steals one of my photos and see them pay for that use than get nothing and let them get away with it.

Tom Salyer has been a professional photographer since 1973. He started out as a staffer with a small daily in Seattle, then moved to Miami as staffer for United Press International, shooting everything from football to space shuttle launches and international news. In 1990, he started freelancing for Time, Forbes and other publications, eventually launching his own business as a still photographer and multimedia producer. Today, he also serves a wide range of clients as a location sound recordist.

Categories: Business, Photo Industry

The Daily Promo : Elizabeth Cecil

A Photo Editor's Blog - Mon, 02/01/2016 - 8:34am

EC_Promo-2015_Fall_cover6
EC_Promo-2015_Fall3 EC_Promo-2015_Fall4 EC_Promo-2015_Fall7 EC_Promo-2015_Fall8 EC_Promo-2015_Fall15EC_Promo-2015_Fall8
Elizabeth Cecil

Who printed it?
Hemlock Printers

Who designed it? Who edited the images?
Melissa McGill (melissamcgillstudio.com)

Who designed it?
Claire Ellen Lindsey
 (claireellenlindsey.com)

How many did you make?
75

How many times a year do you send out promos?
2

What was your inspiration for this promo?
I’ve been working with Melissa McGill for the past few years on branding, editing, and creative direction. We have developed various promos to highlight my portrait, lifestyle and food photography as well as my personal work, with inspiration drawn directly from the work being considered. We focus on clearly communicating my core interests; color, light, nature and authenticity. It’s a collaboration that really flows! This recent promo booklet developed from appreciating the colors on my recent trips to St. Bart’s and Bali and wanting to tell a story using color to create a unifying thread through the book.

 

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Categories: Business

An Interview with Pixsy Client Harold Davis

ASMP's Strictly Business - Mon, 02/01/2016 - 12:01am

Q: Tell us a bit about yourself, and how you began working with Pixsy.

I have been a professional photographer for many years, first in New York City, and now in Berkeley, California. My work is widely collected, licensed, and published. I am an Adobe Influencer, a Moab Master, and a Zeiss Ambassador. I am also a popular workshop leader, and the author of eighteen bestselling photography books, including most recently Achieving Your Potential As a Photographer: A Photographer’s Creative Companion and Workbook (Focal Press). You can learn more about my work and career on my website, www.digitalfieldguide.com.

I have been writing a blog, and posting images to Flickr, since 2005. Once I began putting my work up on the Web, it didn’t take me long to realize that I was on the horns of a very serious business dilemma. Everything I posted was subject to image “appropriation,” a polite term for people using my images without compensation or a license. On the other hand, if I didn’t post images to my blog or Flickr stream, then no one would know about me, and I would lose a large part of my assignment and licensing business.

With no better choice, I decided that posting my imagery and accepting a certain amount of theft, just as retail storekeepers accept some “spoilage,” seemed like the best of the two options.

In early 2015, I was approached by Pixsy, www.pixsy.com, which uses automated image recognition software to discover infringements on the web, pursues commercial uses, and splits the eventual license fee with the photographer. I have to admit that I was originally somewhat skeptical but after evaluating Pixsy’s offerings, I decided to see how well the service worked on a trial basis, particularly since there are no upfront fees, and Pixsy only gets paid if they recover money on my behalf.

Q: How does Pixsy work?

Once you open an account with Pixsy, you give them the link to your work on the Web (for example, your blog feed, Flickr stream, 500px link, etc.). You can also upload images directly from your computer.

Pixsy then runs its image recognition software to find infringing uses.

Once Pixsy has identified the match, the photographer is responsible for submitting the case using the Pixsy website, indicating where the image first appeared, if there is a registered copyright, and detailing if there are any special factors relating to the image. The photographer can also set a price range for the usage, or allow Pixsy to set the price using industry standard pricing (I recommend leaving this to Pixsy).

After that, the photographer just sits back and waits for the results. Incidentally, a photographer working with Pixsy is not supposed to negotiate directly with an infringer, except to confirm that Pixsy is the photographer’s agent. I personally greatly appreciate this, as this kind of situation is stressful enough without having to enter into negotiations myself.

It’s worth noting that Pixsy cannot pursue all matches their software comes back with and even when the photographer submits a specific instance of infringement, Pixsy may still decide not to pursue the infringement.

If they do take the case, they will either contact the infringer directly, or at their discretion, ask one of the intellectual property law firms they work with to take the case. The photographer pays nothing unless there is a settlement, in which case the licensing fee is split 50-50 with Pixsy.

Q: You said that Pixsy “cannot pursue all matches their software comes back with.” Why not?

To start with, as good as the image recognition software is, there are “false positives”; for example, occasionally an image taken from a public place is identified as infringing a similar image so the photographer must make absolutely sure that the matched image really is theirs.

The photographer also needs to exclude any legitimately licensed usages that show up in the Pixsy image match. For example, my book covers, and the covers of translations, always appear in my searches. These are, of course, legitimate uses so I tell the Pixsy software to ignore these matches.

Q: Why doesn’t Pixsy pursue every infringement the photographer submits?

First, Pixsy is only interested in commercial uses. For example, they will not go after someone using one of my images as personal desktop wallpaper. Next, there are parts of the world where intellectual property law is not respected so there’s simply no recourse. For example, my work has been used commercially many times in Iran, the Middle East, and China, but there’s nothing to be done about this.

In a couple of instances, clients have continued using images after the licensing agreements have lapsed or expired. Generally, this kind of complex legal situation is beyond what Pixsy is able to handle (although they have been hugely helpful in identifying such uses, which I otherwise might never have known about).

Also, Pixsy cannot collect licensing fees from DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) common carrier sites, although they can and will help with DMCA take-down notices. (For more about the DMCA, and how it seems to enable theft of my work on Pinterest, see my blog story on this subject.)

Finally, Pixsy may determine that the amount that might be recovered is too small to justify the effort for any number of reasons, and they can (and do) reject cases under this catch-all analysis.

Q: What happens after the photographer submits a case and how long does that process usually take?

Once a case has submitted to Pixsy, they get back to the photographer in a day or two (using their web interface, and via email) indicating whether they accept the case. If Pixsy accepts the case, they pursue a settlement, either by direct contact, or through their network of lawyers. Some resolutions are swift, others (as one might expect once legal process are involved) can turn into a more drawn out affair.

Essentially, there seem to be two factors that go into how long resolution of an infringement will take. First, an organization with integrity will not want to knowingly commit image theft and will move to settle quickly. Second, as is not surprising, the larger the infringement and the bigger the settlement, the more time it usually takes to reach an agreement.

Q: What have been the results of pursuing infringements using Pixsy?

I have been astounded at the positive results of working with Pixsy. I’ve been able to pursue theft of my work by a wide range of culprits including institutions that should know better, such as the websites of popular consumer magazines, major museums, construction companies, and even the National Football League Super Bowl Committee. For an in-depth case study on some of my most infringed images, check out this story on my blog.

In general, Pixsy’s handling of these infringements has been professional and efficient. I have been very pleased with the licensing fees that have been generated, and also noticed an uptick of direct and legitimate licensing requests—which seems related to having Pixsy working on my behalf. I think there are image buyers out there who are coming to learn that it is less expensive and less risky to buy a legitimate license in the first place. An audit for unlicensed image usage is something that every major institution with a web presence should perform.

Q: Do you use Pixsy to pursue all of the infringements you encounter? If not, when would you use Pixsy and when would you use a different approach?

I am very pleased with Pixsy’s work on my behalf, and would trust them with almost any licensing assignment. That said, the nature of the Pixsy web software is skewed to infringements that take place on the web, and generally involve lower resolution files.

When there’s an issue involving an existing contractual relationship (for example, there was a publishing or licensing contract in place at one point, but it has lapsed, or the terms have been violated), I would work directly with my own legal counsel as this type of complex negotiation isn’t what Pixsy’s designed to do.

Pixsy, of course, is bound by the DMCA, and cannot pursue DMCA common carrier sites for licensing violations. I feel that this is an egregious situation, where the highly-valued DMCA websites such as Facebook and Pinterest get away with effectively appropriating intellectual property (e.g., my photos) if they comply with a few empty formalities about taking down purloined images. This is really a situation that calls for industry trade association action or a class-action lawsuit, as it is beyond a private company such as Pixsy, with possibly a remedy such the royalty pool used in comparable situations in the music industry.

Categories: Business, Photo Industry

This Week In Photography Books: Edward Ranney

A Photo Editor's Blog - Fri, 01/29/2016 - 10:43am

by Jonathan Blaustein

Imagine you’re an Ancient Peruvian.

It’s 2500 years ago.

You live in a desert near the Pacific Ocean.

It’s hot outside, and terribly dry.

Let’s call you Catequil, which means God of Thunder and Lightning. (According to the Inca-themed-dog-naming website I found on the Internet. So it has to be true.)

You, Catequil, aren’t much good at weaving. Your Dad is a decent enough farmer, but it’s not for you. Your brother is a warrior like nobody’s business. Man, is that dude good at killing people.

But you? Your reflexes are not that quick. Nor are you terribly co-ordinated, in the traditional sense. And for whatever reason, you just don’t have the green thumb.

Most people don’t, this being the desert, of course, but your Dad is so good at it. The way he looks at you, it’s just heart-breaking. You know he’s thinking, “How can I have a son who can’t grow things? Who can’t fight? Such a disappointment, my Catequil.”

It’s pretty tough, all things considered. And right now, you’ve got a piece of peanut stuck in one of your back teeth, and it’s driving you crazy!

Then one day, your friend, Khuno, (which apparently means High Altitude Weather God) comes to you with a good idea. He just heard about a new job, doing construction, and it pays well. 10 peanuts a day! Can you imagine!

You and Khuno go and see the foreman.

“What are we building, sir,” you ask?

“Nothing.”

“Come again? Surely, if you’re paying so well, we must be building something important. A new temple? A food storage facility? A fortress? You can tell us. We’re good at keeping secrets.”

“No, I’m not deceiving you boys. We’re not building anything at all.”

“Then why are you hiring a crew?”

“Because we’re going to scrape some lines into the ground, so that the gods in the sky will smile down upon us, and bestow their bounty on our people.”

“Come again?”

“I said, we’re going to make shapes in the dirt that will make sense from the sky. Spiders. Monkeys. That sort of thing. But to us, they’ll just look like lines in the dirt.”

“OK. Sure. If you say so. But is it really paying 10 peanuts a day?”

“Absolutely. The high priests say this job is getting fast-tracked, so the compensation is particularly attractive. You should count yourself lucky. We only wanted Khuno because his name is considered auspicious for this project. He vouched for you, so you’re on the crew, if you want the job.”

End scene.

Did this actually happen?

Well, of course not. But something like it must have. How do I know? Because I just finished looking at “The Lines,” a relatively recent book by Edward Ranney, published by Yale University Press. (Mr. Ranney, a New Mexican, is my good friend’s father-in-law, FYI.)

If you’ve taken a Latin American Art History class, EVER, you’ve heard of the Nazca Lines. Large scale, Ancient Earth-Work art installations, designed to be seen by no human. Certainly, not until helicopters and planes were invented, which would not have been foreseen in Ancient Peru.

Aerial photography works well for such things, but Mr. Ranney, who has been photographing archaeological sites in Peru for decades, did it differently. These pictures deviate from our expectations, because they’re taken at ground level. We see from the perspective Catequil might have witnessed, were he not a figment of my imagination.

This book, in fact, contains photographs made in the 80’s, 90’s and Aughts. It feels like he took his time, as you ruminate on each picture. The patient vision. Squinting into the sunny desert light. Staring at the subtlety of almost nothing. Dirt on dirt.

That it’s black and white is almost self-evident, as how else could one speak to the terribly old and eternal? If Richard Misrach went down there with his big camera and some color film, he’d probably do a good job. But this kind of bleak needs grayscale.

The suggestion of deep time.

Normally, I would have opened this review with some rambling diatribe about human obsolescence. How we’re here for such a short time. How our civilizations, no matter how advanced, are likely to crumble to dust one of these days.

But that’s not how it went, is it?

No.

This book, thoughtful and serious though it is, transported me back through time. I imagined what I wrote, so I wrote it. There WERE people. They DID scratch into the landscape. They worked hard, over many, many years.

And for what? A dream? The belief they’d curry favor with the power in the sky? A good pay packet and dental insurance?

We’ll never know, I suppose. Sure, there might be actual archaeological research into the subject, instead of my ridiculous speculation, but if you wanted to read archaeological research, you wouldn’t be here, would you?

These pictures are really excellent. I love the pacing as well, though the book did run on a little longer than I might have done. For the first third, it’s totally spare. No signs of humanity anywhere.

Then, we see some power poles. And valley land that reads darker than the rest. Grass? Water? From where?

Unfortunately, this could well be what New Mexico looks like, one day, in the distant future. (If we don’t play our cards right.) Which is why visions like this, ripped from history, are so important at the present moment.

Bottom Line: Gorgeous, bleak photos of the Nazca lines, on the ground

To Purchase “The Lines” Visit Photo-Eye

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Categories: Business

A Tale of Two Infringements

ASMP's Strictly Business - Fri, 01/29/2016 - 12:01am

[by Bruce Katz]

• •The magazine art director was on the phone, he told me that that my photo he licensed for the cover last month is now in an ad running in the magazine–just a friendly heads up… Yikes!

• • My wife looked up from her laptop and casually mentioned that my photograph of the cute seal sunning itself on a Manhattan dock is now being featured on one of the big “news” aggregator sites –  very cool, but I had licensed that image to a different news site…

OK, now what?

My first action was to document the infringing usage: collect printed copies from the magazine, take screen shots with relevant time stamps for the web use, make a list of folks to call for referral to legal council (including ASMP’s attorney) and prep files for the copyright office since I was still within the 3 months of first publication window. Now I was ready for the next step. But the next step was different for each case:

The magazine ad was a bigger use and could potentially justify involving a lawyer. I left a simple factual email and voicemail with the proprietors – How did they come to use my image in their ad? Wishing to keep all options open, I did not mention copyright, legal action, or fees, just the need to contact me ASAP to resolve this question.

When the proprietors called back, I learned that they had both worked in advertising prior to starting their current business, and were genuinely upset that this had happened. In the span of an afternoon we figured out that it was all an unfortunate mix up. I decided to offer them a retroactive license at market rates, and also offered to extend the license for an additional fee if they wanted. They chose the latter and sent me a check via fedex the next day.

For the aggregator site, I emailed the “reporter” credited on the story. This time, I took a direct approach and asked to whom I should send the invoice for their use. I received an apology from the reporter for using the photo without proper license. They took the photo down. I followed up her email with an invoice for the 16 hours of use on their site (the fee was a no-brainer). The following morning I received an email from their finance department – did I take Paypal? 10 minutes later the bill was paid.

Done and done!

There are times when involving a lawyer or even filing suit make a lot of sense, but for smaller infringements, knowing enough about your rights to handle the negotiation yourself can get you the outcome you want faster and at a way lower cost.

Learn more about your rights as a Copyright owner at www.asmp.org/copyright and keep up on the copyright reform movement at www.asmp.org/copyrightreform.

Bruce Katz is a NYC based photographer who feels lucky to have resolved these problems in such short order.     www.Brucekatzphoto.com.

Categories: Business, Photo Industry

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