Posts by: A Photo Editor

Free Promo Getting Better

- - Promos

I made a few more changes to the promo to get it working better before I send it out. I decided to change the name to:


After seeing ILikeThesePhotos in print several times I was starting to think it sounded a little juvenile, not very professional and too one sided. Folio Browser is a little stiff but I can see it becoming a useful tool for Art Buyers and Photo Editors and I’d prefer it sounded professional (it’s kinda like when your daughter name’s the dog princess and the stupid thing gets lost and you have to drive around the neighborhood yelling princess at the top of your lungs).

The biggest change is that the links to photographers websites are direct. They don’t go to Flickr first. In fact you don’t even have to know Flickr is involved in any way. It just serves up the images for the thumbnail page. The other big change is that the title can now support a name and location for the photographer. I’ve heard from a few people that this would be a really useful addition. If anyone wants to help me out with the locations for all the photographers just visit the flickr page and leave a comment on each one (here). I may not have the time to get them all changed on my own.

I already have several requests to make region specific versions of this project (Canada, West Coast, Los Angeles, Mexico, Mid West) with different groups of editors selecting the final group. I think that’s a great next logical step and I’m excited to see if this could become a regular resource for people. Only time will tell.

The only major problem with the new version now is that it’s slower than the previous. See what you think for yourself:



Great Blog Posts to Check Out

- - Blogs

Jacko has a new post (here), Heather Morton’s blog keeps getting stronger (here), Joerg is still going strong and always good to read (here), Robert Wright is still doing insightful posts (here), AVS has added some new material (here) (finally!), I’m really enjoying The Year In Pictures (here) and then Rachel Hulin is finding her voice (here) and I’m enjoying that as well.

Single Most Annoying Web 2.0 Feature For Photographers

- - Promos

Tracking my movements on your email promos and website.

I think my enthusiasm for email promos and links to work on photographers websites was completely cut in half the day someone emailed me and said “I see you’ve been checking out my book” I actually looked for a portfolio in my office because I didn’t recognize the photographers name, “I just wanted to see if I can show you some more work or shoot an assignment for you.”

Then I realized they had tracked me from an email promo I clicked on and suddenly I felt duped. Are all the photographers secretly tracking my movements to see when I click on a link or how much time I spend on their website. Man, that sucks.

The truth is I spend way less time on someone’s website that I really like and way too much time on websites I find horribly bad.

I’m sure it’s pretty satisfying to see how many clicks you get and how much time is spent on the website and what kinds of things get people to visit and what kinds of things get people to stay but letting me know you’re watching is downright creepy and makes me think twice before clicking and visiting.

Showing Your Book

- - Getting Hired

Bar none, showing your book is the fastest way to get a job in this business. If I meet you and like your work, then shake your hand and look you in the eye, it’s a virtual lock you’ll get an assignment. I was such a pushover in this regard that sometimes photographers wouldn’t even make it out of the building before getting a call on the cell phone with a job.

Usually what happens is I’ve got a shoot rolling around in my brain that I can’t quite land and I meet you and even tho you’re not perfectly what I was looking for in this particular story, your work is strong and you’re a nice person so I suddenly really want to hook you up with a job because well, I’m human. And, usually I can trot you over to the Creative Directors office and they’ll have the same reaction as I do “Zoiks Shaggy, let’s get this person a job.”

Getting in the door with your book is not easy (sometimes impossible) and if it was, everyone would be standing in line outside the Photography Directors office holding one of those butcher counter numbers waiting to get their assignment, so you get in which ever way you can. Keep trying, “Hey, I’m in the neighborhood and thought I’d drop by if you have time” or “I’m at the newsstand, saw the latest issue and wanted to drop by and show you my work” or get a meeting with a Jr. Photo Editor or an Art Director or the Fashion Director or the magazine down the hall. Whatever it takes.

If your work is strong and you’re not a complete jackass, show your book in person, it’s the best way to land a job.

Remain in Light vol. 1

- - Blog News

500 submissions edited down to the final 20 for this new print publication of contemporary photographers. See the finalists (here).

Worth a visit becuase the work is outstanding.

Cheap Photography Business Model Fails

- - Blog News

Lucky Oliver shuts down operation:

“We spent the last year looking for the funds to grow LuckyOliver because, without the addition of significant capital, the return on investment for LuckyOliver and its contributors would not be satisfactory. After reviewing the options, the investment team decided that it was in the best interest of all stakeholders to shut the company down.”

John Harrington comments:

“I am not convinced that there will always be a robust microstock industry. How many redundant servers can continue to run with a significant staff to take orders and collect $1 here, and $4 there? I expect that iStockphoto will, in some shadow of it’s former self, remain. Jupiter will likely collapse under it’s own weight – and the fickle demands of shareholders who no longer see this industry as meeting the growth that they want for their own return on investment. Further, the novelty will wear off for many of the amateurs, and the demands for releases and indemnifications of Corporate America by judgement proof individuals, followed by the lawsuits that inevitably will quash this field, will just poison the well.”

Read all about it at the Photo Business Forum (here).

Buying Photos from Strangers

- - Working

When I started working as a photo editor I quickly learned a few lessons up front about buying photographs from amateurs: always ask how they planned to ship the images (we weren’t supposed to give out our UPS account to the non professionals) and determine beforehand what format the photographs might be in when they arrived.

I of course learned these lessons the hard way the first time I was handed the task of locating those awesome photographs the subject of a story always seems to claim his friend/mom/uncle/some dude took that will solve all the usual woes associated with trying to run stories about places no professional photographer has bothered to visit. A couple days would go by and I would call back to find the whereabouts of the images only to discover they’d been dropped in the mail with a stamp (duh, that’s how normal people send shit… not FedEx first overnight) and then a week later when the package finally arrives I discover the cruddy 3×5 prints (or worse disk film) and have to start the whole process over again only this time on a serious deadline.

The value in these otherwise unremarkable photographs was not the elusive subject captured by the writer’s uncle poorly depicted on 1-hour prints but rather the difficulty in obtaining the images and ergo exclusivity our publication would enjoy printing them (surely nobody else would go through all this trouble). In fact that exclusive look at things was so important, magazines with real budgets like People would fly a photo editor to the errant uncles house to gather the 1-hour photos themselves.

This has all changed of course, with the advent of digital cameras and the internet these once obscure, hard to obtain amateur photographs are everywhere and their value has evaporated overnight.

News organizations are picking up on this “citizen journalist” phenomenon as if we haven’t always used citizen journalists to fill in the holes and so I find it strange that they think they’ve discovered the holy grail of cost cutting in photography, because everyone seems to be missing one enormous piece to this puzzle. The value of these images to consumers is also zero.

It’s like walking into the furniture store and finding a junk-ass chair made out of two by fours and ten penny nails. “You’re trying to sell me a chair I could have built… drunk?”

Taking it one step further according to Thoughts of a Bohemian a website called Daylife (here) will scan the text on your web page and deliver relevant news images from a tightly edited pool of wire photography. He goes on to say “As newspapers and magazine are suffering more layouts as ad spending is weakening, most of the photo related professional are turning to the internet. However, because of its built in automation, it just seems that some of the jobs will not be recycle but ultimately replaced by machines. We will still need great pictures, thus talented photographers. Not so sure about needing photo editors.”

I totally agree that using wire photos or even citizen journalist images to “decorate” your story should be accomplished by machines because you’re not really adding anything of value to the overall package.

To all those content re-packagers who think any of this sounds like a good idea: good luck finding readers. Maybe machines will read that crap.

Superfast Free Promo Thumbnail Viewing

- - Photographers

Check out the new and improved thumbnail view for the free promo at This will give buyers a great opportunity to view 297 photographers in 10 seconds flat. Don’t think you’ll find that anywhere on the web. Special wOOt to my new business partner Erik Dungan for coding that up. It took him all of 10 minutes to do it so look for cool stuff coming down the pike in the near future. I’ll be taking this show on the road (email) in the next day or so.

Writers vs. Editors

- - Blog News

“Writers are sensitive souls–generally intelligent and hardworking but easily bruised. Treat them right, though, and you will be rewarded. Writers shape words into luminous sentences and the sentences into exquisitely crafted paragraphs. They weave the paragraphs together into a near perfect article, essay or review. Then their writing–their baby–is ripped untimely from their computers (well, maybe only a couple of weeks overdue) and turned over to editors. These are idiots, most of them, and brutes, with tin ears, the aesthetic sensitivity of insects, deeply held erroneous beliefs about your topic and a maddening conviction that any article, no matter how eloquent or profound or already cut to the bone, can be improved by losing an additional 100 words.”

“Writers, they say, are whiny, self-indulgent creatures who spend too much time alone. They are egotistical, paranoid and almost always seriously dehydrated. Above all, they are spectacular ingrates. Editors save their asses, and writers do nothing but bitch about it. ‘If anyone saw the original manuscript from …’ (and you can insert the name of your favorite Pulitzer Prize-winning writer here) ‘… that guy wouldn’t get hired to clean the toilets at the Stockholm Public Library. Say, the Pulitzer is the one they give away in Scandinavia, isn’t it? I better remember to change that in a piece we’re running. The stupid writer says it’s the Nobel. What would they do without us?'”

“On the Internet, they don’t have editors. Or they don’t have many. Writers rule, and a thought can go straight from your head onto the Net. That used to sound hellish. Now it sounds like heaven.”

Michael Kinsley at Time Magazine (here).

Check Out These 297 Talented Photographers

- - Photographers

Click here to see a full screen version: ILikeThesePhotos

UPDATE: Follow this link to see the entire group as medium thumbnails APE Flickr

Click on the photograph to see the name and website of the photographer. Adjust the speed of the slideshow (I like 1.2 seconds) or use the manual controls at the top.

Attention art buyers and photo editors
, this is a free promo that’s meant to supplement all the other ways you find photographers to hire. I created it see if there might be an easier more efficient way to quickly look at 200-300 photographers. Compared to the weekly promo pile this works pretty good. Plus, if you’re like me, you remember a picture and not necessarily who took it so you can come back to this slideshow and find the name and website of the photographer whenever you like. This project only works if you find work you like and hire the photographer. I can create more of these but it’s a complete waste of time if it doesn’t connect buyers with photographers. That’s the only reason I did this. If you have suggestions on how to make the next one more useful for you please let me know.

Photographers, I want to thank everyone who participated, it was a privilege to look at all your work. If you disagree with the selection I’ve made not to worry, we’re going to do this again with different editors in a couple months. The flickr group was such a pain in the ass because it didn’t behave anything like the personal area but now that everything is hosted on my account it seems to work fine. Let me know if you need me to do something with your photo. I ended up editing it down to 1 photo per photographer to make the viewing faster.

Anyone who has a blog and feels like spreading the word you can use this embed code or link to the full page version at You can change the size of the embeded version by changing the width and height (keep it square).

Amy Arbus’ new book- The Fourth Wall

- - Blog News

“Of course people would say ‘you’re not as good as your mother’ and I just thought that was pretty unfair,” Arbus recalls.

“The bottom line is that nobody is as good as my mother,” she says with a laugh that seems half levity and half melancholy.

At the age of 53, she feels she has at last found her place. “This work to me is really mine, finally. I feel like it took me a long time to find my voice and I finally did.”

Amy Arbus, via AFP (here).

Magazines- User Experience vs. More Users

- - Magazines

Magazines will deploy an entire bag of tricks to attract readers who normally wouldn’t be interested in buying their product. Getting people to subscribe usually involves pretty harmless marketing stuff like gift offers (SI’s football phone is the most famous and successful example), direct mail (send in your toaster warranty and suddenly Martha Stewart is sending you subscription offers), those annoying blow in cards (3 is the magic number and yes they always work) and the ridiculously low subscription price (if you see 12 issues for $10 they’re trying to pad the rate base).

Readers can be bought with football phones but they can’t be forced to buy your magazine at the checkout… or can they. The newsstand is actually where the real nefarious stuff happens. That’s because newsstand is the only metric anyone has to judge a magazine’s popularity (advertising sales isn’t a good indicator because you have no idea how much they discount the ad and how many are house ads).

I was reading a post by Craig Stolz (Web 2.Oh…really)–recently in Time Magazine’s top 25 blogs (here)–about newspaper websites using SEO trickery (worthless links to common words) to make their stories rank higher on google at the cost of degrading the user experience (here). Reminds me of the similar magazine practice where the cover will have fake numbers (chosen for how they look on the cover) to trick people into thinking there’s 234 tips or 55 great trips inside and then big cover lines will sell you on stories that turn out to be 1/3 page or worse–a sentence within a story. And then there’s all those lifeless packages (conceived to give you a number on the cover or a coverline), topical yet vapid front of book pieces and shiny products with hollow write-ups, all served up at the cost of user experience in hopes of attracting more newsstand buyers.

Of course the worst example of this bait and switch technique is the cover image. A subject chosen for their ability to hit it big on the newsstand accompanied by a perfunctory story on the inside. This has nothing to do with your mission as a magazine.

That’s why I love Esquire for owning up to it on the cover this month with a picture of Jessica Simpson and the coverline “We shot this image to catch your eye so you will pick up this issue and immerse yourself in the most gripping story you will read this year.” Bravo.

(click to make big)

CBS Looks To Outsource News

- - Blog News

“CBS, the home of the most celebrated news division in broadcasting, has been in discussions with Time Warner about a deal to outsource some of its news-gathering operations to CNN, two executives briefed on the matter said Monday.”

Read about it (here),

Kratochvil Interview Over at Photoshelter

- - Photographers

Photoshelter blogger Rachel Hulin has a nice interview (here) with one of my all time favorite photographers, Antonin Kratochvil (he also sent me work from the road for the slide show which you can all see once I repair the problem). I love working with Antonin because although he appears to be tough as a bag full of hammers, in reality, he’s a very down to earth man who endearingly refers to everyone as “bitches.” Oh, and his pictures ROCK. His contact sheets are something to behold because there’s hardly any frames leading up to “the shot.” Talk about a tough edit, try editing 50 of his contact sheets down to 5 pictures in a magazine. Impossible.

Slideshow needs to be fixed

- - Photographers

If you made the final cut and sent me your photos on flickr you now need to email them to me here: promo(at)

If you already emailed them to me to begin with you don’t need to do it again.

The slideshow is not working the way it should and I need to upload them into a set on my account. It has to work right before it goes out to art buyers and photo editors.

Here’s the pool of images that made the cut:

You have to be logged in to flickr to see all 550 images and that’s the problem at the moment.