Posts by: A Photo Editor

Urgent: Orphan Works Bill

- - copyright

I was planning on spending some time looking at the Orphan Works Bill eventually but it appears that I may have missed the boat. Here’s a notice I received this morning:

UPDATE: It appears that the ASMP and PPA are in favor of the bill. Here’s a quote from an email I just received “Making a decision to support any Orphan Works Bill isn’t easy. However, both PPA and ASMP, the only two organizations representing photographers that have actively participated in these discussions, have determined that opposing the proposed House bill would place photographers at greater risk. We believe that supporting the House bill will prevent us from ending up with a law that is far worse.” Visit the ASMP (here).

Here’s the email from the APA:

BREAKING NEWS, May 7, 2008 – The House is meeting today 2:00 p.m. Wednesday, May 7, 2008, 2141 Rayburn House Office Building markup of H.R. 5889, the “Orphan Works Act of 2008”

This means that if you oppose the House Bill as it stands, it is extremely important to make your voice heard before that meeting begins.

At this time, it is understood that the House believes that photographers and other visual artists including their trade associations are in agreement with the current bills. APA opposes both the House and Senate bills as written.

Please take a moment to be heard via a prepared letter of your choice, or by including your own reasoned thoughts in a professional courteous manner.

This link (here) will allow you to be heard.
Scroll down about half way to see “For Photographers”.

It is important to be heard. It is your future.

Martin Trailer
National President

Constance Evans
National CEO

ORPHAN WORKS LEGISLATION IS BACK!

APA’s Position on the Orphan Works Act of 2008

From the onset, APA has been actively engaged in the effort to help solve the orphan works dilemma. We made public our support for the crafting of an amendment that would permit use of verified, i.e. true, orphaned works for certain uses, by way of procedures that are clearly defined in the statute or regulations, while retaining remedies for use by copyright owners in the event of abuse.

APA, in seeking to represent the best interests of its members, takes the position that the legislation offered in both bills — S.2913 and H.R.5889 — does not achieve the goal as we believe was originally intended, and instead provides a distinct road map for the infringement of contemporary works by living artists worldwide. If left unchanged, this legislation has the potential to destroy the businesses and livelihoods of thousands of photographers, other visual artists, as well as the collateral small businesses that serve the industry, and are dependent on, creators.

Therefore, APA is asking its members and all concerned individuals to take action by writing your members of Congress to voice your concerns. PLEASE go to this resource page on Orphan Works for sample letters (scroll down for the photographers’ letters) and the ability to automatically contact your specific members of Congress. Great thanks to the Illustrators’ Partnership for making this site available.

The full text of is available as a pdf download (here).

And both the House and Senate versions of the bill are available as pdf downloads on the APANational.com homepage here

Be informed. Be involved.

Thank you

APA National CEO
Constance Evans

APA National President
Martin Trailer

I Want A Photo Editing Award

- - Working

Not me personally so let me explain.

The National Magazine Awards were last Thursday (here) and the big winners for photography were Gourmet (overall photography), National Geographic (photojournalism) and Vanity Fair (photo essay). I’ll also include Wired who won for design in this group of Ellie (the statue) bastard children because you see the National Magazine Awards are put on by the American Society of Magazine Editors. Yeah, Editors. Up until 2004 there was only one award for photography and then I guess they decided the photography might have something to do with the success of magazines and added photo essay and then photojournalism last year. It’s their award so I guess they can do whatever the hell they want. The only thing I find obnoxious is the editor going up on stage to collect the awards for design and photography.

Now, this Friday we have the SPD awards given by the Society of Publication Designers (here). Yeah, Designers. This is another gala affair where the winners are announced and in the categories where photography is concerned the Creative Director or Design Director will go up on stage and collect the award for you. Not as bad since we work closely with the design department and certainly their contribution to the layout of the photography makes a huge difference. But, if you think photography not surrounded by great design and typography will win an award, think again.

What I should be writing about today is the award ceremony tomorrow night (in between the two so, the Wired photo eds can spend the week in NYC) put on by some society of picture editors where nominations were made and envelopes will be opened announcing the winners of the best covers, portraits, still-lives, photojournalism, fashion, fine art and lifestyle that magazines published last year.

I know we’ve got the PDN Photo Annual and the American Photography book but I’ll be honest with you, I’ve sent a few all staff announcements about landing photography in those books and it’s just not as impressive as WINNING something (“we were selected”). There’s also the Lucie awards but I’m pretty sure that’s just photography in general and more along the lines of lifetime achievement, judging from the ages of the recipients.

So, here’s why I have such an enormous problem with the lack of awards for magazine photography. Awards actually make magazines better. It balances out the commercial pressures and gives you extra incentive to do things you wouldn’t normally do. These awards are incredible resume builders for photo editors and marketing tools for publishers. I’ve put my neck on the line a number of times because I knew the results would not only be great but also might bring in an award or two. An award for Photo Editing would also reinforce what we already know, “the success of certain magazines with advertisers and consumers is directly tied to the quality of the photography.” The CFO needs to know that.

Copyright Hell- Happy Birthday Song

- - Blog News

Patry Copyright Blog points us to this 67 1/2 page treatise on The Happy Birthday Song:

“‘Happy Birthday to You’ is the best-known and most frequently sung song in the world. …However, it is almost certainly no longer under copyright, due to a lack of evidence about who wrote the words; defective copyright notice; and a failure to file a proper renewal application.”

“It also reveals collective action barriers to mounting challenges to copyright validity: the song generates an estimated $2 million per year, and yet no one has ever sought adjudication of the validity of its copyright.”

Read all of it (here).

The State of the Printing Industry

- - Blog News

Steve Frye. In a sidebar in the current issue of Publishing Executive titled The State of the Printing Industry Frye drops this bomb:

I think we need to change our philosophy of what a magazine is. We are no longer a cheap means of dispensing information, and that’s what we were until the Internet came along. Now we are an inefficient and expensive means of distributing information. … We need to reinvent ourselves as a luxury item that people want and are willing to pay for. And until we change our own image of who we are, we’re going to find out that our vendors are gong to change it for us. Because, right now, postage is a premium. Paper is a premium. Soon printing will be a premium. How long can we buy at a premium and sell at a discount? We can’t.

Via, Michael Turro (here).

Pitching the Photo Editor

- - Working

In general pitching stories, that aren’t photo essays, to the Photo Editor is not a bad idea. Everyone on staff at a magazine can contribute to the line-up so the Photo Editor can get something made if they’re in the mood to take it to the right people and make sure something gets done about it.

Here’s a little hint though: The absolute fastest way for photographers to get a story made is to approach a writer that the magazine uses on a regular basis (don’t ask front of book writers if you’re pitching a feature story for chrissake’s) and if they’re interested in your idea ask them to pitch their editor. You’d be surprised how many good writers are looking for good ideas. I’m assuming your idea doesn’t suck, not always the easiest for people to determine on their own.

Let me just repeat something that’s very important here, find a writer that the magazine already uses or would be interested in using. There is no better way to kill a good story idea you may have than to attach a writer nobody wants in the magazine. You’d also be surprised how often this happens.

Now, if you want to go through the Photo Editor there are three ways this can shake out, in order of effectiveness:

1. The Photo Editor passes along your email to the appropriate department head and lets them respond if they want to.

2. The PE will follow up with the section or features editor to see if there’s interest and act as a go between with the photographer.

3. The PE will help craft the pitch and take it directly to the Editor or pitch meeting and try to get a green light for the idea. Depending on the magazine, if there’s interest in the story it will usually get sent back for clarification on certain points the Editor is concerned with or a writer who the magazine likes working with will be sought before a green light is given. This is the deadly yellow light and can cause stories to hang in limbo for months or even years.

It can really add to your workload as a Photo Editor to start pitching story ideas but it’s also extremely gratifying to see something go from a pitch to printed pages and I’ve alway found it to be some of my most memorable work.

Stock Photo Keyword Zen

- - Stock

I consider myself a pretty good stock researcher. Mostly because I’ve done so much of it and partially because I like doing it (exceptions here and here). This is what I think makes someone good at stock research: The ability to identify great images as thumbnails, a massive list of agencies to search (here’s mine), persistence and keyword zen.

Keyword zen is the most important part.

The majority of searches begin with a laundry list of different places and things and people and events and activities that I need to find images for. To make it easier I break that down into a list of keywords I want to search, so knowing what makes a good keyword is critical.

Ok, this is the least helpful part of this post: I don’t really know how to explain what makes a good keyword, because it’s like talking wookie, it’s a special stock researcher language all it’s own and until you get in there and do it for a bit and experiment you can’t possible know the structure of a good keyword sentence.

Ok, this might be helpful: A good trick I’ve learned is to just drop in and browse (I call this trolling… as in trolling for sharks) with a couple keywords then when you find an photo you like, check and see what keywords they’re using and use those to head down that path to see where it leads. Another technique I use is to start with the most constrictive set of keywords first (zero hits is the goal) and then start backing out till the results are too much then head back in to the sweet spot and do a search.

The weirdest trick I’ve ever discovered was several years ago when I was looking for a photo that I swear didn’t exist (at least in any semi-publishable form) and was getting nowhere fast so I decided to try misspelling the words. It was like unlocking a secret door and discovering a room full or abandoned pictures, gathering dust, just sitting there waiting to be discovered wondering why nobody ever visits. At 11pm in an empty office in the middle of midtown Manhattan it’s feels like you’ve fallen down a rabbit hole.

My Dream Photo Editing Job

- - Working

125 blank pages of edit with an additional 85 pages of ads (yeah, it’s a dream but we still gotta turn a profit).

A line-up with a wide mix of interesting subjects to assign: far away places, inspiring people, beautiful objects, crazy ideas, elite sport, humor, conflict, mystery.

Complete autonomy with the selection of photographers and final images.

An unlimited budget to get it done (not because I want to spend stacks of cash just because I don’t want to think about the budget when it comes to approach on a subject).

I’ll shoot everything except events, action and landscapes. I like to use pick-up for action and landscape because they’re so condition and weather dependent, but I’ll shoot it if there’s nothing available that I like.

Working as a Photography Director means the decisions about who I hire will be heavily influenced by 3 important groups of people (since I have autonomy from co-workers in this dream): the competition, the audience and the advertisers. Thinking about this bigger picture and articulating to everyone how our photography serves those groups is a big part of my job.

When I look at the competition the first thing I always do is identify their core group of photographers and try to stay away from hiring within that group. If I want to bump someone out of their group I can hire them on a regular basis and usually the competition will stop using them (that is unless they don’t consider my magazine competition). I’ll also think about their overall use of photography and come up with way to differentiate what we’re offering the advertisers and audience. If they use heavy lighting and conceptual images to get ideas across I’ll try for more available light and real subjects as a marked contrast when we cover the same subject. This is even more important on the newsstand where I firmly believe in hiring a couple photographers to shoot all the covers to create a distinct style that readers can pick-up on month after month.

I have a couple goals when it comes to hiring photographers with the advertisers in mind. First, create an environment where they want to be seen. This can involve hiring photographers out of the same pool of talent they draw from and when possible, using those photographers in a way, because of client constraints, they can’t. Next, I feel it’s important to challenge the aesthetics of the advertisers in some of the shoots you commission. If advertisers wanted to hang out with a bunch of sycophants they would just make their own magazine. Including challenging or controversial photography in the mix ensures that advertisers understand you know your audience better than they do and you’re willing to do things they wouldn’t to reach them.

The number one goal with the audience is to present a range of photography styles that will keep them engaged, entertained, challenged and provide fresh entry points into the stories. I think it’s a huge mistake to do to much of any one style of photography so keeping the mix lively is a priority for me. For the average reader presenting challenging imagery over and over turns reading your magazine into homework and needs to be balanced out with pictures that entertain and surprise.

Now, keeping all those factors in mind I can begin to make assignments for the issue. The story mix is never ideal so pieces that would normally have a similar approach running in the same issue need divergent styles from within a genre to avoid repetition.

So, there you have it, the brass ring that photo editors everywhere reach for every month, the perfect mix. Throw in budgetary constraints. overbearing owner, a late breaking assignment, stories suddenly dropping out or any number of curve balls and you’ve got a real mess to figure out. The amazing thing is that I’ve come close to grabbing that ring several times in my career. It always keeps you coming back for more.

Nova Releases Raw Footage To Consumers

- - Blog News

Nova releases the raw footage shot for NOVA’s “Car of the Future” documentary.

“This experiment marks the first time we have ever made raw video available to the public, and we’re eager to see what you make from it. It’s because of viewers like you, as the saying goes, that we’re able to produce NOVA. In this age of new media we’re pleased to be able to work more closely with you to make our programming more engaging and to be able to offer you more.”

See it (here). Via TWIM (here).

More On Email Promos

- - Promos

Unsolicited guest post from:
Deborah Dragon, Deputy Photo Editor at Rolling Stone.

The other day I received a “follow up” phone call from a photographer thanking me for checking out their site and mentioning that they were really interested in working with the magazine and since I was “interested” in their work, could we set up a meeting. I thought “did I click on something” or sometimes I see work that I like and send an email saying so and to let me know when they update their site again. This was not the case, so I googled their name, went on their site and couldn’t understand what happened, because this persons work was completely inappropriate for the magazine.

So, what ever happened to people sending or emailing appropriate mailers to magazines? I would think with the capability of tracking emails and clicks on sites, there would be the possibility of organizing these things better. I get about 150 emails a day from photographers and reps, yes, 150 emails JUST FROM PHOTOG’S and REPS, 50% of them are lifestyle and food. My goal is to visit EACH ONE…HMMM I can’t imagine why photo editors aren’t seeing peoples work. Maybe if the photographers all got together and agreed to STOP loading PE’s email boxes with giant attachments and/or links to images that are not suitable for the publication I could actually achieve my goal. Save your valuable time and figure out what magazines you really want to shoot for, then start shooting.

And, most importantly if you ask me, if I see your work, I like it, and I like it for the magazine… believe me, you will know it and I will contact you. You don’t need to follow up with my clicking on your website.

ASPP- Photography Meets Book Cover Design

- - Blog News

The American Society of Picture Professionals (ASPP) New York Chapter presents

PHOTOGRAPHY MEETS BOOK COVER DESIGN
Prominent book designers Ann Twomey and Henry Sene Yee discussing the role photography plays in their work.
Wednesday, May 7, 2008 from 6:00 pm -8:30 pm
Laura Parsons Pratt Conference Center
281 Park Ave South at 22nd Street
Space is limited. Please RSVP by May 5, 2008 Go (here) to register.

Finding the Right Photographer

- - Getting Hired

There are only 4 things to consider when looking to hire a photographer.

1. Genre
2. Style
3. Location
4. Price

Ok, there’s actually a fifth that’s like a recommendation or an impression we have of you and informs us what it will be like to work with you but I’m leaving that out of this discussion.

When making an assignment several of these variables may be locked down. If the budget is low then the weight of the decision goes to price and certainly location because that can be a big factor in the cost of a shoot. The genre can be wide or narrow depending on how much you want to leave open to chance and interpretation. Color, shoots men or conversely photo journalist specializing in domestic abuse, portraitist who works with older women. And, you either assign stories that match Genre’s or do the opposite to create something interesting (assigning fashion stories to photojournalists and sending fashion photographers to war zones… ok that last one’s probably not a great idea). The style further breaks down the genre into subgroups of similar looking photographs and derivatives and maybe even a few that don’t really fit anywhere.

For most photographers the Genre and Location are locked down and the price is a function of how busy/new you are. That leaves style as the most important factor in how we find and hire you.

Are you leading, following, pioneering or just pain unsure where you stand?

Copyright Panel Discussion

- - Blog News

Who Owns This Image?
Art, Access, and the Public Domain after Bridgeman v. Corel

Tuesday, April 29, 2008
6:30 – 8:00 pm

New York City Bar Association
42 W. 44th Street, New York City
The Great Hall

Read more on the Patry Copyright blog (here).

Photographer Scam

- - Scam

I’ve heard from a couple people (most recently Andy Anderson) that there’s a scam going around where someone will email a photographer with a 10 day shoot overseas and then ask them to pay half of a work permit to guarantee they will show up for the job. It’s more involved then that with phone calls to a real person supposedly looking to hire a photographer but the idea is to get you to pay the fee. Drop a comment if you’ve had a similar request.

Update: Another version of the scam from the comments.

Another variation is an offer of a shoot in your local area, where they will send a deposit or offer the full fee, where you would keep half the fee if the shoot is canceled. The shoot would then be canceled and they would ask that the half be returned. The original check was bogus and will bounce in about 45 days, but because of a kink in the banking system it appears to have gone through during that time. If you send the refund, you will be out that amount when the check clearing system finally runs its course and debits the bogus check amount.

Another one:

I haven’t experienced this one, but a few months ago I was nearly scammed on a fine-art print order… a good sized print order came in through my website – a week later I received a cashiers check for almost double the amount of my invoice. The “client” wrote to explain that they were moving and her husband mistakenly included the shippers’ fee in my check… could I please wire the difference to the shipper so they could get started. I was totally suspicious but when the check cleared I was more convinced that it was an honest error. Just to make sure I checked with my bank and indeed, while they made the funds available, it can take up to 2 weeks for a check to clear. Sure enough, 10 days later all the money was deducted from my account. Luckily, all I lost was some time.

Free WordPress Blog Install for PE’s, AB’s, AD’s, DOP’s, CD’s and Agents

- - Blogs

If you’re a Photo Editor, Art Buyer, Art Director, Director of Photography, Creative Director or Agent I will help you install wordpress for free. The only cost will be around $9/year to register your domain name and the $8/month hosting fee. You can even do it anonymously if you like.

Here’s what you need to do to make it happen. Register a website name. I use namesecure.com but if it needs to be anonymous you’ll have to use godaddy.com which is a little tricky because they keep trying to sell you shit as you buy the name. For both registrants just skip all the extras they try and sell you and change the registration term to 1 year (or longer if you don’t want to renew every year) but on the godaddy registration choose the deluxe registration which includes the privacy so nobody can see who registered the name.

Next you have to find a host for your wordpress blog. I use bluehost.com but I hear mediatemple.net ($20/month) is pretty nice. I had a big problem with my host when I had people vote for a photographer to receive the free consultation because they put a load limiter on everyone’s account and mine maxed out and kept shutting down. Curiously the next day the CEO of bluehost.com announced they were increasing the amount of traffic a website can receive, so we’ll have to see if they fixed the problem when I do something that will drive heavy traffic like that.

Once you get a host I’ll tell you how to point your domain there and then I will need to access your account to upload the wordpress blog. Make sure you use a password that you can change once I’ve done all I need to set it up. Hopefully I can get a bunch of new industry blogs started this way.

Email me to get started: rob(at)aphotoeditor.com