Posts by: A Photo Editor

Newspapers and Bloggers

- - The Future

Newspaper ad revenues take their worst drop in almost 60 years (data here), which leads to a nice off the cliff graphic by Gawker (here) and a “Newspapers are f’ed” post by Jeff Jarvis of BuzzMachine (here) but hold on there, the Long Tailed, Wired Editor, Christopher Anderson responds with “Surprisingly, the industry is just ten percent off its historic highs (much like the stock market) and is still twice as big as it was twenty years ago,” dramatically pointing out how much money is still left in the system (here).

Meanwhile a story on PBS.org by Mark Glass looks at how Journalists have become bloggers and bloggers are becoming jounalists (here) the story includes former journalist turned full time blogger Erick Schonfeld who writes a post this weekend reflecting on his half year anniversary as a TechCrunch blogger (here) and Brian Stelter a blogger hired fresh out of college by the NY Times who wrote a great piece on (here) poltical news and the youth that included a very futuristic statement by a college student “If the news is that important, it will find me” which was highlighted by The Globe and Mail technology writer *slash* blogger Mathew Ingram (here) which prompts a Mark Cubin blog post (here) that claims we have finally reached the digital equivalent of Timothy OLeary’s “Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out.”

Free Promo- Deadline Today

- - Blog News

Deadline for the free promo is 11:59 pm EST today. Thanks for all the entries. I haven’t been editing photos lately and I’m stoked to look at all the images. Should take me a week to get the post up.

Flickr Stigma

- - Getting Noticed

I’m not gonna lie. If you sent me an email and said check out my portfolio and the link went to Flickr I wouldn’t even look. It’s the same as the portfolio test. If you don’t have your shit together enough to have a nice printed portfolio you’re not getting the job. It’s not just about making great pictures it’s also about acting like a professional and demonstrating your commitment to taking pictures for a living. That way I know you won’t call me up the day before the shoot and bail because “something” came up or call me from the airport because the rental car company doesn’t take a debit card and you don’t own a credit card–yup, both have happened. I need a sign that you’ve done this before and that you’ve invested money in making it work.

I probably just scared everyone who was on the fence, off sending me photos for the free promo so here’s why in this case Flickr works. Obviously, It’s not your portfolio. We need to get rid of the stigma because Flickr is a great tool for photo editors and photographers to use in a pinch. No joke. Editing photography and transferring to a client remotely is not easy and this is an amazing online solution that works well. I’m billing this as a grass roots movement in finding fresh work so it’s low cost for everyone involved and buyers can appreciate that we found the best solution for the price. Lastly, on Monday, March 31st at 11:59 pm EST the entry deadline is over and I’m going to make the group private which means any photos that make the final cut can only be viewed by members of the group and not the public. The public and the photo editors/art buyers will only see the slide show I put on the blog (and that others put on theirs) and there’s no Flickr logo on that.

OK, hope that helps.

A Thought on the Future of Photo Editing

- - The Future

Original, exclusive or previously unpublished photography printed as big as possible is the only thing that makes a magazine relevant in the dot com age. Hoo-ah.

Unless we’re talking about a massive media buy advertisers generally hate replication and will look to reach their potential audience through all the available avenues without having to repeat themselves. It’s complicated figuring out how to spend your advertising dollars wisely to have maximum impact for minimum CPM (cost per thousand). For most magazines that means proving to advertisers (with MRI data and your own in-house surveys) that your audience doesn’t replicate your competition or offering them a better deal in terms of price, added value or anything really that shows you smoke the competition.

Well, guess what happened? There’s a new media company to compete with called the internet and you will never *ever* beat them on price.

The solution here is *not* I repeat *not* to make your publication resemble a website. When presented with one of those 1/8 page layout holes for an image I would remark (not too loud) that they could print a picture of a rhinos ass in there for all I cared. Designing a magazine to look like a web page with virtually unreadable images does nothing for me, the photographer or the reader. Why bother? I can get that online faster than you can say pica pole 3 times fast and when I click on the stupid unreadable image online it blows up to fill my screen. Can’t beat that.

Any print publication that simply reproduces imagery that’s been previously published and is easily available on the internet or even resembles stuff that’s already out there–most stock photography–will slowly bleed readers and lose relevance with advertisers. Additionally, publications that continue to use valuable print real estate to run content that’s better served online (news, lists, packages, pr photos) will simply get beat by media companies that are doing it cheaper and easier online.

There’s a vicious cycle of destruction on the horizon for magazines where editors who are forced to cut cost will in turn force photo editors to use more stock photography which will in turn drive the readers and advertisers away forcing the editor to demand more cost cutting measures further driving away readers and advertisers.

Not to worry, there’s a great solution available that everyone except the 85 year old media barons will like. Only publish well written, well reported, fact checked, in depth stories with stunning, original, surprising can’t-be-found-anywhere photography (full bleed, natch). Sure you’ll lose some of your audience and some of the advertisers will disappear and you’ll have to produce it will a smaller staff, but think of all the man-hours you’ll save not producing the same package you produced last year only this time it has to be different (ya know, because you did it last year) so you throw some twist in there that makes it less relevant for the readers and harder to actually produce because the twist doesn’t actually exist in reality, but hey it’s different.

Magazines do some things better than websites. They always will. Serve the audience that wants to read stories and look at pictures in a magazine and advertisers will want to reach them too. If you want a website build one *online*. Just don’t make it act like a magazine.

Pretend to be busy, ignore the free promo

- - Blog News

Ok, I’ve said it before so it’s only right that Jackanory (AKA Andrew Hetherington) calls me out (here) on the FREE promotion. Perception is everything, so acting like you’re too busy to submit a couple photos to the free online promo or pretending like you have too many clients so it’s not really worth the effort could oddly be considered a good strategy.

I’ll counter that by saying this is where all your existing clients can see some new work. Along with all the other photographers who are too busy to update their websites. There. It’s a chance to show new work because you’re too busy working to show it yourself. Extra points for camera phone photos of polaroids that will eventually make it into your book if you ever get the time.

Free Promotion

- - Getting Noticed

I’ve wanted to do this for awhile and my thinking on the future of photography and photo contests and other things I’m cooking up has gotten me inspired to offer everyone the chance to promote your best work for free by submitting a couple images for a slide show. There’s plenty of photo editors and art buyers who are readers and I know they will find it extremely beneficial to view a quick slide show with hundreds of different photographers featuring their best work and I can’t think of any other examples where this exists, so here we go.

There will be a bar for entry and I will edit out any photographs that are a waste of time for potential buyers to look at. I know there are a lot of top shooters who may be wary of submitting their photographs so I’m going to make sure all the work displayed is top notch. You can also remove your images at any time if you don’t think I’ve done a good enough job.

The purpose of this is to connect photographers with buyers for FREE. That’s it. No bullshit. If that doesn’t happen to anyone then the project has failed.

I have a flickr group setup here where you can enter your submission:

http://www.flickr.com/groups/aphotoeditor/

You can only submit 2 photos for consideration, Size: 1024 x768 pixels (1024 can be the horizontal or vertical length), Use your website url as the name of the photograph with a 1 and a 2 after it and then put your url again in the notes so people who want to hire you can find you (it will appear when people click on the photo).

The slide show will be embeddable so anyone can post it on their blog to further the distribution.

Please only submit fresh work. I’ve looked at all of your websites (yes, all of them) and really only want to see new work.

If you really, really, really don’t want to join flickr to submit to the group email them to me.

Deadline for submissions is Monday, March 31st.

National Magazine Awards, Finalists

- - Magazines

The Ellies are one of the top awards to win as a Photo Editor because editors love to have one of those elephant trophies perched on a table around the office (the last place I worked the owner had a rather large herd of elephants that you could see from 6th avenue).

One small problem associated with the awards that magazine owners will cite is that the magazines that do well aren’t necessarily the most profitable–as if that matters (kidding)–or even profitable at all (Atlantic Monthly and New Yorker). Also, if you win one as photo editor the Editor-in-Chief will accept the award for you, which seems odd because their greatest contribution was probably getting out of the way.

Here are the nominees this year:

PHOTOGRAPHY
Gourmet: Amy Koblenzer, photo editor
GQ: Dora Somosi, director of photography
Martha Stewart Living: Heloise Goodman, director of photography and illustration
National Geographic: David Griffin, director of photography; Susan A. Smith, deputy director, photography
New York: Jody Quon, photography director
W: Nadia Vellam, photo editor

PHOTOJOURNALISM
Aperture: (no photo editor listed,) photographs by Mikhael Subotzky.
Mother Jones: Sarah Kehoe, photo director, photographs by Lana Slezic
National Geographic: David Griffin, director of photography; Susan A. Smith, photography deputy director, photographs by John Stanmeyer.
The New Yorker: Elisabeth Biondi, photo director, photographs by Martin Schoeller.
The Virginia Quarterly Review: (no photo editor listed), photographs by Chris Hondros.

PHOTO PORTFOLIO
New York: Jody Quon, photography director; photographs by Rodney Smith.
Newsweek: Simon Barnett, director of photography, photographs by Nigel Parry.
T, The New York Times Style Magazine: Kathy Ryan, photography director, photographs by Fabrizio Coppi and Lucilla Barbieri.
T, The New York Times Style Magazine: Kathy Ryan, photography director, photographs by Raymond Meier.
Vanity Fair: Susan White, photography director, photographs by Annie Leibovitz.

South Park Full Episodes Available

- - Blog News

Matt Stone says, “Basically, we just got really sick of having to download our own show illegally all the time. So we gave ourselves a legal alternative.”

Check out the latest, “Britney’s new look” to see death by photography (here).

Via, Boing Boing (here).

The country’s third largest advertiser heads online

- - Blog News

“The country’s third-largest advertiser is getting ready to shift fully half of its $3 billion budget into digital and one-to-one marketing within the next three years. And as GM goes, so goes the entire automotive industry — the leading advertising category that pumped some $9.42 billion into the ad economy last year.”

“…In the last few years GM has shifted several hundred million dollars from TV and print to digital and one-to-one, and that trend will accelerate…”

“Online is getting to the point where it may be more important than the 30-second TV spot.”

Via, Advertising Age (here).

Unconventional Rules for Success

- - Working

Most conventional ideas about success go wrong because they focus on outcomes and results instead of on the processes of living. Outcomes come around from time to time, but life itself — the process of living, acting, thinking, and being — happens all the time.

No outcome is going to make a lousy, miserable process feel worthwhile — especially chasing money, power, or status. If they come to you, that’s fine. But if you hate what you do, no amount of power or money is going to make up for that.

Read the rest at Slow Leadership (here).

I’m off the rest of the week. See you Monday.

Copyright Reversal

- - Blog News

Judge in Florida considers and then rejects Chicago judges earlier ruling on photographs of copyrighted material and in the process explains to everyone that photographs of copyrighted objects are simply new authorships presented in a different medium not derivatives of the original so it’s not possible for them to infringe on the original.

Via The Patry Copyright Blog (here).

More Copyright Conundrum

- - Blog News

The latest court decision (in Chicago) on taking pictures of copyrighted works rules that it would violate the copyright of the object being photographed to sell such a photograph.

Read all about it on the Patry Copyright Blog (here).

A Thought on the Future of Photography

- - The Future

Photographers need more fans.

Photographers spend waaay too much time and money trying to develop a very small and elite group of fans at the top. What needs to change is instead of thinking about having a couple of fans with deep pockets you need to start adding a large number with shallow pockets. These fans are actually just the same consumers you would potentially reach through traditional media except now they can find you without the help of magazines and newspapers. As these people abandon traditional media they’re looking for places to spend the time and money they used to spend at the top. Why not be there waiting?

If you somehow find marketing and selling yourself to average citizens somehow revolting, not to worry, there will always be a group of 500 successful elite photographers who dominate the top of this industry with a handful of deep pocketed fans (top Photo Directors, Art Buyers and Creatives) and if that’s your goal you can continue the long slow climb to the top, but for many people it’s just not possible to make that climb anymore or maybe the mystique of it all has suddenly evaporated.

If that’s the case you need to prepare to go get your fans back.

Christopher Anderson, Editor of Wired gives the following relevant example in his article, Free! Why $0.00 Is the Future of Business (here)

Traditionalists wring their hands about the “vaporization of value” and “demonetization” of entire industries. The success of craigslist’s free listings, for instance, has hurt the newspaper classified ad business. But that lost newspaper revenue is certainly not ending up in the craigslist coffers. In 2006, the site earned an estimated $40 million from the few things it charges for. That’s about 12 percent of the $326 million by which classified ad revenue declined that year.

But free is not quite as simple — or as stupid — as it sounds. Just because products are free doesn’t mean that someone, somewhere, isn’t making huge gobs of money. Google is the prime example of this. The monetary benefits of craigslist are enormous as well, but they’re distributed among its tens of thousands of users rather than funneled straight to Craig Newmark Inc.

He’s talking about consumers having more time and money to spend elsewhere because services that used to be complicated and costly became efficient. And, I’m saying consumers will spend some of that extra time and money with their favorite photographers if you give them the opportunity.

It’s not so crazy to think that consumers who used to pay for the New York Times and now read it online for *free* will take some of that saved money and even time and spend it on books by their favorite NYT writers and photographers.

It’s not much of a stretch to think that photo essays and stories that magazines used to commission and then distribute to consumers sandwiched between $140,000 worth of ads will be commissioned by advertisers and distributed through new media channels to reach even more consumers.

Are you making yourself available to these people? I assume all of you have websites loaded with pictures and some of you have blogs where your fans can talk to you so that’s a good start. The other avenues for reaching consumers are prints, books, lectures, clinics, original stock, personal commissions and more local clients. National Geographic seems to have a pretty good handle on the idea that their photographers have fans or maybe the demand was there and they just responded to it by offering many of these products. Either way that’s a good example of how it works.

There’s one last difficult piece to this puzzle. You’ve got to make your photos available online for free. Anything that can be distributed digitally must now be distributed for free to remain competitive. Not for commercial use and not without attribution but fans should be able to distribute your photography for free and view it big on your website without watermarks and other barriers. It’s not like you don’t already do this it’s just that there’s a lot of hand wringing going on about the ability of consumers to scrape your photos off your website. It’s not necessary because they’re the fans you want to sell prints, books, lectures, clinics and personal commissions to. You should encourage them to look at and help you distribute your photography so you can bring in more fans. Don’t forget that some of those people will be Art Buyers and Photo Directors.

Several music industry artists are leading the way with this idea and Nine Inch Nails latest release proves that it works. They released 9 songs from a 36-track album for free, the rest of the tracks cost $5. A double CD version will be available in April along with a $79 deluxe edition and then in May a $300 autographed version. So far they’ve made 1.6 million and the most expensive offering is sold out with a limited run of 2,500 copies.

The audience is now in charge. Turn them into fans.

Kevin Kelly wrote a post about this phenomenon entitled: You only need 1000 true fans (here) which basically says if you’ve got 1000 people willing to give you $100 for some type of original performance then minus the expenses you’ve got a solid way to make a living.

I’m not even taking into account the difficulty advertisers are going to have reaching consumers in the future and how reliant they will become on these professional networks with fans to market their products to. All the camera, software and printing companies will pay to use these fan networks for marketing new products.

There’s about $1.3 trillion in our $13 trillion U.S. economy chasing demand [for content]… From John Sviokla at Harvard Business (here).

Will you be ready to capture some of it?

Fire All The Photographers

- - Working

Usually when a magazine hires a new Photography Director the first thing that happens is all the photographers are fired. There’s no actual firing because the photographers are all freelancers so there’s usually a transition where the previous Photo Editors shoots are cycled through the system and then new shoots are commissioned with entirely different photographers.

It’s not unusual for a few trusted photographers that align with the Photo Editor’s aesthetic to travel from job to job with them. Also, the Creative Director and Editor will have some favorites and depending on the dynamic at the publication those will find their way into the mix. Nothing really unusual here just the life cycle of the photo industry where everyone thinks they have the photographic solutions to whatever maybe ailing a publication at that particular moment in time (newsstand is down, advertising is down, we need a more upscale audience, we need more upscale advertisers, readers don’t send us letters).

A very different more difficult scenario occurs when a magazine gets a new Creative Director or Editor or both and you have to fire all the photographers you’ve established good working relationships with including all your goto’s. The Editor and/or Creative Director will have had to deliver a critique of the magazine to whomever is doing the hiring and I’ll guarantee that somewhere in that critique will be a discussion of the photography and how it can be changed to fix whatever ails the magazine. My advice to Photo Editors in this situation is to fire everyone and start over. You can bring in some of your favorites but only after you fire them first to show your willingness to recast the photographic DNA of your publication.

Of course, these scenarios present excellent opportunities for photographers with a good sense of timing to get themselves inserted into the regular rotation.