Interesting post over on Conscientious (here).
Posts by: A Photo Editor
Thoughts of a Bohemian, first pointed out to me by Kim Taylor of 180mag.ca in the comments of a post, is written by Paul Melcher a stock industry veteran who happens to also be a bohemian, which I dig. He speaks my language as well. Here’s a good example on a post entitled “A Whale of a Story.”
It is everyone’s understanding that the price of photography will continue to dip down. How soon and how fast, it is anyone’s guess. It would absolutely not surprise me if someone like Getty would take a deep plunge into bottom cheap imagery in order to get rid of any competition and clean the landscape, a bit like a whale plunges deep below to get rid of parasite fish, only to return to a new, stronger marketplace. Everyone knows that there is too much photography available, both in stock and editorial. It is time to force the medium and lesser photographers and agencies into a rapid bankruptcy in order to sanitize the offering.
Let me step back and explain: The market, currently, offers the false impression that anyone can make money in the photography field. Since it has become easy and cheap to enter, everyone and his brother is now either a photographer or a stock agent. Since there is no tangible market research on the size of our industry, $2 billion, $5 billion, $3000 billion, it is anyone guess on what the payout will be. If someone paid attention, I am sure that we would see that there has been more stock agencies of all type launched in the last five years then at anytime in its brief history. And it is only growing exponentially. More agencies, more photographers, more photographers, less relevant images. It seems that there is money to be made because of Microstocks and Flickr’s successes. And as much is there might be an increase in the number of images used in one year, there has not been an increase of revenue generated by this spike. It has been almost cancelled by the fall in pricing and Getty has been a witness to that.
The only way to really profit from that growth would be to get rid of the overflow of images. And the best way is to force as many people out of the market as possible, as quickly as possible.
A quick hit off the bottom could be exactly whats needed in this industry but I guess that depends on if you’re a whale or a parasite.
The other blog I’m checking out is called “The Business of Photography” and I discovered it over on Photo Rank (here) submitted by the author Ed McCulloch hisself. It’s sort of a “What They Don’t Teach You at Harvard Business School” for the photo school kids and seems to be born out of the frustration of an education that doesn’t teach business to photographers (ridiculous).
Anyway, there’s plenty of advice for photographers floating around but I always like it when I see someone with talent giving it out. Ed is a name I’ve been familiar with for sometime because he knows how to market himself and he’s a good photographer, definitely someone worth listening to.
Twice. Interesting post on art buyers (here).
Read about it (here) on Thoughts of a Bohemian.
Pairing a photographer with a famous writer can be difficult, but in the end, an extremely rewarding experience. The “famous writers” are usually handled with kid gloves by the editors–“Sebastian’s not interested in going to Iraq for us but he pitched me something even better, about his grandmothers toenail clipping collection, she ferments it into whiskey,” “Ohhhhh, can he write it for this issue?” “I think thats our cover story,” “Goddam he’s good, this could win us an ASME.”–so, you have to be very careful negotiating this potential minefield. A report from the field or even after the assignment is over about the shit-head photographer you sent along will cause you much distress and it’s virtually impossible to defend against. What are you going to say, “Sebastian’s an asshole” because that gets you nowhere or even worse a reaction like “yeah but he’s very valuable to us so we can’t afford to have your photographer screw-up our relationship with him.”
This is where getting to know photographers on a personal level, comes in handy. Knowing a few photographers who are talented and easy going is exactly what you need in a situation like this. Whoa, hold on buddy… I know everyone aims to please so nobody is going to cop to being a difficult photographer but the problem, when it comes to writers is, in many cases, they’re working against you. They always interview the subject for longer than they should, leaving little time for the portraits, or they head off on some effing “wild goose chase” sucking up valuable photography time looking for additional material that may or may not materialize. It’s not as easy as you may think to be a nice guy and demand equal time with the subject or, egads more time than the writer.
Some of the more famous writers will have certain photographers they only work with and when you’re famous you pretty much get to dictate the terms of the assignment so why not demand who the photographer will be. Side-note: Many times the not-so-famous writers email over a list of photographers that is passed along from the editor with some sort of preamble about how they know this isn’t any of their business but here’s a list of photographers I like… just in case you we’re named Director of Photography by mistake.
In the end, when you make a great pairing and the photography that comes back from the assignment is amazing and then eventually you see the two of them shooting assignments for other magazines, for a moment, it feels like something you did lasts more than a month and that, is an incredibly rewarding feeling.
Great reference guide over on Exposure Compensation for photographers to understand their rights when taking pictures (here).
I have a feeling I will end 2008 with the same headline on 52 posts. Well, I don’t give a crap. We can stand around and whine as all the little bitches who have nothing worth copyrighting tell everyone who’s listening that the law is outdated and oppressive or we can go out and defend it.
First off, I like where Dan Heller is headed in his post Gaming the Creative Commons for Profit. Dan’s attitude in general, with copyright violation is, you can pay the licensing fee or you can steal it and I’ll collect a fee in court and I don’t really care either way. Badass. He furthers this idea in his Creative Commons post by broadcasting the fact that if you register your images with the copyright office, load them into flickr with a CC license, wait for people to pick them off and suddenly revoke the license you can collect a windfall of easily enforcible copyright violations.
It’s sort of a reverse psychology for all the numb nutz out there. Publicly declare how much money you can make off people misusing the CC license and you will eventually scare everyone away from even trying. He’s got a huge audience so I don’t doubt this idea has legs.
Next, is a story Cameron Davidson pointed me to in the Washington Post yesterday entitled “Hey Isn’t That…” where Monica Hesse investigates corporations stealing photography off the web . The irony of the whole deal is how these companies vigorously defend and display their copyright but then occasionally steal from unsuspecting photographers online and when caught blaming the whole mess on an intern or photo assistant (yeah, tell me about those goddam photo assistants buddy; ).
Good ole L.L. defends the amateur?:
Says Lawrence Lessig, the Stanford legal scholar who created Creative Commons, when asked about the issue of corporations borrowing photos: “There’s really no excuse for [these companies] except that they think it’s not important to protect the rights of the amateur.”
Whoa, looks like double L wanted the CC to still protect authors rights. Don’t think you can have it both ways buddy.
This might take awhile to shake out but for now I think it’s important for people who have something worth copyrighting to voice their opinion wherever they can.
Easiest one first.
Whenever I have a shoot in Hawaii that requires production work I only have one phone call to make, Hugh at FX Productions 1.808.485.2268 or info(at)fx-group(dot)com.
I can’t say enough good things about Hugh. He has a great team of people working for him (all his producers rock) they’re very professional yet laid back and know the islands well. I call them for everything; talent, grooming, catering, locations, permits… they do it all without a hitch.
A couple more links from my files:
Profoto and Grip
TalentHawaii Sports Models Kathy Muller
Feel Free to add to this.
What’s the purpose of the promo card? Send me a cool photo, convey contact info, show-off your style, reinforce your brand, display your expensive logo, tell a story, show-off your new printer, tell me how clever you are, show the latest campaign you shot, show me how many styles you can shoot…
Action. Nothing else.
The purpose of a promo card is to get me to do something. Look at your website, call your phone, tack you up to the wall, go show it to someone and above all else not just huck it in the garbage can (wrong kind of action).
Think about it like this:
If your goal is to be hung on the wall the image should be something I’d be proud to display in front of all my colleagues.
If you goal is a website visit it should be something intriguing, that makes me want to see what the hell you’re all about.
If you goal is for me to show it to someone else it should be impressive, outrageous or hilarious.
If you goal is a phone call then you need a bit of perfect timing so that the card lands on my desk when I’m looking for someone like you.
One day I stopped hucking promos in the garbage (jeeze… of course, after bookmarking the one’s I liked) and started hucking them in the corner of my office.
Then stacked them up.
I got a call from a friend (Corey Rich) who asked if I would come up to the Auroa Photographers meeting in Maine and give a presentation. Why not? I dug into the pile and picked out a bunch that caught my eye and shot a picture of each one on my desk, in it’s native habitat as it were. I gave a simple presentation showing the different styles of promos and the ones I recently saw and liked. Here’ they are:
Note: If you’re uncomfortable with me showing your promo (or keeping it on Flickr) email me and I will remove it immediately and not try to eventually make 3.4 million off it like Richard Prince.
UPDATE: Some people were having problems with the flash slide show so I loaded a different one. Only problem is it doesn’t play the slides in the correct order. To see the correct order with comments hit the flickr link.
I have a request from a photo editor for a list of wildlife photographers I like. Here’s my list. Contributors feel free to add to it and I’ll update.
UPDATED: September 25, 2009 (got some more names from a nature photo editor)
Michael “Nick” Nichols
Thomas D. Mangelsen
Tui De Roy
Tom & Pat Leeson
Daniel J. Cox
Wendy Shattil/Bob Rozinski
Gary Bell (marine)
David Hall (marine)
Brandon Cole (marine)
Cesar Aristeiguieta Photography
Inspired in part by a post I made on the escalating cost of digital processing PDN has a survey (here) that should give us all a clearer picture on what people are charging and what magazines are paying. Take a few minutes to fill it out.
A new Channel 4 series, Picture This, takes six wannabe snappers and sets them assignments over the course of three weeks, eliminating the unsuccessful contestants until just two remain to battle it out for the prize. Martin Parr, the acclaimed photographer best known for his colourful pictures of British seaside life, is one of the three judges on the show.The documentary photographer became involved with Picture This because he believes that photography is not given the prominence it deserves in the UK, whereas in other European countries and in the United States it is celebrated as an important art form. -The Independent Story
Neil Leifer still acts like he has something to prove. Some of it’s the plight of the news or sports photographer, even if you’re the best. Leifer recalls how even Sports Illustrated sometimes sent him out with a snot-nosed reporter who’d introduce him by saying “This is my photographer.” -LA Times Story
Artists are drawn to de Wilde in part because the tedium that’s typical of photo shoots is transformed into a facet of the creative act when she’s at the helm. De Wilde insists on long conversations, in person, with young artists prior to taking their picture. She’ll hunt for ideas but also memorize the way a person’s eyes move and the way they smile at a joke, so that when she’s standing behind the camera she’ll be able to recognize what’s real, no matter how surreal the setting or high the concept. -Boston Globe Story
Best photography related headline of 2007: Britney Spears and Photographer Suspected of Making Quick F-Stop At Beverly Hills Hotel. -Defamer Story
Seth Godin the online guru of marketing has a post that’s perfect for our industry:
Turns out that for the last
seventeentwenty-seven years, every single movie that managed to win the Oscar for best picture was also nominated for best editing.
Great products, amazing services and stories worth talking about get edited along the way. Most of the time, the editing makes them pallid, mediocre and boring. Sometimes, a great editor will push the remarkable stuff. That’s his job.
The easy thing for an editor to do is make things safe. You avoid trouble that way. Alas, it also means you avoid success.
Who’s doing your editing?
Photo editors, word editors, photographers listen up, avoid making safe choices all the time. I can’t even count the number of times I’ve done something I thought would get me in trouble or even fired-*cough* I don’t do this anymore future employers-and just closed my eyes and let it happen because I knew if it worked it would be spectacular. Of course, it’s never that simple when you’ve got CEO’s, CFO’s and nervous editors to answer to but adopting a bit of an eff-it stance is always good for creating something memorable.
In the end, even though editorial photography is a collaborative process, you’ve got to live (and build your career) with what’s in your book. If you don’t like it, fire your editor.
Why do photographers have such bad photographs of themselves? I mean, it seems like, as a photographer at some point in your career you should have a great picture taken by your assistant or another photographer you know and respect but I’m here to tell you, universally, photographers don’t have good contributor photos. I’m not immune from this phenomena either as I struggled to find photos of myself without a hat and sunglasses when my time came to appear on the contributor page so I’m offering this criticism more as a public service announcement.
“Photographers get decent portraits taken of yourselves.” I’ve had to remove dozens of photographers from the contributor page of the magazine over the years because the photos sucked. The two biggest violations are obscured face and a camera unnaturally placed in the frame somewhere.
I suggest that you have two options ready. Something from the field of you working and more of a formal portrait shot so the magazine has options. Also, some of you who are attempting to stop the aging process by submitting the same image from 20 years ago should update your picture.
Details magazine gave up several years ago and they now unnaturally crop and convert to B&W all their contributor images. Vanity Fair on the other hand treats all their contributors like mini profiles in the magazine and assigns appropriate photography (and styling) to each.
Do yourself a favor and make it easy for magazines to put you on the contributor page. You may think people land there all the time because of their status in the industry and that’s part of it but they also land there because they have a great contributor photo.
The end of the year is when corporate people start to think about bonuses and so far I’ve been lucky to work at companies that give them out. The problem has always been that the formula to determine who gets them and how much they get is a closely guarded secret. I have uncovered evidence that it’s loosely based on this top-secret formula: The bare minimum we can get away with where employees only grumble and don’t actually quit. I think back when media companies were setting new highs the bonuses were probably pretty good but now that the new highs are old lows it’s perfunctory at best.
This also reminds me that many photo directors and editors get a bonus for hitting the budget at the end of the year that can be $5,000 or more which is pretty significant for your bank account but when you’re dealing with multi million dollar photography budgets it’s a total joke. I can spend 5k in half a second so I don’t know why the CFO thinks that paltry bribe will get me to try and make photographers eat expenses on shoots or use stock instead of shooting something original, so I can meet some number they pulled out of their ass. I even argued once I should still get my bonus, even though I completely blew the budget, because it could have been worse. Hah.