So rather than complain about the introspective nature of photobooks or the endless discussions on the nature of work, we should not follow others but should instead go out into the world and find work that interests and inspires us on its own account, not the account of others. And if we can’t see that work, or find that work, if it’s not available to us except through the word of others, then perhaps we should just let it pass us by. If you can’t touch it, it’s not really there.
There’s a new great post by Clay Shirky titled “Newspapers, Paywalls, and Core Users” that investigates the metered paywall that the NY Times and others have deployed to stem shrinking profits. As he’s talked about before Clay discusses the bundling of desperate content that a newspaper represents and the tough reality of unbundled content on the internet; where Dear Abbey, horoscopes and crossword puzzels are more popular than investigative journalism. The metered paywall gives national papers the ability to attract a large audience interested in a few things and still charge hardcore users. Currently there are two successful models to charge people for media content: mass, where you go for that largest possible audience and advertisers who want to reach them and niche, where you carefully define your audience and advertisers who need a very specific demographic. Combining the two is the metered paywall where you get a massive audience and a readily identified hardcore group willing to pay.
Clay goes on to say:
This is new territory for mainstream papers, who have always had head count rather than engagement as their principal business metric. Celebrities behaving badly always drive page-views through the roof, but those readers will be anything but committed. Meanwhile, the people who hit the threshold and then hand over money are, almost by definition, people who regard the paper not just as an occasional source of interesting articles, but as an essential institution, one whose continued existence is vital no matter what today’s offerings are.
Unfortunately this is not a good solution for smaller papers because “they produce so little original content.”
So, is there a mass market for good journalism?
There has never been a mass market for good journalism in this country. What there used to be was a mass market for print ads, coupled with a mass market for a physical bundle of entertainment, opinion, and information; these were tied to an institutional agreement to subsidize a modicum of real journalism.
The metered paywall appears to solve this problem.
More than any other USPS customers, publishers are feeling under the gun because USPS claims it loses money on the Periodicals class. Its latest numbers show that Periodicals revenue covered only 74.9% of the class’s costs in Fiscal Year 2011, down slightly from 75.4% in FY2010.
via Dead Tree Edition.
I think everyone is feeling the same thing about 2012, “time to go kick some ass” and I wanted to point out a couple posts that I saw from the end of last year that I know you will find helpful. Before I do that I want to emphasize my own commitment to finding and reporting on success in media and photography. Being unsuccessful is easy. Lets look at and talk to people who are having a career in the middle of the information revolution. And lets not get hung up on the path they took to get there.
I have two pieces of advice for you to begin 2012. Go to this wonderful list of business books and pick one out (http://personalmba.com/best-business-books) to read. Don’t worry about reading it cover to cover or memorizing everything or taking notes. This is not college. You’re in a unique position of owning your own business. You can discover an idea or principle and put it into action immediately and move on. It’s an awesome position to be in, so take advantage of it. One of the books I read last year was “Blue Ocean Strategy” and learned that all things being equal between two competing companies the only thing left is to do is lower your price. To avoid this Red Ocean scenario, get rid of something others find valuable and use that time/energy/money to create something nobody else has.
The first post I found comes from Luke Copping and is titled Lessons For 2012:
Stop hanging around people who have given up
I see it all the time on blogs, on forums, at industry events, and any other place that photographers and creatives might gather en masse – an overwhelming sense of negativity that pervades this industry like a virus. What the finger of accusation is pointing at seems to change weekly, and complaints about clients, rates, technology, MWACs, pro-sumers, students, the internet, micro-stock, and the economy all start to sound the same after a while – a jumble of depressing but comforting noise that can suck you in and have you spouting the same rhetoric back at others. But, if you listen to that noise long enough, one crystal clear idea starts to creep through – that this is ultimately about blame. The underlying mantra behind so many of these complaints can often be reduced and simplified to one statement; “This is not my fault, this is caused by something beyond my control, so I do not have to act to fix it.” This kind of thinking may bring some small amount of cathartic relief, especially when joining in with the masses collectively laying blame on something else, but it will do absolutely nothing to remedy the situation.
I am so over it, and I don’t want to be part of that culture of excuses.
That is why I am so grateful to have made a conscious decision over the last year to surround myself with people so against this type of hive negativity that the idea of giving up and giving in is completely alien to them – either because of their unrelenting positivity, or their indefatigable passion pushing them to take actions that they believe in to find answers to their problems.
And, this gem from Leslie Burns titled “10 Things to do for Your Biz in 2012 (the gloves come off).”
Forget about old selling tools like “elevator speeches.” Look, no one gives a shit who you are or what you do when you shill.
Fuck SEO. Seriously, unless you are shooting weddings/portraits and/or your work is specifically related to your geography, fuck it (and even for those of you who do weddings, etc., don’t spend too much time at it).
Get out of your office/out from behind your computer and interact with people. Social media is a form of connection but it’s a weak one. You want to get work, you need to meet people in real life.
Go check it out (here). It’s plenty incendiary and a great way to get in a kick-ass mood. I wish everyone “success or die trying” in 2012.
I’ve found the last couple of years the most difficult since I started out – but not fatal. Can the new opportunities replace the fading print market and collapsing library sales? Probably not for everyone. However, many of the old rules still apply. Quality and originality still have value. Niche specialisms are always in demand. Surviving as a freelance in the digital age requires new skills and an openness to new markets, but it is possible – and at least the scrabbling around should feel familiar
via BBC News.
If you are subscribed to receive emails from APhotoEditor each time a post is made I’m moving to a digest format so you can get all the posts in a single email (not 3 emails a day 5 days a week). You can go here to sign up for the new digest format from feedburner: Subscribe to A Photo Editor by Email and cancel the other account. There’s also signup links on the sidebar and up in the header with all the other subscription options (everything is reposted on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook if you prefer reading news on those services).
1. Please understand that book publishing is an organized hobby, not a business.
The return on equity and return on time for authors and for publishers is horrendous. If you’re doing it for the money, you’re going to be disappointed.
via The Domino Project.
The sun has yet to rise on the first Monday of the year. It’s ten degrees outside, and I’m sitting on a green pull-out couch in my gray cotton boxers. I’m also wearing a fifteen-year-old brown flannel shirt, unbuttoned. My hair, washed before bed, is standing in six directions, like the drummer in a band that you’ve never heard of. Like Lee Friedlander.
I feel naughty just for writing about how silly I look right now. None of us wakes up like someone in a TV Show. Seriously, have you ever noticed that people always kiss each other with morning breath in the movies? Please. So here I am, just rolled out of bed, and the very, very last thing that I would do is take a picture of myself. No, scratch that. The very last thing I would do is to show a photo of myself, looking as I do now, to anyone. No, wrong again. The very, very, very last thing I would do is to publish said photograph in a book. Yes, that’s the last thing I would do.
So it’s a good thing that Lee Friedlander is a braver man than I. Or crazier? Edgier? What’s the right word? (Other than better, which is too obvious.) I’ve written about the man before. Twice in fact. Last time was for a book of previously unreleased images of some cars in Detroit in the Sixties. Nice book, but mostly interesting because no one had seen the particular photos before.
Today, I’m here to talk about “Lee Friedlander: In the Picture. Self-Portraits 1958-2011,” which was recently published by Yale University Press. I’m pretty uncomfortable with the fact that Yale Press now co-exists in an article with a description of my underwear. It’s quite possible I’ll live to regret it. So why would I do such a thing? Because I’m writing about an artist who was far more fearless than that. Let’s call it a tribute review. Next thing you know, I’ll put on tight jeans and bandana, round up some friends, and start shimmying on stage to “Dancin’ in the Dark.” No. More likely it would be “Blinded by the Light.” Great song.
Ah, the book, you say? It’s black and thick, but not too large. The cover text colors, blue and florescent magenta, are jarring, but less so than the diptych of self portraits by Mr. Friedlander, which seem to bookend the temporal range covered inside. Rarely do I discuss things such as font color, but the inside of the flap is a day-glo lime, so clearly they were trying to make a statement right off the bat. With color. In a book of black and white images. Nice. Slowly flipping the pages, and the second photo in the book shows Mr. Friedlander, shirtless, in Taos, New Mexico, 1958. Thereby giving a little context to my half-clothed ravings. (It’s all good, bro. Clothes are for squares, man.)
OK, enough about me. The narrative is linear, the kids are born towards the beginning, and the woman I can only presume to be Mr. Friedlander’s wife looks like a be-speckled beatnik betty. Right away, the shadow comes in as a stand-in for the artist. Straight out of Jung, yo. Deep. But not quite so deep as the artist’s penetrating gaze and fantastic use of neck-fat. So unflattering, so brilliant. Really, it’s a lesson that jumps off the page here. Take more risks. Be less afraid. Push yourself. Take chances.
Last week, in the fabled comment section, a fierce debate arose over whether readers have the right to complain about my choices of things that I like. Others claimed that negative criticism is undervalued in the world of photography and art. I beg to differ. The entire critique process is based upon the concept of criticism, only it’s taught that one ought to respect others, and choose one’s words wisely. It’s best to balance a negative critique with a dose of positivity, and to use language that does not denigrate. But at the core level, the critique is about awakening deeper levels of self-awareness, so that we know, in our hearts, when a photo is not good enough. Or when we need to try harder. Or when we’re simply too derivative. So be negative all you like. But how about having the guts to turn that critical eye upon yourself? Like Lee Friedlander.
Back to the book. I swear I didn’t choose this week’s selection as a counterpoint to last week’s article, but now that I’m looking at it closely, the connection is clear. Growth. Change. The passage of time. It’s all here. A very well-made group of photographs, along with some insider references that people will love.(Robert Frank, Nick Nixon…) Most of the most recent images definitely lack the spark of the earliest pictures, but then again, no one listens to the Rolling Stone’s last album. I’d say I’m not surprised, but I saw Mr. Friedlander’s show at the Whitney in 2010, so I know he hasn’t lost it.
After the celebrity section, which at least has a few laughs, you arrive at the inevitable conclusion. The doctor’s office. The tubes. The glazed eyes. The chest scar. Heart Surgery? Probably. Does it matter? Time gets us all in the end, and it’s rarely pretty. But this book, and the artist’s career by extension, are two lessons in the value of investigation and examination, of ourselves as well as the outside world.
Bottom Line: Profound
Full Disclosure: Books and scans were provided by Photo-Eye in exchange for links back for purchase.
most big businesses do not allow the time, resources or culture to benefit from the failures necessary to develop an innovative, entrepreneurial streak. He claims: “To get anywhere near achieving a culture of creativity that can make your business stand out, you need people who are more excited by what is possible than they are scared of looking foolish if they are wrong.”
via Marketing Week.
When people are being true and honest, even if they don’t obey the rules, people respond to it. There’s no replacing A, talent, and B, fully inhabiting that talent and doing what you think is a fucking good idea. There’s no replacing that.
Still Images In Great Advertising, is a new column where Suzanne Sease discovers great advertising images and then speaks with the photographers about it.
Sometimes it amazes me what a small world it is in this business. I was asked to write an article for Resource Magazine on “Reps for Hire” and reached out to Frank Meo, Clare O’dea and Jess at Wondeful Machine. In the bios for “reps for hire”, Frank Meo of www.thephotocloser.com, mentions an example of hiring of drug consultant for a pro-bono project. Then weeks later, I am researching powerful still images in advertising and I come across the work of Ron Haviv and “The Meth Project”. I reach out to Ron and he includes Frank in the conversation of how the project was shot. Small world, or what?
Suzanne: These are incredibly compelling images- are these real users? if so, how did you find them? How did you gain their trust?
Frank: The kids in the ads are not real users of the drug. We did our casting via high school students and with some great casting contacts from our producer, Tricia Moran from Branching Out Productions. We got their trust by Ron, as always, being involved right from the start. This I believe was one of key elements to the success of the campaign. The kids, right from the video casting got direction from him. I’m sure that the familiarity between Ron and the talent from the earliest stages played a intricate role in getting these kids to buy into the concept.
Then we hired a drug consultant to be part of our team. This too was a major factor is the success of the campaign. Having a recovering addict on set was in an intriguing way a stabilizing force. His presence brought gravitas to the entire experience. Who better then a person who’s been to hell to convey what that trip is like?
Several other points about this:
1. In the five print and TV bids that the agency received no one else put in for a drug consultant.
2. This idea and results were so well received by the client and agency that they reached out to us for his contact information – they hired our guy for the TV shoot!
3. I’m positive it was this line item that secured us in winning the project.
Suzanne: I understand this is a pro-bono campaign but did the client realize the costs involved to pull this off? And what has the impact of these images had on the Meth problem where they were run?
Ron: This is I think the 6th version of this campaign. By many accounts the impact on meth and potential meth users is enormous. Research has shown that in the past there has been an effect on reducing meth usage where the campaign has been shown.
Frank: The client was great – right from the start. The realized that this was going to cost money to produce. I’m sure that the agency, Organic is the reason for this. From the outside looking in you could see the mutual respect in this client / agency relationship. After working in this business for many years you know a good fit when you see one. More to the point, I believe there’s a direct correlation between great work and a great clients – we were sure glad to be part of this.
The results from the images have been amazing. From all quarters we heard positive reactions. Most importantly the client sees them as “authentic”. The client knows their audience better then anyone. That single comment to Ron and I is the most beautiful music we could hear. Authentic is why I want people to hire Ron.
Suzanne: You have a photojournalistic style that does get you hired for campaigns like IBM, Intel, BAE Systems and ESPN- how do you create that natural feel while staying true to your documentary roots? Do you work with the same producer?
Ron: While each campaign has been different, the client’s overriding desire is for the capturing or recreating moments of reality. Working with a light footprint and letting the subjects, whether models or real life, become immersed and unaware of the camera is about as true to my documentary roots as I can be. The trick in doing so is reaching that point when you have the client and the creative team working with you hand in hand. When it works I feel the results have a great effect.
I’ve been lucky enough to do most of my campaigns with the same producer (Tricia Moran) who has helped me take the projects to the highest level possible.
Frank: All the clients you mentioned and American Express hire Ron based on a rather simple premise. They want reality based imagery. They want to know that he can produce the job at a high commercial level and that he wants to shoot for them. My job, as I see it is to eradicate any doubts and bring insight to how Ron approaches each job.
I believe the results seen on his website and my reputation as a commercial rep does that. Let’s face it, being one of the most respected photo journalists of our time is heavy stuff. I understand that. I must convey to the client that Ron embraces each project with passion and genuine understanding of each clients needs and their audience. Further I also ask Ron to write a creative brief as part of our presentation/estimate/bid offering. This too was part of our successful presentation for the Crystal Meth project.
Our producer, Tricia Moran and Ron work extremely well together as they both see the world the same way. She too is someone who “gets it” and has become an incredible reliable resource for Ron and myself. Having someone whom can produce, inspire and has a “get-it-done” attitude is a tremendous asset to all involved.
Note: Content for Still Images In Great Advertising is found. Submissions are not accepted.
Ron Haviv is the co-founder for the photo agency VII and has been producing images of conflict and humanitarian crises since the end of the Cold War.
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 founding the art buying department at The Martin Agency then working for Kaplan-Thaler, Capital One, Best Buy and numerous smaller agencies and companies.