Not all copying results in copyright infringement.
One might have hoped that [plaintiff’s] attorneys, presumably familiar with the basic tenets of copyright and intellectual property law, would have recognized the futility of this action before embarking on a long, costly, and ultimately wasteful course of litigation in a court of law.
via PDN Pulse.
I visited Washington, DC earlier this month to drop off a portfolio of my photo project, “The Value of a Dolllar,” at the Library of Congress. They acquired it a couple of months ago, and due to a busy schedule and some production difficulties, (inks dry up like mad in New Mexico’s 10% humidity), I hadn’t gotten the work to them yet. As it happened, by the time I was ready to drop it off with the local Taos fedex guys, I’d already booked a short trip back to NYC for some meetings. I was planning to spend one day at the Jersey Shore with my family, playing mini-golf and ogling the hotties, but I realized that if I shifted things around, I could take the train down to DC to deliver the work in person. Good call.
I hopped on a morning Amtrak from Penn Station in early August, well-caffeinated, and watched the I-95 corridor fly by while I worked on my laptop. Lots of trees, in case you were wondering. It was a breeze of a trip, and all was well until I hopped into a cab in the warm drizzle outside DC’s Union Station. I figured all I had do was say, “Library of Congress, please,” like some character in a John Grisham flick. Maybe the cabbie’s name would be Smitty. Then, the acerbic, stogie-smoking driver, would say, “You got it, Mister. We’ll be there in a jiffy, ” and off we would go. What he said in real life was, “Which building?” I stammered, “Are you joking?,” looked around for the hidden camera, slowly realized he was serious, then fumbled around my bag for anything resembling a specific address. Awesome. Ultimately, we figured it out, but not before I ended up looking like a complete tool.
I made it to the Madison Building in time, barely, and found myself face to face with a metal detector and a sign that said PLACE ALL BELONGINGS IN THE GRAY TUB. Looking around, ever the observant photographer, I saw no grey tubs. When I asked the security guard about it, he laughed at my naiveté, and said, “We don’t have those anymore.” Oh. Right. Because America’s broke. Sure. So I hopped in an elevator to the third floor, and began the long march to the Prints and Photographs division. I’d been hauling the portfolio box, by hand, from Taos to Albuquerque to Houston to Newark to New York to DC, so by that point, I just wanted the freaking thing out of my possession. But this being a public building, and a monumentally huge one at that, the halls just kept going. And going. All that florescent lighting. Makes me sleepy just thinking about it.
Thankfully, I arrived on time, and after the gruff lady at the front desk called back to the office, I was assured they’d take the portfolio off my hands in a few minutes. I was there to meet with Verna Curtis, the curator who led the acquisition team. While waiting, I peeked around a bit, and was surprised to find that it looks and functions kind of like…a library. Big shock, right? For those of you who don’t know, the entire collection is accessible to the public. There are rules, of course, but if followed, anyone can come in and “check out” vintage or contemporary prints from the collection, for research, or the simple pleasure of looking. Unlike a museum, which puts work on the wall for the masses, or tucks it away in the archives forever, this is a totally different viewing experience. Designed to be personal. Kind of refreshing.
Ms. Curtis arrived shortly, and led me back to the Vault. I dropped the box down theatrically, glad it was no longer mine to obsess about. Of course, there was a big bucket of white gloves right there, this being an archive, so I showed her the prints, along with her colleague Carol Johnson. Afterwards, I felt a surge of relief when Ms Curtis wheeled the box away in a pushcart. Forever. Business complete, I turned to a stack of photographs on the table. Ms. Curtis, Ms. Johnson, and another colleague, Beverly Brannan, had chosen a few pieces from the collection they thought I might like to see. Very thoughtful. As we began discussing the prints, and the collection in general, I started to take a bunch of notes, and before I knew it, we were doing an impromptu interview for you, the APE audience. Perhaps they’ll make a real journalist of me yet.
Together, the three curators enlightened me about how the institution works. I was honest, and admitted that despite the honor of now being included in the collection, I was kind of ignorant as to it’s mission and function. It seemed the better course than trying to fake it with in a room full of experts. They graciously explained that the collection began as Thomas Jefferson’s personal library, which was given to Congress in 1802. (Way to go, T-Jeff.) The original building was torched by the British in the War of 1812, and a new building was erected in 1898. (Hence the Jefferson building, right across the street)
So the Library was given to Congress, which is responsible for funding, and it has a mission to serve the members of Congress as well. The ladies explained that their goal, as curators, is to identify pressing political and social issues within American culture, almost like cultural anthropologists, and then to collect artwork that reflects those issues. I’m not sure any other curatorial team has the same mandate. At first, the work represents the Zeitgeist of the present, and then it slowly seeps into history. They said that in the late 80’s/early 90’s, they collected work about AIDS, and then of course 9/11 as well. In order to acquire my project, they first had to agree that food was a subject worthy of attention. Body issues, which they described as relating to obesity, aging, youth, Anorexia and Bulimia, is another issue that is currently the focus of collection.
Ms Curtis explained that beyond the grand topic, they seek work that delivers “subject, content and execution.” They’re interested in photographs that, “are not entirely illustrative and documentary, but have artistic merit as well…where the subject is key to our time.” It was also explained that members of Congress are meant to come by to look at work to help them get a better understanding of particular issues. Which sounds pretty cool in theory. But when I mentioned that to my friend Andreas at lunch, he laughed and conjured the visual of Mitch McConnell taking a break out of his busy day to look at some… Ah-rt. I do love me some, Ah-rt. Especially them velvet Elvises. Well played, Andreas.
Back to the Vault. The curators had brought out three groups of work for me to see. The first, by an artist Robert Coppola, was a series of small-scale injket prints of tobacco farms in Connecticut that were presented in a cigar box. It was a one of a kind object, and had a poetic feel to it. We also looked at a few gorgeous gelatin silver prints by Graciela Iturbide, which were a gift from the Mexican government back in 1998. Iturbe’s prints were striking, in a high-contrast, agressive sort of way. One image, which I’d seen reproduced before, was of an Indigenous woman tearing apart an animal in a market, a knife stuck between her teeth. Another, which I really loved, depicted an Indigenous woman, seen from behind, walking alone through the low mountains of the Sonoran desert, holding a Boom Box. Awesome. Fab Five Freddy would be proud. The entire scene looked like it could have taken place three hundred years ago, save for that one fantastic temporal reference.
The curators also mentioned that they believe it’s important for the Library of Congress to be relevant in the 21st Century. Many people see it as a dusty part of history, I was told, which is not a fair assessment of the living, evolving institution. They pointed out that the LoC was the first major archive to have a Flickr page, and that countless historical images have been tagged by the populace, crowd-sourcing elements of American history. They also have the entire 170,000 FSA archive accessible online, as they started the scanning process 15 years ago. They’re currently working with a new group of photographers and writers, Facing Change, to create a contemporary version of the FSA collection.
We finished up our visit looking at a few newly-acquired prints by Jen Davis, who uses herself as a subject of self-portraiture. I’ll be as careful as a I can with my language here, as Ms. Davis is a larger woman who uses her self-portraiture as a way of looking at the aforementioned “Body Issues.” It would be condescending to call the photographs brave, but clearly we’re not used to seeing self-portraits of people who look like Ms. Davis. If I had a dollar for every 20-something cutie that takes naked pictures of herself, I’d buy lunch for everyone reading this. But of course that’s the point. Since she’s an intelligent and talented artist, Ms. Davis is capable of making images that are delicate and subtle as they plumb a variety of themes related to being big in a world obsessed with unrealistic visions of retouched beauty. (I think everyone can relate. I certainly felt self-conscious on the beach in SoCal last month next to all those bronzed, slab-shouldered surfers with hair like Farrah Fawcett. Yes, I mean the guys…)
In one photo, Ms. Davis is at the beach with some friends, well-covered, sitting on a beach towel with an attractive friend in a bikini. Uncomfortable. In another, she’s in line, her back turned, at a hamburger stand at a State Fair or carnival. Corndog, anyone? Churro? Finally, I saw a print of Ms. Davis, slightly turned away, eating a pint of Haagen Dazs ice cream, like a secret, shameful midnight snack. All the prints were about 20×30, and powerful at scale. Anyone who’s read my previous articles knows I can be liberal with criticism, and prone to verbosity, but this work is hard to talk about. And given that the issues themselves are difficult to discuss in a country with an Obesity and Diabetes epidemic, I think Ms. Davis’ work succeeds on both the literal and metaphorical level. Great stuff.
From there, I took my leave, and trundled down the eternally long hallway to the exit. I stopped to give a shout out to the statue of James Madison, (What up, J-Mad? How YOU doin’?) read a few of his inspirational quotes on the wall, and then headed out into the city. I hadn’t been to this part of DC since I was a child, so it was like visiting for the first time. Lots of big white Classical buildings with ornate sculptures on top, and plenty of quotes incised on the structures as well. Some serious early 19th Century power architecture. I can see the thought process. Hey guys, let’s build a bunch of big, expensive buildings like the Greeks and Romans did, and people will know we’re a real country. Kind of like the Chinese are doing today with the Shanghai skyline. Expect now it’s the future, man.
I walked across the Mall, basically a long, narrow park with duck pond, and headed up the street to the National Gallery of Art, where I spent the rest of my day. I’ve gone on record, several times, discussing how much I love the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC. Hard as it is for me to fathom, the National Gallery is pretty close to it’s equal. And it’s free. That’s right. Free. You walk in, let the dude at the front look into your purse (or manbag), and then he says “Have a nice day.” That’s it. No money changes hands. How cool is that? Better check it out soon, as our broke-as-a-joke status as a nation will probably mean they start charging for this stuff any day now. As to the art, it’s indescribably good. (Yeah, tough adjective from a guy who’s trying to describe things.)
First thing to share: the museum is huge. Two-separate-buildings-with-an-underground-tunnel-in-between kind of huge. It’s the sort of place where you stare at the map for a few minutes, then say “Fuck it” and just wander around. So rather than trying to share my non-linear, Pacman like wanderings, I’ll just give some highlights. And there were many, as the collection of work on display here is truly remarkable. All you East Coast peoples, pay attention. Take a day and go visit. As long as your Amtrak doesn’t break down, which of course mine did on the way home, (more later) it will be an easy day, well worth it.
After spending time with some Rembrandts, because he’s the Man, I wandered into the German Renaissance section. I’ve seen a lot of art in my day, in many of the world’s best museums, but I hadn’t seen this before. The 16th Century portraits of probably-important-in-their-day German people were fantastic. I saw one, “Portrait of a Woman,” by Lucas Cranach the Elder (1522) that looked just like a Hellen Van Meene photo I’d seen at MOPA in San Diego last month. Head slightly turned, with an intense green background and strong shadow contrasting with her shocking red hair, it was so modern. Lifelike too. Accompanied by the equally creatively titled “Portrait of a Man,” it definitely gave me new perspective on the contemporary German portrait style. Many of the paintings I saw from that era, in fact, appeared to be the root of the stone-faced, unemotional, sharp and dry style made famous by Thomas Ruff. (BTW, I recently saw a Thomas Struth portrait of Gerhard Richter, also at MOPA, that was so self-serious I laughed out loud. We want the money, Lebowski.) Looking at portraits by Albrecht Durer and Hans Holbein, I noted that if one simply changed out the clothing, the German sitters could be straight out of the 21st C.
Downstairs, I stumbled upon the innocuously titled “Chester Dale” Collection. Wow. I’m excited just reading that. Wait, who? Sarcasm aside, the man knew what he was buying. I’m not sure I’ve seen a better grouping of late 19th Century/Early 20th Century European Painting. Picasso, Monet, Manet, Van Gogh, Degas, Braque, Renoir, Modigliani, Cézanne, Matisse, Touluse-Lautrec, Corot…and more. A diptych of Monet’s “Rouen Cathedral,” from 1894 was mesmerizing, and ought to be required viewing for every photographer. The manner in which light leads to color, and color to expressionism was laid out like a cheat sheet in a pop-quiz. Obvious but enlightening. Not to mention beautiful.
Picasso, as is often the case, was the standout. I saw two paintings, “The Lovers,” and “Classical Head,” from 1923 and 1922, respectively, that were in an almost-earnest, super classical style that I’d not seen from him before. And “Two Youths,” from 1906, featured two naked boys, around 10 years old, rendered in pale pastel orange hues. It was beautiful and haunting, and made me question some of the things I wrote about Jock Sturges last year. Not that I’m a flip-flopper, heaven forbid, but I did ask myself why it was OK for Picasso to work with such subjects, but not JS.
Soon enough, in another part of the museum, I found myself in a room with a sequence of 19th Century Gilbert Stuart portraits of the First five Presidents: Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison & Monroe. (Old white men, of course) Basking in their aura of power, I thought: this is their town. I’m just visiting. They lived and breathed, they created this country, and now I’m walking around, enjoying the multi-billion dollar art collection that sprung up in their name. That was one thing I enjoyed about DC, the sense that the history of the US is alive, and that the future has not yet been written. (Perhaps I’m overly optimistic on that one.) Wherever you go, you see frumpy, serious looking people in power ties and pant suits, rushing off to solve one problem or another.
After passing the underground waterfall in the tunnel between the buildings, I found myself in the Modern wing. As you can imagine, my brain was pretty well pickled by then, but I did wander through a thorough and well curated collection of late 20th Century painting and sculpture. (No photos in sight. But the Jasper Johns Target painting and Jackson Pollock’s “Lavender Mist” are dynamite.) I didn’t see a single photograph until the end of my visit, if you can believe it. A Lewis Baltz show had just closed, and there were no photographs mixed in with any of the gallery installations I saw, until I found a tiny room off in a corner that had two Friedlanders and a Robert Cumming. I went from not remembering who Cumming was to being a big fan in a couple of weeks, after seeing his work in LA too. The show was about the alphabet, like the curators were watching too much Sesame Street, but as they were the only photographs I could find, I wasn’t going to be too picky.
Nam June Paik, considered the Godfather of video art, had a video exhibition tucked away in the top floor Tower. Given that so many photographers are now nascent video artists, this is a show to see. One piece, called “Three eggs,” 1975-82, had an old school video camera trained on a white egg, then an old, low-res video monitor of the video feed of the egg in real time, and then a real egg sitting on black velvet inside the same type of monitor that had the glass popped out. Penetrating and quiet, it was the epitome of 20th C Zen. The whole room, which had 30 foot ceilings, also had multiple, manipulated versions of a video feed of a candle, flickering huge. At first I thought it was kind of boring, but as I was leaving, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a real candle, on a stand, with a video camera trained on it. I doubled back, and saw that the set up was the basis of all the images around me. Lots of visual noise, all stemming from the silent, lonely candle, slowly melting away. Genius. I asked the security guard how often they change out the candle, and he said every day. Every day, someone lights a new candle and lets it burn itself down, in front of no one’s eye but the camera. (I also asked the guard his opinion of the piece. “It’s OK for me.”)
From there, I headed out into the DC drizzle and haze, and walked back around the Capitol building to Union Station for an evening train to NYC. Thoroughly exhausted, I lined up at the gate behind some tow-headed doofus from the Huntsman campaign who wouldn’t stop chattering into his Blackberry while finger-dancing on his Ipad. Soon enough, the train departed, and I was on my way North, ready to sign up as Amtrak’s Number 1 Fan. Until the power went dead as we sat in Baltimore’s Downtown train station. Dead as in dead. As in, not working, not planning to work, figure something else out. I happened to notice, on my way South earlier in the day, that the train tracks cut right through the boarded up B-more neighborhoods so grittly depicted in “The Wire.” So close you could touch them. And they look even bleaker in real life, if you can believe it. So I was not particularly happy about being stuck in downtown Baltimore for the night. But these things have a way of working themselves out, and my train companions and soon I bum-rushed the next Acela high speed number. I even got a seat and free Wi-f, and was back in NYC in no time. I saw some great work there too, of course, but that’s another story for a different day.
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Creative Director: Stephen Gan
Design Director: Elizabeth Hummer
Photography & Bookings Director: Zoe Bruns
Photographer: Daniel Jackson
Note: Content for The Daily Edit is found on the newsstands. Submissions are not accepted.
When I talked to Mitchell Feinberg recently he mentioned that he owned the world’s largest non-scanning color sensor array, something he created so that he could continue to shoot 8×10 film without Polaroid. Normally I avoid anything to do with equipment but this sounded interesting.
APE: Tell me why you created the 8×10 digital capture back and how it works?
Mitchell: When I look back, three years ago, it was crazy that I even tried to do this: design and manufacture the world’s largest color capture back, large enough to cover the 8” x 10” format, so that I could continue to shoot like my glass plate-carrying brethren a hundred years ago.
It was a race against the clock, or, specifically, a race to see if my stocks of 8×10 Polaroid would run out before the back was completed. In the early months of investigation most of my evenings were spent on meandering Internet searches. Months more were spent deciphering unintelligible technical papers. The few companies with the right technical expertise were eventually identified, but it was extremely difficult to be taken seriously. The experience felt like working at a call center, making unsolicited calls for storm windows. Eventually, one firm was convinced, and, after over a year of difficult design work, a first prototype was delivered in February 2010. The first production model was delivered about 9 months later.
The Maxback, as it has been named (the Brontoback, Velocicaptor and Back Scratch Fever were rejected), is the largest non-scanning color digital back in the world, with a capture area of over 8×10 inches. The largest commercially available color digital camera backs are about 4.5 x 6cm in size. It attaches without modification to a Sinar, and delivers high quality interim captures in under 30 seconds.
I use the back while I am working. Once I am happy with a photo, I flip off the back and then shoot a couple of sheets. In this way, I have the quality of 8×10 film, and the immediacy of digital capture. Crazy, right?
Well, the idea is not that crazy but I’m guessing the cost was astronomical. I shouldn’t ask but can you give me an idea on that?
The development and production of two backs (I wanted to have a spare) was equal to the cost of a good size house – before the housing crash. I know it sounds insane, but the financials on it are not so bad: I used to shoot on average 7.5 Polaroids per photo, and I shoot between 400 to 500 images a year. That’s at least 3000 Polaroids. At 15 bucks a pop. Or about 50K per year, minimum. Polaroid was at one point my highest single cost. I am depreciating the back, charging clients for its use, and I was eligible for the technology investment credit. I also took out a loan based on the projected income from the back, so I did not have a huge hit on my bank account. It is certainly not a fantastic rate of return, but the back is designed to last a very long time, so it should generate a strong profit over the long term (And that is not including the all-important photo-related issue that my clients love receiving 8×10 film).
The engineers and I discussed selling them, but no one wanted to bother with customer sales and support. I think there are maybe a dozen of so photographers who might have the desire and resources to buy one or two (I have two, so that I have a spare handy). This means we would not sell enough to start a proper production line, and it would be tricky to order small quantities from the sensor foundry, not to mention the main boards and other critical parts. It’s straightforward to make prototypes and hundreds of units, but five is a difficult number from a production/manpower standpoint.
We never set a unit price, but it would be in the low six figures. Anyone purchasing a device for that kind of money would expect excellent tech support, which implies that we would need to have backup devices ready in case there was an equipment failure. That would be costly. If I had an order tomorrow for ten of them, we could probably move forward with it, but it does not make much financial sense to pursue sales on a one-off basis.
When we look back at our era in 50 years, we may not remember particular images at all. Instead we’ll note how they were cleverly sorted and recontextualized.
Question: what do you call someone who campaigns for anyone to be allowed to publish a photographer’s work without permission, and then complains when someone publishes his wife’s photographs without permission? Answer: Cory Doctorow.
September 23 – 24 Santa Fe’s, CENTER has a retreat-style workshop called portfolio bootcamp that I will be participating in. This is a weekend intensive workshop aimed at photographers of all levels who want to get their portfolios in great shape. If this interests you go here for more information on the event including a list of presenters: http://www.visitcenter.org/bootcamp
I’m personally excited to hear Robin Fisher-Roffer, of Big Fish Marketing who’s giving a talk on how to stand out and get noticed. She’s a nationally recognized branding expert so I’m sure she will have some great ideas for this. Besides that there will be lots of intensive portfolio discussions and 1 on 1 time to work on books. Even though everyone is hiring off websites anymore, a well crafted book can be an excuse to meet in person and is still a real deal closer.
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Design Director: David Curcurito
Photo Director: Michael Norseng
Note: Content for The Daily Edit is found on the newsstands. Submissions are not accepted.
Heidi: How did the idea to interpret the dreams come about? did it come from the magazine?
Perou: David Curcurito (creative director at Esquire) suggested to me that I might discuss my ideas for the shoot with Ryan, as Ryan also had some ideas for the shoot.
Where you given the story first and then did you and Ryan talked?
Sometimes I’m asked to email over some rough sketches or discuss with someone’s PR what I have in mind, but it’s unusual for me to have a two way conversation with someone before I photograph them for a magazine. There was more pre-production discussion before this shoot than any other I’ve done but that was great because I think all the best portraits of people are collaborations. I was a little concerned that I wouldn’t be able to describe eloquently enough what I wanted to do, as I’m better with pictures than words. I called Ryan on his cell. he was in LA and I was in London.
I said ‘I hear you’ve got some ideas.’ ‘I’ve got one idea’ , he said, ‘…I keep having this recurring dream where everyone around me is a skeleton’
How would you describe Ryan’s dreams?
Ryan’s dream wasn’t too complicated, but Ryan’s own interpretation of his dream as a direction for the photos was quite complex and developed as we were discussing it. I was keen not to do something with real skeletons because as an icon (most) people can’t take them seriously. So we moved on from Ryan surrounded by real skeletons in various scenarios to Ryan with a woman representing the skeletons of his dreams: something like a Styx from greek mythology coming out of the shadows. I think part of what works in this is that me and Ryan had very different approaches to the shoot: he was very keen on doing a complete story with a beginning, middle and end: fully researched and scripted in advance. I knew we had to do a clean cover and then had 4 or 5 images inside the magazine, at most and Esquire aren’t really into full-on, photo-illustrations with tons of post-production. I wanted to do some iconic pictures of a movie star based loosely around an idea he had. I personally think the best ideas are often the simplest. I remember saying to Ryan, think of me like an improvise director: I’ll get the cast together and the location and we’ll freestyle around our idea: that’s how I work. If we try and script everything exactly, we’ll lose out on some magic and any spontaneous moments that happen.
Which is your favorite image?
My favorite picture from the shoot is the closer shot of Ryan nuzzling into Veronica’s neck. As well as shooting the stills for the cover feature of the magazine, I also shoot video for the moving covers on the ipad edition of Esquire. The idea for two Ryan’s on the ipad cover was all his and I think it works really well: a really simple, effective idea.
What was the most interesting thing that happened on the shoot?
It was a hard day at the office. Mainly because everything had to be discussed in so much detail before each shot, before the shoot and during the shoot: the motivation had to be right: it had to make sense. My day was made much easier by the lovely Veronica throwing cheeky winks my way. I thought it was amusing that Veronica wasn’t really into the last shot of the day when she had to repeatedly kiss Ryan.
What kind of direction where you giving to the subjects on set?
Veronica, the model was Brazilian and I had been under the impression that she didn’t speak much English. I was being my usual flirtatious with the ladies self, maybe more so than usual. It wasn’t till the end of the shoot that I realized she been understanding more than I’d assumed.
How long did that set take to build and where in NY did you shoot?
we shot on location in warehouse studio called ‘the 1896’ there was no real set building as such: just a bit of proppage.
Who did the body painting? and how long did that take?
Genius Will Lemon did the body painting. I have a vague recollection that it took him and his two assistants about 8hrs. Veronica stood the whole time: she was great.
Blink magazine a labor of love by Korean native Kim Aram. The magazine features personal work by emerging, established and undiscovered photographers. Issue 5 has just been released.
Heidi: How do you select the images, do you choose a theme for each issue?
Kim: I trust myself. It’s simple, some work makes my heart beat really fast. I study it and ask myself: Are you going to spend $10,000 on this photograph? Even if I think I’d spend $1000, I would select it. That said, we don’t pay for any of the images. I try and make sure that the images don’t bore me, gathering work for Blink is like collecting art for a gallery of sorts. I do have one rule: I don’t accept commissioned work. I accept only personal work. When selecting work, a resume, a career, receiving awards doesn’t affect my choices. I sincerely love portraiture, I think the human being is the most interesting subject in this world. There are no themes for each issues. I actually considered it but thought that giving themes for each issues would put limitations on select artwork and there were already so many magazines doing that format with themes.
How many submissions would you say you turn down?
I turn down quite a few. It doesn’t mean that I don’t like their work. I just don’t want to be a lazy editor. I also have another rule, I promised by myself to include one out of every 50 submissions for BLINK. I try to pick just one or nothing among the 50 It’s just like non-objevtive promising. I can’t respond to all of the submissions. Please excuse me for that, I do respect all artists.
What in your eyes is the most exciting aspect of photography for you right now?
Everyone has camera now. It means everyone is able to take a photograph.
It seems like it’s a fair chance for everyone to be creative. That said, it’s that tiny little thing which not easy to achieve to make your photograph different. That is exciting. Artists need to have their own eye and point of view for creating their own world.
Where can I find a copy of the magazine in the US? Or do I have to subscribe? Do you have a digital version as well?We are working on an ipad version of BLINK, so I will start to publish a digital version of BLINK but I am still examining it thoroughly because I believe in the high value of a paper magazine. You can get your own copy on the website at www.blinkreflex.com We have a safe and fast paypal and can send anywhere in the world.
I am making a distribution list for other countries now. The problem is it’s very expensive to ship. We don’t have a lot of money or a big staff. I do ALL the publishing for BLINK. I do the design layout, select the artwork, contact the artists, direct exhibitions, promotion, business, publisher’s talks at galleries and the marketing. I did send the magazine to art fairs and galleries because I really would love to give BLINK to people so they can feel the paper in their hands, see it with their own eyes. I know if they just grab BLINK, their next move is falling love with BLINK. Some people promised me they would bring BLINK to their venues. I was so naive, after receiving magazines, they didn’t contact me. I was disappointed in them and disappointed in myself. I really need some people I can trust.
Before doing this project, what did you do for a living?
I worked as the art editor for an art magazine called PHOTO+. The publisher of the magazine was crazy about MONEY. He always talked about MONEY, MONEY. He probably still does, and he didn’t respect art or the artists. I thought I was a part of his magazine but he said it’s all his own and I am just his robot. One day I finished all my work and I decided that it’s time to quit. I said to him “bye fucker.” Photographers, don’t send your work to them.
Galleries and media in Korea are so miserable. They built their own art world which puts some distance between the public and art. Someone with money or professors come into power and the result is “boring!” They have to wake up. I am on a mission to build up brand awareness about BLINK.
We support young talented artists who can’t have opportunity to show their work to the world because of boring professors and directors, galleries, magazines here.
Were you always involved photography somehow?
When I was kid, I always trusted that I was an artist. Being a photographer was high priority but I had to let it go for financial reasons. (here, being artist much worse than other countries.) I spent less time making my own artwork, I spent more time appreciating artwork by other people. I began writing about photography too, just some impressions about their work. I did this for free and I kept the focus positive. Art is so much about personal taste and preference. I do think photography is like poetry and one image can speak over a thousand words. Just like the old saying. hahaha”
Do you shoot as well?
Yes, for fun. I take daily snaps which give me inspiration I use my Sony Ericson x1(mobilephone). Sometimes I do self-portraits year after year. If I have more time for myself, I will do my own photographic work but I would never be featured in BLINK. A lot of magazines make me sick. It looks like those magazines exist for their own photographer or art director’s work. MEDIA has to have huge responsibility to the public, there are so many swindlers out here. They have to give the media space to other talented artists and the public.
For your facebook and twitter feeds where is that content coming from? selected artists? fans? Do you feed those outlets in between issues with work you liked but did not select for the printed edition?
I don’t post anything about featuring artists for the next issue. It has to be a secret before being published. Sometimes I use Facebook to help me select an artist. I have so many friend requests from Facebook I am in a panic! I don’t use twitter to search for artists. I tweet information about BLINK and news of featured artists and other happenings in art world, or readers of BLINK. I tweet in Korean so would not be worth it to people who can’t read Korean. You can have a conversation with me about BLINK via direct message, I use that a lot or if you want to update news about BLINK, If you want, like BLINK on facebook at here or see it here
Where is your funding coming from since you have no advertising?
That is the biggest difficulty. I spent 15 years of my savings to create and publish BLINK. I am waiting for sponsors or advertisers. If I get over the break-even point with BLINK, I am going to bring down the price of the magazine or increase its circulation. Last month I recruited donations with Korean version of Kickstarter and I got one third of the cost for publishing ISSUE 5 covered. THANK YOU to all who donated! I was so grateful. You can still donate on the website.If you donate, I will put your name and your message on the bottom the website page. If you donate over $30 your name and message will be in the magazine as well as you will get the issue.
I do offer space on BLINK for ads for a reasonable price. The most I would include is 10 pages advertisement for BLINK and I will be very discriminating about what advertising I accept.
Artists and galleries can advertise and show their own work. I do send BLINK to galleries, collectors and artists of all over the world. I just gather what I love and show it to this world while kicking the boring daily routine out with great artists whom I love, support and take care of. I do this for one simple reason, the photographs make my eyes happy. BLINK is myself and I am BLINK.
What is the best way to submit work to you?
Simple. It’s a two step process: First, see ‘Take a look inside of BLINK‘ videos and sample spreads of images on the website. (I make a video which shows the issue.) Second, ask yourself: “Is my work really harmonious with work of featured artists on those previous issues?” Not all work is right for BLINK. but that doesn’t mean that your work is not good or not perfect, it just not for BLINK. I can’t answer all the submissions, I don’t mean to be rude but it’s fairly impossible. Please contact me via email as well: email@example.com
information about bookISBN 978-89-965709-5-0
100 PAGES(8mm. both sides covers)
21 X 29.7 CM
text of interviews with artists in english
Whenever I get back from a long trip, my wife and I have this ritual. It sort of grounds me back home, lets me back in psychologically. Part of this ritual involves sitting on the steps of union square park in NYC and watching people going about their daily lives. Watching them shopping for clothes, for food, whatever – mostly watching their complete obliviousness to the hardships of another place thousands of miles away. Initially I get angry, but then I realize, that it’s all relative. That this is part of life, that most people are oblivious, because there is no other way to live. You can’t care about everyone everywhere.
I got a question form a reader about Lürzer’s Archive that was similar to another one about CA Photo Annual. Basically, are these things worth it? Both these publications are read by people in the Advertising industry so I have very little experience with them, but the panels I’ve been on they are always mentioned as sources for finding photographers. But “is it worth the $750 for a 1/2 page” in Archive, the reader asks?
My opinion, based on just listening to people, not actual experience, is that none of this is worth it unless it’s part of an actual campaign to reach potential clients. A general rule that a client must see your work in around 5 different places before they will place you on the “to hire someday” list seems smart. That means if your work appears in Archive it should also hit their desk in a mailer and their email box then possibly on a blog or magazine they check out and finally at a portfolio showing. Actually this is related to another question I got about resource books. Are they still worth it? Generally, people are still advertising in them because of the websites and events they have along with the books but also because they create additional points of contact. Don’t forget the old advertising adage: “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.”
Love to hear some empirical evidence from readers about this.
by Wonderful Machine CEO Bill Cramer
It seems like everywhere I turn lately I’m finding people giving “incentives” for others to do business with them. On more than one occasion, I’ve seen stock agencies offering iPods to art buyers who spend a certain amount of money with them. And recently, I’ve even run across an individual photographer offering an iPad to anyone who hires him for a shoot. One says,
“I am giving away brand new iPad 2’s (WiFi 32Gb your choice white or black) all year to any Creative Director, Art Director, or Art Buyer who hires me to shoot a campaign*. What’s the catch you say??None just my way of saying thanks.”
Sometimes this works in reverse. When I first got out of college, I worked for a photographer who had a client who asked him for a “commission” on the projects he hired him for. The client was an art director for a local television station, and the photographer was shooting publicity photos of the on-air personalities. Another photographer I know used to work for a national tabloid newspaper, and the photo editor there had a high volume of assignments to give out. He decided to create a photo agency as a side business, he hired the photographers through that agency and then took an agent’s commission for getting them the job. Those payments, called kickbacks, are like a bribe in reverse. The practice may or may not be legal, but those folks would certainly be fired on the spot if their employers found out they were taking that money. After all, the employee was obligated to serve the interests of the employer, but instead they were selling those interests to someone else and keeping the money for themselves. Some companies have explicit policies that prohibit their employees from taking even the smallest gift. Bloomberg L.P. for example, sends out a letter every November reminding their vendors not to send any Bloomberg employees any holiday presents because they want to avoid even the perception of conflict of interest.
But what if the person asking for a commission isn’t an employee bound by those restrictions? What if they have their own independent company? Recently, I had a situation involving a small ad agency and a campaign for a local brand. The project was a one-day studio shoot where we’d photograph several models, individually, on a white background, in a variety poses.
In the course of the usual exchange of emails during the estimating process, I received the following information from the account executive:
Good speaking with you today. For estimating purposes, it looks like, in rough terms, we will have:
3 newspaper Ads
1 transit shelter
That is subject to change once the final deliverables have been set. But I won’t know that for a while.
As to billing, the client wants to have you invoice them directly because they have tax exempt status. Because we typically mark-up all 3rd party costs such as photography, can you bill the client your fee plus our mark up and then remit the commission to us when you get paid. For example, let’s say your cost is $10K and we add our $1.5K commission on top of that. You bill the client $11.5K and then we invoice you for the $1.5K that you pay us when you get paid. I hope this works for you Bill.
Please get back to me with your input and/or comments. I look forward to working with you!
I had to think about how to reply. I did want the job but I didn’t want to pay them a commission. So I called the account executive and told him that I was uncomfortable with that arrangement. After all, he wasn’t my agent. He wasn’t working for me, I was working for him. If he wanted to mark up my services, that was fine with me, but that was between him and his client. He told me that they always work this way and that all of their other clients and photographers are comfortable with it. I told him I had been working in the same city as him for 20 years and I never had a client ask me for a commission. I asked if his client knew about the commission, and he said, “not exactly.” So we left it at that and he never brought it up again. I’m not saying that there’s anything illegal or unethical or immoral (necessarily) about what he was asking for. It wasn’t exactly a kickback in the traditional sense. But I didn’t like that he wanted to misrepresent the cost of the photography to the client (which is different than a regular mark-up where everyone understands the situation if not the actual costs) and I didn’t want to set a precedent for future projects. Are these situations somehow different from an ordinary bribe or kickback? Am I naive to think there’s something wrong with them?
Back to the estimate. The plan was to photograph three people, resulting in one ad each. The client was a local company that did business mainly in just one section of the city (albeit with a lot of exposure, given the media buy). I first checked Blinkbid and fotoQuote. Blinkbid suggested a fee of 3000.00 – 6750.00 for three images for billboards, newspaper ads and transit poster for a year. fotoQuote came back with 5410.00. They both seemed low to me. If the client was going to lease 8 billboards for a year each, that could be $200k in media right there (small billboards lease for about 1000.00/month and large highway billboards are about 4000.00/month). So I decided on 7500.00. I planned on a day to test the pictures so we could figure out which poses would work best for the concept and layouts. The rest of the production expenses were pretty routine. Here’s the first estimate:
Maybe I came in too cheap, but the client who was previously very budget conscious, decided that they wanted one more ad and they wanted more extensive licensing. Email from account exec:
1) XXXXX would like to have a full buy-out on the rights to use the images for longer than a year and with the possibility of using them on other deliverables such as the website. Can we work this into this agreement upfront?
2) XXXXX would like to know what the certificate of insurance covers?
3) XXXXX would like you to “bury” the cost for catering/craft services somewhere else (e.g., add it into another line item) because she can’t justify this cost to her boss. Long story.
4) XXXXX does not understand the $150 for mileage. Can you please explain that?
5) Last, they are tax exempt. I will fax you their certificate.
That’s all for now. Please get back to me with questions/comments/answers.
1) To me, this meant simply removing the restrictions about where they could use the pictures and for how long.
2) Most locations and rental studios require a certificate of (liability) insurance. They want to know that a photographer is properly covered in the event of property damage or injury during the shoot. Some insurance companies charge for this, some don’t. We routinely charge 100.00 for it because whether we have to pay for it or not, it’s one more task that we have to handle, and to a lesser extent it helps pay for the actual insurance. Like a lot of expenses, there are times when it makes sense to itemize it and other times it makes more sense to bundle it into the fee. Mostly it’s a matter of doing what’s customary.
3) The client’s client’s boss didn’t want to pay for lunch for the cast and crew. Who knows where that came from, but it’s very unusual. If I’m doing a half-day magazine portrait, I won’t charge the client for any meals (though I will buy my assistant lunch regardless). But on most full-day shoots, it’s customary to bill for meals (or for catering on larger productions).
4) This line item was actually for Mileage, parking, tolls, shipping, misc. They may not have realized that we were renting a studio and that we would have to make several trips back and forth.
5) There are two parts to the “tax exempt” question. The rules vary from state to state, but in Pennsylvania, we’re obligated to charge sales tax to any in-state client (that’s not a publication) unless they send us a certificate exempting them from that sales tax. Lots of times when I’m doing an estimate, I’m not sure who’s going to pay the bill and whether they’re going to have to pay sales tax or not. If you add in the tax, it makes your price look bigger than it really is. If you leave it out, you risk getting stuck paying it yourself. So we simply say, “plus applicable sales tax.” That way, we’re covered both ways. Looking back to my client’s email, saying that his client wanted me to bill them directly because of their tax exempt status was a bit of a red herring. In all likelihood, the end client wanted to be billed directly for the photography because they wanted to know what they were paying for and they wanted to keep a lid on the “mark-ups.”
Now to revise the the estimate. Adding one more situation and expanding the time and breadth of the licensing would certainly increase the price, but by how much? Checking back with my pricing programs, Blinkbid offered up a range of 33k – 90k and fotoQuote said 7350.00. I knew that the if the client was concerned about buying lunch, they were not going to pay the photographer $90k. But 7350.00 seemed way too low. A lot of photographers say that their rule of thumb is that a “buyout” is worth triple the price of limited use. (First of all, I don’t use the term “buyout” in any of my contracts because it means something different to everyone.) I don’t think it’s a simple multiple. You have to evaluate each situation individually. There are some pictures that are going to hold up better over than others over time, or be more useful in more ways than others. In this case, the first quote was for a year, with the bulk of the value (and the most likely use – based on the long narrow format of the photos) was in the billboards. They were already planning on 8 billboards, which is a lot for a local company to rent in a relatively small geographic region. Any campaign is going to wear out after a while. I decided that without restrictions, they might reasonably use the pictures two to three times as much or as long as the original plan. That doesn’t mean that the licensing is necessarily worth double or triple though, since a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. All things considered, I decided on $18k for the fee. We “buried” the catering fee into some additional “retouching.” (I guess I’m corruptible after all.)
They signed the quote. We shot the job. They paid the bill (less the commission).