The Big Picture Creator Moves On

- - Blog News

Two and a half years ago, Alan Taylor started The Big Picture at the Boston Globe; he basically ran the site in his spare work time as a web developer for the company. Now he’s moving on to The Atlantic, where he will edit a new photo site called In Focus.

Smart move by The Atlantic, which is increasingly looking like one of the media properties that may make a smooth-ish transition from print to online/app media.


Observations From Photo LA 2011

- - Events

John Eder sent me this entertaining report from Photo LA 2011.

I went with my buddy the location scout – he got into that after a career as an assistant. We were gonna play a drinking game where we would have a shot if we saw pictures with:

empty swimming pools
Russian hookers
Indian hookers
any kind of hookers
Indian brothels
deserted strip malls
incredibly sharp images of banal intersections with gas stations
enigmatic pictures that look like stills from movies that never happened
girls in gowns underwater in swimming pools
Anything with 20 of the same thing in a grid pattern – watertowers, neon motel signs, etc.
Anything with North Korea in it
Douglas Kirkland – in any form – on the wall, in person, endorsing something, in a workshop, advertising for a future workshop, anything

We didn’t do it, tho, which is a good thing cos we would have gotten hammered!

Anyway, by Sunday, when we went, all the vendors were bored stiff and would talk your ear off. The gal from Light Works was cool and expounded at length about their really great programs for photographers – residencies, grants, access to their print lab. I’m into that! The guy hawking beautiful ltd. editions of my one-time instructor Jerry Uelsmann let me paw thru all his stuff even when I told him I didn’t have $5K to buy one. Jerry’s work still holds up for me, even in the digital age. I could have sworn the two babes manning the booth for some gallery from Santa Fe were flirting with me, I wonder if they hooked up at the after party with the guy from another gallery who sounded like Cary Grant, or more like Tony Curtis imitating Cary Grant in “Some Like It Hot.” Counted five female patrons with shaved heads, just in that one afternoon. Lots of dudes in designer eyeglasses along the lines of Hockney or Phillip Johnson.

What was striking was the lack of anything really all that new. Nobody from this yrs MOMA “New Photography” show – Alex Prager, Roe Etheridge, etc. No Gursky this year. Only one by Kahn and Selesnick, kind of tucked away, odd cos they seem to be making a big splash with their cool work No Jill Greenberg, who is usually represented. Some truly weird stuff – one thing where you could take your picture in this booth and they photoshopped it into some kind of weird Buddha garden thing. None of the big NYC galleries like Yancey Richardson or Yossi Milo, I guess they don’t have to, no Clampart, nothing like that.

I was thinking about the Clint Clemens interview you did as well, regarding China – there was one Chinese gallery represented, which had a spiffy booth and some nice giveaway postcards, but they were dealing in vintage images of stuff from the 50s in China, which was visually nice but nothing leading edge.

If I had $100K to buy for a zillionaire’s loft, you could have gotten a lot of cool stuff, tho not necessarily for a song, but reams of famous vintage images from the worlds of fashion/ celeb/ journalism available for under $10K. Fetching BIG prices was Helmut Newton. You could have gotten some nice Lillian Bassmans for relatively cheap – one well heeled West Side type power couple were mulling over a purchase as “She’s going to die any minute and they’ll triple.”

Hardly any imitation Eggleston, except for something called “LA Matrix La Brea”, which was heavy on the intersections with gas stations incredibly sharp, Steven Shore involved there along with younger types.

I think the most of one thing we saw was Antarctica/the Arctic/ frozen wastelands with scary icebergs – tons of that! Lots of photo-shopped, manipulated landscapes, which were neat to look at for the most part, tho some of them a little hokey. Also, as usual – we should have put this on the list for our drinking game – there are ALWAYS a million pics of Muhammad Ali at this thing, as was the case this yr.

One of the best things about it, from an overall industry view, was it was way more heavily attended than last yr., and stuff seemed to be selling, even the smaller galleries said business had been good; they felt justified in the outlay of putting up a booth. Last year it was like oh my God the sky is falling, it was not so hot saleswise. There was a lot of stuff with red dots on it, for sold, so that’s encouraging.

I think my fave thing – that stopped me in my tracks and made me laff – was this Corey Arnold pic, on display as the cover of his book:


OK that’s my entirely unsolicited review.

Social Media Marketing Talk

- - Events

I’m giving a talk next week in Boise, ID on social media marketing for photographers. If you’re going come say hi afterwards. Here are the specifics:

Social Media has quickly changed the way people communicate and do business. If you’re like most photographers you have Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts and maybe you’ve done a bit of blogging, but you haven’t figured out how this fits into your marketing plan. You’re not alone, long established media and advertising businesses were caught off guard as social media revolutionized their industry. Staying informed, making a plan and taking action is essential for anyone running a business in this new environment. In this presentation Rob Haggart will help you make sense of how these new tools work, show you photographers who are finding success with social media and inspire you to take action.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011
7:00 PM – 10:00 PM

Hotel 43 Downtown Boise
Longitude Room
981 Grove Street
Boise, Idaho 83702

Students $5
ASMP Members Free
Non-Members $15

/sponsored by me.

Real World Estimates – Food and People Shoot for Hispanic Ad Agency

by Wonderful Machine producer Jess Dudley

We recently helped one of our food/people photographers quote on an ad shoot for an agency that specializes in reaching Hispanic audiences. The ad agency’s client was a major food brand, and the product they were promoting was a household name. The campaign was aimed at Hispanics and was to be used only in Spanish language media (primarily grocery store point-of-purchase). The agency needed pictures of a celebrity chef (standing, wearing chef jacket, looking at the camera), a recipe she makes using the product, and four still-life pictures of various products in their product line. All of the pictures would be shot on white background, at a studio near the agency and talent, in one shoot day. The usage was six images for “unlimited use in the U.S. for one year.”

When I build an estimate, I like to figure out the production costs first because it helps me really understand the scope of the project, which can influence the licensing/creative fee. One of the things that made this estimate interesting was that the agency asked us to use their estimating form (see below). That was nice because it gave us prompts for all the information they expected to see. And from their perspective, it makes it easy to compare quotes.

Production Crew. The photographer would have to fly in from another city for the shoot. She would plan to take her regular first assistant. She didn’t feel the need to add on a local assistant. My ideal is having one assistant who is familiar with the photographer traveling along, and one local assistant who is familiar with the local people and places who can help get us out of a jam when the unexpected arises. I put in for one assistant shoot day and two assistant travel days.

I find that hair/makeup, wardrobe, prop, and food stylists tend to be in the same general price range. But for this job, the food styling was the most critical component, so I budgeted more for that. The product itself isn’t very glamorous, so the recipe really needed to shine. In addition to looking through every food stylist website I could find, I spent a lot of time talking with local food photographers, folks at kitchen studios, and local magazines, to make sure I knew who the best food stylists were in that area. I planned on a day of prep for the food stylist to sort out the recipes and to buy the food, and a day on set for the food stylist and their assistant.

For this type of shoot (one subject, non-cosmetics shoot) one person can handle both hair and make-up. One stylist could handle the wardrobe (which would be provided) and propping with one prep day and one shoot day. Even though the wardrobe was to be provided, we still needed someone on set to steam the clothes and fuss with the fit. Chef uniforms are not the most flattering, so some time and attention would need to be spent pinning the uniform properly to give it a more fitted appearance.

I factored in three days for the production coordinator (me). It would mostly be pre-production to pull all the elements together and make the travel arrangements, and then just tying up loose ends after the shoot. The shoot was simple enough, and due to the photographer’s needs and the client’s budget concerns, I didn’t need to be there for the shoot.

Photographic Medium. We put in 300.00 for basic digital workflow. That’s less than we normally charge for a project like this, but it reflected the photographer’s comfort level. The retouching needs would mostly be file clean-up, smoothing wrinkles, smoothing skin, and fussing with the food a bit. I figured an hour for each image. The client requested a proof print of each of the final images because the final colors of the labels and product itself are so important.

Studio Rental. I had a couple places in our database, and got some more from some friends in the area. We found a great studio with a nice cyc wall close to the agency. As I’m checking on price and availability for all my support services, I generally put my favorites on hold. That way, I don’t have to scramble when the job comes through. When you put someone on hold, it’s like a tentative booking. If something else comes in for them on that date, they call you and ask you to confirm or release them from the hold. If you confirm and then cancel, you are obligated to pay them whatever cancellation fee you have negotiated. If you release them from the hold, or if the job doesn’t come through and you haven’t confirmed, there’s normally nothing to pay for.

We expected a cast and crew of about 10 people for a light breakfast and a normal lunch. I normally factor in about 40.00/head for that. If I have time, I’ll make some calls to confirm that with some caterers. If not, that amount is a safe bet to account for.

Equipment. The photographer was traveling with her own gear, for which she was charging a modest rental fee.

Location. Just needed a certificate of insurance for the rental studio.

Travel. We’d need round-trip transportation for the photographer and her first assistant. Estimating travel costs can be tricky. Airfares can vary wildly depending on when the travel is taking place and how much advance notice you have. Between the time you quote on a job and when you get it, fares can double—especially if the shoot dates change. Make sure you’re clear in advance about who is going to pay/get the difference when the fare goes up/down. In this case, we were charging our actual cost on the expenses and the client understood that it was subject to change. I normally figure on single occupancy hotel rooms. It wouldn’t be unusual to ask two assistants to share a room if the budget is tight, but it would have to be an extreme case to have the photographer share a room with the assistant. I chose to rent a car so we could run last minute errands. But I could have shaved off a few bucks by using a car service to and from the airport. Excess baggage is important to pay attention to these days. It’s a good idea to have your own scale to make sure your equipment cases don’t exceed 50 pounds. And unless you’re flying Southwest, you’ll have to pay close attention to the baggage charges, because they add up fast. In the past, I’ve been able to get discounts from airlines for photographic equipment (especially if the photographer had a valid press credential). But these days, with airlines trying to make money any way they can, it’s rare to get that kind of treatment.

Props, Wardrobe and Sets. The pictures required only simple plates for the food, no props for the chef and just white background for all the pictures including the product itself. But it’s better to have extra stuff that you don’t use than wish you had a wooden spoon or an oven mitt to put in the subject’s hand when the art director feels inspired. I talked to the prop stylists and the food stylists to get a better sense of what I should budget for plates, pans, place settings and the food. Depending on what else they’re responsible for, it would be reasonable to have the food stylist or the prop stylist handle the cooking-related props. It’s not unusual for food stylists to bring along a small selection of serving dishes which can fill in for whatever the prop stylist gets. Just be sure to be clear on who’s bringing what avoid any confusion on the shoot day. And of course, you can plan on the prop stylist being able to buy and return items that don’t get used.

Talent and Casting. The celebrity chef was the only talent and we didn’t have to pay her out of the photography budget.

Miscellaneous. The client requested delivery by DVD. More often we simply upload the files to our FTP and send the client a link. The “Shipping and Messengers” is actually a car service for the chef.

Photography Fee. Lastly, I nailed down the fee. The key points to consider were: national brand enlisted a mid-size agency and relatively unknown “celebrity chef” to promote a small segment of their business to the Spanish-speaking population of the U.S., using six images for one year (see “usage license required” on last estimate page). Some of these factors create upward pressure on the value and some push it down. The fact that only 17% of the US speaks Spanish as a first or second language seriously limits the audience of this campaign and drastically lowered the licensing fee. This brought the fee down from what would have otherwise been 10-12k to under 7k. Majors and minors refer to the prominence of the image in the ad. In this case, they expected to use the portrait and a couple of the other pictures big, and the rest much smaller.


Six Basic Rules of Negotiating

- - Blog News

You’re going to hear ten “no’s” for every “yes” so don’t take a lost negotiation personally. Don’t burn bridges. I like to think of it this way: each person in a negotiation is just doing their job. The prospect’s job is to get you to work as inexpensively as possible. Your job is to shake the last nickel out of his or her pocket. Each person is just doing his or her job.

via Blake Discher – Shakodo.

Tablets Everywhere – CES 2011

- - The Future

If you followed the news coming out of CES this year it seemed like every third post on Engaget was the unveiling of a a new tablet. That along with all the high powered smart phones makes 2011 an exciting year for people who produce content for these types of devices. Photography and video are a natural fit, because of how well they scale, so it’s really about publishers getting on board and producing lots of content to consume.

Voted best of CES was the Motorola Xoom:

Motorola Xoom

You can find a good tablet wrap up (here).

Francis Ford Coppola: On Risk, Money, Craft & Collaboration

- - Blog News

How does an aspiring artist bridge the gap between distribution and commerce?

We have to be very clever about those things. You have to remember that it’s only a few hundred years, if that much, that artists are working with money. Artists never got money. Artists had a patron, either the leader of the state or the duke of Weimar or somewhere, or the church, the pope. Or they had another job. I have another job. I make films. No one tells me what to do. But I make the money in the wine industry. You work another job and get up at five in the morning and write your script.

This idea of Metallica or some rock n’ roll singer being rich, that’s not necessarily going to happen anymore. Because, as we enter into a new age, maybe art will be free. Maybe the students are right. They should be able to download music and movies. I’m going to be shot for saying this. But who said art has to cost money? And therefore, who says artists have to make money?

via The 99 Percent.

Ask Anything – Making It Outside Of NYC And LA

- - Ask Anything

Former Art Buyers and current photography consultants Amanda Sosa Stone and Suzanne Sease have agreed to take anonymous questions from photographers and not only give their expert advice but put it out to a wide range of photographers, reps and art buyers to gather a variety of opinions. The goal with this column is to solicit honest questions and answers through anonymity.


It’s been talked about before, but the whole “what does it take to make it’ outside of NYC and LA”… especially starting out. It amazes me that photo editors are still flying photographers from NYC to (in my example) Wyoming, Oregon, Washington, the NW in general. For medium-sized shoots, not a large shoot where one NYC photographer’s specific style is paramount to the success of the assignment. So, the question is: how does a photographer living in a place like the NW (where I’m actually enjoying life) stay on top of the radar for someone like a NYC-centric photo editor? I go to NYC 2-3 times a year and just try to annihilate the place with meetings (32 on my last visit) and the response is really great, though I often am told at the end that there’s not much assignment in that neck of the woods. But is there anything else I can do to stay on a PE’s or AB’s radar, besides meetings and promos, when I’m nearly 4,000 miles away?


We definitely look to hire photographers in regional areas for portraits & action. I suggest that the photographers have to stay in touch with the PE’s & Associate PE’s and Assistant PE’s within the magazine. They are often the eyes for the Photo Editors and Photo Directors. Also, by sending PE’s an email with promo image, and their location to remind them in the subject line. I like the idea that when they have to approach me via email that they keep it simple & light. “Hey, just shot this take a look thought this might be useful the magazine.” Share with the PE that you can work with their Editorial budget. (music to my ears). We have to know that you can shoot what we are looking editorially and with the same style that the NYC photographer that we are currently hiring can do! And oh yeah, read our magazine, and say hey, I saw this story in the current issue of our magazine, and that you love the portraits and think I can help provide the type of photography you are looking for. I always like this saying in the corporate world “dress for the job you want!” I believe the same is for true for photographers who are looking to break in to the editorial market.

This is a tough question, but working for a regional magazine with a smaller art budget and only state based Editorial for the most part, I choose photographers who are mostly in state, and occasionally able to assign a shoot elsewhere or have a photographer shoot an assignment while they are in the area. There are a handful of major regional/city magazines who are using some of the best in local talent. It is a good way to get some great projects under your belt and still also to get your work under ASME, SPD and CRMA award judges if you are lucky (CRMA -City and Regional Magazine Association, ASME -American Society if Magazine Editors and SPD – Society of Publication Designers – referring to whoever judges the awards). We produce award-winning work and I am certain there are others like my pub out there! I think the key is to stay busy locally and try to link up to a national collective, for example, Luceo Images, which is a collective of photographers based around the country that promote each other’s work. I have been very impressed by their model and think it is innovative and constructive. It looks like a new trend in promotion.

To Summarize:
Are these 3 letters “NYC” just plain sexy to say? OF COURSE IT IS. Is it the final deciding factor? NO. You have to be a GOOD and hopefully GREAT photographer and the images have to speak for themselves. Does NYC have an energy and vibe attached to it? OF COURSE. It’s a special energy that is hard to come by, living there says for some “YOU MADE IT”. In reality, you have to make “it” – meaning GOOD IMAGES – to really arrive. Location comes second.

Call To Action:
PICK UP THE PHONE TODAY and MAKE AN EDITORIAL INTRODUCTION and if you are LOCAL to this publication – GET A MEETING to show your work.

If you want more insight from Amanda and Suzanne you can contact them directly (here and here) or tune in once a week or so for more of “Ask Anything.”

Lange-Taylor Prize suspended in 2011

- - Blog News

the Lange-Turner Prize will undergo potentially major changes. “What we’re looking to reinvent/invent, in a way that continues to honor the spirit of Lange and Taylor’s important work, is a prize – or it may be prizes – for promising documentary fieldwork and narratives that represent a clear and unique vision for approaching and completing a significant project

via BJP.

Morel vs AFP and Getty: New Developments

- - copyright

For those of you following the case of Daniel Morel vs AFP and Getty there’s been a not-so-surprising ruling by the judge (on December 23rd) after AFP/Getty asked him to throw out the case.

To recap, Daniel Morel photographed some of the first images from the Haiti earthquake and posted those images on Twitter using a service called TwitPic (twitter has no images). All news agencies monitor twitter for breaking news so when AFP saw the images they tried to license them but were unable to reach Morel so they downloaded them and distributed them anyway (allegedly).

AFP hilariously tried to argue before the judge that they had a license to distribute the images because of the Twitter and TwitPic terms and conditions grants 3rd party licenses. In the transcript you can sense some incredulity coming from the judge as he questions their reasoning on this:

THE COURT: What should I do about the language that says, All images uploaded are copyright their respective owners?
MR. KAUFMAN: That’s true. There is a difference between owning a copyright and having a license granted. No one says that Mr. Morel lost his copyright by posting his images to Twitter/Twitpics. We have never argued that. We are saying that by accepting the terms and conditions, he accepted — he granted a license, and the terms of the license are what is set out in Twitter as to the use of third parties.

THE COURT: Mr. Kaufman, were there a number of news sources who asked Mr. Morel to pay for his pictures?

MR. KAUFMAN: Um-hmm.

THE COURT: Is that a yes?

MR. KAUFMAN: Yes, that is a yes.

THE COURT: Oh, good. All right. So if you want to apply your argument about what everybody else is doing, there were numerous news sources who were paying, right?

In this latest ruling Judge Pauley writes:

By their express language, Twitter’s terms grant a license to use content only to Twitter and its partners. Similarly, Twitpic’s terms grant a license to use photographs only to “ or affiliated sites.” AFP and the Third-Party Defendants do not claim they are partners of Twitter of affiliates of Twitpic licensed under the terms of service. Moreover, the provision that Twitter “encourage[s] broad re-use of Content” does not clearly confer a right on the other users to re-use copyrighted postings. Rather, that permissive language stands in contrast to the express, mandatory terms conferring a “license” and “rights” on Twitter. (See Twitter TOS at 2 (“you grant us a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free license”); Twitter TOS at 3 (“you agree that this license includes the right for Twitter to make such Content available to other companies….”).) Although courts may find a license on a motion to dismiss where “[t]he terms for the governing contracts are clear,” Jasper, 378 F. Supp. 2d at 339, Twitter’s terms of service do not meet that standard. Accordingly, AFP and the Third-Party Defendants do not meet their burden to establish that they had a license to use Morel’s photographs.

and further down

However, AFP and the Third-Party Defendants do not claim that they were partners of sublicensees; rather, they characterize themselves as “users.” Moreover, the fact that Twitter “encourage[s] broad re-use of Content” does not “necessarily require” a Twitpic user to license his photographs to other users. That language is ambiguous and insufficient to establish on the pleadings that Morel “understood that the promisee [Twitter] had [the] intent” to confer a license on other users.

You can read the ruling here.

I’ve argued here before, that sitting on the sidelines as these new technologies develop is bad news for photographers. The founders of Twitter and many other social media applications create these services with the intent of shaping them to fit their users needs. That’s become business 101 in the 21st century. The more professional photographers use these services the more they can represent the needs of those users.

For further reading on the subject I recommend the BJP Blog, Photo Attorney and David Walker.