A Stream Of Content May Be In Your Future

A story in Business Insider titled “Meet 9 Incredible Instagram Users That Advertisers Are Dying To Work With” got me thinking about photographers producing a stream of content and how that can easily attract lots of followers. It’s easy to be dismissive of social content because the quality can be quite low (sunsets and boobs seem to do quite well) but the trick to attracting followers is to be reliable and consistent.

The Sartorialist is a great example of someone who has attracted a large audience by being there for them day in and out.( Note, he also pioneered street style blogging so there’s more to it than just daily postings.) J Crew sent him on an 8 city tour… to produce a stream of content for them (here).

I’m also reminded of a recent effort by Craig Cutler to “create new personal work once a week, every week, for a full year, no exceptions.” That effort was turned into an exhibition and no doubt put him on everyone’s creative radar for reliably producing content that will attract fans to a brand.

You should be thinking about projects that can show your ability to reliably produce content. Brands need you.

Photojournalist Danfung Dennis Makes A Splash In Tech With Immersive Video

Photojournalist and Academy Award Nominated filmmaker (Hell and Back Again) Danfung Dennis and his fledgling immersive video company Condition One just received half a million in seed capitol from tech visionary Mark Cuban. As was first reported on GigaOm in a story titled “Is Condition One the future of video? Mark Cuban thinks so” Danfung just graduated from TechStars’ New York class last Thursday and is “embarking on a pilot program with Mercedes, Discovery Communications, XL Recordings, The Guardian and Popular Science.”

You can download an app showcasing the technology in the itunes store (here). It’s exciting to see a photographer pushing the limits of technology for storytelling.

Dennis believes this video can be used in a number of settings, from live music and sporting events to more traditional documentaries. He said creating video with Condition One results in a much more transparent portrayal of an event or story because it doesn’t involve traditional editing and framing techniques.

“There is less control and less ability to filter and it’s harder to construct a narrative,” Dennis said. “We’re taking the power of a still image and the narrative of film and marrying it with virtual reality to make a new experience that’s highly interactive.”


The Future For Editorial Photography Is Sponsored

I recently reached out to David Clifford a photographer who works out of Aspen, CO, because I saw a couple videos he made that fit a trend I’ve been seeing with sponsored editorial content. Or at least it’s a trend I’d like to see more of, because I think it’s going to be a significant new source of income for editorial photographers. I already see ad agencies trying to produce this type of content (see this Nike video with 6.3 million views for proof), but I think it’s going to be more effective for companies to pair up with editorial photographers, give them products or people with interesting stories and tell them to go produce something worth watching.

One of the videos David produced (Lucky) won best overall in the 1st Annual APA Members Short Video Contest. His background as the former photo editor at Rock & Ice and Trailrunner magazines makes him the perfect person to talk with about this continuing trend.

Here’s what he told me about the videos:

Everything is moving to the motion realm and I’d been shooting a fair amount of video but nothing that I could put my name on. It was all video clips or I’d shoot something for a client and I’d just be a cameraman. So, I had the opportunity to make a couple videos. One was for Bluewater ropes and the other for a client that in the end didn’t want to pay the usage fee so it became a promo piece. The Bluewater one is interesting because the athlete was in charge of producing something and he came to me to collaborate on it.

With these videos I ended up created this hybrid space for myself where it’s not full editorial and it’s not fully advertising, but it can do either and serves both really well.

The clients I showed the films to responded really well and I recently got hired by Mountain Hardware to shoot in the Grand Canyon where I did 75% video and 25% stills.

I see this being a huge part of my career. People are thinking more in terms of video than stills. In my recent dealings with those in charge of producing content, the photography is an afterthought. Having the whole package is important.

What’s also interesting is that it’s impossible to shoot video and stills at the same time, so you end up hiring someone to do one of those and you become more of a director, which is a little bit weird, because it’s hard to let go of the control.

I feel like the tools have democratized the process and made it so anybody can produce content so it comes down to how good are you at finding the light, how good are you at telling a story and how good are you at managing a project.

Watch An Assignment Unfold Live – Magnum’s House of Pictures

I’m a big fan of Magnum’s Postcards from America effort, whose latest project House of Pictures has ten Magnum photographers working in Rochester. The tumblr feed from Rochester  is fascinating and not unlike the experience of sending someone out on assignment and unpacking the results in your office after it’s over… only this one is live. They’re half way through the event which is taking place from April 15 – 29, so now is the perfect time to jump in and look at the images already created and follow what’s to come. They’ve got updates on TumblrTwitter and Facebook plus a Flickr group where the public can participate by tagging images “Rochester”.

With events like this Magnum is clearly taking a leadership role in defining the future of photographers on assignment. Not only expanding the minds of their members but also experimenting with social media, photographers working in groups and projects without boundaries. There’s a saying in silicon valley startup culture: “fail fast and fail often” that would be an appropriate manta for this effort and for anyone else who’s looking for answers to the future of media and professional photography. “Fear of failure stifles creativity and progress, so if you are not failing you not going to innovate.” (source). That’s not to say House of Pictures is a massive failure but rather that some of the things they are doing may not represent a way forward, but by experimenting they can see what works, measure the results and apply what they’ve learned.

There are similar efforts underway with other groups, most notably Luceo’s “Few and Far Between” and the ILCP’s RAVE (Rapid Assessment Visual Expedition). I would advise everyone to pay attention and see what develops. Not only is the photography awesome to look at, it will get the gears turning in your head on where the future lies.


Influenced By The Way Computers See The World

I stumbled upon this idea called “The New Aesthetic” yesterday while I was thinking about photographers harnessing and making sense of the photographic noise online. When I think about people tackling projects that are important and ambitious they almost always include writing, photography and video. What I see as the elephant in the room is ignoring the millions of images already available and sitting online in social applications and the images being churned out by the second as you work on your project.

But, when I mention curation the immediate thought is to see yourself sifting thorough piles of crappy images looking for gems to add to your project. So, when JB sent me a link to hyperallergic.com and I discovered a story titled “Is the New Aesthetic a Thing? ” I had a Eureka moment. New Aesthetic is “an aesthetic influenced by the way computers see the world” which is being interpreted in many ways (including annoying 8-bit despite the fact that everyone is raving about retina displays), but what makes sense to me is that what’s online is presented in ways that only computers can. Mostly I think of algorithmic interpretations where programs do the sifting, but there are other examples of people using the resources to create interesting works:

Michael Wolf’s street view.

Pep Ventosa’s collective snapshot.

So, after reading lots of articles on “The New Aesthetic” (new-aesthetic.tumblr.com, An Essay on the New Aesthetic, Noisy Decent Graphics,Why the New Aesthetic isn’t about 8bit retro, Responding To Bruce Sterling’s “Essay On The New Aesthetic, Report from Austin, Texas, on the New Aesthetic panel at SXSW. ) I honestly don’t know what it will look like when people apply the idea to their projects, but I do see an elephant in the room, so instead of reacting with fear I think everyone should be thinking of ways to own and incorporate “The New Aesthetic” into projects.

Harness And Make Sense Of The Noise

If anything is the antithesis of Instagram it’s Mary Ellen Mark carrying a 400 pound Polaroid 20×24 Land Camera into your prom to make a picture. And, if anything separates professional photographers from the pack it’s a book like Prom: a collection of 137 portraits from 13 schools across the country, shot between 2006 and 2009 that includes a documentary produced by Mark’s husband, Martin Bell (story on NPR: Not Your Average Prom Portraits).

But, I think professionals are doing their audience a disservice by not figuring out a way to incorporate the millions of images available online into projects of this scope. Whether it’s some kind of curation, software automated mining or public participation, ignoring that resource is a mistake. This is a wonderful and unknown time for photography, everyone should consider ways to harness and make sense of all that noise.

Instagram Joins The Brownie As The Next Great Photography Disruptor

In an article on La Letter De La Photograpie, Paul Melcher says Instagram just showed the world that “there is no limit to what photography can earn.” That is of course in reaction to the 1 billion dollars Facebook paid to acquire the company last week. Paul goes on to describe the leaps that evolve photography from the massive camera to the instamatic, from manual to automatic (focus, metering and imaging) and how a company that figured out how to make crappy phone camera images look interesting and easy to share, can suddenly be worth a billion dollars without a dime of profits on the income statement (read the whole article here).

This, my friends, is a trend in business called “Software Will Eat The World” coined in an article for the Wall Street Journal by Marc Andreessen (here):

we are in the middle of a dramatic and broad technological and economic shift in which software companies are poised to take over large swathes of the economy.

More and more major businesses and industries are being run on software and delivered as online services—from movies to agriculture to national defense. Many of the winners are Silicon Valley-style entrepreneurial technology companies that are invading and overturning established industry structures. Over the next 10 years, I expect many more industries to be disrupted by software, with new world-beating Silicon Valley companies doing the disruption in more cases than not.

Why is this happening now?

Six decades into the computer revolution, four decades since the invention of the microprocessor, and two decades into the rise of the modern Internet, all of the technology required to transform industries through software finally works and can be widely delivered at global scale.

Over two billion people now use the broadband Internet, up from perhaps 50 million a decade ago, when I was at Netscape, the company I co-founded. In the next 10 years, I expect at least five billion people worldwide to own smartphones, giving every individual with such a phone instant access to the full power of the Internet, every moment of every day.

On the back end, software programming tools and Internet-based services make it easy to launch new global software-powered start-ups in many industries—without the need to invest in new infrastructure and train new employees.

Which explains how a company with 13 employees and no profits can replace a now bankrupt company that once employed over 120,000 people with annual sales of $10 billion as the “manufacturer” of a device to bring photography to the masses.


Diving Dogs Photos Boost Photographers Career

The story of Seth Casteel and his diving dog photos is the perfect example of what happens when something goes viral and the person is prepared to take advantage of it. Seth was your typical on-the-move freelance photographer when he created the now famous underwater images of dogs diving in a pool after balls. As you’ll see in the story below by Wired on the Raw File blog, he was prepared to handle all the inquiries about him and his work, because he’d teamed up with the good people at Tandem Stills + Motion to handle licensing and PR. While it’s impossible to make something go viral or predict when it might happen it’s good to know professionals can turn all that attention into business.

On that fateful February 9th, the photos mysteriously landed on Reddit, Facebook, Google+ and then Warholian, becoming one of the hottest trends amongst viewers on at least five or six continents.

More than 1,000 people all over the world have subsequently asked him to shoot photos of their pets. He’s got a line of publishing houses fighting to get the rights to his forthcoming book of underwater dog photos, and he’s made appearance on, or in, most major American news publications from the The New York Times to Good Morning America.

He credits his licensing and PR firm, Tandem Stills + Motion, with successfully converting his new audience. Where many internet stars fade away after a few days of intense popularity, his firm capitalized on the traffic by handling most of Casteel’s business transactions and press requests.

“The business side is so important because you can have something go viral and be silly about it and you won’t make a dollar off it,” Casteel says. “Without [Tandem Stills + Motion] it would have been a fail.”

via Diving Dogs Are Good Catch for Photographer | Raw File | Wired.com.

Is A Payday In Photography Like Playing Lottery?

There’s an excellent piece in the NY Times last week titled “Why Are Harvard Graduates in the Mailroom?” that talks about the number of professions where workers accept lower-paying jobs in exchange for a slim but real chance of a large, future payday. Drug dealers have rich kingpins supported by hard working street-corner guys, ambitious accountants toil away at big firms in hopes of making partner, silicon valley startups use stock options to entice young people into working for free, Warner Brothers mailroom clerks accept $25,000 to $35,000 a year in hopes of making a meteoric leap like Barry Diller or David Geffen did, and aspiring actors watch rich people hand each other golden statues on TV each year with dreams of joining their ranks someday.

Certainly we can all see how photography fits nicely in the lottery model where there are a neat group of successful photographers at the top, a few jobs here and there that hint at a big payoff, but putting together a career in photography is harder and more lottery like than it looks. What’s really interesting and counter intuitive about the piece is how this lottery system is actually a good idea. It encourages hard work and attracts lots of potential candidates, but only lets the most tenacious through. The problem, as the NY Times notes, is that the comfortable plan B jobs are disappearing. Solid plan B jobs allow you to go for it and if it doesn’t work out you still have something interesting to fall back on for a career:

New York City and Los Angeles are buoyed by teachers, store owners, arts administrators and others who came to town to make it big in film or music or publishing, eventually gave up on that dream and ended up doing fine in another field.

I received this email recently from a reader who was dismayed at all the commenters on this blog who only look at photography as a six figure job:

I love your blog, but I am disappointed in your reader’s comments. Specifically on the article “Is editorial photography dead?“. Most of the photographers that comment fiercely oppose anyone trying to become a professional photographer and it is quite a deterrent for someone like myself just starting out. I read all the comments trying to understand where they are coming from, but I can’t, because it seems like your commenters are all photographers who used to make six figures. I was raised in a family who never made a six figure income, in fact none of my family ever went to college—I was the first. For me a good job is an income of not much more than $30,000 a year.

What your commenters don’t realize is that many people are happy making less. I have worked for several city magazines and I’ve found that they struggle to find ANY photographers to work with. It seems like most people only consider themselves successful if they work for major publications. I would love for you to highlight someone who is successful in their hometown, based on finding work at smaller magazines and local work. Many times the magazines I work with can’t even find journalists. I think smaller publications are often overlooked because they don’t pay tens of thousands of dollars for photo shoots, but I recently got a gig with one that paid over $3,000 and for just starting out, it was huge for me.

My point is, I just don’t think people actually look for the work, they expect it to come to them. I think many photographers, like other artists, are too snobby to actually go find a job. Instead, they expect publications to find them.

Did my reader miss the point of looking at photography as a high paying career? The lottery system produces talented, hardworking and tenacious photographers. That’s not necessarily a bad thing.

The NY Times goes on to say:

It’s not clear what today’s eager 23-year-old will do in 5 or 10 years when she decides that acting (or that accounting partnership) isn’t going to work out after all. The best advice may be to accept that economic success in America will come as much from the labor lottery as from hard work and tenacity. The Oscars make clear that there is only so much room at the top. In a lottery-based economy, you need some luck, too; now, perhaps, more than ever. People should be prepared to enter a few different lotteries, because the new Plan B is just going to be another long shot in a different field.

The plan B in photography was a mid-level career, but now we see photographers who test the waters in video, writing, publishing and teaching. Looking to enter as many lotteries as possible. Seems like a smart plan.

Don’t Like Me

Lots of chatter online about how photographers should embrace sharing their work and stop complaining about copyright. All started by this post (here) by the king of HDR (Trey Ratcliff) who says:

As this future becomes more and more plain to me, I see a rapture of sorts, where old-school photographers clinging to the old-fashioned ways of doing things will be “left behind.”

Which is funny because this sort of rapture, where a photo blogger suddenly loses their virginity, is pretty common. Witness the Strobist back in December of 2008: Four Reasons to Consider Working for Free.

Now, I can’t blame them for their rapture, because they and many others have discovered a perfectly legitimate business model for making a living with a camera: Selling Something Besides Photographs.

So, I want to provide a little perspective here. Making a living selling photographs will not die. On the same note photographers should look at, understand and possibly adopt some of what they are doing into their own business. Selling ebooks, dvds, workshops and giving lectures will make up part of the income for successful photographers in the future. Nothing wrong with that. Declaring that everyone will be left behind unless they share everything and make up the difference with ebooks on tips for punters is completely wrong.

The key is this: Focus your attention on the people who you have a legitimate business interest with and be okay with not being liked by everyone.

Is There a Mass Market For Good Journalism?

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.

2012 – Success Or Die Trying

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.

Read the whole thing here.

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.


ED McCulloch On Creating A Directors Reel From Scratch

Photographer and (now) Director Ed McCulloch sent me his new reel website: http://EDdirects.com which I thought looked amazing, so I asked him about the process:

What was the impetus for getting into directing and creating your reel?
Over the last couple of years I’ve seen the needs of agency creatives change. I did not want to be left behind. Last year I was shooting a campaign with Cramer-Krasselt in Austin Texas. On set the creative director for the agency told me that if I had a reel I would’ve been directing the tv spot as well. That’s when I started seriously thinking about film and director’s reel.

How do you go about creating a reel from scratch? Walk us through the process.
It was definitely a lot of work. I knew from the beginning that I wanted to create a reel that was on the same quality level as my photography. I knew it would take time. The learning curve would be steep and keep my head spinning for months.

The hardest decision I had to make was deciding between creating a director’s reel or a director of photography (DP) reel. Did I want to direct or did I want to shoot? Being a photographer my natural instinct was to become a DP. DP’s are responsible for everything composition, camera movements and lighting. They collaborate with the director to make sure his vision comes to life. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that in my photography my biggest enjoyment came from directing the photo shoots; choosing locations, talent, wardrobe and getting the right performances out of the talent which all culminate in the final product. For me photography was always more about the story and the creative aspects, not the technical side.

After that decision was made I started brainstorming ideas and writing the scripts for the spots. That was one of the most important things: the creation of the concepts and the stories I would be telling. I chose brands that people would recognize but not brands so huge that everyone knows exactly what agency or what director shoots them. I do however have a Nike spot on my reel. The decision to use Nike as a brand was made because I was shooting an NBA player who is really sponsored by Nike.

While writing the scripts I searched for specialized crew members that were willing to help me build the reel. I did use some of my photography crew like assistants and stylists but in the end film is so much more collaborative and involved than photography so I knew I would need crew members that were also experienced in film. I definitely encountered plenty of no’s but kept pushing forward. In the end I found a great group of people willing to help me build the reel. We had anywhere from 15-25 crew members on set for each shoot.

After I had scripts and crew I set dates for the first couple of shoots then started producing them. I scouted locations, applied for permits, gathered insurance certificates, scheduled casting calls, chose wardrobe with my stylist, made compositional and lighting decisions with my DP, put together call sheets and shoot schedules etc. That was extremely time consuming and exhausting.

Next was shooting and directing the talent and overall look and feel of each piece. Shoot days were definitely the most fun. Collaborating with actors was a learning process, it’s much different than working with talent in photography. Learning the way actors think and the language they use to communicate takes time to understand. The whole process of collaborating with them was incredibly fulfilling.

After shooting came editing. I could not for the life of me find a good editor willing to help, so my DP and I had to learn it. Editing is an art form in and of itself. Editors have a unique talent for problem solving and story telling. It was incredibly difficult to learn. It takes a completely different creative thought process, it was challenging. We edited all of our pieces on Final Cut Pro 7.

Sound design was another challenge. Collecting high quality sound and laying it in the right places at the right times of the commercial is an art form. I enlisted the help of a sound designer for this part.

Put all of that together and you have a :30 or :60 second spot. Everything currently on my reel was shot this year between February and November.

What are your thoughts on taking your vision from print/digital and applying it to motion?
Yeah that was definitely an important part of the process. Having your own unique style of directing is just as important as it is in photography. I think it’s extremely important to stay consistent throughout your photography portfolio and motion reel but there are so many more variables in film to consider. This one thing caused an immense amount of stress for me. I knew how to create photographs, how do get the look and feel that I needed, how to tell a story with one frame. Initially film blew my mind in this aspect because instead of one frame I now had many many frames to tell my stories. There are so many different processes in producing and directing a commercial that it was initially a challenge to make sure ALL decisions were being made with my vision in mind.

What’s the next step, working with a production company? That seems a bit different than the photography business, so tell us how that works?
After the reel was created the next step was contacting production companies. These companies represent directors. They are the middlemen between the director and the ad agency. They take care of all the estimating much like a photographers agent would do. What differentiates them from photographers agent is they actually produce the commercials which is where their money is made. A director is assigned an executive producer within the company to work with. Production companies are represented by reps that are positioned by territory; east coast, mid west and west coast. These reps travel to ad agencies within their territories and funnel projects to the production companies they represent. Most reps represent multiple production companies, editorial (editors), music and visual effects companies.

I researched these companies and contacted the executive producers to set up the meetings. The process took about six months, they are incredibly hard to get a hold of. I was told they receive thousands of email requests each month. I’ve recently returned from LA where I met with some great production companies. I will be up and running with one of them in January.

Drowning In Photography

Erik Kessels (KesselsKramer, Amsterdam) | Photography in abundance
Through the digitalisation of photography and the rise of sites such as Flickr and Facebook, everyone now takes photos, and distributes and shares them with the world – the result is countless photos at our disposal. Kessels visualises ‘drowning in pictures of the experiences of others’, by printing all the images that were posted on Flickr during a 24-hour period and dumping them in the exhibition space. The end result is an overwhelming presentation of 350,000 prints.

via, foam.org

What a fantastic idea and an important reminder of the era we’re living in.

Then, I saw this press release yesterday :

Aurora Photos is excited to announce the launch of the myPhone Collection of stock photography, a collection of images taken with iPhones and other mobile devices by some of the world’s top photographers and iPhoneographers, and now made available to pictures buyers for both editorial and commercial licensing.

What struck me was how worthless I think iPhone images are and how I can’t imagine anyone licensing them. Obviously, this blanket statement cannot be true since it’s never mattered what photographers used to take their pictures with but I can’t get over the feeling that pictures taken with a camera in a phone that everyone owns have no value. I think iPhone images only have value when they depict breaking news or when they are curated by someone to understand a bigger picture.

Creating value beyond how a picture was created and what the picture depicts is the most important challenge facing photography professionals today.

Facing The Future

Donald Weber, Canadian documentary photographer, VII Photo

PhotoQ interviewed nine photographers on how they respond to the tension between lowering income in the profession, and exploding interest in photography (more museums, galleries, magazines, web, phones, tablets). They were participating in the Day of Photography (in Dutch: Dag van de Fotografie) at the Amsterdam venue of Pakhuis De Zwijger on October 21st, 2011, as organised by the agency Hollandse Hoogte. More than 600 people visited interviews, presentations, discussions and other events.

More (here).

A Rep Who Makes Apps

Tricia Scott of Merge Left Reps sent me an email recently about a new cooking app called Matt’s Pantry that was shot by one of her photographers, Matthew Furman. What caught my attention was that the agency produced the app. I’ve talked with many photographers recently about providing finished products to clients where photography and video are only components of what’s being delivered. This is along those lines, so I asked Tricia a few questions to find out what she was up to.

Rob: Why did you decide to produce this yourself?
Tricia: I wanted to own the content and it was a bit of an experiment. I feel like the business has gotten so out of control, everyone is complaining about it but not doing anything. I wanted some control over my destiny. The photography industry is shrinking, fees are shrinking and usage is being squeezed. Why not own the content and the actual app itself.

Shouldn’t you go looking for someone producing a cookbook app to hire your photographers?
I love producing work for our clients, but to me, the future of photography is uncertain. I hired a developer and kept the rights to the wireframes, so I can now reach out to others who might have a need for this type of app, and create it for them. We had a meeting recently with a medium size book publisher that we’ve shot for before and they are interested in the app because for them, it’s an unknown still and I’ve done all the legwork.

Do you think this could be a real revenu stream?
The production costs and time of a cookbook app are high, but Matt Furman shot it, the chef brought the recipes to the table and I brought the money. We will all get proceeds and everyone is happy. The key to making money with an app is in the marketing and that is where you really have to put a ton of time. As a photo agent, I don’t have that time, and need to delegate that responsibility.

It was really a great project for Matt, since he isn’t a food photographer, but of course did a beautiful job. He and the chef grew up together – and we all had lunch one day. I left there thinking I wanted to do an app with them, and here we are – it’s done. I think pigeonholing photographers is in the nature of the business but it was great to see him out of his comfort zone and pushing himself to do something he wouldn’t normally do.

What about producing apps for clients, is that something you see happening?
I have more ideas for apps cooking (no pun intended) – I have a good relationship with Soho Interactive – they developed it, who I met through an art director client, Todd Lynch.

Matt’s Pantry is now available for $3.99 in the itunes App Store. Screen shots, a video and complete list of features can be seen at http://www.mattspantry.com.

The illusion of patronage

Along the lines of my “Camera Operators Wanted” post, Seth Godin tackles the idea that a writers job is no longer just to write:

Many successful, serious authors are in love with the notion that they get to be serious and successful merely by writing.

There was a brief interlude, perhaps 50 years in all post-Gutenberg, in which it was possible for a talented writer to be chosen, anointed, edited, promoted and paid for her work. Where the ‘work’ refers to the writing.

This idea that JD Salinger could hide out in his cabin, write, and periodically cash royalty checks is now dying.

Authors of the future are small enterprises, just one person or perhaps two or three. But they include fan engagement specialists, licensors, new media development managers, public speakers, endorsement and bizdev VPs, and more.

No one has your back.

Sad but true. The author of today (and tomorrow) is either going to build and maintain and work with his tribe or someone is going to take it away.

That whole thing with the Medicis didn’t last forever either.

via The illusion of patronage.