Seven Tips for Taking Photos in Public Places

No one should expect privacy if they are out and about in a public place. That means that everyone is fair game to be photographed on a public street and in open areas like a public park.

But defining “public” can sometimes be tricky. And even if you technically have the right to take someone’s photo, this doesn’t necessarily protect you from, say, a punch in the nose.

Please, No More Pictures of Dying Africans

I do not want to see another photo essay, multimedia presentation, or visual of any kind on the subject of dying Africans. Never, ever again. Enough.

I understand that these images can be compelling. I understand that the photographers seem to care. But at this point, the harm done by such photos outweighs the good.

Eye on Image-Making: Creating a Marketing Strategy and Resume

In my previous “Eye on Image-Making Column,” I began a series about business planning by writing about the importance of having a mission statement for your business. A mission statement is typically the first part of any business plan — it tells the reader what products or services you offer, who your target clients are, and who is doing similar work, i.e., your competition.

Understanding Five Types of Photo Contests

The following is excerpted from Winning Digital Photo Contests, a new book by Black Star Rising contributor Jeff Wignall.

A contest is a contest is a contest, right? Well, yes and no. Yes, they are all about judging photographs based on creativity, technical merit, and relevance to the contest themes. But different types of contests have different technical standards and different submission methods. It’s important that you match your images to the type of contest you’re entering.

In the New Media World, Photographers Who Embrace Change Will Succeed

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

— Thomas Edison

I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that the media industry is having a difficult time at present, even without the global recession. The digital revolution, while opening up exciting new channels of communication, is also rendering some of our pre-existing business models obsolete and forcing the redefinition of others.

Internet Models and Me: One Photographer’s Misadventures

A few weeks ago, I got a phone call from Playboy. It was Friday at 4:30 p.m. — and they wanted to see four nude images by Monday.

I don’t normally shoot nudes. I had been a photojournalist for more than 20 years and most of my subjects preferred to keep their clothes on. But I figured, “Why not?” So I began searching for a model.

Overcoming Photographer’s Block, Part 2: Five Recommendations

(Second of two parts.)

In part one of this article, I wrote about the creative process, how it applies to photographers, and how a better understanding of it can help us to avoid or escape photographer’s block. In this part, I offer five recommendations for getting the creative juices flowing again — specific steps that have worked for me, my students, and others.

How I Gained Access to a Chinese Coal Mine After the Government Said No

For over two years now, I have been trying to photograph a coal mine in China to show the conditions of the miners. The coal mining industry in China has been called the world’s most dangerous; it is reported to claim the lives of over 5,000 workers each year. And it’s not only the miners who are suffering. In the mining areas of Yunnan, more than 60 percent of the children under the age of 14 are affected by lead poisoning.

National Geographic’s Jim Richardson: How I Judge Photo Contests

The following is excerpted from Winning Digital Photo Contests, a new book by Black Star Rising contributor Jeff Wignall.

Jim Richardson has a career that most photographers can’t help but envy.

VIDEO: Google Analytics for Photographers: Setting Up Automatic Reports

In this part of our video series on Google Analytics, I show you how to set up reports on your site’s performance that are compiled and e-mailed regularly to you. (You can find the previous posts in this series here.)

Overcoming Photographer’s Block, Part 1: The Creative Process

(First of two parts.)

All artists, including photographers, go through dry spells. In my case, the symptoms of being creatively blocked are obvious: ideas for new images or projects stop flowing; I take pictures of things that don’t really interest me; I find myself photographing the same people, places and things, in the same “old” ways.

Six Tips for Smarter Location Scouting

If you’re not careful, you can spend a lot of time and money scouting locations for photography shoots — driving around aimlessly in your gas guzzler, seeking that inspiring spot. But if you work smart, you can find the locations you want without spinning your wheels.

Eight Ways to Help Google “See” Your Images

We’ve all heard the expression “blind as a bat” — but bats aren’t blind, they just “see” differently from us. Bats supplement their small eyes and poor visual acuity with echolocation, a radar-like quality that enables them to ping their environment, gather data and use this information to locate prey, fly in the dark, and so forth.

Notes from the VisCom Classroom: Evaluating Assignments

In my previous “Notes from the VisCom Classroom,” I wrote about crafting course assignments and making sure they furthered both school-wide and course-specific learning outcomes. In this column, I’ll discuss how I go about evaluating those assignments once the students turn in their work.

Understanding Your Art Director

As group design director for a large U.K.-based publishing company, I’ve found that understanding the photographers I work with is an integral part of my creative process.

What motivates a photographer to take the photographs they do? How do they like to work? What are their influences and interests? These are all questions I ask myself before commissioning a photographer for a specific project.

21 Signs You’re a Real Photographer Now

In a day and age when anyone with an iPhone or a Flickr account can call themselves a photographer, it can be a little difficult to figure out when you’ve separated yourself from the pack to become a real photographer. After all, beauty — in photographs as in all things — is in the eye of the beholder.

VIDEO: Google Analytics for Photographers: Landing Page Strategy

A “landing page” is the page where a visitor enters your Web site. In this video in my Google Analytics series, I show you my strategy for optimizing multiple landing pages on my site to attract more traffic — and more prospective customers.

How (and Where) to Develop Film in the Digital Age

The world is hard on those of us who sometimes, or primarily, still like to work with film.

“Pro” labs handle lower and lower volumes of film, which in some cases results in chemicals that are refreshed less frequently and technicians who lack training, particularly with slide film.

10 Budget Photography Accessories You Can Buy at the Supermarket

If there is one thing photographers like almost as much as buying a new camera, it’s buying little toys to go with it. Unfortunately, many of the more popular accessories — flash units, filters, tripods– can be quite expensive.

Three Rules for Earning Good Word of Mouth for Your Photography Business

“A customer is the most important visitor on our premises. He is not dependent on us. We are dependent on him.”

— Mahatma Gandhi

At the heart of marketing for any small business is word of mouth. Creating an experience that gets people talking about your photography business is the single best way to attract new customers.

Don’t Be a Follower — Show Creative Leadership in Your Photography

I was in military boot camp when I first heard the expression, “Lead, follow or get out of the way.” When we think of leaders we tend to think of drill sergeants, CEOs and politicians. But to be your best as a photographer, you need to be a leader, too.

Manuel H. Rodriguéz: The Colombian Capa

Manuel H. Rodriguéz, 89, died last week after a long illness. Manuel H. was the Colombian Capa: a man who for more than half a century captured the history and “moments” of his country with his emblematic Rollei. And like Capa, his career in photojournalism was born out of chaos and violence.

Your Most Important Piece of Equipment Is Your Brain

Back when I used to golf, my friends and I were constantly in search of the next “perfect” club to add to our bags. Brands changed. New putters and drivers appeared. And with each change, there was fresh hope that — somehow, someway — this latest upgrade would make all the difference.

Can I Use a Creative Commons Photo Without a Model Release?

Black Star Rising received the following question from a reader, Nick Arnold of

Am I at legal risk in the U.S. if I use a photo with a Creative Commons license where a recognizable face is in the photo and the photographer did not acquire a model release? This would not be for commercial use, just the cover of a free ebook.

Study Old Paintings to Breathe New Life into Your Photography

Photography has existed since the 1820s, according to most historians, giving the medium a history of less than 200 years. Two-dimensional art, meanwhile, has been around for 20,000 years, as far as we know — with the animals painted on cave walls in Lascaux, France, being among the first-known examples.