On Vacation, Leave the Photo Gear at Home and Take Your iPhone Instead

I just got back from a family vacation to New Hampshire. And you know what? I didn’t take my camera bag with me on the trip.

What a breath of fresh air.

That’s right. I left my camera at home and took my camera phone instead. Specifically, the iPhone 3GS.

Being a Photography Contest Judge Can Try Your Patience

Over the last year or so, I have judged a number of international photographic competitions. It is always a pleasure to look at the great work that some photojournalists and documentary photographers are doing today.

Don’t Let Digital Photography Make You Sloppy

Over the years, digital has gone from being the new kid on the block to the new standard in image capture. Early on there were many comparisons between digital and film, often intended to demonstrate film’s superiority. Such comparisons are now moot, as no one can dispute the digital camera’s ability to deliver stunning images.

Notes from the VisCom Classroom: What Makes a Great Teacher?

Since 2002, one of the highlights of my summer has been working with the Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary, helping to teach its “Coastal Ecology by Kayak” field school. The sanctuary, located near the tip of Cape Cod, is part of the Massachusetts Audubon Society (commonly known as Mass Audubon), which was the nation’s first Audubon society.

If All You Have Is a Hammer, Everything Looks Like a Nail

Lens, the photojournalism blog of The New York Times, took a fresh look this week at the Chris Usher case. The case has garnered new attention because Judge Sonia Sotomayor, the Supreme Court nominee, was on the three-judge panel that affirmed the decision to award Usher the trifling sum of $7 per image for the loss of more than 12,600 images by Corbis.

Is Your Photography Business Like a Restaurant Without Tables and Chairs?

Before I started my own photography business, I had been a newspaper staffer for more than 20 years. I didn’t know how to market myself, and I decided to hire a consultant to help me.

Among other things, the consultant I chose redesigned my Web site and helped me to create my portfolio, logo, and stationery system. I’m not going to kid you; it wasn’t cheap. But it’s turned out to be worth every penny.

Hiring a Pro Leaves No Room to Chance

There’s been a lot of talk that amateur photographers are a threat to the livelihoods of professional photographers these days.  I just don’t see it.

Consider the different kinds of amateurs you come across.   There’s the photographer who has an unlimited amount of time to accomplish an image.  There’s the student, who has a week or two to complete an assignment on, say, lighting a bowl of fruit.  There’s the hobbyist who captures an occasional great image and posts it on Flickr or iStock.

VIDEO: Google Analytics for Photographers: Evaluating Inbound Links

In this part of our video series on Google Analytics, I show you how to evaluate inbound links to determine which referring sites are most valuable to your business. (You can find the previous posts in this series here.)

Is a Verbal Agreement Sufficient for a Model Release?

Black Star Rising received the following question from a photographer identifying himself as Baron V. –

I recently received a nasty e-mail from a model I shot about seven years ago.  We had a verbal agreement to do the shoot, with the understanding that I would use the photos for various purposes, including as art for a magazine article about me and in my online portfolio.

Should You Go Pro — or Keep Photography as a Hobby?

Like most of us, I’ve made career choices that haven’t worked out. Many years ago, I was recruited by Singapore Airlines, which trained me to be a pilot.

After my classmates and I received our commercial pilot licenses, we were told that our timing wasn’t good and that we would have to work as cabin attendants temporarily — just until our pilot jobs came open for us.

Can “Look, But Don’t Touch” Ever Be Enforced on the Web?

How effective is a law that is unenforced? How effective is a law when the public has no clear concept of its meaning and spirit?

Unfortunately, that is the current state of copyright law. I would argue that the entire concept of copyright is in peril, with the threats coming from multiple directions.

Good Timing, Bad Timing and Your Photography Business

Timing is everything, as we learned recently when Farrah Fawcett’s death was the news of the day — until about five hours later, when Michael Jackson died. Suddenly, the ’70s It Girl’s passing became a footnote.

Don’t Wait for Economic Recovery to Buff Your Company’s Image with Photography

Run to the hills, civilization has collapsed!

OK, the past several months have certainly been economically harrowing for businesses of all sizes. But the danger in being gripped by fear and uncertainty is that you might not be taking the steps you need to to secure your company’s future.

Eye on Image-Making: Robert Frank Redux

After last month’s column on Robert Frank appeared, I received an e-mail from Walter Dufresne, who is an adjunct assistant professor in the Advertising Design and Graphic Arts Department at New York City College of Technology, which is part of The City University of New York.

Singles Bar Lessons for Your Photography Business

When you’re a little hard up, it’s easy to get desperate. And in the current recession, a lot of photographers are approaching potential clients with the same level of finesse as nerds at a singles bar.

Digital Photography and the Need for Speed

Progress has long been associated with the ability to do things faster. So it has been with digital photography.

Along with zillions of megapixels, fourth-generation Photoshop, and cameras that can sometimes make hobbyists look like seasoned pros, the digital age has brought us the ability to finish jobs faster.

Add Drama to Your Photos with Colored Gels

Often in my work as a photographer, I am challenged with settings that are less than exciting. My client wants a dramatic photo to illustrate a story for a magazine article, or for use in an annual report — and I am left to figure out how to make this happen in mundane surroundings.

VIDEO: SEO for Photographers — the Ins and Outs of Inbound Links

In this video, I depart from my ongoing series on Google Analytics to discuss an important aspect of search engine optimization for photographers — attracting appropriate inbound links, or backlinks. As you’ll learn, some inbound links are more valuable than others.

Making a Difference Is Easier Than You Think

Photography is a great and powerful thing. It has the potential to change people’s lives. We should always be aware of the power we hold in our hands as we focus the lens.

Our pictures make people think — and react. An image from the battlefield might stir a reaction that culminates in the end of a war. An image of pretty people on a beach might culminate in a consumer buying a new pair of sunglasses.

Sometimes, It’s OK Not to Keep Your Eyes on the Road

Some of the best photo settings in the world are in places you only discover by accident. Which means you should always carry a camera with you, so you’re ready when a great photo reveals itself.

This is true whether you’re traveling near or far from home.

Are You Adding Context to Your Photos?

Ted Koppel once said that during his years at ABC News Nightline, his staff spent the majority of their pre-broadcast prep time on the first 10 seconds of the show. That’s how important a “lead” or “hook” is to stimulating interest in a story.

Five Reasons War Photographers Are an Endangered Species

You would think that in a world where technology has made the timely transmission of images simpler than ever, international photojournalism in all its forms would flourish. And yet, when it comes to conflicts like the Gaza war, the war in Sri Lanka, or the ongoing protests in Iran, just the opposite has been true.

Can a Company Blog Use Images the Way a Newspaper Does?

These days, it can be difficult to distinguish between a commercial Web site and an editorial Web site, as more companies add blogs to attract visitors. This has led to questions about the use of photography, such as -–

How I Created a Second Income on the Speaking Circuit

When I was young man, I sang in a pop group. My trademark was the ability to kick my purple trousered leg high in the air. I would have a hundred teenage girls screaming and a hundred teenage boyfriends scowling at me.

Notes from the VisCom Classroom: Integrating Video into the Curriculum

What if you could design a university program in visual communications from scratch? What would such a curriculum look like?

Which courses would you absolutely need to have, and which would be nice but not necessary? How would you determine the core body of knowledge that every graduating student must master, and how would you project far enough into the future to include courses that would prepare your students for the work-a-day world?