I’ve made images of probably over a thousand artists and musicians over the nearly two decades I’ve been making images. In fact, I am shooting a performance of a well-known ’80s band on Monday for a client. On these assignments, I maintain my rights to these images, as well as preclude any conditions to my exercising those rights. An article in the New York Times yesterday shed light on why this business practice is a good idea.
With the price of gas edging ever closer to the $5 per gallon mark (at least here in Connecticut), the cost of gas is really having a profound effect on summer travel plans and impromptu shooting trips. It can cost as much for a tank of gas now as it does for a night in a motel. It’s nuts. And if you’re shooting photos for a personal project or for your stock files, it’s hard to justify expensive trips these days.
The body is lifeless — embedded into the concrete and dust that once was a school. Framing the faceless gray form, a handful of Chinese soldiers in green camouflage gently sweep the ground around her. There are five soldiers, two with shovels, one pointing at an object inches away from a limp hand. The viewer is forced to look down upon shadows and rubble. We do not know this person. She is one of thousands of victims from the earthquake that shook China to its core two weeks ago.
The rhetorical agency of this image proposes to firmly establish a relationship between the human conscience and a troubled reality — a punch in the gut that comes from recognition of the enormity of loss and suffering that is Myanmar today. The picture assumes that this lifeless form graphically and unequivocally captures the pain of a nation, as well as the powerlessness of an outside world waiting to come to its aid.
In the “for every action there’s a reaction” department, the Internet is showing us how technology can backfire. And in the department of “it giveth and it taketh away,” unknowing copyright infringers are gobbling up “free” photos from the Internet for their personal and commercial use.
We live in an age of point-and-shoot immediacy. But pointing and shooting is not “seeing” — not understanding. New technologies, such as computational photography and digital cameras, make it easier for people to think they are seeing when all they are really doing is looking with a camera.
Minnesota-based Lifetouch, which employs thousands of photographers to produce student portraits and high school annuals nationwide, had a lot of explaining to do this week after it sent a very strange shipment of yearbooks to one Dallas-area high school.
The National Press Photographers Association (NPPA) will vote at the end of May on seven amendments to its bylaws, including whether to change its name to The Society of Visual Journalists, Inc. (SVJ). The reason for the proposed change is to acknowledge how the industry and NPPA membership have evolved over the past 50 years. The current name “no longer adequately represents the Association or its membership.”
Too many people join associations as if they are buying tickets to a sporting event. They want to sit in their comfortable seats and watch others perform. When considering joining an organization, one of the first questions most people ask is, “What do I get for my membership?” That’s a valid question, and most organizations list the benefits their members will receive.
I recently spent a couple of hours reviewing senior portfolios, the capstone projects of graduating seniors in the Visual Communications sequence at the University of South Carolina’s School of Journalism and Mass Communications. The experience made me want to revisit the whole notion of the portfolio — What is the purpose of a portfolio? What should it contain? How do you create a terrific portfolio that will advance your career? My goal is to put forward some ideas and then hear back from readers of this column.
A round of ammunition goes where it’s sent. It may drop some. It may blow slightly left or right, but it won’t stop until it hits something. If we outthink the person who sends the round, we might live to tell the story.
To understand anything in life, we must do our homework and engage the things we feel, think and act upon. Human beings are dependent on our senses for the impressions we hold of the world around us. We rely on sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste for our survival.
Putting all your eggs in one basket, as we know, is to risk losing everything at one time. For me, this maxim applies to two aspects of my business.
First, if you have a niche market, it is good to develop a second niche, and even a third one. Kodak saw the writing on the wall years ago and diversified beyond making film products only. If they hadn’t, they would no longer be around.
There should be little doubt now that the changing media landscape has deeply affected traditional news photography. Increasingly, photographers at many newspapers are being let go or given reduced work hours. For those lucky enough to have a job, the workload has become more demanding. The bottom line is a focus on productivity, with a slight nod toward creativity as long as it doesn’t interfere with getting the work out.
Corporate work is what allows me to keep on doing the documentary projects I want to do. While at Magnum, Sebastiao Salgado followed a similar process; shoot highly paid annual reports for a few months and then go off to photograph “workers” in remote parts of the world. If it’s good enough for him…
As I’ve written here previously, blogging can be one of the most effective marketing tools at your disposal today. For those of you just starting out, here are a few words of wisdom gleaned from my two years of blogging consistently about my photography business.
Jim Maxwell once wrote an essay on how to write a country song guaranteed to hit the Top 40: Include a done-me-wrong lady, a horse, a thief, a train, a jailhouse, a shotgun. Mix with emotion: jealousy, love, regrets. Add some action: a bank robbery, wreck at a railroad yard, a hard-driving rodeo. Deliver with a twang, weave in a refrain that can be repeated with five notes on the piano –and you can’t lose.
Sexy photo scandals are all the rage on the Internet these days. Just ask Vanessa Hudgens. Or Miley Cyrus. Or … Amnon Bar-Tur?
Granted, Bar-Tur may not have the same name recognition as Disney’s reigning teen princesses. But that’s because he’s in hot water for his work behind the camera.
For freelance photographers used to licensing their photos, it’s always a shock to come across an editorial stock photography buyer who thinks that payment for a photo covers both present and future use. Unless a work-for-hire agreement is arranged in writing between the photo buyer and the photographer, payment for the use of a photo is for one-time rights only.
I’ve covered both hostage standoffs and warrant roundups with other shooters (mostly TV). I’ve also been consistently shocked by how little they knew about staying alive.
Recently, I covered a county-wide warrant roundup. We didn’t know what any of the offenders had done. Considering how heavily armed the deputies were, I guessed it wasn’t helping little old ladies jaywalk across the street.
Classes have ended here at the University of South Carolina, and it is a good time to take stock of the semester — to see what worked and what needs to be adjusted for the fall.
By far the most successful assignment, in both Photovisual Communications and Advanced Photovisual Communications, was the audio slideshow. In Photovisual Communications, which is for students with little or no formal photographic training, I start each semester with assignments designed to get students familiar with the features their cameras, mostly point-and-shoots. We also learn basic Photoshop skills. Then, it’s on to environmental portraits, a three-picture photo essay, and, finally, the audio slideshow. In Advanced Photovisual Communications, the students have access to digital SLR cameras, tripods, and auxiliary flashes. Most of these students know their way around a camera and are ready to tackle more complex assignments.
It’s hard to have fun at work during stressful times. Your stress builds after each media report about the recession. You start hearing whispers from your clients of a merger, layoff or the all encompassing “restructuring.” Your agency does not listen. Your clients don’t listen. The guy that sells sandwiches in the lobby does not listen. Maybe it is just easier to be cranky.
Everything’s digital, right? Well, now it is. I say that because I was talking to a design intern who’s taking classes at a local college for graphic design. He said they’re making him take a class on mechanicals. Not sure if I was more shocked that anyone still knew what they were, or that somewhere there was a school still teaching it.
Quick: who is the most famous author in the English language? You probably answered “Shakespeare” — and most people would agree with you. However, it’s well known that Shakespeare (whose own identity remains something of a mystery) “borrowed” most of his plots from lesser known writers. Shakespeare’s genius was to reshape contemporary or historical events, legends, and stories and rephrase them in rich imagery.
Change is a good thing. I hear that a lot, mostly from people trying to convince themselves that change is a good thing. Change is tough and seems to get harder the older I get. But as a freelance photojournalist, responsible for my own income, change is something I must embrace in order to remain competitive and keep the bills paid. In fact, we must all ask ourselves how to stay relevant at a time when amateur photographers are flooding the Web with images.