Are Your Business Practices Hurting Other Photographers?

My raison d’etre in doing blog entries on the subject of business practices is to be helpful to those who may need just a nudge in the right direction of information, need a little push, or need a full-contact shove. The degree of effort made is tempered by the degree of need, and some people may not like the counsel, but that doesn’t invalidate the benefit.

Nielsen’s New Rankings Offer Opportunities for Video Shooters

Nielsen//NetRatings, a global leader in Internet media and market research, recently announced a new system for ranking Web traffic called “Total Minutes.” This move could open tremendous opportunities for short-form videos.

Notes from the VisCom Classroom: What Makes a Course “Advanced”?

I’m in the process of designing my syllabus for a course at the University of South Carolina called Advanced Photovisual Communications, which I will teach for the first time this fall. This is the successor to Photovisual Communications, a beginning-level skills course, which I have taught for two semesters. (Elsewhere, I have taught beginning photography, advanced photography, stock photography, and photography business practices.)

What a Difference a Millimeter Can Make

In my last post I discussed the importance of taking enough photos of your subjects. Once you’ve begun doing that, it’s easy to see how even a millimeter’s change in angle can make the difference between a good and a great photograph — or a good shot and a crummy one.

You Know What They Say About Green M&Ms

Mike Peters, the editorial cartoonist who draws the Mother Goose and Grimm comic strip, offers an amusing take on the ongoing faceoff between photojournalists and the NFL.

Arthur Lavine’s First Solo Exhibit Shows Off Seven-Decade Career

Photographer Arthur Lavine, who began working with Black Star more than 50 years ago in a seven-decade career, is being celebrated with a retrospective at San Diego’s Museum of Photographic Arts through September 2. You can view some of Lavine’s work here.

Without Captions, Are Photos Meaningless?

The wonderful documentary filmmaker Errol Morris [pictured] posted a thought-provoking piece on the New York Times Web site that poses the question: “Would it be possible to look at a photograph shorn of all its context, caption-less, unconnected to current thought and ideas?”

Why Photodisc is a Deadbeat

A number of Photodisc photographers have become increasingly upset at the non-payment of royalties for almost two years — and Getty is in a legal situation where it can’t do much to resolve the problem. A little history is important here.

iStockPhoto Rewards Contributors with Punctum Day

Kelly Thompson, senior VP of iStockphoto, found a novel way to thank the company’s photographers. On Aug. 19, the day Louis Daguerre’s discovery was released to the world in 1839, iStock will introduce a new holiday: Punctum Day. The name is an homage to French philosopher Roland Barthes (pictured), who defined “punctum” as the profound reaction evoked by an excellent image.

Are You Shooting Enough Photos?

“You need to take more photographs!”

This is almost always my No. 1 observation when viewing portfolios of students and emerging professional photographers.

Kodak has pushed this bit of advice for years — because with film cameras, every time you pressed the button, money left your wallet on its way to the company’s coffers. That’s no longer the case, but the advice is truer than ever. With digital cameras, it costs nothing to shoot all the pictures you could ever need of a subject.

NFL Forcing Photojournalists to Become Walking Billboards

The NFL has ruled that game photographers will be required to don red vests emblazoned with Canon and Reebok logos this season — infuriating many photojournalists and setting off a blogstorm of protest.

Sometimes It’s Hard to Be Different

The other day in China I watched athletes prepare for the Beijing Olympic games, and I thought about how difficult it is to get unique photographs at these highly documented events.

For the 2000 Sydney games, I was contracted by Kodak to be their photographer. I realized I would have to do something different, because I’m not a sports photographer and I knew that 1,500 other photographers would be there to capture the events and ceremonies.

Four Elements That Separate a Good Photograph from a Snapshot

Sometime back while flying out of
Dallas, I was sitting by a sweet little
grandmother. She had been visiting her
grandchildren and was eager to talk
about them. She showed me a snapshot
of a red dot in the middle of someone’s
front yard. The red dot (at least to her)
was a compelling photograph of her
granddaughter in a little red dress my
new friend had made for the child.

Elton John and Partner: The New Medicis of Photography?

Pop star Elton John and his partner David Furnish own the greatest privately held collection of 20th century photography, according to London’s Independent. The newspaper wonders if John’s collection — which will be displayed at the Baltic Centre of Contemporary Art in September — is an indication that celebrity collectors have too much influence over today’s art world.

The Day the Old Man Disappeared

In one of the lessons for my online course “The Joy of Digital Photography,” I was trying to come up with a convincing anecdote about the value of photographing things when you see them — because you may never see them again. It’s a lesson most photographers have learned many times: If something of value places itself in front of your lens, you don’t have the luxury of being lazy: you must take the photograph.

John Szarkowski: Photography’s Curator

John Szarkowski, called “the single most important curator that photography has ever had” by Vanity Fair in 2005, has died from complications of a stroke. He was 81.

Szarkowski served as director of photography at New York’s Museum of Modern Art from 1962 to 1991, where he emphasized the “casual, spontaneous nature” of photography. He was also an influential critic, having authored The Photographer’s Eye and Looking at Photographs.

Just How Good Is SnapVillage?

Two weeks after the much-publicized launch of the Corbis microstock offering, opinions vary.

There are the predictably negative attitudes of microstock naysayers. Zooomr CEO Thomas Hawk, for example, thinks that SnapVillage is a bad deal for photographers. Hawk says that SnapVillage and other micropayment brands exist to allow large corporations to restrict photographer access to the premium stock-image market.

Micro Segment Grows at Macro Pace

In addition to the much-publicized launch of SnapVillage by Corbis, two more microstock agencies entered the market in the last two months: Albumo, based in Fair Oaks, Calif., and the U.K.-based Gecko Stock. Both community sites are attempting to woo potential contributors with 50 percent commissions.

Photographer Creates Heavenly Art with Flatbed Scanner

Ron Tarver, a staff photographer for the Philadelphia Inquirer for nearly 25 years, has produced a celestial-themed fine art exhibit using brown eggs in place of stars, fruit for planets — and a flatbed scanner instead of a camera.

Travel Photo Contest Offers Enlightening Top Prize

The 2007 Travel Photographer of the Year competition offers a nirvana-come-true to the winner: a journey to Dharamsala, India, home of the Dalai Lama, for a two-day photo shoot with His Holiness. The victorious photographer also will receive earthly treasures such as an Apple MacBook with Aperture 1.5 software, Adobe CS3 Web Premium software, and a bursary of about $5,000. Entries will be accepted through Oct. 3.

What It Costs to Produce a Simple Photo of a Cornfield

I’ve been having a discussion with Serban Enache, CEO of Dreamstime, and I can’t resist commenting in detail on a couple of his questions.

He asked, “Aren’t the costs lower now for a traditional photographer, just as they are for a micropayment photographer? Why does an image of a cornfield need to cost several hundred dollars when it costs $10 to produce?” He also pointed out that he wasn’t talking about the costs of high-end productions, just simple images.

Notes from the VisCom Classroom: My Eight Tips for Teachers

If you teach, you may have a mental list (or perhaps even a written one) of teaching tips — things that work in the classroom and things that don’t. Here’s my attempt at writing down a few of the things I’ve learned over the years as a photography instructor. These are in no particular order; hopefully they will stimulate some thought and discussion down the road.

Does New York Have Something Against Photographers?

It’s starting to seem like it.

First, New York State legislators introduced a post-mortem publicity bill (now tabled) that the American Society of Media Photographers said would create a model-release nightmare for photographers.

Deadline for Howard Chapnick Grant Is July 15

Photojournalists worldwide are invited to apply for the Howard Chapnick Grant, awarded annually by the W. Eugene Smith Memorial Fund, to “encourage and support leadership in fields ancillary to photojournalism, such as editing research, education and management.” The late Chapnick is the former longtime president of Black Star.

The Prodigal Client

This evening I did a wonderful assignment. It’s not that the subject matter, per se, was wonderful. The client wasn’t some “Oh, my God, I’d give my eye-teeth to work with that group of creatives,” either. It was … the prodigal client.