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.

Electronic Copyright Office Goes Beta

Photographers will soon be able to file copyright registrations quickly and inexpensively thanks to the new Electronic Copyright Office (eCO), which enters its beta period on July 2.

Is Stock Footage as Lucrative as Stills?

After Pat Hunt’s story on Tom Grill and his daughter Jamie, one reader said, “If Grill is a ‘marketing genius ahead of the pack,’ why was there nothing in the article about footage?” This photographer believes that with the current over-supply of stills, and looking to potential future needs, there is greater opportunity in footage and wondered why Grill and his daughter aren’t moving in that direction. I put that question Tom; here’s his answer:

Proposed Legislation Could Be a “Nightmare Scenario” for Stock Photographers

A New York State bill, currently in committee in the Senate and Assembly, is designed to protect the estates of deceased celebrities by making it more difficult to use their images for commercial purposes. The problem, according to the American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP), is that the bill is so broadly worded that it could make the use of stock photography featuring any dead person illegal — even if the subject signed a model release while alive.

The Importance of Making a Cow Look Her Best

“There are no instructions on how to take cow pictures,” says photographer Jack Remsberg. “I used what I had learned about cow judging and conformation. It’s like being a portrait photographer; you just try to help a cow look her best.”

World Portraits: Model Releases for the Developing World

Getting model releases from subjects in the “Developing World” (some like to use the term “Majority World”) has always been difficult. There has been a necessity to translate releases into many languages, and even when that is done, the subjects often have little understanding of how their picture might be used. However, as the world gets smaller, the need for proper releases becomes more critical.

A Tale of Two Photos

If you want to know how journalistic priorities have changed over the past 35 years, the answer is summed up pretty succinctly in two photos — both by AP photographer Nick Ut.

Lise Gagne Becomes First iStockphoto Photographer to Reach 500,000 Sales

Lise Gagne, a Canadian microstock photographer, just reached 500,000 image downloads through iStockphoto. A registered member since 2003, Gagne was the first to become a full-time, exclusive iStock photographer. The nearly 5,000 pieces of Gagne’s work represented by iStock have each been downloaded an average of 100 times, earning her a six-figure income — enough to not just rent but own studio space.

Giving Credit Where Credit Isn’t Due

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In Sunday’s Washington Post, and I’m sure many other papers across the country, a photograph of President Bush making his weekly radio address ran. It was credited to the Associated Press.

Female Photojournalists in War Zones Are Hiding Sexual Abuse

Judith Matloff of the Columbia Journalism Review has penned a terrifying report on the unique dangers faced by female foreign correspondents. She tells the story of one photojournalist with significant experience in South Asia:

More Photo Funny Business at Vanity Fair

How hard is it to state that your journalistic “photograph” is actually a photo illustration or composite?

We’ve been over this ground before, but here we go again — with Vanity Fair’s Bono-inspired publicity stunt of 21 public figures posing “together,” with a little help from Photoshop.

An Interview with Daryl Lang, News Editor of Photo District News

Over two decades, Photo District News (PDN) has staked its place as the Bible of the professional photographic industry. But like all trade publications, the monthly has had to adapt to dramatic changes in recent years — first the emergence of the Web, and now of blogs and social networks.

Will Red-Carpet Photographers Soon Just Be Fans with Cameras?

Bad news for red-carpet and celebrity photographers: your business may soon be much less lucrative.

In a move that could shake up the editorial photography market, Shutterstock has announced a new program called Shutterstock on the Red Carpet that is designed to help its network of over 60,000 contributing photographers obtain coveted press passes for film premieres, award shows, concerts, political rallies, and the like.

In East Timor, Not Everybody Has a Camera

I was travelling through the hills of East Timor, which had recently become the first newly independent nation of the 21st century. As we came around a corner, we almost drove into a wedding party that had just left the village where the wedding had taken place. Thinking this would be a good photo opportunity for the book I was making about the country, we asked if it would be OK to shoot some pictures.

Exclusive Interview: Gary Shenk of Corbis

In April, Corbis announced that Gary Shenk, company president, would become the new CEO effective July 1, 2007, and that all Corbis officers would begin reporting to him as of the date of the April announcement. Steve Davis, the current CEO, is transitioning out of his day-to-day operational role to pursue new leadership opportunities in the public service and philanthropic world, but he will also continue to serve as a senior advisor to the company.

Just How Big Is the Stock Photo Industry Today?

I believe the gross worldwide revenue that is generated from the licensing of stock imagery, both still photos and illustrations, is about $1.8 billion annually.

In May 2004, I estimated the market at $1.5 billion, and at the time I addressed the lack of hard facts necessary to make an industry estimate. There is still a lot we don’t know, but the consolidation of sellers in the last three years has provided additional information that makes it much easier to estimate the gross industry revenue today. In planning for the future, it is useful for producers and sellers of stock photography to have some idea of market size and trends.