Saturday, May 12, 2007

My Latest Tool, and a Glimpse To The Future

I found myself sitting at a luncheon, and several of the Nikon execs and I were discussing products, and their evolution. I queried one of the Nikon folks seated at the table, who shared with me that he's responsible for handling the consumer products for Nikon. I responded that I was duely impressed with the wireless capability of the point and shoots they were using at the PhotoPlus Expo party back in October. He then told me about the latest - the S50C, which has wireless built in too, and direct-transmits to Flickr. I said "well, my wife is currently shooting with a film point and shoot, and she's been insisting we get a digital point and shoot. He then offered to take my right down to J&R to get one. I said "no, thanks, I'll get it from Jeff Snyder at Penn Camera if I do. If I went to J&R, I'd certainly hear about it from him."

On the ride home from New York, where the luncheon was, I got to thinking. And the next day, I called Jeff, and placed an order, not for one, but two. Without cracking the manual, and a few moment's glimpse at the "quick start" guide, I had the camera connected to my home network, and was uploading photos. It was absolutely amazing. More importantly, it was miles and miles away easier than configuring my WT-2A transmitter that I use on my D2x, or the transmitter I use on my 1Ds Mark II. Further, The entire point and shoot was actually about 1/2 the size of just the transmitter!s for my pro Nikon and Canon cameras.

Enter my speculation. If Nikon can make the transmitter about the size of four chicklet gum pieces, I imagine that that capability will be integral into whatever Nikon's latest offerring will be, whenever they announce it. Given that the D2x is getting long in the tooth, the next generation of Nikon camera must be due anytime this year. This integration, coupled with what will almost certainly be a much larger chip/file size (and after this jump, future chips should focus on clarity over size, I think this coming generation will be the last significant size increase, as necessity goes), will mean one kick-ass camera.

With the ease with which I was delivering family photos to a distribution list and then to Flickr, seamlessly, I am excited about what the future holds for Nikon. If you want your own S50C, click this link to send your request to Jeff at Penn.

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Friday, May 11, 2007

Flickr and the LAW

Recently, I was having breakfast on a travel project with a colleague of mine. He asked of me "what's the big deal with Flickr? I don't get it. I don't see the benefit of being there, of taking the time to be on it. It's just for people to share their family photos, right? What does it help we professionals?" I reponded, telling him that Flickr is not just that, and that friends, prospective art directors, and so on, can make you a "friend", and then, whenever you post new photos, they turn up on their Flickr page. It's friends and these prospective clients are choosing to want to be alerted when you add photos, and it's all automatic and shows up on their own page straightaway! Further, properly tagged (think Keywords, Check here, for Stan Rowin's insights on this and a link to a report with even more information), people can find the photos, and get in touch with you, or, maybe, mis-use your photo.

Stan has other insights on Flickr here, but how do we, as professionals, not only leverage the value of Flickr, but also encourage fair and just use of our work there? Enter the Flickr Licensing Awareness Working Group, which has, as it's mission:

We are a collection of photographers on Flickr who are concerned about the fair and legal use of our creative work.

Flickr is intended to be a photo-sharing site. However, the term "photo-sharing," while ambiguous, does not imply that material on Flickr is freely obtainable by either registered users or non-users without first gaining consent by the creator or owner....Many photographs, images and other works on Flickr are either full or partially copyrighted by their owners. Copyright laws are in full effect on Flickr and should be respected...Flickr gives its users the ability to indicate images that are more freely available by applying Creative Commons...Flickr was not intended to be a stock photography site. If you wish to use someone's image, words or an idea, please make a personal connection with the artist and ask permission first....We are here to bring awareness to copyright issue.
If you want to be on the front of the curve, knowledgeable about what's going on out there, for example, the RF site 123RF had their Flicker API revoked (as reported here), because they wanted to commercialize Flickr, further, consider "Speculation about when Yahoo's Flickr, the world’s most popular photo sharing site, might enter the micro-stock business has surfaced in stock photo industry circles" as reported on AboutTheImage here. Further, StockPhotoTalk discusses the cancellation of the API here, just days after reporting the plug-in live here, and speculated almost a year ago that Flickr may well enter the commercial stock photography business, as reported here.

Certainly, the time is right for professional photographic organizations to engage this issue. The tipping point has arrived and I am more than happy to engage and assist, where beneficial. The LAW Group has several links to the obvious - Flickr policies, Yahoo policies, and links to report abuse/mis-use on the site. It's a beginning. However, I encourage everyone to engage this issue, to become familiar with what Flickr can do for you, and what the risks are, and could be. Join the Flickr group and become a part of the process.
Please post your comments by clicking the link below. If you've got questions, please pose them in our Photo Business Forum Flickr Group Discussion Threads.

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Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Microsoft's Oversight Correction

A wrinkle occured when the language was presented for the Microsoft Future Pro Photographer contest was announced, whereby a "cut & paste" error was made by a paralegal drafting the contest rules, which read:

All Entries become the property of Sponsor and Administrators and will not be returned. By submitting your Entry, you grant Sponsor and Administrators an irrevocable royalty-free, worldwide right, in all media (now known or later developed) to use, publish, alter or otherwise exploit your Entry. You hereby forever release the Sponsor and Administrators from any and all claims you might have in connection with their use and exhibit of your Entry as set forth above. You also agree to sign any necessary documentation to effectuate that license and release. If you do not want to grant Sponsor and Administrators the foregoing, please do not enter the Contest. Sponsor and Administrators are not obligated to use the Entry, even if it has been selected as a Winning entry.
These concerns were raised by those involved in the contest, and were corrected to read:
"5. Rights to Use Entries.
As a condition of accepting a prize, you agree to grant Microsoft an irrevocable royalty-free worldwide license to reproduce and display the image, credited with your first and last name, in print and on the web for the purposes of only promoting this contest."
That certainly is a much better resolution.

However, your "prize winning" and "prize accepting" entry could mean that if you forgo the prize (i.e. you don't accept the prize), then that right is not granted? It sure reads that way.

In either event, this is much better. Thanks Microsoft for correcting that, and to the Sponsors, who made inquiries that gave weight to the concerns that many of you e-mailed me with!
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Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Getting the Credit You Deserve

So, we're all worried about point size. Is it 6pt? 8pt? Adjacent to the photo? In the gutter of the page? Maybe you're a major contributor to the piece, photo-centric as some say, and so you get a big "Photographs by..." right under the title of the article. Maybe some designer somewhere has deigned your attribution to page 365 of the magazine, in a small box where no one will ever see it, yet they think nothing of giving the author a plug at the end of the article "Jane Doe previously write for this magazine on the subject of X, Y and Z in the December 2006 issue. She can be reached via e-mail at". Why the hell don't we get the same consideration?

Wait, I got off on a bit of a rant there. This piece isn't about photo credit, it's about credit, as in, I will loan you money if you pay me back more than I gave you. THAT kind of credit.

On a loan of $125,000, according to our friends at Freddie Mac, a 7% interest rate for good girls and boys means you pay a monthy combined total for principal and interest of $831.63. Bad girls and bad boys, you have a 12% interest rate, and pay $1,285.77. That means you're paying $454.14 and a total of an additional $163,490 over the life of the 30 year mortgage. Man, that sucks!

So, just how do these sharks calculate what your percentage rate is? Well, the higher the risk you won't pay them back, the higher the interest rate. The folks at Fair Issac Corporation (FICO) are in charge of your future.

So, what is your credit score? If the end result of between 500~579, you suck. You've not paid your bills on time. You, sir or madam, are a bad credit risk. If you're in the 760~850 range, you're golden. A perfect risk. To find out, our dear friends in the federal government have deemed it necessary for you to get one free credit report, every year. How? check out to learn more. There are three credit bureaus that have got your number, they are Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.

Once you've got your number, here are a few suggestions:

  • You need to have credit cards. Creditors don't like people who keep cash in their mattress, they like you to play in their sandbox awhile with other people's money before they will loan you theirs at a good rate.

  • Don't max out your cards. Get two, and rack them up only half way. They like this better than maxing out.

  • Have a good mix. Those student loans, a car loan, and a few credit cards look better to them.

  • A big paycheck doesn't mean a good credit rating.

  • Be a timely bill payer. Set up your cards to be paid automatically from your bank account so you don't forget.

If you have been a bad boy or girl in the past, but are on the straight and narrow now, potential new creditors like that. More weight is given to recent credit entries in your history with the bureaus than older bad listings. Bills such as your cell phone bill can also affect your credit rating if you pay it late, and if you try to open a line of credit at a camera store, a bad credit score will preclude that.

Once you've paid your bills on time, and have good credit, then go on and worry about the point size of your photo credit, and whether or not the magazine will print your photo credit as your URL instead. (and have you tried that?)
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The Curious Case of Allan Detrich

What do you do when you've been disgraced from your job altering 79 photographs (revealed so far), and are fired? Turn to what was your hobby - Storm Chasing. So was the path that disgraced Toledo Blade staff photographer Allan Detrich followed as he, the phoenix, temporarily rose from the ashes when he found himself in the middle of the aftermath of the Kansas tornado disaster. (oh, and note the "Courtesy of" photo credit that appeared on the front page of

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Sunday, May 6, 2007

Switching to Freelance, or Just a Freelancer?

While not dedicated to freelance photography, FreelanceSwitch has an interesting blog entry - Top Ten Signs You May Be Charging Too Little. A sampling:

Number 10:
Your client mistakes your daily rate for an hourly one.

Number 9:
You’ve won every job you’ve ever pitched for.

Number 6:
Clients pay your invoices in cash from their wallet.

Number 5:
Other freelancers regularly send you hatemail.

Other great articles include:There are a bunch of other great articles and entries there, just check them out!
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Doctor Eddie Brock and The Staff Job

I found myself laughing out loud in the theater last night. I and two of my fellow photographer friends Mark and Bill had gone to the theater to catch the latest installment of Spiderman. Among a crowd of 34 in a theater that seats 400, what had me guffawing was the battle between Parker and the upstart freelancer Eddie Brock.

None other than "America's Oldest Journal Covering the Newspaper Industry", Editor & Publisher, has an article titled "New Photog Challenges Peter Parker at 'Daily Bugle' ".

It seems that Parker, who has been vying for a staff photographer's position, and was promised one when it opened up, gets challenged by Eddie Brock, who is shopping photos of Spiderman to the editor, when Parker turns up with his own, and they are compared. When the Assistant to the Editor says to the Editor "which one?" The the Editor says "we'll go with the freelancer's, it's cheaper." When Parker then asks the Editor about the staff position, he says (something akin to) "whichever one of you gets a shot of Spiderman as the no-good scoundrel that he is, get's the job", or, as New York Newsday (the real paper) put's it "upping the stakes with a sharper brand of tension, only one can win a full-time gig with benefits."

Newsday further writes: "In an attempt to impress his boss, Daily Bugle editor J. Jonah Jameson, Brock's misguided weapon of choice is Photoshop, causing a Jayson Blair-sized scandal." Causing Jameson to say "we have to print a retraction, we haven't printed a retraction in 20 years!" And then, there is a front page apology to Spiderman for labelling him "Thief" after Brock's photoshopped a file photo of Spiderman, and Parker recognizes the photo and calls him out on it just as Brock is being celebrated as the new staff photographer, only to have him fired for his ethical breach. Also on the front page is a piece about Brock's firing.

It was a kick to watch the pre-villanous Brock exhibit his unethical behavior about photoshopping images to make himself look better, to watch him fall in flames, and to watch Parker do the right thing photographically speaking. To watch the editor have to make apologies/retractions because they went with "the cheaper one". It's also humorous to see them both shooting with film cameras in this digital age, and during the big climactic scene, where the editor is on hand, to see a little girl (actually, the director's daughter) taking photos, and the editor says "kid, do you want a job" to which she responds "why would I want a job?" And he then asks how much for her plastic point and shoot camera, and she says something like "ten bucks", and he pays for it and then tries to use it, only to get his comeuppance when he opens up the camera to find no film, and the little girl responds "you want film, that'll be more money."

If you weren't going to see Spiderman 3, go just to see how the unethical upstart freelance photographer gets it in the end and Parker, the principled one, calls him on it. There were several humorous freelance references throughout.

Just as an aside, here's a list of Bugle-centric photographers - Cole Cooper, Jeffrey Haight (who cut a deal with a villan for a photo of him just to get a front page photo), Tony Reeves, Angela Yin (sister of another villan), Lance Bannon - KIA, Amber Grant (business -saavy superior to Parker's, which made him envious), Phil Sheldon, and Billy Walters.

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