Thursday, November 15, 2007

Living The Power of One, & The Butterfly Effect

I'd like to think that the reason we have the good fortune of 50,000+ views in the last 30 days, and have exceeded 300,000 since we started, is because there's something of value you, dear reader, get from these postings. What though, are you doing with that knowledge?

I'd like to think that you are using these insights, whichever apply to you directly, or in a modified form specific to your needs, to make your business a better run, more efficient, effective, and, yes - profitable operation.

What are the additional benefits to you, or that you can obtain? What, if anything, are you obligated to do, in return?

(Continued after the Jump)

Something. Last week, The Conundrum of Doing Nothing rose to become one of my more popular posts, topping 5,000 people reading it. One of the points was that by doing nothing, you set yourself up to do something. Each time I give a presentation, I end with the "ask" of the audience to take whatever they've learned from the evening, and pay it forward. It's the last slide of my presentation, and the last sentence of my book. I firmly believe that if we, collectively, pay forward whatever we learn about how to operate our businesses right, we will all benefit.

You might think to yourself that you, yourself, can't make a difference. Nothing could be further from the truth. There is an old parable, of the starfish. There are many variations, here's one:
A father and son walked along the seashore as the sun was rising, amidst thousands of starfish left by the retreating tide. The father was picking up the starfish and tossing them back into the sea. His son queried his father "Why do you do that? There are thousands of starfish here, many will die. What difference does it make?"

The father, paused, starfish in hand, said "Son, it makes a difference to this one", and returned it to the sea.
Such is the power of one.

So too, might you feel as if whatever effort you make to do things right, or help others, won't make a difference. One refrain I hear from time to time from photographers is "if I say no to the bad deal, what does it matter? They will find someone else to take it." While I refer you back to Arlo's thinking on this one, so too, might you consider the The Butterfly Effect:
The flapping wing represents a small change in the initial condition of the system, which causes a chain of events leading to large-scale phenomena. Had the butterfly not flapped its wings, the trajectory of the system might have been vastly different.
Your efforts, even in small ways, can - and do, make a difference. While you may never see the difference made, it's those types of efforts, the ones you make for which the yield is unknown to you, is among the most altruistic.

So, I encourage you to recognize your own power, as just one individual, and that your efforts are akin to the butterfly effect, and actually are making a difference. As to the additional benefits to you? The benefit of knowing you're doing well, by doing good.

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.

[More: Full Post and Comments]

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

JaincoTech & APA Partner

So, in anticipation of going to the APA's DC presentation of Paul Aresu, tomorrow evening, I was browsing through my APA e-mail folder and in pops an announcement that APA and JaincoTech are partnering for member savings.

I didn't think much of this, really, since I have sent to them work to be done domestically in Ohio as well as in their overseas offices, my 120mm analog files as well as select 35mm files for both keywording as well as scanning. I did the math, and a scan and keyworded file ready to move from my useless lateral file cabinet to my online solutions (Digital Railroad and PhotoShelter) was more effectively done by them, rather than doing it myself, with the resulting delays because I am busy shooting.

Shortly after I got that e-mail, I got an inquiry from a colleague, questioning this course of action by APA, somehow suggesting that it's detrimental to photographers. I hadn't, nor do I, see it that way. If that were the case, we could argue that the film labs took away from our craftsmanship in the darkroom when done ourselves, or from Duggal/et al in NYC taking away from us our retouching as well.

(Continued - including a video - after the Jump)

What APA has done, as I see it, is negotiate, on behalf of it's members, discounts on the service beyond what you can get on your own. I consider that a benefit, and, had I know about it before I sent out 1,500 images for keywording, I probably would have saved a few dollars. However, with another 3,000 images that I opted to scan myself (35mm in-house is viable if you're committed, 120mm is insane to do in-house) and apply my caption data to, I know that the APA discount will save me more than my membership fees alone in the coming months/years, just through these cost savings alone, and my experience with the quality of the work is top notch.

Moreover, as JaincoTech is both a US and Asian company, you, as the consumer can choose to have the work done domestically or overseas - you're call, your choice on price.

I did a segment with Gautam of JaincoTech at PhotoPlus -- here's just that segment:
Feel free to opt for their domestic service, or their international, your choice. When you do the math on the cost of shipping a 5lb drive via FedEx overseas, and back again, the cost savings of using overseas solutions - especially for keywording only, can diminish, making the use of their US operations potentially more appealing anyway.

The most important thing to do is - get your analog image scanned, and out making you money.

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.

[More: Full Post and Comments]

Sunday, November 11, 2007

TUESDAY, 11/13 - Presenting in SF to ASMP NorCal

I'm heading to my old stomping grounds (I am a bay area native) to give a presentation to the ASMP NorCal chapter.

Here's their information they've sent out to their membership, so, if you can make it, please do!

(Full Post after the Jump)

Profit is not a Four Letter Word
Made possible through the generous sponsorship of ASMP NorCal's event by
liveBooks and Nayaco.

John Harrington, photographer, ASMP Strictly Business 2 presenter and author of the book, “Best Business Practices for Photographers,” will present tips and tricks for photographic profitability. Simply put, the business of photography is just plain time-consuming and often times daunting. Not only do photographers need to make great photographs, but they need to stay in business, too. John’s program will be packed with information on how do you operate a successful freelance photography business as well as negotiating techniques. Rate determination, no-change contracts, late paying clients, negotiation strategy and rate increase debates will also be discussed. For nearly two decades, Washington DC-based John Harrington has covered the world of politics, traveled internationally and negotiated contracts along the way. The Alameda native’s commercial clients include Coca-Cola, XM Satellite Radio and Lockheed Martin and his work has appeared in Time, Newsweek and Rolling Stone. Harrington has produced three commissioned books for the Smithsonian and lectured to numerous trade groups on the importance of solid business practices as a cornerstone of long-term success as a photographer. His best-selling book, Best Business Practices for Photographers, published in October of 2006, is currently in it’s third printing. and he author’s the blog Photo Business Forum.

BlueSky Studios
2325 3rd Street
San Francisco (Click for Google Map)

Social hour 6-7 PM
Event- 7-9 PM
$10 ASMP members, $20 non-members
So, come on out! Below is one of the photos I made during my early days...

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.

[More: Full Post and Comments]

What's This? I think it's worth a serious look

In mining parlance, "Naked Light" means "Open flame, such as a match or a burning cigarette, that is a fire risk in mines." For photographers, it appears to be an alternative to Photoshop - if you're a Mac *and* a Leopard user.

So, what does it have to offer? Why go up against what is seemingly a perfect program like Photoshop? For me, I know that I couldn't run my business for a single day without using Photoshop, and certainly the innovations in CS3 are monumental in how it (specifically Camera Raw) handles raw files, so, why this new idea?

(Continued after the Jump)

One sentence - "instruction-based editing."

Photoshop only implemented layers after it's first few versions, and all the early hard-core users already came to terms with "destructive" editing - that is, actually changing the pixels of the image itself, rather than using layers and masks, and adjustment layers, and so forth. I for one have to really work hard to do layered editing, for example. I am much more content committing my changes to the actual image data, and that's a habit I have to break.

What layers are - whether curves or levels, masked or not, are instruction-based editing. Further, when you work on a file in Camera Raw, or Lightroom, or Aperture, and instruct the application to remove dust spots, or alter the color balance, sharpness, clarity, luminance, and so forth, you are not actually affecting the underlying data that is in the raw file, you are preparing a set of instructions for whatever application does open the files, to perform. This is how/why you can go back and make changes to those instructions whenever you want. Andrew Rodney touches on this vis-a-vis Lightroom here when he says "You could assign a different set of processing instructions and output the images many different ways without ever having to worry about degrading the original (RAW) data... One advantage of instruction based editing is speed. You are not working on a full resolution pixel based file but rather a preview of the RAW data. Only when you ask the converter to render the file does the big processing task take place. Suppose you have a dozen similar images that all need the same tone and color correction. You can work with a single low-resolution thumbnail and apply corrections to your liking."

Instruction-based editing is at the core of applications like Final Cut Pro, where you create Edit-Decision-Lists (EDL's) and then instruct the application to collect the raw material. Further, when you apply cross-dissolves, or other transitions or titles, you're not actually affecting the original video file - even when splicing pieces together - only the instructions with how to handle the file.

In Naked Light's tour, a few of the really interesting highlights include:
  • Pixel later. Naked light is pixel-free. Layout images and define tools and filters in real-life units like inches, millimeters, and picas.
  • Mix and match images with different resolutions, color spaces, and pixel aspect ratios—all in the same composition. Naked light handles everything with aplomb, without requiring you to perform tedious—and lossy—conversions first.
  • You can dodge and burn using stops, paint in millimeters, and blur by inches.
  • Naked light introduces all-new, avant-garde tools like the Noise Brush, which dusts subtle details where ever you want, and Gradient Selection, which makes quick work of vignetting and other effects.
  • Rather than replacing an image with the results of the filter like traditional graphics apps, Naked light just stores a recipe to recreate your composition.
  • In Photoshop, you can only apply Adjustments as Adjustment Layers, and Filters as Smart Filters. In Naked light, there's no difference between adjustments, filters, and layer effects—and you can apply all filters in both manners.
  • In Photoshop, you can only have one mask per layer. To create more, you need to stick a layer inside of a folder. In Naked light, you can create an infinite number of Mask nodes, and quickly drag or duplicate them between rows of nodes as needed.
This application will challenge you to think differently - in a really big way. More so, I think, than the mental shift necessary to go from mouse to tablet.

However, I think that once you get your head around it, you'll find interesting new ways to interact with your images. Check out their blog The Emperor Has New Clothes for a bunch of back and forth between the developers and the Beta Zero hearty adventurers trying out the product. As the developers note in the blog - "As a head's up, you're not going to be able to get any real work done in this release—this one's for the bleeding-edger's that want a taste of the future. If you wait another two weeks until the next, more stable beta edition (Beta One), you won't miss too much. Hopefully this isn't too much of a disappointment—again, I had no idea people would be this eager!"

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.

[More: Full Post and Comments]

Bruce Springsteen and Business Practices

US News & World Report wrote this article - What the Boss can teach CEO's - about Springsteen's ability to remain relevant, and popular, unlike so many other acts of his era. This piece is a good jumping off point to be translated into how it applies to photographers.

The first point was to always keep your clients at the height of expectation - continue to produce exceptional images and push yourself to deliver. The example that is used is of Apple, and their continued production of new products and product updates.

Other points included the value of innovating, which could be applied to photographers as the importance of reinventing yourself and your images and style, as you evolve, and, most importantly, love what you do. We as photographers are as blessed with this priviledge as we can be - don't under-estimate how much better this makes your images, and serves your clients.

(Coments, if any, after the Jump)

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.

[More: Full Post and Comments]

Corbis loses in the case of the lost images

My friend and colleague Chris Usher won an important victory against Corbis, when, on November 7th, the US District Court for the Southern District of New York ruled that Corbis was liable for the lost of 12,640 of Usher's best images from the 2000 Presidential Campaign, during which time Usher covered both George W. Bush and Al Gore.

Usher, who had built a successful business representing himself was wooed by Corbis, who valued his access and consistent play in the major newsweekly magazines. Usher, hoping to focus more on the making of images than on the business aspect, thought Corbis a viable alternative to running the store himself. After less than two years with lackluster results and lingering questions about how Corbis' operations were being run, Usher ended his relationship with Corbis in November 2001, and sought the return of his images, starting up his own Apix agency, to fill the void. However, the time commitment to properly attend to the Corbis case took it' toll, and Usher and his co-founder Adrienne DeArmas opted out of that effort, which was dedicated to working with young photographers. Now, she and Usher operate Chris Usher Photography & Associates.

(Continued after the Jump)

During the course of the case, Corbis was found significantly deficient in it's tracking and archving of images, and failed to excercise reasonable care with the valuable images. In December, the court will determine valuation. The judge is expected to refer to the previous case of Arthur Grace v. Corbis, which in many ways is identical to Usher's situation. Grace recieved $472,000 for the 40,000 images that Corbis lost. In that case, the final valuation was a paltry $11.80 per image, which, for Arther Grace's images, is a joke - his work was worth much more. Applying this math, Usher might reasonably expect $149,152 from this case.

What the courts should do, is refer to Corbis' own paperwork - delivery memos, and their own bills to clients for lost images, where the valution was closer to $1,500 to $2,000 per image, which was, for many years where analog images were the norm, a standard that the agencies placed upon the lifetime loss from the image no longer being available.

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.

[More: Full Post and Comments]
Newer Posts Older Posts