Saturday, February 16, 2008

"You Suck at Photoshop" - So Damn Funny

If you've ever watched someone really boring give a presentation, Donnie Hoye will teach you Photoshop techniques WHILE you're laughing hysterically. Over a million people have watched his videos, so what you learn will be ingrained into your brain because it will be memorable!

Below are links to three of them, he's done atleast a half-dozen. All really do teach you something worth knowing, but just try watching them and not laughing uproariously! (Nominally NSFW)

(Comments, after the Jump)

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Friday, February 15, 2008

Microsoft - The Photographer's Friend

I've been doing some watching lately, and it's become interesting to see Microsoft come late (atleast publically) to the photography bandwagon. I'm not referring to things like Corbis, or PhotoSynth, and so forth. I'm referring to things like their Microsoft Pro Photographer's Summit, and, more importantly, the campaign they launched two days ago.

Information Week has a great article on it, which is essentially, to teach the teens of today (who will be the lawyers, judges, and lawmakers of tomorrow) about the value of intellectual property, and about the importance of respecting copyright.

(Continued after the Jump)

Interestingly enough, (and with a major sigh of relief), it appears to be the case that the youth of today see the stick that is jailtime and fines, sufficient to warrant a curtailing of this unlawful behavior. To back this up, Microsoft released an indepth and throughly produced survey.

Significant among their findings:
  • 49% of teens said they are not familiar with the rules and guidelines for downloading content from the Internet.
  • Only 11% understood the rules well
  • of the 11%, 82% said downloading content illegally merits punishment
  • Of those that are unfamiliar with the laws, 57% supported punishment for intellectual property violations.
  • 41% of teens believe the cost to download a song should be between $.50 and $1.00
  • 26% of those surveyed said digital songs should be less than $.50
  • 21% said music that's online should be free.
This portends well, as a starting point. In other words, we're not at a 1% position, with 99% to go, but rather, we are further up the field than many thought. But Microsoft wants to do more, and is putting the money behind it do reverse the trend of a lack of respect for IP. So, they've got seveal initiatives "Intellectual Property Rights Education" for middle school and high school teachers, and MyBytes, where students can share their own content, learn it's values, and respect others copyrights.

So far, so good Microsoft. We are pleased you've come to the photo party on these issues, even if some may feel you're a bit late. On these issues, it's surely better late than never, and we could sure use your muscle and clout to make all of this happen sooner rather than later. We don't need teens who have little respect for copyright becoming the congressional staffers, legislators, and lawyers of tomorrow without a firm grasp of copyright and IP!

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Contemplating the Future: Microsoft & Yahoo?

Rumors fly left and right. Google is buying the AOL news division once Time Warner does it's little breakup. Microsoft is buying Yahoo, or, post-no-go, now, it's Apple is buying Yahoo.

Lots of rumors. How do these things potentially impact photographers?

Well, let's look at what will probably happen - Microsoft and Yahoo will come to a figure in the middle of their price-points, and thus, become one, and still be dwarfed by Google, so there will be little anti-trust issues there.

Assuming this happens, I (and Seeking Alpha) will expect that Microsoft's new Flickr will grow, and Microsoft will harvest that content for all it's worth, and then some. Further, the untapped advertising potential of Flickr is exponential, and you can expect that the ad execs who are selling eyeballs on al will be chomping at the bit to monetize Flickr in ways we can't even image now.

(Continued after the Jump)

Further, Microsoft's PhotoSynth will have unrestricted access to all of the visual content of Flickr, which makes the Getty Images Library look like a mom-and-pop corner store against Wal-Mart. With all of the spare processor cycles, aggregating the data from Flickr, with virtual tags like date/time/caption/location, building up the monolith of data will be an amazing resource, like MicroStrategy was in Web 1.0's heyday, but with staying power like only Microsoft has. Seeking Alpha seems to think this content could go to Microsoft's HD View project, and that may be the case, but I think that PhoyoSynth is the greater likelihood of use for that data, since it doesn't lend itself to the use that PhotoSynth does.

Microsoft could also engage the top producers of content on Flickr and entice them into actually generating revenue beyond the RF/microstock model, and offer auto-tagging based upon their aggregated visual data. What would the platform to deliver that out in a controlled way? Why, the acquisition of Digital Railroad or PhotoShelter. What's $50M (give or take) or so when you've just spent upwards of $50B on Yahoo?

Further, and I'm not too up to speed on this, but Microsoft has been touting, and then rebranding, their JPEGXR/JPEGHD/etc from what seemed like a proprietary format to what should be some form of open-source/fully documented solution like DNG is. The use of Flickr could be one platform to stringboard their promotion of JPEG HD. One word of advice on DNG - if you're not using DNG, you're missing out. And, what little I've seen of JPEG HD, it looks to be promising. Here's to hoping that Microsoft doesn't try to control it. If they do, I have one word for you: Betamax. I do recall, at one time, an attempt to promote JPEG 2000, which seemed to fall flat. So, be careful on JPEG HD!

I'll be curious, when this goes through, to see how Google responds. I'll expect they will pick up something like Zuula, which, if you've not looked at it, is very cool. It's a search aggregator. Check out the "Images" tab, and then the sub-tabs for all the search engines. This search for "house" returns interesting image results, with the best returns being from Yahoo and Flickr (unless you're a fan of the TV show House).

Stay tuned on this one. These mega-mergers will impact our lives as photographers, and hopefully in a good way.

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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Canon's New Patent - The Eyes Have it

I read with great interest about Canon's new patent whereby their camera will actually take a retinal scan of your iris, and produce a biometric signature that the camera will then embed into the photographs, authenticating the images as yours, and aiding in locating who the person is that took the photograph via some form of steganography. Of course, that image, above, of Sen. Obama campaigning, is a nice photo-illustration of the concept, and not how your actual image would look!

I've gone through and dissected their patent application after the jump, and discussed some of the interesting findings.

(Continued after the Jump)

First things first, patent application reading is not for the faint of heart, and it does require some creative thinking when it comes to envisioning how a bunch of lawyers are depicting their new (and supposedly valuable) idea.

I've gone through, and pulled out graphics and text that I think do a good job of making it easier to understand (and get excited about!)

Canon posted this patent application on January 31st, and have proposed some very interesting ideas to help us cure the age-old question of "who took this picture?"

The patent application reads:

[0001] This invention relates to an imaging apparatus for electrically taking the image of a subject. More particularly,
the invention relates to an imaging apparatus with which it is possible to protect the copyright of the photographer.

[0004] Against this background, the necessity for imaging apparatus such as digital still cameras and digital video cameras has grown explosively.
The application goes on to say why this is necessary:
[0005] The widespread use of personal computers and the like has made the copying of digital data easier and less expensive. In addition, easier access to the Internet has facilitated and lowered the cost of distributing digital data. As a consequence, even ordinary individuals can now create and distribute copies of digital images easily and inexpensively for purposes beyond private use. Accordingly, though the handling ofdigital images does not pose a major problem so long as it involves photography for personal enjoyment, the fact that such image data can be copied and distributed easily by unauthorized individuals has not gone unnoticed by those who circulate digital images as a business.

[0006] Thus, a problem which arises is that protection of the copyright of photographers, ctc., is not satisfactory. Means for protecting copyright is strongly desired for digital image data obtained by photography.

[0007] A technique referred to as an "electronic watermark" has undergone extensive research for the purpose of realizing copyright protection of digital image data. This technique is one in which a portion of the data in digital image data or digital audio data is embedded with separate information by superposition in such a manner that the information is rendered insensible or intentionally sensible to a human being, depending upon the particular purpose. When necessary, only a user having the right or qualifications can extract or remove the embedded separate information.
Below, you'll see just where the iris scan hardware would be placed - tucked right at the top of the viewfinder:

Above, is a graphical representation of the interaction between the iris sensor and the camera's CPU. (note, the correlation between the item identified as "113" in both graphics.

Here's how the application describes it:
[0056] An iris sensor 113, which employs an image sensing device such as a CCD, is placed so as to become the conjugate ofthe pupil 216 ofthe photographer's eye situated at a prescribed position in relation to a light-receiving lens 211. Infrared light-emitting diodes 213a, 213b illuminate the vicinity ofthe photographer's pupil. An LCD 214 inside the viewfinder, which is placed at a position where it can be observed by the photographer at the same time that the photographer observes the finder image, displays various settings information, etc. A high-luminance light-emitting diode 215 illuminates a prescribed area on the focusing plate 206.

[0057] Light from the iris of the photographer is reflected by the spectroscope 210a and has its image formed by the light-receiving lens 211 on the iris sensor 113, whereby the iris image is obtained.
Below is the flowchart for how the camera would scan your iris, while you looked through the viewfinder.

The application includes this description of the process:
[0023] First, the eyeball image of the person is acquired by controlling illumination and focus (1101). When the eyeball image is obtained, the eyelid and eyelash are detected, the pupil-iris boundary 21 and outer boundary 22 of the iris are detected, as shown in FIG. 12, and a coordinate system is set up upon dividing the eyeball into areas 23 referred to as analysis bands (1102).

[0024] Next, image analysis (1103), which mainly entails extracting a change in shading of the analysis bands, is performed, and coding is performed based upon the result of analysis (1104). The personal authentication code generated by coding is expressed by a fixed-length array of bits indicated by "l ?s and "O"s.
The patent goes on to say that you can register up to five iris scans, so you, and four other people can use the same camera and simply select which person is using the camera, or, and it's not clear, perhaps it would actually scan your eye and identify you.

Below, is one of the ways that the biometric information is written to the image. While this one illustrates registration selection and biometric data being written to the file when the card is removed, there are other variations, like when you power off (as it does cleaning the sensor now). Canon's concern was the delay in the data write if this biometric data was applied when the files were being written, as that could delay capture times and buffer issues. With camera buffer acceleration, in the future when this becomes real, I'd expect CPU power to be such that it could/would write when the image was captured, but for now, these are the ways - essentially when the camera is idle - when the information is written.

In response to concerns about processing power, and other potential interference with "at the moment of capture" iris scanning, the application states:
[0028] In accordance with this method, an iris pattern or retinal pattern is extracted from an eyeball image acquired at substantially the same time the image of a subject is taken, and the extracted pattern is embedded in the photographic image. As a result, the photographic image and the photographer information are placed in one-to-one correspondence and there is no way for a third party to intervene. This method is effective in that it affords a high reliability as far as copyright information is concerned.

[0029] However, the above method necessitates the task of acquiring the eyeball image at approximately the same time
that the image of the subject is taken. There are also caseswhere the method necessitates the additional task of extracting
the iris pattern or retinal pattern from the eyeball image and converting this pattern to a personal authentication code
by coding means that relies upon image processing. In a digital image sensing device such as a digital still camera, such a task coincides, sequentially speaking, with the timing at which maximum load is imposed upon processing of the subject image at the time of photography. When eyeball image processing is executed along with subject-image processing, therefore, the overall processing requires a great amount oftime. This means that the photographer must wait a while before the next photo can be taken, resulting in possible loss of photographic opportunities.

[0030] The imposition of a heavy processing load in this fashion is not limited to a personal authentication method that uses an iris or retinal pattern but is a common problem also in other biometric personal authentication methods that subject personal biological differences to authentication coding by image processing or the like.

[0031] When the eyeball image of a photographer is acquired every time an image is taken, the photographer's eye may be closed at the moment of acquisition or an eyelash or strand of hair may interfere. In view of the fact that this can happen frequently, the eyeball image may not always be acquired properly. Furthermore, since the pupil of the photographer's eye opens when an image is taken under low illumination, as is the case indoors, the area of the iris pattern becomes comparatively small and it may not be possible to convert the pattern to an accurate personal authentication code.
Below, is where it gets even more interesting:

Instead of using the biometric information from your iris, you could, instead, if you were concerned about image degradation for some reason (i.e. you were seeing degradation, because, from a steganographic standpoint, you should not see the watermark) encode a personal authentication code.

The application states:
[0016] The watermarking technique according to the above description is advantageous in that (1) the embedded data cannot be extracted without the key information used at the time of embedding; (2) since the embed component in the key information is created based upon a random number, the component is not fixed, thereby making it difficult to decode the embedded data; (3) by specially adapting the embed component, data can be embedded so as not to be sensible by a human being; and (4) the degree to which image quality declines can be controlled by changing the amount of alteration.

[0017] An "invisible-data embedding" method through which embedded data is rendered invisible to a human being has been described. As mentioned earlier, however, a "visible-data embedding" method also is available. According to this method, information such as copyright information is embedded in an original image with the intention of being made visible to a human being. This has the effect ofcausing a third party to abandon the idea of utilizing an image unjustly. For details relating to a visible-data watermarking technique, see the specification of u.s. Pat. No. 5,530,759 (Japanese Patent Application Laid-Open No. 8-241403).

[0018] Techniques for authenticating specific individuals are being researched extensively from the standpoint of protecting privacy and providing security.

[0019] A number of methods have generally been employed for authenticating individuals. Examples are a method through which only a specific person is verified by a key, card or seal in his or her possession, and a method through which only a specific person is verified by entry of a password or secret code number known only by the person. A fundamental problem with this method is that it is comparatively easy for another person to pose as the specific person by way of theft, counterfeiting or leakage of information, etc.

[0020] Accordingly, a method that has become the focus of attention as an alternative to the above method is a biometric personal authentication method that employs a physical characteristic of a specific person to undergo authentication.
This is very cool because, the PLUS Coalition is working on an artist ID/registry, whereby people could attempt to locate you if an image with your ID/biometric scan was in an image, they could go to this central repository, and find you, thus, no more Orphaned images! While this wouldn't solve old-image issues, it would be an exceptional solution moving forward!

Here's some information about the registry:

The PLUS Registry is a joint effort by and for all industries and communities engaged in creating, distributing, using and preserving images. The Registry is operated cooperatively by a worldwide coalition of organizations representing the interests of photographers, illustrators,artist representatives, stock agencies, ad agencies, designers, magazine publishers, newspaper publishers, web publishers, book publishers, museums, libraries educational institutions and others. While the organization includes all of the major photography associations in the US and many others across 30 countries, PLUS represents all industries. Within this diverse body are organizations with conflicting viewpoints on the proposed orphan works legislation. However, they have joined forces within PLUS to provide a non-partisan solution to the orphan works challenge. While the PLUS Coalition and the PLUS standards provide benefits far exceeding the scope of the orphan works challenge, the standards and in particular the Registry system provide a global, industry-neutral vehicle for the prevention of orphan works, and for connecting potential licensees with rights holders.

The Registry is operated by a non-profit, neutral organization, on a non-profit basis. It is a modular system, initially with three component registries:

Artist & Licensor Registry
Free registration to all artists, copyright owners, licensors. PLUS membership not required. PLUS-ID optional. Look up by name, company name, or PLUS ID number. Note that this is not a portfolio site or marketing vehicle for artists. This is a single, centralized location not operated by any one industry trade association, where people of all industries may search for and locate the contact information for a rights holder or authorized licensor.
License Registry
Registration and lookup of image licenses via license-ID. Allows external,centralized storage of public and private license metadata. Permissions based access to private information. Open public access to information deemed public by licensor. Licensor enters license information directly into registry or via PLUS compliant software, or via ingestion of metadata embedded in image. Licensor is issued a unique identifier. That identifier is added to the metadata of images distributed by licensor. Anyone encountering that image may then access current rights and attribution for that image via a registry lookup, again, either directly from the registry or via PLUS compliant applications. Accommodates license updates. Prevents unauthorized license metadata tampering and avoids unsynchronized embedded license information. License ID may also be embedded via Digimarc watermark as a 2nd level of protection.
Image Registry
Registration and lookup of images via image ID and/or image recognition. Users upload low resolution images and receive unique identifiers, linked to their myPLUS account. Other users may lookup the rights holder and authorized licensors for any image via image-ID lookup. For those images lacking image IDs, image recognition capability will be offered, providing a licensor/rights holder name when a low resolution copy is uploaded by a searcher.
Importantly, the Image Registry does not allow the browsing of images. Any image may be looked up, but there is no browsing the registry. Also, this is not a registry of potentially orphaned works. The latter type of registry will be a magnet for persons seeking to harvest free images that are already tagged as potential orphan works. it will be the worst scenario for rights holders, and should be discouraged. Further, any such registry is very inefficient for small business owners, as it is entirely impractical to monitor such a registry.

Also note that security measures are implemented across all registries to prevent the harvesting of email addresses and contact information by third parties. Also the registry is hosted on geographically separated redundant mirrored servers to maximize uptime.

Timeline for the registry:

The Artist & Licensor Registry is built and will be enter beta testing shortly. The License registry functionality is developed and will be integrated after an appropriate period of testing of the A&L Registry, and after that registry is populated by opt-in ingestion of trade associations members and non-members. The Image registry will be the last component, and will be tested shortly after the activation of the License registry.

Timeline for the camera?

Who knows, but it's an amazing technological advance!

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Moving Pictures - Covering Sen. McCain's Campaign

Last night, my assignment took me to Alexandria Virginia to cover Sen. McCain's expected win of the "Potomac Primaries", also referred to as the "Chesapeake Primaries". Early there was concern that Gov. Huckabee might win, but, in the end, it was a McCain sweep.

While there, I decided to put together a piece I've called "Moving Pictures", a little play on words. For those on the inside, you know that the act of shooting and then digitally transmitting these images is called "moving pictures", but since I didn't shoot any video, these still images in this piece are, in effect, moving.

So, here are several interviews of my colleagues and their approaches to the assignment, as well as images of them at work.

(Comments after the Jump)

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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Let The Exodus Begin (resume?) While PhotoShelter Picks Up More Talent

Where do I start? Or, better yet, when will it end? Getty Images(NYSE: GYI)has lost Genevieve Harley (LinkedIn profile), just shy of a 5 year stint at Getty Images doing market development, to take on the title of Director of Sales at PhotoShelter. Clearly, the ink isn't even dry on this deal, as her LinkedIn profile still lists her at Getty. Evidence of a further commitment to getting their name (and your images' visibility) out is their landing former American Express Senior Product Manager Andrew Fingerman to be PhotoShelter's new vice president of marketing.

(Continued after the Jump)

What I'll be curious about is Genevieve's historical approach to working in the Royalty Free market (she was at DigitalVision, an early RF company that Getty acquired early on), and how that will jibe with working alongside/on behalf of many photographers who hold their rights (and the control thereof) dear. Further, one thing she does bring is relationships with entertainment clients and the red carpet needs they have, and, I understand, that is/was a springboard into her work with other genre of clientèle. How far she dove into that realm was, no doubt, a query the good folks at PhotoShelter looked into before bringing her on board. Hopefully, Genevieve will spread her wings even further than what was, no doubt, a clipped-wing situation over at Getty.

Does this signify the beginning of an exodus from Getty of some of their talent? We previously reported of the expected departure of the well known Jeff Kravitz (9/21/07 - Three Free Men - Getty Images on Lockdown) yet, somehow, Getty placated Kravitz enough to stay (or, perhaps, threatened him with a non-compete, who knows). Firings Departures of previous people on the eve of their new website launch (8/30/07, the 'virus' is spreading, & 8/24/07 Getty Site - Site Down as Stock Is Down?) as well as JDK's status change from Upper Northwester to New Yorker, could symbolize a further downward trend in Getty's talent pool.

A few weeks ago, I wrote (1/2208, JDK - Getty Images' CEO and KKR's Track Record - History Repeats Itself?) about a Q&A JDK had with a Canon Europe website:

Q: ....we often read that you have a vision for the company - what is that vision?
A: Fron the outset, we had a very unusual approach in that we wanted to build a business over the very long term. There were never any plans to buy and sell or to get out of the business when a certain profit had been made...I was very lucky to find the imagery business as it has become a passion of mine and I could not imaging working in a different area or industry.
I wonder if his staff has now been disillusioned with the reality of a lack of viable buyers for GYI, and further, the revelation that they all weren't working for some Koom bay ya organization, but rather, as the tools of an industry roll-up?

What of Andrew Fingerman? HE has updated his LinkedIn profile, and while that's about all I know about him, I wish I'd known him while he was still at AmEx, since maybe he could have located my "lost in the mail" Centurion card. I do think that it's a good sign that PhotoShelter is looking to those outside the photo community for their team to make strategically sound moves as our industry evolves.

Let's see what the future portends for Getty moving forward. I think the future is bright for the good folks at PhotoShelter, and the now streamlined Digital Railroad. (DRR blog update, 2/11/08, worth a read!)

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Monday, February 11, 2008

Pixish - Stupid Is, As Stupid Does

Say you're a couple of guys who pride themselves on phrases in their bio's like "He cut his teeth at Web 0.1 companies like HotWired and Electric Minds, but didn’t learn" ( Derek Powazek, Official Title: Chief Idea Guy and “Wouldn't it be cool if…” Officer), or a coder who clearly had too much time on his hands, and when some genius missing a genetic pair said "hey, let's give away fun prizes for photo assignments", Mr. Dan Hodos, earned the title "Chief Code Guy and “Yeah, we can do that” Officer.

Who gave these guys VC money? The same thoughtful folks who gave David "that model was interesting, but didn't pan out" Norris (7/12/07, OnRequest - Realizing the Obvious)? Oh, I see, it appears that among them is Kim Garretson, Founder of Realist Venture Capital & Advisory Services, who lists in his profile that he's the "Embarrassed owner of"

Who are these people? They're beginning to sound like castaways on the island of misfit toys!

(Continued after the Jump)

Garretson, seemingly too lazy to dump more money in what he writes "As the site owner I've gotten lazy and too focused on helping other Web consumer media sites/companies...I think I want to go all-visual for the new LH and just invite communities like Pixish to contribute what they want." Wow. Way to go "all-visual!" What, pray tell, do I earn, if you choose my images? You get: "Once a month we will award a vintage rock photo from the about to launch"

Wow, let's see, a round-about site promotion - languishing (which now just points to an empty blog) posts from Realist VC needs on Pixish, which, in turn, gives away photos from an as-yet-un-launched "vintage" rock-and-roll backstage gallery. Is this what happens when people get their hands on URLs with complete words (or hip-sounding, a la Pixish) in them? Crazy though, when you Google "Realist Venture Capital", the only entry that comes up is Garretson's entry on Pixish! Drilling down, you see Garretson's entry on LinkedIn, where we learn that his specialty is "Positioning early stage companies for raising money and getting customers and distribution agreements." Yet, the sites his lists on his profile are all no-entry blogs, or single splash pages. He highlights " Founder of a a micro-venture capital fund looking at consumer lifestyle media, marketing and e-commerce deals."

Wait, is is April 1st? Come on, my calendar program must be off about 45 days, it must be. Is this a joke?

These round-robin sites must be the dot-bombs of Web 2.0, ripe to fail and wipe VC funds, right? Powazek outlines how Pixish came to be here, on his blog. We have the guy that gave to Powazek to fault for this silly flight of fancy.

Here are a sampling of the requests:
  • Fray's Geek Issue - Derek Powazek - Winners will be published in Fray issue 2. Winners will get a few copies of the book, credit and promotion on the website, and our eternal thanks.
  • A Leaf in the River Tattoo - Derek Powazek - The Details - I want your work on my body - I will paypal the winner $100 and email them a photo of their work on my arm upon completion.
  • Visual identity for a film weblog - James McNally - It's a Wordpress blog with a custom header that's ok but I'm hoping to have someone develop a better visual identity for the site. Winner: I'm willing to pay but am not sure what's fair. I could also provide some DVDs of films that I've reviewed and no longer need. Wow, used DVD's! Nice!
  • Design my blog header! - Heather Powazek Champ (that looks like a relation to Derek!) - winner gets 1 35mm Vivitar Utra Wide & Slim camera + 3 rolls of film..
  • Hmmm, sounds like someone couldn't get a taker on eBay and decided to give away their (used?) camera and some film!
I could go on, and on, and on. Instead, here are a few of the "prizes" listed for various items:

8 - "The winner will get a hearty pat on the back"; 9 - "The prize is priceless: My love and admiration. ... as soon as I have them printed up, I'll send you an Ant's Eye View t-shirt. They'll be way cool. But really, do prizes and goodies drive your craft? Are you in this game because you love to see a grown man smile?"; 11 - "You'll bring serenity, hope and joy to people who really need it. Isn't it great?"

Ok, where's Aston Kutcher?!? I must be getting Punk'd here.

I don't know that I'd even have seen this, if it hadn't been for fellow blogger Photopreneur's entry on them.

Next up? Pixish OnRequest, or Pixish CustomStock! Quick! Someone squat on those URL's! Yesterday Powazek was busy in NYC giving a talk, in part, about "Too many people see crowdsourcing as shorthand for “cheap, plentiful content.” It’s not—managing a community can be expensive and time-consuming." So, let's see, we'll pay them with our smiles-from-grown-men; love-and-admiration;t-shirts; used DVD's; and antiquated film consumer film cameras! It'll be like throwing peanuts to the zoo monkeys!

Somebody, stop the insanity!

Yes, Forrest, stupid is, as stupid does.

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Getty Images - Down For The Count

When we last discussed Getty Images (NYSE: GYI) we were predicting lots of "oh, we can't discuss that" responses when the notion of a sale was brought up. True to form, JDK said just about that, when asked by the analysts, and it was a nice distraction from the otherwise mediocre-at-best news out of their Q4 call. Had there not been this false excitement created over "strategic alternatives", the stock might well have continued to be pummeled to new lows, every day.

Now, with the NYT reporting that (surprise, surprise) Getty didn't get any viable offers at their otherwise inflated market cap of $1.6B, now today, they plummet by $2.45 in one day, almost a 10% drop. You can expect more blood-letting tomorrow. Daryl Lang, over at PDN, penned a nice piece - Report: Getty Images Unlikely To Be Sold , that sums things up pretty well.

(Continued after the Jump)

What part of "our core stock photography business has stopped growing, in fact, it's declining" don't people get when he says something like that? (Jonathan Klein, as reported here on 9/20/07, from the Goldman Sachs 2007 Communacopia Conference). Someone needs to send his actuaries back to remedial Accounting 101 to properly value devalue the company to it's proper worth.

I will repeat what I've said before - look to a sub-$20/share figure to be the catalyst for calls for JDK to make his departure. The writing is on the wall, sub-$20 or not, that his time is over, and they just need to find a graceful way for him to exit. Nice that GYI moved him to NYC to attend the social circuit and talk up his company for a possible sale, but now that that's over and done with, he can check off "live in the upper Northwest" from his life plan, and remain in NYC looking for his next paycheck. No doubt, he'll have enough bonuses from his stellar performance at the helm of GYI to pay his bills on the backs of an industry his decisions and ideas devastated, that he won't need an immediate new job until the memory of the creative ruin he's left in his wake has become one sad, distant memory.

Note: I have not in the past, do not now, not do I have any plans to hold or otherwise invest in GYI.

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Sunday, February 10, 2008

Carry Yourself Carefully (And with Proper ID)

I take solace in the fact that I am an accredited photojournalist, and I carry press credentials to that effect. Among those I carry are the bonafide offical press identification cards issued to be by the ASMP (American Society of Media Photographers), WHNPA (White House News Photographer's Association), and NPPA (National Press Photographer's Association), and PPA (Professional Photographers of America). These professional organizations are out there looking out for your interests in more than one way. Here's one which could save you from jail:

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Gizmodo reports, in Photographer Mistaken for Gunman, about a photographer wandering with a tripod, and mistaken for carrying a gun. I've watched as federal and state law enforcement have tensed up, or placed their hands on their automatic weapons, as I have walked towards them with my camera equipment, or a tripod over my shoulder. I make sure to identify myself, be conversational/greet them, and not make any sudden moves, as I know I am under close scrutiny. I am always certain to have my press identification out in the open and visible. Among those on my lanyard around my neck are my ASMP and NPPA cards.

The last thing we need, what with all the restrictions already upon us as photographers, is to have a photographer thought of as threatening because it looks like they're carrying a weapon, or worse yet, as challenged as a true threat. I, and friends, have been unlawfully detained by police during protests, and I get very upset when this happens.

One example that, while I hadn't planned on outling in this piece, but which just became a natural fit, is the case of the Associated Press' Bilal Hussein, who too is an accredited photojournalist, but who has been unlawfully detained by the military because they consider him a spy, threat, or otherwise someone working against the US. Now, everyone under the sun that I know places great creedence in the word of the Associated Press, and if the AP says he's not what they are suggesting he is, then he's not. Period.

In the end, it's imperative that we carry ourselves above reproach, and make sure we have proper identification at all times identifying us as esteemed members of the Fourth Estate.

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