Saturday, September 5, 2009

The Vendor-Client Relationship (Redux)

This video is worth watching frequently to remind you of how ridiculous it is when the client dictates the price and how much less than you quote the assignment for. (RSS readers click this link to view the video.)

(Comments, if any, after the Jump)

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Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Image Warehouse to Cease Operations September 30, 2009

Image Warehouse, started just over 2 years ago, by Carroll Seghers, is ceasing operations, effective September 30th. I was approached by Seghers following a presentation I made at the Professional Photographers of America in January 2007 about this idea. I knew then that the field had one too many players, and both Digital Railroad and PhotoShelter had premium products already in place. Last year, Digital Railroad failed in a massive flameout that left many photographers high-and-dry, some literally crying over lost images. It seems that Seghers is trying to give more notice, and be more responsible, in this letter that just went out to supporters and users of Image Warehouse:

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Dear Image Warehouse Supporter,

In mid – 2007 we went online offering our service as a favorable option for independent stock photographers who wanted to offer their images for use licensing to the global stock market. Uniquely positioned as a “full service agency”, we provided photographers with the ability to select images for sale, set the terms & prices and then publish the image into our online searchable database.

By January 2008, we had attracted a good bit of support in the photographic community and were adding photographers and images quite rapidly. Unfortunately, we were well into 2009 before we realized that we had failed to anticipate the pervasiveness of the “annual subscription” pricing plans that had been put in place by the major stock agencies, which now control a substantial portion of the commercial advertising agency business.

This situation, along with the growing share of small-to-medium agency and editorial business being taken by royalty-free micro-payment stock agencies, means that the “available market” has been significantly eroded, due in large part to the recession’s overall impact on ad budgets.

We are therefore providing you with 30 Days Advance Notice of our intention to cease operations on September 30, 2009.

This is so everyone can easily initiate whatever actions they prefer regarding their existing accounts and image files.

Your options are:

1. Sign into your account, access your images and individually delete them (this could be tedious for those with many images)

2. Respond to this email requesting that we delete your images, which we can do in “bulk” process and close your account.

3. Download a copy of your files to your computer for future use, and then follow up with either #1 or #2 option.

4. Do Nothing – Which will lead to your account information and image files being deleted by us after we have ceased operations.

We greatly regret the need for this action, but believe that it is best to provide advance notice to all, with sufficient time to smoothly wind down our business operations. All monies due to photographers and other Image Warehouse suppliers will be paid through September 30, 2009.

We sincerely appreciate your past support and wish you continued success in your future endeavors.

Best regards,

Carroll C. Seghers

Image Warehouse LLC

7 Woodhollow Road, Suite 2G

Princeton Jct., NJ 08550-4907
Early on, Image Warehouse offered ASMP members discounts, and the ASMP website showed this information about the company:
Looking for a stock agency that is really an agent and works for you? that takes no more than an honest sales commission? that doesn’t demand exclusivity? that is photographer-friendly?

Take a look at Image Warehouse, a startup company run by ASMP member Carroll Seghers.

Image Warehouse, a photographer-driven image archiving and stock picture sales agency, provides standard agency representation for a fee of 15%, and it offers a one-way transparent email negotiating system. It also provides a customizable e-Postcard application that enables you to do unlimited free “broadcasts” of your latest and best money shot with personalized text & graphics, or email a LightBox-SlideShow with multiple shots. And there are more user-friendly promotion tools under development.
Seghers' LinkedIn profile describes his role at the company as:
Lead visionary and architect of a Web 2.0 digital image archive & stock photo sales agency that provides sale representation and other services to professional photographers & illustrators targeting the $2.5B U.S. market for their creative output.
Seghers had stints at Leica USA, Konica USA, and Nikon USA, and other marketing jobs, before starting Image Warehouse, according to LinkedIn, in October of 2005. A search of the ASMP membership database returns no members with Seghers as a last name, so either he is no longer a member, or he is not a member photographer.

More as we learn it.

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Monday, August 31, 2009

** UPDATED ** How to rip off 1,000 Photos

UPDATE: Kathryn Ellison, who was the author of this book, writes in her comments below "...The book has been cancelled, the site has been taken down, all images have been deleted from the server...", and you can read more about her position on this blog posting in her comment. She has also deleted her authorship of this book from her LinkedIn profile.

Rip Off: - noun. exploitation, esp. of those who cannot prevent or counter it.

If you wanted to get yourself 1,000 free photographs that are royalty free, and a printed catalog for ease of browsing, what would be the best way? Why, call it an "opportunity" to be published in a book, and pitch it to unsuspecting students. When submiting "up to five photos" to the proposed book "Stocked Up: 1,000 Royalty Free Photographs" you grant royalty-free rights for the "privilege" of being published. So goes the idea that author is proposing for a book being developed for How Books and Rotovision SA.

"if I could...would ya..." So begins the scam that began on used car lots and now reads like "if I could promise your photo would get published, would ya give me all rights to it....". Kristin Ellison (LinkedIn: Profile) essentially is making that offer, because she wants to sell a photography book. And, if you want to sell a photography book, what better way to maximize your sales than to give everyone who buys the book a free DVD with 1000 high resolution photographs, including an unlimited worldwide license to commercially exploit each photograph?
(Continued after the Jump)

Don’t have 1000 good photographs to include in your DVD giveaway? No problem. Just sucker a bunch of photo students into sending you their best images and granting you unlimited usage rights and sublicensing rights in exchange for “exposure” and a grand total of $0. At least, that’s the genius gameplan that “author” Kristin Ellison and her publisher How Books and Rotovision SA schemed up for their new book. Ellison, on behalf of How and Rotovision are canvassing the photo schools and encouraging photo students to submit their 5 best photographs for inclusion in the book and DVD. The sad part is, they will probably receive far more than 1000 submissions, from students who don’t yet understand that by granting unlimited rights to Rotovision, they are injecting their images into the global marketplace forever, and are forfeiting any possibility of issuing exclusive licenses in those images. Rotovision also requires that each contributor indemnifies Rotovision from any liability associated with the photographs. Meaning that if any one of the adults or children appearing in the photographs sees their likeness in an advertisement, or for example, on a Nazi web site, and sues Rotovision, the student photographer is solely liable to the models.

Further, the website that promotes this endeavor is misrepresenting things to the unsuspecting contributors. When they write
"Please note: Contributors maintain all rights to, and ownership of, all images submitted. Contributors are granting RotoVision the right to publish their images in the book and on the DVD to be used by readers in any manner they choose."
This is a definitive contradiction. You no longer own any exclusive rights to your work. You don't have the right to license exclusive use to any client, and you have no right to preclude someone from doing something objectionable with your work. The list goes on.

Here's the sales pitch, that went out to educators worldwide:
I am the author of the upcoming book “Stocked Up”, a collection of 1,000 photographs. The book will be published next year in the US by How Books, and in the UK and abroad by RotoVision SA. I am writing to you because I am in the process of soliciting images for inclusion from all types of photographers, but especially students. When I was a photography major I submitted my work to a contest and was featured in the resulting book. This was an extremely empowering event for me and gave me confidence in my work. It was a professor who let us know about the contest and made one of our term assignments be to shoot images for submission.

I would be thrilled if you would share this opportunity with your students. It is free to submit work and anyone may submit up to five images via my website The website contains all the details and necessary forms, but if you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact me at any point.

Thank you so much for your time and consideration.



Kristin Ellison
Stocked Up: 1,000 Rights-Free Photos

So, who exactly is Rotovision, and How Books? It can't be that this is the same How Books that publishes The Photographers Market book each year, or The Graphic Artists Guild Handbook of Pricing & Ethical Guidelines, or The Designers Guide to Marketing and Pricing, can it? Rotovision SA also has published a number of respectable books too, so it is surprising that they would be involved in something like this.

The contract you are required to sign reads, in part:
1 - I hereby assign and grant RotoVision permission to reproduce at any size the image/s submitted by me for inclusion in the Work, in all editions, co-editions, revisions, and reprints of the Work...The sole consideration for granting these rights shall be the promotional benefit to me of inclusion in the Work.

2- Contributors will not recieve complimentary copies as a result of their images being included in the book.

3 - Rotovision will have no liability over users of the DVD...Rotovision can take no responsibility for any pirating and onward sales of the images...
This, and the rest of the contract, is just plain wrong. The home page pitches you thusly -
"Just think, your work could ultimately be featured in a magazine, in a work of art, or on a greeting card, the possibilities are endless!"
Actually, the one possibility that does not exist, is for you to actually get paid by someone who sees your image, because it will be free to them. So, when it comes to earning money, the possibilities actually end - the buck does not stop here.

Interestingly enough, give this idea they propose on the website some thought:
"The more images we get to chose from the better the book will be. A better book will mean greater publicity for it (and your work) and wider distribution around the world. So tell your friends about it and get them to submit work as well."
If you're not really thinking at all, you'll tell everyone, and that would be a consistent thought process with agreeing to do this in the first place. The fact is, for every person you tell, you diminish your chances of being in the book. The "author", Kristin Ellison, is also the Editorial Director of WOWIO, having left RotoVision as Executive Editor before even a years' time, only to take up the title "author" for the first time when she was successful in pitching "Stocked Up". Ellison remains also as Editorial Director at WOWIO, who's slogan is "Free Books Free Minds". Among the books they are offering for free reading online is Susan Sontag's On Photography; Aerial: The Art of Photography from the Sky, and several black and white books by Terry Hope. Outreach to some of the authors and publishers whose material is listed online for free have not yet been returned to confirm these free offerings are legitimate or not.

So, what to do about all this? Why, write to the author and publishers to voice your displeasure. The "Author", who is better ascribed the title of either editor, or, well, you pick a colorful title, is {redacted} . RotoVision's publisher, whose name is at the bottom of the contract you must sign is April Sankey (LinkedIn: Profile) can be reached at: {redacted} . Their Commissioning Editor Isheeta Mustafi (LinkedIn: Profile) can be e-mailed at {redacted} as well. HOW Books, is a part of F+W Media, so let's start at the top with them. David Nussbaum (LinkedIn: Profile), the Chairman and CEO can be reached at {redacted} . David Blansfield (LinkedIn: Profile), the President can be reached at {redacted} . Also listed as a President is Sara Domville (LinkedIn: Profile), who can be reached at {redacted} . Stacie Berger (LinkedIn: Profile) is their Director of Strategic Communications, and can be reached at {redacted} . While it looks like RotoVision will be doing the distribution outside of the US, HOW looks to be involved in the US, and you might want to let them know how you feel about this idea that HOW Books would promulgate such a bad idea upon under-educated and ill-advised students who are ripe to exploit and have few or no tools to counter such a bad idea. Pressure from the top down on whomever is in charge of the HOW Books division might change their minds.

NOTE: We have redacted the e-mail addresses in this updated post for the author and publisher contacts, since the book has been officially canceled, and there is no longer a need to write to them.

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Sunday, August 30, 2009

Getty Images Splitting Sales With Celebrity Subjects on the "DL"

It seems that Getty Images may be playing fast and loose with the ethics of photojournalism these days. Getty is sharing in the sales of images of certain celebrities with the celebrities themselves, for example, in a little-known maneuver where they just happen to be in the right place at the right tim to catch a celebrity doing something, paparazzi style. They are, unfortunately, doing this on the down-low, and that's where the ethical problem comes in.

Back in March, Photo Business News wrote - Getty Images And Paparazzi Pictures (March 9, 2009) where Getty is using different brands to distinguish between "respectable photography" and "paparazzi". Since Getty and WireImage are seen by most publicists as a "white hat" wire service, equal to the AP and Reuters, Getty/Wire doesn't want to sully their reputation with gotcha paparazzi photography so they use another of their brands to take the reputation hit.

When an image is provided to the Associated Press, for example, from someone other than their staffers or as the result of a freelance assignment, their caption is clear on the source "In this handout photo provided by AEG, pop star Michael Jackson..." begins the caption for this photo, because AEG provided to all news outlets that photograph (which, interestingly enough is also a Getty Images image but AEG had the right to distribute because they were one of the contracting parties) and they do the "in this handout photo..." all the time.

When a photographer starts a fire, and then, oh, just happens to be first on the scene to make great photos, that's called a crime. However, when a celebrity says something like 'I'll tell you where I will be so you can photograph me but you have to share all the money you get from the photos with me', and then does not disclose this arrangement in the course of their "reporting", that's bad ethics.

How is this happening?

(Continued after the Jump)

Getty LA Entertainment staff Photographer Frazer Harrison may well not be in on the game, but here's how it works. Harrison is a staff photographer, and the photo credit for a staff photographer is "Fazer Harrison/Getty Images" or "Fazer Harrison/WireImage". In this example "Kim Kardashian And Kourtney Kardashian Go Shopping", the credit reads "Frazer Harrison/KA/WireImage", where the "KA" is the change in the credit that makes it possible for Getty to track the sales properly so that Kim KArdashian gets paid. Further, she can see exactly where "her" images appeared since they will be specially credited. How do we know that this particular revenue sharing is with Kim, and not Kourtney?
Why, because Kourtney has her own revenue sharing code "KK", as shown here - Kourtney Kardashian And Scott Disick Go Baby Shopping. "But how can you be so sure?" you might ask? Because if you check this link, you'll see that before they headed off to be "surreptitiously" photographed by the photographer, they had a portrait session with him using the same "KK" code. Harrison's images, however, are not the only Getty content where this is happening. When Getty's Florida staffer, Gustavo Caballero just happened upon a "sighting" of Kourtney and Khloe, his credit has the same code "Gustavo Vaballero/KK/Wire Image" - Khloe Kardashian And Kourtney Kardashian Sighting In Miami - June 18, 2009, and in this case, further, this image is billed as an "**EXCLUSIVE**", and further notes "(EXCLUSIVE, Premium Rates Apply)". Clicking this link it looks like Gustavo had to spend the whole day with Kourtney and Khloe doing "sightings".

It's one thing, for example, for Brad Pitt to use Getty as the distribution channel where everyone knows that he's getting money from it (and best that he donates it to charity) when they are the first photographs of his child, however, for Getty to put these images in their "editorial" category is ethically dubious, at best, without disclosure of the deal.

Getty, however, knows how to do a proper credit. When they decided not to cover the 2009 International Indian Film Academy Awards, they used the same credit style as the AP does for the images that were essentially a promotion for that organization, with Getty serving as the conduit (and picking up all the licensing fees for the ones they distributed at the same time).

Is this phenomenon new? No. Do other celebrity photo organizations do it, sadly, yes. The key is to disclose these things and be up front about them. You might suggest that this isn't "photojournalism" so who cares? Well, when the subject is a politician (like the many Congressmen) or a businessman (like Maddoff) who is marched in and out of courtrooms and photographed on the streets, we call that photojournalism, but then when a celebrity is photographed on the street, it's not the same? They are the same, and they should be subject to the same ethical guidelines and disclosures. The only real difference is that when a politician or a businessman breaks the law, or a celebrity is out for the day on the town, it is a difference between "need to know," and "want to know."

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