Saturday, April 21, 2007

Upgrades, Upgrades, Upgrades

Every once in awhile, I get caught off guard. Such was the case Friday. At the conclusion of an assignment where I had produced 10GB of images for a corporate client, over five seperate 2GB cards, I returned to my office, and we began to ingest the images. I made the mistake of popping open the back door of the camera while the camera was still on. A rare oversight on my part, I am usually very methodical about this seemingly small point. This time, however, when the card was mounted, it showed no files.

Frustrated, I knew the additional work involved in rescuing the card. I've done it before more times than I wish I'd have to, but it's really not a cause for alarm, because I have yet to be unable to recover a clients files from a CF card. Had this happened on assignment, I immediately stop using the card, and isolate it for attention back in the office. In this case, we were already there.

I launched Photo Rescue, my go to solution for recovering files (in this case, both RAW and JPEG). I know that Lexar and SanDisk have their software, and I'm sure they work fine, but I know that I have not only saved my own files before with Photo Rescue, but have also saved friends cards where others have failed. In fact, PC Magazine rated it the best of several products. I won't go into details about imaging the card first, and so on, but I will say that there was a problem.

The program recovered the JPEG's, but the CR2 files were showing up as TIF's, and I know that's a problem. Of course, I panicked. This was about 6pm, and the folks in my office were talking about arrangements for leaving for the day. I said over my shoulder "you're going to leave me here with this problem unresolved?" There didn't seem to be much compassion for my predicament, and soon I and my corrupt card were all alone in the office, and my wife was calling on the phone asking me about meeting her downtown for dinner. "When I get to a point where I can resolve this problem, dear", was my message back to her.

So I thought. And I contemplated. Then I realized that there might be another solution.

Enter my trusted friend, v3.0. You see, I had v2.1, and while it had served it's master well, it was time to take retirement. I looked up my date of purchase, and it was outside of the free window for a complimentary upgrade, and the only link on the site was for the full version, at $29.99, but not for the $19.99 upgrade price. So, I downloaded the free demo, and ran the card (actually, the image of the card) through the recovery software, and - voila! My JPEGs and my CR2's. Whew! Then I click the "Next" button, and am met with "To save your images, enter your registration key".

I went to the site, and, seeing that I could only e-mail the site's owners for upgrade information, and knowing it was Friday night, thinking that unlikely, and beyond that, considering that they are located in Belgium, while I sent the e-mail, I opted to go through the automated process of obtaining the full version. I waited, and waited. And then I left for dinner.

When I returned at 9pm, there was an e-mail from Belgium providing a link to the upgrade page, and also telling me to pay there. By 11pm I had my upgrade with serial #, and a refund for my full version, and my images were safely saved on my redundant hard drives, converted to both DNG and JPEG, and I could go to sleep - a restful one at that.

Make sure you have the latest upgrades to your critical software. Software upgrades like those for Photo Mechanic include dual processor support, background processes, full IPTC compliance, and tabbed browsing: as well as full implementation of both the star-rating and color-class, adding to their valuable tagged/untagged system to mark your selected images, as seen below:In addition, it handles the latest RAW files, and includes a year's upgrades. At $150 for first time buyers, it's the fastest solution for editing images (especially on location), and upgrading with a year's additional upgrades is only $90.

Spending the time upgrading your software, and the costs to do so, is just one more reason why your post production charges are a critical part of your billability as a photographer. Doing so on a schedule, rather than on a panicked Friday night, will give you more peace of mind. I type this as a peaceful man, but if it weren't for the Belgians being so responsive at 11pm EST, I'd be panicked all weekend long. Thanks guys!

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]

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Working Through (And Around) WMFH

Everyone's complaining about how clients are demanding WMFH contracts, and legal departments seem everywhere to want that language in their contracts. Ok, put it in, and have it apply when you are paid an appropriate fee (as deemed by you), and you agree, specifically, to it in writing.

I have the good fortune of having a few clients for whom I am on a retainer. I am blessed that they call often enough that they don't want to have to sign off on fees and expenses and rights packages every time. So, we set forth an Agreement for all work performed for them.

This is essentially the same way a magazine handles assignments you do for them -- they present the contract, you sign once, and everything completed for them after that is under those terms. Here's how I have handled WMFH in my corporate contracts:

Term X: Rights In Work.

Licenses or permissions not expressly stated in this agreement shall not be implied, and all rights not expressly granted to Client are reserved to Photographer. Except in the case of work made for hire, or where provided for in a written agreement between Client and Photographer, licenses and permissions expressly exclude derivative rights. Except in the case of work made for hire or as expressly authorized in writing by the Photographer, work may not be archived or placed in any electronic catalog or electronic delivery service. Work which is to be created as and priced as “work made for hire,” if any, shall be specified in writing signed by the Photographer. As to all work, Photographer specifically retains the right to use and display Photographer’s work for portfolio purposes.

Photographer grants Client the non-exclusive permission to use, display and reproduce “day to day” photography and “major projects photography” with respect to any image, for one year from the date of the image's initial delivery, as follows: 1) on Client’s Web Site, 2) in Client’s newsletter as the newsletter appears in both electronic and printed form, 3) in trade publications, 4) for press kit handouts, and 5) to wire services for their use and that of their subscribers within the terms of their applicable and in effect written subscriber service agreements.

Photographer grants Client the non-exclusive permission to use, display and reproduce “portrait photography” with respect to any image, for three years from the date of the image's initial delivery, as follows: 1) on Client’s Web Site, 2) in Client’s newsletter as the newsletter appears in both electronic and printed form, 3) in trade publications, 4) for press kit handouts, and 5) to wire services for their use and that of their subscribers within the terms of their applicable and in effect written subscriber service agreements.

Permissions not expressly granted herein shall be licensed at Photographer’s current rates in effect at the time of license.

How about, however, the client who wants to preclude your work from appearing in a competing publication, or for a competing business. Since you own the rights, you can do that, unless you agree to preclude that, and that certainly is a fair request to be made. Here's how you might tweak it. You could add, above the sentence "Permissions not expressly granted...":
Photographer states that no licenses or permissions of any images made under the terms of this contract shall be offerred, licensed, or otherwise made available to competitors of Client. A list of parties Client believes and photographers agrees constitute a competitor shall be listed in Appendix X of this Agreement, which may, from time to time, be amended and agreed to, by both parties, as new organizations, media outlets, or businesses come into existence.

Ok, so what about the possibility that the client will put you within the organizations inner sanctum, where you might be in a position to make images that would make them look bad, and they want to preclude that. You could then add:
Photographer states that it is not his intent to grant a license or permission to use an image produced under the terms of this Agreement which would cast Client in a negative light. As such, Photographer agrees to seek approval by Client in circumstances which the license or granting of permission to an image produced under this Agreement may cause such negative publicity to occur, and Client shall hold the right to preclude a license or permission which would result in negative publicity to Client. Photographer shall make requests where a concern for negative publicity may exist, in writing (via e-mail, or fax, or other instrument), to their principal contact for Client, prior to the offering of any license or permission. This contact shall have the authority to approve or decline these written requests.

In the initial language above, you have stipulated that "Except in the case of...", and more importantly, "Work which is to be created as and priced as “work made for hire,” if any, shall be specified in writing signed by the Photographer." Note the stipulations:
  • created as and priced as
  • if any
  • shall be specified in writing and signed by the photographer
These are some fairly specific conditions that must be met, and if you ever recieved a request for that manner of work, it's stipulated that it's priced differently and you'll surely know you committed to that in the "if any" circumstances arose.

This would allow for you to account for the possibility in the contract. Further, you have granted a clients rights package that meets their needs, and can, elsewhere in the contract, stipulate the common types of photography you provide for this client. For me, I provide "day to day", "major projects", and "portrait" photography, all priced differently, and stipulated as such. This way, when the client calls, it's easy to know which type of work they are requesting, and they have already agreed to the fees. An e-mail request is all that is necessary to secure your services, because those requests are under the terms of the agreement. Since your primary contact at the company, (once legal is through with you), won't be writing to you saying "this one's going to be WMFH...", there will be no opportunity for a WMFH agreement to exist, and certainly nothing signed by you to that effect. The client will have the rights they want, the safety from competition using the work you did for them (if that's a concern, then add that paragraph), and no possibility for negative publicity as a result of your access they have given you (again, if that's a concern they've expressed, then add that paragraph too).

Of course, an editorial contract would look different - it would contain "first world", or "one time use", as/or other variations of those terms, rather than the one year, or three year terms detailed above, so modify them, or better yet, ask an attorney to help you on this.

This is one way in which, because I always present my paperwork, and we negotiate from there, I have been able to succesfully navigate the "WMFH" waters, satisfy clients who initially were demanding that type of work, yet retain my rights, and convey to them their needed rights package at a fair price. If you're operating from the client's paperwork, modifying and inserting a lot of text will become cumbersome and problematic. Use your paperwork and your language.
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]

Tragedy Abounds - Photographer's Killer Remains on the Loose

As we pause to reflect on the tragedy in Blacksburg, there are other episodes of loss that abound. The Austin Police Department needs your help in connection with finding the killer of photographer Michael Cahill. His murder was profiled by America's Most Wanted on April 7, 2007 and we urge you to go to to read the accounting of this senseless killing. Click here, or search for on Michael Cahill or "most recent episode".

If you are reading this post you are a photo professional familiar with the practices, equipment and cast of characters which comprise the world of professional photography. Mike Cahill was a photographer and it might take the assistance of a brother/sister photographer to catch his killer.

By going to you can view a list of photographic equipment which the killer stole from Mr. Cahill and several other professional photographers who resided in and around Austin in 1979. Please note that the police believe that the killer was highly selective in what he stole from his photo victims.

Note that there were a substantial number of Leica cameras stolen. That might indicate that the killer/thief well knew and/or wanted that which he stole. Please check the serial numbers on the amw site and check them against any Leica or Canon equipment that you may have.

There is a significant possibility that the killer was/is a photographer or related professional. He may have lived and/or worked in Austin in and around 1979. He could be living or working anywhere.

I believe with the assistance of the professional photo community this killer can be traced and caught. So go to the amw site, put on your thinking cap and carefully examine the missing equipment.

Detective Sharen Soliz is in charge of this case. A portion of one of her e mails to me lists certain photo books that were stolen:

"The following books/magazines were either taken or stacked to be taken in the burglaries surrounding the Cahill murder case:

1) "Women See Woman" - over 80 talented photographers
2) "The History of Photography" - Beaumont Newhall
3) "1979 Book of Days" (the "!978 Book of Days" was the publication used to form the "Book of Days" theory)
4) "Photojournalism 76" - could not see author's name
5) "Texas Heartland, A Hill Country Year" - Photographs by Jim Bones, Jr.
6) "Photojournalism" - Life Library of Photography
7) "Austin" - magazines - 4 editions - could not read the months but could provide articles featured on the covers if needed
8) Diane Arbus - softbound - large format book
9) Ansel Adams - basic photo set (4 books)
10) Ansel Adams - small format - hardbound
11) "Americans" - Robert Frank - small format - softbound
12) Doreatha Lange - softbound - small format book
13) Andre Kertesz - hardbound - large format book
14) Walker Evans - book of photographs
15) "The Craft of Photograph" - David Vestal
16) "Yearbook of Photography" - 2 books - published by Time/Life
17) "Doonesbury Chronicles"
18) "Texas Monthly" - magazine with photos by Rick Patrick titled "A Texas and His Gun"

"Please remember what we talked about with regard to the "Book of Days" just being one theory on this murder.
If someone finds they have some of the missing camera equipment, have them contact me. Email would be the preferable means of communication since I will be out of my office and my phone will likely go unanswered until I call to check messages. If a viable lead comes up, Sgt. Lara will evaluate the lead and assign it as needed.If you have any questions, feel free to contact me".

I think that a review the stolen equipment, reading material and cameras will reveal to you guys things that would never occur to laypeople. Remember this is a burglar and killer who selectively removed (non-collectable) photo books?! One of you out there has got to know something.

Crimes do not in real life get solved in 48 minutes plus commercials. This is real life. Mike Cahill's murderer has for two decades, skated. I believe you guys can help find the bastard.

If you have any information regarding this matter do not hesitate. Contact:

Sharen Soliz
Austin Police Department
Homicide Cold Case Unit
P. O. Box 689001
Austin, Texas 78768-9001
(512) 974-8576


Edward C. Greenberg, PC
100 Park Ave.
33rd Fl
NYC NY 10017

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]

Altered Reality - Just Another Perspective

So, today, as I was busy organizing my shoelace collection, untieing all those double knots that my daycare teacher tied some 30-odd years ago, I used my idle brain cycles to contemplate Ms. Anais Nin, who passed away some thirty years ago, about the time I was being told I would trip on my un-loosed laces were they not double-tied, who said:

We don't see things as they are, we see things as we are."
I have been reflecting on reality. And have contemplated a myriad of circumstances, from the Geographic's "retroactive repositioning of the photographer", where a horizontal image of the pyramids was made vertical, to accomidate a vertical cover some 20 years ago, to the latest in Photoshop activity by a Toledo Blade photographer.

Where does it stop? Answer: Never, it won't stop. Where did it begin? That's worth pondering a bit.

Photographers have made choices about altering images for generations. However, let's take a less antagonistic approach to the word - let's call it a perspective change. Dartmouth has an interesting timeline here where they call it digital tampering, starting back in 1860.

The earliest black and white photographers, by choosing the right filter could make a woman's freckles disappear. Vanish. Poof! That's a different perspective. A deep red filter made the skies black as night, during midday sun. A polarizer made the skies look unnaturally blue. A polarizer when used with a car's window reflection let you see something the naked eye could never see from the same perspective - through the window and into the car.

Fast forward a few years to color film. Every photographer worth their salt knew how the choice of a particular brand or variation of film altered reality - err, changed perspective. Consider how Velvia would render a subject. How about EPP? And what about when you would put a tunsten gel on your strobe and shoot EPY, EPJ, or EPT? These choices were ones made by photojournalists, and the results published in traditional media outlets.

The rule was, if you could do it in a darkroom, it was ok. Cropping? Ok. Dodging/burning? Ok. High contrast? Ok? Low contrast to open up the shadows, ok. Many even considered the selective bending of the corners of the paper while in the enlarging easel to throw the edges out of focus and leave the center more focused to be acceptable. Ansel Adams himself said the negative as the score and the darkroom master printer as the conductor and symphony, bringing the image to life.

Many a photojournalist would throw an 80A filter on their camera's strobe, and one more on their lens, and see it as fine - a slightly warmer day than it really was, a "golden hour" shot three hours before sunset instead of one.

The camera itself has it's limits. What the eye sees, the camera cannot replicate. The eye's depth of field far and away exceeds what a camera can produce. In fact, the selective choice of a shallow depth of field is an alteration of reality...err, change in perspective. the use of a longer lens to compress the contents of an image and make a moderately filled sidewalk look like it's overcrowded is an easy image to make. When I am in the back of the room of a sparsely attended press conference and I drop down low, and shoot with a long lens between people towards the podium so it appears like there are a lot of people, I am just changing perspective, right?

What if you wanted to apply a "velvia" filter in Photoshop to your images? I'd bet the photo editor would object. But they would not, if you had shot velvia, processed it, and then scanned it in. To paraphrase the Geographic - "retroactive reprocessing." So, if you shot 1/2 of your assignment indoors, with the "fluorescent" setting and a green gel on your strobe, and then when you went outside to finish the assignment, and shot everything on the same setting, and all your outdoor photos looked 30 points magenta, are you allowed to either color-correct that jpeg, or change the white balance of your raw files to "auto" or "daylight", your intended white balance? Is that selective reprocessing?

Consider the tasty apple, and your consumption of it, until you see the other side with the wormhole. You see the apple as you are, not as it is. Consider the hollywood movie set, showing a old cowboy town - looks real, until you walk through a doorway and realize it's just the facade. Again, you were seeing it, at first, as you are, not as it is.

When I produce an image heading to the editorial realm, it's zero alterations for me. No switched body parts, no removing exit signs or other distracting elements. Them's the rules of the game, and I grew up on them, and they feel comfortable to me. For a commercial/corporate client, where the image is headed towards a corporate endeavor, creative license opens wide.

If you're looking to monetize your spare processor cycles, check out what is doing. You send them your portrait, they'll retouch you, making you more attractive when you submit that photo to online dating services. You too can start this business and retouch people's portraits.

What about the picture of the company executive and the politician at a press conference shaking hands that you set up? Not you, the photojournalist, you the commercial photographer who was serving the purposes of the company's publication. What about the other photojournalists there who knew you, their friend, had set up the shot for the company's internal needs, but since "it happened", is it fair for your photojournalist colleagues to move the photo? It was set up. Is that altered reality, or just another perspective?

I don't have all the answers here, but I do know where I stand in this digital age. I shoot everything - I mean everything - in raw, and I save every raw file. I will bare my raw files to anyone whom I submit my photos to that is in a position to question my imagery to proove that I not only didn't cross the line, I didn't even come close. Though, as I point out above, I didn't alter reality, I chose another perspective, because I don't see things as they are, I see them as I am.
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