Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The Prodigal Client

This evening I did a wonderful assignment. It's not that the subject matter, per se, was wonderful. The client too, wasn't some "oh, my God, I'd give my eye-teeth to work with that group of creatives" either. It was - the prodigal client. In case you're not familiar with the parable, I shall paraphrase it here - In the "Gospel" of Best Business Practices, tell tale of a story of two clients - the one demands more and more services, and is critical when costs rise, and so, they go off to some other photographer, to ply their demands at a pittance. So goes that for a few years...

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Go Jimmy Lo!

Jim LoScalzo is a remarkable photographer. Probably much to Jim LoScalzo's chagrin, I call him that Jimmy Lo when I'm in a good mood, or excited. He probably doesn't like it, but, I have great regard for him, and his work, and I am just so damn excited for him I can't stand it!

Spend 9 minutes of your life (in two parts), below, watching what Jim has put together. Yes yes, he's award winning -- lots of them. Yes yes, he's produced amazing photos, but more importantly, he has grasped the reins of life and is living it, and he's realized it's not about the awards, it's about something as existential as his existence. Here's Part I:

And, here is Part 2:

In it, near the end, he voices over the images, in part-

"The [2004] campaign was...mine to as hell...yet this time, for the first time, it was easy to back out. Not a guilty concession, but what I truly wanted......Not time wasted, but time overplayed. Trying to inflate a finiteability through sheer force of will. How to stop moving. It was about accepting a simply truth, in the world of photojournalism, I would always be a man of minor accomplishments...."
After many years travelling to and fro, country to country, state to state, and empty remote hotel room to third-world trainstation floor, I too sought a reasoned, sanely-paced life, but, I did have a plan back then. Back in February, on this blog, near the end of this post about working hard early with a plan to take a breath after awhile, I said something similar in sentiment to what Jim said above, which is worth repeating, in parallel to Jim's, as insight into and an example of a path worth taking, a road less travelled that is worth seeking out to travel upon:
I love what I do. I can't imagine doing anything else. I am so very grateful for whatever station in life I am at, and wherever in life I end up. ...I am blessed that I am not so "nose to the grindstone" now, but, in some odd way, I had the faith that, just as a farmer does when he plants a seed...that one day, his hard work will be rewarded...that one day, it would be not so time consuming. So far, so good.
And, while I was busy writing my book, Jim put together this one - Evidence of My Existence which is coming out on November 1st, but which you can pre-order now on Amazon, so, go over, and click-it and get it! Jim's story, as teased in the videos, is about finding balance, and focusing on life, life is about living it, experiencing it. Jim has found evidence of his own existence. Yea!
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Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Don't Really Make Photos...This is ONLY a simulation after all!

An e-mail arrived yesterday, and I must say, I did a double-take on the date when I finished reading it. I thought, with absolute certainty that it was April 1st. Then I thought that maybe the former head of a high school pep squad had gotten ahold of the NY Post's photo department, holding tryouts like he did on the cheer squad, carrying out a "simulated assignment during your visit, so please come prepared", read the missive. I thought - oh, are they going to start a fire on the 33rd floor of the building to see how the assignment would be covered? Rent police uniforms and then beat down the interns to see how the photographer captures the intensity, and if they're wimps and use an 80-200, or are really committed and and get into the fray and use their 14mm, and then compare those that use their 14mm, with those that have a 14mm rectilinear? Play street rules basketball in the lobby and see if the photographer knows how to set backboard remotes on the fly?

Who gave this guy - David Boyle, a photo budget and the balls to call for photo tryouts! Try looking at portfolios, websites, or ask for some sample work. Heck, look at your own paper's credits to see who's work you like that you've already paid them for! Here's what he wrote:

Dear All,

As you know, we pay our freelancer rates based on experience and equipment. As such, we’re updating our equipment records in an audit, and need you to come into the office for one day to meet with David Boyle and Dave Johnston.

We will pay a day rate for this visit.

Please bring all of your equipment along with you, including your laptop

We will be looking for the following types of equipment:

Radio (for monitoring police/fire)
Your Camera Bodies
300mm Lens and Converter
All Your Lenses
Your Flashes
All Your Battery Packs
Point & Shoot Camera
Any other lights

You can schedule an appointment by contacting Jessica Hober, our new photo desk assistant, at (212) 930-8530

You will be asked to carry out a simulated assignment during your visit, so please come prepared.

Thank you,
David Boyle
Bring lights? Like my arena strobe kit? All my Norman's? My paparazzi point-and-shoot? My digital bodies and my F2's I use as a doorstop? All of my equipment? What? You wouldn't take my list of insured equipment as a legitimate statement of my capabilities? As a journalist, I can't actually be trusted to be honest when I state I have the equipment I do? Perhaps if that's the case, I can't be trusted to not alter my photos either?

And what the hell does the fact that YOU are going to an equipment audit have to do with calling in freelancer's gear, unless you think they stole from you when you were practicing your home team cheers from days gone by and weren't minding the store? Are you logging all the photographer's serial #'s of their own equipment? How truly Orwellian of you! Is this 1984? Do you think that someone will forget that they lifted a 300 2.8 from your equipment closet and bring it on down and represent it as their own?

While you're at it, why don't you collect all the freelancer's Photoshop serial #'s to make sure they're not infringing on the copyright of Adobe when they are editing the photos for you, since every photo that you work on in Photoshop now has embedded within it's metadata the serial # of the Photoshop you used? Ditto for PhotoMechanic - make sure they're legit copies, what, since these freelancers can't be trusted! Ask them to prove they've registered their software!

I can only hope this is some grand scheme to mock someone (or me!), and this isn't the new reality.
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Monday, June 25, 2007

Elton John on Copyright

Sometimes it's interesting to hear the perspective from other industries. While we may think that every Tom, Dick, Harry, and Jane want to be photographers, and will give up their eye teeth for that opportunity, we pale in comparison to the willingness to bend over that aspiring musicians subject themselves to. Here's an interesting segment of television with Elton's counsel. While the audio is a bit spotty in places, the message rings true - don't ever give up your copyright, it's yours, you should own it forever.

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