Saturday, July 21, 2007

Introducing Photoshelter

Please join me in welcoming Photoshelter as my first advertiser on Photo Business News & Forum.

Back in April, their services were a part of the review I did, comparing online sales features and functionality here.

Photoshelter is the backstop for many of the world's top photographers, Cameron Davidson was profiled by them as a Photoshelter user, and other high profile photographers such as Ami Vitale, Brad Mangin, and Vincent Laforet's archive rely on Photoshelter. They offer off-site archiving via the web, integrated e-commerce, automated sales transactions and much more. Oh, and did I also mention that they designed and power the Eddie Adams Barmstorm workshop (currently in it's 20th year), and, the legendary Contact Press Images chose PhotoShelter as their online image archive and distribution system?

They use, as the back end for their pricing, FotoQuote, and if you'd like to learn more about the special they have for you to get your very own FotoQuote for your own desktop/laptop, click here.

Lastly, if you're an advertiser that wants to reach the thousands of photographers that visited the Photo Business News & Forum site over 25,000 times last month, you can learn more about it here.

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.

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Friday, July 20, 2007

Unvarnished Reality

For awhile now, many of you have written in the comments, and to me privately, about just how "photojournalism is dead", or some variation thereof. In many cases, you're right. However, for those who set their own terms, specify what they are (and are not) willing to accept for any given assignment, and otherwise chart their own editorial course, work can be highly satisfying and lucrative.

In a departure from my normal musings, I am presenting, with permission, highly regarded attorney and friend of many a photographer, Ed Greenberg's thoughts on this subject, and I commend it to you for serious consideration. Ed uses, for example, the recent events of New York where a steampipe burst, but the news outlets thought (and rightly so) that it just might be a terrorist incident, and as such, turned to "citizen journalists" for coverage. As a part of the discourse, where Ed's commentary and criticism of these activities by news outlets appears, I've presented the evidence of those points, and penned the sidebar commentary on this "new world order", created by (among others) Reuters, who has adopted the citizen journalist model.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007, ought to go down as the date that traditional bread and butter, editorial photojournalism manifested to anyone who chooses to see, that the profession is on life support. For years my mantra has been, “You can’t compete against free.” The traditional employers and clients of photojournalists have been newspapers, magazines and television who, I have argued, have been phasing you out of your livelihood.

For articulating that point of view, with a considerable amount of vigor, I have been vilified and attacked professionally and personally. Many well intentioned shooters have suggested that photographers ought “partner” with their traditional clients in order to assure their existence in the new media economy. That position is in my view na├»ve and tantamount to economic suicide.

So now a massive steam explosion occurs in Gotham’s midtown, super busy district during the middle of a work day some 75 yards from my former office. The resulting 400 degree steam geyser rising hundreds of feet into the air, just one block from Grand Central Station and literally on top of several subway lines, results in city blocks being closed off, subways turned off, a cacophony of emergency sirens continuing through today, one death, thirty injuries and of course thousands of photo opportunities.

Within seconds to minutes of the explosion the local television channels were actively soliciting video tape, cell phone footage, still imagery and equivalents from the public for the expressed purpose of reportage. Websites, particularly featured “live coverage” employing un-credited “live” footage of the steam geyser. The publisher was on NPR this morning expounding with great clarity how she was effectively able to beat out the coverage of the New York network affiliates by using images freely sent to her. The images were and are more than adequate (take a look). The site paid zilch, zero, nada for the footage.

The local Fox affiliate virtually begged on air for free images and gave instructions how to download or otherwise get the images to Fox for broadcast. Fox was not alone in the media world. We are unable to ascertain the number of images which ran in the NY Post, Daily News and NY Times which were shot by the many “civilian” employees who were evacuated from their offices and hit the streets with cellular phones held high over their heads in camera mode.

Those print photo credits which do appear may be misleading as one or more agencies no doubt purchased images from unsuspecting amateurs outright. This practice pre-dates the oldest reader of this post. We do note that of the nine photos which appear in the tabloid NY Post of Thursday, July 19, 2007, not a single one bears a NY Post photo credit nor indicates that the shooter has any staff affiliation with The Post.

My confidential and unimpeachable photo source at the NY Post just told me that:
1. No staff photography (of the 9 subject images) was used;
2. Most images were "civilian", others were civilian purchased/acquired by agents/agencies;
3. Citizen shooters and journalists are now considered part of the newsgathering process and especially when lots of images from different sources flood the newsroom, little to no fact checking takes place. I inquired about how the use of particular lenses could “accurately” distort a news event and when it’s an amateur photo - how would the publication know? He/she laughed and laughed and laughed. "Hey Greenberg, are you f**king kidding me?"

Client Adrienne DeArmas, working for Time Magazine on the Virginia Tech massacre story, was unable to procure/arrange for the creation of images that could compete with the Myspace and Facebook images of the students killed, their friends, families and teachers. The cover of TIME that week was a grid of said photos, with not one professionally shot image among them.

The days when a significant number of skilled, staff editorial photographers were needed by newsgathering publications are over. Those of you who still believe that you can “partner” with your clients/enemies in order to assure your continued business existence are, with all due respect, hopeless. With no intention to disrespect any of the fine photojournalists who still work staff – many of whom we represent – the days of being able to support you and your family by hitting the streets and covering stories for newspapers are over.

Your clients beat you at your own game. You willingly cede your intellectual property rights to your clients who, simultaneously and with great calculation, enlisted the willing support of civilians who “charge” free. They have effectively rendered you obsolete.

Ironically, it is the news outlets and not the photographers who have truly mastered the art of digital photography. They have effectively rendered you obsolete.

You need to establish alternative and creative income streams. You need to bring something to the editorial table that Bernie the dentist who shoots for fun can’t. You need to treat this business as a business. You can’t let yourself be bullied into giving up your rights in a pointless effort to compete with “free”. You must be a business person first and an artist second. The handwriting has been on the wall for years. This episode is reflective of yet another battle lost in a war against photographers that was won by your friendly “clients” years ago.

I will be pleased to appear at any legitimate venue to discuss or debate any teacher, professor, photographer or photo professional who trains and represents that there is an economic future in photojournalism. Will some truly great photojournalists survive? Absolutely. No doubt. Does it however, make any economic sense to represent to any student or newbie that he has a realistic chance of being able to support a family at a middle class life style now and in the future by shooting traditional photojournalism? No way.

I am pleased to consider rational opposing views.

Very truly yours,


Edward C. Greenberg, PC
570 Lexington Ave.
17th Floor
NYC NY 10022
212 697-8777

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Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Whoring You Out - On Your Frontside and Backside To Boot!

Your backside is no longer your own. You must do with it what your new pimp tells you to do...that is...if you wish to work the turf that the National Football League owns. You wanna turn a trick on the sidelines of a game? You gotta give your due to your overlord.

Even The Wall Street Journal refers to them as "overlords" in their latest article from yesterday, Sports Leagues Impose More Rules on Coverage, starting the article "The overlords of big-time sports and reporters have battled for nearly as long as they've needed each other. In 1938, baseball's Pittsburgh Pirates successfully sued a radio station that placed staffers outside Forbes Field to peek in and broadcast an unauthorized play-by-play of a game. For all the tension, the two sides had a symbiotic relationship. Publicity sold tickets and access sold papers and boosted ratings."

The article goes on to report "But some of the NFL's other actions have horrified Alex Marvez, president of the Pro Football Writers Association and a South Florida Sun-Sentinel reporter. He winces at the new rule requiring photographers to wear red vests with small Canon and Reebok logos. Mr. Marvez calls the idea of using working press members as advertising vehicles "really alarming." Neither company is paying a specific fee for the vests, but Canon Inc. is an official sponsor of the league (it pays a rights fee to be associated with the NFL) and Reebok International Ltd., owned by Adidas AG, is a league licensee (it makes merchandise with NFL logos, including jerseys, pants and photo vests)." (as shown above left).

While it may be that - for now - most sideline photographers are Canon photographers, and were I a Nikon photographer that had a sponsorship deal with Nikon (and those photographers do exist) I'd be all but certain that their deal precludes them from using or wearing competitors' logos. Nikon honored George Tiedemann, and they also honored Dave Black a few years ago, both highly regarded and respected sports photographers. While I don't know if they have deals, there are definitively esteemed sports photographers that shoot Nikon.

To the left is the sidelines at a recent MLB game that I made. Aside from seeing the horrible yellow, what I see is where sports marketing person could say, during the game when touring a potential sponsor - "See all those blank yellow vests down there. That blank space could be instead have your logo, we make them wear those....". Well, now, sections of the vest have sponsor logos. Soon, each vest could well look like a NASCAR car, with major and minor logos. I see atleast two photographers with Nikon gear, just on this side of the field.

Our friends over a Sportshooter are chiming in, as has the NPPA.. If you thought you, as a sports photographer, were not a part of the money making machine, and somehow immune from it, or otherwise a dignified member of the news media, think again. Next it will be sheer pantyhose and daisy-dukes to take your respect down a notch.

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Monday, July 16, 2007

SUBJECT: As We Discussed

  • This is what you wanted
  • As per our conversation
  • RE:
  • For you John
  • Fwd:
  • Hello
  • My details
  • Thanks!
  • One more question
The above are REAL subject lines that I recieved from real clients, friends, and other folks e-mailing me - not spammers. Those e-mails have variations of medication names, offers for expensive watches, and so forth. Instead, the above e-mails contained:
  • This is what you wanted - included details on the room # of an assignment
  • As per our conversation - This is from a vendor with details about some equipment I wanted to order
  • RE: - This was from a client about where she wanted the CD delivered
  • For you John - This was from a friend about a restaurant I was looking into
  • Fwd: - This was from a client who had a shot list I needed for an assignment in two days
  • Hello - This from someone who wanted me to send them an estimate
  • My details - An assistant sent me her contact information for an upcoming assignment
  • Thanks! - A client wanted to express their appreciation for a job well done
  • One more question - a client more question about a negotiation we were close to closing
Instead, try these:
  • ASSIGNMENT DETAILS for: Tuesday, July 17
  • Need a photographer on 7.26
  • Quote Request for ...
  • Photo Estimate for: Friday, July 13
  • In Reference to photos from the President's ...
  • Photo Assignment Status request for: Monday, July 25
  • JHarrington Photo - Invoice status inquiry
  • JHarrington Photo - Invoice for ...
  • John Harrington W-9 Form
All of the above are succinct, descriptive, and useful. They are all exact e-mail subject lines we either sent, or recieved recently. The use of them increases peoples interest and willingness to preview, read, act, or forward on to the necessary party regarding the contents.

Next time you send an e-mail, think about your subject lines!
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Sunday, July 15, 2007

The Wasington Post(.com) - Cross Sharing

"Nah, the dot-com-ers won't get any play in the paper..." was what I heard more than one Washington Post photographer and reporter say. "We're seperate companies anyway, we share content with them, but they're not filling our pages with art."

Sorry, think again.

The article in question is Geek Pride Blooms Into a Real-World Subculture, from Sunday's paper, which played on the front page (A1). Someone knowledgable about DC photojournalists would know that the photographer...err...videographer credited is Travis Fox. An award winning journalist who is deservedly well liked all around. Fox is definately a good guy. I can't, however, recall ever seeing credits play as his have in the Post, and as a harbinger of things to come, this is worth dissecting, not just for DC journalists, but also other papers who look up to TWP as how "the big guns" do it.

On A1 (that would be the front page), the following photo appears:
And it looks fine. I've reduced it downwards to make it look as close to identical to how it appeared on the page. If you'd like to see how it appears as scanned showing the paper's halftone pattern, click here. If you do take a look, you'll see little image degradation. A critical look will reveal some issues, but overall, it looks really good.

However, below you will see the image from their website, (a 425 pixel-wide 100% portion of that image) note that it's severely degraded, and definately looks like it came from video. Clearly, they had to do a fair amount of work on the image for it to appear on the front page.
To see the full 608 pixel wide image as it appeared on the website, visit the link above, or click here.

What is also interesting is the inconsistency of the photo credits. The Washington Post has previously ran credits from TV stations on their front page, where the credit looked like: "AP via WABC-TV" or something similar. This time, however, and specifically on the front page, they've omitted the reference to it being from video, but they did attribute it to their sister company. See below:
However, after the jump, the credit style changes to:
. Interestingly enough, that photo, which I've also reduced downwards to make it look as close to identical to how it appeared on the page (from a clarity standpoint) looks fine.
If you'd like to see how it appears as scanned showing the paper's halftone pattern, click here. This continues to be an example of how the multimedia conglomerates (remember, The Washington Post Co also owns Newsweek, Post-Newsweek Interactive, Kaplan, and so on) will be cross-utlizing their assets wherever possible.

That's something to remember when you think about the work you're doing for your clients.

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.

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