Friday, August 17, 2007

My Phones and E-Mail Are Working

Dear OnRequest -

Recently I spoke with a second person who reported that you have said to them that you have tried to get in touch with me about my reporting about your failed business model(s), and my otherwise critical position about how you're trying to generate enough revenue to be: a) profitable; b) a takeover candidate, or c) ???

So, I checked, and my phones work. I looked back in all my e-mail from pre-blog launch to present, and no correspondence. And, since I actually archive my junk/trash, I checked there to. Nope. Zip. Nada. I got nothing from you.

Apparently, when you were talking to a few photographers who have expressed reservations about your business model and manner in which photographers can generate revenue from a relationship with you, your folks have come back and said things like oh, you mean that Washington DC photographer? We've tried to reach out to him, but he's not interested in talking to us. Now, that's not a direct quote (otherwise it'd be in quotation marks) but the gist of what was said to them.

If you want to get in touch with me, and provide a cogent response to what has been written and reported, please do so. However, going around and suggesting that you have done so without actually doing so is disengenuous, and quite possibly dishonest. If you'd like to respond and take apart what I've written and provide an e-mailed point-by-point response, feel free to do that too. I'll review it, and be happy to provide a follow-up piece that includes it, with any applicable commentary on my part.

The last word I heard from OnRequest was when David Norris responded to another questioner in the audience at the Microsoft Summit, who was challenging the figure Norris cited (which was somewhere above $20k if I recall) for an entire library for T-mobile to use for their new campaigns, and who was suggesting that that figure was way way too low. Whatever the actual figure, the photographer in the audience doing the challenging knew whereof he spoke when he responded that the figure was a low low low amount.

Soon I'll be reviewing what your staff has referred to as your latest contract. Supposedly, it's better this go 'round, as nothing there jumped out at the person who was kind enough to provide it. However, a contract is a form of 'the price of admission'. It gets you in the door. Next will be - how fair is what you're paying for what you're providing. Are you treating the creative talent as day laborers - paid once and never again? Or, are you paying them 50/50 or all licensing revenues as an agency, or 80% to them and 20% to you when acting as their rep? I look forward to reviewing it, and, if you actually wanted to contact me, rather than just pay that act (of picking up the phone or e-mailing me) lip service, feel free to do so. If you have concrete examples of how your business is not just serving your clients, but also acting on behalf of the photographers and creative talent that you will rely on for any longevity, I am happy to review it.

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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The Cult of the Amateur

As I was pondering my post for today, the Colbert Show was on, and I was doing some paperwork review. One of the guests on the show was Andrew Keen, author of The Cult of the Amateur: How today's Internet is killing our culture, and I paused and watched. In fact, I was so intrigued, I hit the "record" on my Tivo, and watched the interview several times. Here are some quotes from their exchange:

Andrew Keen: "The internet is destroying our culture.."
Stephen Colbert: "....I can go on any old web site and find pictures of any old art I want…"
AK: "That’s stealing culture...The problem with the internet is it is making it increasingly difficult for artists to earn a living because everyone is stealing."
SC: "You’re just an elitist...Here’s my problem. You say the internet is just for amateurs, and that the amateurs don’t actually create great culture."
AK: How do you pay your rent?
SC: I get paid by the advertisters who give the money to the network who give the money to me.
AK: I think you’re supporting my argument....The fact is, you are a professional artist making money through the sale of advertising, on television...On the internet though, people are stealing your content. They’re putting it on YouTube. They’re undermining you as a creatve artist."
SC: "Right, and my parent company Viacom is sueing YouTube for a billion bucks, and I am sure I am getting acut of it."
AK: "Are you in support of that lawsuit?"
SC: "Oh absolutely, Go get ‘em guys."
I encourage you to get the book. While I don't believe the book will change the swelling tide, what it will do is give you insights into the new frontier, and how you can adapt to it.

Evolve or die. Differentiate yourself or perish. Being a professional photographer is not for the weak of heart or diminished drive. A friend in Baltimore sent me a few interesting Flickr links, which I delved deeper into:
A listing of all Nikon D2x users on Flickr shows an upward trend this past year of this $4500 camera:

With almost 8,000 images uploaded just yesterday. Their full Nikon chart can be seen here.

For Canon, all 1Ds Mark II cameras also shows an upwards trent this past year of this $7,000 camera:

With over 5,000 images uploaded just yesterday. Their full Canon chart can be seen at here.

These insights are not meant to scare you, but rather, to be enlightening. Reporting this isn't going to somehow reduce the number of amateurs giving their work away for free using $10,000+ in camera equipment. Reading the book will help you understand the inside machinations of what's happening, and why. When you know how and why it's happening, you can then better understand how to develop your own roadmap of your career in photography. As a byproduct of this, It can also help you to better understand the mind of those amateurs, and how you could engage those most effectively when the opportunity arises, and, perhaps, in your community, school them how they are contributing to the decline of the creative products of professionals.
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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Thursday, August 16, 2007

A Debate Worth Paying Attention to!

Debates debates debates. Everyone's having one. CNN, Youtube, and to the right is the debate I had to interrupt my vacation to cover in Chicago for a day - the union's democratic debate on Soldier Field. The first debates that will really matter in the presidential field won't really come until the spring. Yet, a debate worth paying attention to is that about your future as a photographer.

Enter Photoshelter, with a forum of travelling debates they've dubbed "Photography 2.0: The Business of Photography in the Web Era," to give you some real insights. A panel of photographers AND clients has been assembled in cities across the country. From the press release:

The series will commence in
New York City on September 14, 2007,
with subsequent events to be held in
  • Atlanta, September 17
  • Chicago, September 19
  • Portland, OR, September 24
  • San Francisco, September 26
  • and the Los Angeles-area, September 28
Photographers of any experience level who are interested in the future of commercial photography are encouraged to attend.
This won't be some dry presentation either - when you get photographers and clients together talking about their future working together, it'll be an informative exchange. They've got: Brittney Blair, Art Director for Chicago Magazine; George Pitts, Professor of Photography at Parsons School of Design and former Photography Director at Life magazine; Marnie Beardsley, Global Director of Art Buying, Weiden + Kennedy; Jennifer Miller, former Director of Photography, JANE magazine; Shannon Hall, Photo Director, BlackBook Magazine; Asha Schecter, former Photo Research Editor, The New Yorker; and over 20 photographers including Bill Frakes, Chase Jarvis, Amanda Marsalis, Chris McPherson, Brian Ulrich, Michael Zagaris and many more.

Now, don't expect Ms. Blair to be in NYC, she'll be in her respective city. Each city will have a solid representation of local talent and local talent-buyers.

Oh, and I forgot the best part - it's FREE! Hurry up though, as space is limited. To register, and learn more, click 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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.Mobi and Mobile Platforms

PDN's Pulse blog is reporting on the latest evolution of websites - the mobile website. While Caesar Lima is among the first, I am in production to adapt my own site to the mobile platform, and that should be up soon. Caesar is using a link from his main site to a "/iphone" sub-folder. I'd submit that that will work for a few months as a cool gimmick, and then he'll be wishing he just did "/mobile" or some other non-specific title, as other devices are not far off.

For my mobile site, I've registered "http://JohnHarrington.Mobi" and "http://John-Harrington.Mobi" several months ago, and they will, once the mini-site is active, be viewable there, however, they will also be viewable by going to a page off of which will have something like "/mobile" or some other variation that makes sense, in a generic way.

If you're stuck with, perhaps now is the time to get your .Mobi account with your full name! I know of many a big name photographer who's .Mobi domain name is still available. (I checked).

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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Sunday, August 12, 2007

A Penny for your Thoughts

I was passing through a drive-through during my trek through the Northwest these past few days, and there I found an interesting insight. "Jack", of Jack-In-The-Box fame, was cited as the source for the phrase:

"Whoever said 'a penny for your thoughts' was a cheapskate."
Who knew this wisdom was a tangential byproduct of fast food? (For the 'Straight Dope' on the initial phrase, click here.)

It's so appropo to creatives. People continue to devalue what your mind dreams up, and what your mind sees. With technology making exposure and focus so much less of a hurdle to a usable image, the value of what's in your mind's eye becomes far more valuable. What you see. How you see it. How you frame it. When you trigger the shutter closed.

At some point, we evolve, as "paid people" to a cap for what we are worth as a physically producing worker. Attorneys, doctors, and consultants, are paid hundreds and thousands of dollars an hour for their extensive knowledge-bases, for their talents, unrelated to how long or how physical their work is. So too, are we, as creatives, best valued for our thoughts - how creative we are, and how we can best solve creative challenges when we're presented with them.

Remember, you set the price for your thoughts, and what your bring to the table. Don't let others dictate to you what you're worth - they will, almost without exception, undervalue (either intentionally, or unintentionally) your contributions.
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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