Friday, September 21, 2007

Three Free Men - Getty Images on Lockdown

The story first broke on Paul Melcher's blog, where Paul reported:

"Jeff Kravitz, President and Founder of Filmmagic, bought by Getty Images in the $200 million Mediavast deal, has officially resigned. Citing impossible working conditions within the Mega image distributor, antiquated distribution system, one of the most succesful, and influential, red carpet photographer is slamming the door in the face of the Getty management."

So, we called Mr. Kravitz, who was on the East Coast covering an event, and I asked him about the above quote, and he said, without actually confirming he wrote that in an internal e-mail "well, that sounds like something I would say" and then said that "all I'll say is it's an interesting time in my life, and everyone should just stay tuned." Mysterious? Yes, Ambiguous? I think Kravitz is smart like a fox to have provided just the right answer. (Check Jeff's blog for some cool insights into his life, but nothing about this - yet, anyway.)

Also, the rumor that Evan Agostini (hit this link for a brief story and headshot of him) and Peter Kramer, both of them prolific photographers, having nearly 200,000 images they produced on the Getty Images site (and wholey owned by Getty, from what I understand), are leaving GYI for the Associated Press is true.

(Continued after the Jump)

Well, I have it confirmed from a source inside Getty that they're leaving, but I don't have it confirmed that they're landing at the AP, but that would make a ton of sense for them, especially given the rumor that's floating around about an AP internal restructuring to throw more money at entertainment and sports (can you say, "shot across the bow of GYI?") in the near future, so as to beat down the getty inroads in those arenas of late.

That just leaves 12 (most likely) Angry Men left -stuck in Getty's quagmire, under NDA's and non-completes for probably 3-5 years, depending upon how the deal was handled. Kevin, Paul, Lester, Justin, Steve, Michael, Jeff, Jason, Josh, Stephen, Michael, and Mark - I wish you well, and I look forward you when you find yourself out of the labrynth of bureacracy and red tape and: A) depart, and B) finish up your non-competes while hanging out poolside. When you're free and clear, I know you'll all be back, and better than when you were under the Getty regime. By that time, GYI could well be a penny stock, or Google/Rupert Murdoch could have paid $10 a share to populate their respective photo services with great photos. Nice work on the $200 mil figure, you all look like geniuses, with JDK/et al as the happless dunces in the corner.

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Thursday, September 20, 2007

GYI's JDK: "our core stock photography business has stopped growing, in fact, it's declining."

Jonathan Klein, Getty Images Co-Founder and CEO said, during a Goldman Sachs 2007 Communacopia Conference quite a few interesting things:

"the big difference between an image being used online and offline, is a requirement for quality for most online uses, the volumes are enormous, and a good enough picture does the trick." Yet, their website says "Getty Images creates and distributes the world's best and broadest imagery collections...". So, people don't need to come to you, they can get "good enough" elsewhere. Why bother shopping "the world's best", when you just need "good enough?"

One of the more interesting concessions, was when JDK said: "the way we see the world today quite simply, is that our core stock photography business has stopped growing, in fact, it's declining. Our number 1 priority is to stabilize that business...we're trying to stablize the core stock business, at the same time, trying continuing to grow the other businesses." So, your core business - the one that you brought to IPO, and skyrocketed to 93+, and is now down around 27 or so, is in fact, a not only stopped growing, but is declining?

(Continued after the Jump)

About 34 minutes into the call, JDK said "we've made no secret of the fact that 75% or so of the business is down, umm, so, until we're able to stabilize that business, uh, we're not going to be ultra-growthy, ever the master of understatement. And having said that, we think that business can be stabilized, we think the new website does a lot, we think the $49 approach to the web market does an enormous amount, uh, we're seeing tremendous growth in some geography, we're underpenetrated in the publishing and corporate sector in most countries and overpenetrated in, the market has said very clearly, we're not a growth company, and until we demonstrate some growth numbers, I expect the market will rule, and what I have said, which may be seen as negative, is that when you're dealing with specular, or systemic issues, uh, it's going to take some time."

One question was posed - "The stock pricing performance has been disappointing, do you still think about stock buybacks, how do you think about whether you even need to be a public company given this transition you're going through?"

JDK: "Well, the way we think about stock buyback is, we had a board meeting today, and it was discussed. And, we are just like you, adjusting to the dramatic re-rating of Getty Images in the last six weeks. A re-rating which didn't come out of the blue..."

A question was posed, in response to JDK outlining long term debt and stock buyback activity, relative to positions of the debt market, where JDK went on, and then said "I've probably said more than I should have done...", was asked "so, no buyback short term?" to which JDK responded "I didn't say that, you just did." And, the call was then ended.

Sometimes, letting people's own words and mindset sink their own ship further is far better than any added commentary, so - 'nuff said.

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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Speedlinks 09/20/07

Today's Speedlinks are so cool that the top four are now daily visits for me!

  • Anonymous Photo Editor - At first I was going to highlight JDK, but this blog - A Photo Editor, has so much more to offer, and potential assistance for people wondering about the mysteries of getting editorial work, so this one wins hands down. And, since she's actually gone through the trouble of getting a URL to go along with her blogspace, she's planning on being around for awhile.

  • Fake Jonathan Klein - First things first - I am definately not this guy, but I do enjoy the post. Just as Fake Steve Jobs was found out, so too will this person, who will hopefully keep their job (or GYI contract position if that's where they work!) I have my own JDK's World, which I will update as his value downgrades. I'll end the updates when he first "leaves for personal reasons", and then I'll report where he lands, then that'll be that. Until then, updates from me, and full on satire (hopefully) from FJDK.

  • Alec Soth's Blog - Alec Soth's blog, and Alec Soth's photography. Alec rocks - thanks APE!

  • About the Image - A different take on the business, and worth the read.

  • Stock Photo Showdown: Corbis Pros vs. IStockphoto Amateurs - Albeit from July, this is an insightful piece about Corbis and iStockphoto

  • Atlanta Photographer - Stan Kaady - Stan's just got some really nice images worth a look.
Now go! Check 'em out, and come back soon!
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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Enter PhotoShelter - Game On!

This past weekend, PhotoShelter launched what I consider the final phase of their marketplace entry, launching the PhotoShelter Collection. Daryl Lang, over at PDN penned their first review PhotoShelter Launching Community-Based Stock Site (9/14/07). My thoughts on this new service are based having just been a speaker at PhotoShelter's Atlanta Town Hall, just prior to my presenting to the ASMP Atlanta chapter.

The most attractive feature (so far), is that you don't need to be a member of the current PhotoShelter service to have your images considered for inclusion, or to start generating revenue.

And, what does it cost?

(Continued after the Jump)

Before I get into cost, note above, I said "considered". Your work must be presented and reviewed by PhotoShelter's new team of editors, who's job it is to make sure that no crap gets into the archive. This has been a complaint by some of the pre-Collection content at PhotoShelter - specifically, that there's a lot of sports and personal photos that buyers don't want to weed through. Agreed, they don't. PhotoShelter gets that. Hence, not only do you have to submit images to the Collection for review and consideration, but a pair of photo-buying eyes have to approve your submission. How do they do that?

To start, there's two classes of accepted images - "Accepted", and "Editors Choice". If your image is good enough, it will be given the classification "Editors Choice", and be listed first in search results. In a previous post (I told you so? No, not really (Well, maybe, sort of)", 8/4/07), I noted how a search for "White House" on iStockphoto yielded better results first than Getty's more expensive offering - Getty Images.

As the service has just launched. in beta, and for photographer submissions only, I can't do as in depth a piece as I did for Digital Railroad's Marketplace, however, once both have gotten their feet wet, with a bit of time under their belt, I'll do a comparative piece, and, in the near future, I may compare the stated services - i.e. costs/fees, and so forth.

For now, the big question is - How much does it cost?


Sweet. What have you got to loose?

You don't need to be a current PS paying member. You don't pay anything monthly - not a dime. You don't need to pay a fee to submit. You don't need to pay for server space. PS is betting on their editors' eyes. If their editors think your image is worthwhile, they give you a free spot in their listings, expecting to make up the costs of the storage, maintenance, and promotion of your (and others) work through image licensing.

So, what's the deal with percentages? Well, first things first - standard agency deals are a 50/50 split. Some (including Getty) have evolved to a 60/40, or 70/30, and in some cases 80/20, favoring the agency.

PS is doing just the opposite - their take is 30%, with 70% to you. But, if you've got images now, ready to go (and I do), uploading before November 5th gives you 85% (for the first six months), with PS taking 15% on those images. So, in order to facilitate the initial growth of their library depth, getting in first not only gives you an extra 15%, but, you're the "fresh fish", getting the exposure first. I'll save the comparison to Digital Railroad's 20% take in a later piece.

PhotoShelter also does not require exclusivity, so you can have your images there as well as, say, iStockphoto. If you're an iStockphoto contributor, why earn $1 on your photos, when PhotoShelter will earn you much more? PS is targeting, in tandem with professionals - amateurs as well. At first blush, this would be a red flag for pro's not wanting their work alongside the non-pro's, but in the end, it's about the image. If the amateur has as good as, if not better than, a working pro, they get a fair shake.

How much more? PS uses the industry-leading pricing model espoused by fotoQuote, a tool I have relied on for almost a decade. fotoQuote allows you to modify your pricing, so, if you think your work is better than average, you can adjust your pricing to, say, 110% of all fotoQuote's midpoint pricing. You're in control of how much your work is worth.

How will your images be returned during search results? Of course, there's the metadata search of the caption and so forth, but what about keywords? I am in the process of taking a collection of just over 2,000 images that I have scanned, to make them ready for the online world. I talked with David Riecks, of the well-respected Controlled Vocabulary keywording solution (which I purchased a copy of, and which powers all of my keywords), about keywords, and specifically, the value of synonyms. Reicks talked about Getty's propriety ability to deliver synonyms for search results, and that I should seriously consider the added expense of synonyms. What's the extra cost using Jaincotech? $0.35 each. So, not having to do synonyms will save me $700 for 2,000 images. Further, as a part of PS's synonyms/plurals capability, is their artificial intelligence to return a search for "big apple" to with images keyworded "NYC".

It would be amazing if even a few of iStockphoto's major contributors/producers to submit a collection of images to PS, and have them realize just how much they've been selling themselves short as it regards the value of their work. What you submit doesn't have to be exclusive, so, there's little downside to trying it out.

How do you "get in"? Visit PhotoShelter Collection and sign up. You'll be asked to submit between 3 and 10 images so they can confirm you can make images, and then you'll be approved. Within the first three days, they had over six hundred photographers sign up. By the time you read this, it'll probably be closer to 700. I know that I did.

So, how will people even know that the Collection exists? With the service actually becoming available to buyers in November, starting in January they have set aside $1 million for advertising/marketing of the service. That's not chump change.

So, what about amateurs? Well, if your work can compete with the "big boys", this levels the playing field. You're judged on the quality of your submissions, and nothing more. By including the amateurs in the community, and helping them to realize the value of their work, these amateurs become a part of the solution, rather than part of the problem. Giving them data about their images, insights into appropriate pricing models, and feedback is going to make a huge difference in their growing role in the field of photography.

So, bring 'em on!

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UPDATED: Getty (GYI) Hit New 52 Week low

Getty Images (GYI) has reached a new 52-week low. It's previous low of 27.05 was surpassed this morning plumetting to 26.52 midday. has an AP Story - "Out of the Gate: Getty Images", citing "...a Kaufman Bros. Research analyst {who} said reduced prices for images to be used on the Web will cut into total sales and profit, despite higher expected volumes...Barbara Coffey, in a client note, cut her rating on the stock to "Sell" from "Hold," citing the company's recently reduced prices for images to be used on the Web. She reduced her target price to $24 from $36...Still, the analyst said sales and profit in the December quarter and 2008 will come in lower than previously expected."

Perhaps if Getty hadn't devalued their own ability to bring infringements (as noted in my recent post God Save the Alliance) by slashing web prices to $49, they might have enough to cover the spread between what they need to earn to appease Wall Street, to what I predict they ultimately will earn, that will definately not make investors happy.

UPDATE: The AP reported in their article Stocks soar after half-point rate cut:" A jubilant Wall Street barreled higher Tuesday...The Dow Jones industrial average reacted by surging 335 points — its biggest one-day point jump in nearly five years." Ok, so, why, when Wall Street was so jubilant, did Getty (GYI) reach a new 52-week low? Oh, that's right, because they're feasting on their young, metaphorically speaking, that's why.
(Comments after the Jump)

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God Save the Alliance

Betsy Reid caught me at a good time. I had just wrapped up phase 1 of my 19 hours in Atlanta at the PhotoShelter Town Hall, and as I was running out the door to present at the ASMP meeting, she thrust in my hand the SAA white paper, titled “Infringements of Stock Images and Lost Revenues.” I filed it away for a later read. Couple that with an hour-delayed departure from ATL at 6:20 am the next morning, and I skipped reading the Marriot-provided USA Today, instead, picking up her report for a good read.

Reid is the Executive Director of SAA, or the Stock Artists Alliance. But, it’s clear to me that she’s the Princess Leia of the Rebel Alliance’s fight for all that is good in the realm that is within the Alliance’s purview.

(Continued after the Jump)

The paper revisits some of the astonishing results of their study with PicScout, as to just how bad the issue of infringement is on the internet. SAA’s study found that 9 out of 10 images they found were infringements upon RM images. That’s a lot of infringements! What’s worse, because of the low-dollar-per-image issue, it seems that tracking infringements of RF isn’t cost effective, giving infringers essentially a “license” to infringe.

One of the major points of misuse was found in templates. Essentially, when you put together a website template - a product you then intend to turnaround and sell as a finished package. The devil is, of course in the specific details of the license, but if you’re licensing an image for your product, and then you turn around and sell that finished product – a template, you’re not specifically re-selling the image, because it’s an integral part of the template, so a careful reading of the license (which I’d doubt the template creators did) is necessary. Clearly, Corbis’ pursuit of TemplateMonster is giving legal direction to how the courts perceive templates, so that will serve as a precedent for others to follow, and for future infringers to be wary of.

SAA’s paper (conservatively) extrapolates the results of their study, methodically concluding that:
“we applied the infringement rate observed from the study to the rest of Getty Images’ current RM collections. According to Selling Stock’s recent count, there are just over 1 million RM images on If we apply the 1:15 annual infringement rate observed in our study, we arrive at an estimate of approximately 67,000 infringements in a one –year period. Using an average license fee of $600 ( a conservative figure, based upon Getty’s published rates for commercial web uses), we calculate that these usages represent a market value of $42 million per year.”
Not anymore. Getty’s slashing of all web uses to $49 makes that a $3.3 million dollar market value, and whatever infringement claims Getty will be bringing to bear on infringers will be finding settlements based upon those lower figures, and certainly judges (and juries) will be looking at current pricing to award damages. These losses don’t even take into consideration RF. IF you’re producing RF, those infringements almost certainly won’t be pursued by those supposedly looking out for your interests, so you’ll be happier pissing into the wind.

With $42 million, or $3.3 million, plus punitive damages for 67,000 images in a year, Getty could hire an army of attorneys nationwide and flood the federal courts with infringement suits, and probably pay for the entire endeavor and then some, with the awards they will garner from these thieves. Further, after about 6 months worth of cases flowing through the courts, people will begin to get the idea that Getty is serious about stealing, and will settle. Again, it will surely be a zero-net cost to make these pursuits real by filing, and further, with all the damage that Getty has done to the industry, this could be the one thing they could do to right some of their past wrongs. If Getty were to adopt, in the short term, a zero-tolerance for infringers (in other words, if you infringe, you get sued, rather than trying to turn infringements into retro-active legitimate licenses, as they are trying to do in many cases now), they would reap long-term benefits. Further, others would be less likely to steal because they were taught a lesson by Getty’s lawyers. I suppose this would be a side benefit of having the same interests as the school-yard bully.

Perhaps our Princess Leia can turn the Empire against these dark forces. Heck, what would Star Wars have been like if Luke, Leia, Hans and Darth Vader all been on the same aside against a threat posed against them all? And maybe these issues were what Conde Nast was prophetic in worrying about when they demanded all rights “throughout the universe” to the images you produce for them?

Then again, maybe not. In the end though, we should be gratful of the SAA for this study, and continue to support them and their endeavors.
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Monday, September 17, 2007

So, You Want to Shoot Concerts? - Primer

I recieved my September issue of Professional Photographer magazine this weekend that contained an article by David Bailey titled "Get Ready to Rock". Fine piece, except David glossed over an important point. He writes:

When you arrive at the concert venue, you're sometimes required to sign a contract stating the planned usage of the photographs and agreeing to certain restrictions.
There are a few problems with that statement.

1) The publication you're shooting for will not agree to restrictions to, say, just the newspaper, as it precludes online use. You're signing away restrictions you are not allowed to, since you're not authorized to engage in contracts on behalf of the publication.

2) If you sign it, and it's just for the newspaper, your own use on your website will be precluded.

(Continued after the Jump)

Concert photography has been made difficult over the years. the space between Row 01 and the stage is called "the buffer", or "the pit", depending upon who you ask. Typically, there's heavy metal security fencing there, with about 4 feet between the fence and the physical stage's edge. That's the workspace we have. When the pit fills with people with point-and-shoot cameras, you typically know that they are fans with credentials (FWC, for short). They're there because they just want to photograph the band, and someone gave them a credential. You'll likely never see their work in print, unless you're looking at their desk in their cubicle. These are the same people who, during a post-show press conference, feel it necessary, before asking their inane question like "did you have fun out there tonight", to tell the artist something like "I just love your music, I have all the albums/CD's back until when you started...". Begin

When you're in the pit, unless you have a pass like the one to the left or right, you'll get the boot after a very short period of time. For a Neil Diamond concert some years ago, it was 90 seconds, for recent Beyonce concerts, it can be as short as 50 seconds. Many times, it's first song, or first three songs. The truth is - if you are a professional, and you know what you are doing, you can accomplish your assignment needs within that period of time. Further, the artist will look their best at the beginning of the show, when they've not perspired through their wardrobe. And two last points worth making - 1) the artist knows the press will be there, and is usually performing to appeal to their visual needs, and 2) the lighting is often brighter at that time because they know the press needs decent lighting to capture the artist at their best.

None of this though, gets to the point about concert releases, but, is rather just a primer. To the left is one from a concert I did several years ago, but the language hasn't changed much on the photo release, as seen below.

Sometimes, the release grants the artist all rights to the photos, sometimes it requires you to get permission before any photo is sent out, sometimes, it's any one of a number of egregious demands by the artist. One venue local to me has a strange contract - since the union is the one who lit the stage, they argue that they are entitled to 50% of your income from any image licenses, and they exclude only "local papers" from this requirement. That's some union contract.

So, what kind of a predicament are you in? Well, let's examine your situation. You are given the green light to photograph the artist at the venue. If the publicist has sent over to you or your editor, a release like the one above, take the time to review it, and then object.

Many photographers use as a (poor) excuse for accepting low low assignment fees, is the value of the resale of images following the assignment and it's associated embargo period. Signing off on these terms means you'll earn zero, and, more than likely, not be allowed to have the images on your site in the first place. This should also be explained to your assigning editor, and they should go to bat for you, telling the artist's publicist that those terms are not workable, and that, without changes, the publication won't be covering the show. This does work, more often than you think. If you think it's ok to take the low low assignment fee, and sign the deal, then you're really just accepting the assignment to be closer to the band then you'd ever otherwise be allowed to be, so you're not really there to photograph them in the first place - thus, you're in the way of real working photojournalists, so get back to your nosebleed freebie tickets you got.

When this release is presented to you right before you're about to go out to make pictures, it's quite easy to make the legal assertion that this non-negotiable contract is, in fact, a contract made under duress, or is a contract of adhesion, since it is so one-sided in favor of the party presenting it to you. So, in both circumstances, the contract can be nullified.

There are, however, two other problems when you're asked to sign something. The first is that there is no place for the artist/label to counter-sign, which is a requirement for a legally binding contract. Both parties must be signatories to the agreement. The second is, you are never provided a counter-signed copy for your files (nor is there a witness either). These two issues also can cause the contract to be nullified.

Pearl Jam is fairly well known for their contract language being one-sided. I recall covering the Tibetan Freedom Concert here in DC several years ago, when, while 60 of us were huddled beneath the stage, we were told to first sign the contract, and then, that all 60 of us would rotate through the 5x20 pit, within the first two songs, or, about 5 minutes. More than one person in that line of 60 simply inserted a fake name, and no one was checking ID's. I did not sign the contract, and was still allowed to make images.

There are also conflicting issue for you, on assignment and under contract. If you're working for the AP, Reuters, Bloomberg, Getty, and so on, your contract, somewhere in there, states that you tranfer all rights, or copyright, to your images. This means that these organizations are free and clear to do with the images whatever they want. Yet, you've signed away an encumberance to those materials, and this puts you at fault if the artist/label pursues a use by those who assigned you, with you in the middle. It's often simply easiest to say "my paper doesn't allow me to sign those." And be prepared to walk away. Further, you can call your desk editor and say "they want me to sign a contract which limits what the paper can do with the photos" (because some contracts only allow for the use of the photo for 14 days) and have the desk editor tell you to leave. You'll still get paid for the assignment this way.

In the end, these contracts are supposed to be precluding you from making posters/postcards, t-shirts, and other commercial uses of the artist's likeness. They are teeth used to take those commercially expoiting the artist to court. However, if you're going to be doing all this stealing of the artist's likeness/commercial value, you probably aren't really caring much about the document in the first place.

So, You Want to Shoot Concerts? - Primer
So, You Want to Shoot Concerts? - Multiple Shooting Positions
So, You Want to Shoot Concerts? - VIP Credentials
So, You Want to Shoot Concerts? - All Access Credentials
So, You Want to Shoot Concerts? - Getting Started, The Right Way

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So, You Want to Shoot Concerts? - Multiple Shooting Positions

Aside from the "pit", or "buffer", mentioned in the So, You Want to Shoot Concerts? - Primer piece, there are, in some instances, multiple shooting locations, especially for large concerts. The credential to the left says "FOH", which means "Front of House", so, from that vantage point, you can actually photograph what's going on on stage.

The credential below is just for working in the press tent, but you wouldn't know that until you got to the venue, and were stuck in a press tent for the entire show/festival, waiting for the artists - at their own whim - to come back and take a few questions, ususally from the FWC's, who got a credential, but will never see the stage.

(Continued after the Jump)

For this performance, FOH meant 100' away, not in the buffer/pit. Meaning, if you didn't have a 400mm lens, you didn't get anything. Sometimes, you're required to shoot only from the sound board area, sometimes, the show is also being videotaped for a later broadcast, and so you'll get no room in the pit/buffer, and only be allowed to shoot from the sides.

Whatever the circumstance, you'll need to be prepared. Make sure you, or your assigning editor asks - especially for large events - if there are multiple locations to shoot from, and what the distance is from the postion your credential allows you to be in, so you can bring the right equipment. Better yet, bring the long lens and teleconverters, so you're prepared for whatever happens. One of the nice things is that, if everyone is in the pit, you can ask to be back at the soundboard, which will give you much more of a straight-on shot, and far fewer of the "up the nose" images.

So, You Want to Shoot Concerts? - Primer
So, You Want to Shoot Concerts? - Multiple Shooting Positions
So, You Want to Shoot Concerts? - VIP Credentials
So, You Want to Shoot Concerts? - All Access Credentials
So, You Want to Shoot Concerts? - Getting Started, The Right Way

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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So, You Want to Shoot Concerts? - VIP Credentials

If you have a VIP credential (like the one at right), you're not a photographer, you don't have photo privledges, and more than likely, if you try to take pictures with just it on, those people with the big yellow "Event Staff" polo shirts will yank your camera away, unless, of course, you also are dating one of the band members.

(Continued after the Jump)

Typically, if you have a VIP credential, it allows you into a room, tent, or other cordoned off area backstage - usually before the show for a meet-and-greet with the artist.

For bigger events, if you have a credential like above, or a wristband like on the left, you'll end up being able to get to the catered area backstage, meaning you won't starve.

If you are given a VIP pass, make sure that it has written on it "Photo", or that you also have an accompanying photo pass. Also, if you can get food and water, don't forget to bring sustenance out to your working colleagues that didn't bring water like they should have. A VIP pass will also let you roam around more, to where the fans are, and this pass, from these vantage points, can often give you images that those in the pit, or at the sound board, can't get, so you have the opportunity to make something different.

So, You Want to Shoot Concerts? - Primer
So, You Want to Shoot Concerts? - Multiple Shooting Positions
So, You Want to Shoot Concerts? - VIP Credentials
So, You Want to Shoot Concerts? - All Access Credentials
So, You Want to Shoot Concerts? - Getting Started, The Right Way

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So, You Want to Shoot Concerts? - All Access Credentials

If you have an ALL ACCESS credential, you're in luck. Clearly, you know the band really well, you're working for whomever is bank-rolling the concert, you're the offical tour photographer, or the tour manager is your best friend. Either way, All Access isn't always "ALL ACCESS." Further, if you're only working at one of the concert tour stops, you'll not likely get one of these passes, because you don't really really need one. They're almost always given to the people that only really really need to have this level of access.

(Continued after the Jump)

There are times when all access means "everywhere except the stage", or "everywhere except in the band's dressing room", or some variation thereof. A wristband is one of the ways that "non-performers" can get onto, or on the sides of the stage to make images. In addition to your All Access, or Production, pass, the wristband (just like the VIP wristband in that article) gets you to where you need. If you need to be on stage, then you'll likely also need a "Performer" or an "Artist" credential.

However, in some instances, people have been so aggressive in trying to get an All Access pass, that a few promoters have taken to granting one level higher than All Access, and that pass is an "Infinity" pass. Even then, though, Infinity does not mean on stage, that still requires a wristband!

So, You Want to Shoot Concerts? - Primer
So, You Want to Shoot Concerts? - Multiple Shooting Positions
So, You Want to Shoot Concerts? - VIP Credentials
So, You Want to Shoot Concerts? - All Access Credentials
So, You Want to Shoot Concerts? - Getting Started, The Right Way

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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So, You Want to Shoot Concerts? - Getting Started, The Right Way

the first thing to do is, don't sign those contracts that limit what you can do with your images. Doing so will mean that you can't put them on your website to show you can shoot concerts, Don't trade the rights to your photos to be given to the artist for a press pass. This'll just make it that much harder for you to earn money when you do finally get into a rhythm of covering shows, because the bands will not only be of the mindset that photographers will do it, but in addition, others coming up behind you will think that that's the way to get a foot in the door. It's not.

So, how do you make images like the one above?

(Continued after the Jump)

That image was made just a few months ago, of the very very popular artist Mya. She was singing at an outdoor no-ticket venue, where photography was allowed.

There are countless places where you can hone your skills without selling your soul. And yes, when you take pictures and sign away all (or even some) of your rights to your creative works, you are, to one degree or another, selling your soul. Don't do it.

Summer festivals are chock full of GREAT artists at state fairs, outdoor performance theaters at amusement parks, beach concert series, and so forth. Local radio stations often sponsor local concerts in outdoor areas. In LA, there's Jimmy Kimmel's Pontiac Garage, in NYC, there's the NBC Outdoor Concert Series, and so forth. Go, make pictures, and practice. Take great pictures - ones that you own, and can offer to publications, or demonstate your capabilities on your website so concert-oriented publications will hire you. Further, there are a number of venues and artists where taking pictures is perfectly ok. One touring now is the hip-hop oriented Screamfest, (above left), where 50-cent was performing. For this image, I was wandering amongst the seats (i.e. not in the buffer), so this is an image that any ticketed attendee could have made. There are, of course many other concerts where you can do this.

This image below was made of Hillary Duff at another outdoor ticketless-cameras-ok event that she was performing at. Here, while it looks like I am in the buffer, I'm not.

How do you get up close/up front? Buy the tickets first, if it's a ticketed venue that allows photography. If it's a festival, go alone (and not with a spouse/boyfriend/girlfriend) because there's almost always a single seat open near the front as others take their seats in pairs. This also works for ticketed photography-ok performances - often a single seat will be available very close to the stage, and since you're there to work (or, practicing working), having your significant other there is going to be a distraction to the work at hand, if you're taking this seriously.

Further, get tickets to shows you may not normally go to, since you'll need to know how to work a variety of performance styles and genres.

If there are no seats, get there early, or cautiously make your way to the front.

Once you have a collection of images that show you know what you're doing, and they're attractively shown on your website, then begin making the pitch to concert-oriented publications/outlets.

Oh, and one last thing - if you think that your $300 flash can light the stage better than a $10k-$1M lighting truss, operated by a skilled technician who took all day to get the light perfect on stage, then stop taking pictures and revisit lighting 101. Aside from the fact that your flash is a distraction to the artist, your photos will look like snapshots. Let the lighting guy do his thing, and then wait for just the right blend of main and fill, along with artist expressions to give you just the right image, but hurry, you've got about 20 seconds left before you get the hook.

P.S. - The lighting's tungsten indoors, but you're shooting raw, so it doesn't matter, right?

So, You Want to Shoot Concerts? - Primer
So, You Want to Shoot Concerts? - Multiple Shooting Positions
So, You Want to Shoot Concerts? - VIP Credentials
So, You Want to Shoot Concerts? - All Access Credentials
So, You Want to Shoot Concerts? - Getting Started, The Right Way

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, September 16, 2007

Google's "New" Photo Search

So, it appears Google (GOOG) is expanding their Google Image Search into the "photo search" game beyond their mechanism, which returns results from the entire internet, all proprietarily owned by the respective websites that display them in the first place (or those that the website has obtained them from). Enter Picassa's "community photos" search.

Now, instead of just searching for images in your own gallery, you can search everyone's galleries. You don't even have to be signed in to do it, just click here. For example, searching flowers returns 350,486 images tagged with that. A search for "white house" returns 15,914. In fact, an attractive image of the White House can be seen here, or here's the link to just start the download immediately.

And what is Google charging for this service, pray tell?

(Continued after the Jump)

Right, you guessed it, free.

Picassa's page reads:
You can now discover and explore an amazing array of photos taken by the Picasa Web Albums community. Just select "Community Photos" in the search box, enter your search term, and enjoy!
When you're thinking about uploading photos, the text reads:
Don't worry - we never include your photos without your ok. Your unlisted albums never appear in Picasa Web Albums public search results. And if you'd prefer not to have your public albums appear in Picasa Web Albums public search results, just uncheck the public search option on the Settings page.

Have fun exploring all the photos in the Picasa Web Albums community!
However, the default setting is for "public" on your images, and "download" and "allow prints" as well. How would you disable print for your photos? The language is pretty specific "Deselect the box marked 'allow visitors to order prints of my photos.'" When I uploaded an image, it was defaulted to be in a "public" album, and it was also defaulted to allow prints. In order words, I have to actually choose to preclude people from being able to order prints. Further, note the language above "just uncheck the public search option", meaning, again, it's defaulted to let the public search/view/download.

Same thing goes for permission to download. It starts off "You can change your Content Control Settings in Picassa Web Albums to prevent visitors from downloading your albums." It goes on to say "deselect the checkbox labeled 'enable people viewing my albums to download them.'" However, here's the rub, further down "Please also remember that this is a photo-sharing service; in general, we recommend that you don't post any photos on Picasa Web Albums that you prefer not to share with anyone." Oh, really? In other words, don't clog our servers with your own personal photos or photo archives. Only post photos that you want to give away for free to the 'community'?

"Oh Mr. Peabody?"

"Yes, Sherman?"

"Mr. Peabody, let's hit the wayback machine for a brief history lesson:"

Wikpedia says about iStockphoto - The company was founded by Bruce Livingstone in May, 2000. Originally iStockphoto was a free stock imagery website. Over the course of time it transitioned into its current micropayment model. The website was originally supported by CEO Livingstone's web development firm, Evolvs Media, but began charging money in 2001.

Here's a slightly more insightful interview with Mr. L from Design Mentor Training:
"...After deciding he was not going to make it in the traditional stock photography business, Bruce created a free Web site to share his images with a network of designer and photographer friends, and iStockphoto was born. Initially a trading site, iStockphoto introduced the micropayment model in 2000, where buyers purchase credits in blocks starting at $10 each."
So, free web of...friends? Sound familiar? Maybe Mr. L should revisit the part above about "not going to make it in the traditional stock photography business..." part.

So, what about size? Well, it's up to the uploader. This search yields an image of celebrity Petra Nemcova at an America's Cup event arrivals area. It's a 300dpi file at 3.5" x 5.3". Want to see the full-sized file? Picasa will serve it up to you free by clicking here. Interestingly, the Google/Picasa page lists "74810330" as one of the image tags. Go to Getty (GYI), and seach the same number, and ten images are returned, all from that same event. Here's the photo at Getty with the watermark. Is Getty seeding images there, giving them away for free? That same sequence # 74810330 again searched on Picasa yields three images from the same arrivals event, one from a JimmyJones23 (and that's Jimmy's ONLY image he's posted) is identical to the Bekendheden image that I was first referring to, and Bekendheden also has a third image that's full length, also identical to one on Getty. It could well be that Bekendheden's got unauthorized images in his public Picasa folder, but they're decent resolution files, without any watermarks, which means he paid to download the ones we're discussing here.

This search for "Getty Images", yields over 9,000 images with that in the caption. Is it possible that there's over 9,000 copyright infringements on Picasa? Well, yes. Is it likely? Who knows. A number of the images on Picasa are from celebrity events and NBA games, and many (but not all) of the NBA images have the NBA logo on them. Meaning, possibly, that Getty shot them, and delivered them to the NBA as per their contract, and then fans downloaded the images for personal use, and have them in their personal/public Picasa folders. Somehow, that's probably within the rules of the NBA use, and Picasa's TOS. Or, maybe, it's Getty's doing. The metadata/keywords for this image from the arrivals area at the Golden Globes from last year, on Picasa look remarkably the same as those here. Why? Well, because they're the same image, and they appear on BOTH sites. Again, Getty - you pay; Picasa - it's free. Then, a search for that photographer's name, Frazier Harrison yields 124 images on Picasa, and only a handful are watermarked. Again - free from Picasa, pay to Getty. What I find interesting, is that few, if any, of those that have posted images on Picasa from Getty have also posted their own personal photos, which is what many other Picasa users typically do. It's as if these Picasa logins/galleries are actually all Getty shell accounts. Next to none of them have headshots of themselves either, it's the anonymous default shilouette graphic.

Ok, so, file not large enough? As I noted, it's up to the uploader. Photographer Mike Baird, who's caption of the photo to the left reads, in part "This Snowy Egret was shot at 1/4000th second, f 7.1, ISO 800 at 400mm...", which is a 300dpi file at 8" x 5.3". To download the full-rez file, click here.

So, what rights do you have to use Picasa? According to Google's Picasa Terms of Service:
Your Rights

Google claims no ownership or control over any Content submitted, posted or displayed by you on or through Picasa Web Albums. You or a third party licensor, as appropriate, retain all patent, trademark and copyright to any Content you submit, post or display on or through Picasa Web Albums and you are responsible for protecting those rights, as appropriate. By submitting, posting or displaying Content on or through Picasa Web Albums, you grant Google a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free license to reproduce, adapt, distribute and publish such Content through Picasa Web Albums, including RSS or other content feeds offered through Picasa Web Albums, and other Google services. In addition, by submitting, posting or displaying Content which is intended to be available to the general public, you grant Google a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free license to reproduce, adapt, distribute and publish such Content for the purpose of displaying, distributing and promoting Google services. Google will discontinue this licensed use within a commercially reasonable period after such Content is removed from Picasa Web Albums. Google reserves the right to refuse to accept, post, display or transmit any Content in its sole discretion.
Here's the most important sentence there:"by submitting, posting or displaying Content which is intended to be available to the general public, you grant Google a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free license to reproduce, adapt, distribute and publish such Content for the purpose of displaying, distributing and promoting Google services." Thus, since your content is "available to the general public", and further, you've granted Google the right to "distribute" your work, "royalty-free", all recipients of the images recieve a royalty-free license to use them.

How is this the same, or different, from Flickr? The Flickr Community Guidelines reads:
Don’t use Flickr for commercial purposes.
Flickr is for personal use only. If we find you selling products, services, or yourself through your photostream, we will terminate your account.
But that refers to running some form of business on Flickr. Nowhere does it say "if we find you obtaining images for commercial use...". This admonition is only for "selling." Further, many of the images on Flickr only require photo credit, under the Creative Commons licensing model, meaning that, which the exception of the "non-commercial" preclusion, you can pretty much publish the image as-is without any payment to the copyright holder. Google has not integrated any Creative Commons restrictions to it's files.

So, how does all this work? Well, the nice Picasa graphic below explains a lot:

The image below is returned, among the results. It's a 300dpi file that's 5.3" x 3.6", and, when open, is 5MB, which is about the size of the file from the camera that produced it - a "Canon EOS DIGITAL REBEL XT", but perhaps it's cropped just a bit:

Here, to the left, you see the "more info" box, where you can choose "order prints". In the print dialog box, you then specify Shutterfly or Photoworks, and then the image is transfered to their site for printing. (this particular community member has turned off "download photos" for the photo above, this dialog box is adjacent to other images).

Here, below and to the right, you now see that the photo I've chosen has been added to my cart/order. I may now view my order, or keep browsing for other photographs that I'd like to have a print of.

Below, on the image that I uploaded, you'll see the "Download Photo" option, just above the "Album" and "order prints" choices, which allows you to download the original file size, without any downsampling. For this image, I've uploaded a very small image. As I mentioned above, it's a default choice to have your photos available for downloading by anyone and everyone, you must deselect the option if you don't want people to download your images.

So, how did that photo get there? It's extremely simple. I just downloaded the free (of course) Picasa Web Albums Uploader, and drag and drop the photos I wanted to upload to Picasa, and, note, the default choice for your album, as I noted above, is "Public Album".

I can easily see a point in the future where Google will add a column to the side of the search results where the images appear, displaying Google Ads.

Google has also added (and this is within the last few days, as far as I can tell) a new "drop down menu" to their search, as shown to the left. This "search by size" capability is something that Flickr does not currently have. In addition, it would be most easy to add other choices, like "From Picasa", but for now, choosing "Large images", gives you, well, large images.

So, when exactly did this service become "new"? How long do they refer to what they're doing as either "new", or "Just Added"? Certainly, I've seen little to no public discourse or reporting on this. Yet, burried in a Google Groups discussion list for those working on coding/programming is this thread - Feature Launch:
  • New features include:
  • Community search
  • Retrieving a user's recently uploaded photos
  • Retrieving comments recently added to photos owned by a user
  • Searching a user's photos
  • Filtering by tag
  • Uploading non-jpeg photos (bmp, png, gif now supported)
  • Downloading an original photo
It's been functional in the Data API since the end of July.

I've got a number of questions in to the Google folks looking for clarification, and I'll update this post where necessary or helpful.

And yes, free beats $1 from iStockphoto.

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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