Saturday, January 3, 2009

Free Hits A New Low

I ran across a comment in one of this weeks' blog posts (the comment has since been deleted), promoting free in a way that is a new low.

It's one thing to argue about working for free for a charitable organization, or to say "hey, I can't get the images in my portfolio unless I trade work for access...", or some other notion that I've taken issue with. We can debate those issues on and on.

Yet, when a "fellow photographer" who "understand(s) the frustration in obtaining high-priced photography DVDs online" decides he is going to give them away for free, that reaches a new low.

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Much like the MP3 mentality - "I made the effort to buy these original DVDs and took time to upload them. All I am asking is a minimal fee to cover my costs", but in this case, to use movie-industry parlance, he is charging what is called a "distribution fee", for the efforts in duplicating and uploading the content.

The blog (which, if it isn't deleted by now, will likely be soon), has as a sub-title "Learn from the Gurus of Photography. Learn from the Best".

On the blog, he lists "free" DVD's from the likes of Gary Fong, Mike Colon, Gino Lucadamo, Jerry Ghionis, Dean Collins, Joe Buissink, Bambi Cantrell, Doug Gordon, Ryan Schembri, Kevin Kubota, Yervent, Tommy Colbert, Mary Du Prie, Guy Gowan, Zack Arias, and many others.

Further, this "fellow photographer" has posted this same list on many other blogs that I found. And, likely when this blog gets deleted by Google because it violates their terms of service (i.e. the infringing of Copyright is a Google TOS violation) you can bet that other resources will pop up because people have a perverted belief that these DVDs should be free.

Sources have informed me that the person in question is allegedly one David Tran, from Malaysia, and, as such, is essentially untouchable from the US, and since Malaysia thrives, as many have said, on piracy, he will continue, as he has done for some time now, as this posting is a repeat performance for him. Interestingly, going to the services that he uses - if you want to download something, unless you're willing to pay $14.99 for two months of "premium" download access, the free download access gives you a 24k/sec download speed - worse than a dialup modem.

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Friday, January 2, 2009

Know What You're Signing Away

Yesterday I was traveling uptown and I spotted this bus. At first glance, it's just a plain DC Metrobus - the G8, in fact. It travels from Farragut North downtown all the way up to the eastern border of the city. All along, drivers to the rear of the bus are treated to an advertisement. In this case, it's an advertising campaign for a leukemia/lymphoma race to raise funds and awareness.

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A bit of research (here) shows that they probably spent about $500 to have this ad showcased around the city for four weeks, for one ad, and they have to do more than one, probably more like 20 to 40, which tanslates to $10k to $20k, for four weeks.

Do these photos below look like advertising photographs?They are. "But wait!" you say, did they sign model releases? You bet they did. The very fact that they are wearing the race number, or race-specific shirt means they signed this form (or one just like it), which includes, in part:
I also give permission to The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Inc. and its sponsors for the free use of my name, picture and voice in any broadcast, telecast, print account, or any other account in any medium of this Event (the “Personal Release”). I understand that this Personal Release is perpetual in time and that it encompasses, without limitation, any copyright or right of publicity or privacy that I may have in my name, picture and voice.
Now, I am not picking on this organization in specific, I am commenting on how these photos - seemingly generic event photos, become advertising images for an expensive advertising campaign.

Be very cognizant when you sign away all your rights because you think the photos are just photos of a foot-race or other generic event. Do I know one way or another if this photographer was paid at all; paid an event rate; or paid an advertising rate? I do not. But what I do know is that many many people sign away all rights to their images because they think "what are they going to do with them anyway? They don't have model releases..." and so on, and so forth. The above images are model released images, and will be used in not just advertising campaigns (take special note of the corporate logos at the bottom of the ad - Seagate, American Airlines, Nike) and also seen on their website here. These are the corporations that are benefiting from this positive visibility.

What do they get? From this cached file, we see, for a LOCAL sponsorship in New York:
Gold Sponsorship $10,000 +
•Your company logo will be silk screened on all the team racing singlets and jerseys for four seasons.

•Your company will be named Title Sponsor of the NYC Team In Training Team for four seasons (approximately 18 events in the Spring, Summer Fall, Winter including localevents. Each event has at least 3 major functions connected with them).

•Your company will be listed as a Title Sponsor one full year in our Team in Training Manual and local TNTwebsite.

•Your company will be spotlighted once a season for four seasons in our TNT monthly newsletters that aredistributed to all active participants.

•Your company banner will be displayed prominently at all Team In Training events (kick off parties, sendoff parties, local events etc.)

•Your company brochure will be placed in all team participants’ send off goodie bags for each season
That doesn't get you that national advertising placement like is shown on the ad. Those rates are probably closer to $100k.

Again, I applaud the organizers of these types of events for their ability to fund-raise, and to make a difference, but when you are offered $300 or $500 to be the photographer at one of these events, and you are required to sign an "all rights" or "work for hire" contract that they present to you, do not think for one minute that they won't use the photography for advertising and other commerial purposes, and further, realize they are allowed to make those images available to the corporate sponsors for the purposes of their own advertising.

In my case, several years back, I was called upon to photograph a foot race here in DC. I did it, with a limited rights package, and they kept coming back. When someone new came in, they tried the "you have to sign our contract" argument, and we parted ways for a few years. Then, after lackluster results, the organizers came back and I have again done their foot races with limited rights packages. I have done more than one foot race for more than one organizer over the years here, and we recognize the value of these images, and I want to encourage you to recognize it to, whether a foot race, or other event where you *think* the images have little value.

If you do, then think again.

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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

You Are What You Think

My issue of Picture Magazine arrived today, and at the end of the issue is a piece by consultant Selina Maitreya about affirmations, so I thought I'd take a minute to use the article as a jumping-off point to discuss the notion of affirmations as we depart 2008 and prepare for 2009.

The article cites Deepak Chopra (at right), who I've made a portrait of in the past. In it, Chopra is quoted "It is not 'you are what you eat', rather it is 'you are what you think'." (single quotations added). The article goes on to encourage you to use affirmations as a way of marketing yourself.


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She's right. Affirmations put you in the frame of mind that you want your clients to think of you in. If you don't believe in yourself, how do you expect your clients to?

The critical key is that your affirmations must be positive ones, stated as if the situation already is. Maitreya notes "The word 'affirmation' is no accident. What you will be stating does exist in the potential of being. stating your affirmations simply brings your wish into your sphere."

You shouldn't be saying "I am not a crappy photographer". Instead, the affirmation should be "I am a talented, creative photographer who is an asset to my clients' project." Laura Bonicelli, a national agent based in the mid-west is cited using affirmations before pitching a photographer "John's style is a perfect fit for this particular project". (she's not referring to me, by the way.)

Everyone's affirmations are different. Some are about professional efforts, others about personal goals. Then, there's affirmations about balance in life between the two.

As you contemplate your 2009, take a few quiet moments to determine your own affirmation. Here are some photo business centric affirmations:
My creative talent is of value and I deliver it to clients who recognize that.

I am worthy of a $7,500 wedding booking.

I am a bargain at twice the price.

I am capable of booking 40 weddings this year.

My family portraits are moments in a family's life and will be a lifelong cherished heirloom.
These, and many others, are what will help you move forward in your career, and in your personal life. By reading these things - maybe printed out and posted next to your dresser, bathroom mirror, or bedside table, you will consciously - and subconsciously - see the message. The benefits of speaking it to yourself outloud increase the effectiveness.

Consider this - have you ever tried really hard to think of something, and couldn't, only to have the answer pop into your head a few minutes (hours, or days) later? When you stopped consciously thinking about it, your subconscious continued to work on it. That is a simple example of how powerful your subconscious is. Now harness it to change your life with positive thoughts - as affirmations.

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Talent On Loan From God

I listen to a great deal of radio, from NPR, to Bob Edwards, to Air America, to Rush Limbaugh and Howard Stern. I spend a lot of time driving around, and those are among the many things I listen to.

One of the things I chuckle about is when people get all up in arms when Rush Limbaugh says "talent on loan from God", which is one of his catch-phrases. "What do you mean - your talent is from God? How pompous!" Or some variation of that sentiment.

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Yet, when actresses, sports figures, or the like stand before a microphone, often times you hear "I'd like to thank God...", recognizing that their skills are a gift from God. When Limbaugh says it (usually with tounge-in-cheek bravado) he is actually acknowledging that whatever talent he has is God-given, and it's on-loan, so that whenever he dies, it returns to God.

I am often asked by liberals why I listen to Limbaugh. From conservatives - why I listen to Air America, and so forth. It's to see things from as many perspectives as possible.

I believe that all our talent is not only God-given, but also scheduled for a return at the right time. Some of us use our talent, hone and refine it, and others waste it away. Some make a difference with it, others use it for all the wrong reasons. All of it is on-loan therefore, and it is up to us to build upon it.

What are you doing with yours in 2009?

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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