Saturday, January 31, 2009

White House Photographers: Draper & Morse

Being a White House Photographer is an immense honor, and responsibility. While Pete Souza has returned to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue for President Obama, resprising his role that he began with President Reagan, photographers Eric Draper (at right during the President's last State of the Union address in January of 2008) and Paul Morse (below prior to an event in the East Room in February of 2007) have exited the Presidential fold.

(Continued after the Jump)

Draper, following the conclusion of his appointment serving the President, gave an interview - Bush gives fist bump as farewell to official photographer - which is worth a read.

While it remains to be seen what role in the photographic community Draper takes, he is no doubt weighing some options. President Clinton's former photographer Bob McNeely has had a successful career post-Clinton, and David Valdez's first post-Bush (the first President Bush) job was in service of Disney and the Magic Kingdom. Since then, he has pursued other photographic endeavors.

Morse, on the other hand, now has a successful freelance photography business in Washington DC (, and was interviewed recently by PhotoShelter - Paul Morse: From Newspapers, to the White House, and Beyond. Paul has become a friend of mine over the years, and I know personally he's doing well. I have interviewed him for the upcoming post-inaugural wrap-up video, which will run shortly.

Being a Presidential photographer isn't easy, but it's the ultimate honor and responsibility to document history in the making.

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Friday, January 30, 2009

Everett Collection Infringed Copyrights

I'm not clear who it was that the Everett Collection sought counsel from when they decided to sell/license/rent the intellectual property of others (as shown above), without their permission, or conveyance of monies from those transactions, but, well, they lost that battle.

In a press release from one of the infringed, photographer Michael Grecco reports on the opinion of Judge Colleen McMahon of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (Case #1:2007cv08171). In that 21 page opinion, issued on December 9, 2008, were the following: 1. The Everett Collection's copying of the images was not "de minimis" and was in fact actionable. 2. Everett infringed on Grecco's copyright by distributing the images to others. 3. That the mere posting of images on the website, even if they were not distributed to others, was an infringement and created liability for Everett. 4. Although not sought by Grecco, the court found that he was entitled to summary judgement as a matter of law with respect to 9 images. 5. Whether copyright infringement has in fact taken place is not determined by the amount of money received by the infringer. Among several notable aspects of the case, the court upheld the concept that an infringer's failure to profit on its infringement is no defense.

(Continued after the Jump)

As a result, the court directed the matter go to trial with respect to damages on certain images, and that pre-trial discovery continue with respect to the balance of the images. This case, filed by Grecco against The Everett Collection, Inc. was, plain and simple, an allegation (now substantiated) for copyright infringement. Everett maintains a website archive at which contains publicity materials that principally related to the entertainment industry. Grecco had alleged that Everett infringed on 23 of his copyrighted images of celebrities including Christina Applegate from "Married with Children," David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson from "The X-Files," Luke Perry from "Beverly Hills 90210," Parker Posey and Lucy Lawless - "Xena." The suit claims that without his authorization or consent, The Everett Collection posted Grecco's images on it's website and offered to "rent" them to third parties. Everett represented on its website that it "is not the copyright holder of the images" but nevertheless offered the images to third-parties in exchange for an "access fee" or "rental fee."

Everett moved to dismiss the complaint claiming, among other things, that although it admitted to posting the images, its unauthorized copying and offering of images was "de minimis," and therefore not actionable. Everett also claimed that the monies realized by it were "negligible;" and that Grecco did not have the right to bring a copyright action, such right being held by Grecco's clients and not Grecco.

So, it remains to be seen what the trial will determine damages will be. Further, and of greater importance to the industry as a whole, is what Everett Collection continues to do with copyrighted material. At one time, they had a distribution agreement with Fox, but that has apparently gone away, and unless they have distribution agreements with other studios (and that remains in question, to date), they are distributing images for which they have no right.

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Thursday, January 29, 2009

Mind Your Models

One of the things that those of us professed as geeks know is that we're not model material. Often, while we can spot an attractive member of the opposite sex, we don't necessarily judge others as less than attractive - to avoid the "pot calling the kettle black" claim.

So, when two unarguably geek sites (which I ready at least twice a day) write an article critical of the model wearing a product, it's worth a discussion.

Here, the article on Gizmodo - NES Varsity Jacket Is a Limited Edition for a Reason - below writes: "Jackets don't come much uglier than this, but hey, at least it matches this guy's male pattern baldness."

So, what does this have to do with Photo Business?

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Here's another, on Engadget - NES Controller Varsity Jacket would be more awesome with awesome models - which criticizes the model - "At first glance, we actually gagged upon seeing the jacket pictured above. Immediately after regaining our composure, we wondered how on Earth such a magnificent piece of retro kit could have such a negative impact on our lives -- then, it hit us. It's the dude. Seriously. Strap this $200, limited run jacket on anyone even remotely beautiful and we'd bet you too would see things differently. Or maybe it is just obscenely tacky, but it'd be much less so on anyone other than this fellow."

This is an example, likely, of a client saying "we don't need to hire a model, just get my cousin Vinny to wear it", or "we owe our programmer some goodwill, let's use him", or some variation thereof.

Further, the jacket doesn't even fit him. He looks like a size large, and the jacket looks like a size XXL.

When you have a product to sell, paying attention to the details, like a well lit product, a model that is appropriate (or atleast doesn't detract from) the product, and one that fits appropriately, are just a few of the many things that hiring professional - from photographer to talent - is critical to the success of a shoot.

Further, as the professional photographer, it is your responsibility to convey to the client the importance of your judgement when it comes to talent. Often times, when a client insists on "street-casting", or casting from within an office, we ask for snapshots of the subjects, or we take snapshots ourselves, and then take them away to make determinations as to which person is best. Even when the client chooses someone who we know won't work, we make the snapshot, so as to not offend the non-workable subject. Usually, clients that are ad agencies or PR firms understand the nuances of the right subject being chosen, and how that can impact the product. This product is a limited edition of 1,000, and likely could have entirely been sold by the two postings on Gizmodo and Engadget alone by people wanting street cred amongst we geeks for having it. However, now no geek I know would be caught dead wearing this jacket, because our daily read has panned it.

Thus, a $200 jacket, with a limited edition of 1,000, and a possible gross revenue of $200,000 will, instead, likely show up at the discount store, or become a giveaway gift at Nintendo video conferences, all because someone didn't pay attention to who the model was. That's a $200,000 mistake there.

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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Legends: Behind and In Front Of The Lens

Photo: © Cameron Davidson
Coming up soon (as soon as I edit the video), we'll hear from David Burnett on the day of the inauguration, about how he prepared for the ceremony and his plans to cover it. David is a great "go to" guy for the wisdom of the ages (well, at least photographically).

David's wisdom and genius shine through in his upcoming exhibit - "Soul Rebel - An Intimate Portrait of Bob Marley", which has its opening next Friday, February 6th, and running through March 28th. The Amazon book details summarize it well:
In 1976, while on assignment in Jamaica for Time magazine, David Burnett photographed Bob Marley for the first time, and Burnett became so entranced by Marley’s charisma that he continued to document the reggae king throughout his groundbreaking European “Exodus” tour. Burnett’s vision, coupled with Marley’s larger-than-life charisma, resulted in an amazing collection of images, only a handful of which appeared in the Time article. The other photos — more than 200 in all — appear for the first time in Soul Rebel.
To buy the book at Amazon, his this link - Soul Rebel: An Intimate Portrait of Bob Marley in Jamaica and Beyond, and for more details about the show, hit the jump.
(Full announcement and details, after the Jump)

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Monday, January 26, 2009

Speaking in Boston - Tonight!

If you're in the Boston area (or can get there), I am speaking tonight, Monday 1/26/09, in the evening, at the Commercial Industrial Photographers of New England (CIPNE) meeting.

Find more details here, but suffice to say, we'll be talking a lot about business practices, negotiating, search engine optimization, and maybe even a bit of marketing thrown in for good measure.

The presentation is at the Hilton Garden Inn in Waltham, and we're running from about 6pm until 10pm, or whenever they throw us out.

(Comments, if any, after the Jump)

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