Thursday, February 18, 2010

Digital Photo Rights - Don't Just Give Away The Farm

The FUTURE of all photographic uses is digital. No one doubts that print will be the antiquated backwater in just a few years. Learn from the mistakes of the publishing industry which gave away its content for free and then watched their print income evaporate, almost overnight. Learn from the publishing industry that ad/usage rates in the online arena had to be a sustainable figure on its' own, and not a parlor trick on a balance sheet.

Your images - your intellectual property - must be valued in both print and digital/online realms at a sustainable level. Just as photographers survived the shift from film to digital by establishing pricing models that were sustainable, and shunned the notion that clients attempted to foist upon us by saying "it's digital, so it's cheaper, just give me a jpeg." Now is the beginning of the time where the shift to digital will become even more pronounced, with the Wall Street Journal and New York Times beginning the shift to charging for online content, and the iPad setting the stage for the next evolution, just as the iPod/iTunes duo set the stage for the future of digital music.

Below is a great WIRED Magazine video on their iPad version:

No, go and read Paul Melchers piece - Share It - where he does an excellent job in advising you about avoiding a few of the pitfalls that are just down the road.

(Comments, if any, after the Jump)

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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

10 Questions for: Richard Kelly

Over the years, there have been good elected leaders at the helm of ASMP, and less-than-stellar elected leaders. One of the great leaders is photographer Richard Kelly, and he most certainly should be re-elected, and also serve a second term as ASMP President. I first met Kelly when I travelled to the Pittsburgh ASMP chapter to give a presentation over 5 years ago, and then we started working together on the ASMP Strictly Business 2 series. All along, Richard has demonstrated a street-tested savvy as an ASMP leader because he is a full time photographer as well. He knows all to well the reality of being in business, because he IS in business, first as a photographer, and then, brings his skills to the fore to lead ASMP in the right direction.

While Richard has submitted a ballot statement, he also answered a series of questions and answers that were posed from the membership. His ballot statement is here, and the ASMP Q&A is here. However, we thought it of value to continue our "10 Questions for..." series, and call upon Richard for his answers. Below are his answers to our questions, and while yesterday marked the first day you could cast your ballot online here, I encourage you to first read his answers, and then, yes, go vote for him You'll need the password that ASMP e-mailed you with the subject line "Your ASMP election information".

(Continued after the Jump)

1. You're running for re-election to the ASMP board, and I presume, you'd like to return for a second term as President. Why?
For the last 3 years in my board role, I've had an opportunity to move the needle on important initiatives for photographers across the country. My role as President allows me to directly impact the profession we all pursue so passionately--so yes, I'd like to return as President to continue working for our members.
2. What achievements are you most proud of during your tenure on the ASMP board?
Education has been a big part of my agenda, so as a board member Strictly Business 2 and the continuous growth of the ASMP seminars series are both important achievements for me.

In the big picture, its been the opportunity to take a critical look at the short and long term challenges and opportunities both for publication photographers as well as ASMP, and then applying that research to writing the new Strategic Plan. That plan is the map that ASMP will navigate over the next five years and it was important for us to have a master plan with clear outcomes that will positively impact the industry.
3. Aside from the achievements in #2, what achievements or projects during your term as President are you most proud of?
I spoke to a number of members when I started this role, and what I heard most often was that they wanted more information from the organization. I think we've made great strides in improving the ways and frequency of how we communicate with chapter leaders and members. We want members to be informed about the industry at large--as well as about what ASMP is doing in response.

Under my leadership, ASMP has embraced social media not only as a means of communicating with members but encouraging our members to learn and use these new tools. ASMP was the only photography organization to have a professional analysis of social media companies terms of service agreements, arming the larger community of photographers with information they could use when utilizing these web services.

I also initiated both the multimedia and motion video educational programming and went the next step by creating the motion video study group, which delivered an industry resource for photographers now creating motion video for clients.

Looking out beyond today, I challenge the board to think differently, I encourage our members to think about what it means to be a professional, in an age when everyone with a camera is a photographer, I emphasize the need to renew our focus on copyright and register our work with the copyright office and give people the knowledge to do this by hosting hands-on workshops.

This focus on copyright goes beyond the actions of our members--its also working with software companies, independent developers and the copyright office to create registration access during the photographers regular workflow, and being part of the conversation with the big thinkers of copyright in New York City at the Registration Counts Symposium April 21, 2010.
4. If you are re-elected to the board and in turn, for a second term as ASMP President, what one or two projects are you most excited about?
Continuing what I started, pushing ASMP and publication photographers to expand business strategies and models to adjust to our new economy and business demands. ASMP is the thought leader of our industry and I want to take that up a notch. But what photographers really need today is advocacy and education to help them move their businesses in a new direction.
5. How do you see the creative landscape for photographers (i.e. ASMP members) in the coming next few years?
This is a great time to be a photographer, the opportunities for telling your story your way is unprecedented. It is very exciting when I see photographers using these new platforms.
6. How do you see the business/economic landscape for photographers (i.e. ASMP members) in the coming next few years?
It is going to be challenging--not just for ASMP members and photographers but for small businesses in general. We'll survive only if we venture forward and leave behind some of the 'way it used to be done' thinking, in favor of, 'how can we do it better?'
7. How do you think that ASMP will serve its members as it regards the landscape of dealing the the realities of business in the near term?
We continue to focus efforts on opportunities for photographers to expand their markets and creativity. There is not one solution that will work for every photographer, but we want to provide them with educational and support resources to rethink their businesses.
8. ASMP, I believe, benefits from full-time working photographers serving on the board, because they know in a way no one else can, the realities of being in business. Can you share a few of your recent assignments with us (with or without naming clients, as you are comfortable)?
In my market I do primarily editorial and corporate assignments. In Pittsburgh, that translates into annual reports and features about business and innovation. I am currently working on an annual report for a non-profit that has me traveling throughout the state and I just completed two editorial projects featuring people who are making a difference in the community.
9. It seems that ASMP has grown in the past few years. How do you envision the growth of ASMP will be in the near term?
I believe ASMP is offering photographers very targeted and relevant information and resources and I do not see any other photographer group offering what we offer. In the past year, many new professionals are entering the freelance world especially from newspapers and these photographers want the same resources that the longstanding members want and need. This is the growth ASMP is seeing and will continue to see short term.
10. How has what you have learned as an ASMP member benefited your bottom line?
That my peer network is unparalleled in helping me resolve challenges, that I can't ever ignore marketing and that I can't stop moving at the speed of the rest of the industry.
If you don't vote, then you have no right to complain.

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Monday, February 15, 2010

PLUS – Completing the Circle

It was great to learn last week that The American Association of Advertising Agencies (AAAA) has not only joined the PLUS Coalition, but has assigned their V.P. Harold S. Geller (LinkedIn: Profile) to take a seat on the PLUS Coalition’s Board of Directors. Good to see AAAA stepping up to the plate on behalf of its members. The PLUS Board includes 13 seats – one seat (and one vote) for each industry that creates, distributes, uses or preserves images. Only non-profit organizations can hold a PLUS Board seat, and all Board members are unpaid volunteers. PLUS clearly did it right, setting up an industry-neutral board from the beginning.

AAAA has also indicated that they will be incorporating the PLUS standards into Ad-ID, the digital asset management system used by the world’s largest corporations to manage tv commercials, images and other content. Ad-ID is jointly owned and operated by AAAA and the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), one of the most powerful trade associations in our business or any other.

(Continued after the Jump)

When I participated in the PLUS standards building process several years ago, I did so along-side 2000 other volunteers, including dozens of art buyers from ad agencies of all sizes, many from the major-league ad agencies. I quickly found that photographers’ clients are every bit as enthusiastic about PLUS as photographers. Why? PLUS was and is the only example of clients and photographers joining forces on a global scale to improve our industries for the benefit of all concerned.

I have to admit that at first, I had doubts that the photography organizations could set aside their differences and cooperate effectively on a major initiative. Fortunately, they could. Every major photographers’ association in USA and many abroad are members of the PLUS Coalition. I also wasn't sure that clients and stock agencies would join in and collaborate with photographers on a level playing field, to build industry standards. Yet, they did. The publishers, designers and ad agencies are well represented within PLUS, as are the stock agencies (PACA, CEPIC, Getty, Corbis, Masterfile, Alamy, etc). And of course, I had no hope that the museums and libraries would join in. After all, they are among the most vocal proponents of the orphan works legislation, fair use, and sharing of works. Not only are the museums and libraries (J Paul Getty Trust, New York Metropolitan Museum, Boston MFA, etc) participating in PLUS, but even organizations like Creative Commons are collaborating with the Coalition.

I now understand why. There is no downside to PLUS, for any industry or profession. PLUS standards can be applied to an image licensing model and are designed to remain relevant in a continually evolving marketplace. PLUS is about clear communication, and clear communication benefits everyone. Except perhaps the lawyers. By describing rights using words and definitions approved by all industries, and by using IDs that uniquely identify every rights holder, every image, and every license, we can avoid misunderstandings with our clients and help them and everyone else to make informed decisions about using our images.

PLUS has made remarkable progress. In just a few years, they have pulled together an incredibly diverse group of stakeholders, successfully developed our industry’s first business standards, and are now working on integrating those standards into common applications that we already use in our workflow. This is the key. Adobe has been a major supporter of PLUS from the start, and I am looking forward to seeing Adobe integrate PLUS across the board in all of their applications. Tim Armes built a very nice PLUS for Lightroom plugin, but I’d like to see Lightroom fully integrate PLUS. The DAM software companies are now working with PLUS, because the major publishers have all announced that they will require photographers, stock agencies and all other vendors to use the PLUS standards. Hindsight has build PLUS into their licensing workflow. Apple has got to wake up and build PLUS metadata into Aperture. Some other companys just seem to be asleep at the wheel, lagging behind on adoption of the standards. Everyone benefits from the PLUS standards, yet some seem to think that by ignoring the PLUS successes and in-roads, they will somehow not occur. That's like turning your back on a tidal wave and pronouncing "wave? what wave?" simply because you can't see it cresting over your head.

Kudos to ASMP, APA and NPPA for their recent contributions of Authors Coalition royalty funding to PLUS, which is the perfect initiative to make use of those funds. Kudos also to AAAA for taking a leadership role in the PLUS Coalition and completing the circle.

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