Category "The Future"

Sotomayor and Photographers – Lens Blog

- - The Future

It was recently revealed that Supreme Court nominee Judge Sonia Sotomayor was one of the judges that ruled on the Chris Usher case where the court awarded him $7 per image for the over 12,000 images Corbis lost. The Lens Blog has interviews with Chris and the lawyers who argued the case.

“’Judge Sotomayor did not get that this is blatantly absurd: to treat one of the top photojournalists in the world as if he was a child who lost the snapshots he’d brought into CVS or Walgreens,’ Mr. Greenberg said in an interview on Tuesday.”

“Following up in an e-mail message, Mr. Greenberg said, ‘It was the impression of my entourage — consisting of clients, witnesses, staff and interested parties who attended the oral argument — that Sotomayor had no understanding of the historical context of the photo business.’ He continued: ‘She viewed — in my crew’s opinion — the case as the last in a line of cases concerning the loss of analog materials, an anachronism. While arguing, I personally could not read that, but others did.'”

via Lens Blog – NYTimes.com.

UPDATE: Leslie Burns-Dell’Acqua sees it differently (here).

“As I mentioned in my previous post, it sucks for the photographer. However, and note these two things: 1) the court found it impossible to value the images otherwise because of the lousy record keeping by the photographer IN THIS CASE; and, 2) the ruling clearly states that it is a summary order and is NOT precedential, so other cases do NOT have to follow the ruling and so not all images will be valued at this low level.”

Industrial Color Helps Photographers Shoot The RED One

- - The Future

“Clients select a shot list from the time code, and then we deliver the related RAW files or processed tiffs.”

I had the opportunity to ask Steve Kalalian, President and founder of Impact Digital about his new venture IC Motion, which was founded to help photographers deal with the RED camera. I think there’s a lot of potential to use the camera on a stills shoot but to me it looks like a complete pain in the ass to deal with all those gigs and of course the equipment is expensive as hell so it makes sense that you would rent a package from someone like IC Motion and they can deal with it.

I’m still a little skeptical on the quality of the frame grabs for magazine reproduction. I have a copy of the Megan Fox, Esquire that was shot on the Red and have to say the reproduction has a “video” feel to it. That may have been intentional for all I know, because I don’t have anything else to compare it to, but I hear the Bruce Willis shoot in W was done on a RED, so you can have a look at that to see what you think.

APE: Can you tell me about Industrial Color and  your new venture IC Motion?

Industrial Color is part of  Industrial Color Brands which has been around for 18 years and has offices in Tribeca, Culver City, Miami, and Williamsburg. This includes several high-end creative production entities.

  • Impact Digital (founded 1991) – Retouching and CGI
  • Industrial Color (founded 2001) – Digital capture support on approx 12 shoots a day, post-production, file storage, archival printing, software development, hosted web based image management and high speed file distribution, iPhone App development and now HD and RAW video capture and editing).
  • Fast Ashley’s Studios & Fast Locations (founded 2002) – 16,000 sq. ft of drive-in rental studios in Williamsburg Brooklyn and full location eq. rental.
  • M Project Gallery (founded 2007) – To exhibit collaborative projects, such as the recent Jim Fiscus CGI graphic novel.

IC Motion was in the planning stages during 2008 and formally launched in March 2009.

When the RED camera was released, we saw an opportunity for photographers to embrace HD video in a special way. Because every frame is printable, photographers can think in motion and still at the same time. The creative possibilities are endless. The RAW digital video revolution is very similar to the digital still revolution when the first 16MP still camera backs came out in 2001. HD Video is very new to the photography industry. We felt that Industrial Color could bring significant value by providing full-service high-level support that makes booking, shooting, editing and distributing video easy for photographers and clients.

After much testing and development, we found the RED and P2 formats fit into our company infrastructure perfectly in terms of our tech capabilities, post production services, equipment resources, NY, LA and Miami locations, and other important resources. Our tech base of 20 full time digital techs are all battle tested and very experienced working on intense studio and location shoots and have photography and film backgrounds. We developed a digital video training program and certified our team during the past year. We then added a specialized editing team and built high-end editing suites to provide important post-production services that are a very big part of supporting digital video shoots and helping photographers deliver meaningful content to their clients.

Also, our software division Industrial Color Software, developed FileSociety, a web-based high-speed file sharing and distribution service designed to serve the digital video industry. We recognized that video shoots generate a massive amount of files and dailies. Video file sizes are large and need to be shared by creative talent and decision makers very quickly. FileSociety is up to 100 times faster than FTP, is secure and lets workgroups collaborate anywhere at very fast speed.

In addition, we are leveraging our tier 3 datacenter in which we have petabytes of LTO tape storage and approx 500 terabytes of live enterprise storage and a redundant gig internet link and an offsite DR facility.

After all the investment and R&D, we worked with top photographers to test many filming conditions and projects. By our launch date, we were in great shape cover our client’s needs throughout the video production pipeline from planning to shoot, edit and delivery. The response has been very strong. We are now concentrating on shoots and editing projects and educating clients on the potential, economics and best practices of adding video to photography shoots. For example we have seminar series on July 14 and 15 entitled, “Photography and the Video Revolution” that will show real world production process and output from RED and P2 Formats.

APE: It looks like the RED is an awesome camera for cinematographers and directors, which is great if you have those skills or the budget for that kind of thing but until I saw one of those “living” images for online use I’ve been kind of skeptical about the use of a camera like this for still photographers. Tell me how you see people using this camera?

Our clients are primarily photographers. They are using the RED in every way possible, including shooting commercials, web content, social media content, interviews, teasers, behind the scenes, b-roll, video fashion stories, in-store videos, outdoor video advertising, music videos, short films, etc. On the print side, they are using video capture in editorial and advertising campaigns.

However, a large part of the photo industry is still thinking in the past that still photography is the only medium worth pursuing. Everything is going video. Print and video are converging. Digital advertising is replacing traditional print so fast right now that entire industries are disappearing and new ones are taking over. Plus, with the RED (and only with the RED) clients can print every frame, so you can produce print work using the RED. What we are seeing now are photographers that have a natural affinity and passion for motion are adapting very quickly. This is very exciting for us, as we love to help photographers translate their visual style to video. Since RED is a RAW format, you can change color as much as you want without effecting the RAW file. The camera software also allows you to create looks and shoot in real-time using a look, just like with still capture software. Hardware and software manufacturers are doing a great job in anticipating how photographers work and are integrating photo style workflows into their products. I think that the film to digital still transformation in the early 2000’s taught everyone a lot of lessons and most people are prepared to embrace this new technology and medium. We see people very open and eager to learn about the equipment, workflow and possibilities with digital video.

The current RED sensor is 13MP (the same as a Canon 5D) so the file is quite respectable for print – as there are many advertising photographers that still shoot with the Canon 5D for campaigns to this day. But to be clear, we don’t recommend leaving your still camera at home. Many clients think that the Red completely replaces the need for still cameras. Today’s still camera backs are at the 22-65MP range and produce amazing still images. Plus still photography is about freedom of movement. So this needs to be taken into account when deciding what to shoot with. The RED is a Cine-style camera and is rather large and heavy especially when fully accessorized. Almost every one of our motion jobs includes both still and video gear on set. The huge savings and opportunity for clients come from being able to capture video content with only a slight incremental cost of hiring a RED video capture team. All the major sunk costs of producing the still shoot like hiring talent, locations, props, sets, styling, travel, lodging, etc. are leveraged by adding video on a still shoot. Financially it’s a no-brainer. For the photographer, video provides a new revenue opportunity. Right now, video is a win for everyone and content is in demand by marketers.

APE: How much expense does using a RedOne add to a shoot?

The day rate ranges from $3,000 to $5,000 for a complete system and tech support. Our full featured package called the “CinePak” includes a full Red system, specialized computer and video equipment, 2 techs, tape backup via our GLOBALvault storage service and a 30-day FileSociety account for high-speed file distribution. We also have high-end sound recording packages and our Panasonic P2 packages called the “VideoPak” as well as color grading and editing, format compression and authoring rates. We also offer discounted still/motion combo packages that reduce overall cost and reduce the number of crews while streamlining communication and deliverables. We can also supply lighting equipment via Fast Locations, our equipment rental company.

APE: What’s the editing process like dealing with all those Gigabytes?

On average there can be anywhere from 100GB to 500GB of RAW data per day, depending on how much you shoot. For sure that’s a lot of data and files to deal with, especially for multi-day shoots. But there are techniques for making it manageable. For pulling stills, our techs work with the AD’s and photographers on set to edit when possible, but usually we will process QuickTime dailies with clip names and time code and send them via FileSociety or on a drive to creative decision makers. Clients select a shot list from the time code, and then we deliver the related RAW files or processed tiffs.

For motion editing, we have full editing services and work with directly with clients starting with a clip list, then make rough cuts, do the color grading, sound, graphics and final edit, or we deliver a drive and the client manages editing separately. Color grading is one of the most exciting parts of the video editing process from a traditional photography point of view. Color grading in video is like image editing in Photoshop for still images. There are powerful tools that let photographers refine the look of video like they would with still images, including primary color, secondary color, color masking and adding realistic film grain effects and other filters. We can work with the photographer directly or photographers can work with the RAW files themselves using free editing software from RED.

APE: How do you store all that information and how do you deliver a final product to the client?

First thing to consider is the active storage on set during the shoot. We have about 16TB of very fast RAID storage built into our shooting systems for primary storage and backup, plus we also backup onto portable drives and usually deliver a terabyte drive to the client. In addition, we back everything up to onsite and offsite tape libraries that are stored in special fireproof safes. Data storage adds up fast, so it is an important consideration. Clients should decide what is worth keeping and storing.

APE: Tell me about a shoot you’ve been involved in recently with the RedOne and how it all went and how the client reacted to the final product?

One of our recent shoots was with fashion photography team of Jenny Gage and Tom Betterton. They wanted to use the RED camera to produce a short film and stills for fashion phenomenon, Tracy Feith. The risqué project was shot on a sunny day in the back streets of LA. The freestyle shoot worked well to enhance both the vulnerability and courage of the subject that reflected the Tracey Feith brand. The client was very happy with the results and produced a 7-minute final edit that is planned to run in stores in addition to print collateral pulled from the RED footage.

ic_motion_group_168

Electronic Fine Art Displays

- - The Future

This is a guest post by Olivier Laude.

I have been staring at hi-res scans of my 8×10 work on my Apple 30″ inch LCD display for a number of years now and wondering why the same displays have not yet been made to accommodate large display sizes. Thin museum quality LCDs, LEDs or better yet, OLED displays to display our work in larger sizes, 40 x50, 60×50 and bigger….

Anyone who has had the pleasure of watching a well mastered Blu-ray disc on a good quality 1080P HD screen will come off the experience a better man or woman and wonder why this technology is not being put to good use in the world of photography. I am convinced that there is a large market for high end electronic displays where photographers and other artists can show their work in a way that completely bypasses the “Print”. Personally, I have been very frustrated by the process, one fraught with difficulties, work flow hick ups, expense and many other such issues which crop up when faced with the task of producing large prints for gallery or museum display.

Often the end product is nice enough, or close enough to my creative intentions, but the greatest frustration is that the last step in the making of images is left to a printer (not to me), and to one who may or may not care about my real intentions. The limitations of their technology, skills, experience, and increasingly scarce geographical locations often prevent or limit my creative choices, not to mention the cost of a C-41 printer.

I work very hard to produce an image which pleases me, but I often find myself frustrated by that last step…a final step many photographers struggle with: The exact and brilliant reproduction and display of one’s work. Even-though, the print has served us well for well over a 150 years, I believe it is time to explore and demand that a niche market of high end large flat screen displays be developed for the photography market.

My original idea was to use 16:9 ration LCD TVs but the aspect ratio does not fit the average aspect ratio of many cameras(8×10, 4×5. 6×7 etc…). This led me to believe that there would be a market for high end LCD or OLED flat panel displays for fine art photographers, as well as other artists who might wish to display their work in a format other than regular TV panoramic formats. The ability to buy a high end barebones display, that is one without broadcast tuner or other electronic components needed to display moving images, would open a new medium for display and appreciation of photography as a whole.

Many photographers, unlike myself, did not grow up with film and digital cameras and have become very adept at manipulating and producing digital photographs and other works of art. These growing communities do not seek out the traditional print and to date, contents themselves to viewing their work on PC screens and on the internet. A new product catering to their needs, and to mine would be extremely successful and well received by a new, as well as older generation of photographers and visual artists.

The ability to frame this display with conventional frames, as well as sophisticated and functional color, contrast and multiple viewing interface (contrast, luminosity, back lighting, etc..) would render this product a versatile and more easily accepted new format. For example, the photographer might wish to approximate the look and feel of a C-print which could be achieved, as well as many other results.

A photoshop compatible display, one easily calibrated with common and sophisticated ICC profiles would go a long way to express the photographer’s vision, as well as provide him or her with a versatile, cheaper, more user friendly and better adapted product than the traditional C41 print. This display would be a sharper, more detailed version of their digital original.

I am convinced that this generation of photographers, as well as subsequent ones will demand a product better attuned to their digital abilities and aptitudes, not a product which is becoming increasingly scarce, expensive and monolithic. A product found only in major metropolitan areas, but who’s market share is shrinking and becoming more difficult to purchase and review. Most photographers who print for a gallery, home or institutional display do so long distance or through Fed-ex, a process which is rife with expensive reviews, slow and archaic.

There are many types of displays but personally I think the OLEDs are starting to look increasingly like the display to be. Their contrast aspect ratios are extraordinary, as well as their incredible thinness. Samsung’s latest 40″ OLED TV is an astounding piece of technology and produces a brilliantly sharp and amazingly detailed image, one much closer to what I am used to when I stare at my 8×10 commercial drum scans. Another interesting technology which to some degree is still in its infancy are E-readers(electronic paper). These albeit small displays have a very interesting way to mimic the book page and a visually tactile texture which I personally would like to see incorporated into larger color or black and white electronic display technology.

To conclude, here are other potential uses for Electronic Fine Art Display (EFADs, just made that up):

1-Ability to wirelessly control the content of the display. For, an artist or photographer might upload and change a show over a period of time by adding or removing work over a network.
2-The same principle could apply to a collector who might wish to “subscribe” to an artist’s work and receive a photography subscription. New images would be uploaded based on a specific delivery contract with galleries, musems and collectors.
3-Work would be sold and downloaded in any number of electronic formats and uploaded into the display. Some high end TVs allow the user to transfer their family photos to their screen for viewing but a more high end and flexible system would be easily devised to allow the artist or photographer to fine tune the image on a screen or allow for laptop and PC connectivity.
4-Imagine a show of 40x50s or 50x60s and larger EFADs in a darkened room, gallery or museum setting. Personally I cannot imagine a more impactful way to display my personal work.
5-Re-usable. Price wise these displays might cost more up front than a typical print but large, archival quality frames are extremely costly; making a EFAD competitive and attractive.
6-Matt and glossy screens…and even touch screen technology.
7-…..I am purposely leaving this list short and open sourced as I think it would be best if my fellow photographers and artists could add their own ideas and suggestions. An open source submission will make for far more ideas and suggestions, as well as other concepts than I could possibly come up with. Some of you might well be far more technologically inclined than I am and that knowledge might lead this idea to further developments, as well as serve as a way to push this concept on manufacturers and make this dream a possibility somewhere down the line. Have at it…the discourse will create its own weather and further refine this burgeoning concept.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_display_technology
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Organic_light-emitting_diode
http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2009/06/blackandwhite_ebooks/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electronic_paper
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Contrast_ratio

Men’s Health iPhone App

- - The Future

Men’s Health becomes the first magazine and media company to launch a paid iPhone app (here). According to Advertising Age the app contains workout instructions with photos and the ability to track your progress.

I really think this will do well for them and in general repackaging the content that already exists into easy to use, easy to carry with you applications will work well for all magazines. There is so much great service content that is printed once and then heads for the recycling heap, but if it can be packaged together and purchased when you suddenly need some reliable information from a trusted brand I think most people would pay 99 cents or 2 dollars instead of spending 45 minutes googling for results.

I can already hear editors calling meetings, “we need an iphone app show up with your 5 best ideas.”

mhiphone

Can You Estimate The Value Of Exposure?

- - The Future

I was reading some commentary around the story in the NYTimes (here) about illustrators turning down an offer from google to provide free artwork for their new web browser in exchange for exposure (I also posted it on the sidebar yesterday). The commentary follows the usual lines where the tech side argues the value of exposure (links) and the artists argue that you can’t pay the rent with links. Of course it’s much more complicated than that, so when I ran into this very intelligent comment on Tech Dirt I couldn’t resist posting it here:

by Jerry Leichter
Anyone who sells his work – as an artist, writer, consultant – has to face the tradeoff between getting paid what the market will bear, and accepting little or no monetary compensation in trade for visibility. This isn’t new to the Internet era. People starting out in any such business rarely have a good feel for what their own effort is worth. A few think too much of themselves; most undervalue themselves and will all too readily buy into this kind of deal.

The tradeoff is complicated. For one thing, like many tradeoffs in business, it’s about current versus future expense or income. These are always hard, because future expenses/incomes are inherently uncertain, while current expenses/income are certain – and sometimes you just have to pay the rent.

If you look at the actual Times article, the clear impression is that all the artists approached have a significant audience and business already, and certainly the ones who are refusing to let their work be used for free appear to be doing quite well. To stand on the outside and tell them how they should run their businesses – with no knowledge of where they actually stand – is incredibly presumptuous. Some of the artists who are refusing to participate are likely making a mistake. Others who are *agreeing* to participate may well be making a mistake, if the publicity they get ends up garnering only requests for more free work, rather than paying contracts.

Frankly, it seems to me that the biggest mistake here was Google’s. I’m reading between the lines here – I don’t know what Google actually said – but they appear to have been insensitive to how these artists see their businesses. It was only after the fact that they appear to have made it clear that they would be happy with existing work – most artists at the level they were approaching probably assumed they, like most customers, wanted something unique done just for them. Rather than casting this as an honor – a kind of on-the-web art show – they let it look like commerce. Well, if it’s commerce – why shouldn’t the artists expect payment? Perception and setting are essential in determining how people view a request.

More (here).

The bottom line is this, you can’t estimate the value of exposure, especially for things that haven’t been tried before. We all do stuff for free in hopes of generating future income but when a billionaire comes knocking sometimes it feels good to tell them to take a hike. I would argue that for your everyday consumer most browsers work just fine and choosing one comes down to, if it was bundled with the computer you bought and possibly how it looks. Covering a browser with artwork probably adds more value than people think.

Photographer Alexx Henry Shoots A Living One Sheet

Excellent video here from photographer Alexx Henry as he turns his normal One Sheet (movie poster) shoot into a living image using the RedOne.

I think this is such a great way to treat photography online where the shoot is still essentially a stills shoot the the results are not a video that suddenly needs a plot, sound, editing, graphics and on and on.



Visit his blog to see the web page with the final result (here).

CBSNews.com & 60 Minutes Redesign… More Pictures

- - The Future

It looks like CBS is realizing that people can’t navigate all that gray and they’ve decided to add more pictures in their latest redesign. It may be baby steps but at least we know they’re headed in the right direction. Let’s see if this becomes the redesign trend of the summer. I’m hopeful.

“We had a few key goals with this CBSNews.com redesign — make the site easier to navigate, more visual, faster and highlight our unique content.”

60minutes

Finding A Better Business Model

- - The Future

Free is not a business model. Free is how you smash old crappy monopolies and how you force businesses who don’t give a rats ass what their consumers want to pay attention. Free is how you get some momentum so you can prove there really are better more efficient ways of doing some things. Thanks to YouTube I can now watch TV on my computer (Hulu) and a premium video streaming service exists (Vimeo).

Jason Pontin, Editor in Chief and Publisher of Technology Review delivers a brilliant manifesto with a plan to save media (here).

“For many decades, publications were overdistributed to readers who didn’t really want them, because publishers were former ad salesmen who hoped to profit by charging advertisers the highest possible rates.”

[...]“Editors can charge readers for content that is uniquely intelligent; that relies on proprietary data, investigation, or analysis; that helps readers with their jobs, investments, or personal consumption; or that is very expensively designed. Everything else should be available free…”

Chris Anderson, Editor of Wired has been working on a book about free that’s set to launch this summer (here), but I suspect he’s going to take a real thrashing on this one since it seems the tide has turned on free. All anyone is talking about these days is subscriptions, premium upgrades and advertising. All have free components to them it’s just not a big deal anymore. We know that if someone charges money for a product and you offer that same product for free you will attract more people. If you don’t have a way to make it profitable it’s called a trust fund not a business.

Here’s what the red hot Economist has to say on the matter:

“Ultimately, though, every business needs revenues—and advertising, it transpires, is not going to provide enough. Free content and services were a beguiling idea. But the lesson of two internet bubbles is that somebody somewhere is going to have to pick up the tab for lunch.” More (here).

And finally if you want read a fantastic analysis on the situation facing three largest business magazines all founded at the beginning of the modern era of magazines read 24/7 Wall Street’s: The Sun Sets On BusinessWeek, Forbes, And Fortune.

Paying For Media

- - The Future

I think we will eventually arrive at some kind of micro payment/advertising business model for online media in the not too distant future. Ideally there will be a common payment system on the device I use to access media or some kind of accepted everywhere pass. Either way it only works if the transactions are in the background.

The subscription model for Newspapers and Magazines that I’d like to see would allow me access to all the headlines and blurbs for each story but limit the number of full stories I can see/read each month/week depending on how much I’ve paid.

The cost for these subscription models is critical. I would read 1 story a month from 10 or 20 magazines and several stories a day from a couple different newspapers but not if it costs hundreds of dollars (based on current subscription prices). I think there could easily be ways to lower the subscription cost if I agree to watch and interact with special advertising or allow cookies to be set on my browser so the advertisers can follow me around and gather data. I can also envision a 2 year multiple magazine/newspaper subscription model where just like cell phone companies the media reader is free or significantly discounted.

One concept that publishers will struggle with is how efficient blogs and social networking are at distributing stories and bringing in new readers, because once you put a pay wall up that will end. The key to this is realizing that hits are worthless and loyal readers are valuable. I think there’s a way to allow your paid subscribers the ability to distribute full stories to their friends/audience along with embedded advertising and a pitch to subscribe. This kind of sideways distribution is critical for niche publications and they will need to find the balance point between content that is freely distributable and content you have to pay to see.

Of course none of this addresses the the most critical issue Magazines and Newspapers are facing right now. Most of the content is not worth paying for. Fixing that will require either a heavy investment from publishers or a changing of the guard.

You’re Going To Pay For Information That You Want

- - The Future

Q: What’s the future of print media in the Internet age?

A: If you’ve got ink on your hands, which means that you’re a print person, you’re finished. These news-gathering organizations depended upon being the only place in town. And everybody has advertising now. So, it’s a very tough transition.

You’re going to pay for information that you want. And you’re going to pay directly, which means there’s going to be either micropayments or subscriptions. Advertising in the new world order can’t support much of anything. Therefore, you’re going to have hybrid business models that are going to have subscription revenues and other types of revenues.

We’re going to have professional news-gathering operations. I do not think we’re going to be a world where we’re going to have citizen reporters doing all of the work. I think that it’s going to be a really tough period, it will get worse, and then I think it will come out the other end by being supported by other revenue streams.

via CEO Forum: Media mogul Diller – USATODAY.com.

Should Photographers Work For Publicists Instead Of Magazines?

- - The Future

Working with publicists has always been tricky for photographers who make a living shooting celebrities. Crossing a publicist can get you removed from the list but too much sucking up can also put you out of favor too, so there’s a very fine line to walk in the business. From the magazine side I’ve had publicists turn down photographers, give me a list of their own or say nothing at all about the choices. It all depends on the client and the agenda. But, in general the publicists can easily exert control of a shoot and a story if they wish. So, what happens if we remove magazines from the equation?

I’ve long thought that some of the business photographers do now producing editorial photography for magazines will become producing editorial images for clients who then distribute the images to magazines and other online sources (advertorial in a sense). I’ve seen this for a long time with products. The products that come with great photography always get more coverage. Not only does a well done picture convince the editor that the product is great it makes it easy to drop into the magazine. Online, it’s obvious that shiny product photography can get you plenty of coverage (some of it just about how shiny the product is). Most savvy product manufacturers produce editorial friendly pictures to go along with press and product releases.

The problem with this of course is that the client has control over “editorial images,” but if you’ve ever worked at a magazine it’s very clear that product manufacturers have been exerting control over their coverage for quite some time. The only reason to leave an advertiser out of a product review is if their product sucked and even then you risk losing the advertising.

Now I’m seeing several instances where photographers are teeming up with celebrities and publicists and cutting magazines out of the equation. Art + Commerce is now “producing our own celebrity shoots independent of commissioning magazines and covering all production costs” (from an email they sent around to publicists after the jump). I have no idea if they’re getting any traction with this (they didn’t respond to an email I sent them) but their roster is impressive and I can’t imagine that publicists aren’t paying attention. One agent I spoke with felt like it would remove all the mid level photographers from the equation because “newer photographers rely on the magazines to put them in the mix for assignments to elevate their career and get them seen.” I also spoke with an Art Director who works on celebrity shoots quite a bit and really thought that taking the voice of the magazine out of the equation would result in some mediocre shoots. I’m not so sure. Certainly magazines that want to remain relevant will need to commission original shoots but there is so much middle ground to cover where the publications don’t care but the opportunity still exists to elevate the coverage with great photography.

I also noticed that photographer Kurt Iswarienko is repped by the mega talent agency ICM (here) and while I didn’t call him to see I’m assuming this gives ICM the opportunity to pair their photographer with their talent.

And, finally we have Madonna one of the most image conscious celebrities in the world releasing sepia toned handout pictures of herself with the child she hopes to adopt in Malawi (here). In the Guardian story Martin Parr says, “Choosing sepia is all to do with trying to make the image look romantic and idealistic. It’s sort of a soft version of propaganda. Remember when the colour supplements used to run black-and-white pictures of famine and hardship? Some still do”

In the end I think these are all positive developments for photographers looking to replace lost editorial magazine shoots. Who knows if it will be good for media.

Continue Reading

Can Design Save Newspapers?

- - The Future

Jacek Utko is an extraordinary Polish newspaper designer whose redesigns for papers in Eastern Europe not only win awards, but increase circulation by up to 100%. Can good design save the newspaper? It just might.




Thanks, Luke.

Media Is Thriving, Media Owners… Not So Much

- - The Future

“For all the apocalyptic news about newspapers, there’s a distinction worth making: Newspaper owners are far more endangered than the medium itself.”

via MediaWorks.

It’s important to realize that media is booming right now. What’s broken is the system where crusty old men take the piles of cash they already had and make more piles from printing and distributing media. Of course part of the fallout here is that most of the media that’s being made right now doesn’t make any money. That will change. Nobody said reinventing the wheel would be easy.

Aric Mayer has a good recap of the publishing crisis (here) where you can clearly see how the decision publishers made to put all their eggs in the advertising basket is now going to cost them dearly. After all those years of watering down their product to attract a more general audience, lowering the subscription rate to boost numbers and producing pathetic advertiser friendly content it seems that most magazines not only no longer have loyal readers but now the advertisers are gone too.

If that’s not enough, in what amounts to a perfect storm for publishing all these laid off editors, writers and photographers will be creating original content with their free time:
Web-only news sites started by recently unemployed journalists– Media Shift

The tide will be turning quickly for small, independent, efficient content producers. The first bit of good news comes from Advertising Age (here):

“In the past several months, there has been increasing evidence that the most easily measured metric on the web, the click, is not the right metric to use for many advertisers. And that’s good news for publishers struggling to monetize their content with online ads.”

With the news that San Francisco will soon be without a major daily newspaper (here) some see a smoldering crater, I see thousands of tiny saplings starting to take root.

NY Times Article Skimmer

- - The Future

This new article skimmer for the NY Times is pretty sweet (here). They could improve the thing 1000% if they just added original photography to each of the story excerpts. I don’t actually expect them to value photography above headlines and text (it’s still the NY Times after all), but someone out there will finally wake up and realize that photography is the fastest way to communicate online.

articleskimmer

Magazines Try To Save Newspapers

- - The Future

Time Magazine’s former managing editor, Walter Isaacson wrote a heroic hail-mary cover story a week or two ago (here) endorsing a system of micro payments for journalism in an attempt to bridge that fast approaching cliff.

I like a couple of the ideas he brings up, namely clicking buttons to make payments instead of entering credit card information and charging micro payments to access day, week, month, year and lifetime subscriptions to media organizations.

Eventually there will be a brilliant solution hammered out (hammered as in media organizations are going to endure a serious ass whupping first). This quote says it best: “driving revenue while trying to re-invent a business model is a difficult thing to do, it’s like changing the tires on a moving truck.” Found that in the comments of a foliomag.com story.

I have several thoughts to contribute:

1. The monopoly is over. The cost of delivering advertising to to consumers along with words and pictures is now nearly zero. Advertisers paid whatever you told them to pay because the delivery method was expensive and complicated. Nobody gives a rats ass if the billionaire owners go somewhere else. Turning journalism into a break even industry is perfectly fine with editors, writers and photographers. I could go on and on about the decisions that are made by owners that put advertising and attracting easy readers first. My reasons for not reading Time Magazine anymore is certainly tied to their attempts to attract more readers (to serve to advertisers) at the expense of the quality of the product.

2. The cost to deliver the exact same product electronically should be a fraction of the printed version (I’m thinking 1/10th). If you’d like to buy me a computer (or other hand held delivery device) and pay my ISP bill each month then I’ll agree to the normal cost. Otherwise pass the savings I just gave you back to me.

3. Get off your high fucking horse. You’re no longer in control of the flow of information. Your sources have blogs, your readers have tweets and stories don’t end once you hit the publish button. Participation is mandatory.

There’s plenty of good punditry to read as well:

By Mark Fitzgerald, Editor and Publisher:

… Time itself looks more in need of saving than even newspapers that symbolize the industry’s troubles, like the Chicago Tribune or Chicago Sun-Times, both of which dropped pretty hefty packages on my doorstep Sunday.

By E&P’s count Time sold all of 14 pages of ads in the slim issue. Alan Jacobson of Brass Tacks Design puts it nicely at his blog with a trenchant piece that is far more worthy to be at the center of industry debate than Isaacson’s sort of obvious observations: “But its ‘Modest Proposal’ is delivered in a form that is remarkably modest itself — its 56 pages are barely thick enough to shim a coffee table, let alone support an entire industry.”

Bill Wyman on Hitsville:

But papers didn’t make money from subscriptions; the price basically covered the cost of getting multi-pounds of newsprint delivered to your door at 5 a.m.

… the more I think about it, the biggest problem the press has is that the evaporation of advertising has meant that the news it publishes has to stand on its own two feet.

Sure, back in the day there was some foreign news, some local reporting, some great reporters and editors sprinkled across the country. But let’s face it, most newspapers sucked in all sorts of ways, and one of the main ways was opting toward blandness and timidity wherever possible, as as not to offend the older folks subscribing to the papers.

Mark Hamilton on Notes From A Teacher:

So this is where my belief that micropayments offer at least a partial solution to the who-will-pay-for-the-news question runs up against cold reality. If you accept my idea of the three stumbling blocks, we need to devise a system that (1) allows for single registration for everything, (2) opens up the pot to everyone creating media with potential value, and (3) puts the user in control of establishing the value.

Mike Masnick on Tech Dirt:

… a piece by James Warren in The Atlantic, which you would hope would be a bit more intellectual — but instead makes the same old errors. Warren seems to imply that investigative journalism can only be done by newspaper reporters — apparently not realizing that the investigative reporting he’s talking about is a very new concept, rather than true “traditional journalism.”

Michael Turro, In Plain Sight:

newspapers cannot be saved. They are big bloated, convoluted corporate anachronisms that derive their strength and power from an economic model of news information that is in rapid and steep decline. These corporate entities were built and grew powerful in an age when new information was remote, precious, scarce, capital.

That age is over.

Today fresh information is immediate, cheap, abundant, available. News happens and is distributed in real time – worldwide – before lumbering outfits like the New York Times even have a chance to think up a catchy headline.

Finally Walter Isaacson on The Daily Show:

And finally the World Press Photo of the Year Award goes to Anthony Suau from a series of pictures he shot under contract for Time Magazine but they refused to print (story on PDN).