PDN Online Redesign and A New Feature

- - Getting Noticed

PDN Online has a new look and a new feature called PDN Compass (here) where you can mark on a map where you live and what you shoot then presumably Photo Eds and Art Buyers and other potential clients will search by location and specialty and easily find you. Sort of like PhotoServe.com which is something I’ve always used to search for photographers in a particular location but this one is free. Hey, getting with the new economy are we PDN, except I still see those shiny gold locks on all the big articles, so maybe not so much.

Anyway, I haven’t totally checked it out, but it will need critical mass to be worthwhile for buyers. I wonder if that’s still possible in 2008, where leveraging the community to do all the work (free labor, free service) is becoming a dated concept. We shall see.

A Light At The End Of The Tunnel

- - The Future

Two recent developments have me excited about the future for photographers:

1. Magnum photographer Thomas Dworzak is in Georgia for The Wall Street Journal and they’ve got a nice online slideshow to go with it (here) but then they take it a step further and have a BIG picture page with a comment area (here). Spread the word. It can only get better.

2. Andrew Hetherington sells out of a series of 220 prints in 9 minutes. All because he’s a brilliant photographer and…he has an audience (read about it here).

It can only get better as more an more newspapers and eventually magazines adopt the big picture strategy and need professionals to go out and deliver powerful content. And, photographers with an audience can count on publishers seeking them out to tap into that audience and their additional channel of distribution.

Also, check out the 10 Misconceptions about photography. I’m feeling pretty good about what lies ahead.

The Next Generation Of Photo Editors

- - The Future

I think the way clients and photographers communicate and reach each other and the job of Photo Editor will profoundly change in the next decade. There’s exciting technology to take advantage of and the potential of the internet has barely been tapped by publishers. I wanted to start talking with .com and junior Photo Editors to look at the way they’re using technology and get a feel for what the future might bring.

I met Ryan Schick at the Photoshelter panel in NY a few weeks back and found him to be very well spoken and thoughtful about the industry. Ryan works for Condé Nast’s Portfolio.com as the News Photo Editor where he sources all the daily news pictures and develops larger photo essay projects. He’s young and a .com Photo Editor so I thought he might have a different take on how he finds photographers and how the future might play out.

You seem like a fairly technologically savvy Photo Editor. Is that a generational thing or have you made an effort to incorporate emerging technology into your workflow?

I wouldn’t say it’s necessarily a generational thing. I’ve worked with editors who are significantly older that are interested in technology as a device to develop more efficient ways to receive the imagery they need from the photographers in a timely matter. New means of image transportation and tools that enable more efficient communication have always interested me. Email has always been a central tool in my life. Heck, my first email address was 73514,1650@compuserve.com. This was back in 1992 before AOL, Prodigy, and others introduced alphanumeric email addresses.

I’m curious about how you communicate with photographers and your thoughts on how it might evolve.

Instant messenger is a remarkable tool, if properly used. Given it’s intimacy and the opportunity for it to be invasive to the recipient, it requires a certain amount of sensitivity on the users part There are multiple photographers I talk with on a daily basis via IM. Example; I communicate on a daily basis with photographers who are currently working on projects. It’s remarkable to witness a project develop, in real-time, with a photographer who is half-way around the world. Observations and suggestions are easily communicated; picture ordering, toning, and other variables can be done on the fly.

Apple’s iChat video capability is a tool that I still have yet to take to completely. I’m not sure how this will progress in the future, but for the time being I find instant messaging to be an sufficient replacement for email and phone conversations.

What about the ways photographers market themselves to Photo Editors. Books, mailers, email campaigns. Certainly there’s room for change there. The books are so expensive to make and ship certainly we eventually don’t need those anymore do we?

I still believe that photographers might not necessarily need the big-tent image distribution agencies to be successful in today’s market. I’m more impressed by the photographer who has taken the long-term investment strategy of developing personal relationships with his or her editors. There are magnificent tools out there that photographers can utilize to represent themselves and ultimately distribute their material.

I’ve always admired the photographer who updates his or her online portfolio on a regular basis. In a way, I think the digital reformation has made many of the dead-tree portfolio books we’ve grown accustomed to obsolete. I know it’s a tough market for most photographers out there and portfolios are not inexpensive to produce. I’d rather see photographers develop an online portfolio that demonstrates their personal eye toward presentation and detail and put their money back into a personal project that will help them along with an underdeveloped skill-set.

Email distribution and mailers are also objects I’ve taken greater attention towards in recent months. There are several photographers out there, including a young Philadelphia-based photographer named Steve Boyle, who take enormous strides to constantly bring editors attention to their every-growing body of work. Steve’s persistence in developing a visual style of his own is equaled only by his determination to constantly develop open channels to editors. I’m not certain whether or not this is an off-shoot of his efforts in self-promotion, but he seems remarkably well informed in visual trends and even runs several of his tests by me on a regular basis.

This however is not something that he and I fell into overnight. I cite this because I think many photographers take the ‘battering ram’ approach toward self-representation. I cite an example of a photographer who was referred to me by a former colleague and for whom I have an enormous amount of respect for. What started as a recommendation and an appointment to view his body of work turned into a multiple-times-per-day phalanx of phone calls and emails. By the time the actual appointment to meet came around I had frankly grown exasperated by his persistence and for better or worse was uninterested in the actual meeting.

What about a photographers website, do you ever do more than just go and look at the pictures?

I don’t just use a photographers website to look at the work they want to present (ie. putting their best face forward); there is another facet of their site that I’ve grown remarkably fond of. Being a user of Safari, I have a quick-tab on my address bar that currently loads the following personal blogs:

aphotoaday.org
Kirk Mastin
Michael Rubenstein
Jensen Walker
Robert Caplin
Justin Fowler
Mike Terry
Matthew Williams
Tara Todras-Whitehill
Mark Rebilas
Dustin Snipes
Thomas Boyd
Chris Detrick
Rachel Hulin’s ‘Shoot The Blog’
& Redux’s RSS Feed

At current count, I check these blogs and 21 others on a daily basis. Not all of these blogs are updated regularly but several of them, including Matthew Williams’, are well developed because they give you a better idea into the scene the photographer was given and how he executed his coverage. I like being able to see a larger take whenever possible. I think a personal blog can be a remarkably effective tool for a photographer to communicate to an attentive audience. I’m certain I’m not the only editor to regularly check photographers’ blogs, but I think as photographers continue to recognize this as an effective tool of free self-promotion, its popularity will continue to grow.

Certainly in the not too distant future all publications will have .com Photo Editors or the PE will spend much of their time working on the .com side of the photography. With a healthy budget and unlimited pages to publish work how can this not be a great thing for photographers? Why do I keep seeing tiny little photographs on publishers websites?

At Portfolio.com, one of the things we quickly realized was that we could publish additional material that would not have otherwise made the magazine, not due to quality issues but from the finite amount of pages in the magazine delegated to individual features.

Case in point: Photographer Michael Christopher Brown developed a magnificent photo essay for our July 2008 edition on the efforts of Chinese authorities to divert precious water resources from farms and villages in the surrounding provinces to fill the expansive fountains that line the Olympic promenade in Beijing. Portfolio editor Sarah Weissman had an initial edit of 30 images from the more than 250 image submitted by Michael. Through their mutual cooperation, Michael and Sarah consolidated his take into 5 images that were eventually published in our print edition. Recognizing the opportunity to develop a more robust online presentation we added an additional 7 images to our slideshow to expand the depth of the visual coverage associated with the online article. (See it here)

This can be a lesson to editors who are currently wary of their own dot-com’s ability to recognize the expansive opportunity they have to present the work that they and the photographers have labored so hard let see the light of day. Given the limited amount of financial resources (read: free) required to publish a slideshow online I would only envision further publications using their dot-com’s in such a fashion for more robust photographic essays online. Many of them already have.

As for the tiny pictures on our site, I wish there was a more effective way to maximize the exposure of multiple stories with large imagery, but from a basic design aesthetic I find that to be quite difficult on a news site.

However, I do salivate over the photographic presentation of Garden & Gun magazine online. Beautiful!

Plagiarism in 2008

- - copyright

Jody Rosen, a writer at Slate Magazine, was alerted by a reader to a story in a small Texas alternative weekly called the Bulletin where “10 and a half paragraphs copied nearly verbatim from ‘A Pirate Looks at 60,'” were plagiarized from an essay he wrote on Jimmy Buffett.

So, Jody writes a story for slate (here) about the plagiarism and uncovers a writer and possibly publisher who nab stories online and re-appropriate them for their tiny (20,000) unsuspecting audience.

After the story comes out the publisher is inundated with emails and the stories about the plagiarism spread around the blogosphere (here, here, here and here).

The Bulletin ceases publication and the writer issues a statement (here).

Does anyone think they can get away with this shit anymore? Do you really think you can steal someone’s words (pictures and designs too) and not get caught in 2008?

Can Editorial Photographers Make A Living Anymore?

I’ve often wondered? I certainly know plenty of photographers who do make a living in editorial photography and have always assumed there’s a large cliff between them and those who want to make it their profession but I have no clue what kind of money is being made and how many people are making it.

PDN is going help solve that problem with a survey (to find out what editorial photographers earn, how they’re surviving, and what kind of rates they’re getting) editorial photographers can take (here).

The survey comes at an difficult time for editorial photographers because by all indications we’re headed for a pretty bad winter of dropping circ and advertiser belt tightening (here and here) that can only result in fewer assignments and money available for photography. Hopefully we’re not far from the bottom and the industry can rebound like it did after 2000. With more and more photography headed online where the distribution and printing is virtually free it seems like publishers could still manage to pay for original photography so their publication doesn’t start to resemble google.

I think we’ve reached a critical juncture for the editorial photography industry and it’s time to take stock of where we are so we can make changes that will ensure the long term health going forward. The industry used to just take care of itself but I’m not so sure that will be the case in the future.

Heineken Discovers Flickr Isn’t Full Of Free Photography

- - copyright

The incident below can serve as an important warning to corporations that mistakenly think Flickr photographers won’t jump your shit if you infringe upon their copyright. Also, they should keep in mind, the cc license is virtually worthless in protecting you, if you mistakenly believe those photos can be used for free, because it can be revoked at any time (Dan Heller explains here).

One of the photographers who’s work was stolen, Richard Sharman, sent me the following:

A website run by brewing giant Heineken was leeching hundreds, if not thousands of copyright photos through the flickr API and posting them to promote the Oxegen music festival in Ireland.

The website at, www.heinekenmusic.ie was pulled after Heineken Music Ireland started receiving demands for payment from photographers for the unauthorized commercial use of copyright material.

There is active discussion about this at several flickr groups including (here) that was set up specifically to discuss the matter. There are a number of screenshots there of the website and the use of copyright images.

There was a comment on their blog which appears to come from within the company about the problem with the heinekenmusic.ie website:

Normally our player should’ve only display photos with commercial CC license, he’re gone something terribly wrong and we’ve currently disabled the flickr photos module on the player. We’re currently looking into the thread on Flickr and see what we can do for the photographers …
I’m sorry if we’ve offended photographers …

Finally, it appears that Heineken is sending settlement emails to the photographers who contacted them with the following offer: “Accordingly, we would be willing to pay in full and final settlement an amount of €15 per image allegedly used” which might get a few to go away but no those who make a living shooting pictures.

You have been warned.

Chris McPherson stopped by to show his portfolio

- - Portfolio

Someone mentioned to me the other day that Chris McPherson was red hot at the moment, so I thought I’d do what I normally would have done when working at a magazine and called Deborah Schwartz to get his book in for a look. Only this time I shot all the pages and posted them here so you could have a look too.

Editorial book:

See a full frame slideshow (here).

I have to say that is one, well put together book. Excellent pacing, juxtapositions and the whole thing hangs together nicely reenforcing his style and vision.

Advertising tear book:

See a full frame slideshow (here).

A Cluetrain Manifesto For Newspapers

- - The Future

A blog post  written by William Lobdell, an 18 year veteran of the Los Angeles Times entitled “42 Things I Know” should serve as a clue train manifesto for newspaper (cluetrain is here and here).

As a former media insider I know the feeling of “this shit is broke and you clowns have no clue how to fix it” that he’s expressing in his post. I’ll highlight a few of the points I strongly agree with here:

3. … the business model for newspapers is broken.

5. … it can’t be fixed.

7. Technology has run laps around the print media — giving readers instant news, open-source journalism, no barriers to become publishers, and an infinite news hole.

8. The idea that your daily news is collected, written, edited, paginated, printed on dead trees, put in a series of trucks and cars and delivered on your driveway — at least 12 hours stale — is anachronistic in 2008.

11. Newspapers were unbelievably slow in embracing the Internet, even though younger reporters have been pleading with their bosses for years to embrace the Web.

15. Business side of the paper was worse in recognizing the Internet’s potential and its threat to the newspaper business. I once suggested that, since Craig’s List had arrived on the scene, The Times should match that business model and give away most of its classified ads (since we were already losing it already) in exchange for Internet readership and premium ad prices for corporate advertisers (such as employers). The business people laughed.

17. You can’t just transfer a news gathering operation from print to the web. Revenue on the web is fractured (like cable TV) and a news web operation can support far fewer journalists and layers of editors. It requires a different mindset.

24 … We operated as though we had a monopoly on truth and great journalism for far too long. We didn’t listen to our critics and sometimes our readers. That cost us.

33. If I were publisher, I’d have a clear mission statement for The Times’ editorial department (if you ask 100 journalists at The Times about their mission, you’d likely get 100 different answers).

35. I’d get realistic estimation on the size of The Times’ future work force and then make one large cut to get it there (good sources say another 150-200 layoffs are on the horizon). An internet operation can’t support a huge newsgathering operation, and morale would improve if everyone knew no more major layoffs loomed. People can deal with reality; it’s just this surrealistic no-man’s-land that make it impossible to move forward and has good people bailing out.

36. I’d take the very talented journalists I had and develop a SERIES of websites that provided the best information for that beat/subject matter. The Web is all about niches. The Times, for instance, could have the premiere sites for every professional and college sports team in Southern California. It could be THE place to turn to for news on City Hall, Los Angeles Unified School District, and Los Angeles Police Department. Not to mention Southern California environmental issues, LAX and the coast.

42. And this is ultimately why I left The Times. Though the paper has been in business for 125 years, it had become riskier to stay than to go.

Visit the entire list (here).

The people who can take media into the future are sitting right there, on staff at all the major publishing organizations, but they’re slowly leaving, so somebody needs to get off their ass and empower them to help make changes. I asked for a blog at the last two publications where I worked and finally had to just start one on my own.

Oh, and don’t miss Simon Dumenco shredding the LA Times Magazine to pieces in Advertising Age (here).

Simon Barnett, DOP at Newsweek Prepares for the Olympics

Courtesy Daimen Donck/NEWSWEEKWith the Olympics just around the corner I thought I’d check in with Simon Barnett of Newsweek, because he’s hired his very own dream team of photographers (Laforet, Miralle and Powell) to provide coverage of the event.

The Olympics start next week. Are you ready? Can you explain a little bit about how someone prepares to cover an event of this magnitude?

I think we’re ready!…. There’s a tremendous amount of pre-planning involved in this, I’d say more than any other event, period. The fact that so many events are happening at different locations, often at the same times, makes the correct scheduling a pivotal part of how well we’ll do. We’ve been working on it for about a month and are just about done. We’ve gone over and over the schedule trying to predict the big stories while not forgetting the interesting smaller events, and also factoring in that the photographers are, occasionally, entitled to a little sleep.

How did you come up with the dream team of Laforet, Miralle and Powell?

All are ex-Allsport staffers (now gone, an early Getty acquisition), as I was I too. I was Allsport USA’s managing editor in the 90’s and worked closely with Mike Powell, so we go way back. Vince and Donald joined Allsport after I left to be a part of the team that started ESPN the Magazine. Even though I don’t get to do that much sports nowadays with Newsweek, I’ve always kept an interested eye on the sports photography scene, and I know that I have assigned the three best, most original sports photographers available.

Allsport really was an amazing place for photography—at it’s peak it was to sport what Magnum is to photojournalism. There was an incredible hunger at the agency, and often a quite intimidating rivalry amongst the shooters. I remember clearly the harsh ribbing that some of the youngsters would get if they couldn’t follow focus 6 frames of an athlete running at them on a 600mm. They’d all be challenging themselves to shoot difficult pictures, on massive tele-photos, using 50 ASA Velvia in the shade, skillfully timing the peak action at the only possible moment when it froze sufficiently to yield a sharp image at a 1/60th of a second. That era produced the likes of Simon Bruty and Bob Martin, both now at SI, and guys like David Cannon and Clive Brunskill who are still with Getty today. Allsport photographers were always shooting portfolio-type images, trying first to make art, and, in a classic sports sense, driven to beat the hell out of the competition.

For this Olympics, I thought I’d to try and approach it that way again, this time for Newsweek. I have given Mike, Vincent and Donald a dream brief at the biggest event in the world—go make great photographs first, worry less about recording every medal.

With the media revolution that’s underfoot and the ability consumers and professionals have to publish text, photography and video, instantly to a world wide audience, this will certainly be the most published sporting event ever. I know the media is granted special access but you’re still sitting there shooting from same perspective as hundreds of other photographers with the exact same global reach. How do you produce original work in an environment like this?

The Olympics are tough to make look different, and they’ve never been tougher to cover than they are today. Hundred’s of photographers are penned in the same place, all on the same lens, all using the same camera (which begins with C). If you go back pre-autofocus, pre-digital, the best photographers had an easier time of distancing themselves from the pack. But now, with these amazing cameras, much of the technical skill we used to prize in professionals, such as exposure on chrome in changing light, the ability to manually focus, and critical lens choice, has been automated. I’ve told my guys to go author these Games the way they see it, and with that I am hopeful they might be freed to see something unique.

How will you resist the call to publish the images everyone else is publishing and instead present an original point of view?

I should clarify that the plan I lay out here is one that assumes that the Olympics passes as a purely sporting event, and one that does not escalate into an unforeseeable news story, such as was the case in Munich 72, or with a Tanya Harding Olympics. If a big news story overtakes the sports story, we’ll adapt to deliver that. That’s something that I can say we’re pretty used to doing. Statistically speaking, the chances of one of my three photographers being in a better position, and having a better photograph of a news event than the wire services is fairly unlikely. And if that happens, I will surely be looking for the best news picture, wherever it comes from. The Olympics has a habit of producing these bigger-than-sports stories about half of the time, so we are bracing for that eventuality.

So, now that shooting sporting events is no longer technically difficult, is it the job of Photo Editors to ensure the health of the industry, by bringing the next generation of Laforet’s, Miralle’s and Powell’s into the fold?

It is a duty of the photo editing community to mine for the next generation. As I say, technically publishable pictures can now be taken by almost anyone with a 200 dollar point and shoot, so hunting for the people who have a point of view, and can express their unique vision in photographs is more important than ever. It’s now less about how to technically get the image recorded and so much more about the mind behind it.

Tell me a little bit about working on an event of this magnitude from a DoP’s point of view. Lot’s of meetings, last minute adjustments of coverage and a ton of frames to edit?

For us, this is the first time that our focus is overwhelmingly to our web presence, so with that we’ve come up with a new approach to editing. Each of the three photographers will manage their own photo blog, editing and uploading their best images –along with, I hope, some very personal anecdotes about what it’s like to be there experiencing it. I hope this creates a form of photo “Survivor” between them, where they are in a kind of creative competition. Then, I’ll go in to their blogs each day and edit what I deem to be the ‘best of’ which will be up on a showcased Newsweek.com gallery around noon each day. It’s kind of photographic natural selection.

Are you doing anything unique with all the photography you’ve commissioned? Where should people go to see the coverage?

Newsweek.com and our photo blog Visions of China. And we welcome feedback…

ORPHAN WORKS – IMMEDIATE ACTION NEEDED

- - copyright

THIS IS URGENT – YOUR IMMEDIATE ACTION IS NEEDED

UPDATE (here).

The Senate is “hotlining” the Orphan Works Bill at this very minute, which means it could pass within the hour.

PLEASE CALL BOTH OF YOUR SENATORS IMMEDIATELY and ask them to either vote NO or put a hold on the Bill.

S. 2913: Shawn Bentley Orphan Works Act of 2008

Whether you’ve called before, or have never called, this is is the moment, the second where it counts. This cannot wait, you need to call NOW.

This could be your last chance to make a stand for the protection of copyright.

Here is a link providing contact information for Senators/Representatives:

http://www.visi.com/juan/congress/

Thank you,

Constance Evans
APA National Executive Director

Julia Graham
APA|NY Regional Director

A Photo Folio- New Website Design Company For Photographers

- - Websites

I’m happy to announce the launch of my new website design company for photographers:

APhotoFolio.com

It was 6 months ago, when I had assumed that not working in New York meant not working in the photography industry, that I decided to pursue internet related projects, so that I could stay engaged. A Photo Folio joins the blog as the income producing part of what will eventually be many different products and services for photographers and photo editors, some free some not and I promise, not all beginning with an “A.”

I feel blessed and lucky to have met two talented, hard working guys who build websites on the wedding photography side of the business. Erik Dungan and Mike Caston started BigFolio.com in 2004 and have grown it into one of the top destinations for wedding photographers seeking web portfolios. From me, they have endured endless stream-of-consciousness emails, philosophy statements, wouldn’t-it-be-nice missives and all manner of inside magazines jargon and handled it all with aplomb.

We built two designs, a kick ass control panel (so you can go change everything around) and a home site to house and sell it all. The price is fair, the designs are contemporary, clean and built with a clients eye (just show me the pictures and no music please). They display photography beautifully and are easy to navigate. Additionally, I’ve added consulting on the portfolio edit and logo design (with a typography expert) as an important component to building effective websites. If these designs don’t appeal to you now every few months we build a new one, so you can let me know if there’s something you’re really looking for.

Ok, that’s the only sales pitch you’re going to get out of me. I hope some of you who are in the market for a portfolio will consider ours.

How Will Condé Nast Survive?

- - Magazines

Condé Nast will survive the shift of media online because for the most part they produce something that can’t be replicated online.

This is from a story in the NY Times last weekend:

“Condé also consistently sells more ads than its competitors and at higher prices, though some of its magazines make little or no profit. Even so, spending money to make money, and focusing on premium products to attract readers and advertisers, has clearly worked for more than a decade, though its margins are thin compared with those of its competitors. Condé executives say it generates close to $5 billion in revenue, has operating margins of around 10 percent and profits of about half that. Analysts and bankers say that Advance as a whole, which carries no debt, is worth, conservatively, $15 billion.”

Read more (here).

An Important Part of Having a Great Eye is Choosing Subjects

Elisabeth Biondi, visuals editor of the New Yorker magazine on photographer Pieter Hugo’s “The Hyena Men of Nigeria:”

‘Some people have said to me that Pieter’s subject is so dramatic that it would be hard to take a bad picture,’ says Biondi, ‘but, you know, a photographer chooses his subjects, and that, too, is an important part of having a great eye. Photographers go where their instinct leads them and then try and work out their fascination for the subject through the photographs they take. That’s what Pieter’s doing but in a kind of extreme way.’ She pauses for a moment. ‘He has a vision and he pursues it relentlessly. He has what it takes.’

Read it (here), Via, Subjectify.

One of the more underrated skills of great photographers.

Panel on Stock Photography

- - Events

I moderated a panel on stock photography last Sunday and met some very talented young photo editors and learned a few things too. We had Leslie dela Vega the Photo Editor at TIME Magazine, Whitney Lawson, Photo Editor at Travel+Leisure, Michael Wichita, Photo Editor from AARP Bulletin and Ryan Schick the Photo Editor at Conde Nast Portfolio.com.

Here’s what I discovered:

Travel + Leisure, loves film. All their regular contributors shoot film so if you’d like to shoot stories for T+L you’d better go buy a film camera (or fake it somehow). Whitney was careful to point out several times that the deep rich blacks achieved in film are very important to the pictures they run. Additionally what separates a good travel photo from a brochure photo is the amount of information that’s in the frame. A brochure photo will take great pains to show the view and the bed in a hotel room, the flower on the nightstand and all the little details that are all perfect plus it’s lit like the land of a thousand suns, so you can’t tell what time of day it is. That’s four different pictures in a travel story.

Tha AARP Bulletin is different then the magazine, they’re more focussed on the issues and not as lifestyle or a slick as the magazine. Michael said that he never gets enough stories pitched from photographers and they pay good money, so that should be incentive for photographers to send him a pitch or two. He also said finding pictures of seniors with different ethnicities is nearly impossible.

Portfolio.com seems to be headed in the right direction. They have a photo editor, they’re buying stock and assigning stories. Ryan told us about how a photographer who’s work he enjoyed pitched a story on high end bone fishing and was given a 5 day assignment. Also, he showed a few of the recent stock purchases they had made and all felt fresh compared to your usual business metaphors.

Time magazine is an industry icon and heavy user of stock in the front a back of book sections of the magazine. It was interesting to hear Leslie talk about how photos get approved at the magazine. She will meet with her section designer and go over the line-up to see what stories they want to find photography for then she’ll go get a handful of images for each one from which the designer will mock up 4-5 approaches. They then take that to discuss and pick the final selection with the Editor. Also, I asked her about stories that were difficult to find stock for that they always encounter. Major issues facing youths like drugs, pregnancy and drinking we’re always hard to find pictures of because all the underage people depicted and the releases they would need from parents. In fact she recently used craigslist.org to find kids with party photos for an underage drinking story and found the perfect frame where someone was passed out face down and surrounded by beer bottles.

Everyone said they had purchased photos from Flickr or amateur photographers from time to time but they kept their standard usage rates because it was not an issue of finding something cheap just finding an image the stock sites didn’t have. Most are using micro stock for those tiny throwaway shots (worst design trend ever) in the front of the book except Whitney who had no idea what micro stock was. Also, everyone seemed very excited about Photoshelter’s stock offering and I know the feeling because if you’ve searched the big stock houses enough you become very familiar with the limitations of their collections so a new player who’s actively adding imagery and photographers to the system is a very welcome addition.

The Dangers of Oversold Stories

- - Working

Assigning photography to oversold stories is a very painful lesson to learn in this industry. All stories are sold to some extent, because no one is sitting around in a pitch meeting carefully outlining all the reasons why something might not work but some bear the onerous distinction of an idea that only looks good on paper. The subjects who are sold as good looking, young, healthy and fit are actually quite flabby and boring. The conceit the whole thing hangs on was more theory than fact. The Shangri-La like location is criss-crossed with power lines and it rains every single day.

Early in my career, I’d blissfully go about making assignments to match stories without even a peep in the editorial meeting, assuming all the while that the editors fully grasped the difficulties that might be encountered and that they had an inkling what the person, place or thing they just assigned looked like.

Wrong.

I quickly discovered after a series of meetings where crappy pictures were delivered to match the crappy story and I was left holding the bag, that it was my job to investigate the realities of what was being pitched. I unfortunately turned a few photographers I liked into persona non grata as I bumbled along handing out steaming piles of shit, expecting gleaming diamonds in return. A few figured it out or lucked out but many like me got run over by the fertilizer truck and had to take a lump or two to realize what was going on.

I quickly developed a method in meetings of questioning the kind of pictures we might get in return if we made that assignment and challenged the editors to confront this reality: great stories aren’t just words, they need great pictures to go along with them otherwise they’re just plain crap.

Editorial Boot Camp

- - Events

I’m giving a talk at the Photoshelter event this Sunday (Shoot The Day) that I’m calling Editorial Boot Camp (press release here). I ‘m calling it that because I’m gonna teach photographers how to kick down the photo editors door, put the CFO in a sleeper hold and throw concussion grenades into the editors office… metaphorically, of course.

If you’re attending I’ll see you there. If not I’ll tell you all about it when I get back.

There’s No Shortage of Great Photography

- - Getting Hired

There’s so much great photography out there and sure, if the budget and pages are unlimited and you only answer to god then you can go about your merry way picking from the vast variety of photographers but, under a given set of circumstances where you want a specific genre and someone versed in a particular subject matter and then you throw in any number of limitations with budget, pages, location, time frame and then add to the mix the tastes of your editor, creative director, publisher, owner and the reader… well, the group to choose from can become very small. Sometimes there’s only one who fits the bill.

For many photographers it’s about finding that group of photo editors and art buyers who love your work and enjoy working with you and know you’re a perfect match for the assignments they have to make.

Outdoor Sports Photographers

- - Working

UPDATED, Outdoor Sports Photographers List.

Some of these guys have moved on and most can shoot more sports than I’ve listed but all will blow your mind with crazy action or travel photos.

Jackson Hole, WY
Wade McKoy- Skiing
Andrew McGarry- Climbing
Chris Figenshau- Skiing
Greg Von Doersten- Climbing, Skiing
Greg Epstein- Skiing
Jimmy Chin- Climbing
Gabe Rogel- Climbing, Skiing
Jeff Diener- Outdoors
David Stubbs- Outdoors
Jonathan Selkowitz- Outdoors

Cody, WY
Bobby Model- Climbing

Northern, CA
Amy Kumler- Surfing, Travel
Dan Patitucci- Climbing
Bill Stevenson- Skiing
Corey Rich- Climbing
Desre Pickers- Kayak
Christian Pondella- Skiing, Climbing
Jeff Pflueger- Kayak
Chris Burkard- Kayak
Jerry Dodrill- Climbing

San Francisco, CA
Martin Sundberg- Windsurfing
John Dickey- Climbing
Val Atkinson- Fly Fishing
Rod McLean- Outdoors

Southern, CA
Steve Casimiro- Skiing, Adventure
Kevin Zacher- Snowboarding
Embry Rucker- Snowboarding
Danny Zapalac- Snowboarding
Art Brewer- Surfing
Jim Russi- Surfing
Tom Servais- Surfing
Robert Brown- Surfing
David Troyer- Surfing
J. Grant Brittain- Skateboard
Scott Soens- Surfing
Jack English- Surfing
C&J Turner Forte- Travel
Tom Carey- Surfing
Chris Straley- Surfing
Mike O’Meally- Skateboard
Scott Pommier- Skateboard
Jon Humphries- Skateboard
Atiba Jefferson- Skateboard

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