Cory Doctorow of Boing Boing fame has a story in the Guardian (here) yesterday about distinguishing between cultural and commercial uses of copyrighted material. He makes a good case for creating an exception in the law for low end cultural use of copyrighted material, stuff that goes on everyday that’s tolerated by everyone because there’s really no benefit to going after violators. Of course, this would never be a problem if we didn’t have the internet to distribute all this material to millions of people.
Through most of copyright’s history, we had two de facto systems: industrial regulation (governing what big companies did with each others’ stuff) and folk-copyright (the rules of thumb that most of us understood to be true).
[...] We need to stop shoe-horning cultural use into the little carve-outs in copyright, such as fair dealing and fair use. Instead we need to establish a new copyright regime that reflects the age-old normative consensus about what’s fair and what isn’t at the small-scale, hand-to-hand end of copying, display, performance and adaptation.
This makes sense to me for a couple very important reasons. Your average citizen doesn’t understand or care about copyright and when an overhaul comes in the form of either a vote or some type of legislation we’re going to have a hard time convincing people that they shouldn’t do what they’ve always done. Also, giving up low end fan violations will prevent the erosion of fair use and keep other less desirable uses from getting in that door.
It’s worth noting, then, that early in the history of photography a series of judicial decisions could well have changed the course of that art: courts were asked whether the photographer, amateur or professional, required permission before he could capture and print an image. Was the photographer stealing from the person or building whose photograph he shot, pirating something of private and certifiable value? Those early decisions went in favor of the pirates. Just as Walt Disney could take inspiration from Buster Keaton’s Steamboat Bill, Jr., the Brothers Grimm, or the existence of real mice, the photographer should be free to capture an image without compensating the source. The world that meets our eye through the lens of a camera was judged to be, with minor exceptions, a sort of public commons, where a cat may look at a king.
[...] A time is marked not so much by ideas that are argued about as by ideas that are taken for granted. The character of an era hangs upon what needs no defense. In this regard, few of us question the contemporary construction of copyright. It is taken as a law, both in the sense of a universally recognizable moral absolute, like the law against murder, and as naturally inherent in our world, like the law of gravity. In fact, it is neither. Rather, copyright is an ongoing social negotiation, tenuously forged, endlessly revised, and imperfect in its every incarnation.
The bottom line here is that it’s not going to be long before we see either legislation or a court ruling and photographers need to do whatever they can to achieve the best possible outcome.
So, the other day I cranked through 145 websites in about 3 hours for the consultation demo and then I had a conversation with a magazine art director friend about how we look at photographers websites in obviously different ways (design vs. photo) and I realized something: Design and layout has a powerful effect on me. Right off the bat, before I even look at the first picture, the design is working on my brain.
So, here’s the nut, I’ve looked at tens-of-thousands of websites and it’s very apparent that certain photographers (of a similar feather) hang together. If you’ve got a Travel & Leisure design happening like so many of the photographers that T&L assigns then I’m already putting you into that category. Take it one step further, if I’m the Photography Director at T&L I’m used to seeing photography surrounded by a specific type of design so if the photographs you present me already look like they belong in my magazine… voila, one hurdle down 99 to go.
Either that or the Arizona sun has completely baked my brain. Either way it’s all good.
Update: This Qtrax announcement appears to be a hoax (here).
… are photos next? TechCrunch is reporting on a new free and legal P2P downloading service (here) with 25 million songs (itunes has 6 million). It’s called Qtrax and they’ve signed all 4 of the major music labels to somehow allow free music sharing in exchange for advertising (They missed their intended launch time of midnight last night so there may be problems with the labels).
A quick read through the comments and it looks like there will be ads playing before or after the music… not unlike how radio works. Will the same eventually happen to photography where photos download with ads loaded around them just like in newspapers and magazines?
I know Mochila, Jamd (Getty), Britepic, PicApp, and others are experimenting with this idea but I’m almost certain it benefits the advertisers, distributors and not the content creators so that will certainly limit the quality of material available.
I’ve got no problem looking at ads or paying a fee to receive content but I refuse to believe that the future of content distribution will be the same as it is now with middlemen controlling everything and consumers paying them for access. Why wouldn’t the more efficient model where content creators reach the consumers directly become the eventual solution?
Thanks to all the voters and no thanks to my lousy server for timing out many times during the crush. It certainly was informative and entertaining for me to watch the lobbying; a few of the participants harnessed the power of social networking, a few posted notices on their blogs and a few sent out emails soliciting votes.
I’m excited for the consultation because I think Clay’s work is strong but I’m confident that Leslie can make it more appealing to buyers and I think we will all gain valuable insight into the process and glean a few tips off the improvements.
I’m open to ideas about what to do with the other participants and I liked Robert’s suggestion in the comments that collectively we could give some pretty good advice. I wouldn’t mind making that a weekly feature and open it up to more readers, only with more of a random selection process instead.
Next week I’ll post the consultation.
Poll Closed, Thanks for voting.
I spent 3 hours ripping through and narrowing down the websites submitted for the photo consultation demo (read about it here) but instead of just picking a winner I decided to put it to a vote. As unscientific and ugly as a photographer popularity contest probably sounds to everyone it’s no better than me just choosing one from the 16 finalists (plus, I’m on a mission to test every blog add-on feature I can find).
This is a very strong group of photographers which in my mind will make the consultation even better for everyone. The advice given will be at a fairly high level so everyone from beginning to emerging photographers can get a little something out of it.
In an ideal world people would vote for photographers that have as much in common with their own style as possible so they can learn more, but this is the internet so let the popularity contest begin:
David Degner- Reportage, Photojournalism
Clay Stang- Commercial, Staged
Brady Fontenot- Environmental Portraits, Hip
Nick Onken- Lifestyle
Jose Mandojana- Environmental Portraits, Athletes
Robert Wright- Environmental Portraits, Modern Urban
Jeff Singer- Environmental and Studio Portraits
Noah Kalina- Hip and Cool, Surreal
Melissa Catanese- Modern Landscape, Fine Art
Kathy Quirk-Syvertsen- Lifestyle, Kids
Andrew Pinkham- Conceptual, Illustration
Jennifer Loeber- Environmental Portraits, Americana, Fine Art
Dustin Fenstermacher- Quirk, Modern Americana
Lisa Wyatt- Environmental Portrait, Lifestyle, Kids
William Brinson- Food, Travel, Still-Life
Whit Richardson- Adventure, Action
Any freelance photo editors or people looking to find freelancers here’s your resource. I’ve used them many times and you’d be astonished at the high level of talent they have on their mailing list. Over 400 freelancers.
Note: This service is for Photo Editors to find Freelance Photo Editors and researchers. Sorry if there’s any confusion Photographers.
Picture Jobs Network
Michael Lewis has been on my list of photographers for a long time (He must be on everyone’s list because I see his credit all over the place). Click on the list to see proof.
He’s hard working, low maintenance, subjects enjoy him and he has a distinct style I can rely on. I posed 5 question I thought you might like to hear the answer to:
1. I really enjoy the email promos you send out from recent photoshoots that show you in the scene you’ve just shot sometimes standing next to celebrities. How did you get started with that and what has the response been?
It started as a way of collecting an ‘autograph’ from the celebrity shoots I did. Instead of a signature, or a picture of me simply standing next to who I was photographing; I decided it would be fun if I incorporated myself into the shot which I had composed. Soon, I wanted a souvenir from all the places I found myself, and all the people I was meeting in my shoots; so every shoot became fair game.
The reaction has been terrific! People seem to dig it. It has provided me a way to give my friends (both in, and out of the business) a chuckle, while keeping everyone up-to-date on my photo-excursions.
2. I’m sure it wasn’t a “eureka” moment but can you describe the chain of events lead to you becoming a top editorial photographer?
Dad bought a Nikon camera while in Vietnam (while my mom was pregnant with me) >
I was always into ‘arts and crafts’ >
Started college >
Parents sat me down; asked me some big ‘life’ questions >
Transferred to art school :>
Dad gave me that old nikon >
Found photography came very naturally to me >
Assisted in Philadelphia >
Grad school (MFA) >
Was selected to be in a book ’25 and Under’ >
Doors opened >
I kept my foot lodged so that those doors didn’t close >
Always treated every shoot as if it was the most important photograph I was ever to take.
3. In my mind you have a very unique style of photography so, your name is on the top of my list of environmental portraitists who can make pictures with a lot of depth and a bit of humor in them. How did you arrive at this style?
Coming from a fine art background; my interests were in what a picture suggests and the tone that they convey. I studied photography as a means of personal expression; and less as a way of documenting. With an interest in narrative film and mise-en-scene,I didn’t see photography from the journalistic philosophy. Instead, I felt it was tool to construct and suggest reality; rather than a commitment to capture it. When I began being commissioned to photograph people whom I had never met; I always handled my subjects as equals. I photograph celebrities, ‘real’ people, and myself all with the same eye.
4. Are there any career choices you that you either regret or turned out to be the best decision you ever made?
I still wonder if leaving LA (where i got started commercially) and moving to New York City helped, or hindered, my career.
5. If you were an insect what kind would you be and why?
A king bee.
it’s good to be king.
Here’s a Recent Promo.
These are from his Website.
I have always been in awe of Nadav Kander. Repped by Bill Stockland at Stockland-Martel, Kander was always a name that crept-up when you wanted to take a subject everyone was familiar with and make an unexpected picture: “If I see another picture of Tom Cruise with tousled hair, white shirt and a megawatt grin I will stab my eyes out with a pica pole, effing hell, someone call Kandar”—if you actually got Nadav past the publicist of an A-List celebrity I would give you gold in the Photo Editor Olympics.
It all started for me with the book entitled, Beauty’s Nothing (read about it here) where his photographic style was so distinct and arresting I figured I had to try and land him for an assignment. After the book he continued to surprise me with his creative directional use of gels (normally I can’t stand gels) and dark, moody, unsettled portraiture and landscapes for which he is now known.
After many attempts to try and land him I finally did to shoot an athlete portfolio in London that combined lots of creativity and plenty of room to run the results in the magazine. When the assignments unexpectedly turned into a cover and time with the subject plus space in the magazine suddenly shrunk I knew I had lost my opportunity and needed to change to a more conventional photographer. The last thing I wanted was a shoot with Nadav loaded with art direction intended to strip away his distinct style (“can you make it bright and tack sharp focus?”) and no pages to run any photos.
So, I walked away.
I don’t want to hire a great photographer and then hack the shit out of their work in the magazine… at least not on the first encounter.
Oh boy, a debate over copyright and fair use in the NY Times bits blog (here) between Rick Cotton, the general counsel at NBC and Tim Wu, a professor at Columbia Law School.
RC: Fair use in the digital age is the same as fair use in the non-digital age. The fact that digital tools make it easier to use other people’s work doesn’t affect the analysis of whether that use is fair. Generally speaking, if you are making fun of, criticizing or commenting on a work (and not just reproducing or copying it), courts have found that you can use the work only to the degree necessary to make your point about that work.
[...] fair use is not a “right,” a misconception and misstatement frequently made these days. Rather it is an exception to the copyright owners’ exclusive rights to determine how their expression is used in new works.
TW: …it is time to recognize a simpler principle for fair use: work that adds to the value of the original, as opposed to substituting for the original, is fair use.
[...] We must never forget that copyright is about authorship; and secondary authors, while never as famous as the original authors, deserve some respect.
Here’s what I think, all these people, who wish for copyright reform, so they can practice their “art” will be begging for forgiveness when all the corporations get tired of trying to protect the works they paid to create and instead decide to step into the online world and stomp the living shit out of everyone by employing thousands of salaried creative people to repurpose every uncopyrighted piece of material into some entirely forgettable eyeball splitting video.
It’s beyond my comprehension why people wouldn’t want original material they created protected under copyright law. Maybe readers can show me a reuse of someone’s work that adds value to this planet?
So, I’m curious how photography consultation works. I’m always giving my opinion and advice to photographers and I’d like to hear how a professional consultant handles similar situations. I’ll bet some of you would like to hear that too.
I asked Leslie Burns-Dell’Acqua who runs a business called “Burns Auto Part” which is actually photo consultation not car repair (whatever, is there a difference?) to join me in a live consultation with a photographer. It’s not actually going to be “live” because that would be like watching one of those photo shoot videos… only while covered in fire ants. I’m going to reprint an edited version of the IM chat we have with the photographer selected to receive the free consultation. This will take place on the 30th.
If you’re interested leave your website in the comments. If there’s a huge group of people I’ll pick a few candidates and we can all vote to see who gets it and then I can see if other consultants will work with me on the runners-up at a later date.
Comments closed. Thanks to all those who volunteered.
A reader asks if it’s better to approach the Associate or Deputy Photo Editors for a book showing or for sending promos because the Director is usually too busy.
I’d say targeting the photo editors under the Director is an excellent plan of action.
I’ve always encouraged all the photo editors in the department to look at as many books as possible to develop their eye for photography so they can experience the process of discovering new talent and then hiring them for a shoot.
In many cases it was easier for me to drop in on a portfolio showing; to look at the book, grab a promo, shake the hand and get out. That’s how I saw a lot of books and photographers I normally wouldn’t have time for with all the stupid meetings I went to everyday.
Eventually, I would get lobbied by the other photo editors to hire photographers they discovered and liked and we always ended up pulling the trigger on a few to see how their discoveries worked out.
And, don’t forget the Creative Director in your promo mailings. Many times they came into my office with the promo of a photographer they were interested in—just don’t leave me out of the loop. I always like to already know who they’re talking about when they bring those in so I look like I know what the hell I’m doing “ah, yes Irving Penn and I go waaay back, I’ll IM him.”
This photo story called “Surface Tension” (see it here) by Nick Cobbing submitted on Photo Rank (here) is the kind of thing that absolutely sings off the monitor. It doesn’t hurt that Nick has the perfect interface on his website for viewing a photo story (intuitive, simple and the controls disappear off the screen or hide in the corners). I can look at photos like this all day on my computer. Way to go Nick.
This list is updated and can be found here:
Thoughts of a Bohemian, first pointed out to me by Kim Taylor of 180mag.ca in the comments of a post, is written by Paul Melcher a stock industry veteran who happens to also be a bohemian, which I dig. He speaks my language as well. Here’s a good example on a post entitled “A Whale of a Story.”
It is everyone’s understanding that the price of photography will continue to dip down. How soon and how fast, it is anyone’s guess. It would absolutely not surprise me if someone like Getty would take a deep plunge into bottom cheap imagery in order to get rid of any competition and clean the landscape, a bit like a whale plunges deep below to get rid of parasite fish, only to return to a new, stronger marketplace. Everyone knows that there is too much photography available, both in stock and editorial. It is time to force the medium and lesser photographers and agencies into a rapid bankruptcy in order to sanitize the offering.
Let me step back and explain: The market, currently, offers the false impression that anyone can make money in the photography field. Since it has become easy and cheap to enter, everyone and his brother is now either a photographer or a stock agent. Since there is no tangible market research on the size of our industry, $2 billion, $5 billion, $3000 billion, it is anyone guess on what the payout will be. If someone paid attention, I am sure that we would see that there has been more stock agencies of all type launched in the last five years then at anytime in its brief history. And it is only growing exponentially. More agencies, more photographers, more photographers, less relevant images. It seems that there is money to be made because of Microstocks and Flickr’s successes. And as much is there might be an increase in the number of images used in one year, there has not been an increase of revenue generated by this spike. It has been almost cancelled by the fall in pricing and Getty has been a witness to that.
The only way to really profit from that growth would be to get rid of the overflow of images. And the best way is to force as many people out of the market as possible, as quickly as possible.
A quick hit off the bottom could be exactly whats needed in this industry but I guess that depends on if you’re a whale or a parasite.
The other blog I’m checking out is called “The Business of Photography” and I discovered it over on Photo Rank (here) submitted by the author Ed McCulloch hisself. It’s sort of a “What They Don’t Teach You at Harvard Business School” for the photo school kids and seems to be born out of the frustration of an education that doesn’t teach business to photographers (ridiculous).
Anyway, there’s plenty of advice for photographers floating around but I always like it when I see someone with talent giving it out. Ed is a name I’ve been familiar with for sometime because he knows how to market himself and he’s a good photographer, definitely someone worth listening to.
Pairing a photographer with a famous writer can be difficult, but in the end, an extremely rewarding experience. The “famous writers” are usually handled with kid gloves by the editors–“Sebastian’s not interested in going to Iraq for us but he pitched me something even better, about his grandmothers toenail clipping collection, she ferments it into whiskey,” “Ohhhhh, can he write it for this issue?” “I think thats our cover story,” “Goddam he’s good, this could win us an ASME.”–so, you have to be very careful negotiating this potential minefield. A report from the field or even after the assignment is over about the shit-head photographer you sent along will cause you much distress and it’s virtually impossible to defend against. What are you going to say, “Sebastian’s an asshole” because that gets you nowhere or even worse a reaction like “yeah but he’s very valuable to us so we can’t afford to have your photographer screw-up our relationship with him.”
This is where getting to know photographers on a personal level, comes in handy. Knowing a few photographers who are talented and easy going is exactly what you need in a situation like this. Whoa, hold on buddy… I know everyone aims to please so nobody is going to cop to being a difficult photographer but the problem, when it comes to writers is, in many cases, they’re working against you. They always interview the subject for longer than they should, leaving little time for the portraits, or they head off on some effing “wild goose chase” sucking up valuable photography time looking for additional material that may or may not materialize. It’s not as easy as you may think to be a nice guy and demand equal time with the subject or, egads more time than the writer.
Some of the more famous writers will have certain photographers they only work with and when you’re famous you pretty much get to dictate the terms of the assignment so why not demand who the photographer will be. Side-note: Many times the not-so-famous writers email over a list of photographers that is passed along from the editor with some sort of preamble about how they know this isn’t any of their business but here’s a list of photographers I like… just in case you we’re named Director of Photography by mistake.
In the end, when you make a great pairing and the photography that comes back from the assignment is amazing and then eventually you see the two of them shooting assignments for other magazines, for a moment, it feels like something you did lasts more than a month and that, is an incredibly rewarding feeling.
I have a feeling I will end 2008 with the same headline on 52 posts. Well, I don’t give a crap. We can stand around and whine as all the little bitches who have nothing worth copyrighting tell everyone who’s listening that the law is outdated and oppressive or we can go out and defend it.
First off, I like where Dan Heller is headed in his post Gaming the Creative Commons for Profit. Dan’s attitude in general, with copyright violation is, you can pay the licensing fee or you can steal it and I’ll collect a fee in court and I don’t really care either way. Badass. He furthers this idea in his Creative Commons post by broadcasting the fact that if you register your images with the copyright office, load them into flickr with a CC license, wait for people to pick them off and suddenly revoke the license you can collect a windfall of easily enforcible copyright violations.
It’s sort of a reverse psychology for all the numb nutz out there. Publicly declare how much money you can make off people misusing the CC license and you will eventually scare everyone away from even trying. He’s got a huge audience so I don’t doubt this idea has legs.
Next, is a story Cameron Davidson pointed me to in the Washington Post yesterday entitled “Hey Isn’t That…” where Monica Hesse investigates corporations stealing photography off the web . The irony of the whole deal is how these companies vigorously defend and display their copyright but then occasionally steal from unsuspecting photographers online and when caught blaming the whole mess on an intern or photo assistant (yeah, tell me about those goddam photo assistants buddy; ).
Good ole L.L. defends the amateur?:
Says Lawrence Lessig, the Stanford legal scholar who created Creative Commons, when asked about the issue of corporations borrowing photos: “There’s really no excuse for [these companies] except that they think it’s not important to protect the rights of the amateur.”
Whoa, looks like double L wanted the CC to still protect authors rights. Don’t think you can have it both ways buddy.
This might take awhile to shake out but for now I think it’s important for people who have something worth copyrighting to voice their opinion wherever they can.