Workbook Photography Portfolios now feature different specialities

Posted by | Filed under From Greg's Desk | May 11, 2011 | No Comments

I checked workbook yesterday to see how photographers are presenting themselves these days, and as I began looking at what photographers are putting up there, I began to notice some really diverse portfolios of work. I’m talking Automotive mixed with Portraits, and Fashion mixed with Food.

I know I’ve moved in this direction, but I was surprised to see a while bunch of photographers diversifying. I can’t say I’m amazed at this change, but I didn’t think we’d see a mass movement in this direction.

Major Companies get students to shoot for 50% to 90% less than pros!

Posted by | Filed under From Greg's Desk | Apr 14, 2011 | 18 Comments

As the downward price pressure on fees and usage continues in the professional photography industry, companies are looking for great imagery at a fraction of the cost a pro photographer and a professional shoot would cost them.

So the marketing folks at some companies are looking at student websites, and contacting talented students to license their images at a fraction of the cost they would pay Getty or a professional photographer.

They are also asking students to shoot jobs for them. Students then use the gear and sometimes the studio space at their schools, and I’d be willing to bet that they aren’t billing the client for gear or the studio. If they are billing them, that is fascinating as well because while they’ve paid tuition to use the gear and studio, they are making money off of a schools space and gear.

What about liability? If a student is shooting a job on school property for a major client, who is liable if someone gets hurt? I’d put money on the fact that students don’t purchase liability insurance.

The imagery that students shoot  can be very creative and just as good or in some cases better than what some pros would offer but it’s clear that commercial clients are looking for deals and getting them when students shoot for them. The shoots cost them a fraction of what they would pay for a professional production and if the shoot doesn’t go well, they don’t loose much.

I’m curious to know what others think about this issue.

Can Photographers legally post images on websites without model releases?

Posted by | Filed under From Greg's Desk | Mar 29, 2011 | 1 Comment

This question just in from a young photographer:

Can Photographers legally post images on websites without model releases?

(Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer, but this is the best info I have based on my reading and consultation with legal folks!)

A website about your work advertises you, as a photographer. So this is a commercial use. So the answer is, YES, you need a model release to protect yourself from legal action. However, do you think anyone will sue you that you photographed? I would guess that some photographers are gambling on this point and are posting images to websites without model releases. Also, the biggest risk is that someone will steal your image from your website and use it to advertising something somewhere. What would you tell a model then if they appeared in a Pepsi Ad in Singapore? Most likely the model would sue the company because the company has lots of money. (People only sue when they can get money from someone.) Broke artists rarely get sued in civil court because they have no money. So if you are poor and plan to stay poor, you can probably post images without worry of being sued. Richard Prince recently lost a law suit and said just this… that people care about what he does because he is well known and has money.

Fine Art Photographers who post work on a website should note that the U.S. Courts seem to lean toward photographers being allowed to photograph anyone in public without a model release. See, the Philip Lorca diCorcia’s case, where he photographed a man on the street and sold fine art prints of the man. Here is a little excerpt from Wikipedia on the case:

In 2006, a New York trial court issued a ruling in a case involving one of his photographs. One of diCorcia’s New York random subjects was Ermo Nussenzweig, an Orthodox Jew who objected on religious grounds to diCorcia’s publishing in an artistic exhibition a photograph taken of him without his permission. The photo’s subject argued that his privacy and religious rights had been violated by both the taking and publishing of the photograph of him. The judge dismissed the lawsuit, finding that the photograph taken of Nussenzweig on a street is art – not commerce – and therefore is protected by the First Amendment.[7]

Manhattan state Supreme Court Justice Judith J. Gische ruled that the photo of Nussenzweig—a head shot showing him sporting a scraggly white beard, a black hat and a black coat was art, even though the photographer sold 10 prints of it at $20,000 to $30,000 each. The judge ruled that New York courts have “recognized that art can be sold, at least in limited editions, and still retain its artistic character (…) [F]irst [A]mendment protection of art is not limited to only starving artists. A profit motive in itself does not necessarily compel a conclusion that art has been used for trade purposes.”[8]

The case was appealed and dismissed on procedural grounds.

However, I would again, point you to the fact that anyone in the world has access to your image(s) after they are online. Anyone can steal them and use them without your permission. So post at your own risk!

New Getty Images Contributor Agreement, April 1, 2011

Posted by | Filed under From Greg's Desk | Feb 28, 2011 | 2 Comments

I just got an e mail that said there is a new Getty Images Contributor Agreement that will be sent out soon. There are no other details.

Does anyone have the inside scoop?


NYC Rental House Owner: “Rental of Strobes has been going down the last two years. Lighting for Video has been going up.”

Posted by | Filed under From Greg's Desk | Feb 28, 2011 | No Comments

This past weekend I sat down to dinner with an independent lighting/camera/digi-tech rental house owner in New York. A few years back, he bought a video lighting company. He basically said:

* Strobe Lighting rental has been down and trending downward over the last 3 years

* Rental of hot lights and all things video has been going up

* If the question was asked, “Who are the top 5 photo shooters who are working a lot?” He can’t name them.  In other words, there is a sense that some people are working, but not that anyone is tearing it up right now.

* Many photographers he knows are taking the photo jobs they can get and expanding to video.

* There is a downward pressure on video pricing by, you guessed it, photographers entering the video market.

The big question is: if the economy recovers, will companies spend again on photo shoots?

Singapore photographer shoots variety and works a lot!

Posted by | Filed under From Greg's Desk | Feb 25, 2011 | No Comments

In a recent interview with one of my students, Singapore based Australian photographer Rory Daniel says he is busy with advertising and corporate jobs. He specializes in Food Photography but also shoots architecture, interiors, portraits and travel.

He says that he doesn’t do any marketing! That the jobs find him. I did a google search for Singapore Commercial Photographer and he turned up 4th on the list. He says the competition is very low, and that photo/art grads are not everywhere like they are in the US and Europe.

#1 in a google search= 34% more business than being #2!!!

Posted by | Filed under From Greg's Desk | Feb 23, 2011 | No Comments

As photographers moan about the decline of business, one sure way for photographers in some markets to stay busy and keep clients e mailing and calling is to be 1st in a Google search. Search, “Key West, Wedding Photographer” or Commercial Photographer, Jacksonville, FL,” and whomever comes up first is going to be a heck of a lot busier than the photographer at the bottom of the page.

In a recent NY Times article, “The Dirty Little Secrets of Search,” informs readers that J.C. Penney saw a huge surge in online sales last holiday season by being first in many, many retail sales category Google searches (how they gamed the system and got there is also a part of the article.) According to the article:

Search experts, however, say Penney likely reaped substantial rewards from the paid links. How valuable was that? A study last May by Daniel Ruby of Chitika, an online advertising network of 100,000 sites, found that, on average, 34 percent of Google’s traffic went to the No. 1 result, about twice the percentage that went to No. 2.

Wow! That’s quite an uptick in business. From a marketing standpoint, can you imagine if 34% of Art Buyers looked at your websites when you sent them a promo! That would be AMAZING!

RIP Heather Morton’s Art Buyer Blog

Posted by | Filed under From Greg's Desk | Feb 23, 2011 | 1 Comment

RIP: Heather Morton Art Buyer Blog:

Born February 29,2008 to October 27, 2010

Thanks for the good words Heather!

Where are you Leslie Burns? Oh, right, your finishing law school:

According to a photo editor: “Getty’s search engine is head & shoulders above their competition”

Posted by | Filed under From Greg's Desk | Feb 19, 2011 | 1 Comment

According to a photo editor with 20 years experience currently at a major publishing conglomerate, Getty Images doesn’t always have the best pictures, but they have the best website and that is why they succeed in this business.

“About 3/4 of my job is doing photo research on stock agency sites.  After doing that for nearly 4 months, I can honestly say, although Getty does not necessarily have the best pictures or even the best variety but Getty’s search engine is head & shoulders above their competition.  If Getty actually has a picture of the type you’re looking for, chances are good you may actually find it – which is not the case at Corbis or Masterfile (and Corbis is much worse than Masterfile on that score – and Corbis is twice as expensive for me to use RM than from anywhere else!).  The smaller agents and the sort of alternative network-agents like IPN and PixPalace – I don’t even usually bother looking through them because the sites crash frequently, or their search engines are completely not user-friendly.  THAT is a shame, because those networks are the only real hope of the stock biz re-decentralizing away from Getty and back closer into photographers’ control.   I swear, some of the small agents, it’s as if they just discovered the web a year ago, and their sites are so dysfunctional, I can’t imagine how they do any meaningful business.

Another big thing I’ve learned is how surprisingly lame so much stock photography is: it’s both trying too hard and missing the point – especially for targeting higher-end uses like what I’m doing. All the esoteric, conceptual, clever, stylized work Getty used to produce just seems like, from where I’m sitting now, vanity projects.  End-users who want that quality and/or style of photography are much more likely to shoot it themselves – because the amount of control those end-users want is just unbelievable, and also because it’s nearly impossible to find the needle-in-the-haystack, gem images on the big stock sites.    Maybe a few of those images might sell a couple times, but if you’re going to spend money on a stock shoot, you’d get way more bang for your buck _and_ make more beautiful images if you just calm down and show positive-real life situations in candid, authentic but aspirational ways.  It is really, really surprising how little of this is actually out there, even after the mid-2000′s Getty creative department yammered on and on about “authenticity” for about 5 years.  The work of conceptual and humor photographers, while very cool and interesting, would have made twice as much money and had twice as long a shelf life if those photographers had shot this candid stuff along with the conceptual, dry-humor stuff.  And all those beautiful shoots Getty spent money on all over the world – it’s so much money left on the table because they didn’t force photographers to get out of their comfort zones.   And even the lower-end shoots–that still clog up the web sites–could so easily have been 1,000 times better with 5 minutes spent on styling details, telling models to just be themselves at least some of the time, and then an editor not limiting the selection to exclude options that the end-users want, and, finally, key-wording thoroughly enough and accurately enough so that the end-user can actually find it.”

Some creative companies skirt labor law

Posted by | Filed under From Greg's Desk | Feb 17, 2011 | No Comments

A recent e mail from a former student reveals that he is working 10 hour days for a creative company in New York City as their “Social Media Director” and Photographer. However, when it comes to getting paid, he is asked to invoice them, and put “Social Media Consultant” on the invoice.

The former student has added up the hours he works and is getting paid less than minimum wage. They are asked to work regular hours and be at the office at a specific time and do multiple tasks. He is listed on the “Team” page of the company with a photo and job description.

Clearly, he is an employee.

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