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November 18th, 2014

My Adidas: Company Printing Customer Photos on Sneakers

Left: a screen shot of the #miZXFLUX app image adjustment screen. Right: the preview screen of the #miZXFLUX app.

Our special edition PDN Tulipmania sneakers. Left: A screen shot of the #miZXFLUX app image adjustment screen. Right: The preview screen of the #miZXFLUX app.

Earlier this month, athletic and lifestyle apparel company adidas launched an app, #miZXFLUX, that allows customers to use their own photographs to create unique sneakers.

Customers can use the app to scale and size their images on a pair ZX Flux sneakers, which are modeled on the ZX 8000 running shoes adidas originally released in 1988. The photo-printed shoes cost $110, and the app is available for Apple and Android devices.

An adidas representative told Sports Illustrated about the materials and printing process. The images customers upload from their phones are upscaled and sharpened from the 115dpi minimum resolution before they are printed. “We actually improve the photo from the phone and final production is 300 dpi printing quality,” adidas global digital manager Mac Russell told SI.com.

Adidas’s Vietnam factory uses “a large wool printer” to ink the photographs onto single pieces of synthetic leather for the shoe’s upper, Russell added.

It will be interesting to see if any professional photographers take advantage of the technology. In addition to creating shoes with great images, enterprising photographers might come up with good marketing and promo efforts. Feel free to email us if you need our shoe sizes.

November 14th, 2014

New Book Explores the Rich and Wacky History of Toy and Novelty Cameras

 

The Charlie Tuna camera,  manufactured in 1971.

The Charlie Tuna camera, manufactured in 1971, could be had for three StarKist tuna labels and $4.95. Photo by J.K. Putnam.

Early in his career, renowned fine-art photographer Stephen Shore made a project using a Mick-a-Matic, a snapshot camera shaped like the head of Mickey Mouse. True story.

It’s funny to imagine one of America’s foremost photographers out in the world making art with a Mickey Mouse head hanging from his neck. But many artists have used toy and novelty cameras. For Shore, the Mick-a-Matic allowed him to explore snapshot photography as a concept and phenomenon at a time when photography as an art form was formal and almost exclusively shot in black-and-white.

Other artists are drawn to the unpredictability of toy and plastic cameras. Photographers “love these toys, they love the authenticity of the unexpected,” says Buzz Poole, co-author of Camera Crazy, a new book that recalls the history of mass-market cameras, from the Eastman Kodak Brownie Camera, released in 1900, up through present day toy cameras. The book is a delightful look at the fascinating and, at times, ridiculous forms cameras have taken. In addition to popular and well-known cameras from Diana, Holga and Lomography, there is a Fred Flintstone camera, soda and beer can cameras, a Charlie the Tuna camera, a Looney Tunes camera that talks, and a spy camera shaped like a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups package. “That is just a weird product,” Poole laughs. “[The manual] tells you how to trick people into stopping so you can get a clear picture of them without them knowing.” (more…)

November 14th, 2014

Nicoló Degiorgis Wins $10k Paris Photo-Aperture First PhotoBook Award

Nicoló Degiorgis received the First PhotoBook prize from the Paris Photo-Aperture Foundation PhotoBook Awards, the Aperture Foundation announced today. The award, which is given for an outstanding first monograph, comes with a $10,000 prize. Degiorgis’s first book, Hidden Islam (Rorhof, 2014), depicts semi-permanent and makeshift Muslim places of worship in Italy and elsewhere in Europe.

The book is made entirely of gatefold pages. Black and white depictions of unassuming buildings like garages, shops and warehouses open to reveal color images of the interiors of these places of worship.

In other prize categories, Christopher Williams won Photography Catalogue of the Year honors for his exhibition catalogues Christopher Williams: The Production Line of Happiness and Christopher Williams: Printed in Germany (Art Institute of Chicago, 2014).

PhotoBook of the Year went to Oliver Sieber for his book Imaginary Club (Editions GwinZegal and BöhnKobayashi, 2014), an assemblage of years of work depicting the places and people that define various music subcultures.

Vytautas V. Stanionis received a special mention for his book Photographs for Documents (Kaunas Photography Gallery). To create the book, Stanionis printed photographs from negatives his father shot as passport photos for residents in a small Lithuanian town who were applying for Soviet passports.

Judges for the awards were Alkazi Foundation for the Arts curator Rahaab Allana; MoMA chief photography curator Quentin Bajac; designer and director Cléo Charuet; curator Sebastian Hau; and gallerist and publisher Pierre Hourquet.

Via Aperture.

November 12th, 2014

Forest Service Chief Says Journalists Don’t Need Permits to Photograph in National Forests

When the United States Forest Service released a vaguely worded directive that suggested journalists would have to pay up to $1500 for a permit to photograph or film in national forests, photographers and first amendment activists were alarmed. The controversial directive, issued as a draft in September, was first reported by The Oregonian newspaper.

Following the outcry, U.S. Forest Service Chief Thomas Tidwell has clarified the USFS’s position with regard to photography and film for journalistic purposes, rather than commercial use. In a letter written to Forest Service officials, sent on November 4, he said the clarification was needed because “considerable response” from the public “raised significant concerns beyond the intended scope of the directive.”

“News coverage on NFS lands is protected by the Constitution, and it is our responsibility to safeguard this right on the lands we manage for all Americans,” Tidwell wrote.

He outlined how USFS officials should differentiate between journalism and other activities: “The following question should be asked: Is the primary purpose of the filming activity to inform the public, or is it to sell a product for a profit? If the primary purpose is to inform the public, then no permit is required and no fees assessed.”

Tidwell clarified USFS’s position with regard to commercial film and photography. “Permit fees should be primarily viewed as land-use fees. If the activity presents no more impact on the land than that of the general public, then it shall be exempt from permit requirements.”

Read the full text of Tidwell’s letter here.

Via The Oregonian.

November 5th, 2014

PPE 2014: Building a Career in Fine-Art Photography

Be nice. This simple and self-evident maxim was one of many takeaways from the PhotoPlus Expo seminar, “Your Picture on the Wall: Building a Career in Fine-art Photography,” which was held on Thursday, October 30 at the Javits Center in New York City.

Hosted by collector, curator and former gallerist W.M. Hunt, the panel included gallerists with different ideas and interests: Andrea Meislin and Sasha Wolf from New York, and Catherine Edelman from Chicago. While they may show different work, the gallerists all agreed that being pleasant and respectful goes a long way when you are trying to get a gallerist interested in your work.

Wolff told a story about an artist who came to all of her openings, was enthusiastic and pleasant, and all the while never asked to show Wolf her work. Instead, it was Wolf who asked to see her work.

Hunt recalled a letter he received from an artist who praised a talk he gave. The artist never mentioned his own work. “It was implicit that he wanted me to champion his work, but he didn’t ask for it,” Hunt says. Showing an appreciation for a gallerist’s time and the work they show, and being able to talk about how your own work might fit, shows that an artist has done some homework and has “an appreciation” for the gallerist, Hunt noted.

Appreciating the work a gallerist does also came up when the panel discussed the issue of exclusivity. Each said they preferred, and Wolf insisted, that they be the “home” gallery for the artists they represent. That means they handle responsibilities like recordkeeping, exhibition production and business for their artists. This didn’t mean they aren’t willing to have the artist show with other galleries, the panelists said. They just want all of those arrangements channeled through them. Edelman noted that she’d lost exclusive artists to galleries in New York City. She advised that artists not “use dealers” as stepping stones to larger galleries. “It’s a small world and we know each other,” Edelman noted.

On the perpetual question of print pricing, sizing and editions, Meislin suggested that photographers not offer images in more than two sizes, and said she doesn’t want the total number of prints available of a single image to exceed 10. “The smaller [the edition] the better,” she said. Wolf agreed, saying that collectors “feel good knowing that they have one of not very many.” She, too, felt that two sizes of prints was a good bet. She also added that she prices the work of artists who are new to her gallery based on the career they’ve had and what collections have purchased their work. She also looks at other artists who are at similar points in their careers. Meislin added that she also considers how much money goes into producing the work.

Artists should “have feeling about it,” Hunt said of their pricing. Artists should have done their homework and have an opinion, otherwise the conversation about pricing becomes “cumbersome,” he said.

All of the panelists agreed that image sizes should be appropriate for the work, and that big prints weren’t necessary or even preferred. Wolf talked about artist Bryan Schutmaat’s show, currently on view at her gallery. His portraits of people living rough lives in the West wouldn’t work as large prints, she said. But at the right size they are beautiful and powerful.

Edelman reminded the audience that artists can “always raise prices but can’t lower them.” Photographers should start low, and if an edition sells quickly the price should increase slowly.

The panelists also discussed making prints for special editions of books and for charity sales. Edelman said that when one of her artists wanted to offer a print with a special-edition book, she and the artist chose an image from an edition that was already sold out. That way they weren’t undercutting the market for the larger print of that image. (The print was also made at a smaller size for the book.) Hunt says that when photographers want to donate works to charity auctions, he advises them to print them differently and in “a weird size.” He also suggested they write all over the back of a print specifying that it was created for charity, and consider creating an edition specifically for donation purposes.

An audience member asked who should be responsible for framing, and all of the gallerists had different answers. Meislin said she expected artists to handle 50 percent of the production costs, and that she would front the artist’s 50 percent if necessary, but would recoup those costs when sales were made.

Edelman says she tries to get her artists to pay for production, but will ultimately pay for everything if an artist needs that. She noted that she’ll recoup the framing expenses when an artist sells a framed print if she’s paid for the production.

Wolf said she doesn’t want to pay for production, but she will. She reminded artists to keep in mind that they are not “in our league” in terms of the overhead gallerists have to come up with each month to keep their galleries open.

MFAs aren’t necessary, the panelists agreed. But they also agreed there was value in an MFA degree, not only creatively, but in the network it provides artists. Wolf noted that MFA teachers will call her to recommend artists.

To close, Hunt asked what had changed recently in the fine-art photography business. Wolf got the last word. “Tragedy abounds,” she said jokingly. “But I feel blessed, no matter what little things change.”

Related Stories: What To Expect From the Photographer/Gallery Relationship (For PDN subscribers; login required)
Selling Prints to Fund Books: It’s Complicated (For PDN subscribers; login required)
13 Tips For Building Your Fine-Art Network (For PDN subscribers; login required)

November 1st, 2014

PPE 2014: Leading The Revolution in Smartphone Photography

At a panel held at PhotoPlus Expo on Thursday, October 30, panelists discussed the various ways smartphone photography is affecting visual communication and the photography industry.

The talk, titled “Leading the Revolution in Smartphone Photography,” featured TIME magazine Director of Photography and Visual Enterprise, Kira Pollack; photographer Benjamin Lowy; visual communication strategist Stephen Mayes; and Andrew Delaney, Head of Content for Getty Images. The talk was moderated by consultant and educator Patrick Donehue.

Pollack prefaced her portion of the talk by saying that 99.9 percent of the images published by TIME in print and online were made using professional cameras. Pollack emphasized smartphones as communication platforms, noting that they are as important for consuming images as they are making them.

She described TIME‘s coverage of Hurricane Sandy in New York. TIME picture editors gave five photographers, Lowy among them, “the keys” to TIME’s social media channels and they uploaded the images they made immediately. It was an instance when the photo editors of TIME were watching the story develop “in real time,” she said. One of Lowy’s images landed on the cover of the magazine. It was the first time a smartphone image ever made the cover.

Pollack also noted that she uses Instagram to keep track of where photographers are traveling, because they often post images that alert their followers to where they are, making Instagram a tool for editors to find photographers if an assignment comes up.

She also said that TIME had recently begun working with a technology called Capture, which allows users to search for images based on date, time and location. As an example, Pollack showed a screen grab of the search she had done that identified images made in the neighborhood of Philip Seymour Hoffman’s apartment in New York City’s West Village during a two-hour stretch on the night he died.

Lowy, who has photographed conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan and elsewhere,s said using smartphone freed him from the need to carry his larger camera with him everywhere, which was liberating.

In conflict zones, smartphone cameras allowed him to move and make pictures less conspicuously. During Hurricane Sandy, as other photojournalists stayed onshore, he was able to wade out into the water with his smartphone, protected in a plastic zipper bag, and make pictures others wouldn’t for fear of ruining their gear.

Lowy also noted, however, that using smartphones in war zones can be dangerous because of the information they transmit. Bashar Al-Assad’s forced were thought to have targeted photojournalist Remi Ochlik and British journalist Marie Colvin in Homs, Syria, by locking in on their satellite phone transmissions. The journalists were killed by artillery.  (The Committee to Protect Journalists has published a report, titled Information Security, that includes safety advice.)

Getty Images’ Andrew Delaney said smartphones are allowing people to capture slice of life imagery, with unique perspectives, that advertising, corporate and editorial clients are interested in. He noted that, with the proliferation of smartphones, Getty is getting a wider and more demographically diverse view of the world from its contributors. Delaney said advertisers need “localized communication and localized imagery,” and that smartphone images are feeding some of that need. He also noted that amateurs are really “leading the charge” when it comes to capturing smartphone imagery that is selling to stock photography clients. A lot of the images of people are unusable, however, because the images aren’t model released.

During his portion of the talk, Mayes pointed out that smartphones have increased the ability of the general public to look at and understand images in a more sophisticated way, a growing sentiment among image makers that I heard quite a few times during this year’s PhotoPlus conference. Photographers “now communicate with people who get what we’re trying to tell them,” Mayes says.

Furthering the “visual language” analogy, Mayes compared images to spoken and written language, pointing out that not all language is precious, and a majority of the billions of images being made are equally expendable.

Mayes also argued that an image today often acts as a “husk for a data package.” For example, an image you make of your child in your yard can, when plugged into search engines, yield information about the child’s location, education, socioeconomic status and so on. Striking an ominous-if-realistic note, Mayes argued that we might be headed for a future in which we’re all digital serfs serving information, through our phones, to a master we don’t even know.

Photographers, if they can master the ways these digital systems work, “can become the masters,” Mayes said, and argued that smartphones had opened a “doorway into a rich area of image-making and communication with a power beyond anything we can imagine at this point.” Stay tuned.

 

October 28th, 2014

Blue Sky Gallery Starts Book Publishing Program to Mark 40th Year

Portland, Oregon’s Blue Sky Gallery entered its 40th year with a retrospective exhibition at the Portland Art Museum, and the launch of Blue Sky Books, a new print-on-demand publishing program that offers affordable books by 36 of the artists who’ve shown at the gallery.

Since it opened in 1975 as a collaborative project by local photographers, Blue Sky Gallery has grown into an important photography outlet with an international reputation, showing the work of both emerging and established photographers from the region, the country and throughout the world.

The museum exhibition, which includes more than 120 works, looks back on more than 700 exhibitions at the gallery by 650 photographers.

The book program grew in part from the gallery’s DIY esthetic. “We’re a very populous, democratic gallery,” says Christopher Rauschenberg, the president of the Blue Sky board of directors and the editor of Blue Sky Books. “We’re an artist’s space, and artists don’t have any money,” he adds. The books cost $18 dollars on average and can be ordered through MagCloud, the print-on-demand service owned by Blurb. The price includes a 15 percent fee for the artist and a 15 percent fee for the gallery.

The program was inspired in part by an artist who’d shown at Blue Sky, who reached out to Rauschenberg about a deal a publisher was offering him: the publisher would put out the artist’s book if he raised $30,000. Rauschenberg told the artist it was a standard deal, “but I can’t say it’s a good deal and I don’t have anything else to offer you,” Rauschenberg recalls. Other photographers had asked similar questions. Rauschenberg realized he wanted to be able to offer photographers “something else.” In looking back at the history of the gallery, Rauschenberg also realized there were “all these bodies of work that were never published as books and great shows that we had 30 years ago,” he says. He chose to use MagCloud, which he had used to make small catalogues of his own work for portfolio reviews, to create a series of books that were affordable to buy, and to publish.

By releasing 36 books at once, as the gallery did last week, Rauschenberg felt the artists could leverage their collective networks to promote the endeavor. “We’ve asked everybody to not just put your own book out but promote the whole series,” Rauschenberg says.

Community support and collective effort have contributed to the gallery’s longevity. For instance, Bruce Guenther, who recently announced his retirement as the chief curator of the Portland Art Museum, was instrumental in helping the gallery figure out how to buy the space they now occupy, Rauschenberg says. “Portland has a really wonderful spirit” in which people come together to get things done, and the local audience responds.

Rauschenberg remembers the flood of exhibition proposals the gallery received soon after they opened so many years ago. “We came in with a certain amount of a dream, and then other people’s dreams have added to it.”

October 22nd, 2014

Tumblr Photo Community Calls Out Sexist ‘Recommended Photogs’ List

Social blogging platform Tumblr boasts a robust community of professional photographers, some of whom have used the platform to raise issues of social equality in the photography business. Most recently a handful of photographers called out a quarterly French photography magazine, Selektor, for publishing a list of 100 photographers to follow on Tumblr that included just eight women.

Selektor generated the list, which it published on its own Tumblr, by simply compiling the blogs of all of the photographers it had featured. After both female and male photographers pointed out the disparity, Selektor‘s founder, Loïc Thisse, admitted in a subsequent post that he “never thought to check the proportion of women photographers” he was featuring, he was simply operating based on his personal taste.

His mistake, he writes, was that he didn’t recognize that “Selecting and showing artists publicly is not like sharing one’s personal tastes. It is quite another thing. There are other issues. The representation of women is one of them.”

Tammy Mercure responded to Selektor’s list by generating one of her own, which included more than 70 women photographers to follow on Tumblr. “There is still systematic sexism at work in the photo world,” Mercure wrote in her post. But, she notes, she’s seen “great strides in equity for women and people with diverse backgrounds” in publications and “most places” on Tumblr.

Interestingly more than 1100 people noted or shared Mercure’s post, while fewer than 900 noted Selektor’s post.

Related: How One Magazine Strives for Gender Balance in Assignments
Are Women Photographers Being Discriminated Against in the Editorial Market?

October 16th, 2014

Art Photos About Animals the Focus of Muybridge’s Horse Blog

The homepage of Muybridge's Horse, featuring images by photographer Brandon Hall.

The homepage of Muybridge’s Horse, featuring an image by photographer Brandon Hall.

Emma Kisiel’s blog, Muybridge’s Horse, features photography that explores the relationship between humans and animals. The collection includes the work of artists like Charlotte Dumas, Simen Johan, Chris Jordan, Lindsay Blatt and dozens of others, offering a wide-ranging look at the varied ways photographers and artists working in other media depict animals and the natural world. For Kisiel, the blog has provided an opportunity to connect with other artists who share her interests, and to grow her understanding of contemporary art and the possibilities for her own work.

“Working on Muybridge’s Horse has opened my eyes to such innovative ways of image-making and storytelling,” Kisiel told PDN via email. “I also love seeing how many artists who explore animal life (or death) in their art are women. I know how male-dominated the photography field can feel sometimes.”

Muybridge’s Horse, named for Eadweard Muybridge’s “Horse in Motion” photographs, which he made in 1878, grew from a personal blog Kisiel kept as a photography student at the Maryland Institute College of Art. On it, she indexed all types of work that interested her. Eventually she “noticed that artists who work with animal and nature subject matter dominated the blog,” Kisiel says.

After Kisiel graduated and began working in a field unrelated to art, she pursued the blog as a “creative outlet.” She worked with a developer friend to create Muybridge’s Horse, and emailed all of the artists whose work she’d posted on her personal blog as a student. “Many responded with comments that they couldn’t believe a site like this hadn’t existed yet,” Kisiel says. She launched it in early 2013, hoping to reach “students, artists, curators, animal lovers—anyone seeking pictures that affect them.”

Kisiel generally finds images on Tumblr, by following RSS feeds of other art publications like Lenscratch and iGNAT, and through submissions. Artists also often recommend other people for Kisiel to feature. She worried at one point that she would run out of subject matter, but adds, “I currently have over 100 posts in my queue, so I’m not worried right now.”

Through her work on the blog, she’s received support from other photographers, has developed friendships, and has met artists with whom she’s corresponded.

It’s also altered her thinking about her own work. “I am much more challenged to create photographs that matter,” she says. “I am a proponent of looking at and being very aware of contemporary photography if you’re a photographer yourself, and I have felt humbled and inspired by the discovery of the artists I feature.”

Kisiel says that she’s struggled at times to find a sense of community as an artist, but that Muybridge’s Horse has provided that. “I have mixed feelings about the internet, the way it changes how people and artists act and interact, but watching artists lift each other up and exist as a part of a unique network has been encouraging as an artist working today.”

Related: Photographers Share Intimate Images of Loved Ones for Curated Photo Website
Charlotte Dumas: A Fine-Art Approach to Photographing Animals

September 24th, 2014

New Forest Service Directive on Still Photos Worries Reporters, First Amendment Activists

Proposed changes to United States Forest Service rules for photographers and videographers have some first amendment groups concerned that journalists could be required to obtain permits and pay up to $1,500 in fees to photograph within national forests, according to a report by The Oregonian.

The Oregonian quotes first amendment groups and politicians who are expressing concern about a vaguely worded directive, which could be interpreted to require special permits for all uses other than breaking news situations. Other news situations would appear to require a permit, The Oregonian says.

According to current land use requirements, special permits are  required for “use of still photographic equipment on National Forest System lands that takes place at a location where members of the public generally are not allowed or where additional administrative costs are likely, or uses models, sets, or props that are not a part of the site’s natural or cultural resources or administrative facilities.”

Special permits are also required currently for the “use of motion picture, videotaping, sound recording, or any other moving image or audio recording equipment on National Forest System lands that involves the advertisement of a product or service, the creation of a product for sale, or the use of models, actors, sets, or props, but not including activities associated with broadcasting breaking news.”

The proposed directive “would make permanent guidelines for the acceptance and denial for still photography and commercial filming permits in congressionally designated wilderness areas,” according to US government website Federal Register.

The new guidelines for granting a special use permit ask that applicants meet several requirements. Applicants should be promoting wilderness and outdoor activities, be doing work that doesn’t damage the environment or get in the way of the general public, and shouldn’t use vehicles or other machinery, among other requirements.

The Oregonian article stirring up some furor argues that “a reporter who met a biologist, wildlife advocate or whistleblower alleging neglect in any of the nation’s 100 million acres of wilderness would first need special approval to shoot photos or videos even on an iPhone.”

Maybe. The Forest Service’s special use requirements appear to be targeted at commercial photographers, not journalists engaged in legitimate news gathering. But The Oregonian report did make one rather interesting point: The maximum fee for permits is $1500, while the maximum potential fine for violating the requirements is $1000. So yes, it’s potentially cheaper to break the rules and pay the fine.

Those who wish to comment on the proposed directive on still photography and commercial filming permits can do so here.