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March 13th, 2015

Blake Little’s Preservation: Dipped in Honey

© Blake Little

© Blake Little

Photographer and artist Blake Little’s new project, Preservation, kicked off a run at the Kopeikin Gallery in Los Angeles (March 7 – April 18) with a book also available now. The behind-the-scenes video on YouTube (NSFW) drew over 2 million views in a little over a month and a deluge of comments (690 as this was published), including persistent criticism about the use of honey and a dog as a subject. We reached out to Little via email for his thoughts on the project and the reaction it sparked online.

What was the origin of this project — and how did it scale from an idea to a full-blown book and exhibit?

Little: The Preservation photographs came organically from a small detail of a shoot. I was fascinated by the way honey looked on a man’s hands and started experimenting with honey on bodies in different ways. The first few shoots I did in my home studio including the cover of the book. Eventually, I rented my favorite place to shoot in LA called The Studio and shot for three weeks with a full crew.

Can you give us a sense of the logistics? Were you tethered and reviewing images instantly? Were there a lot of re-takes?

Preservation_coverWebLGLittle: I had two assistants pouring honey as I shot, posed and directed the subject. The honey was recycled and used over and over. We were shooting with Profoto strobe equipment to freeze the movement. Many of the first set of images I did referenced the figures from Pompeii and Herculaneum A.D. 79 so it was important that there was no blur in the photo and the subjects were frozen in time.

We were also shooting tethered to a Mac Pro tower so we could see the images in real time. I photographed each subject from 45 minutes to 2 hours. The length of the shoot depended on how the person reacted to the honey and how the images looked as we were shooting.

Regarding the use of honey, a fair number of viewers of the behind the scenes video took issue with this, claiming it was wasteful. How do you respond to that? Did it cross your mind during the shoot at all?

Little: Living is wasteful. Making art is wasteful. Almost everything we do can be seen as wasteful. Restaurants throw food out everyday. How much spoiled food do we throw out from our refrigerators? People should be more concerned about wasting water. Honey is a sustainable resource and I was conscious to recycle and reuse the honey from shoot to shoot, both from a conservation perspective and also from an economic one. I was pleased when beekeepers contacted me praising my photographs.

Katherina, an instructor for the Oregon Master Beekeeper Program in Klamath Falls, emailed me to say: “Bees are genetically programmed to keep on producing honey until the flowers stop blooming in fall. They do not know when to stop, they just keep on storing and storing. A single colony can produce over 1000 pounds of excess honey, honey they never will be able to consume by bees themselves in a single winter. Too much honey can lead to other insects/mammals robbing a colony, or wax moths and hive beetles making an utterly mess of the honey comb. Removing excess ( harvesting) honey actually helps them to stay healthy. They cannot control the climate in a hive that has too much honey during winter, and moisture will rain onto the cluster and chill them to death.”

I have always supported environmental issues. I looked into using alternatives material to honey but all the other options were manmade and did not create the effect I achieved. Also, honey is good for the skin and hair. I did not want to use anything that might harm my models. I hope that any controversy over my photographs can educate people about the bee problem so they learn what they, as individuals, can do.

Meagan, a beekeeper from Grenada, emailed me to say: “Anyone can help pollinators (bees) by purchasing more honey from local beekeepers, planting pollinator gardens and using fewer chemicals.”

The best thing people can do personally for bees is to plant bee-friendly flowers.

© Blake Little

© Blake Little

One other issue raised online was the use of a dog in the set. What was the thinking behind including an animal in the project?

Little: The Preservation photographs comment on the human condition. I wanted to feature all ages, races, ethnicities and body types. Pets are an important part of our domestic family so I wanted to include dogs too. These photos reference the figures from Pompeii and Herculaneum A.D. 79 and one of the most famous Pompeii figures is a dog.

When I cast the dog for the shoot, I contacted animal trainers in the entertainment industry. All of them except one were excited by the project and willing to work with me. Honey is not harmful to animals or people. Both of the dogs we photographed were very close to their owners during the shoot. I shot the owners with their dogs and the dogs by themselves. The dogs were not harmed in any way by the honey.

Any ideas as to your next project?

Little: I am continuing my advertising and editorial work. My next series will be photographing LGBT homeless youth in Los Angeles.

February 18th, 2015

Gerd Ludwig Wins POYi’s Best Photo Book of the Year Award

Gerd Ludwig has won the 2015 POYi Best Photo Book of the Year honors for The Long Shadow of Chernobyl, his book about the lingering environmental, social, and economic consequences of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster. The award, part of the Reportage Division of the POYi competition, was announced on the POYi web site.

Ludwig’s book stands out as a case study in the challenges of photo book publishing. Not only did he pursue the project at great personal risk, as he explained in this PDN video interview last year, but he struggled to find support. He undertook two separate Kickstarter campaigns to fund his travel to Chernobyl, as well as the printing and distribution of the book.

Gerd Ludwig: The Long Shadow of Chernobyl from PDNOnline on Vimeo.

The project dates back to 1993, when Ludwig first visited Chernobyl while working on a story for National Geographic. “From that point on, I always wanted to return,” because he didn’t get as much access as he had hoped for, he told PDN last year.

He  returned in 2005, after Ukraine’s so-called Orange Revolution enabled him to gain better access. He planned to return again in 2011, on the eve of the 25th anniversary of the disaster. “The general media was not interested,” he said, so he collected funds for the 2011 trip through a Kickstarter campaign.

Ludwig left for Chernobyl while his Kickstarter campaign was still underway, and while he was there, the Fukushima nuclear disaster occurred in Japan. That stimulated more contributions to Ludwig’s Kickstarter campaign–a total of $23,316, which was almost twice his goal of $12,000. After his return, he used the extra money to publish an iPad app titled The Long Shadow of Chernobyl.

With plans to produce a printed book in time for the 30th anniversary of the disaster, in 2016, Ludwig made another trip to Chernobyl in 2013 on an $8,200 grant from Kulturwerk der VG Bild/Kunst, a German artists’ rights organization.

Meanwhile, publisher Lois Lammerhuber of Lammerhuber Editions (Austria) had approached him at the Lumix Festival of Young Photojournalism in Hanover, Germany. “He said, ‘I want to do your book,’but then the  distributor said to him, ‘Bad news doesn’t sell and Chernobyl is bad news,’” Ludwig recounted.

So he and Lammerhuber turned to Kickstarter once again in the spring of 2014, and managed to raise $45,571–well over twice his goal of $20,000–in pre-order book sales.

In a telephone interview today, Ludwig emphasized that the total funding he raised on Kickstarter “sounds like a high number” but only covered his expenses for the production and printing, and helped promote the project “It’s not a money maker,” Ludwig says. “If I count all my time, I definitely didn’t make money on this project. It’s a labor of love and an important piece of history that should be told. It’s a warning, a document to human hubris.”

Ludwig says he is continuing work on the project, and most recently had a story published in National Geographic about tourism inside the Chernobyl exclusion zone. “There are constant surprises” at Chernobyl, he says, and it stands as an archetype of nuclear disaster. “From Chernobyl, you can see what’s going to happen to these other areas” like Fukushima, he says.

Related:
Daniel Berehulak Wins Reportage Photographer of the Year at 2015 POYi Competition
Brad Vest Named Newspaper Photographer of the Year at 2015 POYi Competition
Cameron Spencer Wins POYi Sports Photographer of the Year Honors

January 14th, 2015

Nadia Sablin Wins CDS/Honickman First Book Prize in Photography

"Two-handed Saw." © Nadia Sablin

“Two-handed Saw.” © Nadia Sablin

Nadia Sablin has won the 2014 CDS/Honickman First Book Prize in Photography for her series on her aunts who live in northwest Russia. The Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University, which administers the prize with The Honickman Foundation, announced the award today. Sablin’s book will be published in November 2015 by CDS Books and Duke University Press.

The prize, which is awarded every two years, supports North American photographers who have never published a book-length work. Past winners have included Gerald H. Gaskin, Benjamin Lowy and Danny Wilcox Frazier.

Sablin, who is based in Brooklyn, New York, has been making color photographs documenting the lives of her aunts, Alevtina and Ludmila, for more than six years. Sablin says in her description of the project that  the women, who are in their seventies, “carry on the traditional Russian way of life, chopping wood for heating the house, bringing water from the well, planting potatoes and making their own clothes.”

Sandra S. Philips, curator of photography at the San Francisco Museum of Photography, was the judge for this year’s prize. Joshua Chuang, chief curator of the Center for Creative Photography at the University of Arizona, chaired the selection committee that chose the finalists for the prize. The finalists are: Victor Blue, Scott Dalton, Cate Dingley, Hannah Kozak, Nate Larson and Marni Shindelman, Joseph Michael Lopez, Diana Markosian, Jeanine Michna-Bales, Chrystie Sherman, Jeffrey Stockbridge and Donna Wan. Their images will be featured on the first Book Prize blog this year.

Related Article
Project on African American and Latino Ballroom Subculture Wins CDS/Honickman First Book Prize

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 13th, 2014

Cowboy Lifestyle Photographer David Stoecklein Dies, 65

Idaho cowboy coverPhotographer David Stoecklein, who built a small publishing empire on his photographs of cowboys, horses, and western lifestyle and landscapes, died November 10 at the age of 65, according to a report in the Idaho Mountain Express. The newspaper gave no details about the cause of death.

Based in Ketchum, Idaho, Stoecklein began his career as an outdoor lifestyle photographer shooting advertising assignments for clients including Coca Cola, L.L. Bean, Reebok, Timberland and others. According to his website, his passion for the ranching heritage of the American West led him to focus on that subject, which led to assignments from Stetson-Roper USA, Wrangler, Agri Beef, Eddie Bauer, Chevrolet, Ford, Marlboro, and numerous others. He also contributed to numerous magazines including Western Horseman, Farm and Ranch Magazine, Cowboys and Indians, and Working Ranch magazine.

In addition to his assignment work, Stoecklein published at least 28 books, among them titles such as The Cowboy Boot, Dude Ranches of the American West, The Cowboy Horse, and The Idaho Cowboy. Along with the many books, he sold cards, calendars, posters, and prints through his website.  Stoecklein also ran frequent photo workshops at his ranch in Mackay, Idaho

He is survived by his wife, Mary, and three sons.

November 3rd, 2014

PhotoPlus Expo 2014: So, You Want to Publish a Photo Book

During her PhotoPlus seminar titled “To Be Published, or Self Publish,” Mary Virginia Swanson, consultant and co-author of Publish Your Photography Book,
ran through the steps involved in producing and marketing a photo book, but again and again she returned to the questions  photographers need to ask themselves before they even consider publishing their work in a book. She asked, “Have you established an audience, and have you established value for your work?” She added, “I see photographers jump ahead before they’ve built an audience for their work.” She said when photographers describe their dream book to her, some mention special papers, large format, and special binding. “I think: ‘That’s a $100 book.’” She urged the audience to consider carefully what prospective buyers will pay to own a book of their images.

She said that photographers have to ask themselves why they want to publish: “Do you have a story you want to share with everyone? Is there a cause or idea you want to advance? As an artist, is it time to get your work out?” As an exercise, she recommended that photographers answer the submission guidelines available on many book publishers’ websites. She showed the lengthy guidelines on the site of Princeton Architectural Press, which ask for a “project description and audience assessment” in eight pages or less. “I feel that if you can complete the Princeton Architectural Press submission guidelines, you can talk to any publisher,” she said. Filling out answers to their questionnaire can help photographers refine their proposals, Swanson said, because “it gets you into the mind of the publisher.” Portfolio reviews, she noted, also provide opportunities to meet two or three book publishers who will “fire back questions” that can help a photographer articulate a book idea.

When shopping for a publisher, she said, “Understand there are small presses and major trade publishers.” A large trade publisher might have staff who can help with design, editing, production management and publicity. Swanson appreciates the attention many small presses will put into designing a book that fits the photographs, but notes that a small press “may be a one- or two-person office” that needs help from a photographer or author on tasks such as editing and publicity. Swanson says there are situations when a publisher, confident that a book can sell well, won’t ask a photographer to contribute towards the cost of production, “and may even pay a small advance.” Those deals are unusual, however. “Most publishers will ask you to contribute in some way,” she said. (For more on this point, see PDN’s article, “The Costly Business of Photo Book Publishing.“)

Whatever the size of the publishing house, she said, “author support is vital” to selling a book. Publishers “will want you to have a website and be active on social media.” While a book takes about a year from concept to binding (less if you self publish), the marketing plan has to begin much earlier, she says, starting with registering a domain name for the book project, planning exhibitions and book signings, and reaching out to potential buyers. Photographers may be affiliated with an association that would buy some copies at a pre-publication cost, or they may be represented by galleries that will buy copies to sell to collectors. Limited edition books have become increasingly collectible, Swanson noted. These are often printed in small quantities, include a signed, limited-edition print, and sell for a few hundred dollars. However, to sell these highly priced editions, a photographer needs to have “established value”—that is, demonstrated that their prints can fetch a high price.

Self-publishing gives photographers total control over design, production and marketing. Photographers who are used to managing photo productions or long-term projects may find self-publishing appealing. “Are you able to manage a publishing project? Are you able to keep to a production calendar?” She noted that print-on-demand companies like Blurb and others now offer a high degree of customization. Swanson showed images of the studio at Conveyor Arts, a production house in Jersey City, New Jersey, that specializes in small-run, custom-designed editions of artists books and exhibition catalogues, and has worked with photographers such as Paula McCartney.

Whether you design your book yourself, or work with a publishing house’s design team, Swanson recommended consulting the many resources available to learn about options for papers, format and binding. Her recommended resources include the Indie Photobook Library, which also organizes traveling shows of photo books; the site Thephotobook.wordpress.com; Aperture’s publication The Photo Book Review; the annual NY Art Book Fair; and the website of the online bookstore Photo-eye,  which includes a showcase of self-published books. If you see a book you admire, she recommended reading the colophon in the back, where the typeface and type of paper used in the book is noted. “Learn the language of publishing so when you work with a designer on your book, you’ll know the vocabulary, and be able to talk about the elements.”

Related Articles

Photographers Share Details of Their Recent Book Deals

The Costly Business of Photo Book Publishing

Tips for Self-Publishing Your Photo Book

The Value of Self-Publishing

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.”

September 8th, 2014

Robert Frerck on How to Track Down Copyright Infringements in Textbooks

After publishing our story about the dozens of lawsuits filed against textbook publishers for reproductions of photos that far exceed the limits of usage licenses, we heard from travel photographer Robert Frerck. He won a summary judgment in August on his copyright infringement claim against Pearson Education, and a settlement last May from McGraw-Hill on a separate infringement claim.

“It seems that once a publisher used your image with a valid license, you were fair game for any additional products that they might fancy to produce,” he told PDN via e-mail. In the following excerpt of our exchange with Frerck, he touches on the risk of suing clients, then shares his advice and strategies for tracking down infringements by textbook publishers.

PDN: Was it difficult to bring suit against a client?
Robert Frerck: I had been doing substantial business with all of these publishers for decades, so it was a very difficult decision. I was aware that if I proceeded with this action I might be be putting an end to several profitable client relationships. However I was also very disturbed that these companies had not been truthful in their actions with me. Over [many] years I had met many of their picture editors personally and we had developed a relationship based on trust and I considered many of them to be personal friends. So I felt betrayed when I learned that these companies were knowingly cheating me as a standard business practice. I think that in the end that was the deciding factor in persuading me to pursue legal action.

PDN: What has the process been like for you? Have you ever questioned whether it was worth the headache?
RF:  It has been very frustrating at times. However, it has also been rewarding to see that this information has come out and that my position has been vindicated. The bottom line is that it has been well worth the effort, from both a “securing justice” and a financial perspective.

PDN Are there any particular lessons you’ve learned from your experience pursuing these claims? Any advice you’d give other photographers who might be considering in a similar position?
RF: Fortunately, I still had almost two decades of past invoices and these were coupled with their respective purchase orders and related communications. Most importantly the language of these invoices very clearly stated: what reproduction rights I was licensing and what I was not licensing. So this was sufficient to make a case. However I then decided to expand my data collection in a somewhat different way from other photographers in similar cases. Rather than simply looking at past invoices and making those invoices the substance of my claims, I decided to purchase almost all of the textbooks that were indicated by my invoice record[s].

By actually having the textbooks in my hands, I discovered many things that were not revealed simply by looking at the invoices. For example there were numerous uses of my images that were not mentioned on the purchase orders and consequently never invoiced or licensed. Where only one use was indicated on the purchase order, I might find a second or third use of an image in the actual text (for example, a second use in the table of contents). I also found images that were indicated for use as a 1/4 page on the purchase order but in the text were used as a double page chapter opener, a mistake with a huge impact on the bottom line.

Another interesting thing I discovered – and for this I bless Google and the internet and companies like Amazon: I would find the title of the text that was listed on my purchase order/invoice but then I would also find that there was an “International Edition” of that same title; or a “Spanish Language Edition” or a newer “expanded edition” or a “CD or internet website use” that I had never licensed. Many of my claims against publishers are for uses in products that were never licensed in the first place. It seems that once a publisher used your image with a valid license, you were fair game for any additional products that they might fancy to produce. Unless you were actively spending countless hours researching these titles on the internet you would never have been aware that this was occurring. I guess that is what the publishers were counting on.

In the final analysis, pursuing this type of litigation is not for everyone; first it helps to have reliable records and a lot of patience and perseverance. However, in a way it is like the unraveling of a good mystery and you are trying to discover all of the wrinkles in the plot. You must also be prepared to put up with a lot of BS from the defense lawyers, but my lawyers have been great in countering them. And most importantly, remember that the truth will be found out in the end.

Related:
Has a Textbook Publisher Trampled Your Copyrights? There’s a Solution for That.

August 21st, 2014

Has a Textbook Publisher Trampled Your Copyrights? There’s a Solution for That.

Photographers and stock photo agencies have filed dozens of lawsuits against textbook publishers in recent years, alleging reproductions of photos the far exceed the limits of usage licenses. Courts have ruled in favor of photographers in many of the cases. Robert Frerck, for instance, won summary judgment this month on his copyright claims against Pearson Education, and won a settlement from McGraw-Hill last May on another claim. Despite all the claims and settlements, new claims continue to surface.

Photographer Joel Gordon recently filed his third copyright infringement lawsuit this year against a textbook publisher. The first two claims were against McGraw-Hill and Pearson Eduction; both cases are still pending. Gordon alleges in his newest claim, against Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH), that between 1990 and 2008, he granted photo usage licenses that “were expressly limited by number of copies, distribution area, language, duration, and/or media.”

HMH ultimately violated those limitations, according to Gordon’s claim. He does not specify the extent of the alleged infringement, explaining that only HMH has that information. But he cites a previous claim against HMH by photographer Ted Wood, who had limited use of his photographs to 40,000 copies, only to discover that HMH had published more than 1 million copies. Wood won his case on summary judgment.

Gordon goes on to cite another 25 claims of copyright infringement against HMH, and he accuses the publisher of having a business model “built on a foundation of pervasive and willful copyright infringement [that] deprived Gordon and hundreds of other photographers and visual art licensors of their rightful compensation and unjustly enriched HMH.”

He is seeking unspecified monetary damages, and an injunction to bar the publisher from further use of his photographs.

Attorney Maurice Harmon of Harmon & Seidman LLC, the lawfirm that represents Gordon, Frerck and many other photographers for claims against textbook publishers, explained via e-mail why these types of claims persist, and how photographers who believe their copyrights have been violated by textbook publishers can protect themselves.

PDN: Why do these claims by photographers against textbook publishers continue to trickle out?
Maurice Harmon: Photographers have only gradually come to realize their photographs have been infringed. Once they know of the individual infringements, the photographers have three years to file a case.

PDN: Do any publishers make good-faith efforts to settle the claims before photographers sue, or before claims go to trial?
MH: That varies greatly—but we always try to negotiate a fair settlement at every stage and 98% settle before trial.

PDN: What must a photographer be prepared to endure, in terms of an investment of time and money, and/or mental anguish—to take on a textbook publisher with one of these claims?
MH: That also varies greatly. Some cases are resolved quickly without anything more than sending us the invoices. Other cases require more documents and a deposition. We advance all expenses, so there is no out-of-pocket cost to the photographer.

PDN: What is required for a photographer to make a strong claim?
MH: Invoices/licenses with terms that identify the specific licensed photographs that limit the uses a publisher can make of those images. Each photograph must also have been registered or can be registered with the Copyright Office.

PDN: What can photographers expect to recover if they win in court?
MH: That depends on the extent of the unauthorized uses, the license terms and conditions, the registration status of the photographs, etc., but it has proven to be well worth our —and the photographers—time.

PDN: If a photographer never registered his or her image copyright, or registered after a textbook publisher misused them, does that make an infringement claim more difficult than it’s worth? [editor’s note: Filing registration before a proven infringement makes copyright holders eligible for statutory damages, which are often much higher than actual damages.]
MH: Sometimes, but not always—it depends on the number of infringements after registration and the license terms and conditions.

PDN: Aren’t these claims subject to a statute of limitations? When is it too late to make a claim?
MH: The photographer has three years from the date he or she knew, or reasonably should have known, about the specifics of the infringement to file a case.

PDN: What percentage of these claims are successful? What are the most common reasons they fail—ie, they’re dismissed by a court, or a photographer recovers little or nothing in the end?
MH: The cases we bring have all been successful unless the plaintiff is determined by the Court to lack standing; that is, to lack ownership of the photographs.

PDN: How have textbook publishers changed their license agreements to avoid these claims in the future?
MH: The textbook publishers are now demanding rights so broad it is almost impossible to overrun the license.

PDN: What’s your parting advice to photographers who license images to textbooks?
MH: Act immediately to find out and protect your rights.

Related:
Appeals Court Upholds Copyright Infringement Damages Award to Louis Psihoyos
Judge Refused to Let Book Publisher Weasel Out of Copyright Lawsuit
 After Flouting Print Run Limits, Publishers Face Dozens of Lawsuits