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November 5th, 2015

B&H Photo Video Warehouse Workers Vote to Unionize

Warehouse employees of B&H Photo Video have voted to unionize under the umbrella of the United Steelworkers, radio station WNYC has reported.

The vote, held yesterday among workers in two B&H warehouses in Brooklyn, was 200 to 88, according to the union.

After the vote, B&H spokesperson Henry Posner said in a prepared statement, “B&H Photo has always stood behind our employees’ legal right to seek union representation, and today’s outcome and our commitment to engage in a respectful dialogue with our employees and their representatives still holds true.”

Workers at the warehouses—many of whom are Hispanic—had complained of unsafe working conditions and discrimination, according to press reports. For instance, The New York Times reported last month that union organizers claimed B&H warehouse employees had been forced to work in warehouses where emergency exits were blocked; were exposed to dusty air that allegedly caused rashes and nosebleeds; and were pressured by management to sign English-language forms releasing B&H from medical claims.

A B&H senior executive countered in that same Times article that “B&H provides terrific benefits, highly competitive wages, and a safe, friendly environment.”

Laundry Workers Center, a non-profit labor group, began its efforts last year to help B&H workers unionize. United Steelworkers contacted B&H management last month, asking to be recognized “as the sole and exclusive bargaining representative of the employees.”

That request set the union vote in motion. Shortly afterwards, hundreds of photographers, filmmakers, and other industry professionals began signing a petition in support of the B&H employees. (The petition was initiated by union organizers, including Laundry Workers Center.)

The union alleges that B&H “ran an aggressive anti-union campaign prior to the vote.”

In his statement asserting B&H’s commitment to work with the union, Posner also said that the company has “gone to great lengths to ensure the highest standards for living wages and benefits, workplace safety, and respect and dignity in the workplace.”

—David Walker


November 5th, 2015

DJI Buys “Strategic Minority Stake” in Hasselblad

DJI Phantom 3

Drone-maker DJI is buying a strategic minority stake in Hasselblad, the two companies announced today.

Just how much DJI paid was not disclosed, but the Chinese drone builder earns a place on Hasselblad’s Board of Directors.

According to a joint press release, the tie-up “will allow opportunities and new ways of combining the technical knowledge and inventive spirit of the two industry leaders in their respective fields.”

The companies “will each focus on their individual strategic directions and related growth opportunities, with marketing and branding platforms continuing to delineate the two companies,” the release stated.

As far as manufacturing, Hasselblad cameras and gear will still be produced in Sweden, and DJI will continue to make products in Shenzhen, China.

A DJI spokesperson told us that the two companies will not only continue to develop their own gear, they are also “exploring ways to combine the strengths of DJI and Hasselblad through joint projects.”

We can only speculate what that will mean. A 50-megapixel drone, perhaps?

November 3rd, 2015

Approximately 180 National Geographic Employees Being Laid Off, Others Offered Buyouts

National Geographic has confirmed that 9 percent of their 2,000 employees (approximately 180 people) are being laid off, less than two months after the National Geographic Society announced that 21st Century Fox had acquired a controlling stake in the magazine and other media assets for $725 million. There is no word yet on how many people in National Geographic’s photography department have been affected. One photo editor for the magazine, Sherry L. Brukbacher, confirmed on Twitter that she was among the “many” let go today. In addition to the staffers being laid off, the company is offering buyouts to an unknown number of longtime employees.

“The National Geographic Society and the National Geographic Channels are in the process of reorganizing in order to move forward strategically following the closing of the NG Partners deal [with Fox], which is expected to occur in mid-November,” National Geographic’s SVP of communications M.J. Jacobsen told PDN via email.

“Involuntary separations will represent about 9 percent of the overall workforce reduction, many in shared services and a voluntary separation offer has also been made to eligible employees,” Jacobsen added.

We’ll update this story as we learn more.

Update: Senior photo editor Kim Hubbard confirmed on Facebook that she was among those let go today. “Thank you for the calls and messages on what has been a surreal and sad day,” she wrote. “Over the past five years I’ve worked with some amazing photographers, designers, writers, editors, and scientists on stories that I am incredibly proud of. Now I’m looking ahead to the next big thing (if you know what that is, please let me know! 😊) I’ll be with Nat Geo until Jan 31st.”

November 2nd, 2015

Staying Ahead of the Curve: The Importance of Photography Education

Sponsored by NYIP


© Chris Corradino Photography 

© Chris Corradino Photography

The age-old adage goes: “It’s never too late to learn.” The saying is especially true in photography, a field that’s a breeding ground for rapid advancements. Even for professionals, instruction can be vital at all stages of a photographer’s career. New York Institute of Photography (NYIP) student advisor George Delgado points to the fact that photography is both timeless and in constant flux, particularly with technology evolving at so fast a pace.

Licensed by the New York State Department of Education, the New York Institute of Photography is largest online photography school in the world. After more than a century of training photographers, the reach and influence of this venerable institution is now global thanks to the modern-day luxury of online education. The school’s most popular program, the Complete Course in Professional Photography is widely considered to be the gold standard for a well-rounded photographic education by many in the image-making industry today.

© Chris Corradino Photography

© Chris Corradino Photography

NYIP lessons incorporate audio, video and reading assignments—accessed in an online learning center—with exams and photo projects judiciously reviewed by professional photographers. While the courses are delivered using Internet technology, all students benefit from the personal mentoring and assistance provided by licensed instructors—professional photographers themselves—via email and telephone.

Chris Corradino, a professional photographer based in New York City, is NYIP’s faculty director as well as an instructor. He’s also a graduate of the program. With his own business specializing in photojournalism, travel and editorial photography—some of his recent credits include work published by the Associated Press, National Geographic, The New Yorker, and the Wall Street Journal—Corradino knows firsthand the value of NYIP’s curriculum. “Even if you are already comfortable with the technical aspects of photography, the program covers a wide array of topics,” he says. “The teachers provide personalized evaluations full of useful information you can take into the field with you.”

© Chris Corradino Photography

© Chris Corradino Photography

While the curriculum is designed to start with the basics of any subject and build upon skills as they develop, many photographers who are already working in the field sign up for courses in order to keep ahead of the curve in their ever-changing profession. Delgado too was an NYIP student before joining the staff. He first enrolled in order to find out if he could match his lifelong enthusiasm for photography with the skills needed to pursue a career as a professional. Years later, he credits the comprehensive education he got from NYIP for the success of his New York City-based business of portrait photography.

A formally structured curriculum, such as the Complete Course in Professional Photography, is an invaluable means for gaining the in-depth knowledge and skills needed for a lucrative career in photography. In addition, an NYIP Graduation Certificate serves as an important professional credential.

See the full NYIP course listing here:

October 28th, 2015

Keeping Your Photo Business Profitable During the Holidays


Sponsored by Zenfolio

The holidays can be a stressful time when you may find yourself spending more money than you’re making. But if you’re a photographer, fear not! You can turn the holidays into a very profitable season. The experts at Zenfolio provide five easy ways to market your photography business during the holidays, because let’s face it: what says “personal” more than giving a photo gift to loved ones?


Here, Zenfolio provides five ways to advertise your site (and how to host a sale) during the busiest shopping season of the year:

  1. Offer Coupons and Gift Certificates

Everyone loves a good deal. Offer clients a coupon during the holiday season for an incentive to buy. Zenfolio offers three types of coupons: amount-based, percentage-based and base cost. Amount-based coupons subtract the discount amount from the order total, percentage coupons subtract discounts as a percentage of order total (sales tax excluded) and, lastly, base-cost coupons allow customers to order products at their base cost, bypassing any markup you may have added. You also have the option with Zenfolio to create a huge batch of coupons all at once.

Gift certificates are foolproof: they allow the gift recipient to pick exactly what they want for the holidays. Zenfolio offers gift certificates that act as a credit where the photographer creates the code to share with clients, and can be a form of payment during checkout to make the process simpler.

  1. Banner Advertisement

What’s better than advertising your sale front and center on your homepage? Zenfolio allows users to display banners in several different ways: photo, video, slideshow or a horizontal photo strip. It’s easy to display a sale you’re having, and you can even link it directly to the products offered for sale.


  1. Expiring Galleries

A different approach to getting customers to act is to set a deadline on their galleries. This means you can put an expiration date on when their photos will be available for viewing online. This will give them a gentle nudge to buy before their photos disappear. Zenfolio gives the option to set expiration dates on galleries, and after that date it is only seen as private. A notification email is sent to clients to remind them of this date.

  1. Visitor Sign-In

A great way to build clients is to have a visitor sign-in page, so you can market to your visitors later. Think of it as a modern day guest book for your website. With Zenfolio, you can apply a sign-in page to a group or gallery to gather information from those interested in your photography. This will be a helpful list to have on hand when you have sales so you can share the sale details to your entire list.


  1. Email Campaigns

Once you have that list of followers (even if it’s a small group, at first), Zenfolio allows you to send emails to your entire list, or to a selected tagged group of contacts. You can send out promotional emails for your sale with coupon code information inside, and push it with an expiration date (for example: two-day sale!). If it’s a previous client, it may be wise to direct them to a specific gallery. For example, you can entice them to buy framed prints from an old portrait that they can give to a loved one.

For more detailed information about how to advertise during the holidays, watch this free Zenfolio webinar. Get started on your own website with the two-week free trial today.

October 26th, 2015

PhotoPlus Expo 2015: John Keatley on Thriving in Business, Marketing and Style

In his seminar, “Learning to Thrive as an Artist: Business, Marketing and Style for Photographers,” during PhotoPlus Expo this past week, Seattle-based commercial photographer John Keatley neatly summed up one of the themes of the 2015 PhotoPlus Expo conference: In a market in which technically proficient, beautiful photography can be and is created by the masses, professional photographers are “hired [by commercial clients] to create something scarce.” Personal style and vision are essential, in other words. “Anyone can learn to master technique,” Keatley says. “No one can replicate your decision-making process.” The talk was an abbreviated version of the three-day workshop Keatley puts on a few times each year.

On style

In his relationships with clients, Keatley defines his style through the work he chooses to show, and how he talks in meetings and during creative calls as he’s bidding on jobs. Keatley says his “goal in talking to a client is to show them that I think about photography in a different way.” He shared with seminar attendees the dictionary definition of style and said he believes style “is not something you choose, it’s who you are.” He made an analogy with acting style, sharing a video in which the actor Brian Cranston talks about a revelation in his career when he stopped worrying during auditions about getting a job and started concentrating on showing who he was as an actor.

Keatley urged his audience to contemplate who they are as photographers by coming up with 7 to 10 words that describe ideas, attitudes and other things they value, and thinking about how those values manifest themselves in their work. Keatley also urged his audience to understand that developing one’s style “is a journey,” and it’s something that a photographer develops and evolves throughout their career.


October 14th, 2015

PDN Parent Company Acquires HOW Graphic Design Events

Today Emerald Expositions, the parent company of Photo District News, Rangefinder, PhotoPlus Expo and WPPI, announced the acquisition of HOW Design Live, the largest graphic design conference and expo in the nation, and the HOW Interactive Design Conference series. “HOW is an institution in the graphic design industry and Emerald looks forward to continuing to deliver highly inspirational and educational events to this growing professional community,” said David Loechner, Chief Executive Officer of Emerald, in a statement.

Below is the full press release detailing the acquisition. (more…)

September 30th, 2015

Lauren Dukoff on Production Skills and Creative Experimentation as Keys to Success

Lauren Dukoff discussing her work during an Iris Night talk at Skylight Studios.

Long before Lauren Dukoff, the subject of the cover story in PDN‘s September issue, started shooting fashion stories for Vogue Japan, she had known for her music photography and portraits. She captured intimate, often candid images for Rolling Stone and Spin, shot the art for Adele’s album 21, and in 2009 published her book Family, based on her collection of behind-the-scenes and on-the-road images of her longtime friend Devendra Barnhart and the musicians with whom he collaborated. She found herself in recording studios, dressing rooms and intimate settings with artists she looked up to. “I felt so awkward in this private space, but with my camera, it was a kind of shield and it gave me a reason to be there,” Dukoff said in a recent lecture at the Skylight Studios, part of the Iris Nights lecture series run by the Annenberg Space for Photography. (The full video of Dukoff’s talk, “A Collaborative Path,” is archived on the Annenberg website. )

While Dukoff’s quiet approach to capturing unguarded moments might seem like an odd stepping stone to directing models in couture gowns and managing large productions, she told her audience at Skylight Studios that she got valuable training and encouragement while working in the studio of Autumn De Wilde. Dukoff had long admired De Wilde’s work and was happy to take on any job available. In time, she worked her way up from babysitter to studio manager, where she helped arrange productions, and learned “the nuts and bolts” of hiring a crew and looking after shoot logistics. While some young photographers “go the assistant route,” Dukoff said, learning production “was really valuable to me because I knew I wanted to be a commercial photographer.”

De Wilde also encouraged Dukoff to believe in the work she was shooting on her own time through collaborations with friends. By pursuing it, Dukoff says, “I was starting to build a visual identity of your own.”

As PDN‘s story explains, Dukoff moved from capturing in-between moments with musicians and other artists, to creating posed portraits, and then to collaborating with fashion stylists on celebrity portraits for magazines such as L’Uomo Vogue, Lula and Vanity Fair. Along the way, she also learned to shoot commercials by collaborating with experienced film crews. Like De Wilde, she has experimented with a variety of genres, to stretch herself creatively while also expanding her clientele.

“I find that as soon as I’m comfortable I think: I better figure something else out, because there’s so much more to do, there’s so much more to learn,” she told her audience. “I’m not saying you shouldn’t stay true to your style. But don’t be afraid to try things and expand.”

Dukoff spoke at the Iris Night lecture during the run of the “Emerging” exhibition at the Annenberg Space for Photography (curated by the editors of PDN). Other photographers in the “Emerging” show who shared how they found their voices, established their place in the photo world and navigated the photo business include Zun Lee, Olivia Bee, Corey Arnold and Bryan Derballa. All the videos of their talks can be found online at the Annenberg website.

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Lauren Dukoff on Collaborating with Celebrities and Couture Designers

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New Perspectives: Emerging Exhibition at the Annenberg Space for Photography

September 11th, 2015

Marcus Smith on Navigating the Photography Business as an African-American

Marcus Smith. ©Paul Elledge

Marcus Smith. ©Paul Elledge

Women have “made huge headway” toward equality with white men in the photo industry, photojournalist Maggie Steber says in an interview in the September issue of PDN. “Now we have to make sure minorities are making more headway.” For minorities, she explained, there’s still “a lot of benign racism.” Marcus Smith, a successful advertising photographer, told us during an interview in 2013 that he worried about race at the the start of his career. In this excerpt from that interview, he describes what he experienced, and offers advice about confronting racism–benign or otherwise–to young African-Americans aspiring to launch careers in photography.

PDN: Are there particular challenges to being an African-American commercial photographer, because of race?
Marcus Smith: Going into it, I thought there would be. I would talk to my mom about it and say, “I don’t know if this is going to work the way I think it is because so much of this industry is about networking and personal relationships. And I wonder if I’m going to be able to relate to people.” I’m a lot younger than a lot of people in the industry, and also, my background and where I come from is a lot different, too. I thought about whether I would have a level playing field. But the less I thought about it, the less of a problem it was–when I was, “OK, whatever. It is what it is. I’m going to be who I am and find the people who accept that.” And those are the people I’m looking to work with.

I had an agent tell me that I needed to have more white people in my portfolio, and I thought that was the craziest thing ever. There’s a lot of Caucasian photographers who shoot lifestyle, fashion, whatever–and they have a book full of white people. And nobody’s telling them, “Hey you need to shoot more black people or you need to shoot more Asian people or Hispanic people or whatever.”

So I was like, OK, I’m not going to listen to you [the agent] because that doesn’t make sense to me. People should be able to see what they want and see what you’re capable of, regardless of whatever race [the subjects are] in front of the lens. So I was going to keep doing what I do, and photograph what interests me, and I’m going to show people. I wanted to take what’s “lifestyle” to me and “culture” to me, and present that to people, and hopefully they see my passion for that and respond to it. And they did. It doesn’t matter to me what color my subject is.

PDN: What advice would you give to other aspiring African-American photographers who might feel daunted being in a minority in the photo industry?
MS: My advice would be to be yourself. People are a lot more alike than you think they are. And people like a lot more of the same things than you think they do. Just because you may have grown up in the inner city, or whatever, and somebody else may have grown up in the suburbs, doesn’t mean that you can’t find a common ground to stand on. It doesn’t mean you don’t possibly listen to the same music, or that you don’t both hate the San Antonio Spurs, or something like that. You never know what kind of random common thread you might find. And you could become the best of friends on the basis of that commonality. And then you have someone you could be different with. I think that’s what makes all of us so interesting: you come from this background, I come from that background. You could have these interesting dialogues [because of that].

PDN: What advice would you give those photographers who may fear overt racism in the industry?
MS: You shouldn’t have fear of that, because you would never know where it comes from. When you can’t pinpoint it, it can paralyze you if you let it become a part of your thinking. You have to have faith that people are not going to do that to you, and if they are, then those are not the kind of people you want to work with anyway. I can be a testament that most people in the industry are not like that. I’m not saying everybody [in the industry] is past [racism], but I can say a big majority of people I’ve come into contact with haven’t responded that way.

Photographer Maggie Steber on Women, Minorities, and How to Nurture Talent
PDN Video: Marcus Smith on How to Attract the Clients You Want
PDN’s 30 2014: Marcus Smith

August 24th, 2015

What New Federal Trade Commission Guides Mean For Instagram Influencers

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has issued new guidelines regarding paid endorsements that photographers should be aware of—especially if they’re being paid to promote products on their Instagram feeds. This summer the FTC updated Guides to Section 5 of the FTC Act to add guidelines about how “Instagram influencers” and bloggers should identify any company or product they’ve been paid to promote.

Put simply, the Guides insist that if you are being compensated to endorse a company, product or event, you should say so. “The Guides, at their core, reflect the basic truth-in-advertising principle that endorsements must be honest and not misleading,” the FTC states.

According to the Guides, there are no fines for violations of the FTC Act. However, “law enforcement actions can result in orders requiring the defendants in the case to give up money they received from their violations.” Not to mention legal fees.

In the FAQ section, the FTC addresses blogs and social media specifically. “Truth in advertising is important in all media,” the Commission writes, “whether they have been around for decades (like, television and magazines) or are relatively new (like, blogs and social media).” (more…)