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March 22nd, 2016

500px Guts Royalty Rate on Non-Exclusive Images


Photographers can expect to earn less money from 500px going forward. The company is preparing to substantially lower its royalty rate on non-exclusive images effective April 4, bringing the commission from 70 percent to 30 percent. Images that are exclusive to 500px will also get a haircut, albeit smaller, dropping from 70 to 60 percent commission.

The online marketplace defended the move as a capitulation to the “reality of running a stock marketplace” and the need to fund further growth.

500px has been emailing its customers in advance of the change. The full text was reproduced here. The pricing shift won’t be abrupt and will be tested over the course of several months, 500px said.

The service also plans to unbundling Multi-Seat and Unlimited Print license add-ons from the standard license that applies to both Core and Prime collections. There are also new license add-ons and an increase in the size of the Web Ready license from 1500 pixels to 1800 pixels on the longest side.

Photographers with exclusive images on 500px should begin marking those images as such to ensure they earn the highest rate possible.

March 17th, 2016

FTC Wrist-Slaps Lord & Taylor for Deceptive Instagram Campaign

Fashion blogger Cara Santana was one of 50 bloggers paid to post a photo of themselves on Instagram wearing the Lord & Taylor paisley dress shown here. The original Instagram posts did not disclose that they were paid ads.

Fashion blogger Cara Santana was one of 50 bloggers paid to post a photo of themselves on Instagram wearing the Lord & Taylor dress shown here. The original Instagram posts did not disclose that they were paid ads.

Lord & Taylor has agreed to settle federal charges that it deceived consumers by paying fashion “influencers” thousands of dollars each to promote its products on Instagram, without disclosing that the posts were paid advertisements. The retailer was also charged with deceiving consumers by placing a paid article in Nylon magazine without disclosing that the article was a paid ad, the FTC said.

The company’s actions violated federal trade laws against unfair or deceptive marketing. The settlement amounted to a slap on the wrist: The FTC reminded Lord & Taylor that it is prohibited from misrepresenting the sources of its paid ads. The FTC also told Lord & Taylor that it is required to ensure that “influencers” it pays to endorse its products clearly disclose when they have been compensated for those endorsements.

“Lord & Taylor needs to be straight with consumers in its online marketing campaigns,” said Jessica Rich, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, in a prepared statement. “Consumers have the right to know when they’re looking at paid advertising.”

Lord & Taylor got into trouble in March, 2015 over the social media campaign for its Design Lab collection. According to the FTC, the company gave 50 fashion influencers a free Paisley Asymmetrical Dress and paid them up to $4,000 each to post a photograph of themselves wearing the dress on their Instagram feeds. The company pre-approved the posts, and required the influencers who participated to include “@lordandtaylor” and “#DesignLab” in the posts.

“Lord & Taylor did not require the influencers to disclose that the company had compensated them to post the photo, and none of the posts included such a disclosure,” the FTC said in a statement. The posts reached 11.4 million Instagram users, leading to 328,000 brand engagements, according to the FTC, which notes, “The dress quickly sold out.”

Lord & Taylor’s violations occurred before the FTC explained last year in a policy statement how laws against deceptive marketing apply to so-called “native advertising,” or advertising that appears to be editorial content published by third parties. The policy statement addressed social media campaigns, and guidelines for advertisers to follow for disclosing paid endorsements that appear on social media.

What New Federal Trade Commission Guides Mean for Instagram Influencers

March 15th, 2016

Can Fujifilm’s FP-100c Film Be Saved? [Update]

Photographers greeted the news that Fujifilm would be discontinuing sales of its FP-100C instant peel-back film with dismay. But it may not go quietly into the night.

Peel back proponents are making a last ditch effort to keep the format alive.

The centerpiece of the effort is a petition on beseeching Fujifilm to keep the film alive. As of this writing, it had garnered 16,141 signatures.

Florian Kaps, a co-founder of the Impossible Project, which resurrected many Polaroid instant films, has also taken up the mantle. According to his blog, Kaps is in Tokyo meeting with Fuji executives to see about preserving the format. There’s also a website, Save Pack Film, which is soliciting testimonials from prominent artists and photographers about the importance of the film.

We reached out to Fujifilm representatives in the U.S. to see if there was any chance the company would change its mind. According to a company spokesperson, the decision was final. The spokesperson declined to discuss just how much film would need to be sold to make it worth Fuji’s while to resume production.

We’ve reached out to Kaps for an update on his progress, but for now at least, it looks like an uphill battle.

UPDATE: Kaps is not set to meet with Fuji executives until March 17. We’ll know more then.

UPDATE II: Kaps has published a blog post detailing his meeting with Fuji. Long story short, they appear to have shot down his proposals, but he remains optimistic about pushing onto the next level of company management. Here’s an excerpt from his post:

None of my 3 detailed proposals immediately created a promising reaction.

BUT YES! I have at least been promised that my proposals and my detailed presentation as well as this WONDERFUL and impressive list of signatures (which I printed out) will be passed on to the next level in Tokyo and that MAYBE I will receive feedback.

At least, that’s better than nothing and I would not have expected a straight and simple YES even in my most positive dreams. BUT, to be completely honest, I’m frustrated right now as Jun and I have been waiting the whole day for the confirmation that my meeting at the Tokyo Office will be called on again (after being put on hold beginning of the week). By now the hope to have a chance to explain my proposals in front of the next level of FUJI management has gone.

Still, according to some super supportive FUJI insiders that I had the pleasure to meet here and also due to some Japanese press contacts, this must not be a final dead end street.

UPDATE III: We’ve spoke to Impossible Project CEO Oskar Smolokowski who informs us that while the company wishes Kaps well and hopes the format can be saved, they won’t be purchasing Fujifilm’s equipment and won’t be taking on the project themselves. “We don’t have the resources to buy new machinery and take on a new format, we’re constantly invest in our own factory,” he says.

January 29th, 2016

Great Weekend Reads in Photography and Filmmaking

quattrostagioni | Flickr

quattrostagioni | Flickr

“Think before you speak. Read before you think.” ― Fran Lebowitz

Photojournalism and the Middle East – Lens Culture

Keep it Simple: The Life of Magnum’s Dark Room Printer Gup

The Quandary of the Unreliable Narrator

Two Takes on Virtual Reality FilmmakingPost

The Master of All Photo TradesRangefinder

How Birth of a Nation Became Sundance’s Biggest SaleWired

Kodak’s Old School Response to DisruptionNew Yorker

Photography as ProvocationThe Economist

Funding and Distributing a Full-Length Documentary – PDN

Not enough? Find past weekend reads here.

January 25th, 2016

Time Inc. Issues Amended Contract; Sports Illustrated Rescinds Assignments

Four long-time Sports Illustrated photographers who lost NFL assignments for refusing to sign Time Inc’s controversial photo agreement have been given a second chance to sign, according to a photographer who spoke to PDN on condition of anonymity.

The photographers were reportedly sent new, revised contracts on Tuesday, January 19. The revision was in the form of a letter clarifying the terms of the contract. Time Inc. issued the letter earlier this month to all contributors, but critics said it was not legally binding. According to PDN‘s source, Time Inc. has made the letter a legally-binding addendum for the hold-out SI contributors.

Those contributors were reportedly told they would be reinstated for future assignments, if they sign the contract with the addendum.

The addendum includes two specific references to Sports Illustrated. One states that the brand “will continue its current practice of sharing syndication revenue 50/50 with photographers for individual photos that are licensed without the SI brand and SI content.” The other reference confirms that “Sports Illustrated will continue to allow its photographers to sign for credentials.”

Four SI contributors were unsatisfied by the contract addendum and were pulled off of the games this past weekend because they still have not signed the agreement, according to a source.

A Time Inc. spokesperson contacted by PDN did not answer questions regarding the photographers’ football assignments for Sports Illustrated, or comment on the revision that made the “clarifications” legally binding.

Jill S. Davidson, Time Inc’s VP of corporate communications, said in a statement sent to PDN, “Time Inc. informed photographers, including those who received assignments for Sports Illustrated, over two months ago that assignments for 2016 would be made under an approved Time Inc. agreement and that photographers who did not sign an approved Time Inc. agreement cannot take commissioned photographs for Time Inc. starting in 2016.”

A photographer who spoke with PDN said the SI contributors’ loss of assignments is not the fault of SI photo editors: “If they had their druthers, they would have their old staffers covering the football… as was planned,” the photographer said.

The rescinded assignments followed the shakeup of the Sports Illustrated photo department. Director of photography Brad Smith, longtime picture editor Claire Bourgeois and photo director John Blackmar were all laid off on Friday, January 15.

A year ago Sports Illustrated laid off its six remaining staff photographers.

Related: Photographers, Reps Push Back on Time Inc Contract’s Rights Grab
Time Inc. Issues “Clarifications,” But No Changes, to Photo Contract

December 14th, 2015

Free Toolkit and Video Series Provide Business Education for Artists

It’s difficult for many artists to think rigidly about time management, goal setting, branding, marketing, social media strategy and other decidedly business-like actions, but that’s exactly what a new, free artist’s education series from Creative Exchange proposes artists do.

Work of Art, as the video and workbook series is called, was produced from a professional development and entrepreneurship curriculum that has been taught to artists at colleges and cultural institutions for the past five years. Based on input from working artists, the curriculum aims to give both current and would-be artists the tools to run a successful creative business.

Creative Exchange, the organization that developed the Work of Art curriculum, is a national organization that connects and educates artists and community leaders in an effort to strengthen communities at a local level.

Topics covered in the workbook and video series include career planning, time management, portfolios, marketing, social media, pricing, recordkeeping, legal considerations, funding and business plan writing. In each topic category, the workbook suggests written exercises that will help an artist do things like define their brand, set goals and make personal assessments. One of the workbook tasks, for example, is to create an “Accountability Mailer.” The artist is encouraged to define goals for a six-month period, and to mail or give a copy of those goals to a person who will hold them accountable.

It may be difficult for the creative-minded to see their life and work structured like a Six Sigma certification course. However, with a focus on clear thought, organization and goal-driven work, the Work of Art toolkit has the potential to give artists more of what they really want and need: time in the day to focus on their creative work.

Related: What I Didn’t Learn in Art School: Life Lessons from Photographers (subscriber login required)
Advice From the Trenches for Graduating Photography Students
13 Tips For Building Your Fine-Art Network (subscriber login required)

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: