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April 10th, 2013

Spring Photography Auctions Total More Than $30.8 Million, Set Artist Records

© 2013 Man Ray Trust / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris. Man Ray's "Untitled Rayograph, 1922" set an auction record for a work by the artist of $1.2 million at the Christie's photographs sale on April 4.

© 2013 Man Ray Trust / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris. Man Ray’s “Untitled Rayograph, 1922″ set an auction record for a work by the artist of $1.2 million during a Christie’s photographs sale on April 4.

Six photography sales last week at the three major auction houses in New York City brought in more than $30.8 million dollars and included record sales for masters Man Ray and Diane Arbus, among others, as well as contemporary artists including Robert Frank, Richard Misrach, Alex Prager and Viviane Sassen.

Two sales at Christie’s on April 4 and 5 totaled nearly 15 million. “The strength of these results is indicative of the thriving market for photographs, which continues to gain momentum with every sale,” said Philippe Garner, one of the Christie’s directors, in a statement.

The April 4 sale of a private collection of modernist photographs totaled more than $7.5 million, including a $1.2 million, auction record sale of a unique gelatin silver photogram by Man Ray, “Untitled Rayograph,” made in 1922. Nine other world auction records for artists were set during the sale, according to Christie’s. (more…)

March 29th, 2013

David LaChapelle’s Former Agent Counter Sues for $75 Million

In what appears to be a tit for tat legal action in a messy business divorce, celebrity and pop art photographer David LaChapelle has been hit with a $75 million lawsuit by the former manager he sued last year for about $3.5 million.

Fred Torres, who managed LaChapelle’s relationships with clients, galleries and museums until last fall, alleges that the photographer breached their photographer/agent agreement, stole Torres’s customer lists, and is refusing to pay millions of dollars in expenses and commissions due to Torres.

Torres filed his lawsuit March 27 in state supreme court in Manhattan.

He alleges that LaChapelle fired him without notice, destroying Torres’s reputation and business in the process. Torres claims that he’s owed more than $5 million in expenses for printing LaChapelle’s work for exhibitions and print sales, and upwards of $20 million in past and future commissions for exhibition contracts and print sales that he brokered.

Torres also claims that LaChapelle surreptitiously hired away Torres’s employees in order to help him (LaChapelle) steal Torres customers lists and other proprietary data. Torres values the stolen information at $40-50 million.

“In or about mid-2012, the photographer defendants created a plan to try to steal [Torres's] extensive share of proceeds and steal its business,” Torres says in the lawsuit.

In addition to naming LaChapelle as a defendant, Torres also names the Paul Kasmin Gallery, which is LaChapelle’s new exclusive agent, and the former employees who allegedly conspired with LaChapele to steal customers lists and stored prints.

Torres is seeking $55 million in damages from the Paul Kasmin Gallery.

The damage claims include punitive damage, because the alleged actions of the defendants were “the product of malice, ill will, and spite,” Torres says in court papers.

Torres says in his lawsuit that he dated LaChapelle in the 1990s, after which they continued a business relationship. In 2008, when Torres opened a gallery and began representing works by other photographers, too, he and LaChapelle signed a brief written agreement to formalize their business relationship.

LaChapelle claimed in his lawsuit against Torres late last year that Torres was withholding $2.8 million owed to LaChapelle for sales of his prints. He also alleged that Torres owed him $755,000 worth of personal loans, and that Torres was refusing to return 800 exhibitions prints that were stashed in storage facilities around the world.

LaChapelle’s claim against Torres is still pending, and the photographer has not yet responded to Torres’s counter-claim.

Related:
David LaChapelle Sues Former Manager
David LaChapelle Sued for $3 Million by Former Gallerist
Rihanna Settles Copyright Lawsuit with David LaChapelle
PPE 2012: David LaChapelle Gets Personal

March 15th, 2013

Stalked for Protecting Copyright, Author Gets Restraining Order

Extortionletterinfo.com founder Matthew Chan

Extortionletterinfo.com founder Matthew Chan

An author who was stalked and bullied online for her efforts to enforce her copyrights has won a permanent protective order against the perpetrator, Matthew Chan, who is also in the sights of stock photo agencies for thwarting their efforts to enforce photographers’ copyrights. The restraining order reflects an increasingly vitriolic tone and no-holds-barred personal attacks against copyright holders and their attorneys on Chan’s website, extortionletterinfo.com (aka ELI).

A Georgia state court judge issued the restraining order against Chan on February 28, at the request of Linda Ellis of Marietta, Georgia. Ellis writes and markets inspirational poetry, and is the author of several books. As a result of her efforts to protect her copyright by issuing demand letters to individuals and organizations who published her work without her permission, she was subject to attacks by Chan and his followers on the ELI website.

The court said Chan’s actions “placed the petitioner [Linda Ellis] in reasonable fear for [her] safety, because [Chan] contacted [Ellis] (and urged others to contact her) and posted personal information of the petitioner for the purpose of harassing and intimidating [her].” (more…)

March 12th, 2013

Photog Uses Crappy Client Photos to Get Hired

crap-and-snap
Photographer James Hodgins of Sudbury, Ontario has come up with a creative visual solution for a perennial marketing challenge: Convincing clients who think they can shoot their own photography that they will get better results if they hire a professional photographer.

“People are visual. When you start talking lights, they tune you out,” Hodgins says.  One day it dawned on him to invite a client to tag along on a shoot with her own camera. “I said, ‘You take the picture you would have taken, and then I’ll take mine the way I would.”

And that’s how his Crappy vs. Snappy showcase was born. He dedicates a page on his Web site to side-by-side comparisons of his pictures and clients’ pictures, mostly of mining and industrial subjects. On a regular basis, Hodgins features Crappy vs. Snappy updates on his blog.

Hodgins says it is one of his most effective sales tools. “It’s all about educating the client. They get it.”

He has adapted the technique for all types of clients. When shooting business portraits, for instance, he’ll stand his subjects against a wall, and photograph them with a camera-mounted flash before photographing them in a studio setting with professional lighting. It makes a lasting impression on the subject, and Hodgins uses the before-and-after pictures to sell other clients on the difference.

“If every photographer did that, a lot more clients would understand the difference between picture by a professional and the average Joe,” Hodgins says.

March 12th, 2013

Photogs Dish Anonymously About Clients’ Rates Via New Tumblr Site

A new site on Tumblr set up by an anonymous editorial photographer seeks to provide a platform where photographers can share information about what clients in all fields, from editorial to advertising to non-profits, pay photographers.

Still in its infancy, the site, Who Pays Photographers, is based on a similar Tumblr, Who Pays Writers, which, you guessed it, lists fees paid to writers. According to the anonymous founder of Who Pays Photographers, the response has been a bit overwhelming, indicating a serious interest among photographers to talk about, and read about, the fees clients pay for photographic work.

Thus far the site has information about The New York Times, Getty Images, AP, AFP, The Wall Street Journal, ESPN and several other clients in the US and abroad.

We exchanged emails with the creator of Who Pays Photographers to find out a bit more about her/his goals for the site.

PDN: How long have you worked as a photographer and in what field?

Who Pays Photographers: I’m an editorial photographer with 6 years experience, about half of that time as a staffer at a magazine, and more recently, as a freelancer.

PDN: What inspired you to start the site? Was it just a natural reaction to seeing Manjula Martin’s Who Pays Writers, or was there more to it?

WPP: The site was a simple reaction to Who Pays Writers, a site that was linked to a number of times during the recent Nate Thayer kerfuffle with the Atlantic. It seemed obvious that the photo industry could really benefit from having such a resource and I found it surprising that nothing of the sort existed. (more…)

March 7th, 2013

David LaChapelle Sued for $3 Million by Gallerist

A Montana gallerist has sued David LaChapelle for $3 million dollars, alleging the photographer attacked him in his Manhattan apartment on March 9, 2012.

The suit, filed yesterday by James Parmenter in Manhattan Supreme Court, alleges that in the middle of the night, LaChapelle threw Permanter around his apartment, choked him “nearly to the point of unconsciousness,” then threw him out into the street. He is suing LaChapelle for assault, battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress. He is seeking a minimum of $1 million for each cause of action.

A digital copy of Parmenter’s lawsuit is available here.

Parmenter is the director of Bigfork Collaborations in Bigfork, Montana. According to an article in a local newspaper, the gallery space was funded by Fred Torres, a gallerist and LaChapelle’s former manager. In December 2012, LaChapelle filed a lawsuit against Torres, claiming that Torres owed him more than $2.8 million from the sales of of LaChapelle’s works and from a personal loan.

In the suit filed yesterday, Permanter claims that he is still experiencing physical and emotional difficulties as a result of the assault.

March 7th, 2013

Business Advice and Tips Headline WPPI Show

The WPPI Conference + Expo is getting underway in Las Vegas. In addition to seminars and master classes providing insights and technical tips for wedding and engagement photographers, there are also several educational sessions addressing business issues facing photographers in every genre, as well as opportunities to hear critiques and advice from notable photographers.

WPPI U, a two-day workshop for emerging photographers, takes place Saturday and Sunday; speakers include Jerry Ghionis, Lynsey Addario, Doug Cordon, Kevin Kubota and others. Photographers will also be critiquing attendees’ portfolios, so bring along a sample of your work in either digital or print formats.

On March 8 and 9, from 9am to 6pm, a panel of judges—including Jose Villa, Jerry Ghionis and Bambi Cantrell—will critique prints and portfolios that were submitted to the event. Holders of full-conference passes will be able to hear their insights into what each judge likes or dislikes, and why. “It’s fascinating to go from room to room and listen to their critiques,” says Rangefinder editor Jacqueline Tobin.

Master classes take place March 10, 11 and 12; platform classes begin on Sunday March 10 and continue through Thursday. Among the speakers delivering master classes are Colleen Wainwright, the marketing consultant wrote about branding in The ASMP Guide to New Markets in Photography.” (You can read an excerpt in PDN’s February issue.) Wainwright’s master class at WPPI is called “You, Amplified: Standing Out in the Attention Economy.” Among the other marketing experts offering classes are Matt Hill, who will discuss “Your Web Hitlist: Choosing and Using the Right Tools,” and Jon Goldman, who will give a class in relationship marketing.

ASMP Past President Richard Kelly will lead a class called “Creating Value: Essential Tools for Professional Photographers.” David McClain, the photographer and videographer, is offering a platform class titled “New Opportunities: When Still Photography and Video Converge.” One platform class that promises to get to the heart of the matter is “Learn to Thrive: Lessons of a Studio Makeover,” lead by Karen Carey and Mara Blom Schantz, who are known for conducting what they call the THRIVE Workshop.

PDNOnline.com will be posting product news and seminar reports from WPPI thanks to our sister publication, Rangefinder.

February 28th, 2013

Another Copyright Infringement Ends In Charity Donation, Good PR For Infringer

A friend tipped Theron Humphrey that So Delicious had used one of his images without permission or credit.

A friend informed Theron Humphrey that So Delicious had used one of his images on Facebook without permission or credit.

For the second time in a week a photographer has settled a copyright dispute by getting the infringing corporation to make a donation to charity. Yesterday So Delicious, a maker of dairy-free foods, agreed to make a $10,000 donation to an animal shelter as a mea culpa for using one of photographer Theron Humphrey’s images without permission in a post on their Facebook page.

Earlier this week, street photographer Brandon Stanton discovered that clothing retailer DKNY had used his images without permission in a window display at their Bangkok store. Stanton called the company out on Facebook and got them to agree to donate $25,000 to his local YMCA.

In comments made to PDN, both photographers cited the cost and tediousness of pursuing infringements through the courts as reasons for pursuing what they view as a more positive approach to dealing with infringements. (more…)

February 25th, 2013

DKNY Atones for Unauthorized Usage by Donating $25K to Photog’s Community YMCA

brandon-stanton-DKNY

Brandon Stanton’s images were used without permission in a window display at a DKNY store in Bangkok.

 

When DKNY used several photographs by Brooklyn, New York-based street photographer Brandon Stanton in a display window without permission, Stanton took to social media to get the word out and ask the clothing company to donate to a local YMCA in his community, the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood in Brooklyn. The multinational clothing company responded by giving the YMCA a $25,000 donation in Stanton’s name.

“I didn’t want to take on a powerful company in any sort of litigation,” Stanton told PDN via email. “I don’t have time for that right now. I also didn’t want to try to personally enrich myself by drawing attention to the matter. So I decided on the YMCA.”

He added, “I’ve seen firsthand how much they help the community.”

DKNY had originally approached Stanton months ago and had offered him $15,000 for use of 300 images for store windows. When Stanton asked for more money, the clothing brand balked, and the deal fell apart, the photographer claims.

Then Stanton discovered his images were being used anyway in a DKNY store in Bangkok. He took to Facebook to share his story and demand that the company make a charitable donation rather than

compensate him. Stanton wrote: “I don’t want any money. But please SHARE this post if you think that DKNY should donate $100,000 on my behalf to the YMCA in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. That donation would sure help a lot of deserving kids go to summer camp. I’ll let you guys know if it happens.” The post spread, earning more that 60,000 Facebook shares and likes, and several thousand comments.

This afternoon DKNY responded with a statement on their social media sites, saying their Bangkok store “inadvertently… used an internal mock up containing some of Mr. Stanton’s images that was intended to merely show the direction of the spring visual program.”

“DKNY has always supported the arts and we deeply regret this mistake,” the statement said. “Accordingly, we are making a charitable donation of $25,000 to the YMCA in Bedford-Stuyvesant Brooklyn in Mr. Stanton’s name.”

After DKNY agreed to make the donation, Stanton published their response on Facebook and thanked everyone who supported him. “$25k will help a lot of kids at the YMCA,” he wrote. “I know a lot of you would like to have seen the full $100k, but we are going to take them at their word that it was a mistake.”

DKNY may have another problem, though. Stanton doesn’t have model releases for his images, he told PDN. “Part of DKNY’s original pitch to me was that I would obtain model releases from 300 of my subjects. Seeing as though no agreement was reached, that was never done.”

Whether that could come back to bit the DKNY and its parent company, LVMH, Inc., remains to be seen.

Amy Wolff contributed reporting to this article.

December 21st, 2012

Bowing to Pressure from Users, Instagram Retracts New Terms of Use

Under a continuing barrage of negative feedback, account cancellations, and defections by its users to other photo sharing services, Instagram has withdrawn the most controversial changes to its terms of service agreement. The about-face means that Instagram will not assume the legal right to license users’ photos to third parties without permission.

“Because of the feedback we have heard from you, we are reverting this advertising section to the original version that has been in effect since we launched the service in October 2010,” said Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom in a statement posted on a company blog late yesterday.

Among the most objectionable terms of service changes proposed by Instagram was a clause allowing the company to license photos to third parties, and also use the photos in advertising, without the knowledge or permission of the Instagram user who posted those images in the first place.

A number of professional photographers, as well as some high profile users of Instagram including National Geographic, announced that they intended to stop using the service because of the proposed changes to the terms of service. Instagram said earlier this week by announcing it had no intention of selling their photos, but that apparently wasn’t enough to calm upset subscribers to the service.

In the meantime, subscriptions to competing services have spiked, according to a report in the New York Times. Flickr’s mobile app has jumped in popularity on the Apple iTunes app chart, and subscriptions to the photo sharing service Pheed have quadrupled in the past week, the Times reported.

Systrom explained in last night’s announcement that after introducing changes to Instagram’s terms of service and privacy policy earlier this week, “it became clear that we failed to fulfill what I consider one of our most important responsibilities – to communicate our intentions clearly. I am sorry for that, and I am focused on making it right.”

So once again Instagram has modified its privacy policy and terms of service. When the latest versions take effect–on January 16, 2013 and January 19, respectively–Instagram will have broad rights to use photos, but only with permission from the contributors.

“You hereby grant to Instagram a non-exclusive, fully paid and royalty-free, transferable, sub-licensable, worldwide license to use the Content that you post on or through the Service, subject to the Service’s Privacy Policy,” says the latest TOS agreement, which goes into effect January 19. It adds, “You can choose who can view your Content and activities, including your photos, as described in the Privacy Policy.”

The privacy policy that takes effect January 16 says that Instagram “will not rent or sell your information to third parties outside Instagram (or the group of companies of which Instagram is a part) without your consent, except as noted in this Policy.” The exceptions are service providers who “will be given access to your information as is reasonably necessary to provide the Service under reasonable confidentiality terms.”

Instagrama also says in the new privacy policy, “We may also share certain information such as cookie data with third-party advertising partners” to deliver targeted advertising.

Users can control who sees the content they post by adjusting privacy settings on their account.

Instagram’s user policies are still subject to change, however, and Systrom hints that there will be more changes to come. Instagram company–which is owned by Facebook, a publicly traded company–is under pressure to earn money.

“Going forward, rather than obtain permission from you to introduce possible advertising products we have not yet developed, we are going to take the time to complete our plans, and then come back to our users and explain how we would like for our advertising business to work,” Systrom told users.

Related:
Photographers Balk at Instagram’s New Terms of Use
Now That We Know Instagram Isn’t a Charity, What Would You Be Willing to Pay?