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November 2nd, 2011

2011 Critical Mass Top 50 Announced

The 2011 Critical Mass Top 50 were announced last night by Photolucida, the organization that runs the competition. Each year hundreds of photographers submit their work for judging to a panel of 200 photo industry professionals. (51 photographers are included in this year’s Top 50 due to a tie in voting.)

Photographers in the Top 50 are eligible for several prizes, including a book award that supports one photographer’s book publication; a solo show at Blue Sky gallery in Portland, Oregon; or one of five scholarships for international photographers.

Images by the Critical Mass Top 50 photographers will also be included in a traveling exhibition that will tour the West Coast in Spring 2012. Starting in February 2012 the exhibition will be at Photo Center NW in Seattle, then in April at Newspace Center for Photography in Portland, and concluding in May at RayKo Photo Center in San Francisco.

Check out the work of the 2011 Critical Mass Top 50 here.

Read a list of this year’s jurors here. (PDN creative director Darren Ching, PDN senior editor Conor Risch and Jill Waterman, editor of PDNEdu were among this year’s jurors.)

October 28th, 2011

PhotoPlus Panel: Finding Funding for Your Documentary Work

At the 2011 PhotoPlus Expo, Aidan Sullivan, vice president of photo assignments for Getty Images, moderated the seminar, Your Picture is Important: The “Concerned Photographer” Today and How Projects Get Funded. With a panel that included both grant recipients and foundation employees, the goal was to help attendees get a better understanding of the various avenues of support available for advocacy photojournalism.

Shrinking editorial budgets throughout the media world have made grant and fundraising more important than ever for photojournalists. As Sullivan pointed out at the beginning of the seminar, a simple Internet search will produce numerous grants available for photographers. However, the more elusive part of the process is figuring out how to actually get awarded those funds.

Amy Yenkin, a director for the Open Society Foundations, explained what her “advocacy oriented” foundation is looking for when it comes to funding projects: a long-term commitment and thorough knowledge of the issue, an engagement with the community being photographed, the respect of non-governmental or non-profit organizations working on the issue, an awareness of what other photographers are doing regarding the issue and past success on previous projects or partnerships.

While Yenkin noted that her foundation is open to projects that highlight both the problem and/or solution regarding an issue, Emma Raynes, Emergency Fund program director at the Magnum Foundation, said her organization prefers to focus on underreported issues “in anticipation of powerful stories” rather than in the aftermath of them.

Both speakers emphasized the importance of working with non-profit organizations, not just for funding, but also to build a partnership. The effect a non-profit can have on a photographer’s work was exemplified when photographer RaMell Ross spoke about his experiences shooting in the economically depressed “Black Belt” of the Southern United States. Ross works at the non-profit Youthbuild and began phootgraphing his students as well as abandoned schools in the area. His photography came to the attention of the non-profit For | By | For, which helped him set-up a Kickstarter campaign to raise money for an exhibit, the proceeds of which were donated to Youthbuild.

Kickstarter actually played an important role in many of the case studies presented at the seminar. Yenkin listed seven different sources of support, including a Kickstarter campaign, for Saiful Huq Omi’s project photographing Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh. Raynes also noted that the Magnum Foundation helps set up Kickstarter campaigns for Emergency Fund recipients, including one for this year’s W. Eugene Smith grant recipient, Krisanne Johnson.

Persistence and patience seems to be the key when it comes to applying for grants and raising funds. This was evident when photographer Darcy Padilla spoke about her experiences after she turned down a job at The New York Times and “made a choice to be a freelancer.” Padilla won her first grant in 1990 and describes living on very little income as she continued to apply for grants and awards while shooting projects she felt were important, including The Julie Project, which consists of photos taken of the same subject over an 18-year period. She applied for the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship three times before receiving it in 1995 and the W. Eugene Smith Grant close to ten times before she was awarded it in 2010.

Padilla noted that she rewrote her winning proposal for the W. Eugene Smith Grant in order to “give it intimacy and closeness.” Perhaps this is the biggest takeaway from the seminar: the issue has to be something you’re passionate about; something you’re dedicated to documenting regardless of whether you’re on assignment or not. This passion and commitment will not only influence the photographs, it will also show foundations and donators that it is a cause you truly wish to eradicate, which may just inspire them to support your journey.

October 28th, 2011

PPE Panel: Photogs Ignore Online Pub Opportunities at Their Own Peril

During a seminar titled “The New World of Online Magazines and Curator Web Sites” this afternoon at PDN PhotoPlus Expo, photographer Sophia Wallace posed a question to photographers who’ve been hesitant to harness the full power of the internet for fear that their work might be stolen: Should you be more afraid of image theft, or of working in obscurity?

This rather direct question, which had resonated with Wallace after she heard it at another talk recently, gets to the heart of the decision that photographers must make in today’s market. You can embrace online publishing on blogs, online magazines, Tumblr pages and the myriad other platforms on which people are looking at imagery these days, or you can keep your work to yourself.

Suffice it to say that nobody in the audience was interested in the latter option. But in case they were, Wallace and fellow photographer Manjari Sharma shared stories about their own experiences that made a strong case for diving headlong into promoting one’s work online.

By getting their work featured by online platforms, such as those run by moderator Stella Kramer (StellaZine) and panelists Julie Grahame (aCurator) and Michael Itkoff (Daylight), each of the photographers had built momentum for bodies of work that eventually led to concrete achievements like exhibitions, advertising commissions and essential project funding.

After having her work circulate one image at a time across various online publications (and in a couple of print magazines), Wallace received what she termed “the email she’d been waiting for.” It was from a curator asking if she would show her work in a three-person show at Colgate University’s Clifford Gallery with photographers Catherine Opie and Jo Ann Santangelo. During her presentation Wallace also showed how, through Google analytics, she could track who was looking at her site and where they came from. It was amazing, she said, to realize that people all over the world were looking at her photographs.

Sharma showed two projects that she’d promoted online. A series of portraits of people taken in the shower in her Brooklyn apartment was discovered by art directors at the ad agency JWT in Delhi, which lead to a commission to replicate that work for ads for a German maker of shower heads that was expanding their business in India. Sharma’s photographs appeared on billboards in 23 cities, she said.

After she created a well-produced Kickstarter video to raise funds for her project Darshan, several photo blogs and other online publications wrote about the work. She ended up raising $26,000 of funding over the course of three months.

Each of the panelists encouraged the audience members to build networks online through Facebook and Twitter, and to help promote other photographers whose work they appreciate. Wallace made the point that opportunities for group exhibitions often come from other artists, and introductions to clients often come from fellow photographers.

Kramer also made another useful point for photographers who might still be hesitant to publish their work online: “The more you are associated with your work, the harder it is to steal it,” she said.

October 5th, 2011

Who Photographers Follow On Tumblr

© Jody Rogac. A recent entry on Jody Rogac's Tumblr.

Photographers have used micro-blogging site Tumblr as a tool to share their work with audiences online, many of them building followings that number in the thousands and even tens of thousands. (For more on how photographers are using Tumblr see our October feature, “Why Photographers Love Tumblr.”)

But photographers also use the site to follow other shooters, keeping up with what their peers are doing and passing along work they like or admire.

JUCO, the photography team of Julia Galdo and Cody Cloud, keep up with other photographers like Noah Kalina, with whom they share a rep, Chris McPherson, Elizabeth Weinberg, Ryan Schude, Dan Busta and the duo Day 19. (Kalina also published a list of photographers who have Tumblr pages, which is useful for people who are new to the site or want to find new people to follow.)

Ryan Pfluger follows Daniel Shea, Tony Katai, Christopher Schreck, Alexi Hobbs, and a Tumblr called “Mull it Over,” run by Jonathan Cherry, which features Q&A’s with new photographers once a week.

Alec Soth, who used Tumblr for a Magnum project earlier this year, says he recently “confessed” to an intern that he likes Terry Richardson’s Diary on Tumblr.

“In my Google reader, there’s a thousand unread things, and I find myself clicking on [Richardson’s Tumblr] repeatedly for guilty pleasure or whatever it is,” Soth says. “But there is a sense that I’ve followed him, I’m along on the ride, and I guess I’m hungry to experience that with other types of photographers as well.”

In addition to following professional photography peers like Emiliano Granado and Jessica Eaton, and an aspiring professional named Megan McIsaac, Jody Rogac follows current and potential clients like the New York Times T Magazine, Rolling Stone and Dazed & Confused to keep up with what they’re doing.

Sacha Lecca, a Rolling Stone photo editor who also posts his own images to Tumblr, says he generally follows photographers who he’s worked with, met or is familiar with. But through Tumblr’s “reblogging” function, where users share the work of others on their own Tumblr page, he can often “find out about someone I didn’t know.”

Related: Why Photographers Love Tumblr

September 27th, 2011

LUCEO Opens Online Store In Effort to “Assert Creative Control”

Photographer collective LUCEO Images announced the opening of an online store that the group of documentary photographers hopes will allow them to “assert more creative control over the production and distribution of our work,” they said.

The group will sell limited- and open-edition prints, books and other creative work through their online store. The store’s proceeds will go into a general fund supporting new projects by the photographers, as well as other initiatives like their grant for student photographers and their donations in support of other photographers through crowd-funding sites like KickStarter and Emphas.is.

LUCEO is launching the store with the sale of the second issue of their magazine, 2×2. The magazine features the work of members Kendrick Brinson and Matt Eich, and it is also being sold in a limited edition featuring two prints.

The collective plans to offer a new print for sale on the site every two weeks.

More at store.luceoimages.com.

September 7th, 2011

Agency Access Acquires AdBase, FoundFolios

Agency Access, a provider of self-promotion resources for photographers and illustrators, has announced the acquisition of its main competitor, AdBase, and the AdBase-owned portfolio site, FoundFolios. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“Combining these companies has always been a vision of mine,” Agency Access president and CEO Keith Gentile said in a prepared statement. “Our motivation has always been to supply our members with more options, leading to more opportunities, and more work.”

Agency Access and AdBase both maintain databases of art buyers at ad agencies, graphic design firms, publishers, and other companies. Photographers and illustrators pay for access to those databases, as well as for other marketing services including e-mail blasts and direct mail. FoundFolios is a portfolio site that competes with PDN’s Photoserve, among others.

Gentile told PDN that Agency Access and AdBase will maintain separate operations and brand identities. AdBase customers will be able to continue with the same service they currently have, or take advantage of consultations, design services, telemarketing services, or full-service marketing that Agency Access offers.

Although the acquisition eliminates significant competition for Agency Access, “the prices will not be adjusted, and the quality of service will only get better,” Gentile asserts. He adds that there is still plenty of competition in the marketplace. “We’re going to keep the [prices] the same, and the value of service high.”

August 1st, 2011

Vimeo Launches Professional Video Service

Video-sharing site Vimeo announced this morning it has added a professional version of its service aimed at photographers and other small businesses.

Called Vimeo PRO, the service costs $199 for the year and will allow photographers to create galleries of their videos using templates and themes.

The video galleries will be hosted by Vimeo but photographers can post them directly to their own websites and use their own branding and logos. Vimeo PRO will be entirely separate from the general Vimeo.com community.

The $199 annual flate fee gives you 50GB of storage and 250,000 video plays. You can also buy more storage in 50GB increments for $199 and additional plays in increments of 100,000 for $199.

Vimeo PRO will be available on Vimeo’s site today, starting at 1pm EST.

June 23rd, 2011

When Life Gives Photogs Lemons, They Make Viral Videos

STUCK from Joe Ayala on Vimeo.

Faced with a night stranded in the Dallas/Fort Worth airport, auto racing photographers Joe Ayala and Larry Chen decided to put their photo equipment to good use. They created a video of themselves playing around in the empty airport—racing wheelchairs, raiding restaurant kitchens and surfing escalators—which became a viral hit, scored them a ton of free publicity, and drew the ire of cranky pants airport officials. The pair also spoke to Jalopnik about how they created the video.

June 2nd, 2011

Is Submitting Local/Regional Work to “Who’s Shooting What” a Waste of Time?

This was a question raised today by a photographer from Boston who wrote, “From what I see on Who’s Shooting What, one needs to submit a national campaign, be a famous photographer or the subject must be a celebrity.”

For the uninitiated, our Who’s Shooting What column is a bi-weekly round-up of photographers and creatives behind current ad campaigns (and very occasionally, editorial shoots). The column appears behind our pay wall, so it’s available to subscribers only, although anyone can submit work to be published.

The short answer to the Boston photographer’s question is No, it is not a waste of time to submit work to Who’s Shooting What. We publish most of what is submitted. (more…)

March 18th, 2011

Friday Fun: The Fitness Republic of China, by Christopher Wahl

http://www.thefitnessrepublicofchina.com

Corporate photographer Christopher Wahl shot this video in a park in Shanghai, China, on one of his days off. He used a Canon EOS 1D Mark IV and turned the whole piece into a microsite of nonstop repetitious exercise movements,  http://www.the fitnessrepublicofchina.com (rollover each individual frame on the site to hear the accompanying audio. “I was inspired by how a simple movement and the initial act of practice is reflective in the lives of many living in China,” Wahl says. His favorite is the man in the blue sweatsuit shaking his posterior. What’s yours?

All images © Christopher Wahl