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July 3rd, 2014

Photographer Creates Free iPhone App for His Signature Style

New York City-based photographer Alexander Richter has used the Contrast by Hornbeck app to make images of the city's architecture for his Instagram feed.

New York City-based photographer Alexander Richter has used the Contrast by Hornbeck app to make a series of images of the city’s architecture for his Instagram feed. Photo © Alexander Richter

Photographer John Hornbeck couldn’t find a camera app for his phone that came anywhere close to the high-contrast, black-and-white photographs he makes with his camera, and he wasn’t interested in “having to purchase a bunch of add-ons.” Hornbeck, who earns money from his photography but also works in the software industry, decided to collaborate with a friend to build an app that would come close to reproducing his style.

After they finished the app, Contrast by Hornbeck, the photographer used it for a few months before he and the developer decided to “push it out to the public and see if there would be any interest from others.” There has been.

Hornbeck has promoted the app—it’s available for free—via his social media channels, and others have shared it. “I know at least a couple of respected photographers who use it and have told others about it, so it’s just word of mouth and people playing around,” he says. The downloads number “in the thousands,” and several hundred images on Instagram are tagged with the #contrastbyhornbeck hashtag.

The biggest thing this app offers that others don’t, Hornbeck says, is simplicity. Photographers can use it to make high-contrast, black-and-white shots. “That’s all it does and we have no plans to really change that.”

 

June 17th, 2014

What We’re Following on Instagram This Week

Here’s what the @pdnonline folks are checking out this week on Instagram.

© Cengiz Yar (@hfwh)

© Cengiz Yar (@hfwh)

Cengiz Yar, Jr @burndiary
Burn, the online magazine for emerging photographers founded by David Alan Harvey, has been using Instagram to post photo essays: one photographer sharing photos from somewhere in the world for seven days. This week: Cengiz Yar, Jr., (@hfwh) posting from Syria, mainly the Kurdish-controlled region, and from a refugee camp for Syrians in Lebanon.

 

© Patricia Lay Dorsey (@patricialaydorsey)

© Patricia Lay Dorsey (@patricialaydorsey)

@socphotogallery
Thanks to PDN’s 30 photographer Zun Lee (@zunleephoto), whose work we featured last week on PDN Photo of the Day and on the @pdnonline Instagram feed, for introducing us to this one. Social Photography is using Instagram as a virtual gallery and online forum in connection with its physical gallery exhibition this month at Indy India Art Gallery in Indianapolis. Social Photography is fostering a dialogue about how social media and the sharing of images is changing both photography and how we view our daily lives. In addition to Zun Lee, contributing photographers have included Samantha Box, Lauren Bohn and Patricia Lay Dorsey.

© Daro Sulakauri (@darosulakauri)

© Daro Sulakauri (@darosulakauri)

Daro Sulakauri for @opensocietyfoundations
Daro Sulakauri (@darosulakauri) is taking over the IG feed of Open Society Foundations, posting from Tchiatura, a manganese-mining town in the Republic of Georgia. The story is brutal, the images beautiful.

© Carl De Keyzer/Magnum Photos (@carldekeyzer of @magnumphotos)

© Carl De Keyzer/Magnum Photos (@carldekeyzer of @magnumphotos)

Carl De Keyzer for @newyorkerphoto
Magnum photographer Carl De Keyzer (@carldekeyzer) is taking followers of the New Yorker Photo Booth to an exotic locale called his backyard. All week he’s posting from his home and garden. De Keyzer lives in a restored castle “somewhere between Ghent and Brussels in Belgium.” This proves, yet again, that you don’t have to venture too far to make great photos, especially if you live in a restored castle and have a garden with peacocks and geese and a big white dog.

May 6th, 2014

New Free Web Service Claims to Offer Solution to Runaway Image Fakery

San Jose-based Fourandsix Technologies has announced plans to capitalize on “a growing distrust of manipulated images” with the launch of new forensic tool “to prove that hosted photos have not been modified with Photoshop or other tools,” according to a press release.

The tool is available for free to individual users at izitru.com. A developer API making it possible to integrate the photo authentication software into any website is available to third parties for a fee.

“Viewers are unsure of what to trust, whether they’re looking at a selfie on Facebook, an item for sale on eBay, or a dramatic storm cloud photo on Twitter,” the company says in its announcement.

The izitru.com website prompts users to upload their JPEG images, which are then subjected to six different forensic tests to distinguish original camera files from “subsequent derivations”–ie, files altered with Photoshop or other tools.  “Images that pass all six of these tests get the highest trust rating,” the company says in its announcement.

One of our first questions was, Can this tool be used to determine the authenticity of images already posted online–such as winners of major awards in photojournalism contests, or any other news images, for that matter? (more…)

March 27th, 2014

PDN’s 30 Photographers Provide Career Tips to Aspiring Photographers (UPDATED)

pdn30-2014-sva-blog2
A panel featuring three of this year’s PDN’s 30 photographers discussed strategies for building a successful career and offered a wealth of useful tips to an audience of students and industry professionals at the School of Visual Arts theater in New York last evening.

The PDN’s 30 photographers, Bobby Doherty (still life), Billy Kidd (fashion), and Bryan Derballa (editorial/lifestyle), discussed how they found their visual styles, how they use social media to get noticed, build networks and land jobs, and the importance of learning and practicing good business skills. Photographer Tony Gale, a Sony Artisan of Imagery who has taught photography, and photo editor Emily Shornick of The Cut at New York magazine, also provided insights on navigating the industry. The evening was sponsored by Sony, Offset, Canson Paper and ASMP.

Describing how they launched their careers, Doherty, Kidd and Derballa all said they developed their visual styles by shooting whatever interested them a lot–even obsessively.

“It’s important to be making the kind of photos you would want to get paid to do, before you get paid to do it,” Doherty said.

Bobby Doherty's early makeshift studio.

Bobby Doherty’s early makeshift studio.

A 2011 graduate of SVA, he started by experimenting with conceptual still life work in his apartment at night. “I didn’t have any money. I had two flashes, and [bar] stools” and broom handles that served as stands (shown at right). Doherty says he was focusing on “how to accomplish an idea with as little as possible, technically.”

Kidd says when he moved from Arizona to New York, he did test shoots with models four, five, or six times a week–”whatever I could do,” he says. “I experimented with light, to find out who I was.”

Shornick emphasized the importance of developing a distinctive personal style. When it comes to hiring a photographer, she said, “”I don’t want to be surprised. I want to pre-visualize” what a photographer will deliver.

One of the biggest challenges for photographers is getting noticed. All the photographers on the panel said they take as much pleasure in sharing their work as they do in shooting it, and they use social media–particularly Tumblr–to build audiences.

Kidd said he posted images from his test shoots on a Tumblr blog. “That’s how my rep found me–from my Tumblr page,” he says. On his Tumblr page, he says, he posts “everything I shoot, and want to show people.”

“Be liberal and fun with your Tumblr,” advised Derballa. Years ago he started Lovebryan, a blog that features not only his work, but that of several other photographers whose work he likes. Derballa also noted that he uses Tumblr “to follow trends” by looking at what other photographers are shooting.

Panelists also discussed the importance of personal connections and face-to-face networking. Doherty says working as an assistant eventually led to a job with Lucas Michael, who shoots for New York Magazine. That led to a meeting with Director of Photography Jody Quon, and a couple of weeks later, Doherty had his first assignment from the magazine.

Kidd says he got access to models for test shoots through a friend who worked for modeling agencies. Derballa got his first assignment from The Wall Street Journal after a chance meeting with former photo editor Matthew Craig while Derballa was talking about a self-funded assignment at a bar with another photographer.

The discussion also turned to business practices, particularly the importance of good communication skills, dependability, and presenting a professional appearance in your emails and invoices.

Here are some tips the panelists offered:

On networking:

Connect with everyone you can while still in school, including teachers, fellow photography students, and students in other departments.

Attend industry events and meet everyone you can, without thinking: Who can I talk to who can give me work?

If you’re shy, and feel uncomfortable schmoozing at events, force yourself to go with a goal of meeting just one person. Those connections multiply, Gale said. “Then you’re the person who everyone wants to meet because you can introduce them to other people.”

On assisting:

Be an assistant. By assisting, Gale explained, you connect to people and resources, “and you learn so many things it’s not possible to learn in school” about technique and business.

To get assisting jobs, a good attitude is more important than technical know-how, Gale said. “What I need is someone who is going to be paying attention, and not be upset that I said ‘everybody is going to need coffee’ or ‘sorry, but you have to stand out in rain and watch the gear.’”

When you send e-mails asking about work as an assistant, personalize them, Gale advised. “Don’t send an e-mail addressed to 30 other photographers.” And don’t talk about what a great photographer you are, he said. “I don’t care.”

On approaching photo editors:

“Email with a link. That makes it easy to bookmark you,” Shornick said. Mailers just get thrown in a drawer and forgotten. Email “every now and then” about a recent assignment or new personal work, she added. “Quarterly is a good approach.”

No cold calls. “I’m really busy, I just don’t have time,” Shornick said.

Don’t show up unannounced. “That’s really inappropriate.”

Make sure your web site loads fast, and is free of bells and whistles. “I hate Flash websites. I just want to see your work,” said Shornick, who has discovered photographers at portfolio reviews and through Flickr.

Provide multiple contacts and Indicate your physical location. “If I can’t figure out where you live I’m never going to hire you,” Shornick said.

On providing good service to clients:

Be dependable. “The most important thing is [meeting] deadlines,” Shornick said.

Be responsive. “I always pick up [phone calls]. It’s probably someone who wants to hire you, or wants to know why the photos aren’t there,” Derballa said.
“Yeah, pick up the phone,” Shornick said, or she’ll just call another photographer.

UPDATE: The School of Visual Arts has published a video of this talk:

Related articles:

PDN’s 30 2014: New and Emerging Photographers to Watch

9 Tips for Getting Hired (and Re-Hired) as a Photographer’s Assistant

February 24th, 2014

White House Shuts Out Photographers Again. So Now What?

No photographers allowed: White House released this photo of President Obama's meeting with the Dalai Lama on February 21.

The White House released this photo of President Obama and the Dalai Lama on Feb. 21, after barring press photographers from the meeting.

Now that it is evident that the White House is deaf to complaints from photographers and their employers about being shut out of some of President Obama’s official meetings, the question is, What can the media do about it?

On Friday, the White House  closed a meeting between the President and the Dalai Lama, and then angered photographers, their employers, and photo trade groups by by releasing an official photo on Twitter by White House photographer Pete Souza.

Reuters and the Associated Press (AP) refused to distribute the official photo, according to a report by the National Press Photographers Association.

The White House News Photographers Association (WHNPA) issued a statement urging other news organizations not to publish the photo, describing it as “a visual press release of a news worthy event.”

WHNPA also said in their statement, “We are disappointed the White House has reverted to their old strategy of announcing a closed press event and then later releasing their own photo.”

Last November, more than three dozen news organizations signed a joint letter protesting limits on photographers’ access to some of Obama’s official meetings.

A few weeks later, The New York Times published an op-ed piece by AP director of photography Santiago Lyon, who called the White House handout photos “propaganda.”

Around the same time, journalists confronted White House press secretary Jay Carney at a White House press briefing about the issue. Carney told the journalists in so many words that The White House no longer needs photographers like it once did, because it can distribute its own pictures directly to the public on the internet.

“You don’t have to buy that newspaper or subscribe to that wire service to see that photograph,” Carney said at the time.

Nevertheless, he pledged “to work with the press and with the photographers to try to address some of their concerns.” About a week later, on December 17, he met with representatives of the National Press Photographers Association (NPPA), the WHNPA, and other media organizations.

Afterwards, NPPA general counsel Mickey Osterreicher said in a report published by NPPA, “We remain cautiously optimistic that the White House will follow through on its earlier commitment to transparency.”

That was then. On Friday, after photographers were shut out of Obama’s meeting with the Dalai Lama, White House News Photographers Association president Ron Sachs said in another NPPA report, “I think the White House grand strategy is to talk us to death and do nothing.”

Osterreicher tells PDN, “We (media groups) should be having a meeting soon” to discuss what to do next.

Undoubtedly they’ll be looking for new angles of diplomacy or attack (or both) to regain the access that White House press corps photographers once enjoyed. In the meantime, we ask PDN readers: What would you advise media organizations and photographers covering the White House to do now?

Related:

Media Protests White House Limits on Photographers
White House Press Secretary to Photographers: We Respect You, But We Don’t Need You
AP Photo Chief Appeals to Public About White House Access. Will It Help?

September 5th, 2013

Facebook Makes Alarming Changes to Terms, ASMP Breaks Down the Changes

Facebook has altered their terms of service to make it possible for companies that pay the social media network to utilize Facebook users’ content and likeness without compensation or permission. The changes are sure to alienate Facebook’s users in the creative community, who make a living from licensing their work and content.

Among the changes is this gem:

“You give us permission to use your name, and profile picture, content, and information in connection with commercial, sponsored, or related that content (such as a brand you like) served or enhanced by us. This means, for example, that you permit a business or other entity to pay us to display your name and/or profile picture with your content or information, without any compensation to you. If you have selected a specific audience for your content or information, we will respect your choice when we use it.”

ASMP created a handy Q&A about the new terms of use that helps break down the changes and what they mean for photographers.

This comes on the heels of the ASMP-led criticism of Instagram that was recently issued.

We have to wonder, at what point will a social network take the step to actually compensate the users that make it tick and protect them from unauthorized exploitation and surveillance? Seems to us like a network that figured out how to do that would find a community very quickly.

Related: Photography Trade Organizations Take Aim at Instagram Terms
AFP, Washington Post Violated Daniel Morel’s Copyrights, Judge Rules
Morel Case Highlights Copyright Risks of Social Networks

July 18th, 2013

Startup Aims to Help Media License Amateur News Photos for $20 Apiece

An image sourced by CrowdMedia from a Twitter user who was on the tarmac at SFO during the Asiana Airlines crash was used in a gallery on Huffington Post.

© Huffington Post. An image sourced by CrowdMedia from Twitter user @mcc_maryland, whose plane was on the tarmac at SFO during the Asiana Airlines crash, was used in a gallery on Huffington Post.

A six-week-old company that connects media organizations to amateur photographers who have taken newsworthy photographs is creating some buzz, and could add yet another wrinkle to the market for news photography—one professional photographers and their photo agencies may not like.

CrowdMedia, the Montreal-based startup, uses a combination of an algorithm and a manual process to analyze more than 100 million images shared everyday via Twitter. The company identifies the .03% of these images that they consider valuable and newsworthy, reaches out to the creators via Twitter, and asks them to click a link if they would like to make their image available to media organizations. Once the creator of the photo creates an account, images are uploaded to the CrowdMedia platform, where media companies can find and purchase them for roughly $20 apiece, regardless of the usage.

Roldan says, “News outlets want [photos shared on social media] but it’s really cumbersome.” CrowdMedia promises to streamline the process, connecting editors directly to social media users.

CrowdMedia launched in June, shortly after the Chicago Sun-Times layed off its photo staff.

To read the full interview with CrowdMedia’s Roldan and learn more about the company’s pricing and functionality, see our full story, now on PDNOnline.

Related: Chicago Sun-Times Eliminates Photo Staff

July 9th, 2013

New Look PhotoShelter Adds Portfolio Sites and Social Media Integration

The homepage of photographer Robin Moore's new PhotoShelter Beam portfolio site.

The homepage of photographer Robin Moore’s new PhotoShelter Beam portfolio site. Moore was among the photographers who beta tested Beam.

Today PhotoShelter launched Beam, its new portfolio website platform, which is connected to its e-commerce, cloud storage, image delivery, client proofing and marketing tools for professional photographers.

The launch also includes integration with popular social media, blogging and video tools like Instagram, Tumblr, Vimeo and WordPress, allowing users to add content from those platforms to their Beam site, and to easily share content from their site to other platforms.

Beam is available immediately, at no cost, to current PhotoShelter users with Standard and Pro accounts, and to non-users on a 14-day trial basis. After the 14-day trial, new PhotoShelter users can pay either $29.99 per month for a Standard account, which includes a Beam site, 60GB of storage and all of PhotoShelter’s other tools, or $49.99 for a Pro account with 1000GB of storage.

At launch, Beam offers four different portfolio website designs that were created using HTML5 and CSS3, which the company says will allow images to render on “virtually any” digital device.

The “Site Builder” tool allows photographers to quickly update the look of their site and requires no coding experience.

“The biggest upgrade is the user interface, which means that I now use Photoshelter as my primary online portfolio to showcase my images,” said Robin Moore, a DC-based conservation photographer, in an email interview with PDN. Moore was among the beta testers for Beam.

A longtime PhotoShelter user, Moore used to use PhotoShelter for storage and WordPress for his portfolio. “Now,” he says, “I don’t have to fuss with that integration, and I can display my images, blog and videos on one site that I would be happy to share with prospective clients.”

Though Moore says there were “some hiccups” in the beta testing process, he is pleased with how easily he can modify his new portfolio site. “For someone who gets goosebumps every time they see code, I have really enjoyed the user-friendly interface,” Moore adds.

For more information, visit the PhotoShelter Beam microsite.

June 20th, 2013

Instagram Demonstrates Powerful Video Stabilization – on a Smartphone

shaky-videoProfessional photographers don’t often turn to a smartphone to shoot video. But in the new video offering announced by Instagram today is technology that could eventually be a great addition to the toolkit.

A new video option for the photo sharing site can literally take jumpy, hand-held video and turn it into something watchable. Technology like that could someday be used to help rescue video footage that might otherwise be given up for loss because of a shaky hand.

Here’s a clip of the announcement about the new technology, taken from today’s live stream of the Instagram press event.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=rB5WrX3NLBU

To watch the replay of the live streaming of the whole Facebook/Instagram event, beginning to end, go this Live Stream page.

–Erik Sherman

May 21st, 2013

Forget Tumblr: Yahoo! Has Big Plans for Flickr

Like most of the media world, I assumed yesterday’s Yahoo! press event in New York City’s Times Square would be about the company’s purchase of the blogging site Tumblr. Imagine my surprise when it was actually an announcement about the redesign of the photo-sharing site Flickr, which Yahoo! purchased in 2005. In hindsight, the event’s decor should’ve given it away:

Flickr-Yahoo-Press-Event-NYC

© Meghan Ahearn

After New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg finished speaking, Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer got down to business, announcing that one of her goals has been to make Flickr “awesome again.” Yahoo! SVP of mobile and emerging products Adam Cahan took over to highlight the three changes Yahoo! has made: offering one terabyte of free storage for every user; launching a new Flickr user interface that focuses on the photos; and launching a new user interface for Android-powered devices (Flickr already relaunched new UIs for iOS and PC systems).

In a world where things are usually discussed in megabytes and gigabytes, a terabyte is unique—and Cahan said as much. He equated that amount of storage to uploading over 500,000 photos at full resolution (which is how all Flickr photos will now be displayed). But it got me thinking: If everyone gets a free terabyte, what do Flickr Pro users get? The answer is: Nothing—because Flickr Pro accounts don’t exist anymore. Previously, Flickr Pro users paid for a number of special features, including unlimited photo and video uploads. The free terabyte does away with the need to purchase more storage, and the other perks are folded into the regular accounts.

So how does Flickr plan on making money? A little digging around on the site showed there are three account options for users to choose from: Free; Ad Free at $49.99 per year, which offers the same services as Free but without the ads; and Doublr at $499.99 per year, which is the same as Ad Free except users get two terabytes of storage. This suggests the plan is to make money by selling advertising, which is already being displayed on the Flickr site.

At the press event, Flickr’s Head of Product Markus Spiering went over some of the site’s new features including the revamped photo stream, improved slide show functionality and the new background color for the images (black). He seemed most focused on the new social aspects of Flickr, highlighting how easy it is to share Flickr images on various social-networking sites, and encouraging brands and institutions to create Flickr accounts. Is the ultimate goal to make Flickr some kind of hybrid between Facebook and Tumblr? It certainly seems that way, especially with functionality like People in Photos, which allows users to tag friends and family in their photos.

A day later, now that everyone’s had a chance to poke around the site, the new user interface appears to be what Flickr users have the most beef with. Cahan and Mayer touted the fact that the redesign does away with the negative white space, text boxes and blue links, and displays all images at their full resolution. After we posted the redesign news on Twitter and Facebook last night, a couple of PDN’s followers commented that they didn’t like the new interface. Those comments pale in comparison to the pages and pages of comments on the Flickr help page, which complain about everything from the new background color to the images being displayed at such a large size, it’s hard to navigate the site.

But complaining goes hand-in-hand with redesigns. I’m more curious to see what Yahoo!’s next step is because it’s almost as if they’ve just realized they have a treasure trove of imagery at their fingertips. Take for instance, the new Yahoo! Weather mobile app. The background of the app displays a Flickr image that matches the app user’s location, time of day and current weather condition. So, for example, if you access the Yahoo! Weather app in Brooklyn, New York, on a rainy morning, the image displayed will show you a photo of a rainy New York City morning, previously taken by a Flickr user. To help populate the app with images, Flickr created Project Weather, asking users to submit their own images to be displayed on the app.

I have a feeling this is just the beginning of seeing Flickr images everywhere you see the purple Yahoo! logo.