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May 21st, 2015

Science Says: People Like Filtered Photos

Love them or hate them, photo filters are a staple of photo sharing. While some may view them as a shortcut to creativity, new research suggests they’re also a powerful lure for eyeballs on the web’s most popular photo platforms.

New research from Saeideh Bakhshi, David Shamma and Lyndon Kennedy of Yahoo Labs and Eric Gilbert at Georgia Tech aims to understand how filtering and “visual post-processing” impacts photo sharing.

What they found, simply put, is that filtering photos drives more engagement: photos with filters were 21 percent more likely to be viewed on Flickr and Instagram than those without. What’s more, filtered photos were 45 percent more likely to be commented on.

There is an art to filtering, though.

“Filters that increase contrast and correct exposure can help a photo’s engagement, and filters that create a warmer color temperature are more engaging than those with cooler color effects,” the authors write. “Photographically speaking, filters which auto-enhance a photo (e.g. correct for contrast and exposure) drive more engagement. We find the less-engaging filters exhibit transformation effects which are exaggerated and often cause photographic artifacts and/or loss of highlight details. The exception being filters which make a photo look antique.”

Screen Shot 2015-05-21 at 9.24.50 AM

The study gleaned insights from interviews with Flickr users, plus a quantitative analysis of over 7.6 million images from both Flickr and Instagram.

Incidentally, filters aren’t the only means of increasing engagement with images. The researchers also found that the more tags a Flickr image had, the more likely it was to surface in a search. The age of a Flickr account also had a “positive but small role” in the number of eyeballs an image attracted.

The full report, which provides a detailed breakdown on the methodology used in the study, is available here.

May 7th, 2015

Getty Images and Instagram Launch $10K Social Media Photo Grant

Photographers who use Instagram to document and share stories of underrepresented communities are eligible for a new $10,000 grant announced today by Getty Images and Instagram.

According to an announcement from Instagram, the judges will pick three winners based on “the existing body of work represented on their Instagram account, focusing on the quality of their imagery, their photographic skills and on the project and stories told through their photos.”

“Photographers in all corners of the world use the Instagram platform to share unique and authentic stories that otherwise rarely come into focus,” Getty’s senior director of content partnerships Elodie Malliet Storm said in a statement.

“This grant captures the global enthusiasm from photographers to continue to push their craft to new levels,” added Instagram community director Amanda Kelso.

In addition to the grant money, the work of the winners will be shown at the Photoville photography festival in September in New York City. Winners will also receive mentorship from a Getty Images photographer.

The grant boasts a distinguished list of judges. They are: TIME magazine director of photography Kira Pollack; photographer Malin Fezehai; photographer Maggie Steber; photographer and National Geographic Fellow David Guttenfelder; and photographer and @EverdayIran co-founder Ramin Talaie.

Applications will be accepted through June 4, 2015 at 11:59 p.m. GMT. Getty and Instagram also released a hashtag to help spread work of the grant: #GettyImagesInstagramGrant.

For more information or to apply, visit: www.gettyimages.com/grants

Related: PDN’s 30: Malin Fezehai
PPE 2014: Leading The Revolution in Smartphone Photography
Why TIME Chose an Amateur Photographer’s Image for Its Cover
Q&A: Instagram Editorial Director Pamela Chen
Maidan Moment: Anastasia Taylor-Lind’s Book of Portraits From Kiev

May 1st, 2015

Why TIME Chose an Amateur Photographer’s Image for Its Cover

The May 11, 2015 cover of TIME Magazine, with an image by aspiring photographer Devin Allen.

The May 11, 2015 cover of TIME Magazine, featuring an image by aspiring photographer Devin Allen.

Yesterday TIME Magazine released the cover of the May 11 issue bearing an image of the Baltimore protests made by a 26-year-old amateur photographer named Devin Allen, who first picked up a camera in 2013. It is just the third time the magazine has used amateur images on the cover. It’s generated a lot of publicity for TIME, which issued a press release about Allen’s photo the day the issue came out. “[Allen’s image] was just beautifully composed and it was compelling, and it caught my eye immediately and summed up the story in a really interesting way,” says TIME deputy director of photography Paul Moakley.

Since Monday, Allen, who has a job working with autistic children and is an aspiring photographer, has covered the protests of the death of Freddie Gray, who died after his spinal cord was nearly severed while he was in police custody. (The state’s attorney for Baltimore, Marilyn J. Mosby, announced this morning that she has filed homicide, manslaughter and misconduct charges against Baltimore police officers). The cover text ties Allen’s black-and-white image of a protester running from a line of riot police to scenes one might have seen during the Baltimore riots in 1968, implying little has changed for black communities.

Allen brought an insider’s perspective to his coverage of the protests of Gray’s death. He is from West Baltimore, where protestors have clashed with police and riots have erupted into looting and arson. His images went viral on Monday when he published them on Instagram. They were shared by actor Michael K. Williams and singer Rihanna, and caught the attention of editors at several news organizations, including TIME. (more…)

April 6th, 2015

Band Defends Their Decision to Ask Photographer for Free Images

Alternative rock band Garbage published an open letter to portrait photographer Pat Pope on April 3, defending their decision to ask for free use of an image for their book and suggesting Pope was out of line for calling them out publicly.

On April 2, Pope published an open letter addressed to the band, criticizing their management company’s attempt to get free license to publish one of his images in a book the band plans to self-publish to celebrate their 20th anniversary.

In his letter, which was published on Facebook and picked up by websites Louder Than War and Huffington Post UK, Pope wrote: “I’m a firm believer that musicians and artists deserve to be paid for their work,” and asked the band, “When you think about artists being paid, does that include photographers?”

The band responded a day later with an open letter of their own, pointing out that they paid Pope for the shoot in 1995 (though presumably it was not a work for hire agreement), that books are expensive to publish, and that many other photographers “were happy for their images to be seen in conjunction with the telling of our story.” The band also did a little public shaming of their own, writing that they “would never publicly admonish or begrudge a fellow artist for merely asking [for them to provide services for free].” (more…)

March 13th, 2015

Blake Little’s Preservation: Dipped in Honey

© Blake Little

© Blake Little

Photographer and artist Blake Little’s new project, Preservation, kicked off a run at the Kopeikin Gallery in Los Angeles (March 7 – April 18) with a book also available now. The behind-the-scenes video on YouTube (NSFW) drew over 2 million views in a little over a month and a deluge of comments (690 as this was published), including persistent criticism about the use of honey and a dog as a subject. We reached out to Little via email for his thoughts on the project and the reaction it sparked online. (more…)

March 2nd, 2015

PDN Video: Ruddy Roye on Instagram, Storytelling, and Risking the “Angry Black Man” Label

Photographer Ruddy Roye has attracted 116,000 Instagram followers despite–or perhaps because of–his gritty, difficult subject matter and the long captions he posts to help humanize his subjects. Using Instagram largely as a tool of social activism, Roye draws attention to racial and economic injustice primarily in New York City, and often in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn, where he lives. “A lack of black images [and] black photographers has created this void for people like me,” says Roye, who was born and raised in Jamaica. “Instagram has allowed me a light that didn’t exist before.” In this video, he explains how he found his Instagram voice, and discusses the professional risks he is taking by refusing to look away and remain silent.

Related:
Q&A: Instagram Editorial Director Pamela Chen

December 23rd, 2014

PDNPulse: Top Stories of 2014

As another fascinating year in the world of professional photography comes to a close, we look back on the stories that drew the most interest from PDNPulse readers this year.

From manipulated news photos, to photographers arrested for doing their jobs, to collaborative efforts between photographers and an interview with one of photography’s most influential star makers, these stories capture some of the highs and lows of the photography business today.

1: George Steinmetz Wonders: Was It Worth Getting Arrested for National Geographic Cover Story Photos

2: 2014 Winter Olympics Op-Ed: Everything You’ve Read About Problems for Photographers in Sochi is True

3: PDN Video: Lens Blog’s James Estrin’s Career Tips for Photojournalists

4: Photographers Share Intimate Images of Loved Ones for Curated Photo Website

5: AP Severs Ties With Photographer Narciso Contreras Over Photoshopped Image
5a: Photographer Fired by AP Says Decision Was Fair, But Process Wasn’t

6: How Much Do Editorial Clients Pay? “Wiki” Gives Names and Fees

7: If that Kim Kardashian Photo Looks Familiar…

8: Calumet Photographic to Liquidate, Closes U.S. Stores

9: Photographer Creates Free iPhone App for His Signature Style

10: Wal-mart Sues Photographer’s Widow Claiming Copyright for Decades of Portraits of Walton Family

11: Suffolk County Pays $200K to Settle News Photographer’s Unlawful Arrest Claim

12: How Should Clients React to Sexual Coercion Allegations Against Terry Richardson?

13: AP Photographer Anja Niedringhaus Killed in Afghanistan

14: Cowboy Lifestyle Photographer David Stoecklein Dies, 65

15: Photojournalist Camille Lapage, 26, “Murdered” in Central African Republic

October 7th, 2014

Founders of Everyday Feeds Launch @EverydayEverywhere, “Family of Man for the Modern Age”

everydayTwo years after photographer Peter DiCampo and writer Austin Merrill launched Everyday Africa to share images that defy stereotypes about the continent, the popular Instagram feed has spawned multiple imitations, including Everyday Asia, Everyday Middle East, Everyday Iran, Everyday Sri Lanka, and Everyday USA. Now photographers behind 11 of the feeds have launched @EverydayEverywhere
and have invited photographers around the world to contribute by posting images to Instagram with the hashtag #everydayeverywhere.

The central feed will share a common mission: To disseminate images that promote greater understanding of the world. “We hope that when you put this body of work together, it’s a ‘Family of Man’ in the modern age,” DiCampo says, referring to the ambitious 1955 exhibition which featured 273 photographers, “celebrating commonalities, and fighting stereotypes in each region.”

He adds that the loose roster of photographers contributing the feeds are not a photo agency or a collective. “We’re happy this has become a promotional device for [photographers] but we don’t want them participating because of that. We want them to be excited about the project.”

DiCampo says that one or two images a day will be posted to @everydayeverywhere. Guest curators, working on the feed for two weeks at a time, will select the images that appear on @everydayeverywhere. For now, current contributors to Everyday feeds will serve as curators, but the contributors plan to invite an international group of curators to participate. DiCampo explains, “We want a variety of people: photo editors, artists, scholars, thinkers, musicians.”  Since the launch of Everyday Everywhere, Grant Slater and Austin Merrill have been the first and second guest curators, selecting images that had been posted on Everyday Eastern Europe, Everyday Bangladesh, Everyday Black America, Everyday Iran and Everyday NBNJ, which shows images from New Brunswick, New Jersey.

Contributors to Everyday decided to create a centralized Everyday feed during three days of meetings at the Open Society Foundations in New York City. The meetings, held during the Photoville photo festival, where an exhibition of work from 11 feeds was hosted by Instagram, gathered more than 30 contributors from around the world, says DiCampo. Though many had previously shared advice and ideas via Skype or email, few of the contributors had met in person.

“We’ve been talking for a long time about how to organize all this, how to encourage the Everyday concept to continue spreading while at the same time having some central structure,” DiCampo says in the press release the group issued on September 30.

To support the expansion of the Everyday project, the contributors who met in New York City also formed committees to address concerns common to all the feeds. “There’s now an events committee, an educational committee, a technical committee to help,” says DiCampo, who along with Merrill has used Everyday Africa imagery to conduct a visual literacy class in the Bronx where students can contribute to Everyday Bronx. He adds that a book of images posted to Everyday Africa is also in the works.

Related Article
Picture Story: Everyday Africa on Instagram

October 2nd, 2014

“How Come This Stuff Isn’t Animated?” The Story of Mr. GIF

Pop star Miley Cyrus and the rapper 2 Chainz backstage at Jeremy Scott's S/S 2015 show at New York fashion week. © Mr. GIF

Pop star Miley Cyrus and the rapper 2 Chainz backstage at Jeremy Scott’s S/S 2015 show at New York fashion week. © Mr. GIF for Milk Made

Mr. GIF wants to animate the Internet. The creative duo has made photographing and illustrating GIFs—the 27-year-old bitmap image format that supports crude animation—their calling card. They’re the team that Marc Ecko, Evian and Transamerica tap when they need to quickly make strong, easily shareable moving images for whatever they’re selling. In just a few short years, they evolved from a pair of daydreaming MTV plebes to shooting Miley Cyrus and 2Chainz backstage at fashion week. To them, still images that move were obviously taylor-made for the Internet and its thousands of screens. But can you really make a career of making GIFs?

The duo, Jimmy Repeat and Mark Portillo, are college buddies. They studied advertising design together at the Fashion Institute of Technology. Their studies were almost irrelevant—Portillo didn’t even finish—but the renowned art and design school is where the two would meet. Less than seven years later, they would quit their jobs to make GIFs—the full-time for clients like and others. Even an insurance company.

Having gone their separate ways after school, Repeat and Portillo reconnected under the umbrella of Viacom, at MTV’s “Geek” vertical, which covers cartoons, comics and videogames. Doing research for work, they devoured the same comics, but were struck by the format’s limitations.

Maria Sharapova for Evian at the U.S. Open © Mr. GIF

Maria Sharapova for Evian at the U.S. Open © Mr. GIF

“We were like, ‘How come this stuff isn’t animated yet?’” Portillo remembers. “We read Akira and we were like, “If this background was giving me seizures, it would be so much better.’”

So they dreamed up a GIF comic over smoke breaks outside Viacom’s Times Square HQ, and quickly learned why animation was so expensive (it’s a lot of work!). They abandoned the book idea, throwing the frames they’d finished up on Tumblr. But they were having fun. Illustrations gave way to photos, and a thought: “How is the GIF better than the JPEG?”

“We saw the potential,” Repeat says. “Everywhere you look, there’s a screen.”

As relative neophytes—Repeat especially—they were intrigued by the technology of photography. They experimented with odd cameras well-suited to the medium; at first, digital models like the Fujifilm FinePix Real3D W3, but they would later become obsessed with the aesthetics of analog. Toy cameras like Lomography’s Pop 9 (a nine-lens camera that makes nine exposures at once) and ActionSampler (four lenses, four consecutive frames), even 3D film cameras like the Nimslo 3D. The multi-exposure cameras helped streamline their workflow—helpful, as they had to develop and scan each frame to animate their GIFs. They found creative ways to merge digital and analog, using a DSLR to make time-lapse clips of instant film as it developed. They have a lot of cameras.

Marc Ecko, founder of Eckō Enterprises, Mr. GIF’s first big client. © Mr. GIF

They spent their nights and weekends making GIFs and posting them to Tumblr for free. It wasn’t long before Mark Ecko came calling (tweeting, actually) with their first paid gig, animating his upcoming TEDx presentation. They powered through it in three days. “I think we made 200-300 GIFs in one night,” Portillo says. “It was intense.”

“That was the beginning of the end for our day jobs,” Repeat says. “Like, ‘Oh, this is what a good client’s like?” Ecko dug the work, and they started to get more gigs. They GIF’d the U.S. Open for Evian, and fashion week for Tumblr. By 2013, they had quit MTV, and would soon score a huge project: a year-long Tumblr promoting the San Francisco-based insurance company Transamerica’s “Transform Tomorrow” campaign.

The pair convinced Transamerica to send them across the country making GIFs of America’s cities. They flew drones over rooftop gardens in Detroit, Mt. Rushmore in South Dakota and, of course, San Francisco and the iconic Transamerica building. They booked a room at a luxury hotel with the perfect view for a 24-hour time-lapse of the skyline. Transamerica was skeptical of the format—until they saw the popularity of the first clip they posted. Now, when you go to www.transformtomorrow.com, their fancy hotel view of San Francisco graces the background, the current time of day reflected by the time of day in the 24-hour time-lapse they made.

A time-lapse GIF of the San Francisco skyline, that Mr. GIF made for Transamerica, prominently featuring their iconic headquarters. © Mr. GIF

A time-lapse GIF of the San Francisco skyline, that Mr. GIF made for Transamerica, prominently featuring their iconic headquarters. © Mr. GIF

Now certified pros, they’re still almost instinctively inventive with their resources. When a client that was supposed to fly them out and put them up in Austin, TX, to shoot a SXSW panel told them that they had to pay their own way, they got their drive down to Texas sponsored. Their friends at Tumblr would connect them with Transamerica, but it was the GIFs they shot on the trip to Austin that would help them land the gig. When a job for St. Ives took them to Hawaii, they stayed an extra week and shot Honolulu for Transamerica. Since they like to shoot film (which is expensive to buy and process), rather than go to a professional processing house, they trained the local CVS employees how to prep and cut their negatives, adding a healthy tip for their trouble.

One thing they learned early on is that new work leads to new work. They needed to show clients they could make the work, so before they had paid work to show, they just did it for free, and for fun. The fun shows up in the work, and it works.

September 3rd, 2014

Photojournalists Launch “Selfie Against the Death Penalty” Campaign

Documentary photographer Marc Asnin and VII Association, a non-profit organization founded by VII Photo Agency, have launched a social media campaign that advocates for the abolition of the death penalty.

The “Photographers Selfie Against the Death Penalty” campaign is part of a collaboration between Asnin’s Neverland Publications and VII Association on Final Words, a book and traveling exhibition that presents the final statements of 515 inmates executed in Texas since 1982. The aim of the project is to focus on “the humanity at the center of the death penalty in America,” the organizers said in a statement.

To participate, photographers are being asked to upload an image to the Final Words site, and to finish the statement “I stand against the death penalty because….” Among the photographers who have participated so far are Larry Fink, Rudy Archuleta, Anthony Barboza, Sim Chi Yin, and several members of the VII Photo Agency.

For full instructions for how to participate in the campaign, visit the Final Words site here.