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August 27th, 2015

Instagram Reorients, Adds Support for Portrait and Landscape Photo Sharing

1 - Format Icon_Square DefaultInstagram is no longer hip to being just square. The latest version of the app (7.5), which went live today in iTunes and Google Play, supports sharing photos and videos in both portrait and landscape orientations.

Writing that the “square format has been and always will be part of who we are,” Instagram also acknowledged that nearly one in five photos or videos posted to the network weren’t square.

Now photographers will have the option to tap a format icon and switch the orientation of the photo to their preferred format. In a user’s profile grid, portrait/landscape images are displayed as a center-cropped square. Photos taken using the Instagram app will still only be square.

Instagram is also updating its video features. Rather than have separate filters for stills and videos, the updated app will have a single set of filters than work on both. Users will now also be able to adjust the intensity of filters on video.

August 24th, 2015

What New Federal Trade Commission Guides Mean For Instagram Influencers

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has issued new guidelines regarding paid endorsements that photographers should be aware of—especially if they’re being paid to promote products on their Instagram feeds. This summer the FTC updated Guides to Section 5 of the FTC Act to add guidelines about how “Instagram influencers” and bloggers should identify any company or product they’ve been paid to promote.

Put simply, the Guides insist that if you are being compensated to endorse a company, product or event, you should say so. “The Guides, at their core, reflect the basic truth-in-advertising principle that endorsements must be honest and not misleading,” the FTC states.

According to the Guides, there are no fines for violations of the FTC Act. However, “law enforcement actions can result in orders requiring the defendants in the case to give up money they received from their violations.” Not to mention legal fees.

In the FAQ section, the FTC addresses blogs and social media specifically. “Truth in advertising is important in all media,” the Commission writes, “whether they have been around for decades (like, television and magazines) or are relatively new (like, blogs and social media).” (more…)

July 29th, 2015

Video Pick: Rep Maren Levinson: Being a Good Photographer Isn’t Enough

Seattle-based photographer John Keatley recently posted a video interview he did with his rep, Redeye’s Maren Levinson, in which she touched on several changes to the photography industry. Her frank assessment of the market in which professional photographers and their reps operate has earned the video nearly 30,000 views on YouTube. (more…)

June 18th, 2015

How Well Do Imaging & Cloud Companies Protect Your Privacy?

You invest more than just your photos when you use services like Dropbox or Adobe’s Creative Cloud. Sensitive data, such as your location, private communications and more, gets transmitted to third party servers every day.

Every year, the Electronic Frontier Foundation surveys key tech firms to judge just how diligently they safeguard your privacy. Companies are judged across five criteria: whether they follow industry-accepted best practices when it comes to privacy protection (i.e. do they require a warrant before handing over communications), whether they tell users about government data demands, whether they disclose policies on data retention, whether they discloses government content removal requests and whether they have a “pro-user” policy of no “backdoors” to allow government surveillance.

This year, several firms used heavily by the photo community earned five stars–a perfect score. Among them were Adobe, Apple, Dropbox, Yahoo! and WordPress.

Social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Pinterest didn’t fare as well though they still beat out Google, which is aggressively courting photographers with its new Google Photos storage service.

You can read the full report here or get the nickel version from the EFF’s graphic below.

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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:

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.

Q&A: Instagram Editorial Director Pamela Chen