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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.

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…)

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…)

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?

December 19th, 2012

Now That We Know Instagram Isn’t a Charity, What Would You Be Willing to Pay?

In the wake of a hue and cry over Instagram‘s proposed changes to its terms of service, the company has announced it will remove language that would have given Instagram rights to use photos in advertisements. Yet the protests continue, with some high profile users suspending their use of the service or shutting down their accounts altogether.

It’s worth asking what, if anything, individual photographers (and big publishers such as Time, National Geographic, and others) are willing to pay to use Instagram. $10 per year? $25? $100? Even more? And what would photo editors, curators, art directors and others pay for their use of the service to scout talent and review work?

Instagram announced changes to its terms of service on Friday so it can monetize the service by using the pictures and personal data of users to generate advertising dollars. Presumably Instagram would use the content and data to deliver audience and eyeballs to advertisers.

The details of how that would work are opaque, but their push to monetize the service isn’t irrational: they’re looking for a return on their investment, and for compensation for their creativity, risk, and operating costs, just like any other business.

It is hard to argue that they would be exploiting Instagram users by doing away with free service. After all, Instagram provides users with undeniable benefits: a compelling service, with innovative features, the opportunity for a creative outlet, the benefits of community, and bandwidth–all free of charge.

Rather than charge usage fees, though, Instagram is effectively trying to barter its services for its users’ data and intellectual property. It obviously made the mistake of pressing for too much.

But there’s almost certainly a level of exchange that most Instagram users would be comfortable with. Facebook’s popularity suggests that users–including many photographers–are willing to barter personal data and intellectual property for a
desirable service. And flickr, a service that some Instagram defectors are considering, charges $25 per year for pro accounts (regular accounts are free, but bandwidth is restricted).

Ultimately, the brouhaha over Instagram’s proposed terms of service boils down to a marketplace negotiation over a fair price for a service, with both sides testing their bargaining strength to start. In the end, photographers (and other Instagram users) will have to pay something.

We’d like to hear from our readers who have used Instagram: How much would you be willing to pay per month or per year or per upload to use Instagram? Or, if you prefer that the service remains free, what new service terms would be acceptable? Would you stay with Instagram if they sold just your user data to advertisers? Would you stay if they licensed or otherwise used your photos to help their advertisers? What’s your deal breaker with Instagram?

Related story: Photographers Balk at Instagram’s New Terms of Use

November 14th, 2012

Sandy Fundraisers: Great Photographers Selling Prints For Sandy Relief (Updated)

© Wyatt Gallery

A print sale fundraiser for Hurricane Sandy relief featuring $50 prints of iPhone photographs from a great list of photographers will take place this Monday, November 19 at Foley Gallery in New York.

Organized by Wyatt Gallery, Michael Foley, Ben Lowy and Ruddy Roye, and curated by Jun Lee, the show includes photos by Lowy, Roye, Gallery, Ed Kashi, Stephen Wilkes, Hank Willis Thomas, Michael Christopher Brown, Craig Wetherby, Yosra El-Essawy, Sam Horine, Nicole Sweet, Dylan Chandler, Brent Bartley, Stanley Lumax and Erica Simone.

Gotham Imaging is printing the photographs for the exhibition. And according to the event page they are working on enabling online purchases for those who can’t make the event.

For more info and to RSVP, check out the event page here:

http://www.facebook.com/events/377613858994356/

UPDATE: Prints from the show are also available for online purchase, here: http://sandyrelief.bigcartel.com/

Fine-art photographer Isa Leshko, a native of New Jersey whose series Thrills & Chills was largely shot on the Jersey Shore, is contributing in two ways to the rebuilding of the area.

She is donating archival pigment prints of her image “The Wave” from Thrills & Chills to a fundraiser organized by the Richard Levy Gallery . From Dec. 4-9th they will be exhibiting at The Miami Project, a new art fair. Richard Levy Gallery is dedicating a wall of their booth to artwork donated by their artists for Sandy relief. 100% of sales go to the Red Cross. Leshko will be selling 4.5 x 4.5 inch prints of “The Wave” for $100.

“The Wave,” © Isa Leshko.

“In addition,” Leshko says, “from now through the end of the year, I will be donating 20% of any income I derive from sales of gelatin silver prints from my Thrills & Chills series to the following two organizations:

1. Architecture for Humanity’s Restore the Shore fund

2. Rebuilding Together

Feature Shoot also assembled a list of other charity efforts, which you can check out here.

UPDATE:

We received word that the folks at Slideluck Potshow are hosting an event on November 20th at White Box Gallery in New York. The event will raise money to benefit charities that are helping members of the Red Hook, Brooklyn community recover. For more info on the event and to RSVP check out the event page, here.

UPDATE:

TIME and online print retailer 20×200 are collaborating on a sale of 12 prints by noted photographers that will benefit six charities in the New York area that are helping people effected by the storm. Joel Meyerowitz, Alfred Eisenstaedt and Stephen Wilkes prints are part of the collection, which was selected by TIME’s photo editors. Prints will be available until December 16. For more info or to purchase a print visit Art for Sandy Relief.

October 4th, 2012

Collaborative Photo Blogger Project IDs “New Ideas In Photography”

A couple of weeks ago photography writers Jörg Colberg and Colin Pantall put their photography blogger contact lists to work in order to generate some commentary on this question (I’m paraphrasing): Which photographers have demonstrated an openness to use new ideas in photography, have taken chances with their photography and have shown an unwillingness to play it safe. They asked bloggers to name up to five photographers on their respective blogs, and then explain why they chose them. Both Colberg and Pantall then published those lists on their own blogs here and here, respectively.

The result of this co-authored project, called “Towards the 21st Century,” includes responses from 15 photography bloggers and commentary on the work of approximately 50 photographers. A few of the bloggers overlapped on a handful of their picks, but not many. And while some of the picks are more recently known artists (Christian Patterson, Jessica Eaton), many are well known (Jim Goldberg, Broomberg & Chanarin, Collier Schorr, Abelardo Morell). So the project provides a review both of new ideas, and of ideas that were new and continue to influence the medium. So where is photography heading in the 21st century? Evidently it’s moving in a lot of different directions, just as it always has.

September 28th, 2012

On Sustainable Business Models, and Comparing Apples to Oranges

The American Society of Media Photographers’ program, “Sustainable Business Models: Issues & Trends Facing Visual Artists,” held September 27 in New York City, can be viewed online via ASMP’s video library. Speakers and panelists provided useful context and insights into the current marketplace for photography, as well as thoughts on how professional freelancers might adapt their marketing and licensing in today’s economy. A warning, however: Along with provocative insights, the afternoon panel also included the predictable, banal observation that photojournalists have no role to play now that “everyone has a cellphone,” and statistics on how many images are uploaded to Facebook or Instagram each day or each hour or each minute. If you’re like me, you find these comments irritating. Because the first comment is untrue, and the second is irrelevant to any discussion of the professional photography business.

Yes, news editors trolled Instagram to get images of the aftermath of the Empire State Building shooting, but those image sales had no impact on the market for photos by professional news photographers: If amateur cellphone users hadn’t been on the scene, we simply wouldn’t have had any images of the carnage. Yes, a zillion snapshots of cats, babies and plates of food are shared on social media every day. What bearing does that have on what a professional photographer offers to clients or their audience? (more…)

September 19th, 2012

Google Buys Nik, Developer of Photo Editing Tools for Pros

Google has acquired Nik Software, the San Diego company that owns Snapseed photo editing software and other tools designed primarily for professional photographers. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The acquisition is intended to help Google attract users to Google Plus, as part of a push to make that social media platform more competitive with Facebook. Facebook recently acquired Instagram to solidify its position as a platform for uploading and sharing images.

Snapseed and Instagram offer similar image editing and image-manipulation filters, but Instagram has 100 million users, compared to just 9 million Snapseed users, according to one published report. But Snapseed has more sophisticated editing tools than Instagram, according to New York Times columnist David Pogue. And last year, Apple named Snapseed “App of the Year” for the iPad.

Snapseed and other Nik products are currently available for use primarily on Apple devices. Now that Google owns Nik, Snapseed will soon be available for Android devices, significantly expanding the pool of potential users.

More information about the acquisition and its implications is available at The New York Times web site and at the NASDAQ web site.

PDN subscribers can also access reviews of Snapseed and other Nik software products through the links listed below.

Product Review: Nik Snapseed for iPad
Nik Announces Silver Efex Pro 2 Black-and-White Conversion Software
Nik Intros Color Efex Pro 4 Plug-in

June 14th, 2012

Photog Celebrates 30th B-day by Raising $30K for Charity

An image of a young boy at GLIDE San Fransisco by Lisa Wiseman.

Lisa Wiseman created a series of portraits of GLIDE clients, staffmembers, founders and executives as part of her The 30Love project.

San Francisco-based photographer Lisa Wiseman has created an online photography project that she’s using to help raise $30,000 in 30 days for GLIDE, a San Francisco social services organization that provides food, healthcare and training to needy people.

To raise the funds Wiseman, who has volunteered with GLIDE for several years, and a group of 12 cohorts created “The 30Love,” a Web site/art project where they are collecting donors’ photographs and statements about “what love means to them.”

Says Wiseman of the site: “We honed the concept over time and built a unique interactive photography constellation as the vehicle by which users engage with The 30Love participants. When the constellation is zoomed out, the constellations’ dots ‘run away’ from your mouse cursor. As you zoom in, the dots have less resistance and become images, each of which represents an individual 30Love participant. Once zoomed in far enough, you can click on any photo and you’ll be able to view that user’s photo, name, location and quote about what love means to them. In this way, The 30Love is a global time-capsule of what love means.”

In creating the project, Wiseman was inspired by a close friend who frequently uses holidays and other occasions “to do large-scale, fun, charitable projects,” and by writer Colleen Wainwright, who last year raised $50,000 for a charity in 50 days to mark her 50th birthday.

“Beyond fundraising, this project allows me to explore my interlinking passions for photography and technology,” Wiseman says. “Knowing that people all over the world will spend a moment thinking about what love means to them is my core personal motivation. I hope the project engages on a global level so that viewers can visit the website to explore the various dimensions of what love can mean around the world.”

For more information, and to contribute to the project, visit The 30Love.