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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.

May 29th, 2012

“What Buyers Want” Survey Released by PhotoShelter/Agency Access

What Photo Buyers Want

Buyers of photography rely most heavily on colleague recommendations when looking for new hires. Email promos are an equally important resource to buyers in finding hires as reps and agencies were. And a majority of buyers say their budgets have stabilized or are increasing. These and other tidbits are part of a new report that provides insight into how photographers can best market their work to clients, which was recently released by portfolio Web site company PhotoShelter, and Agency Access, the creative industry marketing company. The report is free for anyone willing to register an email address with the companies.

“What Buyers Want From Photographers” was generated using data from a 25-question survey that went out to Agency Access’ database of photography clients, which includes art buyers, creatives and photo editors. According to the report, 1,000 photography clients answered the survey. The topics addressed in the report include: Where buyers search for photographers to hire and images to license; what personal characteristics and business skills buyers look for in photographers; information about typical mistakes photographers make in marketing their work; and tips for creating a good Web site.

The report also presents data on which social media sources buyers use to find photographers to hire, but its value is undermined somewhat by another section of the report that suggests that only 9 percent of the respondents use social media to find photographers to hire.

Additionally, “What Buyers Want” includes interviews with buyers from agencies GSD&M and JWT, a photo editor from Billboard, and an art director from Random House book publishers. Other clients contributed more specific suggestions. For instance a photo editor at Men’s Health provided tips on email marketing, and Real Simple‘s photo editor made Web site suggestions like, “Don’t hide your personal work.”

Anonymous quotes that appear throughout the report are interesting to read even if they are only one person’s (unattributed) opinion. For instance an art buyer at an agency laments tricks photographers use to try and “outsmart” him/her—for example into thinking they have already spoken with one another.

To receive the report visit: http://www.photoshelter.com/mkt/research/2012-photo-buyers-survey

May 4th, 2012

New Pinterest Credit Feature Does Little to Protect Pinterest Users

Several days ago, Pinterest announced a new feature that automatically credits and links back to content that Pinterest users re-post from Vimeo, YouTube, Behance and Flickr. The announcement was part of Pinterest’s campaign to counter perceptions that copyright infringement is part of its corporate DNA. But the announcement amounted to little more than window dressing, and could give Pinterest users a false sense of security.

Pinterest, as we pointed out in a recent story, puts all the liability for infringement squarely in the lap of its users. The service enables those users to “pin” content from anywhere on the web onto a virtual bulletin board. Average users don’t realize that what Pinterest encourages them to do–copy and re-publish digital content without permission–is a copyright violation. Not surprisingly, Pinterest doesn’t go out of its way to make that clear to its users.

The automatic credits and link-backs to Vimeo, YouTube, Behance and Flickr don’t give users any added protection. For one thing, content owners post videos and photos to those four sites expecting–no, encouraging–others to share their content. In other words, most people who use YouTube, etc. would sooner thank Pinterest users for re-posting (“pinning”) their digital files than sue them for infringement.

A real accomplishment on Pinterest’s part would be to add a feature that automatically credits and links back to every item re-posted by a Pinterest user. That might satisfy content owners who don’t mind others re-posting their photos, etc. as long as they credit the owners. And it might help people who object to having their content used without permission discover the unauthorized uses and put a stop to it: They could send a take-down notice to Pinterest, and demand payment from the Pinterest user who violated their copyright.

That would be bad for Pinterest’s business, of course. But Pinterest risks little by its very limited credit/link feature, which could ultimately hurt Pinterest users by sending them a dangerous message: that it’s OK to “pin” content without permission as long as you give the copyright owner credit.

That isn’t the case, as any copyright lawyer will tell you. Copyright law says you can’t re-publish a work without permission from the copyright holder. Giving the owner credit is no substitute for permission. Pinterest still has much work to inform its users of their legal risks, and help those users protect themselves.

Related:
Copyright Watch: The Liability-Proof World of Pinterest

March 1st, 2012

Photo Editor Explains How Vintage Photos Lead the New York Times Onto Tumblr

Earlier this week The New York Times made its first foray onto Tumblr with The Lively Morgue, which showcases vintage photographs from the newspaper’s print archive, which is known as “the morgue” for reasons that aren’t entirely clear, according to the Times.

“[Launching a Tumblr blog] made sense for a lot of reasons,” says deputy photo editor Meaghan Looram, who was one of several Times staffers who worked on the project. “Obviously Tumblr is a super visual platform and on top of that, from what I understand, vintage photography is really popular on Tumblr.”

In addition to showing the scans of vintage photographic prints, The Lively Morgue’s custom design also allows viewers to inspect the backs of the prints, where they can see editors’ markings, original captions and other information about the images, and the way the newsroom trafficked and filed them.

“For someone that’s not interested in that level of detail they can appreciate the fronts of the images,” Looram notes, “but I think [showing the backs of the prints] gives the project a really nice level of sophistication and added value. And for people that are interested in photo archiving or photo history or the history of the paper, I think it’s just a really interesting level of detail.”

Through its first few days, the Times‘ Tumblr has featured photographs from the 1930s, 50s, 60s and 70s, ranging in subject matter from sports to fashion to crime. As of Wednesday night, the blog already had roughly 10,000 followers, Looram says. Several of the images had hundreds of notes and reblogs.

Looram notes there is some concern over the amount of control the Times is relinquishing, because Tumblr allows for rapid sharing and dissemination of content. To encourage people who like the images they see on Tumblr to buy prints, The Lively Morgue features a link to a Times store where prints can be ordered. “In a lot of cases these are prints that you can buy through our store, so we’re hoping that people will do that,” Looram explains. “But I think that that’s something that we have to be concerned about even with images on our Web site.”

Though The Lively Morgue links to a print store, Looram says the project was “primarily motivated by an interest in editorially getting these images seen, and also finding an appropriate foray for us into Tumblr.”

The project, which was based on a series of posts picture editor Darcy Eveleigh created on the Times‘ photojournalism blog, Lens, originated with Heena Koh, a member of the Times’ digital design team, and Alexis Mainland, the social media editor. Looram says everyone working on it is doing it “in addition to their own duties” because they are excited about the platform and the opportunity to share the archive.

The social media success of the Lens blog, and of the Times‘ photography in general, also generated energy, Looram says. “I think we’re very encouraged by the popularity of the Lens blog and the amount of sharing in social networks about our photography and photography that we’re highlighting, so that’s definitely encouraging to us and probably was a good indicator for the level of interest we would see in a project like The Lively Morgue.”

January 6th, 2012

Now on Instagram: President Obama

Instagram, the free photo editing and sharing app for the iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch, keeps growing in popularity, and now President Obama’s re-election campaign has joined in. On Tuesday, Obama 2012 joined the service to share photos from the campaign trail, under the name Barack Obama. Here’s a news story about it on SocialTimes.com.

If you have an Instagram account, you can join the more than 37,000 folks who have already started following the stream via @barackobama. Don’t expect any wildly artistic photos — the few photos posted so far include  a predictable podium photo and an image of the campaign headquarters, shot on an iPhone. No use of those retro-looking Instagram filters yet. And the comments are less concerned with esthetics than with political rants. (People, people: Have you heard of spell check?)

This is just the latest foray into online photo sharing for this President.  Photos from election night 2008 proved hugely popular on Flickr, and the White House Photo Office updates its Flickr stream regularly.