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November 1st, 2014

PPE 2014: Leading The Revolution in Smartphone Photography

At a panel held at PhotoPlus Expo on Thursday, October 30, panelists discussed the various ways smartphone photography is affecting visual communication and the photography industry.

The talk, titled “Leading the Revolution in Smartphone Photography,” featured TIME magazine Director of Photography and Visual Enterprise, Kira Pollack; photographer Benjamin Lowy; visual communication strategist Stephen Mayes; and Andrew Delaney, Head of Content for Getty Images. The talk was moderated by consultant and educator Patrick Donehue.

Pollack prefaced her portion of the talk by saying that 99.9 percent of the images published by TIME in print and online were made using professional cameras. Pollack emphasized smartphones as communication platforms, noting that they are as important for consuming images as they are making them.

She described TIME‘s coverage of Hurricane Sandy in New York. TIME picture editors gave five photographers, Lowy among them, “the keys” to TIME’s social media channels and they uploaded the images they made immediately. It was an instance when the photo editors of TIME were watching the story develop “in real time,” she said. One of Lowy’s images landed on the cover of the magazine. It was the first time a smartphone image ever made the cover.

Pollack also noted that she uses Instagram to keep track of where photographers are traveling, because they often post images that alert their followers to where they are, making Instagram a tool for editors to find photographers if an assignment comes up.

She also said that TIME had recently begun working with a technology called Capture, which allows users to search for images based on date, time and location. As an example, Pollack showed a screen grab of the search she had done that identified images made in the neighborhood of Philip Seymour Hoffman’s apartment in New York City’s West Village during a two-hour stretch on the night he died.

Lowy, who has photographed conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan and elsewhere,s said using smartphone freed him from the need to carry his larger camera with him everywhere, which was liberating.

In conflict zones, smartphone cameras allowed him to move and make pictures less conspicuously. During Hurricane Sandy, as other photojournalists stayed onshore, he was able to wade out into the water with his smartphone, protected in a plastic zipper bag, and make pictures others wouldn’t for fear of ruining their gear.

Lowy also noted, however, that using smartphones in war zones can be dangerous because of the information they transmit. Bashar Al-Assad’s forced were thought to have targeted photojournalist Remi Ochlik and British journalist Marie Colvin in Homs, Syria, by locking in on their satellite phone transmissions. The journalists were killed by artillery.  (The Committee to Protect Journalists has published a report, titled Information Security, that includes safety advice.)

Getty Images’ Andrew Delaney said smartphones are allowing people to capture slice of life imagery, with unique perspectives, that advertising, corporate and editorial clients are interested in. He noted that, with the proliferation of smartphones, Getty is getting a wider and more demographically diverse view of the world from its contributors. Delaney said advertisers need “localized communication and localized imagery,” and that smartphone images are feeding some of that need. He also noted that amateurs are really “leading the charge” when it comes to capturing smartphone imagery that is selling to stock photography clients. A lot of the images of people are unusable, however, because the images aren’t model released.

During his portion of the talk, Mayes pointed out that smartphones have increased the ability of the general public to look at and understand images in a more sophisticated way, a growing sentiment among image makers that I heard quite a few times during this year’s PhotoPlus conference. Photographers “now communicate with people who get what we’re trying to tell them,” Mayes says.

Furthering the “visual language” analogy, Mayes compared images to spoken and written language, pointing out that not all language is precious, and a majority of the billions of images being made are equally expendable.

Mayes also argued that an image today often acts as a “husk for a data package.” For example, an image you make of your child in your yard can, when plugged into search engines, yield information about the child’s location, education, socioeconomic status and so on. Striking an ominous-if-realistic note, Mayes argued that we might be headed for a future in which we’re all digital serfs serving information, through our phones, to a master we don’t even know.

Photographers, if they can master the ways these digital systems work, “can become the masters,” Mayes said, and argued that smartphones had opened a “doorway into a rich area of image-making and communication with a power beyond anything we can imagine at this point.” Stay tuned.

 

October 29th, 2014

Step Ahead: Preserving Memories With Mylio

Mylio Screen

Sponsored by Mylio

Mylio is a powerful new software tool that lets your photos do the talking. Simply stated, Mylio aims to solve the central dilemma facing photographers of all skill levels: how to find, organize and safeguard an ever-growing library of digital memories across all of our multiplying devices. From the professional photographer with a library of RAW files, to the casual snap-shooter hunting for an iPhone shot of the kids, Mylio’s software is intuitive and streamlined, allowing image-makers to focus on what truly matters: the photographs.

Joe McNally knows the value of photographic memories. In addition to his work as an acclaimed professional photographer, he’s a prolific speaker and educator within the photographic community. And like everyone else, he has personal memories to preserve alongside his professional output. For McNally, Mylio can help with both. When asked to select the most important image he’s taken in his storied career, he says, “I’ve photographed famous, beautiful people. Not to mention heads of state, movers and shakers and heroes of the athletic field. But none are as important to me as this one: my kid, trying to walk.”

Joe McNally Daughter
Photo © Joe McNally

McNally’s daughter is now 28, and he says, “I’m very lucky to still have the negative. It is a piece of my memory that could have easily been lost.”

Today, millions of photographers have—through no fault of their own—put their own digital negatives at risk; photos are sprinkled among external hard drives, laptops and mobile devices. Mylio offers a home with easy organization and an elegant interface. From a unified view of your entire image collection, you can tag, arrange and make edits that will instantly propagate across all of your devices. Mylio can also judge which photos are unprotected according to its 3:2 principle (an image is protected when there are three copies made in two separate locations). Armed with this knowledge, you can quickly identify which photos need a little extra security.

Mylio All Products

For professional photographers, who require numerous backup copies, McNally says Mylio’s seamless approach across all registered devices is very appealing. For the rest of us, Mylio’s drive for elegance and simplicity will resonate.

See Mylio for yourself at mylio.com/getmylio, and if you’re attending PhotoPlus Expo this week, stop by booth 273.

October 28th, 2014

PhotoPlus Expo 2014: Epson Introduces New SureColor P600

epsonp600

Epson got an early jump on the PhotoPlus Expo festivities with the newly announced SureColor P600, a new high-end photo printer.

The P600 offers resolutions of up to 5670 x 1440 and black densities with an L* value of 2—the lower the value, the deeper the black—thanks to newly formulated UltraChrome HD inks. There are nine individual 26ml ink cartridges in all with auto-switching available between photo and matte black.

A three-level black ink system uses screening algorithms to determine drop density and ensures a wide tonal range for your monochrome print.

You can make full-bleed prints up to 13-inches wide and the printer has a roll feed mechanism for panoramic prints as long as 129 inches. The P600 also supports printing to canvas, art board and CDs.

You use the adjustable 3.5-inch LCD display to toggle through menu settings or control the printer wirelessly via Wi-Fi.

The printer will retail for $799 and will ship during the first quarter of 2015.

October 23rd, 2014

How to Boost Traffic to Your Site and Increase Print Sales

Sponsored by Zenfolio

You may be the most talented photographer in your genre, but unless you have an excellent web presence and advertising put in place, no one will know you exist. Here, we provide four crucial steps to get more exposure to your site, gain and retain customers, and boost sales for a profitable photography business.

1. Create an SEO-friendly website.

When potential customers are searching for a photographer in their area on Google or Bing, will your website show up? Aside from referrals, discovering photographers on search engines is the top way clients find who they want to hire, so making sure your website is SEO-friendly is key. Providing relevant keywords and text on your pages, such as geographic location and genre, will help. Zenfolio is built with HTML, so it automatically submits your sitemap to major search engines and lets you know which fields are important to fill out and display on your pages.

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2. Give People Incentives to Buy.

Now that people are on your site, how do you get them to buy? Creating time pressure, offering a special promotion or bundling products into packages are all great ways. To get customers to act, set an expiration date on a gallery so that they have a limited amount of time to purchase before the images go away. If you decide to offer a special promotion, create early bird coupons for those who make purchases within the first week photos are online, or include a gift certificate. Bundling products is great because people want more for their money. Create a package of prints and products, and lower the total cost of what customers would pay for the same items à la carte. Zenfolio has all of these features, including shopping cart reminders, so that a customer will receive emails reminding them of their unfinished orders, encouraging them to complete checkout.

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3. Follow Up with Offers.

After a sale has been made, it doesn’t have to be the end of the road. People are always in need of a gift for the holidays, anniversaries or birthdays. Offer discounted items or rewards for referrals, and keep in contact with clients on a personal level. With Zenfolio, you can set up a contact list that captures visitors when they come to your website, so you can send emails to them later.

4. Have Flash Sales.

Having several sales throughout the year is a great revenue boost. During the holidays, offer a big discount for presents, or participate in Cyber Monday or Black Friday. Put photos back online for a limited time, or offer new products, as framed prints or canvas wraps. With Zenfolio, you can easily create gallery banners so visitors are aware of the sale.

In order to be successful, it’s crucial to make new customers want to work and buy from you. Make sure your website is set up to sell and can easily be tweaked and changed as necessary.

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Get started on your own website today and save 25% on a Zenfolio account with the code getstarted25 at checkout.

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.

August 22nd, 2014

Yale Research Group Launches Fascinating Search Platform for 170k FSA-OWI Images

Image caption: Modern riverboat, St. Louis, Missouri, 1940, by John Vachon.

Modern riverboat, St. Louis, Missouri, 1940, by John Vachon.

Screen shot 2014-08-21 at 6.32.37 PM

An image of the Photogrammar’s map tool, which visualizes the quantities of images FSA-OWI photographers made in regions around the country.

A group of researchers at Yale created “a web-based platform for organizing, searching, and visualizing the 170,000 photographs from 1935 to 1945 created by the United States Farm Security Administration and Office of War Information (FSA-OWI).”

The platform, which they’re calling Photogrammar, allows people to use visual tools to search through the digitized photographs from the FSA-OWI archive, which is housed at the Library of Congress. The map tool, for instance, allows users to see the quantity of images made in regions across the United States. One can also use the map to trace the work of individual photographers such as Dorothea Lange, John Collier and Marion Post Wolcott, and see where they worked and produced the most images.

The Treemap, another visualization, uses colored blocks of different sizes to show the number of images of different types FSA-OWI photographers produced in different category topics. Users can drill down into subtopics of the category topics.

The Photogrammar also features a more traditional keyword-driven search function.

Explore the Photogrammar site here. But fair warning: it will suck you in.

Related: 14 Rare Color Photos From the FSA-OWI

March 6th, 2014

Getty’s Free Image Program: New Revenue Model, or a Surrender to Copyright Infringement?

Getty Images lit up the Twittersphere today with an announcement that it was making its archive available free of charge for bloggers and other non-commercial users. Some of the big questions are: What is Getty gaining by making images free to the public? How does Getty’s decision affect not only its own contributors, but all photographers? And are there any hidden costs to non-commercial users who take advantage of Getty’s free images?

Getty said in its announcement that it was releasing a new embed tool to make it easy for non-commercial users to share its images on websites, blogs and social media channels.

Getty CEO Jonathan Klein says in the announcement that the “easy, legal sharing…benefits our content contributors and partners.”

One benefit to the company and its partners is that by automatically crediting the images and linking them back to Getty’s website, the embed tool makes it easy to find and license the images for commercial use.

At the same time, the embed tool will also makes it easier for Getty to track non-commercial uses of its images, and the users who take advantage of the company’s offer of free images.

To read what Getty’s terms of service allow it to do with users’ information, and more on the implications of this new business for the perceived value of all images, see our news story, now on PDNOnline.

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February 28th, 2014

Facebook’s Teru Kuwayama on How To Use Social Media for Documentary Storytelling

Long before he went to work for Facebook as the social media giant’s liaison to the photo community, photographer Teru Kuwuyama saw social media as a tool for photographers “to eliminate the gatekeepers and the editors, and to be our own operators,” he told a standing-room-only crowd at the Aperture Gallery in New York on Tuesday.  Old media models formed in “an analogue era” no longer exist, but he said many photographers who have been “adaptable” to social platforms are using them to reach and engage audiences.

Kuwayama spoke along with Lev Manovich of the Software Studies Initiative at “Documentary, Expanded: Interventions in Social Media,” a panel moderated by photographer Susan Meiselas, executive director and board member of the Magnum Foundation, which organized the talk as part of its Photography, Expanded program. Photography, Expanded held its first conference, in collaboration with the Open Society Foundations Documentary Photography Project, in April 2013, Meiselas said, to encourage photographers to expand their storytelling beyond the still image at a time when “we all felt the ground shifting beneath our feet” due to a shortage of assignments and production budgets from traditional media. Kuwayama shared work by photographers who are using Instagram to connect with audiences — though not, in most cases, to make money with their images.

He began by showing his own social-media-based project, Basetrack. After having worked in Afghanistan as an embedded photojournalist, Kuwayama won a James S. Knight Fellowship at Stanford, where he came up with a plan to gather a small group of embedded photographers who would post images and information about a Marine battalion in Afghanistan for their families back home. Launched in 2010, Basetrack was “basically a tricked out blog,” he said, with a map and a countdown clock to the end of the Marines’ deployment, but equally important was the Basetrack Facebook page, which “became a rallying point for the community.” Basetrack was never intended to reach more than about 1,000 viewers. “Who cares about this 20-year-old Marine who was 8 when this war started? It was clear it was his mom, his sister,” Kuwayama explained.
(more…)

February 12th, 2014

Cramped But Cool Studio: Down to the Basics in Honolulu

© Andrea Brizzi

© Andrea Brizzi

This month, in connection with The Studio Issue of PDN we’re posting the “Cramped But Cool Studio Showcase.” We’re inviting PDN readers to share images of small-but-convenient workspaces.

We kick off with photographer Andrea Brizzi’s one-room, studio-living-workspace in Honololu. It does not have much in it, but what it has is charming.

“I keep two modest studios, one in Brooklyn, the other in Hawaii. Both are outfitted with the essentials: a sofa bed, an espresso machine, a bicycle and a Mac,” Brizzi says. He can see the slope of the Diamond Head volcano out his window. He explains, “Space is scarce, so a surf board doubles as my desk and, when needed, dining table. I got rid of the horrific wall-to-wall carpet I found when I bough the place. The new floor is bamboo, floating, no nails, no glue. Bought at Home Depot, I installed it. I also threw away the window air conditioner. Not necessary here. No heating either.” Nice.

Does your workspace do double duty as living room, playroom, garage or closet? Send us an image or two, plus a description of the space and what you like about it to editor@pdnonline.com (be sure to put “Cramped but Cool” in the subject line) and we’ll be delighted to share it. The photographer whose Cramped But Cool studio gets the most positive comments and votes on our Facebook page will win a gift certificate to photo retailer B&H Photo & Video.

Coming up on the Cramped But Cool Studio Showcase: a nicely renovated basement studio.

Related Article:
Cramped But Cool Studio Showcase: Show Us Where You Work