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December 16th, 2013

We Know Africa Is Not a Single Country, Newsweek Says

© Newsweek/photos © Tadej Znidarcic/Redux Pictures

© Newsweek/photos © Tadej Znidarcic/Redux Pictures

Today Newsweek.com published a story about the increasing dangers that gays face in Ethiopia, where sexual activity among gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people has been criminalized. The only problem: The story is illustrated with photos taken not in Ethiopia, but in Uganda. The portraits of LGBT individuals were taken by Tadej Znidarcic in 2009 as part of his project about anti-gay legislation that had been proposed in the Ugandan parliament. The photos appear in the Newsweek story about Ethiopia’s anti-gay laws without a caption or clarification about their subject  or location.

When we reached Newsweek for comment, we were told that, yes, the editors there do know that Ethiopia and Uganda are two different countries. Yes, there was concern at the magazine about using photos taken in one country three years ago to illustrate what’s happening in a different country today. But no, a caption won’t be added.

It wasn’t a simple error. It sounds like a tale involving limited photographic options, bad website design, a few bad choices and some embarrassment on Newsweek’s part.

The LGBT Ethiopians quoted in the story by writer Katie J.M. Baker had asked that their faces not be shown in the story, so options for portraits were limited. Baker  provided photos she had shot on a cellphone at a gathering of gay friends in Addis Adaba, Ethiopia, with their faces cut out of the frame, but her photos were small and pixelated. Wanting something more photographic, Newsweek photo editor remembered Znidarcic’s photos, which were exhibited in the Open Society’s Moving Walls exhibition in 2011 and shown on several blogs.

Znidarcic had photographed gay activists in Uganda facing a wall, their faces hidden, because at the time, the Ugandan parliament was debating a bill that would have imposed the death penalty for anyone convicted of “aggravated homosexuality.” Newsweek contacted Redux Pictures to license the photos, and informed Znidarcic about the subject of the story.

Though an editor at Newsweek was concerned that the images might be confusing or misleading, since they weren’t shot in Ethiopia, Newsweek ended up running them with the story anyway, above the words: “In many countries, it’s getting better for the LGBT community. In Ethiopia, it’s getting worse.”

That’s not the caption to the photo, a Newsweek staffer explained; that’s the deck to the story. The web page is designed with no caption. And for some reason, the writer or editors chose not to insert a photo caption into the text (for example, where comparisons were made to the 75 other countries in the world where same-sex sex has been criminalized). The lack of clarity about the photos mars a rare international story about topic under-reported in mainstream media.

Yes, we know that there are deadlines, and contingencies, and that web templates can be rigid and aren’t often designed with journalistic concerns in mind. But we have to wonder: Would the editors have illustrated a story about news in Germany with an image taken in Denmark?

December 13th, 2013

Photog Teru Kuwayama Goes to Work at Facebook as Photo Community Liaison

Photographer Teru Kuwayama has been hired by Facebook to work as “lead photographer” and liaison between the social media site and the photo community, “advising both sides,” he says. He will also be working closely with Instagram, which is owned by Facebook.

“For me, the most important aspect of my role is that I’m the internal advocate for photographers,” he told PDN.  “I’m here to make sure that the interests of photographers are represented in everything from feature development on the technical side to the terms of service on the legal side.  So, my job is to make Facebook work for photographers, and to help photographers make the best use of the Facebook.”

The social media platform has been criticized by photo trade groups for its terms of service, which allow companies to re-use users’ content without permission or compensation.

Kuwayama, a PDN‘s 30 photographer in 2000, is the co-founder of Lightstalkers.org, the online forum for photojournalists. In 2010 he launched Basetrack, a project that used social media sites, including Facebook, to share information about a battalion of Marines deployed to Afghanistan with whom Kuwayama and other photographers were embedded. Basetrack was funded with a Knight Foundation News Challenge grant.

Kuwayama told PDN, “I’m inventing the position as we speak.”

Related articles

Facebook Makes Alarming Changes to Terms, ASMP Breaks Down the Changes

Experiment in Multimedia: Q&A with Teru Kuwayama on Basetrack (for PDN subscribers)

October 25th, 2013

PPE 2013: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of Social Media

The theme of Thursday’s PhotoPlus Expo panel “Practicing Safe Social Media” seemed to be that social media is a necessary evil in today’s photography industry so photographers need to be smart about how they use it. The ASMP-sponsored panel had a variety of speakers who each brought a unique viewpoint to the discussion. Covering the legal ramifications was attorney Ross Buntrock; giving the media’s perspective was AOL/Huffington Post Photography Director Anna Dickson; representing the photo industry was photographer Richard Kelly; EyeEm CEO Florian Meissner provided a social-media company’s viewpoint.

Buntrock and moderator Peter Krogh broke down the terms of service agreements for four popular social-media sites, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter, and the news was pretty bleak. All four TOS agreements are essentially broad licenses that allow the companies to provide the images and data from their sites to third parties. This doesn’t mean that they own the copyright to any work you post on their networks. The panelists illustrated that point by briefly discussing the case of Daniel Morel, the photojournalist who successfully sued AFP, the Washington Post and Getty for using images from the Haiti earthquake that he posted on Twitter without his permission. However, it does mean that these platforms can let advertisers use your image in sponsored posts without your permission and without compensation. (Buntrock noted that adding a copyright symbol to your image before posting it to these social networks doesn’t impact the TOS at all.)

It would be easy to just say, “Forget, I’m not going to use social media.” Except Dickson made an interesting point that the reason she’s on Instagram is because that is where everyone else is—both photographers and photo editors like herself. Whereas five years ago she would’ve followed photographers on Flickr, now it’s Instagram. She also said the “look” of Instagram photos is popular now, so many websites, including AOL/Huffington Post, use the site to find images for articles and slide shows.

So herein lies the rub: You want your work to be followed and found by potential clients, but you don’t want to give it away for free. Meissner’s company, EyeEm, is trying to eradicate this issue by providing the same social features as Instagram but including a notification system that alerts photographers when a third party wants to use their image, and offers compensation for that use. Other sites and services were mentioned as also having some sort of permission or compensation model, including Stipple, Scoopshot, SmugMug and PhotoShelter.

However, until one of these sites has the same massive user base as Instagram or Facebook or Twitter or Pinterest, they don’t solve the immediate problem of how to get exposure while also protecting your work on social media. Kelly’s strategy for dealing with this issue is simple: Know what your message is on social media before you start posting on these sites. For example, he uses his accounts to keep followers up to date on what he’s working on, advocacy issues for photographers and his teaching gigs. That’s it. He doesn’t use the tools to post new work or market himself. And Dickson, to a certain extent, supported Kelly’s idea by noting that she loves it when photographers post behind-the-scenes images so she can see what they are up to as well as get a peek at their personality.

At its core, this is what social media was originally intended for—sharing who you are and what you are up to. Though you can use these tools to market your work, it would be wise to think of how you can do that without actually posting the finished image since it can easily spread around the Web without your attribution and without you ever seeing a penny of compensation.

Related Articles
In TwitPic Copyright Claim, Daniel Morel Seeks $13.2 Million from AFP, Getty

AFP, Washington Post Violated Daniel Morel’s Copyrights, Judge Rules

September 12th, 2013

Sponsored Post: Guide to Breaking into Video

whitepage-cover-350Still photographers know that keeping pace with the times today includes capturing motion. Brought to you by WPPI, Rangefinder, PDN, PhotoPlus Expo and Panasonic Lumix G, this collection of information-packed articles offers readers both education on technique and excellent recommendations for gear. Topics range from shooting hybrid photography, to marketing and promotion, to how creatives hire photographers for video assignments.

In “Hybrid Hero” from Panasonic, Suzette Allen, a long-time portrait photographer discusses how hybrid photography has allowed her to transition into an exciting new phase of her career—using the Panasonic Lumix G, she merges still and video into hybrid e-cards and film clips incorporating stills, creating innovative products for clients never possible before. Then for filmmaking basics and other essential expert insights, don’t miss “Video Lighting Tips from Gaffers and Grips,” “Demystifying DSLR Audio,” “Interviewing 101,” “How Collaboration Can Produce Better Video,” and before purchasing any equipment, “Products You Need to Add HD Video to Your Business.

Download “A Guide to Breaking into Video” free of charge at http://bit.ly/12DK8rR and begin building your filmmaking skills today.

Changing_Photography_black

September 5th, 2013

Facebook Makes Alarming Changes to Terms, ASMP Breaks Down the Changes

Facebook has altered their terms of service to make it possible for companies that pay the social media network to utilize Facebook users’ content and likeness without compensation or permission. The changes are sure to alienate Facebook’s users in the creative community, who make a living from licensing their work and content.

Among the changes is this gem:

“You give us permission to use your name, and profile picture, content, and information in connection with commercial, sponsored, or related that content (such as a brand you like) served or enhanced by us. This means, for example, that you permit a business or other entity to pay us to display your name and/or profile picture with your content or information, without any compensation to you. If you have selected a specific audience for your content or information, we will respect your choice when we use it.”

ASMP created a handy Q&A about the new terms of use that helps break down the changes and what they mean for photographers.

This comes on the heels of the ASMP-led criticism of Instagram that was recently issued.

We have to wonder, at what point will a social network take the step to actually compensate the users that make it tick and protect them from unauthorized exploitation and surveillance? Seems to us like a network that figured out how to do that would find a community very quickly.

Related: Photography Trade Organizations Take Aim at Instagram Terms
AFP, Washington Post Violated Daniel Morel’s Copyrights, Judge Rules
Morel Case Highlights Copyright Risks of Social Networks

August 22nd, 2013

Photography Trade Organizations Take Aim at Instagram Terms

Several professional photography trade organizations have banded together to study Instagram’s Terms of Service, and today the American Society of Media Photographers issued the following press release:

Photographic Community, Led by The American Society of Media Photographers, Deems Instagram Terms Too Far-Reaching

PHILADELPHIA, Aug. 22, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — The American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP), joined by National Press Photographers Association (NPPA), The Digital Media Licensing Association (PACA), American Photographic Artists (APA), This Week in Photography (TWiP), Professional Photographers of America (PPA), Coordination of European Picture Agencies Stock, Press and Heritage (CEPIC), Graphic Artists Guild (GAG) and American Society of Picture Professionals (ASPP), has mounted a campaign to address the far-reaching Terms of Use of the image sharing service Instagram. Since 2010, more than 16 billion images and movies have been uploaded to Instagram. The organizations believe that few of the users who share images on the site understand the rights they are giving away. ASMP has issued “The Instagram Papers,” information in the form of essays and analysis about the Terms of Use in which the key issue is that users should have the ‘right to terminate’ their agreement with Instagram, allowing them to remove permissions for the use of their identities and content at any time.

Specifically, the Terms of Use give Instagram perpetual use of photos and video as well as the nearly unlimited right to license the images to any and all third parties. And, after granting this broad license to Instagram, users also relinquish the right to terminate the agreement. Once uploaded, they cannot remove their work and their identity from Instagram. Additionally, in the event of litigation regarding a photo or video, it is the account holder who is responsible for attorney and other fees, not Instagram.

Moreover, while Instagram’s agreement includes the right to sublicense images, it specifically excludes the need to ever pay creators, regardless of the way the company may use or sell their work. The photographic community believes strongly that fair compensation for the creators of work is a vital component of a fair agreement.

According to ASMP Executive Director Eugene Mopsik, “While clearly benefiting Instagram, the rights of imaging professionals and general users stand to be infringed upon in an unprecedented way. We are concerned that not only have Instagram’s Terms of Use gone beyond acceptable standards, but also that other social media providers may use these onerous terms as a template for their own agreements.”

Peter Krogh, ASMP’s Digital Standards & Practices Chair, said, “As online services become larger repositories of intellectual property, power has shifted away from the user and toward the company provider. Unless changes are made by Instagram, we believe the terms will have a profound and negative impact on imaging professionals, publishers and general users.”

In the coming weeks and months ASMP, along with the other listed organizations, will continue to reach out to gain support in addressing these egregious terms before they become the industry standard.

Related: Bowing to Pressure from Users, Instagram Retracts New Terms of Use
Now That We Know Instagram Isn’t a Charity, What Would You Be Willing to Pay?

July 11th, 2013

WeddingWire CEO Says Rebuilding of liveBooks is Underway

WeddingWire-siteThe head of the company which yesterday purchased liveBooks says they have started to “aggressively” hire back liveBooks staffers who had been laid off due to financial troubles,  in order to “get back the level of customer service that [liveBooks] customers expect.” Timothy Chi, co-founder and CEO of WeddingWire, told PDN, “Our goal is that by the end of the week, we’ll be running full speed ahead across all aspects of the business.”

Yesterday Andy Patrick, CEO of liveBooks, which provides website management and other services to professional photographers, told PDN that customer service at the company had “not been good over the last few months,” after he laid off 20 percent of the workforce. He blamed the company’s financial problems on increased competition from companies offering free service and two acquisitions in the last year that “didn’t work out.”

Chi says WeddingWire’s technology teams will be working with liveBooks to update its website platforms. Chi says, “Specifically, we’re looking at HTML 5 and responsive design and some of these things that are important nowadays. It’s something that our technology team at WeddingWire has had experience in.” Currently, the standard website templates liveBooks offers run on Flash.

WeddingWire, which operates online marketplaces for vendors in the wedding and events industries, also provides the technology that powers the “local resources” sections of sites such as Martha Stewart Weddings, Brides.com and Weddingbee.com, where brides and wedding planners can search for photographers, videographers and other wedding vendors.  The software suite WeddingWire provides to wedding and event customers includes business and e-commerce tools, such as a digital contract-signing feature and social media management. Last year the company purchased a small company that provides customer-relationship management (CRM) tools for wedding photographers. Chi says the head of that company has stayed on since its sale and adds,  “We expect to have the same relationship with Andy and his team.”

Patrick told PDN that after he announced that liveBooks had been sold to WeddingWire, he received many calls from commercial photographers asking what WeddingWire is, and whether “powered by WeddingWire” would now appear on their websites. Chi says branding would remain the same. “We’re not wedding experts here,” says Chi. “We’re a technology company that builds tools and platforms to help connect people.”

Chi says he was first introduced to Patrick about six months ago, around the time that liveBooks hired an investment bank to sell the company.  “Andy and I really connected and we share a passion for helping small businesses succeed online.” He says he was impressed with liveBooks, “its products and its customer base.”

Founded seven years ago, WeddingWire is backed by two private equity companies, Catalyst Investors and Spectrum Equity. Spectrum Equity’s portfolio includes Animoto, NetQuote and SurveyMonkey. Companies Catalyst has previously acquired include Advantage Business Media, MINDBODY and Aspire Media.

Related article:

In Financial Distress, liveBooks Sold to WeddingWire

July 10th, 2013

In Financial Distress, liveBooks Sold to WeddingWire

LiveBooks, the content management company that provides website management and other services to professional photographers and designers, has announced that it has been acquired by WeddingWire, Inc., an online marketplace for vendors in the wedding and events industry. Terms were not disclosed.

Andy Patrick, CEO of liveBooks, announced the ownership change to liveBooks customers earlier today, and assured them that the liveBooks service and brand name would continue.

“The liveBooks name, the ‘powered by liveBooks,’ that all stays the same,” Patrick told PDN in a telephone interview today. He added that the sale to WeddingWire, a privately held, seven-year-old company, “brings a lot of resources, a lot of stability, and the ability to grow in the way we wanted to.”  Patrick said liveBooks had hired an investment bank six months ago to sell the company. Patrick said of the sale, “I’m very excited about it, I’m very comfortable with it.

He said the infusion of resources will enable liveBooks to provide its customers with new products, but he didn’t provide any details. “And we will be sharing the details of these developments in the coming months,” he told customers when he announced the sale.

Patrick acknowledged that liveBooks has struggled financially in recent months. “We got to the point where we needed both financial support and people to continue to do what we’ve been doing.”

Patrick attributed the problems to increased competition–there are now 25 or 30 firms providing websites for photographers, he says. Some of them provide free web sites, he adds. “It drove the price[s] down.”

But Patrick says liveBooks had also struggled after the recent acquisition of two companies that provide e-commerce capability for print-on-demand photo products. Neither acquisition was a success, according to Patrick.

The first acquisition, completed last October, was for Pinhole Press and Pinhole Pro. Pinhole was a provider of print-on-demand marketing services and personalized photo gifts That acquisition “was not making sense,” Patrick said.

This past February, liveBooks bought San Francisco-based Fotomoto, an e-commerce application for the sale of images and print-on-demand products.

“Let’s just say it had a lot of issues,” Patrick told PDN.

“We tried some things, they didn’t work out, we had to make adjustments.”

Six months ago, liveBooks hired investment bank Janney Montgomery Scott to help it find a buyer. Two-and-a-half months ago, the liveBooks was forced to lay off 20 percent of its workforce, and customer service has suffered, Patrick says.

Customer service has been one of liveBooks’s strengths, Patrick says, “and it’s not been good over the last few months.

“We had to make cuts, and we couldn’t live up to our standards and the standard people expected.”

Patrick says he has no plans to leave liveBooks. “I have no end date.”

–David Walker

Related articles
liveBooks Acquires Pinhole

June 20th, 2013

Instagram Demonstrates Powerful Video Stabilization – on a Smartphone

shaky-videoProfessional photographers don’t often turn to a smartphone to shoot video. But in the new video offering announced by Instagram today is technology that could eventually be a great addition to the toolkit.

A new video option for the photo sharing site can literally take jumpy, hand-held video and turn it into something watchable. Technology like that could someday be used to help rescue video footage that might otherwise be given up for loss because of a shaky hand.

Here’s a clip of the announcement about the new technology, taken from today’s live stream of the Instagram press event.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=rB5WrX3NLBU

To watch the replay of the live streaming of the whole Facebook/Instagram event, beginning to end, go this Live Stream page.

–Erik Sherman

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.