November 3rd, 2014

PhotoPlus Expo 2014: So, You Want to Publish a Photo Book

During her PhotoPlus seminar titled “To Be Published, or Self Publish,” Mary Virginia Swanson, consultant and co-author of Publish Your Photography Book,
ran through the steps involved in producing and marketing a photo book, but again and again she returned to the questions  photographers need to ask themselves before they even consider publishing their work in a book. She asked, “Have you established an audience, and have you established value for your work?” She added, “I see photographers jump ahead before they’ve built an audience for their work.” She said when photographers describe their dream book to her, some mention special papers, large format, and special binding. “I think: ‘That’s a $100 book.’” She urged the audience to consider carefully what prospective buyers will pay to own a book of their images.

She said that photographers have to ask themselves why they want to publish: “Do you have a story you want to share with everyone? Is there a cause or idea you want to advance? As an artist, is it time to get your work out?” As an exercise, she recommended that photographers answer the submission guidelines available on many book publishers’ websites. She showed the lengthy guidelines on the site of Princeton Architectural Press, which ask for a “project description and audience assessment” in eight pages or less. “I feel that if you can complete the Princeton Architectural Press submission guidelines, you can talk to any publisher,” she said. Filling out answers to their questionnaire can help photographers refine their proposals, Swanson said, because “it gets you into the mind of the publisher.” Portfolio reviews, she noted, also provide opportunities to meet two or three book publishers who will “fire back questions” that can help a photographer articulate a book idea.

When shopping for a publisher, she said, “Understand there are small presses and major trade publishers.” A large trade publisher might have staff who can help with design, editing, production management and publicity. Swanson appreciates the attention many small presses will put into designing a book that fits the photographs, but notes that a small press “may be a one- or two-person office” that needs help from a photographer or author on tasks such as editing and publicity. Swanson says there are situations when a publisher, confident that a book can sell well, won’t ask a photographer to contribute towards the cost of production, “and may even pay a small advance.” Those deals are unusual, however. “Most publishers will ask you to contribute in some way,” she said. (For more on this point, see PDN’s article, “The Costly Business of Photo Book Publishing.“)

Whatever the size of the publishing house, she said, “author support is vital” to selling a book. Publishers “will want you to have a website and be active on social media.” While a book takes about a year from concept to binding (less if you self publish), the marketing plan has to begin much earlier, she says, starting with registering a domain name for the book project, planning exhibitions and book signings, and reaching out to potential buyers. Photographers may be affiliated with an association that would buy some copies at a pre-publication cost, or they may be represented by galleries that will buy copies to sell to collectors. Limited edition books have become increasingly collectible, Swanson noted. These are often printed in small quantities, include a signed, limited-edition print, and sell for a few hundred dollars. However, to sell these highly priced editions, a photographer needs to have “established value”—that is, demonstrated that their prints can fetch a high price.

Self-publishing gives photographers total control over design, production and marketing. Photographers who are used to managing photo productions or long-term projects may find self-publishing appealing. “Are you able to manage a publishing project? Are you able to keep to a production calendar?” She noted that print-on-demand companies like Blurb and others now offer a high degree of customization. Swanson showed images of the studio at Conveyor Arts, a production house in Jersey City, New Jersey, that specializes in small-run, custom-designed editions of artists books and exhibition catalogues, and has worked with photographers such as Paula McCartney.

Whether you design your book yourself, or work with a publishing house’s design team, Swanson recommended consulting the many resources available to learn about options for papers, format and binding. Her recommended resources include the Indie Photobook Library, which also organizes traveling shows of photo books; the site Thephotobook.wordpress.com; Aperture’s publication The Photo Book Review; the annual NY Art Book Fair; and the website of the online bookstore Photo-eye,  which includes a showcase of self-published books. If you see a book you admire, she recommended reading the colophon in the back, where the typeface and type of paper used in the book is noted. “Learn the language of publishing so when you work with a designer on your book, you’ll know the vocabulary, and be able to talk about the elements.”

Related Articles

Photographers Share Details of Their Recent Book Deals

The Costly Business of Photo Book Publishing

Tips for Self-Publishing Your Photo Book

The Value of Self-Publishing

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 31st, 2014

PhotoPlus Expo 2014: V.360° Camera Sees All

V.360 with AppVSN Mobil showed off an intriguing new 360 degree camera at PhotoPlus Expo that it plans to launch in November.

The V.360° uses a 16-megapixel backside-illuminated image sensor and a lens surrounded with mirrors that enables it to capture a single 360-degree shot. It can also record 360-degree video.

The camera connects to Android and iOS phones and tablets via Bluetooth, for camera controls, and Wi-Fi, for transferring stills and videos from the camera to your mobile device.

The free app will let you manipulate the 360-degree video or image to see every available angle or lay the perspective flat for a panorama that requires no stitching to complete.

In addition to its 360-degree capture capabilities, the camera is waterproof to up to 1 meter for up to 30 minutes and is shock, vibration and dust resistant. It has a built-in GPS sensor for geo-tagging images and its own processor so images and video can be encoded right in the camera, not in the app, for faster performance.

It features a GoPro-compatible mount and tripod mount as well.

The camera will retail for under $500 when it launches in the coming weeks.

October 30th, 2014

PhotoPlus Expo 2014: Mylio Launches with Mission to Reunite Photos Wherever They Are

Mylio

A new software company founded by former Microsoft executives is taking aim at what it views as a signature problem plaguing modern photography–images spread across multiple platforms, often disorganized and frequently unprotected.

Their solution, Mylio, is a mobile and desktop software solution that can monitor and replicate images across a user’s devices including external drives and cloud services. Once your device is loaded with the software, your entire image library is accessible, even if you’re offline. Using its software, Mylio says it can compress a RAW files as large as 100MB down to just a 1MB editable image for viewing and accessing on mobile devices. Your original RAW files will remain unchanged on your hard drive. You can make non-destructive edits to images in Mylio and those changes will propagate instantly across your entire collection on every device.

Mylio presents you with a photo-driven view of your entire image collection. From this unified view you can also tag, organize and make non-destructive edits that will instantly propagate across all of your devices. If you need to do more serious editing work, you can open images into your photo-editor of choice.

Given this bird’s-eye-view of your photo collection, 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.

The service is billing itself as cloud and device agnostic though at launch will only support iOS mobile devices and Mac and PC desktops. Android support is coming soon. It will use a tiered pricing structure based on the number and type of images in your collection as well as the number of devices you want to link with the software.

Plans start at $50/year for a library of 25,000 JPEG photos stored across three devices and span up to $100/year for 50,000 RAW and JPEG photos on five devices or $250/year for libraries as large as 500,000 RAW and JPEG images across 10 devices. You can kick the tires for free with a plan that unites three devices and monitors 1,000 images.

October 30th, 2014

PhotoPlus Expo 2014: Phottix Debuts Indra500 TTL

Phottix Indra
Phottix drew back the curtain on a new studio light at PhotoPlus Expo.

The Indra500 is a 500 Watt light capable of TTL metering for Canon and Nikon cameras thanks to its internal Odin TTL flash trigger. You’ll have the option of three firing modes—manual, TTL and stroboscopic—as well as a high-speed sync mode with shutter speeds up to 1/8000s.

In strobe mode, the flash can be set to a frequency between 1 and 100Hz for a total of up to 100 flashes. There’s also a second curtain sync for achieving a streaking light effect and you can adjust power output from 1/128 power to full power in 1/3 stops.

Thanks to its built-in Odin wireless controller, so you can shoot in manual or TTL mode, adjust flash exposure and use high speed or second curtain sync from the Phottix Odin or Mitros+ receivers. The Indra500 will also incorporate the company’s Strato II receiver for wireless triggering in manual mode.

Phottix will sell an external battery pack to power the Indra500 for up to 340 full-power shots. The battery pack offers two power ports so it can run a pair of Indra500s as well as a USB port for charging up mobile devices.

The Indra500 will retail $1,299 (including battery) and is available  now.

October 30th, 2014

PhotoPlus Expo 2014: LG Intros 4K Monitor, Super-Wide Screen Models

lg_4k_monitors_announced_in_the_us_0

Looking to jump on the growing number of 4K capture devices entering the market, LG has announced a new 4K-capable monitor tipped at video editors and others needing a large, high-resolution and color-accurate workspace.

The 31-inch IPS monitor (model 31MU97) will have a resolution of 4096 x 2160 with support for Maxx Audio and the Adobe RGB color space. The display has an aspect ratio of 16:9 with a color depth of 10-bit. It offers two HDMI ports, DisplayPort, MiniDP and three USB 3.0 jacks.

It’s shipping now for $1,399.

The company also showed off a new pair of “ultra-wide” monitors with an aspect ratio of 21:9.

The 39UC97 is a curved monitor that measures in at 34-inches diagonally. It features an IPS panel with a resolution of 3440 x 1440. It features a Thunderbolt 2 port and supports Maxx Audio with a 7 Watt speaker system built in. It’s available now for $1,299.

Finally the 34UM95 will share some of the features of its curved sibling but will be slighly smaller at 33.7-inches diagonal. It ships with True Color Finder calibration software and features LG’s 4-Screen Split feature that divides the screen into four sections with a choice of eight screen ratios. It also supports Dual-Link Up which lets you connect two sources to the display and display both on the screen simultaneously. As far as connectivity goes, this monitor has two HDMI ports, DisplayPort and two ThunderBolt 2 connections.

It’s available now for $999.

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: On the Upbeat – A Conversation with Ben Folds

140312_tour_portraitMany PhotoPlus Expo goers will know Ben Folds from his day job as a multi-platinum selling singer/songwriter, touring solo artist and leader of the eponymous Ben Folds Five. What you may not know is that Folds is an avid photographer, enamored of his darkroom and a devotee of both film and digital techniques.

PDN’s Technology Editor Greg Scoblete interviewed Folds about his photography ahead of his PhotoPlus Expo keynote on Saturday, November 1. What follows is an edited transcript.

You’ve said that you became an “obsessive freak” about photography when your kids were born. That’s probably true of a lot of parents, at least in the infant stages, but yours turned into a more enduring passion. Why?


Ben Folds: I wasn’t happy with the glut of ‘evidence’ photographs.  I wanted something enduring and archival that could be framed or touched for years. In order to do that I needed to learn to print well, and I needed to make decisions about what spoke of their childhood… In the process, I became obsessive about the materials—the film, the cameras, the tools.

I know you keep a fully packed schedule between recording and touring. When and how do you work in photography? Is it a part of your daily life?


Ben Folds: It’s like a break. I can work without working. I find it relaxing to go through my shots on a plane or in a hotel. I’m always surprised how ‘productive’ I remain about photography.

A more prosaic question: what do you typically shoot with? What’s your photographic process look like?

Ben Folds: These days I shoot three ways: color with my Sony digital camera, which I generally convert to black and white; black-and-white digital with my Monochrom and black-and-white film with my old Rolleiflex.

I can develop my film in the bathroom, or more often with my schedule, I send it to a lab [where] I’ve had good results for a couple years. I just stay on the lightly ‘overexposed’ side and have them ‘pull’ the film and I get a good grey printable negative generally. The negatives I really like, I have scanned. I may soon invest in a crazy good scanner, but boy that is an investment. I don’t have a darkroom at the moment—it’s all in storage. I miss my darkroom.

On your photography website you write that archival prints that would last generations are a more eloquent representation of your children’s youth “than digital folders full of snapshots.” Beyond the longevity, what do you find compelling about prints? 


Ben Folds: They are real. Life is real. We do live online a lot, but we’re still creatures of the Earth. Printing and prints means something you can hold—and there’s limited space and time so you have to make a decision. You can’t be in two places at once and while you can keep a million files on a hard drive, they’re not really there until they’re printed.

There’s seems to be a similarity in the way the business models of photography and music have been impacted by the Internet and digital technology. What was once scarce is now plentiful and what was once a high barrier to entry is considerably lower. Are you optimistic about the ability of future artists — be they photographers or musicians — to earn a living? 

Ben Folds: I think we can earn a living.  I don’t think we can expect to be rich at it.

You’ve written that you photograph things on the upbeat rather than the downbeat. What do you mean by that? 

Ben Folds: The downbeat is where we all land. It’s predictable. It’s not that I don’t shoot the predictable, I just find that I’m drawn to the photos that were shot between the moments—between the poses, and between the subjects, somehow.

I’m no master of that, but I can feel it when I see it and I try to be spontaneous enough to hit the shutter before I even know why. That [approach], somehow, was easier with film. I know that’s weird, but something about knowing there are a limited number of exposures on a roll made me feel more dangerous.

Anyway, at the end of the day, it’s just about telling a story—you can make that more interesting in the way you tell it, when you tell it and how you frame it.

October 28th, 2014

Blue Sky Gallery Starts Book Publishing Program to Mark 40th Year

Portland, Oregon’s Blue Sky Gallery entered its 40th year with a retrospective exhibition at the Portland Art Museum, and the launch of Blue Sky Books, a new print-on-demand publishing program that offers affordable books by 36 of the artists who’ve shown at the gallery.

Since it opened in 1975 as a collaborative project by local photographers, Blue Sky Gallery has grown into an important photography outlet with an international reputation, showing the work of both emerging and established photographers from the region, the country and throughout the world.

The museum exhibition, which includes more than 120 works, looks back on more than 700 exhibitions at the gallery by 650 photographers.

The book program grew in part from the gallery’s DIY esthetic. “We’re a very populous, democratic gallery,” says Christopher Rauschenberg, the president of the Blue Sky board of directors and the editor of Blue Sky Books. “We’re an artist’s space, and artists don’t have any money,” he adds. The books cost $18 dollars on average and can be ordered through MagCloud, the print-on-demand service owned by Blurb. The price includes a 15 percent fee for the artist and a 15 percent fee for the gallery.

The program was inspired in part by an artist who’d shown at Blue Sky, who reached out to Rauschenberg about a deal a publisher was offering him: the publisher would put out the artist’s book if he raised $30,000. Rauschenberg told the artist it was a standard deal, “but I can’t say it’s a good deal and I don’t have anything else to offer you,” Rauschenberg recalls. Other photographers had asked similar questions. Rauschenberg realized he wanted to be able to offer photographers “something else.” In looking back at the history of the gallery, Rauschenberg also realized there were “all these bodies of work that were never published as books and great shows that we had 30 years ago,” he says. He chose to use MagCloud, which he had used to make small catalogues of his own work for portfolio reviews, to create a series of books that were affordable to buy, and to publish.

By releasing 36 books at once, as the gallery did last week, Rauschenberg felt the artists could leverage their collective networks to promote the endeavor. “We’ve asked everybody to not just put your own book out but promote the whole series,” Rauschenberg says.

Community support and collective effort have contributed to the gallery’s longevity. For instance, Bruce Guenther, who recently announced his retirement as the chief curator of the Portland Art Museum, was instrumental in helping the gallery figure out how to buy the space they now occupy, Rauschenberg says. “Portland has a really wonderful spirit” in which people come together to get things done, and the local audience responds.

Rauschenberg remembers the flood of exhibition proposals the gallery received soon after they opened so many years ago. “We came in with a certain amount of a dream, and then other people’s dreams have added to it.”

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.