October 26th, 2015

Prodrone Technology Takes on Phantom with Lightweight, Compact Drone


The drone market is buzzing with competitors and a new company threw its hat into the ring at PhotoPlus Expo.

China-based Prodrone Technology is entering the market with the Byrd drone.

So how does Prodrone aim to compete? Its drone is compact and lightweight at 4.2 pounds. In under a minute, a user can fold it up, pop off the camera/3-axis gimbal and stow it in a small backpack. It also promises a longer flying time than many of its competitors–up to 29 minutes in the air, depending on conditions.

The Byrd can stream an HD video feed to a mobile device, has follow me and return to home features and one button take off and landing. The Byrd can be operated solo but also supports two remotes, allowing one user to fly and the other to control the camera.

The drone can keep a payload of nearly 4.5-pounds aloft, so the company is exploring options for DSLR/mirrorless camera gimbals for the unit in addition to the GoPro gimbal which will be available at launch, said Daniel Monteil, U.S. Europe Marketing Manager, Prodrone.

The Byrd will be sold in three varieties.

The standard drone features an integrated 1080p HD camera  that can be swapped out for an optional GoPro and gimbal. The camera has a 16-megapixel sensor and supports HD recording up to 60 fps at 1080p. There’s also an option to record 720p video at 120 fps and snap 16-megapixel still images. Files are stored to a microSD card.

The standard Byrd has a 25-minute flight time. It can send an 720p/30 fps HD feed from up to 500m away. The app supports return-to-home, points of interest and route planning. It will retail for $949.

The advanced Byrd ($1,059) won’t have an integrated camera but will ship with a gimbal that supports a GoPro. It will have a longer flight time, up to 29 minutes, as well as longer and higher quality HD video transmission than the standard model–1080p/30 fps over a 2,000m distance. The drone also supports follow me.

The premium Byrd ($1,399) has all of the features of the advanced but will included a 12-megapixel camera with an f/2.8 lens and 3-axis gimbal. The camera supports 4K recording at 30 fps.

October 24th, 2015

PPE 2015: Mary Virginia Swanson’s Tips on Funding Your Photo Project

In her seminar “How to Fund Your Long-Term Project” at PhotoPlus Expo, Mary Virginia Swanson shared a variety ideas for researching and securing support from government, corporate and philanthropic entities. Swanson, a consultant, author and the executive director of the LOOK3 festival, encouraged photographers to think about everything they need to finish a project, and to achieve their goals: These valuable assets can include not only cash, but also access to subjects, paper or printing, publicity for an exhibition. Whether support in these areas from a lab that donates printing, the chamber of commerce that publicizes an event or or a local bank that helps pay for an exhibition, Swanson recommended thinking about what value your project can offer to the supporter. “Would putting their logo on an exhibition or book be of value?,” she asked. Consider the visibility the funder might want: “Do your funders the courtesy of thanking them,” on the wall of the exhibition, on invitations, and on your website.

Swanson noted that many photographers are applying for the same grants, fellowships, and government-supported arts programs, so they need to broaden their search for funding. She divided funders into two camps: Those interested in supporting you, and those interested in supporting the subject of your project. The people interested in supporting you are limited to “your fan base and your family.” Support for your subject matter, she said, “comes from like-minded, passionate people.” These may include strangers, who are likely to ask, “Is there a tax deduction in this for me?”

Funders who want tax deductions are unlikely to write a check to individuals, however, so photographers may benefit from partnering with a fiscal agent. Fiscal agents provide artists a connection to a 501 c 3 nonprofit, and can funnel your donations to you; they typically handle administration in exchange for a percentage of your donations. Fractured Atlas, Blue Earth Alliance (which works with artists devoted to environmental issues) and NYFA (New York Foundation for the Arts) are three fiscal agents who work with photographers.

Swanson gave a quick primer on researching family foundations and corporate philanthropies. Many companies devote pages of their websites to topics such as “corporate responsibility” or “the community,” and provide information on the charities and causes they support. “They’ll be giving [to a cause] because it supports the community they function in or serves the families of their employees.” Target, for example, funds arts education.

The Foundation Center has a searchable database of grant-making organizations, which is available online and at hundreds of satellites the Foundation Center supports around the country in local libraries and community centers. The database provides information on each philanthropy’s mission, the causes it supports, and also access to its most recent 990 tax form, where nonprofits list exactly how much money they gave in the course of a year, and to whom. By paying for a subscription to the Foundation Center’s database, users can also search for grants and funders by subject matter or area of interest.

In considering whether to try crowd-funding, Swanson said, “You have to weigh if you want to take a month off from working to work on your crowd-funding.” She noted that Kickstarter has an extensive reach, can attract enormous traffic and donations to the campaigns its staff chooses to highlight, and provides users useful information about traffic and donations. She also noted, however, that if a crowdfunding campaign fails to reach its goal, it remains on the Kickstarter site forever “as a failed project.” Swanson recommended looking at the projects that failed before writing or recording your own pitch for a crowd-funding campaign. After looking at pitches that failed, Swanson said, “I promise you, you’ll make your video differently.”

Related Articles
Advice on Funding Your Photo Project

How to Win Grants for Your Photo Projects

Mary Virginia Swanson Named New Executive Director of LOOK3

October 24th, 2015

PhotoPlus Expo 2015: Photo Book Editors on How to Publish Your Photo Book

There may not be much money in photo book publishing, but is money a photographer’s only reason to publish a book? As Aperture book program publisher Lesley Martin said, “Books have become an integral part of photographic practice.” So for the legions of  photographers driven to publish a photo book despite the costs, a panel of experts gathered at PhotoPlus Expo to explain the how-to. Besides Martin, panelists included Abrams publisher Michael Sand, veteran book editor and agent Robert Morton, and photographer Lauren Henkin. PDN Editor Holly Stuart Hughes moderated the discussion.

The panelists discussed how to conceptualize a book project, how to pitch it to publishers, how to raise funds for publication, and how to market your book once it is published.

As veteran book editor and agent Robert Morton explained, technology has dramatically changed the photo book business. On the one hand, it’s easier than ever for photographers to create a book themselves thanks to online, on-demand publishing. On the other hand, photo books are much harder to sell because independent bookstores have closed by the hundreds, so potential buyers of photo books have no good way to browse. “Amazon doesn’t show you what’s inside the book,” he said.

The editors on the panel strongly advised against publishing albums of personal work. “Your material has to have a subject,” Morton said. “If it’s purely personal work, you’re going to have a hard time coming up with a subject. Fine art books that are purely and simply a photographer’s vision of the world are almost impossible to sell, [and were] even in the days when there were 4,000 bookstores.”

Hughes directed the audience to the Princeton Architectural Press submission guidelines for authors interested in pitching book ideas. Its questionnaire requires authors to figure out who the primary and secondary audiences are for their proposed book, to research comparable titles to the books they are proposing and answer other tough questions. The questionnaire had been recommended by Mary Virginia Swanson, co-author of Publish Your Photography Book. http://mvswanson.com/tag/publish-your-photography-book

“It gets to the heart of [the question]: Why does the world need your book?” Quoting Swanson, Hughes said, “If you can answer the questions, you can [pitch your book project] to any editor.”

Sand ran through his list of “14 thoughts on placing your book with a commercial publisher.” The list underscored the difficulty of getting a commercial trade publisher to publish and market photo book. Some of the items on Sand’s how-to list included:

1. Be famous. (Sand pointed to Drew Barrymore’s books of snapshots titled Find It in Everything)
2. Be famous and dead (e.g., Ansel Adams)
3. Be famous, live a complicated life, and write about it. (e.g., Sally Mann)
5. Get in a helicopter for a fresh perspective (e.g., George Steinmetz)
6. Associate with interesting people (e.g., Todd Selby, creator of The Selby)
9. Animals make good subjects
10. Consider food [cookbooks]

Martin explained that the two critical issues for publishers and self-publishers alike are how to pay for the production, printing, and distribution of a book, and how to find potential buyers in order to sell the book. A non-profit publisher, Aperture has traditionally raised funds through grants and print sales, but has recently worked with photographers by running Kickstarter crowd-funding campaigns —a strategy that not only raises money, but also helps to pre-sell copies of a book. For instance, a Kickstarter campaign for Richard Renaldi’s Touching Strangers book raised $80,000 in pre-publication book sales. Another Kickstarter campaign for Robin Schwartz’s Amelia & the Animals raised about $30,000.

Martin advised the audience that “the photo book community is a self-organized, highly networked, international community. So be part of it.” For instance, web sites such as Photobookclub.org offer resources and ideas for marketing a photo book–at festivals, book fairs, meet up, and through photo blogs. She also referred the audience to The Photobook Review, a free, twice-a-year publication from Aperture about book publishing. And Martin noted that “one of the myths of self-publishing is that have to do [everything] yourself. You don’t.” She added that the most successful books are the result of a collaborative effort.

And that has been the experience of Henkin, who has self-published several successful fine art books since 2010.

Having studied architecture, Henkin is as much concerned with materiality and scale of the books as she is with the content. Her books, which she has produced in editions of a few hundred,  are collectible as objects, as she discovered when she set about figuring out who might be interested in buying her first book. She found interest among a community of special collections librarians, who led her to private rare book dealers and collectors.

“I banged on a lot of doors to build that audience,” she said.

Her third (and most recent) book, Still Standing, Standing Still, is a sculptural object. It contains just 14 images of a single tree, place in a wooden box. The images are mounted on a stiff backing, and bound so they can be displayed radially on top of the box. Viewers can then walk around and view the images as if they’re walking around the tree Henkin photographed.

Henkin made 300 copies of the book, and priced it at $500. It sold out in a day.

by David Walker

You’ve Published Your Photo Book. Now How Do You Market It?
How to Pitch Your Photo Book to Publishers
Leveraging an Online Audience to Atrract Book Publishers
Lauren Henkin: How (and Why) to Hand-Make Your Photo Book

October 23rd, 2015

Epson Launches New Fine Art Papers at PhotoPlus Expo 2015


Epson trotted out a new line of photo papers at PhotoPlus Expo aimed at photographers and artists seeking to exhibit and sell their output to collectors, museums, galleries and other discerning buyers.

Dubbed the Legacy Papers, Epson said they’re manufactured in a pair of European paper mills. The base paper is made in France while the coating is applied in Germany. They’ll feature a microporous inkjet receiver layer that Epson claims will produce deep blacks, an expanded color gamut and smooth tonal gradations. They’ll initially be sold in rolls beginning in December with cut sheets available starting in 2016. Epson will also provide custom sizes for both cut sheets and rolls for customers as well.

The paper lineup will include:

  • Legacy Platine: a 100 percent cotton fibre paper with an OBA-free, smooth satin finish. It has a color gamut of over 1 million and a Dmax of 2.7.
  • Legacy Fibre: 100 percent cotton fibre paper with a bright OBA-free, smooth matte finish.
  • Legacy Baryta: a baryta paper with a white, smooth satin finish, utilizing two barium sulfate coatings. Epson says the baryta paper is unique on the market, since it has a pair of layers separating the baryta base and inkjet coating which will make the paper tougher than traditional baryta
  • Legacy Etching: Epson says the Etching paper has a traditional etching paper feel and is composed of 100 percent cotton fibre paper with a matte finish. It’s also OBA free.

Cut sheet sizes will include 8.5 x 11, 13 x 19 and 17 x 22. Roll sizes will cover 17 x 50, 24 x 50, 44 x 50 and 60 x 50. Prices have not been announced.

The Legacy Papers have already been tested for print permanence by Wilhelm Imaging Research. When produced using Epson’s HD and HDK inks, color prints on Legacy papers will last for 200 years and black-and-white prints will reach 400 years of light fastness.

October 23rd, 2015

Lucie Technical Awards Highlight the Great Gear Behind the Great Photos


Photographers have long been familiar with the Lucies, one of the marquee awards in the industry. This year, the technology enabling the world’s great photography earned its day in the sun with the inaugural Lucie Technical Awards, which were announced this week in New York.

Lucie Technical Awards were handed out across multiple product categories for technologies and services introduced over the past year with the exception of the darkroom category, which focused on innovative businesses irrespective of when they were established.

Here’s who took home the trophy.




BEST CAMERA BAG: ThinkThank Photo Airport Helipak Backpack

BEST TRIPOD: Gitzo Traveler Series 1

BEST SUPERZOOM LENS: AF-S Nikkor 200-500mm F/5.6E ED VR

BEST WIDE ANGLE LENS: Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* 16-35mm F2.8 ZA SSM II

BEST ZOOM LENS: Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* 24-70mm F2.8 ZA SSM II

BEST LED LIGHTING ELEMENT: Arri Skypanel & Lume Cube (a tie)

BEST SOFTWARE: Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 6

BEST MEMORY CARD: SanDisk High Endurance Video Monitoring microSDHC and microSDXC Memory Card


BEST INSTANT FILM & CAMERA: Lomography Lomo’Instant White Edition

BEST DARKROOM: Labyrinth Photographic, London

October 22nd, 2015

PhotoPlus Expo 2015: Nat Geo Photogs on How to Get Your Work Published

How do you get published in National Geographic magazine? Obsess, obsess, obsess. “If you’re not completely obsessed with excellence, with your story, with sharing your vision with the world, then there’s a problem,” said long-time National Geographic contributor Lynn Johnson at a Photo Plus Expo panel titled “Women of Vision at National Geographic.”

Others on the panel were photographers Jodi Cobb, Diane Cook, Stephanie Sinclair and Erika Larsen. National Geographic photo editor Elizabeth Krist moderated the discussion. They offered advice and tips for pitching ideas to editors, shaping stories, editing your work, and other topics.

“I love to work with photographers who are obsessed,” not only because their engagement is inspiring, Krist says, but because “I can trust they’e not going to miss anything.”

Several of the photographers described how consumed they are by their projects, not only because of insatiable curiosity, but because of the commitment they develop to their subjects along the way. That commitment often supersedes personal commitments, Johnson said. “Your family and friends can roll their eyes and talk about abandonment, but you’re out the door.”

Johnson continued to work on her story about medical marijuana for months after National Geographic published it. “The story is out, but we’re still on it,” she said, because by raising awareness about the benefits of the drug “there’s a chance to save a life or elevate the life of a family.”

“It’s not just a story,” Sinclair said. “What projects do you want to dedicate part of your life to [doing]? You spend years working on some of these projects.” Her “Too Young to Wed” project about child marriage was published by National Geographic in 2011. She is still working on it, with a goal of ending child marriage by raising awareness.

The panelists talked about how they find and frame stories in ways that appeal to editors.

“I’m looking for a way to make a story fun” so people can relate to it, said Cook, who produces stories for National Geographic with her husband, Len Jenshel. They are currently working on a story about trees. And rather than do another story about the destruction of the world’s forests, they are taking a humanistic approach by exploring the social, cultural, and religious significance of different types of trees. “I would rather, through beauty and seduction, get [viewers] to care,” Cook said.

Cobb said, “Editors love to be surprised” by story ideas as well as by photographs. She advised photographers to pitch stories “that are kind of unknown, something you have unique access to…What are you uniquely qualified to do?”

Krist agreed. “If you have access to part of the world that others don’t, that’s a huge advantage. It pushes you to the head of the queue” of photographers who are trying to get National Geographic interested in their projects. For example, Sinclair’s unique access to mormon communities convinced the magazine to assign the story she did about polygamy, Krist said.

Krist noted that National Geographic needs certain areas of expertise–notably photographers who specialize in archaeology–more than others, such as wildlife and underwater specialists.

In response to an question from an audience member about how to get magazines interested in publishing personal projects, panelists emphasized the importance of believing in your own projects and committing yourself to them, even if editors aren’t interested.

Sinclair said that when she first started pitching her child bride project, editors asked, Why should we care? “I had to go and make pictures to show why they should care,” she said.

Johnson added, “You have to know your subject matter better than anyone else, so it’s embedded in you. You have to put your money, your time, and your passion out there. It can take years” before editors get interested in what you are doing.

Cook emphasized the importance of showing works-in-progress to colleagues, and of editing tightly. “Make sure your first three pictures are your best, because if you lose [an editor] on the first three pictures, they’re gone.”

Panelists also said competitions and curated photo blogs are a good way to build exposure for your work. If editors see your work once, “and see it again, and again, they know if it gets better every time,” Johnson said. “At some point, [good work] will rise to the surface.”

Krist agreed, and said that as a body of work matures and rises, “eventually we say, ‘That’s someone we’d like to have shooting for us.'”

The Unsentimental Education of Lynn Johnson
Lynn Johnson on Veteran Survivors of Blast Force

October 22nd, 2015

Three Cool Photo Products We Spotted at PhotoPlus Expo Launchpad


Memento’s 4K Frames

Born on Kickstarter, Memento’s 4K frames will be shipping to consumers and retailers towards the end of the year and into 2016. These Wi-Fi connected frames are available in 25- and 35-inch sizes and can be controlled through a smartphone app (iOS, Android) or through a PC and Mac. They feature a built-in light sensor that adjusts the display’s brightness based on ambient lighting so that an image takes on the look of a printed image, not a harshly backlit screen. The light sensor also shuts down the frame at night, so there’s no need for an on/off switch.

The real innovation of the Memento frame is its aesthetically pleasing approach to the power cord. It’s a flat cable that adheres to the wall and is paintable so it can be quickly concealed. It can also fold, so you can angle it around tight corners.



Triad Orbit

The Triad Orbit wasn’t built to be a light stand, at least, not originally. As product developer Ryan Kallas told us, it was (and still is) a mic stand, but enough photographers asked them to adapt the product for lighting that the company evolved the line to accommodate them.

Unlike traditional light stands, the Orbit uses a series of interchangeable screw mounts for tripods and lights that simply pop into and out of the stand through a release lever. There are a variety of accessories, including cheese plates, clamps, boom arms and more, so you can customize your kit.



Another successful Kickstarter, the PakPod will be shipping to early backers in December and to the masses in 2016. It’s a tripod for smartphones, action cams and even DSLRs  with stakes for feet and legs that can be locked in asymmetric positions. The stakes can be dug into the ground, hung on walls and, in some configurations, even mount additional accessories. There are three stake choices on offer, a “safe stake” with a rounded end, a standard stake without 1/4-20 threads and a quarter twenty stake that has two tripod-friendly threads.

The PakPod is waterproof, freeze proof and durable thanks to its ABS and steel construction. It can hold up to 11 pounds when the legs are retracted or 5.5 pounds with the legs extended. The tripod will retail for $99

October 22nd, 2015

WANDRD Photo Bag Debuts at PhotoPlus Expo 2015




Making not just their PhotoPlus Expo debut but their wider public launch, WANDRD builds travel-oriented camera bags. Their first photo backpack, the PRVKE, is forged from water-resistant tarpaulin and ripstop nylon dobby. You’ll enjoy quick access to your camera from a side pocket.

You can also access your gear through the roll top and clamshell cover. The PRVKE sports a modular, removable camera cube that fits a DSLR and up to six lenses. It includes an FAA-approved laptop sleeve and a shoulder strap that doubles as a camera sling. There’s also a pair of dual-hook cinch straps that offer four connection points for adding more gear.

The bag’s back panel has a molded compartment for passports and there’s a rainfly in case the skies open up. The PRVKE is solid enough to stand upright, even when it’s empty.

The PRVKE will set you back $270.


October 22nd, 2015

Think Tank Debuts Photo Bag for Female Photographers at PhotoPlus Expo 2015

Lily Deanne Mezzo Chestnur on Body hires

Think Tank Photo has paired veteran bag designer Lily Fisher with Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Deanne Fitzmaurice to create what the company is ambitiously calling “the ideal camera bags for female photographers. ”

Said bags are the Lily Deanne shoulder bag line. The bags can house pro-size camera bodies and lenses with quick access at the top through an oversized zipper opening. The front flap has a silent magnetic closures.

The exterior fabric is made with a water resistant coating and the underside has a polyurethane  coating. Pop open the bag and you’ll find polyurethane-backed Velex liner and dividers, closed-cell foam and reinforced PE board dividers.

The lineup starts with the $200 Lily Deanne Lucido, which holds one standard size DSLR with one to three lenses and accessories with room to spare for an 8-inch tablet in a dedicated compartment. If you shoot mirrorless, you can store three or four lenses, accessories and a tablet.

The Lily Deanne Mezzo ($250) holds one standard-size DSLR with mid-range zoom attached, plus two to three additional lenses. There’s also a dedicated compartment that can hold either a 10-inch tablet or 11-inch laptop.

Finally, the Lily Deanne Tutto holds one gripped DSLR with mid-range zoom lens attached and two to five additional lenses and two flashes,. Alternatively, you can stuff a standard-size DSLR with 70-200mm f/2.8 attached and two to five lenses in its main compartment and two flashes, and a 15-inch laptop inside a dedicated compartment. The Tutto will retail for $300.

Lily Deanne bags will be sold in two colors: chestnut brown and black licorice.

Lily Deanne Chestnut Hero Group hires

Lily Deanne Mezzo Licorice Interior with gear Hi Res


October 22nd, 2015

How Photographers With Huge Followings Grew Their Social Networks

Photographers looking to build their social media presence are often focused on the tactical questions of who to follow, how often to post and what networks to exploit. But according to photographers at the PhotoPlus Expo #Trending panel, the route to success in social media doesn’t follow a neat script and has far less to do with a given tactic and far more to do with honesty, positivity and having something of value to share with the world.

The panel, moderated by PDN senior editor Conor Risch, saw photographers Sue Bryce, Vincent Laforet, Jeremy Cowart and Chase Jarvis discuss before a packed house how they grew their substantial social followings–and the challenges that come with feeding a ravenous Internet.

Bryce’s approach to social media follows a basic formula that consists of 40 percent positive opinion, 40 percent knowledge-sharing, 10 percent sell and 10 percent personality–all anchored, she said, by consistency and positive intentions. Having a strictly mercenary view of your social media presence, where all you try to do is sell your followers, is a dead end, Bryce insisted. “You need your followers to be entertained and engaged,” she said.

“You have to think of how you add value,” Jarvis seconded.

For Cowart, engaging on social media begins with humility. “I don’t want to the be the guy speaking down to people on Twitter and Instagram,” he said. His advice: tend to your social presence humbly and feel free to share. “I’ve always debated whether I should share my personal life [online] and I landed on the side of sharing, being honest and real.”

If Cowart is open to sharing his personal details, not every platform earns his personal attention. “Google+ is a useless platform for me,” he said, despite the fact that he has 1.5 million Google+ followers. “I gave up on SnapChat…. I think Periscope has a long future.”

The tactics of growing a social media audience shouldn’t be the first thing photographers worry about when they go online, Jarvis noted. “It’s all about the why. Why are you doing something?” Humans naturally gravitate to a narrative, Jarvis said, so photographers with a story to tell and the patience to tell it over social media will grow their followers organically. In this game, Jarvis said, “the reality is that stamina wins.”

“If you treat [social media] like a marketing exercise, you’ve failed from the get go,” said Laforet. Of all the photographers on the panel, Laforet was the most ambivalent about social media, admitting that acquiring a large following can be a curse as well as a blessing. “The more followers you get, the less honest you can be,” he lamented.

Laforet confessed that he had grown “tired of the ever-expanding black hole” of social media and also the medium’s “lack of intonation” and emotional depth.

Bryce, however, maintained that a positive self image and positive intentions online were the wellspring of social media success. Her approach to any new technology, she said, was simple. “Will it help evolve my career? If it doesn’t, I don’t need it.” But, she warned, failing to adapt and evolve with new technology was a one-way ticket to extinction. One thing we know from nature, Bryce said, “is that if a species doesn’t evolve, it dies.”