June 22nd, 2015

Photographer Calls Out Taylor Swift for Apple Hypocrisy [Updated]

Taylor Swift is rapidly making a name for herself as the scourge of streaming music services, first lambasting Spotify and now, Apple Music, for giving musicians short financial shrift. In an open letter to Apple, Swift complains that the company won’t be paying musicians during a user’s three month free trial period with the service, calling it “shocking, disappointing, and completely unlike this historically progressive and generous company.”

But Swift’s ride atop the high horse may not last very long, and not simply because Apple appears to have done an abrupt about-face on the issue.

Photographer Jason Seldon read the fine print in the contract provided by Firefly Entertainment, Inc. (Swift’s management company) to freelance concert photographers and deemed it “a complete rights grab.”

Specifically, Seldon objected to two clauses:

Screen Shot 2015-06-22 at 9.05.26 AM

 

Writes Seldon:

How are you any different to Apple?  If you don’t like being exploited, that’s great..  make a huge statement about it, and you’ll have my support.  But how about making sure you’re not guilty of the very same tactic before you have a pop at someone else?

Photographers need to earn a living as well. Like Apple, you can afford to pay for photographs so please stop forcing us to hand them over to you while you prevent us from publishing them more than once, ever.

Seldon wasn’t the only photographer to cry foul.

 

Update: The BBC got a hold of Swift’s management, who defended their policy thusly:

“The standard photography agreement has been misrepresented in that it clearly states that any photographer shooting The 1989 World Tour has the opportunity for further use of said photographs with management’s approval.

“Another distinct misrepresentation is the claim that the copyright of the photographs will be with anyone other than the photographer – this agreement does not transfer copyright away from the photographer.

“Every artist has the right to, and should, protect the use of their name and likeness.”

June 18th, 2015

How Well Do Imaging & Cloud Companies Protect Your Privacy?

You invest more than just your photos when you use services like Dropbox or Adobe’s Creative Cloud. Sensitive data, such as your location, private communications and more, gets transmitted to third party servers every day.

Every year, the Electronic Frontier Foundation surveys key tech firms to judge just how diligently they safeguard your privacy. Companies are judged across five criteria: whether they follow industry-accepted best practices when it comes to privacy protection (i.e. do they require a warrant before handing over communications), whether they tell users about government data demands, whether they disclose policies on data retention, whether they discloses government content removal requests and whether they have a “pro-user” policy of no “backdoors” to allow government surveillance.

This year, several firms used heavily by the photo community earned five stars–a perfect score. Among them were Adobe, Apple, Dropbox, Yahoo! and WordPress.

Social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Pinterest didn’t fare as well though they still beat out Google, which is aggressively courting photographers with its new Google Photos storage service.

You can read the full report here or get the nickel version from the EFF’s graphic below.

Screen Shot 2015-06-18 at 5.53.51 PM

June 18th, 2015

5 Tips for Striking Wedding Photographs

Sponsored by Olympus
All photos @ Tracie Jean Photo Studios

Tracie Jean Maglosky of Tracie Jean Photo Studios first fell in love with photography 15 years ago, when her first son was born. “Initially it was a passion because I loved my son, but soon enough it became a way of seeing the world and translating what that meant to me [through] images,” she explains. She founded her Cincinnati studio five years later after her friends began asking her for photographs of the memories they wanted to keep precious. Soon, she was a full-time wedding photographer (“There was just something about the fast pace and high pressure, coupled with the elegance of a wedding day—I was completely taken,” she explains), but Maglosky still emphasizes a personal approach in her family-owned and -operated business.

Maglosky approaches her business with an outgoing and upbeat personality. She knows that a good wedding photographer needs to be flexible and efficient, but humility is also key. “Comfortable brides are happy brides,” she says. “Sometimes being a wedding photographer means getting drinks, wiping sweat and helping the bride to get some air under her dress. There is no room for prideful qualities in wedding photography.”

With 10 years under her belt in the wedding industry, Maglosky has more than a few tricks up her sleeve. And, as an Olympus Trailblazer, she favors the Olympus OM-D EM1 mirrorless digital camera to perfect those tricks. Here, she shares some images from a recent wedding in Ohio that illustrate her favorite tips and techniques to simplify shots and add some extra sparkle to your clients’ wedding photographs.

1) Get the sunset shot that will knock their socks off. Super wide angle or fisheye lenses give the sky some extra liveliness and create a spiral effect with the clouds. Set up your trigger and off-camera flash in manual mode. Expose for the sky, and don’t be afraid to shoot a little underexposed. In this shot, I lowered the flash to 1/4 power, using a MagGrid light modifier to isolate the bride and groom. The image was shot with the Olympus OM-D E-M1 with an M.Zuiko 8mm f/1.8 Fisheye. The electronic viewfinder offers the ability to see exactly what the sky’s exposure would look like in the image before ever actuating the shutter.

Tracie1

Pictured: Luke dips Suzi at the Four Bridges Country Club in West Chester, Ohio, against the sunset. Shot with the Olympus OM-D E-M1 and M.Zuiko 8mm f/1.8 Fisheye Pro lens at ISO 500, f/5.0, 1/250th of a second.

2) Give your dance-floor images movement and make them unique. For this image, I used an on-camera speedlight directly pointed at the subject and set my shutter speed to 1/3 of a second. I chose the M.Zuiko 8mm f/1.8 Fisheye Pro lens because the focus ring spins without changing the focus, allowing me to spin the camera after actuating the shutter and freezing the subject. Firing at 1/3 of a second allows enough rotation for a nice circular feel, and the angle of the lens creates an almost vinyl-record look. Having 5-Axis Image Stabilization in-camera on the Olympus OM-D E-M1 helps to create the smooth lines at such a slow shutter speed.

Tracie2

Pictured: Suzi on the dance floor. Shot with the Olympus OM-D E-M1 and M.Zuiko 8mm f/1.8 Fisheye Pro lens.

3) Take meaningful macros for detail shots. When photographing rings, one of the greatest challenges is light reflection. Choosing a side-lighting situation helps to reduce glare seen by the lens. Using a macro lens allows you to get extremely close and capture stunning detail, isolating it from the background. For this image, I chose the M.Zuiko 60mm f/2.8 Macro lens, as it allows for an 18.8cm focusing distance and a 1:1 magnification ratio switch. Remember when you’re shooting close to stop down so that what you want in focus is sharp. Conventional knowledge would say to use a tripod for your macro images and a shutter-released delay to avoid shake. With an Olympus mirrorless camera, the absence of a mirror eliminates the possibility of mirror shake and the 5-Axis Image Stabilzation in the OM-D E-M1 allows hand-held shooting without the loss of sharpness.

Tracie3

Pictured: Showcasing the ring. Shot with the Olympus OM-D E-M1 and M.Zuiko 60mm f/2.8 Macro lens.

4) Push your sensor to the limit using highlights and shadow to create dynamic imagery. Mastering backlighting is vital for any wedding photographer who wants to have subjects with open eyes. The danger when shooting in any amount of direct sunlight is that the details of a white wedding dress will disappear under the intense light of the sun; it is imperative to retain the details of a bride’s exquisite gown. Using the histogram and the highlight shadow display on the OM-D EM-1’s electronic viewfinder allows you to choose which parts of the image you’re willing to allow to peak in highlights or leave in shadow. Having all of this information in the viewfinder before the actuation of the shutter is a foolproof way to quickly capture images that are dynamic and well executed. For this image, after setting the backlight exposure, I triggered an off-camera flash at 1/2 power at the left of the couple.

Tracie4

Pictured: Suzi and Luke in the sunlight. Shot with the Olympus OM-D E-M1 and M.Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro lens at ISO 1000, f/1.8, 1/400th of a second.

5) Getting light without an assistant. Shooting with natural light can be beautiful, but comes with its challenges. Taking care to give a soft fill will decrease strong shadow and make way for beautiful portraits, adding depth without harsh shadows on a beautiful bride. A speedlight is a valid option, but color matching can become a time-consuming issue. Holding a reflector with one hand while shooting with the other is an easy solution, but the weight of gear can be limiting. I choose to shoot all my weddings with an Olympus OM-D E-M1 to greatly reduce the weight in my bag and on my arms. A light camera paired with a light lens eliminates the weight obstacle.

Tracie5

Pictured: Suzi, photographed with natural light on her right and a soft fill on her left. Shot with the Olympus OM-D E-M1 and an 25mm f/1.8 lens at ISO 250, f/2.8, 1/500 of a second.

Lean more about the Olympus OM-D E-M1 mirrorless digital camera on the Olympus website.

 

June 17th, 2015

A Photo Editor for Medium Makes the Case for Self-Publishing Platforms

Self-publishing opportunities abound, as we report in a feature story that’s now available at PDNonline.com, called “Are Visual Storytelling Platforms a Good Thing for Photographers?” We interviewed photographers about how they’ve benefitted (or not) from using a variety of platforms, including Exposure.com, Maptia, VSCO Journal, and Medium.

In an effort to promote their work, photographers are filling those sites with what amounts to free content–much of it high-quality content. So the question is, are photographers benefiting from the exposure provided by those platforms, as much as the platform owners are benefitting from the free content they’re vacuuming up?

As the story was going to press, we got a thoughtful response to the question from Keith Axline, the former editor of Wired magazine’s Raw File blog, and now editor of Vantage. An offshoot of Medium, Vantage is new online magazine established to highlight the best photo projects that photographers post on Medium.

Axline’s response came too late to be included in our story. But here’s the question as we posed it, and his response:

PDN: What’s in it for photographers? With a few exceptions, those I’m talking to are reporting that their stories pretty much get buried on these self-publishing platforms, and they don’t really attract clients and assignments. Which suggests they’re of marginal self-promotional value so far. So my question is, how would you try to convince skeptical photographers that these aren’t just more sites vacuuming up free content (photo stories) shot by hungry professionals, for the benefit of the site owners looking to generate ad revenue for themselves?

Keith Axline: It’s a really tough question. Some projects that Vantage profiles, I really love, but they don’t get much traction with readers. It was the same when I was at Raw File at Wired. But others find their audience on Medium when they wouldn’t have found it anywhere else. There’s no one-size-fits-all for every photo project or photographer. Any of these sites, including Medium, is just a tool for photographers and it’s up to them to make the most out of it.

I totally understand the perspective that photo blogs are exploiting photographers by running their stuff without payment. That’s one way to look at it. I see that. Though I disagree with it. At Vantage we only want to make that ask of photographers who are excited to be featured by us and for whom the attention is an asset that outweighs the granted one-time use. It’s not for everyone. Our posts are promotional in nature because we’re excited to talk about photographers’ work. So in that sense whatever the perceived cost of the granted use can be viewed as a marketing expense. We also encourage photographers to contribute to us directly so that there’s no middleman between them and potential fans. They get to see all the traffic to their story, where it came from, and reply directly to comments that readers make.

I also think that it’s not clear to photographers, or most people for that matter, how to turn traffic and viewers into a plus for their business. Hopefully in the future Vantage and Medium can get closer to facilitating that, and I’m happy to have a “best practices” discussion with contributors (I’ve been meaning to even write a few posts about it).

I think anyone who runs a photo publication is passionate about photography to some degree and they’re probably not exactly raking it in from ad revenue. Participating doesn’t make sense for everyone, but there is a large swath of people who would love to be featured. I’ve never heard of anyone regretting being profiled by us, but maybe they’re just being nice.

Related:
Are Visual Storytelling Platforms a Good Thing for Photographers?

June 16th, 2015

Video Pick: “Denali,” Film About Photographer Ben Moon and His Dog, Goes Viral

Denali from FELT SOUL MEDIA on Vimeo.

Our cover story last September was about DamNation, a film about dam removal and river restoration by director Ben Knight and the production company Felt Soul Media, which he cofounded with Travis Rummel. Outdoor apparel and equipment company Patagonia commissioned that film because the company’s founder, Yvon Chouinard, is an advocate for dam removal and river restoration. In our article, Knight predicted that we’d see more companies sponsoring documentary films about issues that matter to them. That relationship has continued, with Patagonia supporting Felt Soul Media’s latest short film, Denali, about photographer Ben Moon and his dog.

The seven-minute video, which Moon produced, chronicles the relationship between he and Denali, both of whom suffered through bouts of cancer with support from the other. It tells their story from Denali’s perspective, which is both charming and incredibly moving.

There is a very good chance at this point that you’ve seen or at least heard about the film. It has 8.2 million views since June 8 and was a Vimeo Staff Pick. But if not, we suggest you take the time to watch it with a best friend and a box of tissues.

Also: We hear Ben Moon will be speaking about building a photography career at PhotoPlus Expo this year. Maybe he’ll even tell a dog story or two.

Related: DamNation Documents the National Debate Over Dam Removals and River Restoration

June 15th, 2015

LOOK3 2015: Walter Iooss Jr. Shares Advice and Lessons from His Encounters with Great Athletes

Walter Iooss Jr, a sports photography superstar for more than 50 years, regaled a 2015 LOOK3 audience on Friday with some of the best tales from his storied career. Steve Fine, former director of photography at Sport Illustrated, joined Iooss on stage at the Paramount Theater in Charlottesville to prompt Iooss about his encounters with many great athletes: Roger Maris, Dave Parker, Joe Namath, Muhammed Ali, Tiger Woods, and Michael Jordan, to name only a few.

Iooss was a teenager without a driver’s license when he got his first assignment from Sports Illustrated around 1961. His father had to drive him to the job. The subject, an 83-year-old man who had built a sailboat and sailed it to Florida and back, looked at the 17-year-old photographer and said incredulously, “This is my moment?”

Iooss was, by his own account, born with a passion and a talent for photography. “Photography’s not that hard. It really isn’t,” he said during his talk. “It’s just instinctual. I’ve never had another job. I don’t know anything else. [I’m an] idiot savant.”

Equal to his passion for photography is his love of and fascination with sports. “When you play, the moment a pitch is thrown, or you shoot, or hit a golf ball, the whole world stops. There’s nothing that’s really happening except that moment with you, and that’s the escape of sport,” he said. “Sport is a real fantasy world, and in some ways, I try to project my childhood fantasies continually in pictures because you need a child’s heart to get the energy of these guys.”

Asked by Fine to talk about the defining characteristics of his work, Iooss offered what amounted to advice for aspiring sports photographers. Read the rest of this entry »

June 15th, 2015

LOOK3 2015: David Alan Harvey’s Reunion with a Long-Lost Subject (and Other Surprises)

David Alan Harvey greets Lois Liggins on stage at the the 2015 LOOK3 festival, in front of a portrait of Liggins that Harvey shot in 1966. ©Jessica Earnshaw

David Alan Harvey greets Lois Liggins on stage at the the 2015 LOOK3 festival, in front of a portrait of Liggins that Harvey shot in 1966. ©Jessica Earnshaw

David Alan Harvey’s artist talk on the main stage at LOOK3 in Charlottesville on Saturday included several surprises: a peek at some of Harvey’s precocious early work, images from his latest project (called Beach Games, an exploration in black and white of beach sports culture in Rio), his insistence (against much evidence to the contrary) that he doesn’t consider himself a color photographer or an extrovert–and a heartwarming guest appearance by a long-lost subject from a project he shot when he was 22. Read the rest of this entry »

June 12th, 2015

LOOK3 2015: Larry Fink on Experience, Empathy, and Being “Stuck” with a Successful Career

Photographer Larry Fink appeared on the main stage of the LOOK3 Festival of the Photograph last night for a freewheeling conversation with his friend, author Donald Antrim. Fink talked frankly about his formative experiences, the evolution of his motivations and his work, and the path of his illustrious career. It all added up to plenty of practical advice about how to approach subjects, follow your instincts, and make good photographs.

Fink’s career, spanning more than 55 years, has included shows at the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and other museums. He has published several monographs, including Social Graces (Aperture, 1984) and, most recently, The Beats (powerHouse, 2014), a retrospective of his earliest work from 1958. Fink is perhaps best known for his unflinching black-and-white photographs of society parties for Vanity Fair, W, GQ and other magazines. His work is delicious visual eavesdropping: It reveals the emotion and human interaction roiling below the surface of polite manners and social grace.

Fink told a packed house at Charlottesville’s Paramount Theater,  “I’ve photographed everything. Nothing was beneath me or above me. I’m just alive. I’m just hungry, hungry to experience, and the camera can translate these experiences in certain ways other things can’t.

“The idea is, is it possible for me…to make a picture that somehow or another assimilates that experience, and then has the miraculous transference to be able to be understood by many others?” Fink said. “How do I enter into you [the subject], pull you through me, clicking all the way, so that we merge inside? And that’s empathy on the deepest, primary level.”
Read the rest of this entry »

June 11th, 2015

Three Reasons to Go 4K

Sponsored by Samsung

Display resolutions don’t change often, but when they do, the change is momentous. When the world switched from standard to high definition, the revolution transformed both the media and electronics industries.

A similar revolution is underway again, as the world starts its trek from high definition to 4K or “ultra-high definition.”

As with any change of this sort, early adopters face a number of challenges before taking the plunge, but those who do strike early can be rewarded. Here are three reasons why now is the best time to invest in 4K.

Unknown-3

Photo © Andrew Putschoegl

It’s the future

The consensus among market research firms is that 4K-television adoption is a matter of “when” not “if”—and the “when” starts just about now. The Consumer Electronics Association projects that 4 million 4K TVs will be shipped this year in the United States alone, up 208 percent from 2014. Worldwide, the trend looks similarly bullish. Futuresource Consulting pegs the global market for 4K TVs at 100 million in just three years, representing more than a third of every TV sold.

As those screens find their way into homes, the race is on to fill them with content that fully takes advantage of all that resolution. It’s why streaming services like Amazon and Netflix are rapidly building up their library of 4K videos, from original programs to feature films and documentaries. YouTube and Vimeo have also rolled out support for 4K video as well.

Whether your video is destined to be viewed on desktop monitors or TVs, creating a 4K “master” of your video is an investment in the future of your work, viewable on the highest quality displays ever built for the world’s living rooms.

It makes your HD video better

Many industries, such as wedding videography, don’t necessarily need to produce a 4K deliverable today. Even if you a client only requires an HD file, it can still make sense to shoot in 4K. All those extra pixels give you ample room to crop or reframe your video to improve image stabilization or remove extraneous detail without sacrificing resolution. You can pan across your 4K video using post-production software without rapidly running out of pixels.

Depending on how you’re shooting, a 4K-video file may also capture more than just additional pixels, but more color information as well. Armed with this additional color information, you can down-sample a 4K file to HD with improved color detail.

Screen Grabs Are Awesome

4kzoomin

Enhance! Zooming in on a 4K screen grab / Photo © Andrew Putschoegl

Shooting in 4K doesn’t just mean high-quality video; it can enhance your still photography, too. Isolating still images from HD video produces images that are a measly 1920×1080 pixels in size or about 2 megapixels—barely enough for a decent print.

A 4K still frame, on the other hand, is a chunkier file, either at 4096×2160 or 3840×2160 pixels in size, depending on your setting. That’s equivalent to an 8-megapixel image, ample resolution to print by.

This doesn’t just mean that stills from your video production will be higher quality (though they will be), it also means you can use 4K video as a “burst mode on steroids” for moving subjects to capture images that your camera might otherwise miss. It’s not necessarily applicable in every situation of course, but it opens up new creative possibilities that aren’t available to you when shooting in high def.

Samsung and PDN recently launched the 4K Filmmaking Challenge, giving motion shooters the opportunity to shoot a short 4K film. One grand-prize winner will receive $2,500, an NX1 and a profile in a print PDN/Samsung supplement. Check it out at 4kfilmmakingchallenge.com

June 11th, 2015

Photographer Lectures Expand “Emerging” Exhibit (And They’re Free)



Broadcast live streaming video on Ustream
The Annenberg Space for Photography in Los Angeles will host a series of informative and inspiring photographer lectures over the next three months during the run of “Emerging,” the exhibition co-produced by PDN’s editors and featuring photographers selected for the annual PDN‘s 30 issue since 2008. The “Iris Nights” talks, to be held at the Skylight Studios across the park from the Annenberg, feature exhibited photographers discussing recent work, their career paths, and their approaches to a range of subject matter.

The series begins June 11 with a talk by Lauren Dukoff, the celebrity and music photographer, and it continues through September:

June 18 – Dina Litovsky
June 25 – Ilvy Njiokiktjien
July 9 – Olivia Bee
July 16 – Katie Orlinsky
July 23 – JUCO (Julia Galdo & Cody Cloud)
July 30 – Nicole Tung
August 6 – Peter DiCampo
August 13 – Marcus Smith
August 20 – Pari Dukovic
August 27 – Toni Greaves
September 3 – Bryan Derballa
September 10 – Corey Arnold
September 24 – Diana Markosian

The schedule is subject to change, of course, but we’re delighted to see some of the most thoughtful, articulate participants in past PDN’s 30 panels are scheduled to share their stories with the public.

More information is available on the events page of the Annenberg Space for Photography website:  annenbergphotospace.org/events

Related Articles:
New Perspectives: “Emerging” at the Annenberg Space

PDN Video: Marcus Smith on How to Attract the Clients You Want

PDN Video: Olivia Bee on Instagram, iPhones, Expectations and Envy