May 21st, 2015

Science Says: People Like Filtered Photos

Love them or hate them, photo filters are a staple of photo sharing. While some may view them as a shortcut to creativity, new research suggests they’re also a powerful lure for eyeballs on the web’s most popular photo platforms.

New research from Saeideh Bakhshi, David Shamma and Lyndon Kennedy of Yahoo Labs and Eric Gilbert at Georgia Tech aims to understand how filtering and “visual post-processing” impacts photo sharing.

What they found, simply put, is that filtering photos drives more engagement: photos with filters were 21 percent more likely to be viewed on Flickr and Instagram than those without. What’s more, filtered photos were 45 percent more likely to be commented on.

There is an art to filtering, though.

“Filters that increase contrast and correct exposure can help a photo’s engagement, and filters that create a warmer color temperature are more engaging than those with cooler color effects,” the authors write. “Photographically speaking, filters which auto-enhance a photo (e.g. correct for contrast and exposure) drive more engagement. We find the less-engaging filters exhibit transformation effects which are exaggerated and often cause photographic artifacts and/or loss of highlight details. The exception being filters which make a photo look antique.”

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The study gleaned insights from interviews with Flickr users, plus a quantitative analysis of over 7.6 million images from both Flickr and Instagram.

Incidentally, filters aren’t the only means of increasing engagement with images. The researchers also found that the more tags a Flickr image had, the more likely it was to surface in a search. The age of a Flickr account also had a “positive but small role” in the number of eyeballs an image attracted.

The full report, which provides a detailed breakdown on the methodology used in the study, is available here.

May 7th, 2015

Getty Images and Instagram Launch $10K Social Media Photo Grant

Photographers who use Instagram to document and share stories of underrepresented communities are eligible for a new $10,000 grant announced today by Getty Images and Instagram.

According to an announcement from Instagram, the judges will pick three winners based on “the existing body of work represented on their Instagram account, focusing on the quality of their imagery, their photographic skills and on the project and stories told through their photos.”

“Photographers in all corners of the world use the Instagram platform to share unique and authentic stories that otherwise rarely come into focus,” Getty’s senior director of content partnerships Elodie Malliet Storm said in a statement.

“This grant captures the global enthusiasm from photographers to continue to push their craft to new levels,” added Instagram community director Amanda Kelso.

In addition to the grant money, the work of the winners will be shown at the Photoville photography festival in September in New York City. Winners will also receive mentorship from a Getty Images photographer.

The grant boasts a distinguished list of judges. They are: TIME magazine director of photography Kira Pollack; photographer Malin Fezehai; photographer Maggie Steber; photographer and National Geographic Fellow David Guttenfelder; and photographer and @EverdayIran co-founder Ramin Talaie.

Applications will be accepted through June 4, 2015 at 11:59 p.m. GMT. Getty and Instagram also released a hashtag to help spread work of the grant: #GettyImagesInstagramGrant.

For more information or to apply, visit: www.gettyimages.com/grants

Related: PDN’s 30: Malin Fezehai
PPE 2014: Leading The Revolution in Smartphone Photography
Why TIME Chose an Amateur Photographer’s Image for Its Cover
Q&A: Instagram Editorial Director Pamela Chen
Maidan Moment: Anastasia Taylor-Lind’s Book of Portraits From Kiev

March 2nd, 2015

PDN Video: Ruddy Roye on Instagram, Storytelling, and Risking the “Angry Black Man” Label

Photographer Ruddy Roye has attracted 116,000 Instagram followers despite–or perhaps because of–his gritty, difficult subject matter and the long captions he posts to help humanize his subjects. Using Instagram largely as a tool of social activism, Roye draws attention to racial and economic injustice primarily in New York City, and often in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn, where he lives. “A lack of black images [and] black photographers has created this void for people like me,” says Roye, who was born and raised in Jamaica. “Instagram has allowed me a light that didn’t exist before.” In this video, he explains how he found his Instagram voice, and discusses the professional risks he is taking by refusing to look away and remain silent.

Related:
Q&A: Instagram Editorial Director Pamela Chen

January 7th, 2015

New Instagram Feed Highlights Effects of Climate Change

Everyday Climate Change (photos © the individual photographers)

Everyday Climate Change (photos © the individual photographers)

An Instagram feed showcasing the work of photographers documenting the causes and effects of global climate change launched on January 1. Founded by Tokyo-based photographer James Whitlow Delano, @everydayclimagechange was inspired by the @everydayeverywhere feed, which presents selected images of daily life around the world, and will show how extreme weather and changes to the climate affect life in the developing and the developed world. So far, the feed has featured images by Sara Terry, Katharina Hesse, Michael Robinson Chavez, Janet Jarman, Paolo Patrizi, Ed Kashi, David Butow, John Trotter, Delano and other photographers who have covered such topics as water shortages, pollution caused by the burning of fossil fuels, deforestation, forest fires, rising sea levels and the destruction of crops by infestations of funguses and insects.

Delano says that before launching the feed, he contacted photographers he knew who had completed bodies of work relating to climate issues. “I am looking for photographers who are able to see how local climate changes relate to the bigger, global picture,” he says. Delano, who has covered logging and deforestation in Southeast Asia, says he sought photographers based around the world. The contributing photographers are from five continents, and the images featured so far have shown diverse locations: a farm in Mexico; wetlands in Guinea Bissau; a denuded rain forest in southern Papua; a stretch of beach in Far Rockaway, Brooklyn. Says Delano, “I love the way that the photographs tell us that we must all consider how to deal with these issues.”

Though he gave contributors suggestions for hashtags, Delano says he wants to take a hands-off approach to editing. “I have told photographers that I will not curate or interfere unless photos go way off theme. As a photographer, I cherish latitude and freedom.”

Seven days after its launch, the feed has attracted over 1,600 followers. Photographers who have agreed to contribute in the future include Patrick Brown, Ron Haviv, Dominic Bracco II, Veejay Villafranca, Suthep Krisanavarin and Peter DiCampo, co-founder of @EverydayAfrica and @EverydayEverywhere. Delano says he’s happy with the work so far, but might expand the feed in the future. “In a month or so, we may start accepting hashtags or doing a Follow Friday like other everyday feeds. I like the democratization of the feeds that way,” he says. “First, though, I wanted to have a look how the feed functioned. So far, so good.”

Related Articles

Founders of Everyday Feeds Launch @EverydayEverywhere, “Family of Man for the Modern Age”

Picture Story: Everyday Africa on Instagram

Environmental Crusaders: Photographer Peter McBride and the Colorado River

November 21st, 2014

Adobe Spotlight: Tim Landis’s Extraordinary Instagram Scenes

Sponsored by Adobe

Adobe_PDNPulse
All photos © Tim Landis

While many photographers say they picked up their first camera before adulthood, creating beautiful images is a skill that can be acquired at any time. Photographer Tim Landis is proof of this—while he says that he has always been drawn to visual storytelling, it wasn’t until after the birth of his children that he became interested in the medium. His wife, Staci Landis, began her own wedding and portrait photography business, and after relocating from Pennsylvania to Wisconsin in 2008, Tim became her second shooter.

“I began to really love telling stories and wanted to work hard at developing my skill in photography,” he recalls. “There was a beauty I was drawn to of capturing moments that were unique and wouldn’t happen again. Bringing real moments and scenes to life in a photo was intriguing for me.”

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Above: Two outdoor scenes showcasing Landis’s knack for capturing and enhancing beautiful light.

Landis began to study the basic rules of photography and hone his composition and lighting technique. But it was through constant picture-taking that he was really able to learn about his camera and the tools he was using. And, as most photographers do, Landis looked to successful photographers for inspiration in developing his own visual style.

Today, Landis has over 632,000 followers on his @curious2119 account on Instagram, an achievement that he never expected. “My Instagram following began like everyone else: I downloaded the app and started taking photos.” His direction into stunning landscape photography began out of practicality: at the time, Landis was traveling daily around Northern Wisconsin and Minnesota for work, providing the perfect setting to be able to practice and improve his shooting technique.

It wasn’t long before his Instafame was set into motion—a particular landscape image caught the eye of an editor at The Huffington Post’s Arts section, and Landis was contacted to feature his mobile work on the site. Shortly after, his account was also featured on Instagram’s blog, followed by an addition to the site’s Suggested User list. As his following grew, Landis says, “I realized I had an amazing opportunity to do something I love and feel connected and passionate about.”

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Above: The wintery image that first drew the attention of The Huffington Post.

Landis finds that his followers are drawn to the simplicity of his imagery. He aims to capture as much as he can in camera, and while editing his images, he enhances what is already there. “For example,” he explains, “taking the existing light in a photo and using post processing to enhance and sometimes even change the mood of that light to portray what I was seeing in my mind as I photographed the scene.” And sometimes, he says, he discovers a new direction while he’s in editing mode, and changes the image in an entirely new way.

Even though Landis’s visual style is to keep his images natural-looking and authentic, he relies on tools like Adobe Photoshop Lightroom and Photoshop CC to bring his stories to life. “No matter how good of a job you do taking photos and achieving a certain look in camera, it’s important to be able to have post processing aids such as Lightroom and Photoshop.”

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Above: Before-and-after shots highlighting the changes that Landis makes in post with Lightroom.

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom has long been Landis’s program of choice, but he recently picked up Photoshop CC for when he needs “more extensive manipulation.” Lightroom, he says, is most useful for organizing photos, creating collections and editing a large number of RAW files straight from his camera. The program also has the ability to sync to mobile devices, which comes in handy for Landis’s social media shots. Photoshop CC, he explains, is better when he needs to spend a bit more time focusing on specific edits. “I like the ability to work with layers and the photo retouch tools in Photoshop,” Landis says. Layers allow users to have more control over their edits, working on top of the image without affecting the original. Photoshop CC’s retouch tools include the Clone Stamp, Healing Brush, Spot Healing Brush and Patch tool, all which assist in precise editing of pixels within an image, and can be performed on a separate layer.

Landis also utilizes a couple of Photoshop’s tricks for streamlining workflow. Custom actions for repetitive processes (such as resizing images or saving all images as a different file type) are easy to make, and he also finds Batch Editing extremely useful for creating a consistent look in his series in a quick and efficient way.

Developing a consistent style is one of the most important aspects of photography, and post processing is key to achieving a personal voice. Landis says: “Post processing is essential for anyone serious about digital photography because it gives you the opportunity to put finishing touches on your work and put your own signature on your style.”

To learn more about Adobe Photoshop Lightroom and Photoshop CC, visit www.adobe.com. The Creative Cloud Photography plan, offering both programs and more, is 9.99/mo.

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 7th, 2014

Founders of Everyday Feeds Launch @EverydayEverywhere, “Family of Man for the Modern Age”

everydayTwo years after photographer Peter DiCampo and writer Austin Merrill launched Everyday Africa to share images that defy stereotypes about the continent, the popular Instagram feed has spawned multiple imitations, including Everyday Asia, Everyday Middle East, Everyday Iran, Everyday Sri Lanka, and Everyday USA. Now photographers behind 11 of the feeds have launched @EverydayEverywhere
and have invited photographers around the world to contribute by posting images to Instagram with the hashtag #everydayeverywhere.

The central feed will share a common mission: To disseminate images that promote greater understanding of the world. “We hope that when you put this body of work together, it’s a ‘Family of Man’ in the modern age,” DiCampo says, referring to the ambitious 1955 exhibition which featured 273 photographers, “celebrating commonalities, and fighting stereotypes in each region.”

He adds that the loose roster of photographers contributing the feeds are not a photo agency or a collective. “We’re happy this has become a promotional device for [photographers] but we don’t want them participating because of that. We want them to be excited about the project.”

DiCampo says that one or two images a day will be posted to @everydayeverywhere. Guest curators, working on the feed for two weeks at a time, will select the images that appear on @everydayeverywhere. For now, current contributors to Everyday feeds will serve as curators, but the contributors plan to invite an international group of curators to participate. DiCampo explains, “We want a variety of people: photo editors, artists, scholars, thinkers, musicians.”  Since the launch of Everyday Everywhere, Grant Slater and Austin Merrill have been the first and second guest curators, selecting images that had been posted on Everyday Eastern Europe, Everyday Bangladesh, Everyday Black America, Everyday Iran and Everyday NBNJ, which shows images from New Brunswick, New Jersey.

Contributors to Everyday decided to create a centralized Everyday feed during three days of meetings at the Open Society Foundations in New York City. The meetings, held during the Photoville photo festival, where an exhibition of work from 11 feeds was hosted by Instagram, gathered more than 30 contributors from around the world, says DiCampo. Though many had previously shared advice and ideas via Skype or email, few of the contributors had met in person.

“We’ve been talking for a long time about how to organize all this, how to encourage the Everyday concept to continue spreading while at the same time having some central structure,” DiCampo says in the press release the group issued on September 30.

To support the expansion of the Everyday project, the contributors who met in New York City also formed committees to address concerns common to all the feeds. “There’s now an events committee, an educational committee, a technical committee to help,” says DiCampo, who along with Merrill has used Everyday Africa imagery to conduct a visual literacy class in the Bronx where students can contribute to Everyday Bronx. He adds that a book of images posted to Everyday Africa is also in the works.

Related Article
Picture Story: Everyday Africa on Instagram

June 18th, 2014

NY Times Highlights Instagrammer Working For Met, Other Institutions, For Free

There was an article in the Art & Design section of the New York Times yesterday highlighting the social media photography that an Instagrammer, Dave Krugman, is doing for the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The New York Public Library and other cultural institutions in exchange for special access.

The article is full of language that suggests it’s Mr. Krugman’s great privilege to work for these institutions for free. “The Metropolitan Museum, for instance, allowed Mr. Krugman and his band of Instagram stars into its halls outside of normal business hours,” the author writes. She also quotes Krugman’s own post thanking the Met for the “opportunity.”

These are institutions with resources to pay for the social media communications work they do. Krugman isn’t a photographer by trade, he’s a retoucher, the article says. But he’s allowing these institutions to pay what the market will bear for this work: zero.

It would be interesting to know what the photographers and photo editors on the New York Times‘s staff think of this article devaluing the work of photographers.

“With his growing reputation, Mr. Krugman has begun thinking about charging money for his Instagram services,” the article concludes. Will these venerable and wealthy institutions pay, though, or will they just hire the next person with a big Instagram following who doesn’t know enough about the business of advertising and communications to charge for his or her work?

April 22nd, 2014

Video Pick: In Bed With Chanel

Laurel Pantin in Chanel from Ann Street Studio on Vimeo.

It’s not easy to create an engaging video, let alone a brief, engaging video. Jamie Back and Kevin Burg of Ann Street Studio recently did just that with this 15-second flick featuring Lucky Magazine market editor Laurel Pantin in a big white bed wearing colorful fashions from Chanel’s Spring/Summer 2014 collection. The video is part of a collaboration between Ann Street Studio and Chanel. The brand reached out to Beck and Burg, who are best-known for their creation of Cinemagraphs, as part of their marketing for their new collection, Burg told PDN via email.

The concept for the video “came together organically,” Burg says, evolving from the still-image shoot they did with Pantin. “On set we were thinking about motion, and I had the idea that she could change outfits after every time she pulled the covers over herself. And then we had fun with it. Jamie would be at her feet pulling [the covers] off her, like a parent waking their kid up when they want to sleep in.” The idea to show a new outfit for each day of the week, Burg says, “came together in the editing process, and it became this kind of ‘waking up for school’ idea… in luxury fashion.”

The images and video were featured on the Ann Street Studio site and social media channels. The video was created with Instagram in mind, hence the 15-second length. Brands often ask Ann Street Studio to create editorial-style work and release it via their channels, Burg says. “Sometimes brand work is for [the client] and sometimes it’s exclusively published by us.”

Related: Building a Better GIF

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)