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.”

Launch Instagram fame
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)

November 6th, 2013

PDNVideo: Olivia Bee Talks About Instagram, iPhones, Expectations, and Envy

PDN Video: Olivia Bee on Instagram, iPhones, Expectations, and Envy from PDNOnline on Vimeo.

PDN’s 30 photographer Olivia Bee started her professional career at the age of 15, after a Converse design director saw her Flickr feed and hired her to shoot a campaign in the same style as her personal work. Bee is self-taught and highly driven. Now 19, she has shot editorial and advertising work for clients including The New York Times, Vice, Hermes, Fiat USA, and Levis. She recently sat down with PDN to talk about a variety of topics, ranging from her skepticism about Instagram and what she’s learned by shooting with an iPhone, to how she manages expectations (her own and everyone else’s) and the reaction she gets from other photographers because of her success at such an early age.

Related:
PDN’s 30: Olivia Bee

October 25th, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

August 22nd, 2013

Photography Trade Organizations Take Aim at Instagram Terms

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

July 9th, 2013

New Look PhotoShelter Adds Portfolio Sites and Social Media Integration

The homepage of photographer Robin Moore's new PhotoShelter Beam portfolio site.

The homepage of photographer Robin Moore’s new PhotoShelter Beam portfolio site. Moore was among the photographers who beta tested Beam.

Today PhotoShelter launched Beam, its new portfolio website platform, which is connected to its e-commerce, cloud storage, image delivery, client proofing and marketing tools for professional photographers.

The launch also includes integration with popular social media, blogging and video tools like Instagram, Tumblr, Vimeo and WordPress, allowing users to add content from those platforms to their Beam site, and to easily share content from their site to other platforms.

Beam is available immediately, at no cost, to current PhotoShelter users with Standard and Pro accounts, and to non-users on a 14-day trial basis. After the 14-day trial, new PhotoShelter users can pay either $29.99 per month for a Standard account, which includes a Beam site, 60GB of storage and all of PhotoShelter’s other tools, or $49.99 for a Pro account with 1000GB of storage.

At launch, Beam offers four different portfolio website designs that were created using HTML5 and CSS3, which the company says will allow images to render on “virtually any” digital device.

The “Site Builder” tool allows photographers to quickly update the look of their site and requires no coding experience.

“The biggest upgrade is the user interface, which means that I now use Photoshelter as my primary online portfolio to showcase my images,” said Robin Moore, a DC-based conservation photographer, in an email interview with PDN. Moore was among the beta testers for Beam.

A longtime PhotoShelter user, Moore used to use PhotoShelter for storage and WordPress for his portfolio. “Now,” he says, “I don’t have to fuss with that integration, and I can display my images, blog and videos on one site that I would be happy to share with prospective clients.”

Though Moore says there were “some hiccups” in the beta testing process, he is pleased with how easily he can modify his new portfolio site. “For someone who gets goosebumps every time they see code, I have really enjoyed the user-friendly interface,” Moore adds.

For more information, visit the PhotoShelter Beam microsite.