Photography News

Camera and Cops… Not A Fun Combo

Sometimes I think of myself as a photographer masquerading as an engineer.  Other times, I see myself as an engineer masquerading as a photographer because, yes, I can geek out that much over anything that’s rooted in engineering, science and math (Space-time continuum? Talk dirty to me, baby!).  And perhaps, other photographers find that they, too, wear many hats.

Try this one on:  Photographer as potential terrorist?

Huh?  Really?  Apparently, there seems to be a recent movement that has placed photographers shooting in public areas under greater scrutiny.  LENS, a New York Times blog, details the story of a Manhattan designer rudely interrogated by NYPD for snapping photos of the Javits Center (Article Here).  He’s not alone.  From reading the blog comments, many other photographers – in New York and around the world – have been similarly bullied.

Have you seen the Seattle Public Library, Grand Central Station, any monument in Washington DC, or anything designed by Santiago Calatrava?  They are works of art.  These and countless other civic projects beg to be applauded, not just for their engineering (geeky) wonder, but for their ambitious design and attention to detail.  Are we to turn a blind eye to these visual marvels in the name of national security?  How absurd!

I can geek out about as much about the load bearing structures as much as I can love the design and textures used.  So, police, I understand that you’re doing your job and I thank you for that, but sometimes, we are just geeky photographers that just enjoy visual beauty.  So protect our communities and ask us your questions, but please be open and don’t bully us.

Digitally Edited Images Create Unattainable Expectation

As the popularity of digital photography has exploded over the past 10 years so has everyone’s propensity to attain that “perfect” image.   Oftentimes, photographers will tweak or adjust things in an attempt to make them stronger images.  I think the most common editing you will see is skin smoothing or blemish removal.  You probably see this everyday on the magazine racks filled with celebrity faces.  In other cases of digital editing, the images are just flat out lies of dropping in elements that were never there or in the case of some countries, adding missles that they didn’t even launch or for some big software companies, replacing people (very poorly).

While digital editing has its purposes, particularly in advertising, to tweak and fix things to create cohesive brand image, many people are suggesting that editing is going to extremes, particularly pertaining to the female image, and creating an unattainable expectation.  What is that doing to the public?  What is that doing to the health of young women?  What is that doing to men’s expectations of a woman?

… Many are trying to address the concerns…

The French want health warnings on their photos in this UK Telegraph article.

NYDaily News article highlights a Ralph Lauren ad that went to extremes.

And the NYTimes says warning labels might be an option.

As a side note, several years ago, when talking to a professional post production specialists from New  York, they told me stories about how for some of the top female models in the industry, there would be a checklist of 25-30 things that had to be done to “fix” the model before the image could get published.  And this was all contractually mandated.  So to think, if supermodels need things fixed, what does that say about normal people?

I’m sure this is nothing new to most people, butI guess the moral of the story is to enjoy the images/visual work, but do not necessarily believe what you see.  And parents try to teach your kids appropriately about self esteem.

Student Photographers Getting Ripped Off

Most people in this world do not understand the concept of a copyright and/or licensing your work, whether it be photography, music, graphic design, film, art, stories, computer code etc…. hence the whole Napster/Metallica suit back in the early 2000 years for copyright infringement.

Basically, if you create a photo, I own the copyright to that image, as it is intellectual property.  And to further solidify my ownership of the image I can register it with the copyright office.  Should a commercial outlet want to use the image for some purpose, I would  license that image to that commercial company for a fee b/c they see a value in the image.  That image becomes an investment for that company to make a greater return when it gets published for the purposes of their product/service.    Now if there is a person in that image, I must obtain a model release from that person.  And if there’s a building in the image, I need to have a property release signed.

Here is where many (student) photographers have been scammed and ripped off.  Many have been approached for the “privilege” of being published and have their work go out into the world as royalty-free stock photography.  The “author” and publisher reap all the money that is made from this book while the photographers that contributed are left with nothing.  The students are even held liable.  Many photo contests work in the same fashion.  The following is an blog-post by John Harrington, a well known Washington DC photographer and advocate for educating young photographers/artists on the business side of photography.

Bottom line…. Aspiring artists, protect your work and read the fine print before submitting your work to anything.