Thursday, February 11, 2010

New Site and Blog coming to a screen near you!

I am in the final stages of creating my new website/blog. I have been struggling with the idea for months. Being self employed I have always worn many hats, sometimes too many. Photographer, accountant, sales rep, web designer, graphic designer etc... so many hats I can't find my head some days!

So one of my new years resolutions was to turn over some of these hats to people/companies that do these things best. I am in the middle of a career direction change. I am finally, after 13 years, going to follow my heart. Add to that, I need to continue making money in the area that I have been, while my new marketing takes off. And delegating some work to others is one of my tasks for moving into the future.

For one, my new brand/logo/identity is being created by my friend Shawn Skvarna. He has been a graphic designer for nearly as long as I have been a photographer, and I have known him for almost 11 years.

As for my site/blog: I have been designing it myself for the last 6 years. Mainly because I require full control over my site. I need to be able to update things on my schedule, and to be able to publish proof galleries to my clients any time. Even at 2 in the morning, if I am working that late- which I do sometimes.

I'm ready to be done with the process, I just don't posses enough web skill to make a truly awesome site. But at the same time I still require full control. So I have been looking at many of the photography centric hosting solutions. I had 2 finalists last week:


Both had their pluses and minuses. What I need is the following:

Editable layout
Variety in portfolio designs
Slide Show capability
Video capability
Private client areas, with interactive proofing
High res image delivery to my clients
The ability to sell my images
Multiple pages, including a slick contact page
Blog integration
Little or no use of flash (for many reasons I do not like flash based sites... a post for another time)

They both possess most of these functions, but I had reservations about both as well (for 1 they are both flash heavy). Then one day I happened across both Ami Vitale's, and Jack Gruber's sites/blogs. I scoured them, looking at all their pages. And after some googling to see how their sites were built/hosted, found that they had the ability to do everything I required. And did not rely on flash, to boot!

The set up relies on 3 separate web companies to accomplish it's task. Photoshelter, Wordpress, and Graph Paper Press. It takes a bit of setting up, but once it is done I will have a nice active design that fulfills all of the above requirements while still allowing me to make updates when ever I want.

The site should be live by next week. And until then this will be the last post on this blog. I will keep it active for now as an archive to my older posts. But I plan on migrating my better ones over to the new blog.

So until then... have a great weekend!

Last minute shoot

Sometimes we get assignments/jobs at the last minute. ( I am not a daily newspaper journalist, I know they deal with this all the time...) But as a magazine features/commercial photographer, I usually have some lead time.

My girlfriend is a makeup artist. And one of her clients has a client that needs a hand model (did ya follow that?) So they called her and asked to see a shot of her hands asap! The shoot is in a few days and the client of the client needs to see hand samples. She asked: "Who has professional photos of their hands just lying around?!"

That is where I come in. So we got right to it. Very simple lighting. Pop a few shots. Then up to my office for a few minutes in Adobe LightRoom. Her client needed this photo with in half an hour of asking for it.

So here is what we came up with.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

More Copyright infringment cases

First up is this case, it is SOO blatant it is ridiculous. But here it is a sculptor infringing on a photographer's copyright, in contrast to last weeks post.

Then there is this story. A photograph of a celebrity taken for People magazine, and some how American greetings got their hands on the image to make a card out of it! Take a look at the articles for the full stories.

I hope the photographers, in both cases, receive maximum compensation that is appropriate for each.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Infringment, or Fair use?

I came across this story twice on Twitter today:

The article pertains to whether or not photographer, Mike Hipple ,infringed on the copyright of sculptor, Jack Mackie , when he created this photograph:

Mr Hipple, created this photo and licensed it for sale as a stock image; to reap financial/commercial gain. Here and Here are links to see part of the original work.

I think Mr. Hipple's photo shows enough of the original work to leave no doubt as to where the subjects are standing. As a matter of fact, Mr. Mackie's work is integral to the compositional success of this particular photo.

Within copyright law there is room for another person to use part of an artists work for several reasons. Here is a clip from the US governments website of Title 17, copyright law:

"Section 107 contains a list of the various purposes for which the reproduction of a particular work may be considered fair, such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. (emphasis mine)Section 107 also sets out four factors to be considered in determining whether or not a particular use is fair:

    1. The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes
    2. The nature of the copyrighted work
    3. The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole
    4. The effect of the use upon the potential market for, or value of, the copyrighted work"
So, did Mr. Hipple infringe upon Mr. Mackie's copyright? Only a court of law can determine this. Matter of fact here is another quote from the copyright site:

"The distinction between fair use and infringement may be unclear and not easily defined. There is no specific number of words, lines, or notes that may safely be taken without permission. "

However, from my perspective, I think Mr. Hipple did in fact infringe. I am sorry Mr. Hipple. Here is an excerpt of what Mr Hipple has to say about the suit:

"Think of it this way: if Mr. Mackie is correct and this isn’t fair use, then he can file a $60,000 law suit against anyone who, when strolling along Capitol Hill, thinks the dance steps are nice and takes a photo or video. He may not find you if you just leave the image on your camera or computer, but as soon as you post it to Facebook, Flickr, YouTube, etc., he can (and apparently will) sue you."

I believe the above statement is wrong. If you are a tourist, taking photos of cool art you see while on vacation, and not trying to sell said photos for profit, but only sharing with your friends on Facebook, etc. then you are not infringing on copyright. The minute you try to make a commercial gain from someone else's work you are in trouble.

One more part of copyright law to consider is derivative works. Here is a bit of info about how a new work might be considered derivative or not:

"A typical example of a derivative work received for registration in the Copyright Office is one that is primarily a new work but incorporates some previously published material. This previously published material makes the work a derivative work under the copyright law. To be copyrightable, a derivative work must be different enough from the original to be regarded as a "new work" or must contain a substantial amount of new material. Making minor changes or additions of little substance to a preexisting work will not qualify the work as a new version for copyright purposes. The new material must be original and copyrightable in itself. Titles, short phrases, and format, for example, are not copyrightable."

-From: US Copyright Office Circular 14: Derivative Works

According to the above it does not appear, to me, that Mr. Hipple's work can be considered a Derivative work that is independently copyrightable.

The Law Suit

Mr. Mackie first contacted the stock agency that held the image. The agency agreed with him, removed the work and gave him a settlement. Mr. Mackie made his claim of infringement known, and the stock agency complied and gave him money. I believe that his further law suit against Mr. Hipple is now just frivolous.

As a professional photographer I am not sure how I want this case decided. On the one hand, I can sympathize with Mr Mackie. Why? Because I would not want to be in his shoes. If someone created work for commercial gain based on my images, I'd be pissed.

However, I may side with Mr. Hipple for two reasons. 1)I can't stand frivolous law suits. As stated above, Mr Mackie already received financial compensation. 2)How would this play out, if Mr. Mackie does win, for taking professional photos in public places. All public art and buildings might become off limits.

I did some research here to support my feelings, and I may change them as the case moves forward. But as of now I think they are both in the wrong to some degree.

So what do you think?

Friday, January 29, 2010

Site changes in store

I know, I know. I've said this before... I'm making changes to my site. Seems like every 2 years I'm saying the same thing.

Well, I've been self publishing my own site for years now. One of the many hats that must be worn as a self employed photographer. As I have come to learn, true success needs focus. And to focus one must delegate tasks to others who are better suited to them.

One of these tasks I am giving up control of is website design. I am deciding between two hosted solutions, and will have a decision made within a week. Shortly there after going live.

So, keep your eyes tuned in for these changes. When this is done, my site should look more polished and be updated more often. I also hope to have my blog published under the sites domain to keep everything together.

Speaking of the blog: I plan on setting aside time to work on it more frequently. Here's to good intentions.

Show at Oyster Mill Playhouse

I currently have some prints hanging in the lobby of Oyster Mill Playhouse. They recently completed some renovations to the space and I had the honor of being the first artist to show in the new digs.

Over the last 2 decades I have had work in dozens of shows locally. And each and every time I went with shots that were close to my heart. I decided with this exhibit to show pieces that may have a more commercial appeal to them. By that I mean images that will, hopefully, appeal to the art buying audience in this area.

This selection was based on images that recently sold well in other shows.

Here are a few of the shots in the show. I encourage everyone to go to Oyster Mill to see them in person, and maybe even take in the show that is currently running, "A Shot in the Dark".


Thursday, January 28, 2010

Street Photography

What photographer, at some point in time, hasn't shot on the street? There is a freedom that comes from not having any other motivation than to capture the Decisive Moment. A rush of adrenaline from the hunt. The sense of danger that is associated with fear. Fear of intimately photographing strangers, fear of the stranger detecting my voyeuristic lens.

When shooting images on the street I think it is important to remember to be respectful of the people at which you are pointing your camera. We can capture people in their daily lives, and even in moments of tragedy while still being respectful.

These 2 images came from a trip to Manhattan back in August '09, while walking through Central Park.