Most of the luxury homes I photograph have at least one room dedicated to entertainment. Maybe it’s a pool table in the garage, or an in-home movie theater. Then there’s the in-home bowling alley. But a recent shoot took the cake for the number of arcade games in one room.
It’s one thing to add six arcade machines in what used to be a garage; but the homeowner went the extra step of knocking out a bedroom and bathroom to add another machine…
..and did I mention the 80-inch LCD TV?
Who needs bedrooms and bathrooms in a house when you’ve got an arcade? Actually, that red sofa does have a pull out bed.
Here are a couple more looks at the room:
All this just leaves one question: Can I borrow some tokens?
Take a look at this picture:
I took that picture last October for Central Florida Lifestyle Magazine. The story, with a different picture, ran in an article a few months later:
A month or so ago, the editor contacted me and wanted additional photos from the shoot. I sent her the picture above (the first one). Well, on Tuesday I noticed the magazine’s Facebook profile picture was from one of their edition’s cover*:
Look familiar? It’s the same picture I took, only the subject has been cut out and placed on a different background. At first, I was excited to see one of my pictures on the cover. But my heart sank when I saw the photo credit was given to another photographer. I contacted the editor and the Facebook image was corrected immediately; but the printed issue went out with the other photographer’s name. Apparently the other photographer took the image of the background. The editor said she would print a correction in the next issue.
On the same day, she asked if I wanted to take on another assignment. Here’s where I need your opinion. My gut says “no”. I’m still a little hurt and peeved by the mistake. A tiny correction inside the magazine which most people won’t read or care about does not compare to the COVER of a magazine which another photographer got credit for. So, right now, I’m inclined to not take any more assignments from them. What do you think? Should I burn that bridge? Or am I overreacting? I understand it was an honest mistake (read below), but it deprived me of a lot of exposure.
I should note that I don’t get paid, per say, for the assignments. Each hour is worth a certain amount of ad space in the magazine.
I’d love to hear your thoughts….
*the magazine has several editions targeting different areas in Central Florida. Each edition is very similar but has a different cover image. So I understand how the mistake was made. They just replace the image and the accompanying headline, but leave everything else, including the photographer’s credit, the same.
Just a quick note that will hopefully clarify something for my fellow photographers:
I once heard a photographer say they were going on an editorial shoot, but it wasn’t being published. Another organized a “photojournalism” shoot, but the very act of staging it takes out the “journalism” part.
The American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP) says there are three main categories of photography. They are: Commercial, Editorial and Retail. Commercial photography is used to sell a product or service. Editorial is for education or journalism and retail is for personal use.
So let’s say you get hired by a local business to take pictures for their website; that’s commercial. Shooting something for a magazine? Editorial (unless its selling something which is commercial). Wedding photography or portraits fall under retail.
This is where licensing your work (aka, getting a signed contract) becomes so important. You see, the categories are not mutually exclusive. Let’s say, for example that you shoot a wedding (retail). Then, you submit an image to a wedding magazine (editorial). After running it, the dress designer decides they want to use it in an ad (commercial). Can you say “pay day”? By licensing your work you can make money each time the image is used, charging different amounts for each license.
By the way, “photojournalism”,which falls under editorial, means to observe and document an event without interfering. It’s a personal pet peeve of mine when it’s misused having spent the majority of my adult life in that field.
Another pet peeve of mine is when someone photographs a “trash the dress” shoot and the dress is not actually trashed. I’m just sayin’.
Ok, got that off my chest. Here are some reading suggestions:
Recently, the organizer of the Orlando Digital Photography Group, Charlie, posted an image on Facebook of a man on a bicycle in Winter Park. It sparked some conversation about the panning technique where the man was in focus and the background is blurred to show motion.
I chimed in with some tips and a note about a setting on the Canon 70-200mm IS lens. It has two modes of stabilization, one to reduce shake in “normal” situations and one while panning. So when the Baldwin Park Doggie Derby rolled around last weekend, I thought it might be a good time to put it to use.
The 3rd annual Doggie Derby raises money for Canine Companions for Independence which provides assistant dogs to people with disabilities. It was a hot day but there was a good turnout. Adding to the vibe was bluegrass versions of popular songs like “Walk This Way”, “Sweet Emotion”, “Final Countdown” and “She Will Be Loved”.
The image above is really the only good panning shot I got. I got a few others, but they’re not tack sharp to my eyes. It takes some practice and experimenting with different shutter speeds.
I saw a couple of other photographers with pro-level gear there and judging by the pictures I’d seen of past events, they were getting the same shots; dogs coming right at them or dogs frozen in motion…and all while standing. I crouched or squatted down for most shots to get a different perspective. And I tried the panning technique to get a different look.
So the next time you’re out shooting a moving target, try it. First, make sure your camera’s focus mode is set to capture moving subjects (it’s called AI-Servo for Canon, AF-C for Nikon). Then focus on your subject and press the shutter half way. Pan with your subject and fire while panning. The slower the shutter speed, the more blurred the background; but you’ll have to play around with it to find the sweet spot. I can’t tell you how many shots I threw away!
You can check out more pics from the derby on my Flickr Pro photostream.
So I tried something new last weekend. I’ve never shot a sporting event nor have I ever shot a concert. Now I know what both feel like!
My girlfriend’s cousin, Jordan, was competing in the Cheerleaders of America (COA) “Ultimate National Championship” at the Gaylord Palms Resort in Kissimmee, FL. If you’ve ever caught a glimpse of a cheer competition on TV, let me tell you, you have no idea what it’s like to actually be there.
The hotel grounds were teeming with teams of tweens…sorry, couldn’t help myself! But seriously, how else would you describe hundreds (maybe thousands) of pre-teen girls wearing WAY too much make-up and cheerleading uniforms? I’m guessing the heavy make-up is meant for the judges to see from where they’re sitting…if they happen to be sitting on the planet Mars.
But let me cut to the chase. Jordan’s team, Top Gun, was on; so I enter the competition room. It was dark and loud. Let me emphasize the word LOUD. If you like dark rooms with loud techno/dance music blaring, you would feel right at home…glow sticks optional. When I got in, the team before Top Gun was wrapping up. So I took this time to figure out my exposure. But it wasn’t long before I had to head to the front when Jordan’s team came in.
I was shooting with my 70-200 f/2.8 lens. I like to shoot in manual mode, so I dialed in f/2.8, at 250th of a second and ISO about 800. I don’t like shooting at high ISO, but even with the stage lights, I needed it. I also didn’t want to shoot at f/2.8 because I knew I could run into a depth of field problem if I wanted more than one part of the image in focus; but I needed the large aperture to let in more light.
Things moved so fast…and I don’t just mean the cheerleaders. I mentioned concert photography earlier because it’s similar in a couple respects: you have stage lights, but you only have about 3 minutes to get the shot. I didn’t have a whole lot of time to look at my LCD and evaluate the shot. I was shooting on burst mode; 6.5 frames per second and focusing mostly on Jordan. At one point I switched to shutter priority and was around 350th of a second. I was really trying to capture the flipping sequences.
Looking at some of the frames, they’re still not tack sharp. If I get to do it again, I’d shoot at a minimum of 350th, boost the ISO to maybe 1600 and a narrower f-stop.
About 3 minutes later it was all over. The Top Gun teams (there are different classes) took the All Stars Level, 2,3 and 5 Grand Champion titles. See this link for the full results, if you’re interested. We took the rest of the afternoon to walk around the hotel and enjoy the pool. If you’ve never been to Gaylord Palms, I recommend going just to see the inside. It is massive. They have a tropical atrium complete with alligators and turtles. Click the link above to see a picture on their home page.
All in all, I’m glad I got to try something new; it was definitely a learning experience that tested me while pushing me outside my comfort level.
Not to beat a dead horse but…my post on copyright didn’t get many reads. As I said, I know it’s not a sexy topic. But who couldn’t use an extra 2-hundred grand? And that’s just part of what one photographer could have won in his copyright lawsuit.
I’ll link to the article at the end; be warned, it’s got some legal speak. Here’s the breakdown: A painter works from photographs to make his paintings. Another artists allegedly takes one of those photographs without permission and makes a painting from it; in essence, a copy. That artist dies but his wife puts the painting for sale on a web site. The first artist (the one who took the picture) sues and wins $201,550 in “actual damages”. Because he did not register the copyright in a timely manner, he had to prove “actual damages” and was not eligible for “statutory damages” which could have been much more. In the end, a court found he had not proven “actual damages”, which is hard to prove, and threw out the award.
Here’s the article:
My last blog post was about copyright. I was planning to next write about “creative commons” license and why sometimes you might actually want to have your picture “stolen”. I’m still planning on writing about that, but something happened yesterday that kind of goes along with that concept.
The Baldwin Park Arts Festival took place Saturday, March 13. As a photographer for Baldwin Park Living Magazine, I have an understanding with the editor to document as many events as I can for the publication and the community Web site photo gallery.
The Arts Fest features local artists selling their work on an entire block in the heart of Baldwin Park. So I get there and I’m just not feeling it. I walked up the length of one side of the street and started down the other without having taken a single picture. Maybe these arts and crafts shows just aren’t my thing. Then I get to a lady painting and I think “great, an action shot”. A shot of someone doing something. So I take a picture. I walk a little farther and there’s another artist painting. I snap another picture…
He turns around and says, “Thanks for the exposure.” I take a second to figure out if he’s making a photography pun. I decide he’s not and tell him I’m with Baldwin Park Magazine. He says thanks again.
Ok, so now I’m warming up. I’ve taken a few pictures at this point when I see a girl with some money in her hand. This would be a great opportunity to get a shot of a sale. I spent almost a decade in broadcast news and I know that photojournalism is about telling a story; and isn’t the whole idea of this thing for artists to sell their work? I mean, it’s not a gallery exhibition. Let’s face it, if no one buys anything today, the event is a failure. This is literally “the money shot”.
So I take a picture…
I realize I didn’t compose properly; cutting off the girl’s head and getting an arm in the shot. So I recompose and I’m waiting for the right moment when the lady whose arm is in the shot turns around and says “no pictures please”. I tell her I’m with Baldwin Park Magazine and she says the artists don’t want pictures taken. I explain to her that this is a public area and that I have the right to take pictures. We go back and forth for a few minutes and I walk away.
First of all, I wasn’t taking pictures of the art work; some kind of jewelry I suppose. I was taking a picture of the transaction. Secondly, the picture is for editorial, not commercial use. Third, as a former journalist I know all about expectation of privacy and fair use. Lastly, if you don’t want your work seen, then stay home, don’t display your work in public or on the web and pray to god that someone finds your art. Is the fear that I’m going to go home, study the picture and copy the creation?
Hey, I get it. I’m a photographer. Everytime I post a picture online, be it my web site, Flickr or Facebook, there’s a chance someone will “steal” it. But there’s also a chance that someone who’s never heard of me will see my work. To protect myself, I take steps to guard my copyright. But I don’t take pictures so I can stuff them in a lock box. Isn’t that the proverbial ostrich with its head in the ground?
So I walk around a bit more and take another picture…
Again, the artist comes up to me and says “no pictures”. I tell him who I am and he says it’s ok. I asked him why I wouldn’t be allowed and he says, “with a camera like that, people can make good copies”. Ok, so I guess the thinking is that I’m going to sell a picture of his work? And would it be ok if I took a picture with, say, an 8 megapixel point-and-shoot? Couldn’t I make a good copy with that? What if I wanted to take a picture of someone with the art in the background? Would that be offensive?
This reminded me of a similar event I attended last year. A photographer had a booth set up and his pictures featured black and white images of statues. I thought, wow, that’s interesting. He didn’t sculpt the statue, he just took a picture of it and is selling it.
That issue is actually at the center of a lawsuit. You can read more about it at the Photo Attorney Blog. That case is a little different because I am there strictly for editorial reasons. Taking a picture of your art does not violate your copyright. What I do with that picture may or may not.
Bottom line: That first guy got it. He thanked me for the exposure. He took a look at my DSLR and assumed I was with some media organization before I even told him who I was. The pictures I take will be featured on a magazine spread that goes out to tens of thousands of Baldwin Park residents. What’s that you say? You don’t want free advertisement?
So now I want to hear from you. What do you think?
The moment you take a picture, it’s yours. You created it. You own the copyright. Copyright means just that: you have the right to copy it. So how do you protect your rights?
You can watermark your images (more on that later). You can post a disclaimer on your Facebook page. You can have a verbal agreement (this is about as good as a nod and a wink). But if someone really wants to use a picture you took, in a manner or for a purpose that you did not consent to, there’s not much stopping them.
The only way to protect your images in a court of law is to register the copyright.
Hey wait, come back! Yeah, I know; it’s not sexy. It’s not even fun. I mean I get it. As photographers we want to spend our time…uh…taking pictures! Who wants to edit? Learn about taxes and limited liability corporations? Booooring.
What’s really at stake here is money. You took the picture. If someone wants to use it for advertising or promotion, they should pay you for it. This is called “licensing” (more on that later too).
To quote the American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP): “You do not have to register your work with the Copyright Office to acquire your copyright. However, the legal protections available to you are limited if the photographs are not registered. Those limitations can translate into lost income.”
Worth More Than A Thousand Words
Let me cut to the chase and then I’ll circle around again. It costs $35.
Hey wait, come back!
I know, I know. We’re saving every penny for that fast super-zoom lens! But first, you should know it’s not $35 per image. It’s $35 for a batch. As many as you can register during a one-hour session. Now think about it; how many pieces of photographic gear do you own that costs less than $35? I can think of two and one does nothing but blow air.
Now those 35-dollars can mean hundreds, thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands of dollars for you if someone infringes on your copyright. And it’s good for 70 years after you die!
So let’s say you copyright an image today. You die at age 100. Sixty-nine years later your great-great-great grandson discovers a picture you took being used in a Nike ad. Because you left your estate to your heirs…CHA CHING! Your great-great-great-great grandson can now go to college!
This scenario may seemed a little far-fetched. But only a little….
I first opened my eyes to the process of copyrighting through kelbytraining.com. I highly recommend the subscription, but you can watch the first three lessons of each course for free. Over there, Jack Reznicki and Ed Greenberg have a course on the topic and they walk you through the process of registering your work online. They tell the story of the late Stuart Gross who, in 1987, took a routine picture of 6-year old Lisa Steinberg . The little girl died 9 days later at the hands of her mother’s boyfriend. The story made national headlines. The picture became evidence in court and was licensed to specific media outlets under specific conditions.
Greenberg says 22 years later the picture is still being infringed and he’s brought more than a dozen claims against some of the top media outlets in the country, including CBS News.
The photographer is dead. The picture lives on. And so does his copyright.
Go watch the course (at least the first 3 lessons) HERE.
THE eCO SYSTEM
No, not the eco-system. The eCO system. That’s the electronic copyright office. I’m going to cop-out here because I really cannot walk you through the process better than Carolyn Wright over at the Photo Attorney blog.
The entire article with step-by-step instructions is here:
If you prefer the video tutorial see the kelbytraining.com link above.
Chances are if someone is using your image, it isn’t malicious. They probably didn’t “steal” it. They’re probably just a little ignorant. If you find someone who infringed your copyright, don’t go calling the attorney just yet. In fact, a lawsuit is probably the last step. There are ways to deal with it. But try walking into an attorney’s office with your story and the first thing he or she will ask you is “Did you copyright it?”. If you didn’t, they probably won’t even take your case.
The first thing you should do is have a contract. Always. If you put someone in front of your lens, hand them a contract before you press the shutter. Shooting your best friend’s wedding? Shooting your neighbors newborn baby? Get a contract! What if that picture ended up in a bridal magazine ad or the cutest baby in the world billboard with NO compensation or credit to you? Get a contract and specify the use and terms. When Stuart Gross took that picture of the little girl, he never imagined it would become such a huge story, or that the image would be used 22 years later, even after his death.
Next, add your contact and copyright info to your metadata. If it’s in the metadata, someone can’t later say that they had no way of contacting you.
Disable “right-click” on your website so no one can right-click and “save” the image.
None of these options is fail-safe. Like I said if someone really wants your image, they’re gonna get it. But a combination of these methods will help protect you.
Let’s clear something up here. When someone pays you for a picture you are not selling the picture. You are not selling your copyright. You are selling a license for that person to use your picture in a specific way. Unless, it’s specified in a contract, or you are a work-for-hire photographer (that’s another blog for another day), you retain the copyright. Now a photographer can sell their copyright; but that will net him much more money than a license.
I use watermarks sparingly. I think they distract from the image. But something David Hobby wrote in 2007 has always stuck with me:
“The first thing I would do would be to lose the arty signatures embedded within the photos. Very “Buck’s County Arts and Crafts Show,” IMO. You want to be aiming higher than that. If you feel you must stick your name into the image area, make it very small, in a bottom corner, with a “©” symbol (created with an option “g”).”
Actually, the copyright symbol doesn’t even have to appear on your image to be protected. (source: ASMP Copyright Primer; link below)
I know this has been a long blog post. But it’s important. I’m not an attorney, so take this advice as a starting point only. And please check out the helpful links below. Those links have links within them that you should follow.
Look, you spent thousands of dollars on gear and all your free time taking and editing pictures. Why not protect them?
The Copyright Zone (Reznicki and Greenberg)
Photo Attorney (Carolyn Wright)
So I’m a little obsessed. On an almost daily basis I check the stats and analytics on my Web site, Flickr page and blog. You know, just seeing if anyone’s out there.
And sometimes, I’ll even google myself to see how high my site is ranking…or if it ranks at all! (it does, by the way. First page. Right behind a cardiologist and jazz musician by the same name).
Actually, that’s a good segue ’cause the most popular picture on my Flickr Pro Page is of a saxophone. Well, not just any saxophone; a “Julius Keilwerth Tenor, aka the SR90 Shadow”.
I took a picture of it last June when I did a photo shoot for my friend and jazz musician Derek Hudson. That picture has been viewed 150 times. That’s 3 times more than any other I have posted. [UPDATE 10/29/10: The count is now up to 324]
I even found a link to it on a search engine. I’ve tried to find the link again, but I can’t. I do remember that I was given credit for it.
So I keep asking myself: why that picture? Of all the ones I have posted, what is it about that one that makes it the most popular? Let me know what you think. Take a look at my Flickr Pro Page and let me know there or here or on Facebook which one is your favorite.