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Pretty much everyone in the fashion photography world has heard the stories of Terry Richardson‘s on-set shenanigans, which almost always involve someone getting naked (the model, him, or both), inappropriate sexual overtures, and outrageous comments. When a model finally came out on a blog and talked openly about how degrading the experience was, the story spread like wildfire around the blogosphers — and Rob Haggart at A Photo Editor gives us the play-by-play.
Photographer Charles Moore, an Alabama native who made striking images that helped define the southern Civil Rights Struggle, died on Tuesday. His work includes images of the integration riots at Ole Miss in 1962, the fire hoses in Birmingham in ’63, a Ku Klux Klan rally in North Carolina in ’65, and he was the lone photographer at the scene when King was arrested in Montgomery in 1958.
The biggest news in the photography blogosphere this week has to be the launch of a new photography blog that aggregates a selection of top photography blogs in one place (phew, that’s a lot of “blogs”). On Monday, Rachel Hulin, Kate Steciw, and Danielle Swift launched The Photography Post, which includes visual feed from dozens of top photo blogs, as well as a blog, a store, and a “Museum of Online Photography Collections.” Users can view the blog feeds by category or “like” their favorites and see only those. No wonder it’s already been featured on several top blogs, including cultural clearinghouse NotCot.org.
Dazed & Confused magazine released its March issue, a.k.a. the “Augmented Reality Issue,” yesterday. Certain pages of the magazine include QR codes that readers can hold up to their computer camera to start exclusive fashion videos, which can also be paused anywhere to reveal designer credits for the outfits. You can check out the details and a sneak preview of how the videos work here.
Miki Johnson: How did the idea for the Menuez Archive Projects arise?
Doug Menuez: After Stanford Library acquired my archive they began to preserve, research, and scan the 250,000 images from my Silicon Valley documentary project from the ’80s and ’90s. A few years ago they called and said their budget was cut and asked if I had any ideas for funding.
I was sitting on a couple hundred thousand model-released, timeless lifestyle advertising images that we’d often thought about doing something with, but I was always busy with assignment work. This was the catalyst. I was very lucky to meet an experienced and creative entrepreneur, David Mendez, and together we wrote a business plan around selling high-end stock to this growing niche in advertising. Amazingly, we managed to secure funding from investors despite the down economy.
MJ: Who do you imagine being the primary audience and/or buyers for the archive? What kind of imagery is it providing?
DM: Ad agencies seeking never seen before, intimate, emotionally-compelling moments from everyday life for high-end ad campaigns. We have been getting a lot of calls over the past few years as more big brand campaigns go to stock and creatives seek images that are more special and not so widely seen as what’s offered by the giant houses. We are a boutique and are bringing old fashioned research and service in our collaborations with creatives on their campaigns. You can search our archive easily, but you can also send your layouts and we will custom search and present the results to you.
We are including a lot of my personal documentary work that is released, and we just completed our first shoot in Miami, covering a wide range of stories, including a working mom, an afternoon with a Hispanic family, a teen house party, Parcours daredevils, an older boomer couple traveling, and much more.
What’s exciting is that we researched and found real stories of real lives, just as on any other personal project I do. These stories and images are therefore compelling and authentic, but also model released. We also have a variety of editorial material, some historical, some current, and we are selling limited edition prints of my fine art projects.
MJ: How does MAP fit in with your larger business plan?
DM: MAP is a huge breakthrough for me in that it allows me to develop all the work I’ve done over the years, and create revenue from material sitting in boxes. That new material from assignments and stock shoots will help me stay relevant and replenish the archive over time.
I have so many projects and images that it’s hard to finish any one thing. MAP will provide a platform to build on for the next phase of my career. That includes continuing to produce documentary projects, films, and books. More »
I signed up with my very first company that offered an “archive hosting” service five years ago. At that time, my idea of what that meant was vague at best. Would they sell my pictures or just provide storage and display? Would the web system be user friendly? Would I need to buy a complicated manual? Did I need to hire an assistant for this?
Today archive hosting companies typically provide storage space, online galleries, search and client features, a user-friendly back-end management system, FTP, downloading, and hundreds of other functions that are incredibly useful if properly understood. All of this is usually bundled into a package that might cost roughly USD 50 per month. For a photographer like me, who is constantly moving, I find the service indispensable.
Today the main player in this game seems to be Photoshelter. After transferring my archive to their servers a year ago, I can say with some level of confidence that they provide a superior service, strong customer support, and a huge variety of functions (without trying to do too much, the most important thing in my opinion).
So how exactly do I manage my own archive? When I complete shoots for newspapers, magazines, and corporate clients, I upload the images to my archive, so that I can FTP the images to clients, share the work with friends and family using public light-boxes, display work to potential new clients, and allow regular clients to search for stock images to license. That might sound like a lot of work — and it is. But make no mistake, this hard work pays dividends.
I particularly find the online archive a useful tool when working on longer-term stories or projects, because as work is completed it can be uploaded and shared for client or peer review. For example I recently photographed the construction of one of Shanghai’s tallest buildings. The building owners wanted to see a monthly edit from my shoots, a progress report, as we went. During the more than two years the project lasted, I was able to bring them up to speed with new imagery, as well as service the download needs of their staff in Shanghai and Japan. My archive created a seamless delivery system — no more burning disks, no more Fedex. The online, hosted, and managed archive is here to stay.
A close friend of mine challenged my position on archive hosting by insisting that my agency should take care of all that “back-end” work for me. A lovely idea, but full-service agencies are pretty much a thing of the past. (In my experience anyway; if I’m missing some full-service agencies still out there, please let me know.) The new trend seems to be the fully functioning, independent photographer who manages his or her own pictures.
Although my photographic work is represented by Corbis, they are far from a full-service agency. They don’t have an assignment division and rely on photographers to upload on their own. They don’t scan film, they don’t do captioning and key-wording, and they edit as they see fit. This is all actually a good thing, because it allows them to focus on the most important part of the process, selling my images.
Of course, that means a lot of the work agencies used to do is now the photographer’s responsibility. While that may be a negative for some, it’s a positive for me, because I get to control the quality, layout, and organization of my own work, and then share it anyway I like. It allows me to have a closer relationship with my editors and — for a young photographer like me who sometimes feels overwhelmed with a rapidly changing industry — this offers a very rare sense of control. Plus I can link to my archive just about everywhere, post public light-boxes online using social media, and fully integrate my Photoshelter archive with my liveBooks website, in the hope that editors and image buyers can find what they are looking for with ease.
On a final note, in my particular situation, having an archive based in the U.S. is a crucial part of my business plan. Because I live behind The Great Fire Wall of China, FTP-ing work out of the country is a nightmare, so it’s best that I only have to do it once. Once I upload to my archive, it’s an easy click of the button to share work with multiple clients. Plus I never have to worry about missing a deadline because it takes 14 minutes to upload one image to a server outside of China!
The Natural History Museum in London announced this week that it is stripping wildlife photographer of the year of his £10,000 prize because they believe his prize-winning photo was made with a hired tame Iberian wolf. Photographer José Luis Rodriguez strongly denies that the photo was staged, according to organizers, but the images was still removed from the exhibition of winners at the museum. Jörg Colberg at Conscientious uses this story as a jumping off point to examine our expectations of “truth” in photography — it’s worth the read.
The Court of Human Rights declared Section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000 unlawful, Giles Turnbull reported Tuesday on the PhotoCineNews blog. Section 44, which became law in the UK in 2000, gives police officers the right to stop and search anyone, for any reason, inside a designated but undefined “area” and has been the source of frequent conflict between police and photographers. Despite the ruling, the law and its enforcement is unlikely to change soon, Giles says. Photographers are not turning down the pressure though, continuing the very successful I’m a Photographer, Not a Terrorist campaign, with a rally in London’s Trafalgar Square planned for later this month.
PDN reported Tuesday that the French picture agency Oleil had closed after 15 years. While agency closings are hardly uncommon these days, this comment from the Oleil website forces us to confront the full weight of what they suggests for the industry: “The press economic crisis has now made the production of photo-stories impossible.”
We can’t help but wrap up with a couple positive stories from liveBooks. CEO Andy Patrick has been appointed to the Board of Directors for Mohawk Fine Papers, an industry leader that is particularly dedicated to environmental responsibility. We’re also excited to announce the integration of Get Satisfaction with our support dashboard. Get Satisfaction‘s dynamic support communities with easy social media integration have been sweeping the Web — if you’ve ever seen one of those vertical “Feedback” tabs on a website, you know what we’re talking about.
Kristina Feliciano: How do you find photographers? Through referrals?
Maureen Martel: Always. We’ve never solicited photographers. Except for Timothy Greenfield-Sanders, who we approached after viewing his work at Mary Boone Gallery. I think it was 1986. And Nadav Kander — I had met his studio manager at the time [in 1984]. And when I saw his studio, met him, saw his work on the walls, I had said very casually, “If you’re ever looking for a rep in the States, we would absolutely be interested in talking with you.” He was very methodical about how he was rolling out his career, and he contacted us nine months later.
BS: We’ve been in this industry so long that even if they didn’t come by referral, there’s some association through art directors or other people. We got John Midgley through Liz Von Hoene and Jeff Lipsky through Kwaku Alston.
MM: And Matthias Clamer also knew Jeff.
BS: But I knew of Jeff myself. You could see Jeff in all the editorials.
KF: How do you know a photographer is right for you?
BS: Personality is huge.
MM: A huge, huge part. Application for the marketplace is also key. Key key, key key, key. If you can’t apply it, you can’t satisfy the client. You also have to be dedicated to the medium. Some photographers want to love them and leave them. They want to come in and make a lot of money, and leave. More »
Agencies: Digitas Health and
Saatchi & Saatchi Healthcare Communications Group
Photographer: Jayne Wexler
Artist Rep: Kevin Schochat
Producer: Susan Shaughnessy/SKS Productions
Location: Los Angeles
Total people on set: 30
The ad agency had three photographers in mind for the shoot, and the photographer Jayne Wexler was considered a favorite. The agency called her directly, and Jayne called her rep, Kevin Schochat. Together they talked about the concept, dates, and availability. Next, Jayne and Kevin considered which producer they wanted. Usually, the photographer or the rep has a relationship with a producer. Sometimes the ad agency has a relationship with a producer, and they will recommend one. In this case, Jayne decided she wanted to work with me.
There were three bids submitted for this job, and the estimating process took more than a week, including several rounds of back-and-forth with the agency. We were trying to meet the agency budget, but we were the only team estimating traveling expenses, so our costs were higher. The agency was very fair and understood our numbers, but it took time to get the estimate and photographer approved.
I typically work with my favorite program, Excel, for bids, as does the rep. I turn my document into a custom-designed PDF, so it looks like a neatly presented document with my logo and client info on it. Excel allows you to make changes quickly and frequently, which is so useful when estimating and making revisions.
During the estimating process, I have a crew in mind. Typically they are on hold from the beginning, especially the stylists. Once the agency awards the whole job and the money, then I book. I review the costs, rates, and expectations with each person, to confirm we are all clear. Sometimes the rates, expenses, and layouts have altered during the estimating process, so it’s essential to clarify at this point.
In this case, the casting and location line items were approved first, and then days later the rest of the job was approved. We began right away with a creative call between the photographer, agency, and myself to review layouts, casting specs, and location needs. I hired Eastside Studios in L.A. to cast, and I began researching locations with my coordinators.
Then stylists, photographer, producer, and agency have creative calls. These calls solidify the wardrobe direction and the prop needs. From there I can build a firm schedule, and manage expectations and deliverables for the team. As soon as the job is approved, the rep and I submit a request for the advance, to receive the appropriate percentage of the expenses up front. This money will get the job rolling and secure locations, studios, and all immediate out-of-pocket expenses.
When assembling a crew, I consider the photographer, the project and style, the budget, and the personalities that fit with the requests. It’s also important to have crew members who can work closely together to support each other. The wardrobe stylist and prop stylist know each other, work together often, and were able to help each other styling vintage clothing and props.
With Crestor, because everything was being shot in L.A., I suggested and hired the crew for Jayne. Jayne brought her first assistant, Piero Ribelli, with her, but I introduced Jayne to Mark Gordon, digital tech, along with Ubaldo Holguin and Joe Klecker, who were local photo assistants we used in L.A. Based on temperament, professionalism, and personality, I knew they would fit great with this team.
Having team members who know each other and work well together adds another layer of efficiency. Photographers often get in a groove with certain stylists, and definitely photo assistants and digital techs.
Often the crews stay the same, but sometimes we’ll add or lose somebody because of availability. Like Jayne in New York, we’ll have almost the same crew every time we work with her. For every photographer I work with, I specifically craft a crew that seems appropriate for them, based on their personalities, needs, styles, how fast paced they are, and what they expect in terms of styling.
Who: Susan Shaughnessy, Producer
What: Manage people, schedule, communicate, delegate, problem solve, have fun, take responsibility; write checks; provide deliverables/links to casting, scouting, and visuals that need approvals; take care of photographer; organize everything; insure everything; handle travel, catering, transportation; create production books; answer questions, ask questions, provide confidence; do due diligence; be flexible; stay on budget, get overages approved as needed; work closely with art buyer-producer/agency, accept praise on behalf of crew.
Where: Brooklyn is home, but I produce anywhere
Who: Jayne Wexler, Lifestyle and portrait photographer
What: I find a producer if the budget allows one. Go over the layout, all the details, and shot list. Discuss the casting with the producer. If a location is needed, we find a scout and start scouting. On shoot day my assistants and I set up lights. Then they usually get the set ready and shoot a digital-Polaroid for me to see. In the meantime, I discuss the details with the prop and wardrobe stylists and the hair and make-up artists. Once we are set up and I’m happy with my lighting and composition, we start shooting. After the shoot we edit the images and choose the best selects for the job, then we either make a website or send a disk or hard drive to the client with jpegs. Depending on the size and complexity of the retouching, the client will either retouch in-house or I will use one of my retouchers. Then there is the billing, which can take as long as the production.
Where: I live in NYC — “Nolita” — been in the same apartment for almost 23 years! My studio is on Vandam Street, west of Soho.
Who: Kevin Schochat, Photographer’s agent
What: When a request comes in, I go over the specifics of the job with the creative in charge. I then work closely with the photographer and producer to prepare a detailed photography estimate. I negotiate all fees and rights for the photographer. Once the job is awarded, I follow it closely to make sure everything is running smoothly and we are staying within budget. I also go to the shoot, if it is local, to see how it is progressing, meet the client, and deal with any last minute questions or changes. After the shoot, the photographer and I usually review the invoice together. Then I contact all the key people involved to make sure they are happy with the results and thank them for their business.
Where: New York City
Who: John Robinson, Prop stylist and set designer More »
Kira Pollack, former deputy photo director at the New York Times Magazine, has been named the new director of photography for both the print and web versions of Time magazine, starting on October 5th. The New York Times Lens blog has an article highlighting Pollack’s career and a slide show showcasing some of her most memorable projects for the magazine.
Former Getty director of entertainment Frank Micelotta this week announced the launch PictureGroup, a new entertainment stock agency. The company has also created a strategic alliance with the Associated Press whereby they each will distribute content through the others platform.
Daryl Lang at PDNPulse raised a good point about the shifting style of news magazine photo editing in response to David Hume Kennerly’s reaction to his cropped photo of Dick Cheney in Newsweek magazine. There’s some good discussion on the PDN post as well.
Starting this week, iStockphoto will offer legal protection of up to $10,000 to any customers who buy images from the company. Customers looking for additional protection can purchase up to $250,000. Other stock companies, including Getty Images, who owns iStockphoto, offer similar protection, but it seems particularly pertinent in a space with less oversight and downloads by more media-law novices.
I’ve talked and written about how photographers need to look beyond the stock agencies to market their images. There are a host of pros and cons to these alternate business models, but the need to drive traffic to your website is always the tallest hurdle. No single approach will do. Instead, you need to attract attention, and keep it, by projecting your brand across a range of media platforms and by creating mutually beneficial collaborations. Here are some tips for how all kinds of photographers can do that.
Once you have a collection of images, see if you can create an association with other photographers to market a particular class of subjects. Photoshelter makes that easy with their Virtual Agencies, but there are several ways to accomplish the same thing. By grouping your work with that of other photographers, all of you can offer a wider selection of similarly themed work to potential buyers. My work is available alongside images from Thomas Mangelsen and David Doubilet at WILD, our virtual agency.
If each photographer does a good job of file naming and keywording, a buyer is more likely to find your image collection. Online galleries also allow you to display a larger selection of your work than an editor at an agency would allow. This is not an invitation to self-indulgence, however; show only your best or most saleable work.
I steer clear of microstock. If you can produce what the market demands in high volume, there is money to be made there, but it tends to encourage “treadmill shooting,” a mentality of “generate content” instead of creating art. Forgive me if I stick to Rights Managed and Royalty Free.
Once your collective is up and running, or even if you decide to fly solo, contact all your existing clients with the news. Buy and use lists of prospective clients, like those provided by Agency Access and other services. More »