Thursday, July 8, 2010

Garbage, the Vocabulary of Change, and a Photographer's Responsibility

Garbage Images...that move society
I have just finished creating a series of images that I am very proud of, pictures that leave me feeling like I have contributed to more than just my income. These are garbage images…that is, dramatically illustrated photos of garbage, trash, rubbish and junk. One is a waterless tidal wave of trash while another is an ocean wave filled with garbage, the flotsam and jetsam of a consumer society, and yet another is a steep mountain of waste. Of course, I still want these images to sell and to earn money for me, but I am also hopeful they can help move our society in a positive direction, towards sustainability, recycling and environmental responsibility.

Photography And The Vocabulary of Change

I once heard creative consultant Deanne Delbridge say that it is the responsibility of photographers to lead society in positive directions with their imagery (it has been a long time since I heard that…and so I paraphrase). While her exact words did not stick with me, the importance of what she said has. I do believe that our photography, whether it is journalistic or advertising, leads societies in new directions. Photography is an important part of the vocabulary of change.

Equality, Solutions and Collective Impact

Images that portray equality, whether of gender or race help move us towards that equality. Photographs that dramatize the dangers of pollution move us closer to solutions. Pictures that inspire us to become better individuals can have a huge collective impact.

The Importance of Contribution

But whether the impact from such photography is large or small, it is most certainly there. Creating photography that inspires change and growth in the world are important not just for society but are also important for our own well being as humans. The older I get the more important I realize contribution is. How lucky are we to be able to follow our passion as photographers and to be agents for positive change at the same time?

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Questions I Wrestle With As A Stock Photographer

A huge Summo wrestler bear hugs a businessman in an office setting as a metaphor for competition and mismatches in the business world.

In business, as in life, we all constantly wrestle with questions the answers of which will lead us to our future.

How will future licensors of photography find photos to license?

Will they license images through agencies or directly from content creators?

What kind of pictures will they be licensing?

How can I best get my photography in front of those who both need to license photos and are willing to pay reasonable fees?

Is my time better spent creating new images, or getting existing images seen? What is the right balance in that mix?

What kinds of images are needed in the market place that I enjoy making?

These are the questions I wrestle with.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Funny Picture of the Day: Donkeys, Elephants and Politics!

Funny LOL elephant photo showing a donkey head-to-head with an elephant representing the classic and ongoing struggle of the democrats against the republicans.
A funny political photo pitting an elephant with a donkey in a classic head-to-head battle of republicans against democrats...and my "funny picture of the day".
Funny Picture of the Day
Just finished creating this funny LOL photo of a donkey butting heads with an elephant...obviously with the political market in mind. I photographed the elephant in Thailand and the donkey at the zoo. To shoot the donkey I had to actually hold my camera, a Canon 1ds MKIII, with the 100-400 Canon lens, above my head to clear the fencing. I shot about a dozen exposures until the donkey turned its back on me. Unbelievably I managed to get two sharp photos. Lucky!

Photoshop CS5...A No Brainer Upgrade
I used Photoshop (CS5) to composite the image together. BTW, for the kind of work I do upgrading to CS5 is a no brainer. The Puppet Warp and Refine Edges are working well for me...though Content Aware hasn't been working in the instances I have tried it...though demos of Content Aware Fill have been very impressive.

A Funny Political Image and Rights Managed Stock Photos
This funny (I would even say LOL) political stock photo of democrats butting heads with republicans is a very editorial kind of image. With that in mind I am submitting it as a Rights Managed picture, which, from what I understand, is the preference of editorial publications.

Funny Elephant Photos
I have to say, that of all my funny elephant photos, this, at least for now, is my fovorite. Hope you like it too!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Overwhelmed, Ho Hum Photos and Clients You Want To Shoot For

An overworked and overwhelmed African American woman sits at her desk in an office cubicle surrounded by tall stacks of paperwork and documents in a humorous look at stress in the workplace.
Junk mail and even bills, correspondence and newsletters are filled with Ho Hum photos that do nothing to grab our attention. How much more effective it would be to use more dynamic and entertaining imagery, and how much better to shoot with those clients in mind!

Overwhelmed, Overworked and Ho Hum Photos
I was somewhat mindlessly going through my stacks of neglected mail, feeling a tad overwhelmed and overworked, but not giving in to stress, when I paused to actually look at some of the photography incorporated into the bills, solicitations and purported newsletters piled before me. It occurred to me that I was in exactly the state that many people would be in while looking at their daily mail. Perhaps I could get some insight into stock photos by really looking at the ones being used by my potential clients. The photos were all pretty ho hum. Pictures of happy faces wearing headsets, talking on cell phones, riding bikes on sunny afternoons and enjoying just standing in an idyllic family unit.

A Chance That I Might Read The Copy
Nice pictures…all of them, but nothing more. Why were those particular photos chosen? And did it really make any difference? Was a great photo on my Pacific Gas and Electric bill going to make any more of an impact than an ordinary one? I don’t think so. I tried to imagine whether a jaw-dropping photo would compel me to some action any more than the boring photos that were being used. I couldn’t imagine that it would make any difference, at least in these communications. What about eliminating the photography altogether? I can’t imagine that either. Having some kind of visual does seem preferential to me over just plain type. Without a photo on the printed piece I believe I would find myself repelled by all those endless, uninterrupted blocks of copy. At least with a photo there is a chance that I might read the accompanying copy. And as I think about it just a bit more, it does occur to me that if there was a photo that truly connected with me or entertained me, and was germane to something I was actually interested in, it could catch my eye just enough to get me to peruse the copy.

Photos That Connect and Planning Your Photo Shoots
What did I get from this exercise? That much of the photography out there is only marginally important. There is a need for all of those pictures of customer support people with their happy smiles and headsets. But there certainly isn’t any reason for companies to be paying premium amounts for such photos, as blasphemous as that sounds. But I also realized that a photo that did connect with me in some way could make a difference…even in a junk mail scenario. So which kind of client do I want to be serving, creating imagery for…the client that reaches for that extra something, or just fills the slot with any old photo? That is something to think about when planning your photo shoots.