Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Stock Photo Showcase: Melting Pot to Patriotism to Immigration Issues

This image of the American Flag combined with a background of faces is great for illustrating concepts such as social media connections, demographics and immigration issues.
This versatile image illustrates concepts ranging from social media to immigration issues, to the U. S. as a melting pot.

America As A Melting Pot
An American Flag is juxtaposed over a sea of faces in this stock photo I just created. I like it so much I just had to share it on my blog! If there ever was an image that says the “melting pot” of the United States, this is it! The composite montage of faces includes approximately 250 model-released portraits. While the ethnic diversity says melting pot, the image also can illustrate a wide range of concepts.

Social Media And Networking Photos
This is definitely a social media image and it is showing the “tribe” or “community” that is America. These Americans are linked to each other in a variety of ways and certainly social networking across the Internet is an important part of the linking. Too bad this image wasn’t around when AOL got started…it would have been perfect!

As previously mentioned, this is an image about diversity. But it is more than just ethnic diversity, the populace pictured has a wide range of ages and, of course, is fairly well gender balanced (though I actually didn’t count…I am just assuming).

Demographics, Immigration and Politics
This can also be used to indicate demographics both for advertisements and editorial uses.  I can see the image being used by political parties and politicians as well as by any company that wants to indicate the wide acceptance of their products and services across America. Using the American flag with a wide and diverse range of people certainly makes the image a great one for issues around patriotism, immigration and even voter registration!

Creating A Social Media Photo
It took me at least a day’s worth of work just moving the individual portraits around in Photoshop to create the background montage. I then photographed an American Flag in my studio and used Photoshop to lay it over the portrait background. I spent at least another hour trying different things from opacity changes, to mode changes, to mask versions and finally settled on this. At this point I don’t remember exactly what the solution was. I could go back and look at the layered file, but naw, I’m just too lazy to do that now!

Blend Images And A Ton Of Work!

I have uploaded the image to Blend Images, a process that actually took longer than it does for me to create most of my montage images! I spent six hours uploading and editing model releases…arrgh! Blend has a very easy and efficient upload portal, but just doing the repetitive work of finding all the releases (another couple of hours work) scattered over several hard drives, and then uploading them one by one and so forth, was taxing to say the least. But hay, I have a good feeling about this image and I think it will all have been worth it!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Getty Images Free Photos With A Catch!

Sea monster tentacles reach out of a computer monitor attempting to snare a businessman seated at his computer.
Getty Images' new embed program offers free photos but with a catch!

Getty Images “Embed” Program
I have had a number of requests to comment on Getty’s “Embed Program”, and while I am no expert, I will at least share a few thoughts. The gist of the program is that people are now free to use most of the photos handled by Getty Images for non-commercial use by using provided embed code. The photos remain on the Getty servers (an important aspect as we shall see).

Getty, ShutterStock And Perceived Value
Who knows what all is behind this decision, but I think a big part of it may be motivated by Getty’s need to increase it’s perceived value to investors. The Carlyle Group paid over 3 billion dollars for Getty just to see Getty’s market share continually loose ground to ShutterStock. From what I hear, the only way for the Carlyle group to get their money back (let alone make a profit) is to take Getty public, and for that to happen Getty has to look good to investors. This program takes Getty beyond just selling stock and into the realms of advertising media, target advertising and data mining.

Getty, Data Mining, And Targeted Advertising
Getty, through this program, will have the ability to track the images putting them into the “Data Mining” business. They can also push out advertising into the images an ability that puts them into the business of selling advertising…specifically targeted advertising. Obviously this business model looks a lot more promising to investors than just selling stock photos does. It is  also important to realize that with the push of a button Getty Images can delete all those images from where ever they have been embedded, or even switch the photos!

Logos, Credit Lines And Image Theft
Some of the problems I am hearing about the program seem pretty legitimate. The pictures cannot be resized and come with a pretty large Getty logo and credit lines. It seems to me that bloggers and others who are used to stealing images will just keep on doing that. It is still easier to do a right click and steal the image…and by stealing the photos instead of using the embed code, the infringer has the ability to resize the images, avoid being tracked by Getty, and avoid having to display Getty logos and credit lines. There is also the unpleasant possibility that Getty could eliminate the photos showing up that would then leave broken links on the user’s site…not pretty! In fact, I had planned to use the Getty imbed code on one of my own images for this blog, but I realized that using a photo that way would not be as good for my own blog traffic as using an image that I in fact host. Kind of says it all, doesn’t it?

Non-Commercial Use Licenses
I personally would much rather that Getty offer “Non Commercial Use” licenses for small fees in the neighborhood of a dollar or so, and only for RF images, something like what apple has done for music. That would reinforce the idea that images are meant to be paid for and to add at least some revenue to photographer’s pockets!

Revenue Sharing
Yes, if Getty manages to get revenue through pushing ads out onto embedded content we photographers get to share in that, and from what I can understand it will be at the same royalty rates indicated in our contracts (disclaimer…I am not a lawyer and that is just my opinion). However, I really can’t see that amount being significant for individual photographers. Then there is the question of whether photographers would share in the revenue made by Getty if they sell the results of their data mining.

Impact On Photographers
In fact, I can’t really see how this development has much impact at all on photographers. Everyone is already stealing our images like crazy with little or no consequences, and I can’t see why anyone would use the Getty embed program.  My biggest takeaway is that it is one more step in the perception of photography being free for anyone to steal and use as they wish.

Links To More Information:

Sean Locke has a very in depth analysis.