At the moment we are experiencing some pretty chilly weather here in the uk and so I wasn’t too surprised when I received an email from one of the stock libraries I contribute content to requesting more weather pictures. Grabbing some nice warm clothes and my gear I set out to top up my portfolio. While I was out shooting the stock images I shot some more images for my fine art portfolio.
To visit the frost images I shot for stock follow the link to my images on Alamy
My reaction to this has always been to cringe, my mind racing to the gear I don’t have, the poor light or a million other excuses. This is all part of why people need a professional photographer to take their images for them and why we always get better results.
This precise scenario arose recently with a friend wanting some images of the great food produced by their kitchens to promote their restaurant. Food photography is well known as quite a difficult area of photography to get right.
The gear I had was just my SLR and flash gun. Not the ideal setup and with the images to be shot in the kitchens themselves, during a busy food service just before the food went out to the diners, the pressure was going to be on!
Overall I was really pleased with the images I produced, especially as I had no time for prep and considering that in a normal commercial arrangement I would have insisted on completely different conditions for the shoot.
- Plate to Pixel: Digital Food Photography and Styling (texaskitchen.wordpress.com)
- Best Food Photography (detectiveswearglasses.wordpress.com)
- Bad Restaurant Food Photography – Brooklyn Edition (coedmagazine.com)
- Food Photography (photographyfraud.wordpress.com)
- Why is food photography so expensive? (foodservicewarehouse.com)
This is my response to a debate that seems to rear its head in the photography industry from time to time. This time it has been dragged up again through an interesting article on David Hobby in Slate magasine.
To get a sense of just how bad things are for professional photographers right now, the story of Robert Lam is instructive. When Time needed a photo to illustrate its “New Frugality” cover story in late 2009, it purchased Lam’s image of a jar of change from stock-photo agency iStockphoto. The going rate for a Time cover had typically been $3,000 to $10,000. Lam was paid $31.50. Nevertheless, Lam declared, “I am happy”—the payment was more than he’d expected the photo to generate, and he was delighted to have a Time cover in his portfolio. Veteran professional photographers were livid, calling Lam an “IDIOT,” among other unkind words.
Lam told me by phone that he’s only a part-time photographer—he makes most of his income through a furniture store he owns. Last year, he earned $4,000 from stock photography. Since it’s his passion and hobby, not his job, that sum is fine by him. Most of what Lam has learned about lighting has come from reading online, on Strobist and similar blogs. Typical of the DIY approach of this set, Lam’s Time cover was shot using materials Lam found at a local sign store.
My reply is this: Good for Robert Lam!
The truth of the matter is that the majority of professional photographers would laugh at the thought of setting up their studio to take photos of regular objects. Many do not have the time to carry out a shoot that may or may not create revenue for them.
I have spent time shooting random objects like this at a time when I was struggling as a young, fast-learning freelancer. It is incredibly time consuming. If “semi pro” and “amateur” photographers like Lam can create and make a revenue from such images good on them, not many pros have the time to put images like this into their libraries.
Much of the doom and gloom on this issue in trade journals and on blogs is incredibly daunting for young photography students and people wanting to be photographers. Some of the comments left on related articles online are to this effect.
For new professionals and students it would be good to concentrate some of your studies towards understanding royalty-free and rights managed photographs as-well as the usual curriculum.
I will always be an advocate of every photographer having stock images available. Some of the photos I have put up in stock libraries are similar to that of Robert Lam’s. It takes time to shoot stock and have a library of images but even if you have only take 5 photographs there is no reason why you cannot make them available for sale today. The initial setting up and editing of photographs to meet submission guidelines is time consuming as is meta-tagging and key-wording but when they are there, they are available indefinitely.
- David Hobby: A Baltimore Sun photographer took a buyout, started a website, and changed photography forever. (slate.com)
- A Baltimore Sun photographer who took a buyout, started a blog, and changed the photography business forever (3quarksdaily.com)
- Stock Photography at Its Best (Worst) (brandieraaschphotography.wordpress.com)
Last week David Cameron came under fire bacause of his ‘personal’ photographer paid for by the Tax Payer.
He was attacked in the House of Commons by Labour Leader Ed Miliband who mocked the Prime Minister saying ‘I can’t believe he is talking about hard choices this week because who has he chosen to put on the civil service payroll? His own personal photographer,’
Cameron’s spokesperson defended his appointment of photographer Andrew Parsons by saying that the Government’s communications budget has been cut down to a third of what it was. Cameron’s spokesperson also stated that the appointment of an in house photographer was a huge saving for the British tax payer compared to the cost of freelancers.
Downing Street stated that Andrew Parsons is not the Prime Minister’s personal photographer and would be used across several departments and for taking photos of several senior government workers.
In my opinion having an in-house photographer can only save money for the government. The cost of freelancer’s fees and the administration costs of hiring different photographers and getting them to sign the relevant confidentiality agreements would be far greater than having someone on the payroll.
You can see examples of Andrew Parson’s work here on the Guardian website
- Cameron’s crazy claim vanity photographer will save taxpayer “a lot of money” (leftfootforward.org)
- David Cameron: my ‘personal photographer’ is not vanity (telegraph.co.uk)
- David Cameron’s photographer allowed despite Tony Blair’s being blocked (telegraph.co.uk)
- Watch: Ed pokes fun at Cameron’s photographer (liberalconspiracy.org)
- David Cameron forced to defend appointment of ‘personal photographer’ (guardian.co.uk)
I have been following several RSS Feeds and I thought it was about time I reviewed 10 of my favourites. These RSS Feeds give me many things from inspiration to industry news. They are in no particular order so I hope you will follow them all. Add them to your RSS reader of choice and enjoy reading them with your morning coffee!
A Pictures Worth – Photoshelter
Even if you are not using their services though you should be reading their blog. Written by PhotoShelter co-founders, Allen Murabayashi & Grover Sanschagrin, it has their take on the photo industry, photographer websites, selling photos, SEO, gear and more. An invaluable source for anyone in the industry.
A Photo Editor
Written by former photography director Rob Haggart, this is a source of common sense for photographers! As a photographer some of the best advice is the advice that comes from your customers or photo buyers. With up to date industry news interspersed with interviews from Rob’s contacts that he has built up as a man with his finger right on the pulse, this has to be one of the best RSS Feeds for photographers.
Chase Jarvis is one of the current day’s great photographers, not just for his fantastic and inspiring work but also because of what he gives back. Chase blogs about his work, gear and lifestyle. With posts about how he creates his images, industry conventions he has spoken at and so much more. Chase Jarvis is a hero of the photography world. It is also worth my mentioning that in other parts of his website there are videos of his shoots that are well worth watching!
Jim M Golstein
Jim Golstein is a travel and landscape photographer who has a particular interest in nature. His blog displays some of his photos from his shoots which are well worth a look at.
Based in New York, Joe McNally has an impressive CV amongst which lies 20 years of shooting for National Geographic. Blogging eccentrically about life as a photographer, his shoots and his projects to put back into the photography community the skills he has learned. I think the most wonderful thing is the amount of variety his work carries.
An open vault that is constantly updated with new jewels of the photographic world. Aimed at technically minded photographers it hosts information on the more technical side of digital photography. Written by Michael Zhang and Jessica Lum together they produce some amazing content that I cannot get enough of.
Photocritic is written in a very individual style and the content is always forthcoming. Articles are a range of funny personal projects and opinions on all aspects of photography by the editor.
Scott Wyden is a photographer based in New Jersey he is currently on number 315 of his 365 series. Most of these series are like kissing your dog, they are cute but kind of stink at the same time. With this one I have enjoyed the photographers style throughout and its broken up with other interesting articles.
This is a fantastic read, the articles are like full magazine pieces and have great content. Recent articles have content about workflow, technology and philosophy. I can’t wait for the next article to be published.
With guest posts from several contributor, Light Stalkers hosts articles with how-tos on computer software, camera techniques and post production workflows. Some of the articles are a bit soft but there are some gems.