When I teach in college classrooms many students are there to check a box. They need this course to meet the requirements for their degree.
So many people are going through life checking boxes. This is the time of year where many have just checked another box. They graduated from high school or college and now will look for a job.
I was raised in a different environment by my parents. My father had been checking boxes his life as well until one night in college he found himself on his knees praying to God and felt God was asking him to change direction.
You see the word vocation actually means a strong feeling of suitability for a particular career or occupation. Calling is a synonym for the word.
In some of the classes I have taught in college I found students just trying to meet the minimums. I don’t mean minimum like passing, but rather what are the requirements for an “A” and then proceed to do just enough to get the “A”.
“Mastery is not a commitment to a goal but to a constant pursuit. What gets us to do this, what get us to forward thrust more is to value the near win. How many times have we designated something a classic, a masterpiece even, while its creator considers it hopelessly unfinished, riddled with difficulties and flaws, in other words, a near win?”
Whether your goal is to work for National Geographic as a photojournalist or to get to the finish line of a marathon, to write a book, to find a partner, to be a good parent or a good friend, the feeling of success and satisfaction can be found in the process, not the accomplishment.
This is key to being a successful storyteller to be focused on the process rather than the checkbox.
Wants to know the subject
Wants to get the content
Arrives on time
Indifferent, Uninterested, Average
95% of people who go to Yellowstone National park use only 5% of the park. It has been reported that 90% of the visitors never leave the road and 95% never venture more than 100 feet off the pavement.
I consider those the box checkers. They have been to Yellowstone.
“Focus on the journey, not the destination. Joy is found not in finishing an activity but in doing it.”
Know Your “Why?”
Having a vocation or calling as some might say is being mission minded. You are pursuing something. I believe my calling is to get the know the people that God has put in my life. To develop relationships with these people and get to know them.
When I get to know someone I learn how I can serve them.
Too many people go to college to get a degree and not enough go to college to learn a subject. I want the engineer who understands physics that builds the bridge I will drive on. I don’t want the engineer who checked off they took the class.
When I was at Georgia Tech I was in a Civil Engineering class where the students were building a bridge out of balsa wood that the professor had given them. The bridge would be tested to see if it held up a certain amount of weight.
Little did they know but the professor gave them faulty plans on purpose. They were to check the design and build it. The lesson wasn’t the building of the design, but rather the ability to think and go back to the professor telling him that the design was flawed. This is a real world example.
Many of the students failed that assignment that day. They were box checkers. Those who really loved learning and were there for the process found the mistake and passed.
I really love covering events. Why? You have to constantly problem solve.
The first problem was to be sure the faces in a group shot were visible. I used two Alienbees B1600 strobes powered by the Paul Buff Vagabond batteries. Now to fire them I was using the Pocketwizard Plus II Transceivers.
The problem to be solved was the group was under a large carport with the background sun lit trees.
I took photos of the individual graduate with the founders of the school and the administrators. The diploma had to be in every photo and if I was not careful it would have been not legible. Solution, same setup as for the group photo. By using the two Alienbees B1600 lights at 45º angle to each other I was getting a good consistent light for each person.
To make my post editing go quickly I also did a custom white balance using the ExpoDisc.
By the way, while you are here can you make some headshots? Yes I can. Again the same setup, but I just moved closer to the trees and shot some headshots of the founders.
One part of the assignment was to get the first group shot to them before the 5 pm ending time of the event. So I had to carve out a few minutes to get them those group photos for posting on social media.
To get all these photos in a timely manner I chose to work with the Nikon Z6 and the Sigma 24-105mm ƒ/4 Art lens. While I shot the group photo at 32mm I had the ability to go wider. I loved shooting the headshots at 105mm.
Grandparents, parents, siblings and friends came to celebrate the GAP Year program graduates in Pine Mountain, GA.
I was using the Bluetooth technology to help sync my camera with my phone using Snap Bridge. I was being sure the time was correct and setting the GPS Coordinates.
When I ingested the photos into PhotoMechanic it took those GPS Coordinates and then turned those into street address.
I just click on the world and then it will look for the GPS coordinates and as long as I have an internet connection it will search for the street address.
Now since I was shooting also with my Nikon D5 which doesn’t have the Bluetooth technology I just selected all the images and applied those GPS coordinates to those images as well.
The students dressed up in all types of fashion statements. I love this guys tie.
This family is from Ecuador. I love his Panama hat.
As soon as I took this photo they asked me in Spanish if they could get copies. Yes they can.
I provide the client an online gallery where they can download the images using a password that I provide.
I was getting candid photos as well as occasionally finding families all together. I would take these as well. I just had to watch the light on the faces. Way too many of the guests were posing people with the windows behind them. I put the large glass windows to the side of them or to my back. Again it is about Lights, Camera and Action!
The room was quite large and the best place to stand to get photos of the stage was in the back of the room. This way I wasn’t up front blocking the guests view.
I brought my Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 Sport lens as well as a 1.4X and 2X converters. I started with the 1.4X converter and this is the view it game me and made the lens a 420mm ƒ/4.
I quickly changed the converter to the 2X which gave me this view with the now 600mm ƒ/5.6. Once again I am problem solving. This time it is the camera and lens combination allowing me to get photos that no cell phone will get.
As you can see this is what the guest was getting with their phone.
I moved around the room with the long lens and looked for different perspectives. I thought with some speakers the microphone was too much in front of their face from the back of the room.
I didn’t feel the need to have to move to get different angle with every speaker.
I was shooting with three cameras and various lenses. My wife also shot some photos with a camera.
2 Nikon D5 cameras
Sigma 24-105mm ƒ/4 Art
Sigma 35mm ƒ/1.4 Art
Sigma 70-200mm ƒ/2.8
Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 | Sport
Fuji 18-55mm ƒ/2.8-3.5
The lenses I used for different reasons. First of all I am not shooting one specific style. I do not shoot all prime lenses wide open which many people do. I love the shallow depth-of-field shots.
I also realize when shooting that large group shot I needed to be at a larger depth-of-field. This is why I shot those photos at ƒ/8. The front row and back row is all in focus.
I love to isolate moments using the shallow depth-of-field and also know that sometimes you need more.
Technical & Aesthetic
Just yesterday on a forum a photographer was asking if the new camera will make you a better photographer. This was the old argument that it isn’t the camera but the operator. However, I wasn’t going to take this click bait as it was setup.
“It will make you technically better–Aesthetically the same.”
These new cameras today let me make photos that just years ago were not possible without a flash.
So I pride myself on knowing my gear and how it can help me get photos I couldn’t do before. So, I try and keep my gear updated. I am also aware that you can have a technically perfect photo that just has no aesthetic qualities.
Social Work Training – Capturing Action!
It is all my training in reading body language and studying the masters in photojournalism that has helped me to concentrate my efforts to capture moments. I was trained in social work to read people. I was evaluated over and over on how well I was listening with my eyes and not just my ears.
Adequate photographers are more technicians. They get the photos in focus and well exposed.
Great photographers are doing more than being a technician. They are using the camera to capture moments that help tell a story.
I like moments like this one. The students are showing how much respect they have for this teacher of their’s from this year. No words are necessary to communicate their respect. You just need words to know why they are giving him this type of respect.
Do you want to learn how to cover meeting better? Do you need me to cover your event? Give me a call and let’s talk. I teach one-on-one sessions and also love to just use my gifts to help you capture those important moments in life that happen only once.
While doing a story on coffee growers in Salvador Urbina, Chiapas, Mexico the farmers educated me on how they produce the Arabica Bean Coffee.
I learned that the arabica coffee does best with shade. The tree requires some but not too much direct sunlight; two hours a day seems ideal. The lacy leaves of the upper levels of the rain forest originally shaded the coffee tree.
When they prune the banana trees you can see the trunks, which to me look liked corrugated cardboard. Those channels help the water get to the leaves and bananas.
Salvador Urbina, Chiapas, Mexico is in a rain forrest. Salvador Urbina has significant rainfall most months, with a short dry season.
What can we learn from these coffee growers?
The production of coffee is a time and labor intensive process. From the moment of plantation of the first coffee seeds it can take three to four years before a newly planted coffee tree will began bearing fruits.
10 Steps from Seed to Cup
Harvesting the Cherries
Processing the Cherries
Drying the Beans
Milling the Beans
Exporting the Beans
Tasting the Coffee
Roasting the Coffee
Grinding the Coffee
Brewing the Coffee
Fair trade was started in response to the dire struggles of Mexican coffee farmers following the collapse of world coffee prices in the late 1980s.
Fair Trade coffee is coffee that is certified as having been produced to fair tradestandards. Fair trade organizations create trading partnerships that are based on dialogue, transparency and respect, that seeks greater equity in international trade. … Fair trade practices prohibit child or forced labor.
Café Justo was the coffee cooperative I partnered with to help tell their story back in 2010. I had been producing videos just for a short time and this was a turning point for me. We focused on telling the story focusing on the crisis the farmers were suffering and the difference the cooperative made in their families and communities.
Listen to what I captured back in 2010:
Maybe you are like those coffee farmers who had to leave their farms to find work to feed their families. You see by just learning to come together and tell their story, the consumer didn’t pay more for coffee they changed where they bought their coffee. You can support these coffee growers by buying their coffee here at Just Coffee.
While forming a cooperative and selling directly to the customer helped the coffee growers to prosper, it wasn’t the cooperative, the roaster or their willingness to come together that made them successful.
It was when they told their stories that customers rallied behind them. People are waking up to the basic unfairness of world trade and demanding a better deal for the people who do our dirty work. Are you getting a bargain or exploiting people when you always shop for price alone.
Are you telling your story? Remember what made a difference in the Fair Trade movement was the telling of the stories of people being exploited.
Once you have your customers don’t stop telling stories. Now tell a different story. How about how bananas help produce great tasting arabica coffee?
We all know that if you want to get someone’s attention tell a story. We also know that not all stories are engaging.
I believe way too many companies are picking stories like people fish–toss a line in the water and see what bites.
Finding a good story in your organization is like looking for a great quote. That person’s story that you tell will be very useful because they’re story is succinct distillations of the larger pool of people that you serve.
A good story also affirms what we already know about ourselves. The story helps your to reaffirm your beliefs and helps to define the category of the brand you are.
This past weekend I was able to see my daughter’s Spring Dance Concert. I photographed the event for the school to use for their recruiting and promotion.
While editing the some 2,600 images I was reminded that distilling the event down to a few images was communicating what they hope to become and also what they were doing. They only have a dance minor at the time and are in the process of creating a dance major.
One of the biggest mistakes organizations make when picking a story to tell is to pick one based on politics rather than the strength of the story.
I have been consulting for many years with organizations and over and over the people they want to feature is often someone who has been around a long time or is very popular.
Here are the key elements in a story that help you identify the best story for your organization to tell.
There is a before state and an after state that is radically different. This is before your organization made a difference in their life and after they encountered the organization.
This was a crisis of sorts. They had a real problem and the organization helped to solve it. The key here is when comparing their crisis to other possible people for your story that their crisis was the worst.
Their story represents your target audience’s crisis that you will problem solve as an organization.
One of the problems for most companies and organizations is they are just like the dancers–they are too close. They cannot see what they look like from the audience’s perspective.
Even the directors of broadway that go into the audience seats and give feedback to those on the stage, they lack the ability often to truly separate themselves from the production and see it with fresh eyes.
When I started as a photographer I was given a story to execute. To get better my mentor Don Rutledge encouraged me to go and find stories and do them. I did this for many years and syndicated those stories through Black Star and Camera Press.
If you want to be a better photographer, stand in front of more interesting stuff.
I learned very quickly the story you picked had more influence on the outcome than execution alone.
After shooting and writing a lot of poor choice stories through the years I slowly realized I was pitching more and more stories to editors. When I did those stories they got much better engagement than those I was given.
The better I got to know my clients and what they were doing to help their customers I was pitching no longer just interesting stories, but now strategic stories.
Don’t pursue those stories that only entertain and do not move people to the “Call To Action” for your organization.
Be sure the stories you pick point to what you do best and how you can help the audience with similar problems.
If you are a profit oriented company you are solving problems for the audience. If you are a nonprofit you are asking the audience to join you in helping solve a problem.
Picking the right story to tell is the key to your companies success. Once you have done this your next step will be to identify another story. Your success is directly related to communicating what you do to solve a problem for a person. Then you must consistently execute doing this for those who respond and ask you to fix their problem.
Tell people what you do through a story. Do what you tell people you do. Continue to improve in the execution of your service and repeat this process.
The purpose of doing an alignment for your car is to reduce tire wear, and to ensure that vehicle travel is straight and true (without “pulling” to one side). Alignment angles can also be altered beyond the maker’s specifications to obtain a specific handling characteristic. Motorsport and off-road applications may call for angles to be adjusted well beyond “normal”, for a variety of reasons.
Being out of alignment with your car shows up as uneven tire wear.
Being out of alignment in your work causes your organization and you to not getting the best performance. Like tires that get worn unevenly you will become worn out prematurely.
When the tire isn’t aligned it actually creates resistance and that is what causes the uneven tire wear.
People are nicer when you are in alignment at work. Like all the wheels on a car when they are all aligned to the vehicle it goes straight and true. The key is at work you should be aligned to the purpose of that organization. If you don’t like the organization’s purpose then find a different job.
When you’re in alignment, everything lines up for you. Everything seems effortless and easy because you’ve already done “the work” energetically. You feel like your team has your back because you’ve surrendered. You are not pushing your agenda. You are finding ways to serve the mission statement.
When you are in alignment you don’t have a strong sense of ‘need’ around what you want to manifest. You are open to your desire manifesting in different ways, and you are not attached to ‘how’ it has to happen.
For me my faith has helped a great deal. I really feel that God has got it under control. Now I have to remind myself of this every once in a while. When I do it really releases tension.
Show me your ways, LORD, teach me your paths.
Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and he will establish your plans. The LORD works out everything to its proper end — even the wicked for a day of disaster.
If you report to anyone then ask some questions which will help you align with the organization.
What does success look like a year from now for the organization?
What can I do to help this be achieved?
Is there anything I am doing that I need to stop doing?
Are there any books, workshops or seminars I need to improve that you suggest?
In baseball the batter must respond to what is pitched to them. They do not control the pitch. They only control their response to that pitch.
The best hitters are those who keep their eye on the ball and have spent a lot of time in a batting cage working on their swing.
Get in alignment to experience a life of less resistance. Learn to ‘Go With The Flow‘ – be relaxed and accept a situation, rather than trying to alter or control it.
We displayed the fruits of our labor at the county fair. What have you accomplished? Where is the fruit of your labors?
If you are like most you also measure a lot of your self worth from what you do. When you do this the next most likely thing done is then to compare what you produce to others.
How good is your game? That seems to be what drives many photographers. They compare their work to other photographers.
Once I started to do freelance full-time I shifted my focus to observing successful photographers. I started to watch those who were busy and not basing that decision on how their photos looked.
About eleven years ago I started to hire photographers for my clients. That is when I got to see really why certain photographers were busy.
First of all for a person to get hired to shoot for a client there work must meet some bare minimums for that client. Let me explain that the skill level is a lot lower than many photographers think it should be, but that is reality.
To be considered the photographer must produce photos that are well exposed and in focus. Now the fascinating thing about hiring photographers was all the other stuff that made me either want to hire them again or never use them again.
When I would call photographers asking them to do some work how they handled that first phone call and negotiating our contract determined pretty much the rest of the relationship.
I need to know the price, the terms and when I will get the photos. It was a two way street on this. The photographer also needed to know this from their perspective.
If a photographer after we have agreed on everything then wants to negotiate more then this was a clear indication of someone who was going to take too much of my time. I need the photographer to shoot and deliver with as little problem as possible.
What I was really surprised about is that there are many photographers who can get some really great photos of people’s expressions, but have poor people skills.
However, I must say that most of the time those photographers with good expressions in their photos of people tended to have better people skills than most.
Most of my clients are concerned with how did the photographer do with the people when they were shooting more than just how were their photos. You see the photographers are representing them when they show up. This is why many clients will put a staff person on set to go between the photographers and the subjects because they don’t want problems later.
I hired many photographers once that I would not hire again, because the word came back that they were difficult to work with. Then there are other photographers that actually make the client look better than if they were there.
Final Product – The Photos
I am surprised as to how many photographers take way too long to get the photos to the client. When I am hiring photographers I need them to rename the photos with a very specific file naming nomenclature so that the photos will work with the database that they are put into for the client.
In addition to the file naming I need the metadata filled out as well. This is all part of the negotiating I have done with the photographer when first hiring them for the job.
You would be surprised as to how many do not follow through. So, I get the photos numbered the way they came out of the camera with no metadata. Now this creates a problem because I have to contact the photographer and ask them to fix the images and upload them again. This delays now the client seeing the images.
I have had a few photographers get the photos to me after the deadline and we couldn’t use them for the initial purpose.
Final tips to increase the fruits of your labor
Negotiating – Keep it simple. Don’t use industry jargon unless absolutely necessary. Be realistic and do not over promise.
People Skills – Listen, communicate & relate on a personal/professional level. Good people skills also extend to include problem-solving abilities, empathy for others and a willingness to work together toward the common good. Reply to your emails promptly. Value your client’s point-of-view.
Photos – Deliver to the client photos in the way you negotiated. WOW clients by under promising and over delivering.
Be clear and transparent –Customer loyalty increases also based on how mistakes are being handled. Studies show that up to 70 percent of unhappy customers transform into loyal customers if the mistake has been fixed exceeding their expectations.
Jeff Justice is a standup comedian that in 1990 was noticing many beginners in comedy could use some help. He gave a few of them tips to rewrite their material so that the jokes were better. He also gave some tips on timing in delivery of those lines.
Surprised that some of them listened and even more surprised with a group of them asked him to do a workshop.
Here is a quick overview I did for Jeff back in 2012.
My wife took both of Jeff’s classes. Now the hard part is after your graduation standup routine at the Punchline the next step is no longer a class, but a live and unforgiving audience.
Mark Evans took Jeff’s class back in 1993 and it changed his life. He is a successful comedian today. His latest tour Southern Not Stupid is where you can see him perform.
He remembers that the graduation night was such a fun event and wanted somehow to recapture that time where the audience was a little more forgiving than jumping straight into the hecklers that can be in a typical audience.
Sunday night, April 29, 2019 was the first Jeff Justice Comedy Workshoppe Alumni show organized by Mark Evans at The Basement Theatre located in Buckhead section of Atlanta, Georgia.
While helping the students write better jokes is central to Jeff’s workshops, he is also helping them with timing. Delivery is everything. Jeff often says that saying, “‘I’m a wild and crazy guy’ isn’t funny. But Steve Martin delivering it like he did was hilarious.”
I think Mark Evans knows that the one thing that everyone needs to get better is practice. It is only by doing this enough times that you help manage those butterflies so you can get that Comedic Timing down for delivering a joke that gets laughs.
While you are putting yourself out there by performing once, you really don’t improve until you do it consistently.
No matter what you want to learn to do, taking a class is just the first step. You must work on your craft. Put yourself out there consistently and you too have a better chance of making it.
For photographers, you need to shoot lots of photos and share them. Then you must embrace the honest critiques of your work. That is how you grow.
With new clients I always give three prices. Low, medium and high price. Each has variables such as time, quantity and usage. I also always spell out payment time. Once I have worked with client they normally have the same requests. If they have a new and different request I use the three price options when giving a quote. By having 3 prices you also are spelling out the negotiables.
Here are some other negotiables for the freelancer:
Payment time table
Deposits before job is started – Often to cover expenses
Pay on the day of the shoot
Pay upon delivering of the product
30, 45 or 60 days
AVOID – Payment upon publication. What if they never publish?
Instead of money you trade services. My suggestion is to trade at retail values
If you get a good number of extra printed pieces, like a magazine, then you can use these as marketing pieces to your clients or potential clients.
Sliding Scale – You offer to do the work for lower price if they agree to future work. The trick is to have them pay the normal rate up front and as they give you more work you discount for the volume. This way if they cancel after the first job you didn’t get screwed.
Usage – Highly recommend FotoQuote that is a stand alone software. which also comes bundled with FotoBiz
Number of years
Types of usage
Quote packs of combinations of usage
Find a professional group to join
I am finding that many of my “Secret” Facebook Groups are more helpful than the professional associations. First of all there is someone almost always on the Facebook group and second because these are secret groups they only invite people to those groups who can help each other.
Don’t post into public groups anything where a client or potential client could see your content.
Closed and secret Facebook groups seem like they should be fairly similar. The difference is that closed groups can be seen by the public, while secret groups can’t. If you create a closed group, the name of it, its members, and its description can be seen by the public—basically everything but the posts in the group.
Buy Camera/Business Insurance
Tip from John Slemp cut my camera insurance in 1/2 this past year. While the agent works with Allstate he put me with a Hartford policy that worked best for me.
I will think of some other tips to share in the future. If you have topics let me know.
You have most likely heard the mantra, “Easiest way to make better photos: photograph your subjects against a clean background.”
They may even say, “99% of photos fail because the background is messy.”
I am here to tell you they are right and wrong. For the beginning photographer it is much easier to simplify a background than to take a complex and even cluttered background and make it work.
What my mentor Don Rutledge taught me was that backgrounds give context.
Having a clean background makes the subject pop out, but where are they? What are they doing?
Don taught me that it is a matter of composing to make sense of a scene and also waiting for the “moment.”
Depth-of-field—is the distance between the nearest and farthest objects in a scene that appear acceptably sharp in an image. Most photographers use a shallow depth-of-field to clean up their background.
The closer you get to something and the wider the aperture the shallower the depth-of-field. Also, you are removing context.
You see it is seeing all those people’s faces behind this man that helps give more context for this photo.
It is seeing all the people in the background and their expressions that helps photos many times.
Don had the patience and ability to see everything inside the frame. He taught many photographers how to see the edges and everything in between.
I think it is the background that helps make many of Don’s photos. Had he followed the advice you hear about simplifying the background he would have never been the communicator he was.
It is the background and everything around a subject that can give context to a moment.
Without the women in the background with the nurse’s hat on you might not get from the photo that this photo has something to do with healthcare.
Don’t go out and shoot everything to include background. Clean backgrounds have their place.
I am writing this because I am seeing the demise of ASMP and NPPA. While they may survive I do think they have lost their luster.
These are just some of my observations on why associations are struggling so much today. I think there is a timetable of events in the past 20 years that cumulatively have eroded the benefits of belonging to a professional photography association, especially when those memberships start at $150 to $335 per year.
The purpose of a professional association is to further a particular profession, those that work in the profession and the public interests.
Photojournalism in America took off in what many would call the Golden age of Photojournalism with the invention of Leica 35mm camera in 1925 and the flash bulb in 1927. This era would be from about 1930s to the 1960s.
It is the size of this camera that made it so easy to go just about anywhere and create pictures. The flash allowed you to take photos where there was no light.
Taking advantage of this new technology magazines like Life, Sports Illustrated and Paris Match published these photos that prior to this time the public would have never seen.
It was during this time and specifically 1940 to 1950 that both National Press Photographers Association and American Society of Media Photographers were formed.
NPPA was formed more around the advancement of photojournalism and so it was heavily focused on education and contests to help its members grow in their skills and raise the industry standards as to the quality of photojournalism being produced in newspapers. Most of the members were staff photographers.
ASMP was formed by a small group of New York City photographers who were working with magazines. They formed to address their common issues: lack of credit lines, unauthorized reproduction of their images, and uncredited copying of photos by illustrators and artists. They also were hoping to raise the rates for pay. Most of the members were freelancers.
I joined NPPA in 1985 when I was working for the Hickory Daily Record as a staff photojournalist and am still a member. In 1987 I joined ASMP (at the time American Society of Magazine Photographers) since I was working on The Commission Magazine.
Around 2005 NPPA realizing that more and more members were freelancers started doing more on business practices.
Internet & Social Media Impacts Associations
I remember getting my first Radio Shack computer in 1988. It would be the turning point of my skill set going forward.
I was becoming familiar with all the resources that my computer was bringing to me from all over the world. I had joined CompuServe it was the first major commercial online service provider in the United States. It dominated the field during the 1980s and remained a major influence through the mid-1990s. At its peak in the early 1990s, it was known for its online chat system & message forums. NPPA had one of those forums.
Mosaic, is the web browser that popularized the World Wide Web and the Internet. It was introduced in 1993 and the first browser to display images inline with text instead of displaying images in a separate window.
It was Microsoft licensing Mosaic to create Internet Explorer in 1995 that was the real take off point for websites.
Google was founded in 1998 by Larry Page and Sergey Brin while they were Ph.D. students at Stanford University in California.
Facebook would be available to the public in 2006.
The introduction of the iPhone in 2007 was the turning point in history of communications that now people could be connected 24/7 to the internet and changed the volume of users of the internet, websites, social media and more connectivity to the world to a whole new level. People always had their phones no matter where they were and due to this would use them to connect and help organize their lives and work.
Instagram launched October 2010 exclusively on Apple products. By 2016 it was available on all platforms.
The Perfect Storm
Prior to Mosaic that was introduced in 1995 the only way for journalists to be published was through the traditional gate keepers of printed publications. Now with very little cost (access to internet) one could publish content and reach not just readers of a printed publication, but the entire world. At least all who had access to the internet.
One such person in our industry to do this and become a rock star was David Hobby. He created The Strobist where he was sharing tips for using flash. While it cost him almost nothing to publish it also cost nothing to get his content.
Thousands would do the same on almost any topic you could imagine. Those who produced the best content were getting huge followers and then the advertisers followed helping to support those content providers with funds if they could advertise on their platforms.
Once someone had access to the internet they could become a content creator or just a consumer of the content.
Right around the introduction of the iPhone the numbers of users on the internet began to explode. As the numbers went up so too the numbers were going down for many associations.
NPPA & ASMP core offerings of educational content were no longer as valuable when all this content was being offered for free other places on the internet.
Once Facebook, which helped people come together and create groups websites like Classmates.com lost their base. Why pay to find your high school classmates when Facebook offers a way to find them for free and organize your class in a Facebook Group.
Now through social media Facebook Groups were replacing the need for Associations. The best thing that NPPA & ASMP do was to create groups on the Social Media Platforms for their members. Basically, Facebook was offering a better solution for connecting than most associations.
What is left for Associations to offer
The one place NPPA has put all their eggs is in Advocacy. Most everything else they offer you can get online for free.
It was ASMP in 1973 that got the Copyright office to change that all images were copyrighted without being registered.
The purpose of copyright registration is to place on record a verifiable account of the date and content of the work in question, so that in the event of a legal claim, or case of infringement or plagiarism, the copyright owner can produce a copy of the work from an official government source. Registration remains a prerequisite to filing an infringement suit, and also because important remedies depend on prompt registration—such as attorney’s fees and statutory damages. [Wikipedia]
Now one of the worst things to happen to the profession of photography is the devaluation of photography, which occurred because new technologies [internet] made it possible for good photographs made by inexperienced professionals to flood the market. Get lots of photographers who don’t know about pricing producing work for clients who have lots more options from which to choose, and things go south fast. In other words, it’s really a buyer’s market.
So, the problem we have now is that even if you can change how copyright works the price you can get for a stock image is so devalued that few can benefit as compared to the investment costs to make those images and put them on a cloud system for people to buy.
When it comes to registering images today with the copyright office I personally find that the costs, which are $55 for 750 images, is no longer economically feasible to warrant.
The costs a few years ago were $35 for unlimited number of images in a submission.
So, all the legal advocacy work done in the past few years has been totally undermined by the copyright office. Makes you wonder what you have been paying for when you are now worst off than ever in this profession when it comes to copyright protection.
Example of Advocacy that doesn’t benefit photojournalist
News outlets have greatly benefitted from cameras being allowed in the courtroom. Great examples are Ted Bundy, Jeffrey Dahmer, OJ Simpson, and Casey Anthony to name just a few.
NPPA advocacy often is to help get photojournalist access. However, NPPA members are never compensated more because they have paid out of their own pockets to help those news outlets get the content that lines the pockets of those publishers.
In 1976 the National Labor Relations Board determined that ASMP was a group of independent contractors and not a union. Due to that decision neither ASMP nor NPPA can help its members in setting industry prices for their members.
Today both ASMP and NPPA have social media groups for their members and still produce educational resources, put on meetings for their members and provide legal assistance to their members.
How do they compete against the free offerings for groups in social media?
Membership requirements were the way that they distinguished themselves.
ASMP requirements for a Professional Membership is reserved for still and motion photographers of good moral character and reputation who have been actively and consistently engaged in professional practice for at least 3 years. There are other categories for membership.
NPPA requirements – working or aspiring towards working in the field of visual journalism.
Those membership requirements have been lowered in how they verify your qualifications due to their desperate need for members to support the organizations.
If you are new to photojournalism and need to learn how to make better photos then NPPA is great. Their contests and education programs are all about learning the craft.
If you are in business for yourself and not on staff then you should join ASMP. This organization will do more to help you navigate how to make a living and all their education and workshops do and excellent job of helping you run a successful business.
For those starting out, you may need both.
My wish these past few years was that these two organizations could combine. They are different and yet also have so much in common. Sadly NPPA turned down ASMP’s offer to do just that.