We have been fighting the wrong fight for copyright registration. That is my opinion.
For most of my career we have told everyone that when you click your shutter you own your copyright. If you are on the payroll of a company they own that photo unless there is some written agreement giving you the copyright.
We know that is where the work-for-hire agreement came from when dealing with usage rights and copyright.
While the ownership of the copyright hasn’t been up for debate other than the who owns it based on who is paying for the creation the issue has been about the courts.
I was informed that you needed to register your copyright with copyright office to be able to collect legal fees. Those are all the fees that you can be awarded if you win a case. The judge reviews all the legal fees and does a separate ruling on how much the other side must pay for you taking this to court.
I learned early on that the going rate for copyright infringement cases was about $100,000 and took at least a year or more in the courts.
For the past 30 years ASMP and NPPA that I am a member, have spent lots of money lobbying congress to protect that process of registration.
I believe there is a better solution today. Do away with copyright registration. Get congress to change the law that if you can show copyright infringement then you can collect legal fees.
As far as the proving your images are yours there is Blockchain technology already on the market.
The idea of a blockchain — protecting data through a large network of computers — and applies the concept to managing photo rights. It is an “encrypted digital ledger of rights ownership for photographers.” Photographers can add new images as well as archive images to the system. Because of the blockchain structure, the data is stored on a large network of computers that helps create a public ledger, adds a layer of protection, and prevents data loss.
There are centralized and decentralized solutions right now available for Blockchain.
The point I make is that the current registration of your images with copyright office is out of date. With blockchain these servers can also police the web and find anyone using your images without rights.
Because Blockchain works so well with the digital photograph it will let you sell and track any usage of your images and keeps them from being used illegally since it codes images and makes them no longer easily copied and shared.
Blockchain can help us not just prove we shot an image it serves as an agency and collector.
We need to change the copyright laws and not continue to use a system that is outdated and not serving the artist community well at all.
Robin Rayne says, “Make your emotion work for you and not against you, remember, God gave you tears.”
Robin spends most of her time photographing today in the disabilities community. She is a photojournalist and documentary producer for the University of Georgia’s Institute on Human Development and Disability. Her compelling images illustrating human rights, disability and gender diversity issues are distributed internationally by Zuma Press.
When I was traveling and could not photograph my daughter’s senior prom Robin helped out for our family getting the photos of the important event in our family.
I can always count on Robin to capture those moments. The minute I knew I was away for that all too important Prom I called Robin.
Robin sees moments and captures the emotions we feel. When asked how she does it with such emotional moments she says, “I am thankful for auto focus when covering some stories, because of all the tears.”
Great photojournalists embrace their emotions.
“Photography for me is not looking, it’s feeling. If you can’t feel what you’re looking at, then you’re never going to get others to feel anything when they look at your pictures.” – Don McCullin
After Robin spoke this past weekend at the Atlanta Photojournalism Seminar she commented that after talking with people about their portfolios she was always asking why for the photos.
Why does this story need to be told? Why should the public care?
What is surprising to myself and Robin is how when you ask this question so many have a deer in the headlights look on their face.
Though it may be interesting or even entertaining, the foremost value of news is as a utility to empower the informed. The purpose of journalism is thus to provide citizens with the information they need to make the best possible decisions about their lives, their communities, their societies, and their governments.
Robin is a photojournalist and not just a photographer. Robin is not interested in just entertaining the public, she is interested in informing the public. She is most concerned in telling the stories of people who cannot tell their own stories.
Robin is the voice for the voiceless who is also calling others to take up the call of photojournalism. She knows she alone cannot tell all the stories needing to be told.
When I asked Robin to speak to my Intro to Photojournalism class at Grady College of Journalism & Mass Communication she challenged the class.
If we want to feel an undying passion for our work, if we want to feel we are contributing to something bigger than ourselves, we all need to know our WHY.
Robin explained how her why probably came about having a son with disabilities.
You have to find your niche. The combination of your WHY and HOWs is as exclusively yours as your fingerprint.
Every once in a while I am reviewing images I have taken to see if I can update my website. I have found that when you are just pulling from assignment work I have less “Portfolio” images.
What do I want to put on my website?
Often I shoot things that are just important to me. They are really photos you would put in your personal journal.
People are not always hiring photographers to document everything, but I see the value for if for no one else for me. I love to look back and remember the things I have done and seen.
For example I was able to take a helicopter ride this year over the Kilauea volcano on the Big Island of Hawaii. This is so different than what I shoot most of the time.
I do a good number of head shots each year like these actors studying at Columbus State University.
As every parent I love doing things with our children. Here making my daughter’s head shot for her to use in her career as an actress brings me great joy.
While this isn’t a soccer game photo, I do find myself making interesting sports photos. So who will hire you to shoot this? Should this be on my website?
How about a group photo? Well many people do hire me to do team photos of their co-workers and yes sports teams as well.
Clients also hire me to photograph new things their company is doing. For example Chick-fil-A started using canopies to help protect their team members that help speed up the drive thru by being outside taking orders.
Do you put things into your website that are more of a trend? For example many offices are renovating to the open office space design.
The biggest issue now facing corporate America is the lack of employees. The industry refers to this as attracting talent.
Companies are also trying to be sure they communicate their culture.
So this year I captured some fun things as well for clients. Do they belong in a portfolio?
While fireworks are fun to see would anyone hire me to shoot any for them?
I got a lot of likes for this photo on my Instagram account, but does this go into my website to help me get jobs?
I took an afternoon to go and explore the Old Car City in White, GA this year. I got some really cool shots. Again many people liked them on Instagram, so does this mean they go into my website portfolio?
I can see companies hiring me to shoot photos of their properties. They do want to remind people how to find them.
Now speakers at podiums lit by stage lighting are not that difficult to do, but should they be part of my portfolio? Can people figure out that if I can do one type of photography that those skills often transfer to something else?
I find that people are often more interested in the photos themselves and if I have enough compelling images I might get a call to shoot their event.
So how many images is enough? How many images of events should I post?
What will draw people to my website?
I can tell you this is the thoughts of not just me, but every photographer working today in this profession.
What do you think? Do any of these photos need to be on my website as part of my portfolio? Should some never be in my portfolio?
While covering the Transgender Parade, which is part of Atlanta Pride events, I watched as the people in the parade were reacting to each other like a family reunion.
I found everyone that I talked to very open. I was needing to get their information for writing captions for the photos I was taking.
Emily Graven, a UGA Photojournalism student, was shadowing me for the day. We met up with Robin Rayne who has been covering this event for many years to get some tips.
In looking for stories we spend time talking with people. When we have done a good job of building relationships with people they will come out of their shell.
What I find very important in being a good photojournalist is be present with people. This means you listen, laying down our defensiveness and agendas, and offering up empathy instead.
The most courageous thing we can do is listen. The bravest thing we can do is to stand with them.
I had learned about the concept of the ministry of presence through some pastoral counseling sessions and a great deal more when my wife was a chaplain at the VA hospital.
The ministry of presence is a way of “being” rather than of “doing” or “telling”.
My undergraduate degree was a B.S. in social work. It was this training that helped me be a better photojournalist. That coupled with my pastoral classes in seminary taught me how to prepare to be with others that are suffering is not to think about what to say or what to do. We are not anticipating how to react to certain situations that might develop.
We prepare by being present in the moment–The NOW.
To maintain objectivity in journalism, journalists should present the facts whether or not they like or agree with those facts. Objective reporting is meant to portray issues and events in a neutral and unbiased manner, regardless of the writers opinion or personal beliefs.
Now when I show up anywhere I am bringing all of me to that place. One of the greatest things to change my life has been my faith. When I read my bible I do not use it to condemn others, I use it to help change me. Through the years the scriptures have challenged me in ways that has helped me be a much better journalist.
Matthew 1:23 23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).
When telling the story of Jesus the Bible talks about the birth of Christ and him being called Immanuel. In most of the Bibles I have they have in parenthesis what Immanuel means. “God with us.”
John 13:35 “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
The scripture points out that we are to be like Christ to others. We are to “be” with others.
As journalists we too need to learn to just “be” with others. This is where you are there to listen. You ask them questions to understand them. You ask for their stories.
I don’t want to hear, “If Truth be told.” This means they feel somewhat uncomfortable.
I mention that because many people feel they must be guarded. They don’t believe people will believe them and use their words against them.
My mentor Howard Chapnick wrote a book that the title alone says what the power of photojournalism is all about–Truth Needs No Ally.
TRUTH is the rock foundation of every great character. It is loyalty to the right as we see it; it is courageous living of our lives in harmony with our ideals; it is always—power.
I challenge you to learn to just “be” with others today. Learn to listen. One of the hardest parts of doing this correctly is not letting someone’s comment have you thinking about a reply. Truth comes when we really listen with the intent to understand.
He is a photographer, writer, and filmmaker, was born in Dorchester, Massachusetts in 1944. After graduating from Northeastern University with a degree in English, he studied photography with Minor White. In 1968, he joined VISTA, Volunteers in Service to America, a government program established as an arm of the so-called” War on Poverty.” Following a year and a half in eastern Arkansas, Richards helped found a social service organization and a community newspaper, Many Voices, which reported on black political action as well as the Ku Klux Klan. Photographs he made during these four years were published in his first monograph, Few Comforts or Surprises: The Arkansas Delta.
Because impacting lives matters, Gary helps organizations tell their stories visually. He has covered humanitarian stories in more than 70 countries around the world, helping groups create awareness, express their vision and build their community. You can trust him to bring an honest, photojournalistic approach to your commercial, corporate, editorial, or non-profit assignments.
The son of a Swedish immigrant, William Albert Allard studied at the Minneapolis School of Fine Arts and the University of Minnesota with the hope of becoming a writer. Transferring to the University of Minnesota after only a year, he enrolled in the journalism program. He graduated in 1964 with a double major in journalism and photography…
Looking for work in the field of photojournalism, Allard met Robert Gilka, then National Geographic’s director of photography, while in Washington, D.C., and was offered an internship. His most notable work as an intern included his photographs of the Amish for an article entitled “Amish Folk: Plainest of Pennsylvania’s Plain People,”(published in August 1965). It is said to be regarded as landmark in the photographic evolution of National Geographic. His work led to a full-time position with the magazine.
Randy’s 30+ National Geographic projects have taken him to almost every continent. National Geographic Society published a book of his work in 2011 in their Masters of Photography series. Olson was the Magazine Photographer of the Year in the 2003 Pictures of the Year International (POYi) competition, and was also awarded POYi’s Newspaper Photographer of the Year in 1991—one of only two photographers to win in both media in the largest photojournalism contest operating continuously since World War II.
An American photojournalist, Lynsey, takes us to through the raw nooks and corners of the world with her photographs, building a visually pleasureful experience for us to witness the world through her eyes.
Documenting the on-going mayhem at Syria, Kashi a photojournalist, filmmaker and lecturer through his Instagram is portraying the world of Syrian refugees, oozing of emotions and getting us up, close, and personal with their misery amongst the others.
Peter Turnley is renown for his photography of the realities of the human condition. His photographs have been featured on the cover of Newsweek 43 times and are published frequently in the world’s most prestigious publications. He has worked in over 90 countries and has witnessed most major stories of international geo-political and historic significance in the last thirty years. His photographs draw attention to the plight of those who suffer great hardships or injustice. He also affirms with his vision the many aspects of life that are beautiful, poetic, just, and inspirational.
Born in San Francisco, David Alan Harvey was raised in Virginia. He discovered photography at the age of 11. Harvey purchased a used Leica with savings from his newspaper route and began photographing his family and neighborhood in 1956.
If you are like most photographers we like to question why people/company who know us will hire someone else to do a photography job. When I get together with other photographers you can feel the disappointment when they have their clients hiring someone other than them these days for some jobs if not all the jobs.
Everyone feels like at some point you have earned the right, but this isn’t really true.
We need to remind ourselves what a privilege it is to do any work.
A privilege is a special advantage not enjoyed by everyone. If you’re very snooty, you probably don’t allow just anyone the privilege of being your friend. Privilege comes from Latin privilegium, meaning a law for just one person, and means a benefit enjoyed by an individual or group beyond what’s available to others.
Once you have accepted the fact that you are asked to do a job the better you will be in executing it for the client.
I must remind myself I am a service for my clients and they have many other choices they can make. What this does in my head is make me realize I am there to win them over every time I do something for them.
Be a friend you’d want to have. … Make them feel good. … Find the good in them. … Put in the work to keep the friendship. … Don’t badmouth others or gossip excessively. … Don’t take it personally if not everyone wants to be friends.
The very hardest thing in that list of things we have all heard is that last one that everyone doesn’t want to be your friend.
Intellectually I understand that I am just not going to be good friends with everyone.
We have all seen the overlapping of circles that show the intersections of interests between groups and people. If the other photographer has more overlapping interests with the client than you then it is easier to accept that you lost a job due to the other person having something more in common with the client.
What you need to keep the competition away is barriers. Now if for example your specialty in photography is underwater photography you have cut your competition down by just creating a barrier.
Your competition needs to be an expert diver, buy special camera gear and market to your clients to even compete with you.
Well today there are many more people than 20 years ago that are competing in that space. This is true for extreme sports photographers. Once TV started covering these sports there has been a spike in the participation. Basically twenty-five years ago there were a handful of rock climbing photographers and today there are hundreds, if not thousands competing with each other.
There’s a brutal truth in life that some people refuse to accept–you have no control over many of the things that happen in life.
Recognize that sometimes, all you can control is your effort and your attitude. When you put your energy into the things you can control, you’ll be much more effective. Work on your portfolio and marketing materials.
To have the most influence, focus on changing your behavior. Be a good role model and set healthy boundaries for yourself.
You might be thinking, “I can’t allow my business to fail,” you don’t take the time to ask yourself, “What would I do if my business failed?” Acknowledging that you can handle the worst case scenario can help you put your energy into more productive exercises. Basically you may need a “Plan B”.
If you are actively solving a problem, such as trying to find ways to increase your chances of success, keep working on solutions. If however, you’re wasting your time deliberating, change to a new thought. Acknowledge that your thoughts aren’t productive and get up and go do something for a few minutes to get your brain focused on something more productive.
Your lifestyle can be adding undue stress. Exercising, eating healthy, and getting plenty of sleep are just a few key things you need to do to take care of yourself.
The hardest part of living life with these issues is getting a healthy perspective. I recommend the Serenity Prayer by Reinhold Niebuhr:
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, And wisdom to know the difference.
Talking with friends and asking them to be honest with you can help as well. Don’t just complain, seek to understand what you can do and what you have no control over.
There is a reason Amazing Grace is sung so much around the world. Take those words to heart.
Amazing Grace, How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost, but now am found
T’was blind but now I see
T’was Grace that taught my heart to fear
And Grace, my fears relieved
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed
Through many dangers, toils and snares
We have already come.
T’was grace that brought us safe thus far
And grace will lead us home,
And grace will lead us home
Amazing grace, How Sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost but now am found
T’was blind but now I see
Was blind, but now I see.
One of the best ways to improve your portrait session is to first start with a plan for posing. My uncle Knolan Benfield had a studio in Hickory, NC where he did mainly portraits for his business.
You may have seen some of these folios that many photographer still sell as a way to display more photos from a session for the client.
He realized that he could shoot to help sell those and up his average sale. Well it worked. He started to pre-visualize the photos in the folio.
The customers were buying more photos and he was getting better photos for the customer in the process.
At first it will feel a little mechanical and formulaic, but over time you start expanding the poses.
At first you may just be having a person face to one side and then the other. Slowly however you will start to experiment. You start to learn that each basic pose of the body is endless when you start going for different expressions.
What was surprising to me was the likes on the fun photos verses just stunning photos of theatre students I did this past weekend.
Shoot to for a folio
Add a photo each time you do a portrait
Try for different expressions in each pose
What a thrill it was to get the chance to go up in helicopter and see the lava flowing at the Kīlauea Volcano on the Big Island of Hawaii. Dorie and Chelle gave me this present for father’s day.
While I had been in helicopters many times clients paid for the experience. This time it was out of our pockets. I had wanted to do this for years.
I have been coming the The Big Island of Hawaii at the invitation of my good friend Dennis Fahringer. I have been teaching photography to his School of Photography students with the University of Nations which is part of Youth with a Missions.
Now for 12 years I have been coming driving to the Volcano hoping for good photos. I have made some pretty good photos through the years. Here is one from February this year before they closed the Volcano National park due to the recent activity.
Really the best way to see the volcano is from the air.
This is an untouched photo right out of the camera. Just converted from Nikon NEF to a JPEG.
By shooting RAW you can then work with the photo in Lightroom just like we did in the film days in the Darkroom.
The number one tool that helps you when shooting from a helicopter is the Dehaze Slider.
There is a lot of haze created by the atmosphere and over the volcano with VOG you need to use this tool or the haze just clouds the photos literally.
Just compare this photo of Rainbow falls that I processed to the unprocessed photo.
Now here are two short videos I shot while up as well. I processed these in Final Cut Pro X and also corrected the footage for better contrast and color.
Dorie, my wife, knew when making plans for our children when they were young that there was a time limit. It was about 2 hours and then it was as if we hit a wall.
We like being at a fair: there are rides, games, entertaining acts, and tons of food. It’s exciting at first, then it becomes overwhelming, and finally it makes you sick (and you hate it!).
When you’re sick of something it shows in your attitude and performance most of the time. Just like our kids would be at places like Disney World.
Ecclesiastes 3:1 There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.
Often we hit the wall in our careers just as we did when we were young. It isn’t fun for us any more. If you are a freelancer you can feel that you are just not in step with your client as you once were.
I have discovered this happens with every client that I hit a wall at some point. It is the same feeling that happened with our kids on an outing.
I think what happens is we have become too focused on what we do in our jobs and less on the people that we work with in doing those jobs. This can happen to you if you are extroverted or introverted.
Too much focus can be a problem: It drains your brain of energy, makes you care less about people, and prevents you from seeing what is happening around you. When you become more focused on say a product that you are producing in a job rather than realizing you are working with other people and they need to enjoy the process and not just the end result.
I came to this conclusion when over the years I find that I must rekindle a working relationship. In the past I would work on my portfolio or some new skill to talk to my client. I was thinking the client needed to see my skills are valuable.
While working on some materials this latest round of rekindling relationships I realized that no matter what I did it was going to look like I was going to do some “Explaining” to the people in the meetings I was setting up.
This approach can be very condescending to others. It actually undermines the relationship that you are trying to nurture.
Thinking about his it really hit me – I had not worked enough on the relationship with my clients.
In your work have you been measuring using your skills in our work as well as developing relationships?
Hebrews 10:24-25 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
We spend a lot of time at work; there is nothing worse than someone who cannot get along with others. It’s so important and involves being helpful, understanding the unwritten rules, being respectful, reliable and competent.
Here is a simple way to start this conversation, “We’ve been doing business together for almost a year. I’d like to take you to lunch to get to know you a little better.”
The single most important thing you can do at a business meal is to listen. You want to hear what the other person cares about, what their interests are, what makes him or her tick. They need to know you care about them as people and not just the money they give you to pay your bills.
One time we were at Disney and we ran into my daughter’s friend from home. While normally our daughter would be ready for a break from the theme park this “Relationship” gave a burst of energy to go through not just our daughter but the entire family.
Theme parks can be like your product in business. At a certain point this really isn’t going to keep your client enthused. Remember friendships do keep your help energize business relationships as well.
In film and television production, B-roll is supplemental or alternative footage intercut with the main shot. This can be still images, video and even graphics.
The overall goals and pace of your video should help determine the length of of your B-roll shots. Say you have a longer support video demonstrating a specific process to your customers. Those illustrative shots might be 20 to 30 seconds long, depending on what you’re trying to achieve.
Having a still image up for 20 – 30 seconds can be made more interesting by zooming in or out as well as panning across the image. We call this the Ken Burns effect is a type of panning and zooming effect used in video production. The name derives from extensive use of the technique by American documentarian Ken Burns.
Just like music has a beat, most interviews have a similar feel. The very best editors have a good feel for finding that beat and pacing to then know when to start and stop B-Roll clips.
Literal vs Abstract B-Roll
When I took a course in church music during my seminary days the professor helped me understand how a creative [organist for example] can help lead people in worship. He divided music that an organist plays when people are coming into worship, leaving or during the service can be literal or abstract.
When the organist plays “Amazing Grace” this is literal, because people so know the song that the begin to sing it in their heads and sometimes even out loud when they hear the music.
However if the organist starts to play something like Mendelssohn wrote, which is often music that isn’t associated with words then the people can let their mind wander. The organist can create a mood, but how the people hear it individually will let their mind wander. This is abstract type of music.
My suggestion is to use literal B-Roll when you can show something about which relates directly to what the person is talking about. For example if they are talking about their parents then a pan across their dresser to a photo of their parents works quite well.
Now often during interviews people are talking about things in the past or even future. This is where often abstract B-Roll works great.
When someone reflects on growing up some where this is a great time to use nature shots from that area. It is kind of like helping the audience dream with them as if they are thinking back and looking out their window or like they are driving down the road looking out the car window.
Flowers blowing in the wind or a person’s hand moving through a field of flowers can work as an abstract. Seeing rain hitting a puddle or a stream of water flowing can be quite soothing.
Closeups of tools can work great as well. Seeing the blade cut wood verses a wide shot of a person cutting wood can often look more abstract. Closeup of welding that goes from out of focus to in focus is another way to create abstract B-Roll.
There are many times you need to transition the audience from one scene to another in the storyline. This is where B-Roll of a door opening and closing or having someone walk through a scene can help you transition to a new thought.
Video portraits are quite popular today for B-Roll. They can work with transitions as well. This is where you roll for 20 to 30 seconds on a person with video verses the still portrait. I would advise getting a lot of different takes if using this technique. Have the person look out a window. As they look out the window have them turn and look into the camera. Reverse that and do another take.
Have people look into the camera and they then walk away with the camera following and another time staying still.
Have them go from pretty expressionless face to anger or smile. Start your shot out of focus and then go in focus. Start in focus and then go out of focus.
With video you are capturing motion. You can keep the camera still and have the environment moving or you can move the camera within the environment.
Car scenes are notorious with showing motion. You can have camera stationary on the person while they are driving. The windows are like cinema screens showing life happening around them as they are driving.
Shooting from another vehicle you can drive along side them to give a sense of context.
Type of shots
You have a variety of types of shots which I encourage you to get lots in each category for easier editing later.
Wide Shot – helps to establish the context Medium Shot – often two people close together or where you are seeing the subjects hands type of distance Tight Shot – This is often where you are just showing the face. You are letting the face expressions help tell the story. More than 50% of most movies are the tight shot. Close-up – These are the detail shots. Where you see someone’s ring on their finger, pouring a cup of coffee, the cork on a bottle of champaign being opened.
You can never have enough B-Roll. I have never heard this said in an edit suite that what were they thinking giving me all this B-Roll. I do hear it over and over that there is not enough.