Sustainable Photography in a Disintermediated Era

Here’s a little more about our panel presentation on Saturday at SXSW. This is an extension of conversations I’ve been having with my three other panelists for years.

SXSW Program Announcement
It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there

The Panel
Mikkel Aaland is our moderator. I’ve known Mikkel for about 15 years, and we’ve had the pleasure of working on a number of projects together. We’ve both been involved with Adobe and ASMP since the last century.  I was part of the Lightroom Adventure book projects in Iceland and Tasmania that Mikkel created, and Mikkel invited me to the Nordic Light Beyond Pixels Unfestival two years ago.

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Mikkel is a poster child for embracing change and thriving on disruption. Coming from his roots as a traditional photographer, he was an early digital pioneer. He’s written and photographed many books – some about digital tech, some about ancient technologies, and some that are just about people.

AnnaAnna Dickson is the former Director of Photography for the Huffington Post/AOL, and now deputy Director of Photography at the Wall Street Journal. She also came out of a traditional photo background as a photo editor for major magazines back in the film days.

Anna has also embraced change with gusto. She has done extensive development with the Huffington Post tech team to develop an enterprise DAM system. And she has kept the pulse of nearly every new photo startup claiming to provide the firehose of content needed by online publishers. And she has been able to put them to the acid test – can they actually deliver.

Anna and I have shared the stage twice before: at PhotoPlus in 2013 and at last spring’s Palm Springs Photo Festival. Although we get to take opposing perspectives on stage, we’re good friends with broad agreement about where the future of media is going.

leoraLeora Kornfeld was introduced to me by our mutual friend Eric Drysdale, with whom she shares comedy roots. She has a long background in traditional media, including radio work for the CBC.

When we met over Facebook a few years ago, Leora was working as a Research Affiliate at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard. She’s been studying the effects of the fragmentation of traditional media entities. We hit it off immediately, and spent a lot of time comparing the experience of the practitioner (me) with the analysis of the academic (her).

Our Presentation
We’ll be looking at the effects of shifting market forces on the independent photographer. It seems as though everything about the way photographers built their businesses has changed. Media companies are in turmoil. The tools and methods of the trade have changed radically. The availability of crowd-sourced images has eroded some markets completely. And people’s concept of a photograph’s value is all over the map.

How do we carve out a place in this tumultuous ecosystem? Well, there are some ways forward, and we’ll look at them from each of our different perspectives – photographer, client, academic. While the way forward is not clear, and certainly contains risks, we think we can help identify strategies that can work.

Our panel comes at the end of a day-long track that presents pieces of the very same changing landscape. what is the historical context, how are big media companies coping with the issues, how does social media push new norms legally and socially, and how are new hardware and software developments going to affect us?

I’ll post some of the more promising ideas here, as well as some of the new stuff I run across. Like the SXSW of the last two years, I expect it to be a fertile place to see how photography, technology, media and culture move forward.

SXSW This Week!

It’s that time of year again: the annual convergence of tech, content, entertainment, music, film and general weirdness that is South by Southwest, or SXSW. I’ve been going for the last two years, and I find that it’s the most mind-expanding event I attend.

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This year, I had the pleasure of working with the festival to curate some of the programming. I’ve been working with David Fox, the festival’s archivist to make a day of photography, content and distribution. We’ve got a really interesting day, exploring some of these issues in a multi-faceted way.

Sustainable Photography in a Disintermediated Era
I’ll be doing a panel with some of the smartest people I know: Mikkel Aaland, Anna Dickson and Leora Kornfield. We’ll explore how disintermediation has changed the professional landscape for photographers, and how we can find new ways to make a living.

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We’ll be presenting on Pi day, 3.14.15, which is pretty awesome.

Our Day’s Programs
Here’s the list of other programs in our stack. Most of these were people I’ve met over the years and encouraged to submit a proposal. All of these programs take place in the same room at the Hyatt Regency Austin, Texas Ballroom.

Nat Geo Captures the World For Nokia, With a Phone 9:30-10:30
Steven Alvarez, Alice Keating, Tiina Johnson, Richard Kelly

Creativity & Success from the Majority World 11:00-12:00
Dominique le Roux

Image Creation and Sharing: Practice vs. Policy 12:30-1:30
Leslie-Jean Thornton, Lisa Silvestri, Magdalena Olszanowski, Victoria Ekstrand

The Camera Reimagined – New Forms, New Tools - 3:30-4:30
Hans Peter Brondmo

Sustainable Photography in a Disintermediated Era 5:00-6:00
Mikkel Aaland, Anna Dickson, Leora Kornfeld, Peter Krogh

Surveillance Photography: Personal, Public, Profit
In addition to these, Katrin Eismann will be speaking Monday morning with Stephen Mayes, David Fine and Oskar Kalmaru.
JW Marriott – Monday, March 18 9:30-10:30

Cyber Monday 25% off DAM Useful Publications

We’re offering our largest ever holiday discount here at DAM Useful. Our Cyber Week deal gets you 25% off all books published by DAM Useful. Order before Dec 7.

Organizing Your Photos with Lightroom 5Organizing_Your_Photos_150px

Electronic Delivery  $34.95  Sale $26.18
DVD $39.95 Sale $29.93
Book and DVD Combo $59.95 Sale $44.96

Multi-Catalog Workflow with Lightroom 5MCWF_150px

Electronic Delivery   $34.95  Sale $26.18
DVD  $39.95 Sale $29.93

The DAM Book 2

Electronic Delivery   $19.95  Sale $14.96DAM Book_150px

Open Roads Open Minds by Steve UzzellOROM Cover150

Electronic Delivery  $12.95  Sale $9.71
Book and DVD Combo $29.95 Sale $22.46

 

DAM Book 3.0 Status

We’ve had a number of requests for a status report on The DAM Book 3.0 . Our original intention was to publish the book in electronic form by the end of July. Unfortunately, as they say, life gets in the way.

Dot Krogh
Photo of Dot Krogh by Paul Krogh.

People who follow me on Facebook know that my mother died suddenly in May. Since that time, I’ve had to turn my attention to family matters. I’ve had to put a number of projects temporarily on hold to concentrate on planning, details and simply spending time with my family. Those who have gone through this know what I’m talking about.

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In the last few months, I’ve been focused on these people. 

I’ve been hesitant to write about this for a couple reasons. First, it’s a family matter, and second, I have not been able to announce a new delivery date. While I’m still not able to provide any dates, I know it’s important for me to break radio silence. So that’s what I’m doing.

As my daughters head off to college this week, I’ll turn my attention back to completing the book.  I’m hoping that within a few weeks I’ll be able to provide a good estimate on a completion date. Much has been done, but much remains to be done.

Thanks to everyone for their patience, and for the many kind words of encouragement over the last few months.

Lightroom *never* fully expires

Buried in the recent Adobe Creative Cloud rollout was a revolutionary change to the way Lightroom licensing functions.  When the license expires, the program keeps on working.* This is a radical development. If you’ve been paying attention to the sturm und drang around the Creative Cloud licensing model (here, here, here, here) , this is a mind-blower.

First, the * part. Not all functions of Lightroom keep working. The sliders in the Develop module become inactive. Develop will still render the photo, but it won’t let you run the sliders. (You could still use Quick Develop in Library to make further adjustments if you like.)

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Quick Develop will still run in an expired version of Lightroom 5.5

And the Map Module will stop working. The map technology is licensed through the Google Maps API, so Adobe has to pay for each Lightroom copy that uses it. If Adobe is not getting paid, they don’t want to pay Google, so the Map Module will be disabled for non-revenue users.

But other than Develop  and Map, everything else works.  You can  make new catalogs, add new photos, add keywords, make collections, books, web galleries. prints, slideshows, exports, published copies… Basically, you have Lightroom LE.  For free, if you want it.

Yes, free.

You can download the trial version of Lightroom and, at the end of the trial period, it mostly continues to function. Free.

Hopefully, this will quiet most of the fears that people have about Adobe’s motives in moving to the Creative Cloud licensing model. In the last few years, they have dramatically reduced the price of their photo software.  Buying Photoshop Extended and Lightroom four years ago would set you back $1300. You can buy a decade of CC software and services for that price.  And now Lightroom LE is free for those who are even cheaper.

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This is a bold play by Adobe. Here’s how I interpret it. Basically, they are betting that photographers will see enough value in the subscription services that they will continue to pay for Lightroom, Photoshop, Lightroom Mobile and Lightroom Web ($10/month).  Even when they can get most of Lightroom for free.

Stephen Colbert would say that a move like this takes big balls. You only do this if you are all-in on providing ongoing value to your customers. It’s the opposite of lock-in. And it illustrates the core values of the company. Your stuff belongs to you, and it’s up to Adobe to provide compelling value in order to deserve your software dollars.

There’s no guarantee that Adobe will get this right. Even though their software powers much of the creative services industry, they have not been able to hit a home run in web services.  But they understand that the future of media is squarely pegged to APIworld, and the only way to survive is to go all-in.

I’m really stoked about this decision (and I’m almost never “stoked” about anything, even those things that I’m quite enthusiastic about.) It’s gutsy, forward-thinking, bet-the-farm confidence on making some kick-ass software and services.

To those folks at Adobe who had the vision to move this forward, hats off.

Free Webinar Today

I’ll be doing another webinar today for PhotoShelter (4-5pm, EST June 25, 2014). This one will explore the Storage part of Store, Tag, Create.  Here are some of the topics I’ll cover:

  • Primary storage vs. Backup storage
  • Cloning your drives
  • NAS and the personal cloud
  • Cloud storage services
  • Using SSD for speed, upgrading your current computer
  • Where you’re money should go: drive speeds vs. interface types
  • Hard drive health and safety
  • Best configurations for location work
  • And more!

 

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I’m leaving room in the presentation to take some questions from the audience. Thanks to PhotoSelter for making the webinar possible. You can find my last webinar about photo library organization here.

 

iPad and Android Edition of OYP

Organizing Your Photos with Lightroom 5 is now available for iPad and Android tablet.  Due to very popular demand, we’ve created an EPUB version of the book that will play on a tablet. (Kindle does not yet support embedded video, so we don’t have a Kindle version.)

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The EPUB version will be free for anyone  who buys the PDF, DVD or PRINT+DVD versions of Organizing Your Photos.  Existing purchasers can request a special code for download. (Note that people who buy the EPUB version can also get a PDF version to play on computer.)

Why two versions, PDF and EPUB?
We need to have two electronic versions because there are no EPUB readers for computer that can play embedded videos, and no Tablet software that can play PDFs with embedded videos.

PDF, EPUB, DVD, BOOK DVD Formats 600px

Some housekeeping notes
The EPUB version of the book is 1.8 GB, which is pretty big for a tablet. You may not have space on your tablet for such a big file.

We had to downsize the videos a bit to make them fit (1024 pixels across, vs. 1280 for the PDF version.)  The videos in the PDF version are slightly larger, and they have less compression so they play a bit more smoothly.

If you buy the tablet version, you’ll want to first download it on your computer, and then move it to the tablet. For iPad, you open iTunes and drag the file to the iPad’s “Books” section. For Android, you’ll want to follow the directions in the EPUB reader of your choice.

Some of it is true

Paul Melcher  @Melchp just wrote a piece entitled That Much is True about the value of the professional photographer.  I started to write a response on Facebook, but decided it would be a better blog post.

Paul and I had recently discussed this very issue in response to a blog post I wrote called UGC and PGC, debating the value of Professionally Generated Content in a world flooded by User Generated Content.

So here’s a response to Paul, pointing out the places where I think he gets it right, and where I think he’s missing the mark.

Every profession would love to have an impossibly  hard moat to cross . Unfortunately for pro-photographers, theirs is small and almost dry.

Paul, while much of what you write is true about the traditional stock business, it does not address important aspects of assignment photography, which often carry some requirements that are best addressed by pros. You seem to say that professional releases are about the only real difference.

What still protects the pros are rights management ( copyright, model release, property release) but that is also fading away quickly as more and more platforms are helping out . So what’s left ? Who will put some water in the moat ?

I think it’s important to deconstruct client needs when talking about the value of a professional. This might include high-pressure situations, special equipment, certificates of insurance, high-cost shoots, location needs, showing up during business hours, etc.  Any of these can force the assignment into the province of a professional.  This moat is not created by photographers, it’s created by the requirements of the job.

Ignoring these needs instead of highlighting them does a disservice to all. Obviously it does damage to the market for professional photographer, but it also may lead people on the client side to make poor decisions. People who remove photography from their marketing budgets may regret that as complex needs arise.

There is nothing glamorous in taking corporate portraits or real estate pictures. If given a chance, all pro photographers would rather be making a living shooting what they love, like amateurs do,  rather than shooting to pay the bills.

I’d also take issue with this. In a 30 year career, I have gotten great satisfaction from making portraits and from the challenge of shooting architecture. So while most people would rather be on vacation than at work, don’t assume that no one likes doing a particular kind of photography just because you don’t want to do it.

Krogh_140401_2974I love everything about assignments like this one I did for PBS in April. The client, the people I work with, the process, the people I photograph, and, yes, getting paid. And while it may look like this could be shot by any enthusiast photographer, I can tell you that the requirements of the shoot definitely called for a professional. 

Brands and advertisers are turning to  Instagram for their next campaigns.

Lumping all of Instagram into one bunch is also a bit of a disservice. Instagram is many things, including a channel for the distribution of professionally-created brand communications. We’re starting to see companies hire photographers at professional rates to produce needed images. There are plenty of news stories that illustrate the need for professionally created and managed social media communication.

Additionally, I think there is a lot of opportunity for professional visual communicators to carve out new methods to make a living in a changing technical landscape. (Own the stack!) It’s true that the old stock photography business is in big trouble as the water disappears from the moat. But many of us only got part of our incomes from that business, and all disruption creates opportunity. So let’s dive a little deeper as we analyze the place of the professional visual communicator in our current marketplace.

Both Paul and I will be at the LDV Vision Summit in New York June 4th, where I hope we can carry on the conversation. If you’re interested, you can get a 20% discount using the code KROGH.

Privacy, Rights and the EU

I’ve said recently that the extent of social media licenses will be probably tied to issues of privacy, and that it’s likely the EU will take the lead. In the recent Google case, that’s exactly what has happened.

EU courts are far more friendly to the individual rights of privacy than US courts are. Thus, the EU courts are more likely to limit the rights that technology companies assert to our photos, identities and other data.

In the recent decision, the court ruled that an individual could require Google to suppress accurate public information that he did not want associated with his name. (In this case, a foreclosure filing that came up in a search of the person’s name.)

While this does not directly relate to the limits of the Instagram Terms of Service, it shows an aggressive stance by the court regarding an individual’s right to information about themselves. It’s not a far jump to imagine the court siding with the individual in a dispute about perpetual social media contracts.

Having said that, I think the recent decision is terribly flawed on many levels. Enforcing the decision seems entirely unworkable. And in many ways, it’s like requiring the removal of public records from a public library, or, at minimum, the indexes of the public library.

While I don’t think this decision is likely to stand over time, it does outline a way for backstopping some of the more open-ended social media contracts. Watch this space.

DIGITAL ASSET MANAGEMENT FOR PHOTOGRAPHERS