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.

ASMP DC Tuesday the 22nd

I’m speaking at ASMP DC Tuesday night with Tom Kennedy. We’ll be looking at the current state of social media for photographers. This will include some of the issues I’m writing about here, follow up on The Instagram Papers,  and  strategy recommendations for making use of social media.

We hope to get some good engagement from the crowd – discussing of what’s working, effective tools and creating a social media strategy. Come out to CDIA in Georgetown from 7:00pm to 9:00 pm. $10/ASMP members, $20/ Non-members, $5/Students.

UGC and PGC

As I outlined previously in The Fire Hose, there is a flood of User Generated Content (UGC) being redirected for editorial and marketing purposes. The flood waters are rising constantly, as new services come on line to collect the content, mine it and monetize it.

Even though this will be transformational in the photo and communication realms, it does not mean the end of Professionally Generated Content (PGC). In fact, most editorial, marketing and advertising efforts will need a combination of both. Let me outline how I see the relationship between UGC and PGC.

Continue reading UGC and PGC

What’s a Multimedia eBook?

As I’ve been presenting to audiences recently, I’ve realized that the books we’re producing are a bit mysterious to some. Most people don’t have experience with true multimedia publications. While some eBooks will have “bonus video”, few are created from the ground-up to integrate both text and multimedia as a seamless experience.

Right now, we have two books in this category: Organizing Your Photos and Multi-Catalog Workflow.

I’ve made a short video (1:24) that helps explain what we’re producing. I’m sure this will be a common media type in the future, but for now, it’s still a bit unusual.

If you want to download a sample of Oganizing Your Photos with Lightroom 5, there’s a link below. See the Table of Contents, Introduction, and the first two spreads from each chapter. The videos have been downsized for faster download.

Note: The links in the Table of Contents will work for any pages in the sample document, links to missing pages do nothing.

cloud-download-2 Download Sample

Lightroom mobile now available – eBook Too!

Adobe has just released the first version of Lightroom mobile. This allows integration between a Lightroom catalog and your iPad, as well as publication to a website, as shown above.

LRM2This screenshot shows the same collection, this time on the iPad.

On the iPad, Lightroom mobile enables a two-way workflow between desktop and tablet. You can export photos to the iPad, and then make adjustments, set flags and add to collections. Changes you make on the iPad get synced back to the main catalog on your computer.

LRm1And here you can see the Develop tools at the bottom of the screen. Once you make changes on the iPad, they can be synced over to the main version of the catalog.

The Lightroom mobile release version is just a start. Adobe will add Android and iPhone platforms, as well as plenty of new functionality. At the moment, you can do some basic develop adjustments, and you can flag images and add to collections.

lrm1_350x279

Victoria Bampton, The Lightroom Queen, has published a new eBook that covers the use of Lightroom mobile. You can buy it from us for $6.50. It’s a very reasonable price for the time it will save you.

Lightroom mobile is included as part of a Creative Cloud subscription, as well as the $9.99 Photographer’s Bundle (Photoshop CC, Lightroom and Lightroom mobile). If you have bought the “perpetual” version of Lightroom, the only way to get Lrm is to move to the subscription.

 

 

Cloud Wars

The competition to provide you with cloud storage is starting to reach a fevered pitch. It’s now possible to add excellent cloud backup to your storage system for a very reasonable cost. Some of these costs remain artificially low, and may therefore not be reliable in the long run. But we’re also seeing the big players in computing (Google and Amazon) offering really low pricing.

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First, a word of caution
We’ve seen some low-cost options for years. This includes services like Carbonite and Backblaze that have claimed “unlimited” storage for prices around $50/year. This means that someone like me with a dozen terabytes of data will be a money-loser for each of these companies. I’ve always been distrustful of these plans, fearing that the companies will go the way of Digital Railroad, which shut its doors with little advance notice in 2008.

Carbonite gets around the super-user problem by limiting the cheap backup service to your internal drive. As you add external disks, the price goes up. (Let’s also take a minute to note that Carbonite does not forecast profitability anywhere on the time horizon, which is problematic.) Backblaze does allow for truly unlimited data, and explains their strategy by saying it will average out between low and high volume users. This is okay for backup, as long as you realize the service may go away someday, and it’s not your only backup.

(Note: I personally use Backblaze for my computers and for my family. I’m currently testing the unlimited storage with my own archive. You can get a discount off Backblaze by clicking my affiliate link.)

The big boys jump in
Last summer, Amazon rocked the world of online storage by offering a new cloud backup and archiving service called Amazon Glacier. The price for the service came in at 1/10th of Amazon’s regular S3 pricing. You can now store a terabyte of data in Amazon’s cloud for $10/month.  This one is a game-changer. Amazon is the 800lb gorilla in cloud service, so the prices that they set will determine what the rest of the market does.

Krogh_060729_3167

Amazon Glacier is positioned as a real backup or deep archive solution. They say it may take up to 5 hours to access the data, so it’s definitely not a place to store stuff you expect to access frequently. But it does promise great safety and reliability from a blue-chip company.

(I’ve heard, from a very good source, that Amazon can offer this service because they are making use of some “free” capacity. In order to speed up its regular service, Amazon is using the outer rings of the hard drive platters, which deliver faster data throughput. So the inner rings were sitting on drives unused. They created Glacier to make use of this spare capacity.)

Google responds
A few weeks ago, Google matched Amazon’s bet, and even raised it. Not only did they match the $10/terabyte/month price, they made the offer on Google Drive.  This means that Google is offering the price on storage that is always on, not just a backup service.

DriveOnWhile Google will probably lose money on this specific service, it’s part of a larger strategy from the tech giant.

(Note, I’ve been slogging through Google’s Terms of Service to get an idea of exactly what rights you give to Google Drive, and it’s not totally clear to me. It does look like private data stored on Drive is private. But other stuff, like your public photos on Google+ do seem to give Google a  non-terminable license to republish.)

It’s really about “My Stuff Everywhere”
The real competition at work here is not about collecting money for storage. The real competition here is to become the universal shared storage system which can work across all your devices.

Dropbox has been the category killer for this service, seamlessly  sharing between you, your friends and coworkers, your computer(s) and your phone. It has been able to do this where Apple (and others) have failed numerous times. Dropbox has rocketed up in value, and is poised to become even more valuable.

The companies that become successful in creating a shared filesystem  are well-positioned for long-term success.  This kind of engagement is hard to pull away from, since  you build it into your collaboration and your fundamental relationship with your own media.

DAM Edition 3.0 Postcard.indd

In The DAM Book 3.0, I’ll dive into the use of cloud storage as part of a DAM strategy. This new development in pricing and strategy offers some excellent value for photographers looking for storage, backup and sharing services.

Life without a radio

Dateline SXSW – Attending SXSW without speaking Twitter is like living life without a radio – in a world where everyone else has one.  There is an invisible layer of communication that takes place, and those around you just seem to know stuff.

Krogh_140311_0553It’s nice outside, but I want inside information.

As a photographer, I follow the time honored tradition of never declining free food. Or, more accurately, seeking out free food and drink whenever possible. And at SXSW, free food and drinks are everywhere. It is laid out in hundreds of venues around town, sponsored by companies and institutions big and small, as well as states, cities and countries. And it’s frequently popping up at a moment’s notice.

Krogh_140309_0021
Once inside – free food and drink. Thank you, state of Georgia.

And so I followed the SXSW App, and I searched the web, and I asked around, but a huge amount of it was simply invisible to me.  I asked people how they knew where to go, and the universal response was “Twitter.” Of course that makes sense, since this is the place Twitter was introduced.  It’s their radio.

Krogh_140311_0602
Psyche-punk group, La Femme plays at the French Tech House. How can you find this stuff out without Twitter?

I’ve been pushing my blog posts out on Twitter for a while now, but I have not been using it for my own two-way communication. And I didn’t even really know how to find information when I was looking for it. It has become clear that this needs to change.

As Facebook moves farther into pay-for-play, it is less attractive as a channel for professional communications. (And this does not even begin to address the terrible Terms of Service issues.) Twitter is much less controlled – more open. Of course this means that you need a tool to help you make sense of it – some kind of way to tune into the frequencies you want to hear (to extend the metaphor.)

Tweetdeck is one, and that’s what I’ve been using to help me make sense of the massive flood of information going through the service.  I’ve started to tune in to the invisible interchange of communication that I’ve been tossing my tweets into. It turns out that there is a world of people responding to my blog, discussing my books, and wondering about stuff I’ve been saying. Who knew?

(Of course, a bunch of you knew. As I look through the notices on Tweetdeck, it’s clear that a bunch of my friends and colleagues  have been using Twitter on a daily basis.)

Tweetdeck
Tweetdeck allows you to separate out parts of your Twitter feed so you can make sense of the constant stream of information. Notifications are showing tweets I’m mentioned in, and Messages are direct messages to individuals. You can see here I made a new friend, possibly leading to free beer. 

Not everyone will need to speak Twitter. But it’s looking like a much better bet than any other social media platform, at least for professional communications.

 

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