Dangerous Little Knowledge

reposted from The Illusion of More with the kind permission of David Newhoff

Not surprisingly, friends contact me from time to time with copyright-related questions. I’m careful not to give definitive answers to most of these, but I can usually point them in the right direction toward a solution.  Very recently, a dear friend (let’s call her Sarah) asked my advice regarding an email she received from a photographer who demanded removal of an image from her blog as well as a substantial fee for damages.  Sarah is college educated, a Gen-Xer, an artist herself, wicked smart, talented, and very respectful of people in general, let alone other creators.  I would characterize her as among the last people who would knowingly infringe a fellow artist’s copyrights.

Sarah considers her blog educational and non-commercial, and she credited the photographer. These factors that led her to assume her posting the photo was a “fair use,”  and the mistakes she made are consistent with the kind of questions and assumptions I hear all time.  Real copyright experts may have another view, but it seems to me that the non-commercial thing is among the most common mistakes made when it comes to assuming a use is fair. In reality, commercial or non-commercial use of a work is is not necessarily dispositive (as the lawyers say) when determining whether or not a use would be judged fair. Setting aside the question of the photographer’s award demand — I can’t comment on whether or not it was in line with common practices among visual artists —  I was sorry to tell Sarah that her use was almost certainly an infringement. It only took her doing a bit of research to realize that fair use is a very specific component of copyright law that requires a federal court to weigh four factors in order to reach a conclusion.

What I find interesting, though, is that while I have been associated with originators and users of creative media my entire life, until Web 2.0 came along, I don’t remember people making decisions to use works based solely on what they thought they understood about copyright.  Put another way, I am not surprised Sarah misunderstood fair use so much as I am curious as to how the misinformation got into her head in the first place to the extent that she honestly believed she was on solid ground.  Because I bet her confusion is quite common.  Moreover, I suspect that so much misunderstanding about copyright is aggravated by both the design of the Web and even by the din of the copyright debates in the blogosphere. Not only does an interface like Google image search make potential infringement just a little too easy, but it also isn’t helpful to have a constant drumbeat of headlines written by entities with an interest in weakening copyright.

Lingo is catchy. We hear a unique term, assume we know what it means, then misapply it and spread the gospel. I used to see this a lot in video post production whenever a producer got hold of a new expression he thought he understood. Similarly, I suspect there’s so much chatter about copyright issues swarming around the Internet today, that terms like fair use seep into public consciousness; and then intelligent, thoughtful people like Sarah make perfectly reasonable yet entirely false assumptions about what the term means or how the principle is actually applied.  A clear case of a little knowledge being a dangerous thing.

And of course, it’s not just copyright; it’s anything. The wealth of “content” out there doesn’t always make us more informed, but it can make us think we’re informed, sometimes just enough to get us into trouble.  Because it’s one thing to have an opinion about a subject like copyright, but another thing to act on the assumption that you can be your own attorney, which is no more advisable than, say, using WebMD to diagnose the presentation of some new symptom.

Let me pause and write in the imperative for a moment by way of what public service I may offer:

If you have to imagine a fair use argument, then a case for infringement by the rights holder may exist.  Unless you have really researched fair use and you are legally and/or  financially prepared to defend your use, don’t assume you know what you’re doing. Odds are you don’t. There are no bright line rules when judging fair use.  Plus, if you’re just writing a blog and need an image, there are probably better and clearly legal options like Getty Images’ free embed service. Having said that, there’s nothing wrong with asking the rights holder for permission. He just might say yes.

Of course, the argument from the anti-copyright crowd might be that Sarah’s experience makes a good reason to “expand” fair use in the digital age.  For instance, readers may be generally aware of the Internet industry’s proposal to  “export” U.S. fair use principles through fair trade agreements despite the fact that our trading partners have radically different legal systems, and none has our First Amendment. I bring this up to illustrate the point that I believe this industry continues to trade on the populist tactic of oversimplifying legal frameworks in order to advance its own agenda.

And this goes back to what I meant when I said that the design of the web as we know it adds to the confusion of general users as to what’s fair and what’s infringing.  After all, the image is right there on Google image search.  Why not right click, copy, and paste into a blog, etc.? Yes, that’s certainly a paradigm Google et al want to promote, but let me cut to the chase here:  if you’re an individual with mere mortal resources rather than billions of dollars and a phalanx of attorneys, taking the “infringe now, apologize and maybe pay later” approach of Silicon Valley corporations is probably a bad strategy.

Meanwhile certain experts may convince users that they’re on solid ground.  For instance, fair use scholar Peter Jaszi, in his testimony before Congress in January 2014, stated the following:

“Fair use, one might say, is like a muscle – it will grow in strength if it is exercised, and atrophy if it is not. But, by the same token, fair use is hardly unusual or exotic today. Everyone who makes culture or participates in the innovation economy relies on fair use routinely – whether they recognize it or not.”

I don’t presume to criticize Jaszi’s scholarship; I’m not remotely qualified to do so. But to the ears of fellow laymen, statements like this can be interpreted as permission to push the boundaries of fair use, which may be particularly hazardous if one has not at least researched the basic principles in the first place. High-level theory, debate, testimony, and discussion in the halls of academia do not necessarily provide an accurate picture of the law as it is currently applied.

Add to all that the massive volume of un-scholarly blogs, editorials, and PR messages aimed at weakening one facet of copyright or another, and confusion is likely to be the rule rather than the exception.  Each individual should do the research and decide for herself which among the many proposals on copyright seem thoughtful and innovative and which are serving vested interests. In the meantime, confusion leads to infringement claims, which can lead to damages, which pisses people off who otherwise respect copyrights. And in this sense, all the Sarahs out there become a bit like cannon fodder in a larger battle being waged by billion-dollar corporations.

© 2015, David Newhoff. All rights reserved.

Personal Photo Curation

By Laura Lucas

Last summer I snapped over 800 photos on a family trip to Newfoundland. I’m not a great photographer so I often take more than needed to get that one good shot, but it means a big job to organize and manage them later. So each day of my trip I sifted through 3 different devices; my camera, my phone and the shared memory cards of others to pick out the best shots and curate them.

Curation is the key to enjoying your photos, protecting them from damage and being able to find them easily again when needed and I like to start with a quick triage. Ask yourself these questions: What’s the quality like – sharp, blurry or chopped? Does it mean something special to you or someone else? Is there some historic value to it? Could it be worth some money? Is there a privacy issue to consider – like scantily clad children in the wading pool? Based on the answers, I cull, share or add to my permanent library.

After my East Coast vacation, I took the 75 “best” images, already identified and had them made into a photo book. These are the shots that mean the most to me from this trip and they are now beautifully displayed on my coffee table where someone can actually view them. I’ve whittled down the rest of collection to 300 images with proper descriptions, backed them up externally and hit the delete key on the others. That’s right! I hit the delete key. Just because storage space is becoming less expensive does not mean we should keep everything. Do I really need to save the photo of an electrical box I took at the hardware store because my husband was helping me select the right product at the time?

(c) Laura Lucas

(c) Laura Lucas

The visual researcher in me enjoys photo archiving but for most it is overwhelming. It takes time and some thoughtful organization. Here are my tips to a solid personal library in which you can find things easily!

  • Choose a main location for your photos whether it’s a desktop, the cloud, a tablet etc. but be diligent that all your photos end up in this location. It’s your main album.
  • Create an external copy of the library and set it to automatically backup regularly. If you’re a frequent shutterbug, I would suggest doing this weekly to protect them.
  • Create 10 broad photo categories within your album; no more than that. You can use a software package, but it’s not necessary. Simple computer file hierarchy works too. Every photo should easily fit into one of these headings. Do not go by date of download. Date stamping comes later. For instance, I have a “Lucas Family” category. Holidays, birthdays, vacations involving this family all go into this folder.
  • Within your 10 folders, create specific subject files. I have chosen a year designation. “Lucas’ 2015”.
  • You can add photos at this stage or continue creating sub- folders in your album. Mine looks like this…

Screen Shot 2015-04-27 at 6.57.32 PM

  • Import your photos into the respective subject files and replace the automatically-generated camera number with some metadata. That’s fancy speak for detailed information. I suggest 3 pieces of information in the file name of each photo; Title, date and brief description. Like this…

Laura Birthday1_04.21.2015_Cake

Laura Birthday2_04.21.2015_Opening gifts

Laura Birthday3_04.25.2015_Wearing new outfit

Notice how several dates are involved with this one event. This is why I suggest leaving date stamps until the photo level. If you’re not the owner of the photo you may wish to include that too; a professional photo agency for example. This can be important with regard to copyright.

  • If you don’t have time for Step 6… you’re already leaps ahead by creating the album hierarchy.

This is not rocket science.   I’m not offering you a secret solution. It’s a filing cabinet for the most part and it works for print as well as digital photos. If you’ve got a box of b&w pictures in the closet – start with the same quick triage above to make the job smaller and manageable. Photos to keep in one stack… photos to give to your sibling or an archive in another… photos to digitize in a third… and yes… a separate group of photos to purge. For the keepers – add some envelopes or dividers in the box for your category and subject headings. Label this box and store in a dry, safe place. I would also suggest a protective box rather than cardboard.

If all of this is too mind-boggling ask an organized friend to help. Or call me – Big Picture Research offers this service! Please don’t wait until you’ve damaged your phone or lost access to your social media account album or had your computer hacked or stolen. There are too many heart-wrenching tales out there from people who have lost precious photos. A little curation on a regular basis can make the job less stressful, help you find a photo quickly and give you peace of mind that our library is protected.

(c) Laura Lucas

(c) Laura Lucas

 

Headshot3_TEMPO Photography - BERN -6273Laura Lucas is a Visual Researcher and Rights Clearance Officer with 20 years of experience in the media market. She’s worked extensively with TVO’s The Agenda with Steve Paikin, with freelance video producers and with archivists and libraries. Having just launched her own company Big Picture Research, she’s driven by the thrill of the hunt to find the perfect image that can help bring a story to life and clearing the underlying permissions for its use. Her archival research work in turn has led her to explore the emerging field of digital estate planning and helping people organize and protect their digital assets. See more and contact Laura here: www.bigpictureresearch.com

From Across the Pond: fotofringe 2015

by Julian Jackson

Photography industry people love a good gabfest, and where better to do that than the annual fotofringe event, held in London’s King’s Place arts and media hub, right next to the iconic HQ of the Guardian and Observer newspapers. This was the fifth year of this successful trade fair, and with over 600 visitors, primarily photobuyers, and 100 photo agencies exhibiting, it was a intense but fun day.

fotofringe2015-003

Corbis and Gettyimages were there, but also the full spectrum of UK photo agencies exhibited, from companies representing the work of one photographer, like Homer Sykes or Werner Forman Archive, through smaller archives like FLPA or John Birdsall Social Issues Photolibrary, via a healthy mooch of museums (there I’ve made up a collective noun for them), to massive collections such as Mirrorpix, which has over a century of British newspaper photographs going back to 1903, totalling100 million images.

 

Fotofringe owner Flora Nedelcu of TopFoto said, “There’s always a really nice vibe here, people really, really like it. There are always new collections to show to the world so I am looking forward to next year.” Flora’s energy and enthusiasm make fotofringe what it is, and libraries are already booking for next year’s event, which will be on Thursday 21 April 2016. She added, “It’s a good idea for photobuyers to register in advance, it’s free and it saves you time on the day.”

 

The event takes place on several different levels, and every library, large or small, just gets one table. This is rather egalitarian, and also focuses the minds of the exhibitors on what to bring to show visitors. So there aren’t any large and elaborate displays but more catalogues, flyers and postcards, which are manageable to carry. There are a fair few giveaways, including a lot of chocolate and sweets. Though I declined some, I weakened later on, needing the sugar rush to counteract afternoon lethargy. I hope that the exercise of walking round a lot has cancelled out the extra calories. Brownie points to BAPLA, the British trade association, for stumping up a free lunch doggie bag. This solved last year’s problem of a mammoth gridlock at the King’s Place cafe.

 

I asked a lot of exhibitors about the state of play in the UK industry. Most were cautiously optimistic, saying that the things were better than after the nadir following the financial crash of 2007/8, but prices were still low. Many noted that they were making up in volume on sales rather than prices. Anders Granberg of Ardea said, “I think the depression in the industry has bottomed out. We are expanding our collection and acquiring new photography.” Martin Gibbs, of News Syndication, felt that although the magazine market had declined, “Book publishing is steady and more books are being published now.” Some agencies thought that their overseas sales were stronger than the UK home market and that was where they were trying to increase sales, either directly or by partnership with other distributors.

I didn’t manage to talk to all the agencies, and regrettably, I did waste some of the time gossiping with friends and colleagues. I only get to do this once a year! I will try to pick out some subject matter which may be of interest to US readers. Mary Evans Sales Manager Lucinda Gosling also writes pictorial books on what I can only describe as “Quirky British subjects” often relating to the First World War.

HeathRobinsonGosling

Homer Sykes has been cataloguing British life since the sixties. His work centres on sub-cultures and people that more mainstream photographers might miss. Writer Pictures does what it says on the tin: they have an archive of images of writers, both current and historical. They are based in that most literary of cities, Edinburgh, and were founded by Alex Hewitt because he couldn’t find writer images for his feature pages while he was working for a newspaper there, even though he would regularly see authors like crime maestro Ian Rankin or JK Rowling walking round the city.

 

This year there were really only two technology companies exhibiting. Above All Images is a new aerial photography venture. They have created their own custom aircraft filming rig, which produces stunning footage, and is capable of being fitted to a single-engine Cessna, thus reducing significantly the cost of aerials. As a technology geek I was intrigued but they were rather reticent and wouldn’t tell me how they put it together. Keeping it Top Secret. But it certainly works.

 

More down-to-earth is Capture. They produce Digital Asset Management software, which manages all aspects of running an image agency. They also have software called CaptureDesk, which is aimed at photobuyers. I was given a demo of the latest version. The objective is to streamline and assist the photobuyer to maximise the way they work on multiple projects. Essentially it is a cloud-based browser plug-in for Chrome or Firefox, which allows you, when you are searching photo library websites, to send the low res images selected into Capturedesk to manage your project. You can put in notes, pricing info and send lightboxes of the whole project or any part of it to clients. It is quite straightforward to use. Some of my photobuyer colleagues swear by it, but you can make up your own mind as Capture do a free trial. Capture CEO Abbie Enock says, “We are building a community of media researchers using Capture Desk, promoting their services and listening to their needs.” The only drawback is that it doesn’t handle high res images or video. Originally that was to keep the price point as low as possible, when storage costs were higher than they are now, but they told me that they are considering adding those improvements to a future version. They are offering a discount of 10% from now till the end of May with this promo code MAY15CD10.

CaptureDesk1000px

One bonus which added to the atmosphere of the event were the breathtaking landscape photographs of Alexander Lindsay which were not part of fotofringe but are the current exhibition on the walls of King’s Place.

You can see all the exhibitors here:

www.fotofringelondon.com

juliancoffeshopcuJulian Jackson is a writer with extensive experience of picture research, whose main interests include photography and the environment. His website is www.julianjackson.co.uk. He also runs a Picture Research by Distance Learning Course www.picture-research-courses.co.uk. Linked-in profile.

VC Boston Copyright Panel After Class

We know the conversation about copyright never ends. For those of us who didn’t get to Boston last month for Visual Connection’s Expo—and for those of you who were able to attend—we continue the dialog. Guest post by Jain Lemos.

Visual Connections Boston (c)VisualConnections

Visual Connections Boston © Visual Connections

 

Here is a follow-up interview with two of the guest panelists for the morning educational session, “360° View of Copyright: Trends and Technology in Visual Licensing Today,” sponsored by ASPP.

Rachel Youdelman, Rights & Permissions Manager at Pearson Education, and intellectual property attorney Glenn G. Pudelka of Locke Lord LLP have graciously agreed to answer just a few more questions.

Q: What question evoked the liveliest discussion among the panelists?

Rachel: I was feeling rather lively myself during the discussion on appropriation (I hope everyone else was as well). I recommended a great lecture on the subject titled Appropriation Art, which is available on YouTube. The talk is part of the online CopyrightX course produced by Terry Fisher and colleagues at Harvard University. The series a great resource for all of us working with copyright and you’ll find the full course outline and complete list of video lectures available here.

There was a fairly lively discussion toward the end of the panel discussion when a museum employee who has licensed images to textbook publishers asked me what publishers were doing to “protect” her museum’s intellectual property. Her concerns seemed to stem from reading broad licensing terms found in some publisher contracts. While I explained that the use of her museum’s images is strictly contextual and constrained by the specific terms of the license, others in the audience chimed in on the obvious safety measures, such as password-protected websites.

I’d like to make the point here that part of the mission of a museum is to increase and expand the public circulation of its collection, rather than fixate on limiting it. In my experience, theft of intellectual property in this context is much less a risk than imagined and such fear is a holdover from the incipient days of the Internet. Digital visual culture in the 21st century is entrenched and we all need to realistically manage and adjust to the unstoppable flow of visual information. This leads me back to the subject of appropriation, an area of copyright law I believe will likely become the subject of intense legal focus in the near future.

Glenn: I believe the fair use questions prompted the liveliest discussions. The questions ranged from appropriation art to using an image for a blog or news piece. Since fair use decisions need to be made on a case-by-case basis, the facts are always critical. With that being the case, any fair use discussion generally results in a lively discussion because audience members have many follow-up questions or new questions based on the analysis of the facts and comments from each panelist.

Q: Was there a question that you didn’t get to weigh in on that you’d like to address now?

Rachel: After the conference I realized that it would have been great to mention the growing number of museums which are offering free hi-res downloads and permission-free use of images to out-of-copyright works in their collections. A few such museums are the National Gallery of Art in DC, the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, and the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.

The question of manipulation of images, of incorporation of 3rd-party images into works of illustration, and other uses of photographic works which may be considered appropriation, was raised a number of times. If you are a photo editor or art buyer it might make sense for your illustrator to select an image which is in the public domain if one is needed to work into an illustration of some kind. Currently, the number of sources from which we can select a truly public-domain image is growing. I’d keep my eye on museums as more announcements from a variety of museums are made about images being released into the public domain. However, I would also be mindful that when using an image from such a source that the moral basis for copyright law makes attribution imperative. I can’t stress enough how important it is to give proper credit to both the artist who created the original work and to the museum who provided the image file for all licenses and uses.

Glenn: There was a question by one audience member regarding licensing images to publishers and the broad licenses that they require. I think it is important for licensors to know that many licensees (including publishers) are requesting such broad licenses to protect themselves from issues down the road if someone years from now doesn’t check the permissions and uses an image beyond the terms of the license. That being said, depending on the images being licensed, a licensor can certainly discuss restrictions on how certain images can and can’t be used. I think copyright owners sometimes forget that it doesn’t have to be an “all-or-nothing” license. One of the first things I learned as a lawyer was that everything is on the table during a negotiation. The other side might say no, but you can always ask and negotiate for language that is different from the “boilerplate.”

Q: Did you learn something new from your fellow panelists?

Rachel: Yes. Laura Stanley from 500px mentioned that her picture agency issues “social media” licenses—a type of license I did not realize existed, though almost anything is possible contractually. The question came up, for example, of the need for permission to post a photo of a celebrity to a corporate blog in order to honor the celebrity’s birthday. If you have no license to publish a copyrighted image or other graphic asset—on any platform in any context—it’s best to refrain from publishing. As Glenn Pudelka mentioned, if you claim “fair use” you should be absolutely certain that your defense is watertight. I was interested to learn that some of Glenn’s clients may seek him out because they organize their defense too late, take too much risk, and need Glenn to clean up. Also, in chatting with Glenn before the discussion began, he corroborated my own opinion about the February 2015 College Art Association (CAA) pamphlet, Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for the Visual Arts. Effectively, it changes nothing regarding interpretation of the law. There may be a bit of wishful thinking on the part of the CAA behind the pamphlet.

Glenn: I learned a great deal from my fellow panelists. As an outside attorney, I’m always learning from people within companies that deal with situations on a day-to-day basis. For example, the whole RF vs. RM discussion was a great learning experience for me. One of the panelists said that her company’s focus is on RM images rather than RF since they want their materials to be different from other organizations and not use the same images within their materials.

Q: What is your take on sharing licenses?

Rachel: What people are calling social media or sharing licenses stem in part from the Creative Commons licenses. The misnomer is that sharing always means free. There are several types of them and it’s imperative that buyers read the fine print! Textbook publishers are circumspect when it comes to these types of licenses and we typically avoid them because the terms in some of the licenses can leave just enough room for misinterpretation. That said, on rare occasions some of us may use images that are marked “Attribution” but not “Attribution-Share-Alike.” We would not use anything which includes restrictions such as “no derivatives” or “no commercial” use. But we would be more likely to contact the rightsholder as identified in the “sharing” license and ask that person to sign our standard license.

Glenn: Sharing Licenses (e.g., Creative Commons licenses) can be a great way to use the copyrighted works of another, but the key is to read the requirements of the license and make sure that you follow them. Often these licenses can be very vague and broad (which can be good), but require an attribution credit if you use the copyrighted work or further require that the work that uses the copyrighted work must also be licensed under a shared license. Failure to adhere to the license requirements means that you are not properly licensed and could expose you or your organization to an infringement claim. I think organizations are also often concerned about using shared licenses because they don’t want to accidentally have their copyrighted content get captured by a shared license that makes it available to others.

Q: Back in your offices, what types of permission and copyright issues are you dealing with in your day-to-day workflow?

Rachel: Because it is impossible to predict new delivery platforms, most textbook publishers now use licenses with terms that are broad enough to account for the huge variety of current and future delivery platforms that require global distribution. For example, electronic books simply used to be PDFs of a print book, posted on the Web. Within the last several years, we have seen numbers of different electronic delivery platforms including smartphones, tablets, apps, Kindle software as well as new types of digital products and their ancillaries. In my view, the broad licensing terms are in the author and contributor’s interests as well as the publisher’s, because they preclude nearly all compromising situations. Currently we are seeing new issues regarding linking from within the publisher’s digital product to an unrelated site. These kinds of issues can be complex and call into question a variety of permissions scenarios.

Glenn: The most frequent types of permission/copyright issues I deal with on a day-to-day basis generally fall into two buckets (both of which are what you would expect). The first bucket deals with either the use of an image or work without any license at all or in a way that exceeds the scope of the license/permission that the user has. I deal with both owners who feel that their work is being infringed or organizations that have either received notice that they are infringing or realize that they may have exceeded the scope of their license and want to know what they should do about it.

The most interesting questions I get day-to-day, however, come from the second bucket—when clients want to use an image or work and want to discuss why they think they can rely on fair use and not get permission. These projects/conversations are always very interesting to me since I often can’t give them a yes or no answer with 100% certainty. I can discuss relevant cases that have similar facts and then the client and I discuss the risks and the client’s risk tolerance.

Many thanks to Rachel and Glenn for sharing their valuable time and expertise!

JainHeadShotJain Lemos has been deeply involved in photography publishing and licensing for more than twenty years. She shares her informed perspective about our visual industry on her blog jainlemos.com.

Blazing a New Trail

By Simon Herbert

Where confusion and opportunities arise, pioneers step in first to make sense from the haze; and Stock Pot Images is a new start-up that steps into that medicinal marijuana haze, the first stock photo agency to specialize exclusively in cannabis-related imagery. At a time when the Feds and the States vie over the application of the letter of the law, sporadic legalization is nevertheless occurring at a breathtaking pace, this seems like a different world from only a few years ago. Remember that old saw from the ’80s (and probably the ’70s, and the ’60s…), when stoners would sit around and nod knowingly, talking about how big tobacco companies had already copyrighted their own marijuana brand names? Well, there’s probably some truth in that, but the future seems more about a diverse mass acceptance of cannabis in our lives across multiple outlets and markets… and Stock Pot Images wants to be there first. With the good stuff…

(c)Josh Fogel/StockPot Images

© Josh Fogel/StockPot Images

Stock Pot Images feature rights-managed and royalty-free photography and illustration. According to them, their “selection reaches far beyond the small number of stereotypical images currently offered by major stock agencies,” and even a cursory tour through their portfolio shows an astonishing array of creative photography. In some cases, it’s the plant itself, and we see macro photography of buds, glistening with resin, strange otherworldly buds writ large, fecund and entrancing. Other images show the process of growing, of the hot houses and UV lights and mass production set ups. Other user-friendly images posit a “Martha Stewart” world in which, one day, we will all be turning up on each other’s doorsteps with delightful leaf-shaped THC cookies.

(c)AJ Rose/StockPot Images

© Alicia J Rose/StockPot Images

Founder Ophelia Chong and partner Alicia J. Rose (who between them have a daunting resume of photographic activity, ranging from marketing, designing, education and management) smile wryly when acknowledging that they are trying to introduce some new iconic tropes that might just take the new women-friendly, medical-friendly, national dynamic way beyond the snide national media footnotes.

What remains paramount to these images is a desire to service an industry, and a culture, that is still finding its feet under new circumstances. Stock Pot Images curates from a select group of up and coming photographers, to create the content that will fit the needs of the burgeoning cannabis industries.

Stock Pot Images targets healthcare, ad and branding agencies, as well as corporate and emerging industries that will need cannabis images to service a new market of users.

When asked, Chong indicates that they plan to be the agency art buyers come to first.

1) Stock Pot Images aims to go beyond “stereotypical” pot-related stock imagery. As a creative, can you indicate the new aesthetic that you’re searching for, from artists and photographers?

In the last 3 months, I’ve looked at more cannabis photographs than I have ever done in my entire life, however from what I have seen, I have already seen what’s available if I never was in this business. It’s the same bud shot, the same glowing leaf, or the same Gen X on a couch with a bong and a cat. There are so many creative cannabis photographers out there, and I’ve been finding them or they have found me, now there is an outlet for them to show their work and make some money from it. My mantra to the contributors is this: Kinfolk + Dwell + Martha Stewart + Nat Geo + Cannabis = Stock Pot Images.

From my roster, the majority are professional photographers and illustrators, the minority is learning the ropes of stock photography and all are creating spectacular work. The look and feel I suggest to Stock Pot’s contributors is first, be true to your own style, secondly, and don’t shoot stereotypes. I am looking for the clean, professional curated images, I want to move cannabis imagery away from the “half-dressed female in a tiny nurse’s outfit” to images of real cannabis users, the same person you pass by everyday, real people.

2) Stock Pot Images’ inventory seems to reflect a refreshing new diversity of images, and the healing aspects of the pot trade; but will the collection expand to balance the ambassadorial/medicinal side of the trade with a little recreational stoner humor, or would that ‘damage’ your brand?     

I am encouraging humor in the images: we have a stuffed big mouth bass with a joint; we have martini glasses with weed ice; we have people making cookies and smiling, not all droll and serious. Although we do have serious, dark moody imagery as well…

One series we will be shooting later in May is a spoof on the royalty free image of the “doctor” with a jar of buds. 

Cannabis users on the whole are a funny, laid-back, proactive, close knit, creative group; they have had to run in-between changing lines of the law. It’s like hopscotch made from chalk lines… you just never know when one line will be erased or changed…

(c)Davids/StockPot Images

© Davids/StockPot Images

You can find Stock Pot Images at: http://www.stockpotimages.com

ACSIL Footage Expo

Want to see some of the most compelling moving imagery ever produced on earth? Then take yourself to Manhattan on April 29th: to a loft location filled with light, where the Association of Commercial Stock Image Licensors (ACSIL) will be hosting a variety of conferences on today’s footage dynamic in creative, commercial, and educational media. Prepare yourself for footage of places – beaches, oceans, deserts – populated by people – hipsters, natives, soldiers, children – in search of fun, justice, liberty, and, just maybe, the “perfect wave.” Because all of the world, in microcosm, will be here…

From WPA, you can source Teddy Roosevelt waving, the KKK marching, Wall Street trading, railroads being laid across America, and the Hindenburg burning. From FramePool, you can see soccer matches, spitting cobras, napalm landing on villages in Vietnam, and sections of spaceships decoupling. HBO Archives offers online searching, digital delivery, and free research/screeners of everything from Vegas crap tables, Selma marches, decades of fashion catwalks, and celebrities being… well… celebrities.

For the last twelve years, ACSIL is the go-to destination to connect with the world’s leading providers of stock and archival footage. ACSIL members represent and license high quality clips and unique deep content. If you work in advertising, film, television and home entertainment, then this is your first stop; also for reinventions of book publishing, museums, educational vendors; and even more so if you work in new markets (yes, they’re talking to you, video gamers and Internet apps…).

A short list of some of their other members includes: ITN Source, Getty Images, Huntley Film Archive and NBC Universal Archives.

ACSIL sponsors multiple stock footage based initiatives including; gathering data on the global stock footage market, forming a Code of Practices committee to lead discussions about new licensing paradigms and monitoring shifts in domestic and international copyright law.

ACSIL also reaches out to meet the needs of the production community. They sponsor events, host panel discussions and present seminars on a wide range of footage industry subjects. Whether it’s sharing best practices for footage research or talks about licensing and rights clearances, ACSIL supports the production community.

The ACSIL Footage Expo 2015 features news archives, contemporary HD cinematographers, natural science & behavioral specialists, historical motion picture archives, pop- and high-culture rights holders, animation and graphic artists, celebrity footage, dash-cam operators, time-lapse specialists, international shooters. In fact, if you have a content itch, the ACSIL is likely to scratch it.

But there’s not only footage here; attendees can research copyright and clearance, media and technology, and job listings.

For more info and to register: http://acsil.org/events/expo2015

Bridgeman Images – Art for Arts Sake

by Julian Jackson

Bridgeman Images is one of the world’s foremost picture agencies specializing in fine art. Founded in 1972 by Harriet Bridgeman, it remains a family-based company. Harriet is still fully involved as Chairman, and the current CEO is Victoria Bridgeman. She says the overall mission of the library is to “to be the de-facto arts, culture and historical archive.”

CEO Victoria and Chairman Harriet Bridgeman

CEO Victoria and Chairman Harriet Bridgeman

The original impulse to create it stemmed from Harriet’s need to source images for books she was working on. In those days many museums were not very aware of the publishers need for images, and often if you requested a picture of a painting they would tell you to send along a photographer! Harriet quickly established the company as an important supplier of images from museums and galleries large and small, and private art collections. From the beginning it had an international perspective and Bridgeman Images collaborate with cultural centres all over the world to license artworks. Currently they have 1.1 million images online and are continually expanding their collection, via accessions of digitized material and also prints, transparencies and negatives which lovers of old-style collections will appreciate. Some of this material is in boxes in the CEO’s office and three researchers work full-time on finding material for clients from this analogue archive.

Winter Landscape, 1909 by Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944) / Hermitage, St. Petersburg, Russia / Bridgeman Images

Winter Landscape, 1909 by Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944) / Hermitage, St. Petersburg, Russia / Bridgeman Images

Their first major acquisition was a French photo archive called Giraudon, which broadened the scope of their material considerably fifteen years ago. Ironically they bought it off Gettyimages during the period Getty were acquiring collections all over the place, as Getty were not able to license its specialised material effectively. Exquisite reproduction and careful captioning and meta-data are a must if fine artworks are to be reproduced, especially in specialist publications, and Bridgeman maintain high standards in this area. Bridgeman passes back fifty percent of the reproduction fee to their partner museums and collections in order to provide vital revenue for conservation and future exhibitions.

 

Recently they have moved into footage, seeing that as complementary to their stills offerings. As they are major players in the educational market, being able to offer moving pictures to these clients as they move to digital delivery of material, rather than just textbooks, was a valuable addition to their existing collection. Victoria says, “We saw a demand for this, led by technology. It was a logical extension of what we did already. Currently it is a small part of our business, but one which is growing rapidly.”

 

This year they acquired French photo library Rue des Archives, which gives them another interlocking collection of valuable material, which will be very useful to their existing client base. This major French archival photo library is an exceptional resource with photography ranging from the cave paintings of Lascaux to 21st century Parisian life. It also covers photographs of international figures from the world of film, fashion, art, entertainment, and politics. Their content costs money to acquire and market and they see it as vital to continue to reinvest in their partnerships with the art suppliers to continue to provide high quality material to their clients. Victoria continues, “I think there is a big opportunity for Bridgeman to be a one-stop shop for cultural content.”

 

Director Alfred Hitchcock with actress Tippi Hedren arriving at Nice airport for Cannes Film festival, 1963. Credit ©Rue des Archives/AGIP/Bridgeman Images

Director Alfred Hitchcock with actress Tippi Hedren arriving at Nice airport for Cannes Film festival, 1963. Credit ©Rue des Archives/AGIP/Bridgeman Images

America is one of their biggest markets, and they have offices in New York and Los Angeles, headed up by Edward Whitley, as well as regularly exhibiting at Visual Connections. Besides their offices in London, Paris and Berlin, other important international markets include India and Japan. In their London headquarters they have Japanese speakers to ensure transactions go smoothly.

 

The wide variety of their clients has helped them weather the economic turbulence of the past few years. At any one time they will be selling to a wide spectrum of the publishing world, TV companies like the BBC, corporate and advertising agencies and new media so they have a broad base which has helped them move with the times. They may continue to consolidate their position in future by acquiring other libraries and collections as well as expanding their footage business.

http://www.bridgemanimages.com/

juliancoffeshopcuJulian Jackson is a writer with extensive experience of picture research, whose main interests include photography and the environment. His website is www.julianjackson.co.uk. He also runs a Picture Research by Distance Learning Course www.picture-research-courses.co.uk. Linked-in profile.

 

Visual Research in a Digital World

By guest writer Laura Lucas of Big Picture Research

I’m often asked if visual research is easier today than it was before computers. It’s a tough question to answer because there’s good and bad with all change. Technology has certainly delivered access and opened new doors but that doesn’t always mean it’s easier.

I consider myself fortunate to have learned the “old school” way to research.   I travelled to libraries and archives when possible and spent days sifting through reference material. Then I waited patiently for a VHS or ¾-inch format screener to be brought up from a vault for viewing. My orders were carefully filled out on two different sets of paperwork; one for the archival permission and one for the transfer house. I carried heavy film and tape assets up and down stairs, tripped over the same objects on my office floor and then waited some more for a courier to deliver master material. License agreements were faxed or mailed back and forth with numerous amendments and then signed in triplicate. The hard line telephone was my main communications tools and I worked closely with an editor in the suite. TV production was exciting!

Today’s visual research is heavily online from a desk and no longer limited to television and film. There are a lot of new media venues including websites, books, blogs, marketing material, event publicity, non-profit work, music and even video game projects. So the work can be very unique. You can also save a lot of time as negotiations are handled by email; online ordering replaces the phone and digital signatures are accepted on contracts.

On the positive side – my research is now worldwide with access to more archival collections and new suppliers. This is great! So much material is searchable and viewable online. I can screen hundreds of film and video clips and photos in just a few days. I can organize them all in a workspace; perform mini-edits; easily share my findings with a team and price shop in relatively short order. I might still need to visit an archive, but a ton of legwork can be done beforehand and cut my travel bill down at the other end. Let’s not forget the increased access to other researchers. We’ve never been so easily connected making it easier to share contacts, industry news and tips and tricks. The Visual Researcher’s Society of Canada (www.visualresearch.ca ) is a good example. As a networked group we can better promote excellence in the field of visual research and negotiate improved prices for our clients.

So what’s the downside? Well – originality has taken a hit. I’m starting to see the same images over and over again. Hands-on research skills are going by the wayside as we rely on search engines. Not everything is digitized and I fear some of the best material will remain untapped as quick and cheap becomes the norm. Storage costs are declining so instead of properly curating collections we’re keeping more and more junk with poor metadata. Keeping up with changing file formats is becoming a management issue and we’re losing the personal working relationships as we trade phone interaction for email.

One key observations of the virtual age is that everyone thinks they can be a visual researcher! I appreciate that the average person can find their own images online – but remember the old adage about being too good to be true? Ask yourself if what you’re seeing is credible? Original images can be cropped, altered, edited, incorrectly sourced and very convincing in a digital world. I spend more time tracking down the source of a grainy, thumbnail sized photo to find out it’s not accurate or investigating a video to find out it’s made up of 20 bits of other shorter films. This creates huge frustration in the end and essentially eats up all time savings that might have been possible with computers.

So I continue to keep an open mind on the future of visual research. My own career spans a mere 2.5 decades; a relatively short period of time when you’re talking about history. I would love to hear reflections from those of you who been researching even longer. Please comment if you can.

Headshot3_TEMPO Photography - BERN -6273Laura Lucas is a Visual Researcher and Rights Clearance Officer with 20 years of experience in the media market. She’s worked extensively with TVO’s The Agenda with Steve Paikin, with freelance video producers and with archivists and libraries. Having just launched her own company Big Picture Research, she’s driven by the thrill of the hunt to find the perfect image that can help bring a story to life and clearing the underlying permissions for its use. Her archival research work in turn has led her to explore the emerging field of digital estate planning and helping people organize and protect their digital assets. See more and contact Laura here: www.bigpictureresearch.com

Podcasts, Podcast, whats the best Podcast?

There is, in all probability, a podcast for everything these days: give an enthusiast, or a professional, a recorder and access to uploading resources, and… voila! But whereas there might be some obscure ones at the farthest ends of human endeavor (there’s – honestly – one about the history of ribbons, another on issues pertaining the British Enclosure Laws of the 17th century…), it’s perhaps no surprise that photography podcasts number in the multitude; on iTunes alone there are 311, currently.

There’s no space in this blog to do justice to them all, but for photo professionals, and even those who aspire to one day become one, there are plenty of passionate photographers who promote technical and aesthetic learning, and intense discussion about the history and sociology of photography. Let’s take a quick click and peek at just a few:

The Candid Frame

Ibarionex Perello is a photographer, writer, educator and host of The Candid Frame, and provides frank, insightful interviews with some of the industry’s top established and emerging photographers. This is one of the most popular photography podcasts, and by this week has run to 269 episodes.

Topics range from technical discussions in which photographers can submit examples to the Candid Frame Flickr Pool (such as how graphic elements can help us to improve a photograph, with a focus on patterns, lines, shapes and using a contrasting element result in an interesting photograph); through to more in-depth creative and philosophical discussion with renowned photographers such as street photographer Nancy Lehrer, Photo Lab Pet Photography and Design founders Bill Parsons and Natalia Martinez, and multimedia journalist Hugo Passarello Luna.

http://ibarionex.net/thecandidframe/

On Taking Pictures

Another resource (currently up to #151) with new interviews every week. Jeffery Saddoris and Bill Wadman take on the art, science, and philosophy of photography and explore how they play out behind the camera in the process of making images. Insider insights for the novice, shop talk for the professional, and opinionated discussion for the interested observer of the field’s trends and legacy.

They regularly mix up topics’ in each long discursive freeform chat, topics range from profiles of historical greats such as Dorothea Lange, how much one should immerse oneself in one’s labors, and overcoming technical limitations.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/id526466395

Full Time Photographer

Josh Rossi is currently located in Los Angeles where he specialize in Commercial and Advertising photography and drive a bus that says “Escape from ordinary photography” on it. Much of his advice consists of sound professional pointers, teased from a hugely eclectic cast of photographers, ranging from non-profit through to high-end commercial practitioners. Definitely a podcast for those working to up their professional game and expand their skills, portfolios and, most importantly, attitudes. Launched 5th December 2013, the podcast has new notched up 229 episodes.

http://fulltimephotographer.com

Martin Bailey Photography Podcast

As might be expected coming from famous wildlife and wilderness nature photographer, Martin Bailey, this is a charming mix of high end technical advice, ameliorated by some witty travelogue banter, and some occasional gear reviews too. In short, Bailey’s podcasts are a sort of on-the-job diary; whether he is photographing snow monkeys in Hokkaido, or elephants in Namibia.

http://www.martinbaileyphotography.com/podcasts/

History of Photography Podcast

Photographer Jeff Curto is Professor Emeritus of Photography at College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn, Illinois, where he taught from 1984 to 2014. Curto has an exhaustive knowledge of the history of photography, and his podcasts amount to a full semester of his course, in a series of classes. And even better (but only just) than the wealth of information: it’s free!

http://photohistory.jeffcurto.com

Photography on Tuts+

As part of a greater collection of arts-related tutorials, linked by subject, the Photography section of Tuts+ is surely the granddaddy of all resources. Hundreds of categories – ranging from “Abstract” to “Zoomify” – are here to satisfy any photographer who wants to dip their fingers into some different developer… Learning guides go into great depth to prepare you for your next project.

http://photography.tutsplus.com

Do you have a fav that you can let us know about? Let us know!

Photo Documentary Heaven

Time to explore photo docs – starting with one of the best..and one of our favorites:

In the age of digital streaming, there are so many outlets that can be accessed to provide insights into the minds of photographers, and the applications of photography. A living digital archive exists on the Internet for anybody wanting to expand their knowledge of the iconic photographers and movements of this and the last century.

For instance, just one of the offerings available on “Documentary Heaven” (and there are many, many more: check it out at http://documentaryheaven.com) is the protean portrait of perhaps the most resonant war photographer of the past 60 years, ”McCullin.” (http://documentaryheaven.com/mccullin/)

In the 1950s, Don McCullin started his creative journey as a documentarian by taking picture of the rough street gangs in London; but 20 years later, he found himself in a different world of “rough,” when he – by pluck and sheer invention – masqueraded as a mercenary and took a flight to a Congo village, to watch what the mercenaries were going to do to the local inhabitants. In this documentary, he tells of how he witnessed terrible beatings, boys being shot in the back of the head and dumped in the river, strung up on wires, skinned alive; and all he could do was take pictures. There was no chance that any intervention that he could have the courage to initiate could achieve anything (he would probably have died himself if he had intervened), so he had to ask himself what his “moral sense of purpose and duty” was, as he stood there, with a camera and 20 rolls of film. And it was, simply, to record.

Later, situated in Vietnam, he saw an American soldier dying; his face covered in gore, and decided to turn his camera away. McCullin seems to imply, in his interview, that the soldier’s eyes asked him not to record his own death scene, and so – in this different context – his sense of moral purpose changed, to accommodate the desires of his (non) subject…and McCullin turned his camera away.

Being a recorder of death, of cruelty, of visceral human evil towards one’s fellow person, might seem like it might excite a self-confessed “war junkie” (as McCullin describes himself), but the documentary, 92 minutes long, presents sampled minutes of his own life story, and paints a much more ambiguous picture of a decent man who is drawn to capture the realities of war, and finds himself irrevocably changed as a result.

It’s one of many fascinating documentaries available online. The Hillman Photography Initiative, at the Carnegie Museum of Art (http://www.nowseethis.org), presents a documentary a world away from the frighteningly mundane terrors of human-on-human violence; and, instead, focuses on the mind-bending applications of how photographic technologies are being used to visualize the subatomic world at CERN (at the European Organization for Nuclear Research; where physicists and engineers are probing the fundamental structure of the universe). How does one actually record that moment when sub-atomic protons and sub-atomic electrons actually collide… but emit no light? Even if one cannot understand (remotely!) the jargon used by the eggheads in charge, at least one can take comfort that they need good old-fashioned nineteenth-century (so uncool!) photographic principles to record the world’s most advanced particle physics research collisions.

Whether your tastes and interests range from the human to cosmic, sites such as

“Expert Photography” (http://expertphotography.com/20-photography-documentaries-youtube/) can link you to all valences in between, be it film grain or pixels.

Want to see nine minutes in the life of the Paparazzi ; Richard Avedon at the height of his fame; or “Duffy: The Man Who Shot The Sixties?” then there’s no excuse not to get your mouse clicking and your mind buzzing!