The ‘Technology’ Wars

Thinking about buying a new camera?  Maybe getting a new one for Christmas?  A simple question, but one that assumes you know what you are doing.  Plus it assumes that you are not simply upgrading, for the sake of it.  How many times do people change their gear, because getting a ‘better’ camera will give you better images….

I’m using the Canon 1D MK4, bought in 2010 – but I see a LOT of people now who are more than happy with their mobile phones, or tablets for their images.  Does this mean the death of the DSLR?  I’d like to think not, but it is true that some newspapers have removed all their photography staff, and given the journalists an iphone or other ‘smart’ gadget.  Maybe the ethos of ‘better images’ is starting to vanish, and we are experiencing a new boom of quantity over quality.  The sheer amount of visual images on the internet now, through flickr, facebook, and so on, means that you are seeing far more poor quality images than ever before;  and the sad thing is that the more poor quality things you see, the more you get used to seeing them, and the more you accept that as a standard.

That’s not to say there aren’t the great photographers out there – they are there, and they are putting an enormous amount of energy and skill into producing some outstanding images. I use Google+ and Flickr to share pictures I have made, and they are great places to experiment, and see what sort of reaction there is to new stuff that I produce.  In the end analysis though, it’s still social sharing, and maybe it’s not as real as showing them in the ‘real’ world.  What is the value of strangers ‘liking’ an image if they are not prepared to explain what it is they like?

Has the ease with which images are captured actually devalued their credibility?  Have images become worth so much less since the advent of the mobile phone?

I ask myself this more often these days.  For example – at a dinner I was shooting the other month, a chap came up to me and asked why I thought I needed such a big camera – he himself had his ipad mini – and was more than happy to show me his ‘brilliant’ pictures that he had taken with it.  I’m not saying his images were bad, but he what he really wanted to show me was that I didn’t need the gear I had.  Somehow though I think that if a ‘professional’ photographer turned up at his wedding with an ipad, he might be just a little underwhelmed !

The whole value of images is reducing almost on a daily basis – I get asked to work for free all the time “for exposure”, and that I should be grateful to be asked, because, after all, they could have done it with their compacts, or phones.  (Try asking the plumber to come along for free – see how he or she reacts to that one…..)  On the other hand, with the better cameras, and powerful software, why shouldn’t they try it for themselves.

My own thoughts are that photographers have to move with the times.  I’ll confess to having taken images with my ipad, during a conference where the lens I had with me would not fit the whole lecture hall in.  My fault I admit, for not having the right lens with me.  The ipad image though was quite acceptable, and the client didn’t even bat an eyelid.  I just added that one shot in with all the others, knowing that the images were only going to be used on line.  The problems arise when a print is required and you can’t get the image quality.

I would say though that just because there are more people out there taking photographs, doesn’t mean that there are more ‘good’ photographers.  I think there are about the same number of people producing good images as there were before – it’s just that they are somewhat overwhelmed by all the other ‘stuff’.

It’ll be interesting to see in the next year or so, where we go with the new DSLR type video cameras, from which you can capture one frame as a still.  Why worry about taking individual images – video the whole event and pick your shot.

Next year’s technology could be worth looking at…..

 

 

Google vs Getty

The Google / Getty Stock Images Situation

photo

Over the last few weeks, I have closely followed the situation that currently exists between Google, and Getty Images.

It comes almost immediately after the problems with Instagram terms of service – which were re-issued to state that

“Some or all of the Service may be supported by advertising revenue. To help us deliver interesting paid or sponsored content or promotions, you agree that a business or other entity may pay us to display your username, likeness, photos (along with any associated metadata), and/or actions you take, in connection with paid or sponsored content or promotions, without any compensation to you.”

“Instagram does not claim ownership of any Content that you post on or through the Service. Instead, you hereby grant to Instagram a non-exclusive, fully paid and royalty-free, transferable, sub-licensable, worldwide license to use the Content that you post on or through the Service, except that you can control who can view certain of your Content and activities on the Service as described in the Service’s Privacy Policy.”

These terms have since been revised, Getty though has continued to broker a deal with Google that seems on the face of it to be totally unreasonable.  On the Google Drive Blog  they announced 5000 new images were to be made available free of charge to Google Drive users.  Create an image on Google Drive, and choose your image to illustrate it.  Whether for personal, or commercial use the images are free.

Where do these images come from?  Well, a lot seem to come from ‘i-stock’ , and others from the Getty/Flickr relationship.

This is a licence deal arranged with Google, through Getty images and iStock RF collections.  There was an initial pool of several thousand images licensed from Getty and iStock RF that are on the Getty platform.

What does this mean – well initially we have seen that some photographers whose images are sourced through Flickr to the Getty RF pool, have received around $12 per image, to have their images on the Google Drive search.  Images which have had the metadata stripped and can therefore not be traced back to the photographer.

So – initially, if you have photos on Flickr, which are currently in the Getty pool, you may find them turning up on Google Drive.. You will know if this has happened, as it will show in the October / November 2012 statements.  The main problem as I see it, is that you have images of people who have signed a model release stating that their image will not be used for certain purposes – but once out in the wild – they could end up anywhere – and the photographer can’t do anything about it.  The Getty contract is suitably vague, and even if you pull out of the programme, you can’t recover images already sold.

There has been another post on the iStock website

“We’ve heard you, and we’ve met with Google and are working with them to refine the implementation which we believe will address some of the concerns raised over the past several days–including copyright ownership.”

Maybe the agreement will be changed.  I’ll be watching to see how this one develops.

Image Credits

From time to time, I’m asked for images, which are to be used for various purposes, such as a blog or calendar – typically these are not for profit, or charity organisations who want a nice image to use.  It usually is a short run of something, or an image for a website, which will be small – and then I’m offered a credit, or link back to my own gallery.  Sometimes I’ll do a trade for goods, or services – such as stationery, or being helped with my SEO (which I’m really bad at….)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sometimes though, I’m asked for images that are to be used by people who will be making money in large quantities, and still want the image for free… usually I won’t have any truck with them.

Lately though, I’ve been asked on more than one occasion for images that I have taken commercially, for commercial use.

A good number of requests come via Flickr – running on the lines of “we think your images are wonderful, and we’d really like to use one on our blog/website/newsletter etc…. however we have a low/zero budget, but we will be prepared to credit you on our site/newsletter whatever…..  ”  Sometimes they even tell me what the print run will be with the image being used, but they still don’t have a budget for it.

Can someone please explain why it is, that these people do have a budget for production, publicity, advertising, printing etc.. but none to get the images in the first place.  So here’s the deal…. it actually costs money to get these pictures.  I have to buy the kit, learn how to use it, buy the computer, the software, the car (to get me to the locations), the fuel to put in it – and all the time it takes me to produce the image at the end… and for what?  A credit, that will simply ‘drive’ traffic through to my website…..

When was the last time you picked up a greetings card or calendar, and was curious enough about the author to look them up on Google, or wherever, and view the rest of their images…???  Some photographers might, but the general public…. I’m not so sure about that.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, the deal is that every time an image is given away for a credit, the market for the legitimate photographer shrinks.  More and more companies are asking for images for free, because to an extent now, they know they can get away with it.  If they can’t get them off me for free, they’ll turn elsewhere… and everytime they get an image it reinforces their mentality.  Image credits don’t put bread on the table on a Friday night.

After all, when was the last time you got diesel for you car, and said, “Hey, I can’t pay you right now, I don’t have a budget for fuel,  but if anyone asks, I’ll tell them I got it from this great garage in Stockport,  just think of all the extra trade you’ll get”….  see what I mean…????