SOPA And Photographers' Rights

All the discussion about SOPA last week (you know, the protests of the Stop Online Piracy Act that blacked out a lot of sites for 24 hours in order to give us an idea of what the internet might be like if we stopped the free flow of content) was sort of uncomfortable for me. On the one hand, I love the Internet just the way it is, but on the other—and this is big—as a commercial photographer my livelihood depends on my ability to create content (mostly photographs, some words) and to be paid for its usage. And that's the crux of the conflict: on the one hand are the content creators (mostly movie studios and record labels and media conglomerates) and on the other is "the internet," or at least the most popular places on the Internet where we like to gather, because that's where the good content is. So as a photographer, I've felt more than a little conflicted. But the bottom line is that SOPA as it's currently written is simply overkill; as Rob Haggert writes at A Photo Editor, "it's like banning cars because bank robbers use them to get away." Read more on Rob's take at his web site, and rest assured that in its current iteration SOPA is not, in fact, going to help you as a content creator, so it's okay to oppose it. That said, Rob also points out a crucial component in all of this organized online outrage: don't forget that the folks screaming loudest (Facebook, Google, et al) aren't in this to keep freedom free—they just want to make sure they can "keep control of the copyrighted material you produce." The comments offer interesting insights too—which is no easy feat. Taken together, it's something we should be thinking about as we creep further down the rabbit hole with every passing day.

http://www.aphotoeditor.com/2012/01/19/sopa-and-photography
DPMag
All the discussion about SOPA last week (you know, the protests of the Stop Online Piracy Act that blacked out a lot of sites for 24 hours in order to give us an idea of what the internet might be like if we stopped the free flow of content) was…

Watching Photographers Work

I just discovered a treasure trove of photographic documentaries. It's called "the internet." Heard of it? Seriously, name a photographer and somewhere out there on the web (YouTube isn't a bad place to start) there's probably an in-depth interview with them. Occasionally I stumble across a little place online where several of these videos have gotten together to hang out. One such great place to find lots of videos about photographers is the American Suburb X blog. The site is perhaps the best place online to read in-depth interviews with the greatest art photographers of the last 50 years, but it's also a compendium of video interviews and documentaries as well. The one that prompted me to mention it here is an hour-long 1981 documentary about street photographer Joel Meyerowitz. It's a wonderful video that provides tremendous context for Mr. Meyerowitz's work through audio and video, and it does what I most love about motion pictures—you can literally watch master photographers at work. So if this is the sort of thing that floats your boat, start with the Meyerowitz video, then stick around to check out videos that include the likes of Sally Mann, William Eggleston and Harry Callahan.

http://www.americansuburbx.com/2011/11/asx-tv-joel-meyerowitz-street-photography-1981.html
DPMag
I just discovered a treasure trove of photographic documentaries. It's called "the internet." Heard of it? Seriously, name a photographer and somewhere out there on the web (YouTube isn't a bad place to start) there's probably an in-depth interview with them. Occasionally I stumble across a little place online where…

A Year Of Photo Project Ideas

Continuing with my theme of photographic self-improvement from yesterday, today I've got a link to a blog with some practical help to get your creative juices flowing. As I've said many times right here on this blog, I am just no good at photo-a-day projects. So while I may not be the perfect guy to emulate when it comes to this stuff, at least I know who to point you to when you want to model good behavior! The Pixiq blog is a great place to look for insight and inspiration in general, but today especially because of a great post by Haje Jan Kamps that can help you develop some great photo projects for yourself in 2012. And don't get me wrong: these don't all require the commitment of "photo-a-day" projects. Some of them are simple projects that you can do for a month, or over the course of a weekend, or even just in a single day. The point is, giving yourself photo assignments really is invaluable. It will make you a better photographer, hands down. So if you don't know where to look, start here at Pixiq and pick a project that sounds like fun. Or, at the risk of sounding entirely too self-serving, check out a recent Tip of the Week article I wrote here at the Digital Photo web site. It's all about setting some photographic goals for the new year in order to improve your photography over the long run. Whereever you start, it all comes down to some really tremendous, really simple advice: Just do it.

http://www.pixiq.com/article/ten-cool-photography-projects
http://www.dpmag.com/how-to/tip-of-the-week/five-new-years-photo-resolutions-you-can-keep-01-02-12.html
DPMag
Continuing with my theme of photographic self-improvement from yesterday, today I've got a link to a blog with some practical help to get your creative juices flowing. As I've said many times right here on this blog, I am just no good at photo-a-day projects. So while I may not…

Self-Portraits Done Right

I've never been much for self-portraits. I remember an assignment once in college in which where we were charged with recreating a famous portrait but in self-portrait form. I chose a Bruce Weber brooding black and white portrait of actor Girard Depardieu. It worked, but not nearly as well as Mr. Weber's. Maybe because I'm not as pretty as Gerard. But I'm digressing, because the point isn't that I'm not much of a self-portrait photographer, it's that when I see great examples of them I'm insanely envious of those who can do them well. This is the same feeling I have about "picture a day" projects; I appreciate them, but I just can't seem to bring myself to invest in the commitment of taking a picture every day. Silly, I know. Anyway, the point is that I just discovered an awesome combination of the two. There's no better self-portrait project, and no better picture-a-day project, than Jeff Harris' ongoing adventure. He's up to 4,748 pictures in his "self-portrait every day" project (there they are, all laid out side by side in the picture above), which means he hasn't missed a day in nearly 15 years. You might think these images wouldn't be particularly interesting (how engaging can self-portraits be?) but it turns out they can be downright awesome, and Mr. Harris is clearly quite a talented photographer with a great sense of color and composition. Check out a fun video at the A Photo Editor blog for a glimpse into the portraits that made me a believer, then head over to Mr. Harris' own web site at www.jeffharris.org to see more. As he told A Photo Editor, Mr. Harris is just being pragmatic: "I see no reason to not make a self-portrait each day. I'm always around and always free. It's kind of like going to the gym—it flexes your muscles and keeps you in shape."

http://www.aphotoeditor.com/2012/01/09/jeff-harris-4748-self-portraits-and-counting
DPMag
I've never been much for self-portraits. I remember an assignment once in college in which where we were charged with recreating a famous portrait but in self-portrait form. I chose a Bruce Weber brooding black and white portrait of actor Girard Depardieu. It worked, but not nearly as well as…

The Inner Workings Of A Memory Card

Rob Galbraith's blog is a must-read if you're at all interested in keeping up with the newest photo gear and great links of interest to photographers. He's got a neat video up on his site right now, courtesy of Lexmark. It's an animated look inside the workings of a memory card, and it's not only entertaining, it's actually pretty darn interesting too. After all, how does a memory card work? I always assumed it was some form of magic or witchcraft. Turns out I was only half right. Okay fine, it's not magic at all—but it might as well be! It's pretty great to finally get a bit of an idea how this mysterious little device works to be such an integral part of every digital workflow.

http://www.robgalbraith.com/bins/content_page.asp?cid=7-11673-12244
DPMag
Rob Galbraith's blog is a must-read if you're at all interested in keeping up with the newest photo gear and great links of interest to photographers. He's got a neat video up on his site right now, courtesy of Lexmark. It's an animated look inside the workings of a memory…

How To Design A Good-Looking Photo Book

I recently invested a fair chunk of my time into assembling and printing more than a half dozen photo books. I learned a lot about print quality, the importance of a helpful publisher with good software, and most of all the importance of good design for the layout of a book—whether it's a portfolio, a wedding album or a coffee table keepsake. So when this morning I read a piece at Digital Photography School about how to design a good photo book layout, it really piqued my interest. I was a bit skeptical, I admit, because the one thing I found in the many book templates I tried is that those templates don't often reflect good design. But these tips were written by the young lady behind the "Photo Book Girl" web site and she knows whereof she speaks. (Her site, btw, looks to be a great resource for all sorts of how-to tips, deals and information about making great photo books. Check it out at http://www.photobookgirl.html.) Her first bit of advice is to keep the layout simple, so you know right there she's off to a good start—and bound to help you overcome some of the cluttered, cumbersome and downright goofy templates that exist out there in photo book world. So check out the tips at http://www.digital-photography-school.com/5-top-tips-for-designing-good-photo-book-layouts and then read about my experiences with a handful of publishers at the Digital Photo Pro web site, http://www.digitalphotopro.com/technique/software-technique/photo-books-101.html.
DPMag
I recently invested a fair chunk of my time into assembling and printing more than a half dozen photo books. I learned a lot about print quality, the importance of a helpful publisher with good software, and most of all the importance of good design for the layout of a…
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