2009: Weakest Ad Market Since '01

by JamesNYCDecember 4. 2008 08:18
NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Business is about to go from bad to worse for Madison Avenue and media companies, a 2009 sector outlook issued this week by Fitch Ratings indicates. Newspapers will disappear, advertisers will cut back on ad spending, but those that do still advertise can push for better rates thanks to the proliferation of digital media options.


Surviving The Recession

by JamesNYCDecember 1. 2008 08:10
Jon Hornstein of Creative Touchpoint

This is a challenging time for photographers, as it is for almost all sectors of the economy. The photo industry was already facing a gloomy outlook even prior to the recent stock market meltdown.

The economy is cyclical. Booms followed by busts are the norm. But for many areas of professional photography this recession is a watershed moment. Print publishing, the financial lifeblood of commercial, editorial and corporate photography, was already rapidly loosing readers and advertisers. The current recession will only accelerate the loss of advertising dollars and hasten the death of many print publications.

General estimates are that this recession will last 18-36 months. Once ad spending does begin to increase again, fewer ad dollars will go back into print and more will go into Web, mobile, games and product placement. Much of the costs of creating an ad campaign that previously went to photographers will instead go to videographers, graphic designers, user experience designers and 3-D modelers.

Of course commercial, editorial and corporate photography won't disappear. There will still be  print publications as well as billboards, bus shelters, brochures and other marketing and promotional needs that only photography can fill. But much of that will be filled with low-cost microstock whenever possible. More...

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8X10 with out a net.

by JamesNYCAugust 14. 2008 09:39
I got a call last week from a photographer friend of mine for an 8X10 shoot.
This was to be a fine art shoot that would take place in a burned out building with out air-conditioning.
While we had plenty of film for the shoot (FUJICOLOR PRO 160S PROFESSIONAL), but we came to find that Polaroid 8x10 could not be found anywhere in or around NYC.

The lack of Polaroid and use of hot-lights for the shoot presented an interesting scenario.
This would require what some would consider the “old school method” metering every part of the set to see exactly where the lights were falling off, and where the hot spots were, and balancing the ratios across the set.
Now let me interject and respond to those asking “Why not just shoot digital?”
1) It’s what the photographer wanted.
2) 8x10 was the right tool for the job.

While this may not sound like much fun to some people, I live for this stuff
Since we didn’t have Polaroid we at least had some latitude that shooting C-41 offered. After metering we shoot ? stop open from meter, plus the ½ stop compensation for a slight bellows extension. So because we were essentially shooting blind we did do a 2 sheet bracket, plus ½ stop open for the second sheet, for all of the shots that day.
Did I mention that we were shooting in Jersey?
This meant that we wouldn’t have the opportunity to see the film until later the next day; and since we were again on set first thing in the morning we still didn’t have the option to view the results of the first day until we brought in the film later that day.
SO what we did was to have the lab contact print the negs and scan 3 with a flatbed scanner and email the JPG’s to use. This worked pretty well for the photographer as he got to see that he was getting what he wanted. While looking at the JPG’s I noticed that the even though the images looked great, I could still see a hint of the film base on the contact sheet. This meant that even with over exposing by nearly 2 stops we had to over expose more. Having this new information made shooting the second day a little less stressful.


"I don't hire women" and other sexist comments.

by JamesNYCAugust 13. 2008 09:21
As I have stated in some of my other writings, based on my observations there is an unspoken fact about the commercial photo industry; that being the degree of sexism and racism that exits.
This despite it’s perception of being all inclusive and populated by progressive thinking artists’.

This was again brought to my attention about two weeks ago when a female assistant emailed me from the west coast.

While she didn't go into graphic details, the content and structure of the email conveyed the level of stress and anxiety she was feeling. I answered her email as best I could but suggested she call me to speak of her experiences further.

She called 2 days later. During the conversation, she recalled her experiences of the past year. She had been told "I don't hire women." Despite having the same level of experience and skill sets, was paid less than other assistant for the same job. Among other choice comments, she has even been told "..well, I pay the men more because they work harder.."
It should also be pointed out that women photographers are often just as discriminatory towards female assistants.

50 & 65 Megapixel digital backs. “Do we really need them?”

by JamesNYCJuly 21. 2008 07:57
With Hasselblad’s announcement last week of their new H3DII-50 “Integrated digital Camera” (The H3DII-50 camera will be available from October 2008 at a price of $39,995.").  Phase One felt the need to respond with the early announcement of their new P65+ digital back (Expected release Q4 2008) which is expected to work with most third party medium format camera bodies.



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Aperture 2.1 launch issue when running Phocus 1.0

by JamesNYCJuly 7. 2008 09:44
If you encounter problems with Aperture 2.1 while running Phocus 1.0, the information provided in this mailing is relevant to you :

The issue:
When Phocus 1.0 is launched it will check whether the necessary ICC profiles are present and if not they will be installed. Unfortunately due to an OS bug related to 64 bit applications this leads to a partly corrupted ColorSync profile cache which will prevent Aperture 2.1 from launching.

The solution:
In most cases the issue can be fixed by following these steps:

1) Phocus installs 3 profiles:
Hasselblad RGB.icc
Hasselblad 330Skel 30K75.icc
Hasselblad 350Skel 30K90.icc

For users with administrator rights they will be located in /Library/ColorSync/Profiles - otherwise you can find them in /Library/ColorSync/Profiles.
Drag these 3 profiles to another location - for instance the desktop.

2) Aperture should now be able to launch without problems - verify that and quit Aperture.

3) Drag the 3 Hasselblad profiles back into the Profiles folder

4) Launch Aperture again - this should still be possible without any issues

After completing these steps you can now run Phocus without triggering the issue again.
Apple is working on fixing the OS bug, but it is still present in 10.5.4. For the upcoming Phocus 1.0.1 release we have been able to implement a workaround so that it will not trigger the issue during profile installation.
Best regards,

Hasselblad USA
Technical Support

How Getty Is Killing the Stock Photo Industry

by JamesNYCJuly 7. 2008 08:35
When we created the PhotoShelter Collection, we aimed to change the face of the stock photography industry by fundamentally altering the dynamics of how photographers were treated, and in turn, providing visual diversity to buyers that simply didn't exist. Tens of thousands of photographers from over 130 countries signed up and started uploading their images to PhotoShelter, and the buyers have followed. Each month we have stolen sales with major clients away from Getty and have become an increasingly large thorn in their side.

So it's a flattering to hear that Getty Images is validating our approach and recognizing our success by reaching into the flickr community.  No other competitor in their history has forced Getty to change their model. This is a great sign of encouragement for us. Getty's CEO Jonathan Klein describes this new endeavor as "the best imagery from a fresh collection of high-quality images chosen by us from Flickr's diverse and prolific community." If it sounds familiar, it should be, something very similar is printed on our homepage.

But rather than compare lexicon, let's clarify some of the key points and differences of this announcement.
Klein stated in a Seattle Times piece that the deal "for us is not significant, but it's strategically extremely important." Flickr GM Kakul Srivastava corroborated this by saying, "From our perspective, on the Flickr side, we're not expecting this will be a huge stream of monetization for our members...The relationship, in the licensing piece, is purely between the photographer - the Flickr member - and Getty Images itself."
So, if it's not really about making money, what is it about? Why would the market leader (which is now held by a private equity firm whose sole goal is to make money) strike a deal in such a public fashion if they didn't intend for it to make money? Why would flickr consent to not taking a transaction fee? What is of such "strategic importance" to Klein?
The answer is in Getty's historical moves. It's about locking out competition from the industry to ensure a continued, virtual monopoly. Getty pays flickr for an "exclusive" deal to be their preferred stock content distributor because they are threatened by an open platform like PhotoShelter. Consider that if PhotoShelter succeeds, not only does Getty lose market share, but they invariably will have to give back more of the profits to photographers because they will need to compete for content.


Lexar Professional UDMA 300X CF card, and the Lexar Professional UDMA Firewire 800 reader.

by JamesNYCMay 16. 2008 09:09
We get some great new toys to play with on occasion. The latest was sent to us by Lexar when they introduced the Lexar Professional UDMA 300X CF card,  and the Lexar Professional UDMA  Firewire 800 reader.

While most people specifically those renting digital cameras from rental companies find a Sandisk CF card included with the rental package. These new offerings from Lexar are well worth taking a look at.

Though Sandisk may have the strongest brand name in the flash memory market, they are not without their short comings in terms of the cards life span based on read/write capacity, and they also are the most expensive.

Lexar is actually a wholly owned subsidiary of Micron Technology, Inc. A company that like Sandisk manufactures there own flash memory chips.
For those not familiar with Micron Technology who markets there DRAM as Crucial memory and Flash memory as Lexar; Micron and Crucial memory has been the brand of choice for those building hard-core gaming computers and home computer enthusiasts that have been over-clocking their processors since the days of the Pentium 166.
The reason these computer users have chosen this brand of memory is because it takes the abuse, it runs fast, stays cool, and rarely to never causes system errors. This has also been my personal experience. I have been over clocking my PC's including this sites servers for years using Crucial DRAM. And MAC users will find the Crucial memory is more stable and less expensive than other memory for Mac's.

So during our last Digital Tech Workshop we put the Lexar Professional UDMA 300X CF card, and the Lexar Professional UDMA  Firewire 800 reader to the test. I made every attempt to abuse it beyond what is was designed for.

This UDMA 300X card was tested in the Phase One P25+, P30+ backs, the Leaf AFi that was presented a few weeks ago by FotoCare and Leaf, and it was also used in the Canon 5d, MKII & MKII cameras.

After capturing to the card, and reformatting after every download, reformatting for every system change, including formatting it to both MAC and PC operating systems and using it to transfer video files; the UDMA 300X never had any problems.

The fact is when used in conjunction with the Lexar Professional UDMA  Firewire 800 reader this is the fastest CF card data transfer combination that you can currently buy including any offering by Sandisk.

"..Blazing Fast!!" was what everyone that tried the card and card reader combination said.
Since we don't have any speed test software the best we can offer is our opinion. But when compared to the Sandisk Ultra III that we have here. We saw data transfers taking seconds with the Lexar UDMA 300X as opposed to minutes with the Sandisk card.

Now as you can see below the Lexar option from a cost/performance stand point is by far the better option.

The above table represents the current comparable high performance CF card and CF card reader options from Lexar and Sandisk

Once again we see that checking out all of the options can not only save us money it can boost our workflow performance.

For those interested in seing what's inside a Sandisk CF card click here.

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We look at the Shoot Sac

by JamesNYCApril 6. 2008 09:33

Back in October we told you about a really cool new camera bag we had seen while attending the PhotoPlus Expo in NYC I came upon the booth of a new product called Shoot Sac.

This new company was doing a brisk business at the PhotoExpo and the idea of a photo gear bag that didn’t look like your grandfathers camera bag was very appealing. So I called them up to see about getting a sample to review for the site. Ok so I’m a little late in making this post, by about 3 months… but I think it’s still worth talking about again.
The Shoot sac is a light weight bag with an adjustable nylon strap similar in design to a bike messenger bag that is made out of 3mm neoprene and measures roughly 17” in length and 9” tall.

The bag was initially designed to be useful for wedding and event photographers as well as others who need quick access to their lenses. While it’s not a replacement for a regular camera bag it would be a great location bag for photographers, assistants and digital techs whom on location might need to quickly throw a bag together with lenses and other gear for that quick run down the beach, or the photographers sudden need to leave that location you’ve paid to use in order to shoot in a location that he knows he’ll get kicked out of; or that quick trip in a zodiac to shoot on the side of a volcanic island.

As you can see in this photo, the bag stays close to the body which makes it not even appear to be a camera bag. This is probably a great idea for paparazzi or other situation where some semblance of discretion is mandatory.

The Shoot Sac comes in basic black but replacement covers can be ordered in a variety of colors, designs and fabrics.
One of the esthetic advantages of the Shoot Sac is the ability to change the bags cover flap which is attached by a strip of Velcro. This is simple enough with a quick pull on the Velcro and you can replace the covers or remove it all together.

The Shoot Sac has three pockets in the front and three in the back.


The back pockets use snaps as a method of closure, and the front are protected by the detachable cover flap.

This bag is really well made and for those wanting or needing to have an alternative photo bag this light weight bag makes a great option.
On some levels the Shoot Sac’s purpose is one of form over function.
However having said that I filled it with some heavy items around the house and gave it some abuse. This included dropping it from 6 feet, banging against the walls while running up the stairs, swinging it into a wall as if by accident, and the result was that nothing was damaged, including the bag.
(NOTE: no actual photographic equipment was used during these tests.) The sales team I spoke with were primarily selling to the DSLR photographer demographic.
But I wanted to see what practical application this bag could have for the commercial photographer that doesn’t shoot weddings or events.
So during one of our Digital Tech workshops a few months ago I filled the bag up with some typical Medium format digital gear.

This included:

2 – external Firewire drives

2 – 15’ Firewire cables

1 – 30’ Firewire cable

1 – USB cable

1 – Hasse 120mm lens

1 – Hasse 150mm lens

1 – Mamiya 140mm lens

6 – CF cards

1 – CF card reader


So here’s my take on the Shoot Sac.

Pros:  It’s Lightweight, good looking, offers better than average protection to expensive equipment considering its thin appearance. The stitching looks pretty secure. Holds a good amount of equipment for short limited location situations

Cons: Currently the Shoot Sac comes in only 1 size, it could really use a shoulder pad because the shoulder strap falls off the shoulder every 30 seconds unless you walk leaning to one side. The current Velcro strip that holds the cover flap should be replaced with an industrial version. It’s just too easy to remove the flap or for it to accidentally get pulled off.

The addition of a Velcro strip or clasp on the front of the bag would be nice so that should the bag ever fall off your shoulder your lenses won’t fall out. The snaps on the back too need to be replaced with a more heavy duty version. The current snaps on the bag I received looked like they would pull off after a very short time. While it’s a great idea to have a replaceable cover flap it would be nice if this flap actually cover the entire width if the bag.  As seen in the photo there is a fair amount of space on both sides that should a photographer ever get caught in the rain (like that ever happens) everything in the Shoot Sac will get a fairly good soaking. Double stitching all around would be a nice option along with wider pocket separators. The hardware for connecting the shoulder strap looks pretty but also looks like it would have a short life expectancy; so stronger materials would be a priority.  For $179.00 all of the above issues should all be corrected.

Final thoughts: From my listing of ‘Cons’ you might think that I don’t care for the Shoot Sac.

Not So! I honestly think that this is a must have for the many situations over the years where I really could have used one of these. I only wish that I have invented it.

Price: $179

Further information: www.shootsac.com


ShootSac responds. Hi James! I just read the review you posted, thanks for that! It's nice to see people trying out the Shootsac in different ways than we even intended... we've had reports of people using it for all types of things (it even carries a six pack quite nicely). I did want to mention one thing to you, though. In the review you stated that the bag falls off the shoulder easily unless you walk with a tilt. The Shootsac is actually intended to be worn messenger bag style... with the strap going over your head and resting on the opposite shoulder. This would not allow for the bag to ever fall off or allow any of the contents to fall out. This also would take care of the issue of needing the flap (which is mostly for dust protection and aesthetics, as well as being a lens cloth is you have one of our designer covers) to secure down via velcro. We wanted the bag to be the fastest and easiest to get into and change your lenses out of... so securing the flap was against that. Anyhow, I just wanted to express my appreciation for you taking the time to examine and review our product, and to make you aware of the intended use of the Shootsac. I hope this clears up a little bit of what seemed to be negative aspects to you, and hopefully it will allow you to be more confident in using the bag yourself. I can certainly see why it would seem easy to fall if it was being worn straight off the shoulder! :)

It's In The (e)Mail - An introduction to creating effective email campaigns

by JamesNYCFebruary 29. 2008 07:52
by Jon Hornstein,  February 29, 2008 Postcard mailers have been a standard promotional tool for photographers for decades. And while they still serve an important function, email blasts have largely overtaken postcards as the preferred way for photographers to reach out to potential clients and keep in touch with existing clients.

Email has many advantages over postcards.
With email, you can track who receives your message, who opens it and if they click-through on any images or links. You can also create a richer and more interactive experience by designing the email in a way that allows the recipient to access progressively more information. Tracking the behavior of the recipient can also tell you what people find most interesting about you and your work. This type of marketing information is priceless. Last but not least, the cost of sending an email blast, while not as inexpensive as many think, is much less expensive than printing and mailing postcards.

But a poorly designed email campaign can be ineffective or even damaging to your reputation.

Here are 10 things you need to keep in mind when planning and sending your email campaign:

1. Start With a Good List
The best list consists of names of people who have asked to hear from you. Legally, these are the only people you should ever address with a mass email. Otherwise what you are sending is considered SPAM. Bought lists are only legal to use if the people on the list gave their permission to the list collector to receive unsolicited emails from people selling photographic services. Always check to see if this is the case. Even then, the quality of the list can vary widely. In all your activities, try to get people to agree to receive marketing emails from you. This is your "golden" list.

2. Send Regularly
You should use your email campaign to create and sustain a relationship with the recipients. Sending them monthly is ideal. Every other month is the minimum frequency you should consider. If you send out promotional emails more than once per month you run the risk of creating "noise" that your audience will find easy to ignore.
read more: http://tips.creativetouchpoint.com/tipsblog/archives/26

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