Photo Business

Why You Should Not Become a Photographer

Lawrence Kim has written a detailed article on why photography isn’t the best choice for those hoping to pursue the American dream. He and his MBA make some good points, but fortunately, he doesn’t stop at doom-and-gloom discouragement (even though that’s how you might feel when you finish reading). He also gives a few pointers to those stubborn enough not to take his advice, so have a read and try to keep your chin up.

Don’t Let Schmap Flatter You

I was recently contacted by travel e-guide publisher Schmap because they wanted to use one of my photos on my flickr stream for their guide to the city of Calgary. I quickly declined their offer of no pay whatsoever, especially after reading that they were asking for a world-wide, royalty-free perpetual license. That’s mighty generous of you, but no.

It’s always flattering to have someone appreciate my work enough to use it for a publication, but it’s hardly fair for this commercial publication to be making money from my photos.

A quick google search of Schmap later and result number six lead me to this piece from EPUK that nicely sums up my feelings on the issue.

If the first Dotcom bubble was all about selling imaginary businesses to stupid venture capitalists, Dotcom 2.0 seems mostly to comprise ingenious new methods of grabbing free photos from gullible amateurs on the wide-eyed web and re-purposing them to make a corporate mint.

The comments of the article are also worth reading as they contain a rebuttal from the editor of Shmap. In a series of points, he argues that the inclusion of a given photographer’s photo in a Shmap guide is a marketing opportunity. I’m not sure how telling people that I give away my work is a means of monetizing my images, but there you go…

And by the way, I have not linked to the Shmap web site not only because I disagree with their practices, but also because, when I visited their page to see if any of their guides might be useful, Shmap crashed my browser!

EPUK’s Guide to Free Photography

EPUK put up this cautionary article up last week that details the multiple ways in which photographers are being used and abused by publishers.

There’s a show in the UK called The Real Hustle in which con artists demonstrate their ruses. It’s done in the context of warning people not to fall for these scams, but I bet aspiring criminals use the show as a resource for new tricks (a strobist for miscreants, if you will…). Hopefully, this EPUK list doesn’t just serve to give publishers ideas! Fellow photogs, watch your backs!

Travel Photographer Wins Infringement Suit

One could probably start a daily blog on cases of unlawful uses of photos, but in the case of travel photog Robert Burch, this one has a happy ending for the photographer. His photos were unlawfully used by a US travel agent and when the case went to court, he won a $64k settlement.

This story from PDN states that, “A federal judge recently awarded Burch a $63,866 judgment against a New York City travel agency, finding that the site used four of Burch’s photographs on its Web site without permission.”

The story says, “[Burch] is confident he and his attorney will be able to collect on the payment.”

It’s nice to see one of these infringement cases quickly resolved in favour of the photographer.

Yay for the Internet!

Finally. It took more than a month, but we finally have an Internet connection here at the apartment. No more procrastinating on emails for me!

And that means that I have spent the last little while indulging in some reading of a few of my oft-visited sites. Here’s a roundup of a few things I’ve found:

First, a couple articles from John Harrington has a couple of worthwhile articles to be found at his photo business blog. First of note is this article on the importance of valuing your own work. As photographers, we work hard and invest a lot of time and money to create images. We should be compensated properly for that (and no, 50 cents or a byline is not sufficient compensation).

On a related note, he also has an article on the value of post-production work that details the time and investment made in making those captured images look that much better.

Continuing on the photo business theme, Dan Heller has written an article that is a good starting point for negotiating prices for your photos which focuses on establishing the rights both the photographer and the client has to use the images.

On a non-business-related theme, this page gives some interesting trivia about the resolution of eyes and just how many megapixels would equal if they happened to be made of digital sensors.

And lastly, I’ll throw in a little travel article here to balance out the travel and photography sides of this site. has an article about five ways not to get ripped off while travelling. Most of it is common sense stuff, but a lot of people seem to forget some of them anyway.

Regarding the point that you should keep your personal gadgets hidden, I met girl in Thailand who had an interesting solution to this difficulty: she had covered her camera in stickers that had gradually started to wear off. The thing looked like a piece of junk, but it was actually a decent little digital camera. If you can bear to do that to your equipment, that’s one way to keep your gear hidden in plain view.