Tuesday, 29 December 2009

When travel no longer requires travelling

We've all known about the power of Hollywood special effects ever since Star Wars in 1977. But when Chase Jarvis recently posted a showreel from Stargate Studios I was blown away.

For me it was a real eye-opener how much footage from even relatively simple scenes was shot on a green screen, with a background composited in afterwards.

The advantages from the production perspective are obvious - you don't need to travel, get location permits and are not dependent on the weather. And creatively you are limited only by your imagination.

So what has this got to do with travel photography? Compositing in still photography has been around for a long time, and has become extremely prevalent in the last 10 years as Photoshop has become ubiquitous.

However, it's only been relatively recently that it had been common to see travel posters on the tube here in London where a couple or family have been composited onto a beautiful background. Sometimes it is done very sloppily and looks terrible, but often it is done with great skill and would not be noticeable to the casual viewer.

I can imagine this is a trend that will only accelerate in future. With high quality stock photography available for backgrounds, models can be shot in the studio without the need to expensive travel and weather delays.

The green screen is here to stay.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Are you safe to post on Flickr?

Many professional photographers have shied away from posting their work on social media sites such as Facebook or Flickr. Often they have legitimate concerns about whether their work is protected well enough from copyright infringement. The terms and conditions to these sites are often onerous, hard to understand for those of us that don't speak legal-ese, and in any case get updated so frequently it's hard to keep track.

The downside of not participating professionally in social media sites is that increasingly photo editors and art buyers are looking to them for inspiration, and to find new styles and new photographers. And with the current generation of 20-somethings entering the photo industry, who have spent all their adult lives participating in MySpace, Facebook, Twitter and Flickr, this will only become even more prevalent.

So that you know what's what, the ASMP, America's version of our own AoP, have put together a web page that explains to you in plain language the T&Cs of the main social media sites, letting you know what they, and other users, can and cannot do with your uploaded photos and videos.

Something everyone should read IMHO. Go here for the details.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Travel Photographer of the Year results out

The international 'Travel Photographer of the Year' competition, the most prestigious award in travel photography, has just announced its 2009 results. This year's winner is Bangladeshi photo journalist GMB Akash. He has a great portfolio of ship breakers in Pakistan and railway travellers in Bangladesh. You can see them and the individual category winners here. I was fortunate enough to win the competition in 2006.

Monday, 14 December 2009

Where now for emerging photographers?

A lot of traditional magazines are dying - the drop in print ad revenue is not matched by the increase in online ad revenue. The result is smaller budgets, and less money to spend on creating interesting and original content.

And as a photographer who generates quite a lot of my income from editorial shooting, that can makes things pretty tough. Magazines are using more and more stock photos and commission less and less. Those that do still commission often take the copyright of the images, cutting off a source of future income in stock.

As well as all of that, magazines are the way many people have traditionally gotten into a career in photography. The reduction in commissioning is removing what has traditionally been one of the key steps on the career ladder.

For anyone getting in to photography and looking to get their first editorial clients, Tim Kemple, an adventure sports shooter from Salt Lake City whose blog I have followed for a while, tells it like it is.

"The modern day magazine, the one charging thousands a page for advertising, while paying out hundreds a page for photography, in a book that is 50% advertising is on its last legs…"

Read more here

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Film craziness is catching on

It seems the MF film craze is catching on big-time. Photographer and prolific author David duChemin over at the Pixellated Image recently picked up an old Hasselblad 500CM and seems to be having a lot of fun with it.

Interestingly, he talks about how shooting in a different format and style helps him sharpen his creative eye for when he uses his regular digital setup for his clients.

In the meantime, after my own little experiment with a Hasselblad, I've had some film come back from the lab. Of the two rolls I shot, there are a couple of portraits I really like. Now I just need to get my hands on a scanner to show them to you!

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

New work on the website

I've recently returned from a 5 week shoot in Washington DC for AA Media, and I've just put up a new gallery on my website with a small selection of the shots. Go to the 'Recent Work' gallery, the link is at the bottom right of the home page.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

The future of magazines?

Sports Illustrated, have put together a demo of what their magazine might look like on a tablet touchscreen device. And I have to say it looks pretty good.

If this is what a digital magazine subscription could look like in a year or two, then I think they'll be a huge hit. eBook readers like the Amazon Kindle have been slow to take off, but reading novels is very different from magazines. As adoption of touch screen devices grows I can see these flying off the virtual shelves.

Thanks to A Photo Editor

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Great minds think alike

It turns out Mike Johnston over at the Online Photographer has also just made a post about the delights of film-based medium format. Worth a read.