National Geographic’s First Wildlife Photos
Friday, September 19, 2014
National Geographic magazine has always been full of pretty pictures of the natural world, has it not? Actually, it has not. The first wildlife photographs were published in National Geographic back in 1906, and they caused such a scandal that two prominent board members resigned in disgust, arguing that their beloved publication was turning into "nothing more than a picture book." The photos published more than 100 years ago were by George Shiras III, who pioneered an ingenious technique for photographing wildlife at night with the aid of a canoe and a powerful strobe. The photographer would paddle across a lake in silence and if he heard any sounds nearby he would point his camera in that direction and fire away. He also developed a camera trap system, which has today become a popular method for capturing animals unperturbed by human presence. Shiras was a conservationist who advocated for replacing traditional gun hunting with "camera hunting," and he counted noted hunter President Theodore Roosevelt among his supporters. Read all about the fascinating tale, and see a lot of images from that notable 1906 issue of National Geographic, at PetaPixel.com.
ImageBrief Reinvents The Stock Photo Licensing Model
Thursday, September 18, 2014
There's a new stock photography licensing service called ImageBrief. Unlike seemingly every other stock photo site out there, this one appears to be actually empowering for photographers. Why? Because art directors and designers input their search terms in very straightforward language—such as "young man on beach looking into sunset"—and that request is sent to photographers who have signed up for their service. The photographers then check their archives and find these very specific images that would be nearly impossible to find via the standard stock approach. Photographers can sign up for ImageBrief and, if they do it soon, be entered to win a dream photo shoot courtesy of ImageBrief, Adorama and the International Center of Photography. The winner of the sweepstakes—which is entered simply by joining ImageBrief and referring two additional photographers—will receive a new DSLR (up to $3,000 in value) and complimentary travel and accommodations worth up to $5,000. Where's the dream destination? Because it's the winner's own dream shoot, it's going to be different for everyone. When you enter, you'll stipulate your ideal destination. Entrants have already submitted things like, "I would love to photograph the migration across the Okavango River," and "My dream shoot is capturing the Aurora Borealis in Iceland." It's a fun idea for a contest, and it sure seems like ImageBrief is the kind of stock photography licensing partner that photographers would do well to work with. Learn more, about ImageBrief and the sweepstakes, via my link below. I signed up last week, and have been enjoying perusing the daily requests. The more you enter the contest, the better chance I have of winning my own personal dream photo shoot—a week in the Mediterranean. So hurry up and enter today!
Are Your Favorite Sports Photos Stolen?
Wednesday, September 17, 2014
There's an interesting story unfolding in the world of high-profile photographic copyrights. According to a really interesting article in The Atlantic, even photographers who cover NFL football for the Associated Press and Getty Images, both of which have or had exclusive contracts with the NFL, are suing the agencies and the league charging that they have knowingly misused their copyrighted photographic works without compensation. The lawsuit alleges that the NFL was granted complimentary use of thousands of images for everything from low-profile web galleries to high-profile ad campaigns—even a multiple-stories-tall image of players that was used outside of Texas Stadium to welcome visitors to the 2011 Superbowl. As the photographers are paid a cut of any licensing fees for the images they create, when the agencies for whom they work don't charge their clients for the use of those images, the photographers aren't paid for their work. And they're understandably calling that unpaid usage a violation of their copyrights. Ultimately it's a pretty unique situation because of the exclusive contracts between the NFL and the picture agencies. The disagreement, it seems to me, amounts to an alleged simple breach of contractual obligations between the agencies and the photographers they rely on, but it's still got wide ranging ramifications for anyone who tries to sell their photographic work for profit. It will be interesting to see how this story unfolds. For a great in-depth analysis of the story so far, check out The Atlantic Monthly article via the link below.
The Dangerous Practice Of Rooftopping
Tuesday, September 16, 2014
Have you ever heard of "rooftopping"? It's the practice of climbing atop a tall building—usually a skyscraper—and putting yourself in a precarious position to shoot pictures from some very dangerous, albeit unique, perspectives. If you've ever seen a photo of feet dangling off the edge of a building with a city street unfolding below, you've seen the work of a rooftopper. Let me first go on record as saying that rooftopping strikes me as a particularly dumb activity. It's all risk. Don't do it. It seems like only a matter of time before someone doing this is seriously injured or killed. So I don't advocate rooftopping, and I'm never going to do it myself. (A client once sent me to the edge of a three story building to get a shot, and it was terrifying. Three stories doesn't sound like much, but when you're peering over the edge it sure feels dangerous.) The other day on TV I saw a video of three photographers—rooftoppers, all of them—who shot a selfie atop a 1,135-foot-tall Hong Kong skyscraper. The wide-angle video might induce vertigo in the most sensitive viewers, but it's worth a watch—if only to shake your head at those invincible youth. That video prompted me to investigate the phenomenon, which led me to learn all about rooftoppers and unearth the work of some of the field's most "famous" names. Start with the short article at Slate, linked below, which offers an introduction to the genre and a warning to its practitioners. Then take a look at the work of photographers Andrew Tso and Tom Ryaboi—the former is one of the three photographers in the selfie video above, and the latter is credited as a pioneer of the genre. I don't recommend anyone take up this pastime, and if I could meet Mr. Tso, Mr. Ryaboi or anyone else who thinks this is a good idea, I'd earnestly work to discourage them from the practice. Until then, I'll look at their work and shake my head in awe—of both the images they're making and the brash nature of their risky actions.