Unlicensed content is used every day while the copyright holders do what they can to prevent it. It’s an endless cycle that can’t be stopped but the importance of creating and sharing should outweigh any fear.
However, sometimes the infringement is so obvious, you find yourself asking how anyone could think it was a good idea. I wrote about my involvement with the TinEye brand before. It’s something I’m proud of which made for an entertaining and shocking morning after reading that the TinEye robot was rebranded as a bug finder in his very own video game. Stealing an established brand/mascot/logo from a company designed to find copied images might not be the brightest idea.
It’s not my battle to fight but the game developers response will be interesting.
If actions speak louder than words, the concept of subscribing to your favourite websites by RSS would appear to be spiraling down a dead end path. A long list of companies abandoning the technology that could be headlined by Apple discontinuing support for RSS in it’s mail client and a few months later, Google announcing the closure of Reader. With two major companies dropping support, what are users to do with all those little orange icons we see on most websites?
How do you subscribe to your favourite websites?
Facebook, Twitter, G+, Pinterest, etc, etc can all be fun, but I really do not want to depend on social networks for content subscribing. I also do not want to bookmark and visit sites daily looking for possible updates.
Email subscriptions would seem like the obvious choice (we check that daily anyway) but unfortunately, not all websites offer email subscription support.
But they could using a third party service and maybe Blogtrottr is the strong contender to fill this replacement need. With a basic account, you provide all the websites you’re interested in, and Blogtrottr will email you when new content becomes available (or on a schedule of your choosing). With the combination of email filters, this service has the potential to be great for all those lost and left out in the cold by Google. I’m still kicking the tires but will let you know how it goes. So far, so good.
Today’s Image – Ice Space Bubbles
To infinity and beyond… plus all those other deep space references. The common images coming from Abraham Lake deep in the Canadian Rockies along the North Saskatchewan River are bubbles caused by methane frozen in a crystal clear man-made lake. The prime time is January and February but as spring draws near, and the ice begins to melt and refreeze, the ice will crystallize and crack. If not covered in snow, the effect can be equally interesting.
I was recently watching an incredible time-lapse film but while admiring how perfect it may be – the film still struggled to keep my attention. How can something so beautifully done lose my interest so quickly? Perhaps it’s related to my lack of interest for video slideshows. In a slideshow, some images will surely be amazing and you’ll want to spend more time with them. Others will be less interesting that you wish to skip over. The problem I have with slideshows is that all images are weighted the same and the editor decides how quickly you should view them. With this variety, you may not willing to move forward to the next image presented in front of you because your mind is still focused on trying to process that image 4 slides ago.
But the imagery in this film spaning over multiple season got me thinking. With the advancements of digital picture frames, how cool would it be to have a single time-lapse image hanging on the wall that would simulate a full year of a single well composed scene?
Consider a 365-day time-lapse image that is shortened into playing over a 7 day loop. It would be fast enough for the constant movement of weather but for every day on the wall, the image would play 52 days worth of activity equalling a sunset every 27 minutes. This image in your living room would display a new season 4 times a week giving you a winter image every Monday and summer every Thursday.
We live in a very visual world. Every electronic gadget is now capable of recording images and millions of photographs are taken every minute. We are overwhelmed with the noise of new gear announcements every other week — full of marketing specifically designed to lead us into believing buying XYZ will make us better. The volume of this noise can often cloud our better judgement and quickly distract us from the real values and rewards of creating photographs.
I am very much guilty and I routinely ask myself… Why do I do this? Why do I care so much? Why do I spend so much time in this world of photography?
By it’s simplist definition, photography is an art that freezes time. We are recording history. We are documenting. And we are preserving memories. Photography is huge within my family and there is no denying that we all love to share, remember and tell stories. Photography is social. Photography is archival. And photography is priceless because when something is destroyed from flooding, fires, natural disasters — after life itself, it’s always the lose of photographs that stand out as significant.
So why am I writing about this tonight?
Every once in a while I talk with another photography who is capable of summarizing what photography is all about in a beautiful way. I first met Maurice Henri in his hometown of Moncton a few years ago and have since been pushing to have a venue for him to come to the Island and speak. Tonight was that night and he delivered a powerful presentation with more impact than I could have ever hoped for.
Since 2005, Maurice has been building a personal project called Cameras for Healing. Starting with the west African country of Sierra Leone, Maurice set out on the incredible journey to emotionally heal through photographic arts those living with pain, grief, fear, poverty or stress. All in a country that has nothing we can so easily take for granted.
As I feel the need to write this, I also realize my words can’t do his presentation any good. Maurice’s stories were incredibly powerful. Everything from his 28 adopted children through sponsorship, buying equipment for the women to start a sewing business, or his role in building a school for a village. All of his actions, support and most importantly results were started by providing cameras, teaching photography, and giving victims a voice to speak out, express themselves by telling their own stories and finding hope.
I wish everyone interested in photography could have attended tonight. From the violent stories of the sexual abuse of minors, aggressive killings, and the recruitment of child soldiers — the horrific stores were countered with positive ones. For a better understanding of Cameras for Healing, consider watching the following video:
Now that Sierra Leone is well established and on it’s way with a self-running Cameras for Healing program, Maurice has started introducing Cameras for Healing into Hati and Columbia with additional countries also asking for his help. I am already looking forward to hearing a future presentation.
Cameras for Healing Founder, Maurice Henri believes that the power of the photographic image can open the heart and change people’s view of the world. It also tells a story of the relationship between subject and photographer. It conveys what the image maker sees, feels and believes. Using his methods of art for healing, Maurice has helped many children and adults process stress, illness, and grief. He initially developed the Cameras for Healing method of Art & Creativity for Healing in his home province of New Brunswick, Canada in 2002 as an art workshop to help cancer patients and survivors deal with stress. Giving people validation and hope through my photography is what my life’s work is all about.
Which brings me full circle to ask again, what photography means to you and why do we do it? If you have spent any amount of time reading anything on the web or in magazines — you might be tempted into believing that it’s about who owns the most or newest equipment.
For a long time, I’ve struggled with the idea of how humans attempt to control the world around them. With a rapidly increasing population, I could never articulate in words how I truly felt about an over populated world consuming so many resources with an increasingly growing foot print around the obsession of possession. With each new invention and product as technology progresses, we want and buy and discard the old.
The food industry alone is amazing considering the shear volume being pushed through the system and shipped around the world daily. The way we treat livestock and wildlife and our efforts to control the populations of species when nobody is controlling our own. We share this planet with everything nature has to offer but yet we claim a self-appointed authority position. With an end goal of more wealth, when does the human population out number the demand and supply of everything we have grown to depend on?
Humankind as a Geological Force
Two weeks ago on November 16th, Dr. David Suzuki took the stage here in Charlottetown with a very passionate presentation (watch it here), and addressed concerns from a global level to an acknowledgement of the local Plan B controversy hitting many of the points on which I’ve struggled to express myself in any meaningful way.
David talks about priorities and defines all the things that really matter in our lives. We need air. We need water. And although we know that without them, we would die, and if either are polluted, we would be sick, David continues to ask what intelligent animal would use such valuable resources as a toxic dump? How can we be turning our back on what got us here in the first place? We must learn to live within the constraints of nature and stop shoehorning nature into our agendas. Nature is the source of our well-being.
70% of our economy depends on the consumption of stuff. All of that stuff comes out of the earth to ultimately be thrown back into the earth as waste. We elevate the economy above the very things that keep us alive. Humans have become a powerful force – 7 billion strong – and what we do in the coming years will determine whether we as a species can survive. The full presentation can be re-watched in all it’s glory here on the Confederation Centre of the Arts website.
Publishing can be easy. With nothing more than a copy of InDesign, independent authors can skip the entire print process saving time and money by exporting a digital file for instant download sales. In the self-published photography world, it feels like the PDF remains the popular choice for those not concerned about DRM. Selling a nicely designed PDF and calling it a book has become very common with the do-it-yourself educators.
Earlier this week a new publication came to my attention when I received a review copy of PHOTOGRAPH — a new quarterly magazine for creative photographers. It already has a running head start for success with a loyal audience to it’s publisher Craft & Vision.
But following that, surveys appeared on social media feeds asking for my preference between PDF and ePub, the sharing of an unfortunate story about Amazon DRM policies, a testing of Blurbs idea of a digital book, and yesterday, KelbyTraining releases their latest ebook as an iPad app. With so many possibilities for distribution, is there a right answer for everyone? And does it matter?
PHOTOGRAPH continues the popular trend of a flat turn-the-page PDF style document. Sure large magazine such as National Geographic are producing highly interactive magazines as iPad apps, but the ability to scroll and zoom in all directions to unlock information can be more confusing than helpful. Maybe even more frustrating than navigating DVD menus.
On the other hand, ePub is the complete opposite and designed for simplicity allowing the hardware to dictate presentation for the best optimal reading experience. It works beautifully for text heavy novels but begins to show it’s weaknesses with books made of only images and diagrams.
With a mixed library of my own containing all-of-the-above formats and also including the traditional and trusty real paper books, it’s hard to claim one file format better than the other. The format should really be decided by the content and how that author or photographer wishes their work to be displayed — even if that means National Geographic or KelbyTraining requiring their audience to own an iPad, NAPP requiring the use of Zinio, or Amazon requiring the use of a Kindle. The consumer will eventually decide which distribution will win as asset management becomes more and more complicated.
Someone finds your work on Flickr. They contact Getty Images to buy it. Getty Images contacts you for permission to sell it to their buyer. Do you do it?
When I’m in Halifax, I try to stop in for a visit at the ViewPoint Gallery on Barrington — a shared street level gallery space operated by a hand selected membership. It’s kind of like an advanced photo club and part of me is slightly jealous a similar concept doesn’t exist in Charlottetown.
I was recently invited over to Truro to speak at a morning seminar to the ImageMakers Photography Club and took the opportunity to keep going into downtown Halifax to attend the opening reception of a show at ViewPoint sponsored by Atlantic Photo Supply. Photographers from around the maritimes of all skill levels showcased 155 powerful images in commercial, wedding, portrait and fine art categories. The basis of the show was to celebrate the expansion of Atlantic Photo Supply.
If you are in Halifax before June 3rd, this months display at ViewPoint is a collection of infrared images by the always popular Eric Boutilier-Brown. I’m going to miss it but was lucky enough to be in Halifax for Eric’s previous two shows Frozen Light and Symmetry in Stone. I would like to point out this one single image “The Gift” and it’s description. The photographers in the crowd will enjoy the technical specs.
Today’s Image – The Power and Importance of the Buoy
Here, I am playing in the water at North Rustico (N 46 27.362 W 63 17.408) trying to frame and illustrate the role of the red and green buoy that fishing boats must enter and exit between. On either side is shallow and lined with unforgiving rocks.
Now that I’m committed financially to producing my own fine art prints (I’m giving some away via facebook btw – spread the news), I have participated in many friendly debates about the file vs the print and how several photography studios still consider the print the be all and end all of preserving memories. So many studios still refuse to sell files but those same studios may also be trashing the files after only a few years. So my question for everyone that shoots for clients, either it be portrait, commercial or weddings, if you do not offer the sale of files, do you archive them forever?
With the level of photo restoration happening today fixing water damaged or sun faded prints of grandparents at young ages – there should be no reason to have this problem with the images being made today 50 years from now. The general public is smarter and more aware of managing their digital life and unlike the negative which was also analog, a digital file is much easier to duplicate and archive properly. And also unlike a painting, the ability to reproduce more prints is an artificial limitation. With each year that passes, printing technology advances and improves. What is possible today was not possible 10 years ago and oh, how I wish I could simply reprint prints made 50 years ago.
So before you create that sales pitch for you website on why “hire a professional photographer” with the standard bullet points — are you making a long-term product or a short-term one? And if you are the client hiring a photographer, are you hiring to create a print/image for the short-term or the long-term?
Whether the business model fits it or not, digital files are here to stay but let’s not confuse this with the validity of a print. The print is still the standard for presentation and enjoyment but it is no longer the best method of archival. The print may have the most value today but the file has the most value 100 years from now.
And before you argue that files will be lost or hard drives will die — you can argue all the same points about taking proper care of prints. It only takes a single accident to destroy a piece of art. The big difference is that you can’t back up a print even if you wanted to.
Today’s Image – I’m Now Making My Own Prints
Before transitioning to photography in 2001, I grew up with pencils, brushes, inks and paints. I keep saying artist first photographer second but there is something missing if your work never makes it to paper. And since going digital, I have printed so very little. Now after all these years, I *think* my work has matured enough to be worthy of paper again.
Why have I printed so little until now? For starters, you send your file away, and a week or two later, a package shows up in the mail. To some degree, it’s not really your product at all. It’s a product of the lab created with your artwork. If there is a mistake, you reorder and wait another week. And for low volume printing — shipping is expensive. The second problem is that labs charge a very high premium for art paper which is what I’m mostly interested in.
That’s about to change because I’ve setup my own little home printing lab. It started with the use of a friends printer a couple months ago that has ultimately led to buying one of my own. Which means, reasonably priced open edition signed collectable prints on archival heavy weight papers are coming soon.