Do ya think FB paid any of these people for the use of their “Selfies”( I growing to hate that word, but I digress) for the advertising? Checked for model releases and paid the photographers? I’m betting not. There was a time when something like this would be down right outrageous, but not any more. Everything is upside down and if you think for a minute that you can apply the old copyright and rights management rules to today’s society you are sadly mistaking. I’ve been a FB customer for years but it wasn’t until yesterday after a reboot that I saw this, a statement that they own it all and will use it.
Is it bad …… No
Should we revolt… No
Understand your givin’ it away and embrace it…….
Been thinking about this building for a long time, and maybe my recent blog about abstracts brought it to the front. A friend and student Nancy made some beautiful images of this building for an abstract project. After looking at those Images I said I have to go there, and I finally made it. If you in LA with some extra time don’t miss this, any time of the day you’ll find something interesting to shoot.
I was coming up for air after a week of being sick. I thought taking a walk around the neighborhood would be a good idea. I stopped to have what I thought would be a quick chat with my neighbor Dean. the conversation quickly led to photography, copyright, rights management, and the democratization of publishing.
The conversation reminded me of a Manifesto I wrote in 08 to a peer group of photographers about how I wanted to change the word.
A good re-read for me……..
Thoughts on doing good, and how we go about changing the world!
A good question: what does it means to “do good”? If we solicit non-profits and offer our services for free, they will take it and the value to them will be exactly what they paid for it, nothing! When I think of doing good I think of changing the world. I just heard a kid on TV tonight, he’s ten, with cancer, and said “your never to young to change the world” . I take that to also mean that your never to old. Not that community isn’t important, it has been my experience that it is easy to give it away. It’s really hard to make a difference. Guess that’s why I think teaching is such a cool gig, because I feel like at times I’m making a difference in peoples lives. I’m sure those of you with children have had a similar experience, My wife and I don’t, so this is a new thing for me.
So I don’t want to push the commercial thing too much. We all don’t ” need ” to make money doing photography. That is a good thing, but of course if we got a few hundred grand for our services we could open a really cool studio, gallery, and meeting place. I think it comes down to validation. Sevtap and I have talked about this, how is your work validated, nothing like a fat check to say “you dun good”. I spent my whole professional life doing just that, except the checks weren’t so fat.
We all don’t “need” a check, so how do we validate our work? Giving it away it not validation. Is the work validated by being seen on a grand scale, being used in a gallery, being paid for?????? One of the reasons for the club is to be able to show work to peers and get feed back, that’s a source of validation.
I love making images, going out and shooting, but I ask my self what the heck am I going to do with them? Say we go the Christmas in the park, together we make 1000 images, we are all pretty good photographers and we come up with 40 or so drop dead beautiful images, then what? We will show 8 or so to each other at our next meeting tell each other how good or bad we are, then tuck them away with the other 300 on a hard drive never to be seen again. Or better yet we put them on a web site that says if you even think of taking these images and using them to do good or otherwise, you better pay me or I will sue you.
I have a student that goes out every weekend and just shoots, every parade, street fair, every event that happens in the bay area. Her archive is enormous. She just loves going out exploring with her camera.
I asked her what is she going to do with them and she says ” I don’t know, I just love to go out and shoot”. Are they all great, no, do they have value, yes. She, like the rest of us has been brainwashed by the photo community that our images are a valuable source of income, and should be hoarded away until we find someone that is willing to pay us $XXX.XX for the use of them. It has cost us hundreds to safely tuck those images away for the last 5 years. And yes if you are serious about stock when you go out to shoot, you shoot what you think other people may like, not what you want…… does that seem weird to you? Another student went to a class to hear someone tell her what he thinks other people want in stock photography. So she paid $500.00 for this guy to tell her what to shoot on her next vacation, how to frame it, compose it, and what subject matter to look for, glad someone is making money!
I sure you can tell where this is going! Free stock! Doing good! Changing the world!
As I’m writing this it occurs to me that what’s the difference between giving away our services to a local non-profit and giving away our images to any one who wants them. Not very much I’m afraid, but I would be shooting what I want, when I want and with purpose. There’s also the validation question, how does giving our images away validate our work, not really. But seeing one of my images on a billboard, a bus, or a power point presentation introducing the next CEO of Apple would! Contrary to that, if one appeared on a poster to seduce young girls into a life of prostitution, that would be another story.
Web 2.0 has turned everything upside down, and changed the way the next generation will consume media. Think about YouTube, the validation is how many views you have, ITS NOT ABOUT MONEY.
Sure the now famous opera singer is making money, and the couple who danced to “My babys got back” at their wedding reception were on the Today show. Free content available to everyone, from anywhere, at any time. Photography doesn’t entertain in the same way video does, not by it self, but it is a component . Back to the money thing, Google bought YouTube for a bunch of money, I saw 1.65 billion in stock trade, what ever that means, not “real” money I’m sure. So the people posting, and the people viewing are all doing it for free, knowing that there is millions being made. There is a value proposition in there somewhere or Google wouldn’t be where they are today. Do I want Maverick Photographers to be YouTube, bought by Google, no, not really. Do I want to be able to shot what ever I want, where ever I want, whenever I want, and know it will be seem, used, and consumed; and afford that experience to anyone else who would like it…… That would be kinda cool!
I will end with another thought on validation, maybe our photography is not the product, the end, the thing that needs validation, maybe the validation comes from the ideas, and the way we change how the photographic community views its assets, and set the course for the next generation of image makers to survive. Maybe validating the act of doing make more sense.
Just my thoughts, and I promise the longest message I will ever write.
Like Ansel Adams said to Wynn Bullock when he when off on a rant, “Why don’t you shut up and go make a photograph”.
I’m going to do just that! B