One of the primary photographers for the ground-breaking Sierra Club exhibit format series that helped establish the modern environmental movement, Philip Hyde dedicated his life to defending Western American wilderness. His son, David Leland Hyde, has been working hard to keep his father’s legacy alive and introduce the work to a new generation.
Your father, Philip Hyde, played an important role in the preservation of many western landscapes. What was it that drove him to pursue this line of work?
DH: Dad made a spiritual connection to wilderness when he was a young boy partly through the Boy Scouts, partly through his family. His father painted landscapes and was a known modernist painter who studied at the famous art school in Paris, L’ Ecole De Beau Arts. Beau Arts since the 1500s has not charged tuition but is extremely competitive to get into. Dad hiked in the hills of San Francisco that still had a few wild areas left in the 1920s, in Marin County and in the Sierra Nevada Mountains in Yosemite for the first time in 1938 just before he turned 17. On a map of Yosemite Valley he wrote “Home” in big letters after one trip. He was in love with mountains and while stationed at Great Bend, Kansas during World War II, he would drive to Denver just to get a glimpse of the Rockies. He had taken some photography courses before the War and just before his discharge he wrote to Ansel Adams and asked his advice about photography training. His timing was good because Ansel was just arranging the funding to start a photography department at the California School of Fine Arts.
At what point did you get involved with running your father’s business, and how was your transition into this industry?
DH: I started to help run Dad’s business, finances, care, make him meals, find his clothes, everything in 2002 after my mother passed on and some other caregivers didn’t work out. I left a six-figure job to become his primary caregiver. He was quite healthy at that point except for being newly blind and depressed about losing his ability to photograph and losing my mother in rapid succession. I used to read the world news, environmental news, his mail, and books to him every day. Besides reading and discussing what I read to him, and interviewing him for my book that I had just started, the photography was the most interesting of my duties as you might imagine. I had offered to work for Dad before, but he didn’t think I could make a living working for him. He was probably right and is still. I put everything I have into this project with little return so far. I will probably do well over time, but anyone who knows photography knows this is not certain at all, that at the least it will take a long time.
Photography is a tough business. My father had helped, mentored and inspired a lot of people. He was very likeable, had a good sense of humor and loved to socialize. He had a lot of friends in the industry. In that respect it was easy for me to get started in promoting his work as long as he was around. However, after he was gone, some people kept supporting my work, some did not. For some people it only makes sense to support a collection of work while the creator is in a body. Fortunately others do understand the value in helping it perpetuate. Even so, other photographers have their own knitting to tend. I am gaining more respect than I had at first, now with the blog, by working very hard and doing my homework to learn all I can.
Many photographers see other photographers as competition. I don’t think they saw Dad as competition but inspiration, and he was not all that aggressive about approaching venues for exhibitions. By the latter part of his career, he mainly lived on referrals and organizations that approached him to do shows, or for stock licensing. Now that a lot of photographers see me out beating the bushes, they see Dad’s work as potentially taking exhibitions that they could have, at least some people look at it that way. What they don’t understand is that Dad’s work has been and will be a major force for advocating nature photography and photography for conservation, which can expand the possibilities for everyone. What they also don’t know is that I have hardly even started yet. I am still mainly focused on writing the book and now the blog, which is a way of getting a lot of the book material out in rough form. It’s not rough per se, but the material is posted in random chronological order without unifying narrative drive or theme.
What role do you see photography playing in future environmental legislation and in which ways can photographers get involved?
DH: Gary Braasch, who has become well-known as an environmental photographer, back in 1975 interviewed Dad for a Backpacker Magazine Article. Gary Braasch asked Dad, “How can other photographers—skilled amateurs—use their creativity for conservation?” and Dad answered, “Off the top of my head, they’d do a lot better by going to law school because it looks to me as if the fight is now in lawyer’s hands. But on a local level, an individual can do a lot by becoming familiar with a place that needs protection and by studying the issues. The camera can be an important tool to him. The person can make himself an ad hoc committee on a project and carry it along until something gets done.” This is exactly what many photographers are doing. There is still a place for photographers in conservation even on big projects. Dad’s photographs still participate in environmental campaigns, though he can no longer go on location to help save a certain area.
Dad was a conservationist first. The photographers who are the most effective environmentalists know the current issues and know what campaigns might need the services of a photographer. I’m sure there have been conservationists who were photographers first, just like there are doctors or lawyers, or whatever else who are also environmentalists. Anybody can become an environmentalist, all he or she has to do is do it. Join the groups, read the news, get involved. The uses of photography to help will come. For example, because I am constantly reading about what is happening, I have found out about a few local issues. At some point when I get the chance, I will probably approach each of the campaigns and find out how I can help raise funds through print sales, which will get more exposure for the prints and Dad’s photography and help fill the group’s coffers too. I’ve found some groups are highly receptive to this kind of thing and others are not. But it is what I can do even though neither Dad nor I am making new photographs for use in the media. I can only go in so many directions at once. To echo what Dad said, the most effective conservation work is whatever you can do in the areas you care about the most.
You have a great blog, Landscape Photography Blogger, and have written several posts in regards to your father’s photographic education having being mentored by the likes of Ansel Adams, Edward Weston and Minor White. Given the high cost of education these days, what advice can you give to young photographers who might be thinking of studying photography in college?
DH: Dad was lucky because he had the G.I. Bill and as a result, Uncle Sam paid for his photography education. I am not sure of all the ins and outs but right now the U.S. Government is doing it again for just about everybody. Now is the time to apply to that expensive school you always dreamed of attending. I personally don’t know a lot about the various programs, but if I were to choose a school, I would go with the one that had the best possible name for the type of photography I would want to do. Names and educational lineage count for a lot in photography as in many professions. A Columbia degree in photography for example, could open many doors, provided your work is better than the other great photographers you are in school with and you make the most of studying at such a place. Short of going to college or grad school, I might seek out the very best photographers today and take workshops from them. Having the right mentors is very important in photography. I find that I am already very well equipped to be a photographer, if I wanted to focus on it more than writing, because I obtained the right attitude and perspective on how to look at photography from my father. That goes for all aspects, from the business side of it that has totally changed technologically but not necessarily in substance, to the photography and seeing itself, which has also changed, but not as much as people might believe. The main thing that has changed is that there were hardly any photographers or any market for photography when Dad started. He had to help establish it. Today the challenge is to stand out from the hoards. This is where having the right mentors comes in because they have already discovered how to stand out from the masses of other photographers.
Any upcoming business announcements or personal projects that you would like to tell us about?
DH: The idea was to get the book done and then develop relationships with galleries, set up major national touring exhibitions and talk to museum curators. However, now that I have run out of funds, everything has taken much longer to get set up and the book is dragging on and on, I need to do some marketing now to make a living while I finish the book. Juggling everything becomes a lot more complicated if you have to also make a living at the same time, as I’m sure you and your readers know, whether they are full or part-time photographers. It is also this raw edge that drives you forward and allows you to create great things out of desperation, I suppose. I have put over $100,000 into this project so now it is time to turn that around.
I will be making numerous announcements here and there regarding great exhibitions and new releases of images never before published or images that everybody knows, now translated into digital form and available as photographer authorized archival fine art digital prints. With many images, the Philip Hyde original prints are long sold out because he made so few of them that they are extremely rare. Speaking of rare, I will also hopefully be able to discover a way to change the large sized archival fine art digital prints into limited edition prints. I am working on this and there are some variables that need to be contained first but I recommend people look into acquiring the 20X24, 24X30 and 32X40 prints sizes now before they go up when they become limited edition prints. A portion of all print sales are set aside to go toward clean energy research and other environmental causes. I support 17 environmental groups.
Conservation changed into modern environmentalism in Dad’s day and it has now changed into a global consciousness about indigenous peoples, lands, climate and rare endangered species. With the upcoming exhibition opening May 8, 2010 and running through August of Philip Hyde’s photography at Mountain Light Gallery and at least one magazine article it is too soon to mention, sharing the differences and similarities between Galen Rowell and Philip Hyde, I have been reading a lot of Galen Rowell lately. It is interesting that with his being about 20 years younger than Dad was and inventing the genre of outdoor adventure photography, his brand of environmental activism was much more of the global variety than the regional land-based variety of my father. As you have mentioned, Richard, Galen Rowell was a great writer and captivating because he represented the transition from one type of environmentalism to the other. Philip Hyde and Galen Rowell if they were able to come back and have a conversation today might have been a fascinating discussion. By the way, here’s an announcement: At the Mountain Light Exhibition, we will be showing four prints that have never before been seen by the public. You have the exclusive on that information for several days, Richard.
DH: My pleasure, thank you Richard for the opportunity.
Visit the Philip Hyde Photography website for more photos.
A Southern California-based wedding photographer, Dane Sanders has established himself as one of the top wedding photographers in the industry. A featured speaker for Adobe and Pictage, Sanders has been recognized and featured in such noteworthy publications as Rangefinder, Professional Photographer and American Photo magazines. His first book, Fast Track Photographer has received critical acclaim from many industry professionals for its fresh approach to running a successful wedding photography business.
You’ve built quite a following in just five short years. When you first established your business, did you have a solid understanding of business principles prior to that or did you mostly learn as you went along?
I had studied business in college but I knew very little about business in the real world.
How did the idea for Fast Track Photographer come about?
Great question. I literally woke up in the middle of the night with a vision for this book. I immediately got up and started writing. I couldn’t stop. It was a bit of an obsession. I wrote early and I wrote late. And when it was completed, I felt like I made a contribution [to the industry]. Of course, I didn’t know if anyone besides my wife would ever read it, but I knew in my heart that what came out of me was more than a business book on photography. It had the potential of helping people flatten their learning curve dramatically. I couldn’t be more pleased with the response so far.
In which ways can wedding photographers and non-wedding photographers benefit from reading the book?
I think what’s special about Fast Track Photographer is how dynamic it is. The experience of the read changes depending on the reader. It’s a custom book built to pull out a photographer’s unique strengths so they can maximize them for their businesses in our digi-flat marketplace. Most of my examples are from my experience as a wedding photographer but I’d put money down that it can help any genre of photographer or any service provider in any industry for that matter. When my attorney read it and said it was great for him; that made my day.
Briefly explain for us the concept of “Signature Brands” and your take on this:
Well, Signature Brands are one side of a continuum of possibility for photographers. The other side is to go the freelance photographer route. Signature Brands are businesses that are built around the greatest value engine of all: the actual photographer. I argue that who you are is far more valuable to higher-end clients than even the photography you create. Our art just validates the signature brands we’re creating.
Budget seems to be a top priority for many couples when looking for a wedding photographer. If you get an inquiry from someone that is interested in your work but doesn’t want to pay to your regular fees or just wants a disc full of images for a flat fee, how would you respond to them? Is there any way to turn this into a positive outcome for your business?
Sure. The positive outcome is to either convert the client to hire the photographer rather than the photography. If they make the shift, they will pay the premium. If they are truly in the market just to get pictures taken though, I would recommend that Signature Brands pass that job on to a Freelance Photographer friend in their network that gets paid by the hour. That would be a better fit for the client.
Any upcoming photography business announcements or personal projects that you would like to tell us about?
We have some really exciting announcements in the pipeline. I can’t let the cat out of the bag just yet, but the best place to track what’s coming is to sign up for my newsletters at http://fasttrackphotographer.com. While you do, you’ll get a free copy of my introduction and first chapter to really get a taste of what we’re up to. I hope your readers really get value from them. Thanks for this opportunity!
To see more of Dane Sanders photography visit his website: www.danesanders.com
To order his book, Fast Track Photographer, visit: www.fasttrackphotographer.com
FocalPower is developing a Digital Asset Management service to assist photographers with today’s challenges of sharing, protecting, and managing their photos online. Find out what FocalPower CEO, Greg Lato has to say about this.
There are several other competing services out there such as Digital Railroad, Photoshelter Archive, and IPNStock, as well as software solutions such as Lightbox Photo. How does FocalPower plan to differentiate itself from these other companies?
FocalPower has a vision that we are executing against. Since we are still in a pre-launch phase I can’t go into great detail about that vision other than to state that it includes helping photographers save time in managing their photo assets online while providing various ways for the photographer to earn revenue from their photo assets. Unlike the competing services you mentioned, which are focused on pushing their own brand and creating yet another repository where you photos have to be managed, FocalPower’s initial release will be focused on the photographer, their photographic brand, and a simple yet flexible way of managing your photos for online sharing.
FocalPower seems to be on the opposite side of the spectrum of photo sharing compared to say, Flickr, which some would say has a flawed system when dealing with copyrighted photos. Give us your take on image protection and file sharing.
There has definitely been a storm brewing for a while on the topic of photographer’s rights. I have seen this coming for a while and I doubt that the latest eruption around Fickr will be the last. You’re right in that unlike Flickr, and other community-based photo sharing sites, FocalPower is targeting a different segment of the photography market.
FocalPower’s take on photo protection is quite simple: let the photographer decide how they want to license their work and then help the photographer enforce that decision. While it’s true that no photograph available online is 100% safe from right abuse, there is more that can be done to help photographers protect their photo assets. FocalPower is working on a means of providing license-based protection for photos stored on the FocalPower system. But again, it will be an option that photographers can choose from based upon how they license their photos.
Unlike most photo sharing services available today, which provide very structured and rigid frameworks for sharing photos, FocalPower’s photo sharing is a widget-based approach that allows a photographer to upload and organize their photos centrally while sharing them across multiple sites or blogs. With the explosion of personal photography networks springing up around blogs, FocalPower’s widget-based approach enables photographers to share their photos on their blog and their website, or multiple blogs and multiple websites targeted to their vertical markets.
One thing that you didn’t mention, that you have written about on the blog, is the aspect of a photographer’s brand. We are also working on a way to extending the photographer’s brand along with their photos as they are shared to multiple sites. Recently there has been an interest explosion of a single photographer creating vertical branded sites or blogs, FocalPower would allow that photographer to centrally manage their photos while selectively sharing photos to each site. So the same controls and branding can be applied to all of the photographer’s photo regardless of where it is viewed.
When can we expect to FocalPower to open to the public?
FocalPower is currently in a closed testing period while we finalize the infrastructure and flush out the initial feature set with the help of our early testers. Our initial testers have been great at providing us feedback, ideas, and support. Our goal is to release a public beta of the initial service toward the end of this year. Keep an eye for an expanded and redesigned website and announcements before we launch.
We have been keeping the initial testing group to a focused and manageable size. However, we are at the stage where we could use more testers. So, I have a surprise for your readers…the first 20 readers who contact us via the address on the FocalPower website and request to be an early stage testers will get an account (just reference this blog posting). Keep in mind that we are still in development and we are looking for testers to use the system and let us know the good and the bad; user feedback is crucial.
Tell us about your background in photography and how it led to the establishment of FocalPower.
I got my start in photography over 20 years ago when my brother-in-law gave me my first SLR camera. It was the creative nature of photography that clicked with me right away. Over the years, my photography interests waxed and waned as a creative outlet when time allowed. When I discovered digital photography about eight years ago everything seemed to lock in place and photography became a passion. There was something about the ability to realize the images that I saw in my minds eye through the use of the digital dark room. Having the control over the photos through the computer, something that I have a professional background in, was the key for me.
Whether you’re a professional, enthusiast or hobbyist, a core aspect of photography is sharing your work with others. A few years back I was searching for a more automated way of sharing my photos online. This was just during the beginning of online photo sharing/hosting revolution. Flickr was in its infancy, but the lack of control over my photos was a sticking point for me. Personally, I see my photos as an asset and take all efforts to protect those assets. I also see my photos as being the key to my photography brand, yet most of the services available don’t allow me to reinforce my brand—they are more interested in using my photos to help push their own brand, even when I’m paying for the service.
Now, with the explosion of social networks, blogs and forums there are more and more ways for a photographer to gain exposure of their work and build an audience around their brand. Yet, there are no good solutions for making this process easy for the photographer while protecting their photo assets. With each site having their own way to deal with photographs, and their own Terms of Services around the photographs that get uploaded, a photographer has to take a huge risk and invest a lot of time to leverage these outlets. Creating a time conflict between sharing photos creating more photos.
After discussing these issues with many other photographers, listening their needs, and brainstorming with several talented people, one of my closest photographer friends started pushing me. “You have to go build this,” was what he kept saying. Once I said, “You’re right,” FocalPower was born.
Any photography business announcements or personal projects that you would like to tell us about?
Unfortunately for my personal photography, my available time has been focused on building FocalPower. However, I still carry my camera around with me just about everywhere and even manage to take some photos occasionally! It’s getting around to the processing those photos that has been the challenge.
Recently, I managed to burn some extra midnight oil to launch my new personal photography website and blog: Latoga Photography. I also have some weekend photo trips planned this fall for the Humboldt Redwoods State Park and the Eastern Sierra Nevadas. Then there is a long term Photo Art project I have been chipping away at called “Night Putting” (pun intended), once FocalPower is launched I hope to be able to get back to that and processing my photo backlog.
Thanks for the opportunity to discuss FocalPower with your readers. You’ve done a great job creating some timely content for photographers and about photographers. Keep up the great work!
To find out more information about FocalPower visit the website: www.focalpower.com
Joe Winkler of “The Boomer Report” interviewing Sherri
When Jeff and I returned from our recent Road Trip, we had a very exciting phone message awaiting.
The message was from Joe Winkler of “The Boomer Report” (the first and only television news program for the Boomer generation) in Sacramento. He wanted to do a story on me, because I specialize in photographs of “Baby Boomers.”
Joe had stumbled upon my previous interview with Professional Photographer and Writer Richard Wong. A story on Baby Boomer Photography was the perfect fit for his on-line and nationally televised news program.
I returned his call and a date was set. This past Thursday was the big day. Fortunately, Jeff was home that day and got to be a part of this too. Joe spent a couple hours at our house and produced a great video clip about Sherri Meyer Photography. It started airing on ABC, NBC and CBS on Friday, in numerous states across the country. Unfortunately, it will not appear locally and San Diego is the only city in California in which it is airing.
The good news is, you can view it on-line at “The Boomer Report.”
Note: Please allow a couple of minutes for the video to load. Loading times will vary, depending on what type of Internet connection you have.
Thanks to Joe Winkler and Richard Wong for making this all possible. It is a day Jeff & I will never forget!
Based in the quaint fishing village of Seward, Alaska, photographer Ron Niebrugge and his wife, Janine, travel for up to six months out of the year photographing extensively throughout the Western United States. Niebrugge also has an MBA degree from UC Irvine, so let’s find out what he has to say about the business of photography.
Many professional photographers like to say that professional photography is 90% business and 10% photography. Since you have an MBA degree, in which ways did having this business education help you to get where you are now?
You know, that is an interesting question. I think it helped in a few ways. First, I think I may approach the business with broader, big picture perspective, more so then I might have otherwise.
I believe that one of the best things that my education has provided me with is confidence. Growing up in a small Alaska town, I kind of felt like the rest of the world was way ahead of us, and knew all this stuff that I didn’t. After obtaining a graduate degree and working in the business community for a few years, I began to realize that my business skills, abilities and knowledge were on par with others. Really we are all in the same boat. Before I might have looked at a Getty and Corbis with awe but now I realize that even these giant stock agencies are full of people that are trying to find an edge in a competitive industry, just like myself.
There are some photographers out there that dream of having a wife run the photo business while they handle the photography, while others would probably fight like cats and dogs if that were to happen. What is the secret to maintaining a successful business partnership with your spouse?
I think we both had some apprehension when it came to trying to work together. Most of my photographer friends have a spouse with a full-time job. This is nice for them because it does provide some financial security and maybe medical coverage. I’m really glad that we didn’t have to go this route because now we are able to travel and see so many amazing places together.
I think the secret is – we have a very distinct division of responsibility in areas where we could potentially have a conflict. One area that comes to mind is pricing. Frankly, I’m too attached to my images so I tend to be terrible at pricing. Whereas Janine really does a great job of negotiating licenses. So we have a deal that I never ever price an image. I can be very personable and enjoy visiting with clients, but when it is time to talk price I hand the phone over. This has really worked out well.
In other areas, we can share responsibilities without any problem. For example, we will both work from the same list when we adjust images, keyword, etc… This stuff we can do together without issue. We will often bounce ideas off each other or consult with each other about an image adjustment – “is this too much saturation?” that kind of thing. I think this makes us both better.
By the way, Janine doesn’t have any desire to be a photographer. That might be a good thing. I could just picture us coming across a wolverine and both racing for the telephoto at the same time!
We keep hearing about how the stock photography industry has been changing for the worse over the past few years due to an increase of images from digital cameras and how amateur photographers are de-valuing the art form by giving images away for pennies. Sounds like a modern-day Economics 101 case study. So what advice what you give to other photographers when it comes to getting adequate compensation for their work?
We are having our best year yet and have had a two of our largest individual sales ever, so I try not to get too wrapped up in all the industry talk. I think there have always been lots of people losing money and struggling with photography just that the Internet made it easier for them to be heard.
At one point in college back in the 80’s, I thought seriously about trying to pursue photography as an occupation. I was told back then that it was extremely competitive and very difficult to make a living as a photographer, so I didn’t do it. Today, all you hear about is how great it was back in the 80’s and 90’s!
I think a lot of people don’t want to spend the time and effort necessary on marketing, so they take the easy way out and turn to using royalty-free agencies. I think this can be a mistake. Once you create the perception that you are a source for cheap images, it can be hard to shake that reputation. Not to mention once you sell an image as royalty-free, it can’t ever be marketed in any other rights-managed model – not if you are ethical. Had I gone down that route when starting out, I wouldn’t be able to earn a living with photography today.
I’m starting to notice some backlash against the royalty-free licensing model by some of the better customers. They just don’t have time to try to find that one gem in the endless sea of royalty-free images. It is worth it for them to pay a little more and have someone who can provide the research, post potential images to a viewing platform, and provide quick service. For many buyers, time is money.
You have an interesting photo blog that is updated almost daily. Would you consider this to be a vital part of your business?
Another good question. So many people nowadays have a blog so the benefit has definitely been diluted. I have a feeling many of them will eventually go by the wayside because it is much more work than most people realize.
I don’t think it is a vital part of my business given the amount of time that I spend on it. There are probably many more vital things I could be doing but there are some search engine benefits. It is also a way to keep in touch with some of our valuable clients. A number of them have mentioned to me that they do drop by to see what we are doing from time to time. We have even made sales of images captured while traveling thanks to the blog. These are images that wouldn’t have appeared on our regular site for months. So there are some benefits.
The blog can be a time burden at times without a doubt, but I have actually found it to be fun and rewarding. I get lot of very appreciative emails. I used to spend time each day answer the same questions in emails over and over – now at least those efforts can be shared with others.
I should add that I’m a terrible writer and have never enjoyed writing before starting my blog two years ago. (I’m glad that you are helping me edit the responses 🙂 I like that blogging has forced me to work on this personal weakness.
Other than Seward, where would you recommend a first-time visitor to Alaska to go?
It’s hard to decide where to go because Alaska is so large but that doesn’t stop me from having an opinion.
I love Kenai Fjords National Park, so I think Seward is a must because it is practically right next door. Plus, it is about one of the easiest places to visit in Alaska.
I also recommend first time visitors to go visit Denali National Park. This will expose you to an entirely different ecosystem and will give you a nice variety of coastal rainforest, interior mountains, tundra and boreal forest.
A trip to where I grew up in the Wrangell-St Elias National Park is always rewarding, as would a bear viewing trip into Katmai National Park, or Lake Clark National Park. Alaska has 19 National Parks / Monuments and numerous State Parks, so it can be tough to choose – I haven’t even been to all the National Parks!
For an older, less mobile or adventurous visitor, you really can’t beat an Alaskan cruise. It is an easy way to see some amazing country in complete comfort.
Any photography business announcements or personal projects that you would like to tell us about?
Nothing too exciting. The last two years we have really had a heavy travel schedule that has kept us out of the office for well over 200 days each year. We may spend more time in the office this year, and address some of those things we never have time for. Having said that, we will probably take at least a short trip to the Southwest this fall, and maybe a two to three month trip this winter.
To see more of Ron Niebrugge’s photography, visit his website: www.wildnatureimages.com
Residing in South Florida, nature artist Gloria Hopkins paints and photographs lush landscapes of various locations in the United States. She recently completed her first online book titled, Natural Design: Image Design for Nature Photographers.
What prompted you to take on such a complex topic for your first book?
When I began learning about art at a young age, image composition was a concept that was difficult for me to grasp. There were no art schools for seven year-olds, so I had to learn about it on my own and this took many years.
After discovering photography in 2000, I realized that the concepts of image design were the same for painting and photography, but few books existed that showed a photographer, practically, how to put together a composition.
I soon found a few online photo critique forums and fellow members would respond with great enthusiasm when I would address the design aspects of their images. I realized that they were going through the exact same struggles with image design that I went through with painting all those years ago. Natural Design was conceived to help clarify the topic for photographers while allowing me to write about my favorite topics.
Explain to our readers what the typical day in the life of Gloria Hopkins was like during the writing of this book? How long did it take to complete?
I began writing Natural Design in 2003 and it took me five years to complete. During the first two years I was employed full time and I had to work on the book at night and on the weekends, which I did faithfully. After leaving the office environment in 2005 I went to work on the book full time.
I spent many days at libraries studying every book I could find on art, design and photography. Other days were spent in the studio writing, editing and pouring over thousands of photographs. I would often paint at night, just to clear my head of the book, and for a change of pace. The days were long and sometimes it seemed there was no end in sight for the book and the non-paying, thankless work.
But I had Natural Design envisioned in my mind and I knew that it was an important book to write. It was self discipline, personal drive, and my love of writing and image-making that kept me going. The long days and nights were well worth it. Selling my first book was the single most satisfying moment of my professional life.
How have you been promoting this book?
The book was just made available in June ’08 and I have to confess that aside from a little affiliate marketing program I have just set up, and my new Google Adwords campaign, the only marketing effort I have made is displaying it on my website. I’m thrilled to say that the book is selling steadily through word-of-mouth, and I am enjoying a nice, long vacation.
How do you feel about photographers who don’t comply with park rules such as harassing wildlife or wandering off-trail?
I wish they would consider all of the consequences of their actions and not just the obvious. In addition to the clear lack of respect for the law and the authority of property management, those who break the rules disregard their own reputations as well. Not only that, they are toying dangerously with the reputations of all nature photographers.
Because we carry big gear we tend to be viewed as a group. Fair or not, that’s the way it is. And the bad behavior of one can and often does reflect negatively on all of us. Because we represent each other, in the interest of conducting ourselves professionally, and in order to establish and nurture good relations with park personnel, we should always be respectful in the field.
Any photography announcements or personal projects that you would like to tell us about?
Photo Design: Image Design for Photographers is already in the works. Also, I’ve been planning a six-month relocation “dream trip” from Florida back to the West in the next few years, of course photographing the whole way. My landscapes portfolio needs some new additions and I can’t wait to get out there with the cameras.
Most certainly a book will be written about the trip. From now until then I am working on securing the vehicle and financing for the trip, which is another reason for writing Natural Design and the forthcoming Photo Design.
You are most welcome, and thank you Richard!
To see more of Gloria Hopkins’ art, check out her website at: www.gloriahopkins.com
Residing in the Appalachian Mountains of Western North Carolina, nature and children’s sports photographer Leann Greene is a busy, working mother of three. Find out how she does it.
Many hobbyist photographers can probably relate to you in addition to people who are thinking about having children. How are you able to manage your desire to photograph nature while maintaining such a busy personal life?
I need the outdoor photography as “me” time as I always feel recharged after spending the time on what I want and having tangible results. Of course you have to make some concessions but if you want it enough you can do it. I have no other hobbies so I don’t feel I’m being selfish in a way that detracts from my family.
The majority of nature photographers are men so how does it feel to be a woman in this testosterone-driven genre?
I think nature photography and especially landscapes can use the female perspective. The men I have photographed with are enthusiasts also and I’d say there is a “prove yourself” period that quickly fades away when your shared appreciation of the outdoors takes over. I enjoy hanging out with the guys and picking their brain about tactics and methods. I don’t know if many men feel comfortable asking the same of women photographers.
Name some female photographers that inspire you.
Lori Kincaid and Alison Shaw are two female photographers that I’d like to emulate.
Given your experience with outdoor recreation, share some general safety advice for the female readers of this blog.
Don’t worry about looking fashionable. Safety is the top priority. Make sure you have the right footwear for the outdoors. I have been in fear for people walking across rocks in everyday street shoes. Comfortable & functional pants can make a difference also because you may need to make deep knee bends or climb up big steps. So I prefer cargo pants.
I enjoy outings by myself so I can’t preach about not going out by yourself but one thing I’ve learned is always heed your intuition if you have an uneasy feeling about something or a situation. I have left early upon occasion when people or the weather conditions have given me a bad vibe.
As a life-long California resident, game hunting is not a common form of recreation in my region. However, it is a popular form of recreation in some states like North Carolina. So what does someone like me need to know to avoid getting shot at by hunters while photographing or hiking out in the woods?
First of all, you need to know the boundaries of the areas that you’re in. Game lands in North Carolina are marked by signs on trees but are also very easy to research online. The seasons for each county are also easy to research online.
Try not to be so quiet when hiking because wildlife will think you are a predator and hunters may also think you are game. If you are out during a hunting season then be sure to wear some hunter’s orange! Also don’t mock the hunters – duh! Overall though, everyone I’ve met is friendly and excited to be outdoors also.
You recently went on a wildlife photography excursion to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee, with Cindy Nowlin, another nature photographer from your region. Tell us about the experience.
We planned our trip to find young whitetail fawns. Cindy is extremely familiar with the Cades Cove section of the park. For fawns, we actually didn’t feel the need to line up at the gate before sunrise since they wouldn’t be out and about until later in the morning and later in the afternoon. We were open to whatever was presented to us in terms of animals or scenery and filled our days with walking and exploring the park. With patience we were able to track the behavioral patterns of some does and fawns for some nice photographs.
You are a two-time winner of the Friends of the Wilson Creek Photo Contest and came in 2nd place in 2007. Developers recently took an interest to the Wilson Creek Wilderness Area, but they encountered some opposition. What is the current status of Wilson Creek now and what would the preservation of this area mean to you?
It turns out the land owners hoped a non-developer would want to purchase their land adjacent to the wilderness area. The actual wilderness area wasn’t for sale but land also along the creek was offered for sale. A developer was interested but their bid was rejected after much public outcry. The family did accept an offer from the Foothills Conservancy of North Carolina and the Wildlife Resources Commission. Hopefully they will be able to secure the funds by the deadline of December, 2009.
For me, it’s one of those places where you can really feel away from it all yet still be close to home. Kayakers, fisherman, swimmers all benefit from the deal. It offers many free activities so why should only the affluent get all the good spots?
No arguments from me about that. So are there any photography announcements or personal projects that you would like to tell us about?
I’m taking a class on photographing people so I can offer high-quality outdoor portraits and combine my affection for the outdoors with a service to sell.
To see more of Leann Greene’s photography, check out her website at: http://www.lgimage.com
San Francisco-based nature photographer and independent photojournalist, Jim Goldstein’s images have appeared in the Washington Post, Sierra Club, Future Snowboarding magazine, Surfmag.com, SFGate.com, and a variety of other publications. Goldstein has also made a name for himself by writing about a number of controversial topics on his photography blog, JMG-Galleries.
You seem to know how to touch a nerve within the online photography community, as evidence by the 200 comments that you received on a blog post recently. What is the philosophy behind your blog?
The goal of my blog is two fold to introduce people to… 1. great photography and 2. issues that face photographers as well as society at large. In that sense I try to show not just how photography has an impact on viewers and our culture, but how culture and viewers have an impact on photography.
Would you say that your background in web marketing has played a part in being so well-connected to the online community?
Not to be disrespectful in any way as this question made me chuckle. I get a laugh out of this question mostly because when I think of an answer to this question I think about how long I’ve been online and how old that makes me feel. I’ve been actively posting photographs to the Internet for over 10 years and have been active in online discussions before the web browser came into being. In that sense I think my interest in photography and its display online has transcended my web-marketing career. Clearly my background in web-marketing has helped me stay in the know about various types of technologies/services and how they can be used from a marketing perspective. Ultimately I think it is my long tenure online and active participation that has helped me best keep the pulse of the online photographic community.
You once went on a lengthy photo excursion up to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge with renowned nature photographer, Art Wolfe, while he was filming his TV show. The images you came back with are stunning, especially of the caribou migration. What would the preservation of ANWR mean to you?
Thanks Richard its great to hear that my photographs had an impact.
To me, no pun intended, the Arctic Refuge (AKA ANWR) is the tip of the iceberg. The Arctic Refuge represents the first of many dominos that when knocked down will forever change how our protected lands and wildlife will be managed and preserved. Sadly the war of words has transformed how we even talk about the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The next time you listen to a debate about this one wildlife refuge take note of the terms used. “ANWR” it completely removes the correlation to “wildlife”. “ANWR” it becomes devoid of anything meaningful just as those who want to drill this region see it. It is a wildlife refuge and people seem to forget this in day-to-day discussion. People are also unaware that “wilderness areas” have the greatest degree of protection of any federally protected land, even more than national parks. No manmade elements, no roads, no buildings, nothing can be built in these areas to provide the greatest level of protection possible to the wildlife that live and migrate through these areas.
I was very lucky in being able to travel to this region with Art Wolfe and other conservationists. The trip opened my eyes even more to the plight of this area. Since this trip it has become clear to me that there has been a systematic effort in the past eight years to weaken the protection of our protected lands in a desperate effort to reach the last pockets of undeveloped natural resources including oil, timber, precious metals, minerals and even the commodity of land to cut costs for energy companies to run power lines from point A to B. Although President Eisenhower signed the legislation establishing the boundaries of the Arctic Refuge it is President Teddy Roosevelt that helped solidify the value and interest of protected lands to the greater population. These lands were protected for a reason and in the case of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge it protects the last pocket of migratory wildlife that rivals what most associate with the plains of Africa.
Permanent preservation of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge that is home to 36 fish species, 36 land mammals, nine marine mammals, and more than 160 migratory and resident bird species would mean a big and meaningful step forward in how the last of our wild lands are protected.
San Francisco is a pretty wacky place and you have photographed events like Bring Your Own Big Wheel as well as the Folsom Street Fair. Is there anything in the city that you haven’t photographed that interests you?
The great thing about San Francisco is that it is so incredibly diverse and open. The photographic opportunities are endless. With an open mind every event is a photographic opportunity. I personally would enjoy photographing more political rallies as well as some of the more eclectic events that pop up from time to time. Bring Your Own Big Wheel is a perfect example of the more random, eclectic and fun events that pop up. Seeing grown adults revert back to big kids riding plastic wheeled tricycles down a curvy San Francisco hillside road would make anyone smile or laugh.
Any photography business announcements or personal projects that you would like to tell us about?
I have several photographic projects underway, but the most noteworthy item to mention is the recent kickoff of a series of photo tours that I’m putting together. The first photo tour I have lined up is the Sea Otters of California Photo Tour in early September of 2008. For those interested in wildlife photography this is a great day trip to photograph and learn about California Sea Otters. I’ll have more photo tour announcements coming soon on my blog.
Lastly I’m happy to announce that one of my photographs has been selected to be shown at the Museum of History and Industry in Seattle as part of the 2008 International Conservation Photography Awards. If your readers are in the Seattle area some great conservation oriented photography will be on display there as part of this program from August 30, 2008 until October 12, 2008.
Professional agricultural stock photographer, inga spence is based in Northern Nevada. Having specialized in this niche for several decades, Spence has successfully evolved along with the industry. Let’s get her insights on the evolution of stock photography.
Did you have an interest in the agriculture industry prior to taking up photography, or were there other reasons for specializing in this niche?
I was definitely interested and attracted to ‘Agriculture’ prior to getting involved in photography… so I felt quite comfortable working in this field.
There’s been a lot of griping from pros that have seen licensing rates drop significantly over the past five to ten years. How has this impacted the way that you approach the business?
I feel that the main reason that licensing rates dropped is because certain large agencies have reduced their rates considerably, not considering the photographer. If there was a cohesive approach on this issue, the rates would stay the same, or should increase. Considering how the cost of equipment and travel expenses have risen, not to mention that these agencies are now dealing with digital files and their cost of converting 35mm is no more. (In other words, agencies should have better commission rates for the contributors)
You’ve spent many years to build up a significant library of images in both the 35mm and digital formats. Producing a body of work like this surely doesn’t come without costs. So what is your opinion about aspiring professional photographers that believe that a good way to get ahead is by giving images away for free in exchange for a photo credit?
Certain photographers are willing to ‘sell/give away’ at any cost not realizing that the end result will also hurt them in the future… degrading the whole profession… tearsheets are an item of the past. I believe that photo buyers don’t really look at credits. It’s the image that counts.
Should hobbyists care about valuing their work even if they have a day job to pay the bills?
YES, definitely. Many a great and present ‘professional photographers’ started photography because they enjoyed it. If the shoe was on the other foot, the hobbyist most likely would feel different. Many pros are still working other jobs in order to follow their dream…
Any photography business announcements or personal projects that you would like to tell us about?
After some 20+ years in agriculture, photographing worldwide (but not completely limited to that specialty). I am really interested to become more diversified. But agriculture will always be a part of me…
I appreciate the opportunity to express my feelings.
Professional outdoor adventure and lifestyle photographer, Sherri Meyer is based out of the historic, Sierra Nevada Foothills gold mining town of Auburn, California. Having access to the Sierras as her backyard, she has photographed a variety of adventure sports such as kayaking, marathon running and off-roading. Here are her thoughts on the current state of the stock photography industry:
I noticed that a number of your images appear to be of the baby-boomer generation. From what I have read, this is a category that is in demand and under-photographed so was it a conscious business decision of yours to photograph this demographic?
The main reason I photograph “Baby Boomers” is because I am one and most of the people I know are too. Some of them have become regular models for my photography. But, it is also a fact that photos of this generation are of high demand and in low supply. That is the other reason why I focus mainly on the “Boomer” generation. The “Baby Boomer” generation is the largest segment of the population. So why is there such a low supply of photos of them? Go figure! By the way, according to the publishing industry, you are also considered a senior if you are 50 plus. Photos of seniors are also of high demand and in low supply.
From a business perspective, what would you like to photograph that you haven’t already?
I would like to Photograph for REI and Title Nine. I would love to have my attractive and fit “Baby Boomer” models featured in their catalogs. Title Nine does use women of all ages in their catalogs, but REI seems to focus on children and models in their 20’s and 30’s. I really think they are missing the boat by not featuring older models in their catalog also. I would like to change that. Since the “Baby Boomer” generation is the largest segment of the population that means they also spend the most money for products [and typically have the most disposable income.] Therefore, they also deserve to be part of their marketing program! I would also like to do some food product photography. Every month, I pick up the Raley’s “Something Extra” magazine where I shop. It’s a free publication they put out for their customers. It’s full of recipes, accompanied with outstanding food photographs. I love looking at the photos and thinking that is something I would like photograph. Also, one of my sisters photographed food years ago, for the natural food company she and I worked for. I always admired her work. That may be where it all started.
Business reasons aside, what would you like to photograph that you haven’t already?
Cowboys. I have always been attracted to photographs of cowboys. I have stayed at a dude ranch and photographed cowboys, as well as other activities that go on at a dude ranch. I have also photographed rodeos and cowboys performing various other ranch duties. But, what I would really love to do is go on and photograph a real cattle drive. I would also love to photograph singer/songwriters Emmy Lou Harris and Jimmy Buffett, two of my all-time favorites.
When dealing with a client directly, is there a minimum price that you set for negotiations?
Absolutely. Our fees are negotiable; however our minimum fee for any usage is $150.00.
When a potential client inquires about the use of an image and claims to have no budget for photos, there are some amateur photographers out there that are willing to give the client unlimited use of the image for free in exchange for a credit. They generally believe one of two things: 1. it will lead to a higher paying transaction in the future, 2. they only care about seeing their work published so they can brag about it. How do you feel about this?
I don’t think anyone should give their work away for any purpose, period. If your work is good enough to use for free, then it’s good enough to charge for! Richard, this question really hits my hot button. I’m giving you my short answer to this question for now, but I would love to write more in a future post.
Without naming names, tell us about a client from hell type of story.
I have worked with more than one client from h**l and they all have something in common. They have no respect! The three that come to mind were back in my earlier days and they were all regional, low paying markets. One of them was a brand new magazine. The editor knew nothing about working with photographers. I had to educate him about everything. Then, when one of his employees left on bad terms, she left with a CD of my images. Who knows where they ended up? I had another editor lose 4 of my [slides.] After contacting him several times, I managed to get all but one back. One of them was “nowhere” to be found until I sent him a bill for $1500.00. The next day, it was found. Amazing isn’t it? Then, there was the client that lost a whole submission consisting of 40 slides. I billed him also for $1500.00 per image. Soon thereafter, the images were recovered. I didn’t stop there, however. I did get compensated for the inconvenience of it all. The biggest problem with this type of client is they get treated the same way a good paying respectful client gets treated.
I noticed that you recently switched from the Photoshelter Archive to hosting your own Lightbox photo archive. What factored in your decision to do so?
There are a couple of reasons why I chose to go with Lightbox Photo over PhotoShelter for archiving my images. First, I wanted to have my images on my server rather than someone else’s. It’s more expensive to use Lightbox and there is a huge learning curve to setting up the galleries, but the benefits are worth it. I feel like I have a lot more control of my images, I’m getting more traffic and uploading images is much faster. Don’t get me wrong. I love PhotoShelter. I think they are one of the “best bangs for your buck” out there. I do still use their basic service and I plan to contribute to the new PhotoShelter Collection (PSC) very soon.
Any photography business announcements or personal projects that you would like to tell us about?
I don’t really have anything in the hopper right now, but there are a couple of things I would like to do down the road. I would like to publish a coffee table photography book featuring photos of… We will keep that a secret for now. Also, I would like to teach photo workshops and maybe do a little consulting. I did teach a few classes a couple of years ago which included a photo workshop through the adult education program here in Auburn.
Thanks Sherri. You’ve provided some great insights for the rest of us to ponder.
See more of Sherri Meyer’s work at: http://www.sherrimeyer.com
After just a few years in the advertising industry, Nashville, Tennessee-based art director Kaleena Tucker has already received accolades from the ADDY’s, One Show Student Competition and the Young Guns International Ad Competition. Find out what she has to say about photography.
How to get your book seen by ad agency art buyers is a source of endless debate amongst professional photographers. So set the record straight by telling us what methods a photographer can do to get your attention and keep it?
I’ve always been amazed at how many photography samples the average Art Director receives on a daily basis. Whether postcard-size, full-page prints, or booklets, most samples get thrown in the trash. Many without a second look. And it’s not because it’s bad photography. Most of the time it’s beautiful. The problem is, where do you put all of these postcards and work samples? It’s like getting coupons in the mail. They may be useful, but after so many, you just start trashing them. The 5% that get kept are the ones that use non-traditional methods and do something really cool. For example, I like to put cool stuff up on my office wall, so… if I get something fun in the mail from a photographer, it goes on my wall. As far as what works, I’d have to say that cold calling works. I know it sucks. But, a photography/illustration rep was able to set up a 30-minute showcase in our creative department just by giving me a call one morning. Emails easily get ignored. Mail mostly gets trashed. But, most phone calls get answered. I’d say that’s the way to go.
What has been your process for choosing a photographer to work with?
Most of the time, I go to the agency’s print production department, tell them what kind of style I’m looking for and ask them for any suggestions. In addition to that, I scour the Internet, and go through photography books to look for someone whose style fits what I’m looking for. Do they do a lot of indoor shooting? Are they good at lighting? Etc…
Where do you typically go when looking for stock photos? Do you ever look for photos on Flickr or Google?
No, Flickr and Google are only good if you’re looking for reference materials. In my experience, if you’re looking for something to actually use, it’s a complete waste of time. An agency’s clients have to be able to buy the image. Most of the images on Google and Flickr are a hassle to figure out ownership/rights. I use the big stock sites: Getty, Corbis, JupiterImages, etc. I know that I can usually find something useable.
Would there be occasional exceptions to this, say if the photographer had a website that was set-up for e-commerce licensing transactions similar to a Getty or Corbis, or if their bio listed a slew of big-name publishing credits such as National Geographic, Time, Ogilvy & Mather, etc…?
Yes it’s definitely possible that while you’re searching for reference materials/images, you may stumble across a photographer’s site who’s done some cool stuff and offers great stock photography. But honestly, I rarely seek out individual photographers that provide these services. It’s like, if you’re trying to meet someone to date. Your chances of finding someone at the company party, or at a bar is greater than running into someone on the street. It’s a numbers game. That’s what’s great about the big stock houses. It’s like a big online bar of drunken photographers waiting to be taken home.
(Alcohol. Does a body good.)
When you are doing a stock photo search, does it make a difference to you whether or not the image is rights-managed or royalty-free?
Absolutely! That is the number one question I ask my Account Manager. What kind of budget do we have? Do we have to get something royalty-free, or can we afford rights-managed? Again, no need to waste time finding a great image that the client can’t afford. Money matters. Budgets are real. Especially to smaller clients.
Aside from art direction reasons, what type of photography do you enjoy looking at the most?
I like a lot of classic black and white photography with simple imagery. I find that I’m much more captivated by a single subject, rather than photography with a lot going on.
I’d like to thank Kaleena for her time and insightful responses to these questions. Hopefully you’ve found this information to be useful for your own photo business.