Field Report:

The Non-Glamorous Side of Photography

San Francisco Photographer, Jim Goldstein Interview

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.

Jim
http://www.jmg-galleries.com

August 11, 2008 Posted by | Interviews, Photographers | , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Agriculture Photographer, inga spence Interview

Cows on Farm, Del Norte County, California
Cows on Farm, Del Norte County, California

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.

Red Garlic

Red Garlic

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…

Hiker in Foggy Old-Growth Redwood Forest, Del Norte County, California

Hiker in Foggy Old-Growth Redwood Forest, Del Norte County, California

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.

inga

inga spence photographer

August 8, 2008 Posted by | Interviews, Photographers, stock photography | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Outdoor Adventure & Baby Boomer Lifestyle Photographer, Sherri Meyer Interview

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:

Hiker viewing the spillway at Clementine Dam, on the north fork of the American River, Auburn, California

Hiker viewing the spillway at Clementine Dam, on the north fork of the American River, Auburn, California

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.

Silhouette of a woman running at Mackerricher State Park

Silhouette of a woman running at Mackerricher State Park

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.

Couple hiking through a meadow of wildflowers in the American River Canyon

Couple hiking through a meadow of wildflowers in the American River Canyon

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

August 4, 2008 Posted by | Interviews, Photo Business, Photographers, stock photography | , , , , , | 14 Comments