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November 19, 2018
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The War On Photographers – Part 5 Of 5

Protecting Your Photographs

The theft of online photographs is a huge problem. If a photographer has his images stolen, they make no money from them. They may also spend money on legal fees fighting the thief. If they don’t make money with photography, they can’t buy new or better equipment, travel to shoot locations or hire models and support staff, replace worn out equipment and pay their bills. This means they have to get a 9-5 job, and can do very little photography, so this photographer no longer creates images for the world to see. We all need money to survive. Stealing photographs from the Internet takes money away from photographers, and we all lose.

Some of the photographs that are stolen don’t even have a monetary value. I have a friend who had the photo of herself, and another of her dog, stolen from her Facebook page. The thief wanted to pretend to be her by using the photographs on a different Facebook page. I have no idea why they did this. My friend complained to Facebook, but they didn’t do anything to the thief, and the thief’s Facebook page is still up.

Photographers try to protect their images by adding watermarks, or using small, low resolution images. But image manipulation software has advanced so much lately, that any watermark can be easily removed. And a small image can be enlarged to almost any size and be razor sharp. I recently saw a beta version of some software that should be out the end of 2018. It automatically removed all types of watermarks, and took small images that had lots of noise and made beautiful, large, sharp images out of them. When that product comes to market, anyone will be able to do anything they want with every image on the Internet. At that time, the only way to protect your images will be to keep them offline.

Enforcing your copyright in court is also a costly and time consuming effort. And even if you win, you may not receive the money the court awarded you. Many times, the guilty party never pays the fine. I knew of a photographer who won, but wasn’t paid. He went to court because of that, and won again and still didn’t get paid. He went back to court for a third time, won, and still didn’t get paid. He finally gave up, was never paid, spent thousands on court costs and countless hours in court. Even though the copyright laws were just amended to make it easier to take someone to court for copyright infringement, you still have all of these same issues. Basically, copyright laws are useless to any small business or Creative.

Creatives in every medium have always had a hard time making a living with their art. But, I have good news, there are a few things you can do to make your photography career more successful.

  1. If you make prints, do them in some unique way. Or you can come up with a special way of processing images, like Matthew Brandt constantly does. http://www.matthewbrandt.com For example, he did a series of prints about the La Brea Tar Pits in southern California, and he used tar from there on his prints. Actually, there is no tar at the Tar Pits, it’s really asphalt.
  2. If you work with businesses, put useful information on your site and social networks for your clients. This could be links, articles or observations that will help their business. Do promotions (online and offline), that will help your clients. Know where your clients are, and promote to them there.
  3. Have your own unique style. Magda Wasiczek has her own unique photographs of plants that are soft and dreamy. http://www.magdawasiczek.pl Have a style that someone can look at and say, “Hey, I know who took that photograph.” You may want to look into composite photography too.
  4. Use your imagination. That is the only true, unique thing that you have. Give your imagination free rein when creating photographs, how you present them and how you market yourself.

Nothing you do will keep people from stealing your photographs or copying your style, so you need to keep growing and innovating to stay ahead of the pack. But that’s what a real artist does. If you sit in one spot, living off of past successes, the world will sprint past you and leave you in the dust.

Now go out and create some great photographs.

Have Fun,
Jeff

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November 15, 2018
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Photo – Pictograph

Hi Everyone,

This is one of several pictographs I found near a spring coming out of a rock wall in the Flagstaff, Arizona area. There is also a hand print, dots and wavy lines to the left of this pictograph. But you can’t see them in this photo.

Let me know if you have any questions about using, or taking, photographs.

You can purchase this, and many other photos, at www.JeffColburn.com

Have Fun,
Jeff

LamarHainesTrail0299

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November 14, 2018
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Photo – Fall Colors

Hi,

Here’s another photo of Fall colors from the Flagstaff, Arizona area. Flagstaff is a great place to photograph Fall colors.

Let me know if you have any questions about using, or taking, photographs.

You can purchase this, and many other photos, at www.JeffColburn.com

Have Fun,
Jeff

KachinaTrail-0094

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November 12, 2018
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The War On Photographers – Part 4 Of 5

Photographers – Making A Living

All of the previously mentioned issues have led to the current difficulties that photographers have to deal with today. And who knows what issues future technology and social beliefs will create? Many professional photographers can no longer make a living with photography alone, and must have a full-time or part-time job to make ends meet. I feel that this will be the business model for most photographers in the near future.

There are always that 5% of the people, on the far right side of the Bell Curve, that make a very nice living doing photography. These photographers often have a team of support staff that deals with marketing, advertising, processing images and more. This allows the photographer to focus on taking photographs. But this does create a heavy burden for them to meet a huge monthly overhead, so only a few photographers use this model.

The majority of full time photographers must create multiple revenue streams in order to survive. These streams include:

  • Commercial clients.
  • Selling photos/articles to publications and blogs.
  • Classes – online and in person.
  • Workshops in the field.
  • Books of their photographs and how-to on various topics.
  • Selling Fine Art prints online and in galleries.
  • Entering, and winning, high end photography contests. This can give them money, gear, prestige and publicity.
  • Selling items with their photographs on them, including: postcards, greeting cards, posters, bookmarks, calendars, coasters and other similar items.
  • Phone apps.

But that’s life. Change is inevitable, and you either adapt or die. The dinosaurs didn’t adapt well after that giant meteorite impact, and you don’t see any of them walking around today.

When the digital wave first hit photographers, one thing they did to maintain their income was to take photographs at hard-to-reach locations. For the most part, that no longer works. So many amateur photographers have high end gear, and some pretty decent photography skills, that they now take these same photos. They see a photo of a location they haven’t seen before, find out where it is, then plan a vacation there to get their own photographs.

I know a photographer who used to shoot at The Subway. It’s the Left Fork of North Creek in Zion National Park, Utah. He would go there at different times of the year, and he was usually the only photographer there. But that’s no longer the case. He goes there now, and there will be several photographers standing in line, waiting their turn to take the exact same photo that the photographer in front of them just took. To be there by himself he now has to hike out in the winter, when there are several feet of snow on the ground. It’s a condition that many photographers don’t want to deal with.

I had this happen to me at the Grand Canyon. I was way off to the side of a viewpoint taking a photo. When I was done, I looked over at my wife, who nodded for me to turn around. Standing behind me, on a rather steep slope of rock, were 7 people, camera in hand, waiting to take the same photo I had taken. They saw a photographer using a tripod, and figured I knew what I was doing, so they wanted that same shot.

A photographer can find a unique location, but within six months, amateur photographers will descend on it, and their photos will quickly appear all over the Internet. This flood of images devalues the photographs as the amateurs are happy to sell them for rock bottom prices. Or they give them away for free just to see their name in print. Then the pro has to start searching for a new remote location.

Photographers can no longer sit idly by and keep doing what they have always done, and expect to keep making money. They must explore, experiment and always be on the lookout for new ways to market themselves, and have new products and services to offer.

Check back for the next part of this series.

Have Fun,
Jeff

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November 8, 2018
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Photo – Fern 2

Hi Everyone,

Here’s another photo of a fern from the Snowbowl area in Flagstaff, Arizona. There are huge areas of ferns on this mountain, which always amazes me. That’s because it gets so much snow in winter, and I never associate ferns with snow.

Let me know if you have any questions about using, or taking, photographs.

You can purchase this, and many other photos, at www.JeffColburn.com

Have Fun,
Jeff

LamarHainesTrail-0422

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November 7, 2018
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Photo – Spring House

This is a spring house, built into a cliff wall in the Flagstaff, Arizona area. An earlier settler built this one, and another one behind me that you can’t see in this photo. They did this to collect water from a spring to ensure they had enough water. A wall is built around the spring to collect water instead of letting it run off, and the spring house protects the water. The problem is, the animals in the area that relied on this spring for water no longer have access to it, and must find water elsewhere.

To give you an idea of size, the door is about 3 feet (0.9 meters) tall.

Let me know if you have any questions about using, or taking, photographs.

You can purchase this, and many other photos, at www.JeffColburn.com

Have Fun,
Jeff

LamarHainesTrail0207

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November 5, 2018
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The War On Photographers – Part 3 Of 5

Digital – The Great Destroyer

Digitization is truly a double edged sword. A digitized image is easier to manipulate for exposure and special effects. But as soon as it goes online, the owner of the image losses all control over how and where it’s used. This is because so many people will steal it for their own use. One estimate says that 90% of all images online are stolen.

So far, digitization has hit four industries.

Movie – Pirating and distributing digitized movies became extremely easy and profits from illegal distribution skyrocketed. Tracking illegal downloads and DVDs is nearly impossible. Even if you do find a download site and have it taken down, it just pops up a few hours later somewhere else.

Music – As with movies, illegal downloads and CDs were everywhere. Anyone could easily email, or upload music to a Torrent site for people to download. A Torrent site is where thieves go to upload stolen files (music, movies and ebooks) so that others can download them illegally for free. I have seen bundles of albums from major performers available for download. This results in a pirated album being listened to by thousands of people who never paid for it. This results in the artist receiving no money, which means he may not have the funds to create another album. All of his time must be spent at a 9 to 5 job to pay the bills.

On the up side, digitization lets many artists avoid large music publishers by selling their music online directly to their fans.

While this allows music to be released that never would have been heard before, the artists must work very hard to promote their music. Most artists don’t make a lot of money from online sales, and theft takes a chunk out of that income too.

Books – Ebooks came along, and criminals took action quickly. Ebooks were illegally distributed, mainly through Torrent sites, and the authors lost a lot of money.

I was able to track the illegal downloads of one of my ebooks, The Writer’s Resource Book Of Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror And Mythology, on several Torrent sites for a couple of years. I tracked over $1,000,000 worth of illegal downloads. That kind of money would have made a huge difference in my life.

People need to realize that if Creatives aren’t paid, they will stop creating. Cameras, computers, paint, canvas, guitars, and all the other materials that Creatives use cost money. If they don’t have the money to purchase these tools for their craft, they can’t produce their art. They have to make enough money to pay their bills too.

Photography – There’s an old saying that, “Familiarity breeds contempt.” Cell phone photography has brought that saying into reality for the photography industry. Not only does everyone take photographs with their phone, but they become used to seeing tiny images and see no value in large prints. That removes a lot of potential clients who in the past may have purchased a print. Then the Internet lets people easily steal images to use on their own website, blog, newsletter and more. Even large ad agencies have used stolen photographs in advertising and marketing campaigns. Most people feel it’s perfectly fine to steal images from the Internet, which is a sad statement about our society. The microstock industry has also dealt a huge blow to photographer’s incomes. I know of several photographers who had to postpone, or come out of, retirement because the income from their stock sales cratered with the introduction of microstock.

Photographers must learn how to use digitization to their advantage. Each segment of the photography industry will need to do this in a different way. How can you profit from digitization in your specialty?

Check back for the next part of this series.

Have Fun,
Jeff

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November 1, 2018
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Photo – Grand Canyon

Hi,

Here’s a photo I took on one of my many trips to the Grand Canyon.

Let me know if you have any questions about using, or taking, photographs.

You can purchase this, and many other photos, at www.JeffColburn.com

Have Fun,
Jeff

GC0178

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October 30, 2018
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Jerome, Arizona Art Walk

If you’re looking for something fun to do this Saturday, November 3rd, head on over to the Jerome First Saturday Art Walk. It runs from 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM

Explore the historic mining town of Jerome, while you visit art galleries, shops, restaurants and more. Many of the businesses offer free food and/or drink and live music on Art Walk.

Be sure to visit the New State Motor Building (across the street from Grapes Restaurant and down the stairs). Here you’ll find great photography, sculptures, a music store, haunted tours, food and one of the two public restrooms in town.

I’ll be available to answer any photography questions you may have.

I hope to see you there.

Have Fun,
Jeff

Me with my print, The Monolith.

Me with my print, The Monolith.

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October 29, 2018
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The War On Photographers – Part 2 Of 5

And Time Marches On

More and more websites started offering news and articles and became very topic-specific. Advertising money started shifting from print publications and television to online markets. Magazines and newspapers had to tighten their belts, or would just close down. Photographers were being paid less and had fewer outlets for their images. All of this resulted in:

  • Ad agencies, magazines and other businesses that use photos paid less or used stock/microstock as the source of their photographs, videos and artwork. This further reduced the outlets for photographers to sell their work at a decent price.
  • Stock sites, especially microstock sites, charge only pennies to use a photograph in any way the purchaser wants, as often as they want, for as long as they want. This destroyed the old high-paying stock photography market. Photographers, who relied on money from high-paying stock sales, saw a huge drop in their income. They also had to create new revenue streams.
    • I just started putting photos on stock and microstock sites. One microstock site pays me $0.35 per image and I can’t take any money out until I have $100 in my account. In order to make money in microstock you need to have a lot of images on the site. The top contributor on one site has uploaded 500,000 images. On another site, the top contributor has 1,200,000 uploaded images. I can’t imagine how much time they spent uploading, titling and key wording each of these photos. By having so many images on a site though, some of their photos will show in almost every image search.
    • In 2009, Time Magazine used a microstock photo on its cover for the first time. Time Magazine usually paid in the neighborhood of $3,000 for an original cover image or $1,500 for a stock photo. They licensed this image from iStock photo for only $30.00. Somewhere, a photographer lost a lot of income.

One of the biggest changes to hit, and hurt, photography is digitization. But then, digitization has hurt every industry that it has taken over. While digitizing an industry makes using it easier on the consumer, the creators and providers lose a huge amount of money. This is because they can no longer control the use and distribution of their products.

Check back for the next part of this series when I go into detail about digitization, and how it has impacted various industries.

Have Fun,
Jeff

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