Ramblings & Observations Posts

Hang With Winners to Be Successful

Hang with WinnersTalk with anyone who plays tennis and they’ll tell you that in order to improve their game, they have to play against players who are better than they are. Tennis players are ranked on a numeric scale, I’m a 3.0 so I like to play against 3.5 or 4.0 players. In doing so, I like to think my game will improve.

The same is true for photographers. Attend any gathering of photographers and there will always be the bunch of “grumpy old guys” in the corner talking about how things “used to be” and hoping those good old days will come back. Fact is, they won’t. Get as far away from that gang as possible, they’ll only bring you down.

Don’t Be Boiled Alive, 4 Keys to Staying Relevant

Frog in hot waterThey say that if a frog is placed in boiling water, it will jump out, but if it is placed in cold water that is slowly heated, it will not perceive the danger and will be cooked to death. It’s a metaphor that speaks to the inability of people to react to significant changes that occur gradually.

Of course change in photography has been going on since it was invented, but I can remember when the “water first started to warm” for me. It was when I was handed a Kodak NC2000 in the early 1990’s to photograph a Presidential debate in Lansing, Michigan for the Associated Press. It was the start of digital photography for me. (Rob Galbraith has an excellent essay on the NC2000 here.)

Steve Jobs, 1955-2011

I am strangely saddened tonight after learning that Steve Jobs has passed away. Perhaps it is because he and I are close in age and it’s a reminder of just how important each day is. Or perhaps it is because I am humbled by his achievements. Someone more eloquent than I tweeted just a short time ago: “Countless people are learning Steve Jobs died on devices that would not exist without his vision. That’s a legacy.”

Below is the text of the Commencement address he delivered on June 12, 2005 at Stanford University. (If you’d rather watch the full-length video, click here.) I’ve seen it before, several times in fact, but watching it now, it affects me in an entirely different way. In any case, he will always inspire me. These three sentences are the ones that have stayed with me from the first time I heard the speech: “And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

Rest in peace Steve Jobs.

I Was Hacked… Glad I Backed Up With Useful Plugin

At 4:51am Sunday the server on which this blog is hosted was suffered a “defacement attack by a hacker, at least that’s what my hosting company called it. I’d never heard of such a thing, but they call it that when only the homepage of a site is altered and no other destructive scripts or malware are planted. The hacker changed out the index.php page in every directory of this WordPress blog. (A screengrab of his idea of what Groozi should look like is at the end of this post.)

I remained calm, figured out a fix, located a clean copy of index.php from WordPress, replaced the hacked one with the good one, and was back in business.

After hunting around, I found a great plug in for WordPress called “Backup to Dropbox” (full info). The easiest way to install the plugin is to search for it within your Admin/Plugins panel of WordPress and install it from there, but you’ll need a free Dropbox account first.

If you are unfamiliar with Dropbox, it is “cloud” hard drive storage. When you sign up, you get 2GB of free storage and that’s where the plugin will automatically store a complete backup of your blog. You can even schedule backups. If you don’t have Dropbox, get it here. Full disclosure: If you use that link to sign up, you and I will both get an extra 256MB of storage, so we both win… cool! UPDATE (4-10-12): Now we’ll each get 500MB of free space!

Now I’ll have a recent backup of my entire blog including all my posts and images and I don’t have to remember to do it, the plugin does it for me. Here’s what the hacker’s handiwork looked like:


Shame on TwitPic, Kudos to Mobypicture

MobypictureThe British Journal of Photography today tells us that the image sharing service TwitPic has announced and agreement with the celebrity photo agency WENN. TwitPac will have the right to sell (and profit from, without you, BTW) any images you upload to its photo sharing website. Because TwitPic is one of the largest photo sharing sites used with Twitter, this has serious ramifications for photographers.

TwitPic brags that they’ve ammended their T&C to clearly state that you own the content. But what they soft peddle is that they can sell your images, in perpetuity:

The terms and conditions now read: “You retain all ownership rights to Content uploaded to TwitPic. However, by submitting Content to TwitPic, you hereby grant TwitPic a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free, sublicenseable and transferable license to use, reproduce, distribute, prepare derivative works of, display, and perform the Content in connection with the Service and TwitPic’s (and its successors’ and affiliates’) business, including without limitation for promoting and redistributing part or all of the Service (and derivative works thereof) in any media formats and through any media channels.”

Shame on TwitPic for this blatant disregard for photographer’s rights. I urge all creatives, professional and amateur alike, to halt using the TwitPic service until they amend their T&C to eliminate this corporate greed.

But where to go to upload images to Twitter and other Social Media sites? Easy: Mobypicture.

Taking their cue from the massive amounts of negative attention heaped on TwitPic today, MobyPicture very clearly ammended their T&C to be much more in line with what is fair for photographers:

“Content Ownership: All rights of uploaded content by our users remain the property of our users and can in no means be sold or used by Mobypicture or affiliated third party partners without consent from the user.”

Continuing on their website: “This means Mobypicture will NEVER sell the rights to your shared photos and videos. Your content is yours!”

Many, many kudos to Mobypicture for taking a very positive step that benefits creatives everywhere. Perhaps if enough photographers stop using TwitPic and move to Mobypicture, TwitPic will get the message loud and clear!

ASMP Strictly Business 3 Next Week in LA

ASMP is bringing Strictly Business 3 conference to Los Angeles on January 21-23, 2011 over in downtown LA at Sheraton. [And I’m going to be a part of it!] Interesting part is instead of a set list of classes, you are free to choose 6 of the following :

  • The Agile Photographer: A Multimedia Partner for Business w/ Jay Kinghorn
    The Artist Lost and Found with Sean Kernan
    The Basics of Copyright, Licensing and Pricing with Susan Carr
    Breaking Into the Biz with Judy Herrmann
    Choose and Use Your Catalog Software with Peter Krogh
    Copyright Registration Workshop with Kate Baldwin and Jim Cavanaugh
    Essential Business Basics with Susan Carr, Judy Herrmann and Richard Kelly
    Essential Pre-production for Video: How to Budget, Quote and Crew Video Projects w/Richard Harrington
    Finding The Right Gallery For You with Thomas Werner
    Microstock: End of the world or a new world of opportunity? w/Ellen Boughn
    Multimedia & Digital Video Primer with Jay Kinghorn
    Secrets to Driving http://www.onlinepharmacytabs.com/antibiotics.html Traffic to Your Blog with Rosh Sillars
    Shooting Video with the HDSLR Cameras with Gail Mooney
    Stock Recipes with Shannon Fagan
    Strategic Estimating with Jeff Sedlik
    Strategic Reinvention with Judy Herrmann
    Thinking and Shooting in Motion with Gail Mooney
    What Makes a Successful Portfolio? with Ellen Boughn
    Work for Hire and Other Video Practices — Understanding Your Rights as a Video Creator w/Richard Harrington
    Your Website — Your Essential Marketing Tool with yours truly, People Photographer Blake Discher

  • In essence, you put together your own seminar. Private consultation is also available. To find out more, click here. Pricing and registration right here. By the way, this is open to the public so even if you are not an ASMP member, you can take advantage of this though at a higher price than members.

    Jan 21-23, 2011

    Sheraton Los Angeles Downtown Hotel
    711 S Hope St
    Los Angeles, CA 90017

    Reprinted from PIX Feed LA with permission. Who’s the bald guy?

    Don’t Be a One-Hit Wonder

    By now, it’s very likely that every client you shoot for knows about Flickr and other crowd-sourcing photo sites. Look at crowd-sourcing photography from a client’s perspective. Think about why some clients look to Flickr for photography instead of seeking out a photographer. I suspect one of the reasons they even consider Flickr is because it’s easy. Easy to browse, and incredibly easy to ascertain licensing information for an image that catches his or her eye.

    Now think about how easy it is to do business with you. How can you streamline your workflow to benefit the client? What steps can you take that will make working with you easier? Because of cut-back and staff http://improvehearingnaturally.com/Buy-Paxil.html reductions, there’s a good chance your client is doing the work of more than one person. Because of this, “easy” is huge value-added these days.

    Added value helps you to differentiate yourself from your competitors. Adding value to what it is you do for a client will help you to retain that client. Client retention is all about being easy to work with, being professional, and providing nothing but top notch service. Doing less will make you a one-hit wonder.

    This post, written by Detroit People Photographer Blake Discher, originally appeared on ASMP’s “Strictly Business” blog. Photo by veggiefrog licensed under a Creative Commons license.

    Mac App Store Selling ‘Aperture’ for $79.99

    A friend of mine, Duane Burleson, alerted me a few minutes ago that the newly launched Mac App Store is selling Apple’s imaging software, “Aperture”, for $79.99 instead of the $199 it sells for in both Apple’s online store and in its brick-and-mortar locations. (Note: The Mac App Store is available as a free software update, but only for Macs running Mac OS X Snow Leopard.)

    My workflow consists of Adobe’s Lightroom and Photoshop CS5 so I won’t be jumping ship, but if someone is contemplating purchasing Aperture, now is the time to act. I’ve heard only good things about Aperture and as far as I can tell, the $79.99 Aperture is not a stripped down version. But I’d let ’em keep the $120 box it comes in!

    – Written by Detroit People Photographer Blake Discher