Photographers and Motion. One Art Producers View.

Milam3I met Ben Milam, a producer at Leo Burnett’s Arc Worldwide on a shoot with one of my clients.  Since he came all the way to San Francisco we thought it would be fun to take him out for a nice dinner while he was here.  How we landed last minute reservations at DELFINA, I am not sure.  But I do know that the atmosphere, the delicious meal and the Italian red wine led to a very interesting conversation about photographers adding video and motion work to their offerings and how clients should consider video more often because photographers can now partner with them to provide it.

When he returned to Chicago, I asked him if he would write about his thoughts for our blog. Here is what he shared.

“Marketing dollars have a way of gravitating toward alternative methods of production in slow economic times causing clients to look for more ways to make their dollars go further. The general consensus in marketing and advertising is that restricting resources can cripple the final creative product. And in some cases, fiscal restrictions on production costs can do more harm than good.

In other cases, having limited resources can also concentrate creative output. A perfect example is the increasing focus of still photographers to also create motion work. Technology is granting more and more photographers access to quality motion output. Combine that with the rising amount of digital signage plus a sluggish economy and you’ve got a market for hybrid, budget-friendly photo shoots that also now have a need for capturing motion.

Numerous photographers already offer this type of hybrid shoot but can experience criticism when their work is compared to traditional broadcast work.  Motion equipment used by photographers can sometimes be lower caliber compared to that on a motion shoot. And it’s true that most photographers don’t have a vast amount of experience with broadcast work. Even though there are plenty of reasons to ignore this type of hybrid shoot, the ever-increasing amount of digital executions will drive an increased demand for budget-minded motion work.

This doesn’t mean that traditional motion shoots are going away. It also doesn’t mean that the quality of the hybrid shoot should be sub-par. It simply means that we will see a growing demand for this type of photographer.

In order to capitalize on its full capabilities, why not consider motion more often? It’s helpful to look at this from a retail and shopper marketing standpoint instead of from a traditional broadcast view. Digital signage opens up the option for motion in point-of-sale outlets that were normally static and it continues to expand.   Monitors continue to show up at bus stops, retail storefronts, and everywhere else you can think of.  Some might even go as far as to suggest repurposing TV spots for retail outlet use but why treat retail content the same as television spots? Remember that most digital signage will not have the consumer’s full attention the same way that a television screen does.

So, why not find a creative partner that can help you explore these possibilities?  The goal is to find great photographers that share the creative vision of their client and agency partners while having the agility to capture relevant motion work.  A photographer is the perfect partner.  They are willing to evolve their offerings, they have experience with working with smaller budgets and they are knowledgeable as to what is needed on set to combine both still and motion.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to start thinking about the upcoming challenges of presenting larger production budgets to clients that normally see estimates for still-only photo shoots.

How to Best Maximize the Pintrest Potential

Do you know Amanda Cooper?  Well, if you don’t I strongly recommend you get to know her or at least her work.  She is one of the most enthusiastic and dedicated creatives that I know.  When she and I connected at Le Book Connections LA I knew instantly she would be a great contributor to our blog.  Her ideas about the industry were spot on and she obviously had her finger on the pulse of what was going on in our industry. That made her idea to start a conversation about the real Potential of Pintest that much more interesting.

Amanda described her post best when she titled her contribution:  Pintrest Potential; An informative guide to helping to navigate and leverage the creative community capabilities of one of the web’s hottest visual social sharing tools.

Here is what she had to say.

There’s been quite a lot of buzz around the site lately, and it’s pretty hard not to notice the growing volume of visual updates by photographers, stylists and art directors via Facebook and Twitter which map back to beautiful images hosted on this very site.

Especially with recent statistics (posted April 13, 2012) reporting data:

—As of February 2012, Pinterest had accumulated 10.4 million users.

—Over 80% of pins are repins.

—Pinterest is retaining & engaging users as much as 2-3x as efficiently as Twitter was at a similar time in history.

—Daily Pinterest users have increased by more than 145% since the beginning of 2012.

—As of January 2012, American users spent an average of 97.8 minutes on Pinterest.

So that’s pretty great for general public stats…

But how does that translate to our industry and specifically as a professional tool for photographers, directors/DPs, stylists, art buyers and/or art directors??

If you’re not already using Pinterest, it’s a great platform both for finding and collecting inspiration as well as organizing and archiving your discoveries for future project resources. Pinterest, in general, works as a great tool for conducting client, product and/or consumer/demographic research as well as for the creative responsibilities of developing mood boards or treatments for bids, putting together comps and assembling storyboards.

Pinterest provides a great opportunity for photographers/DPs to gain more exposure of their work to general public and also to network with other professional creatives and brands.  Many agency art directors, graphic designers and typographers are incredibly enamored with the site and often frequent the site on a near-daily basis to gather research and/or archive their work. Thus, it’s a huge opportunity to network and connect with creatives who may be affiliated with agencies a photographer may want to reach out to—or simply collaborate with an art director or designer on a side project or identity re-design.

The great thing about Pinterest, is that the social sharing is based around visual files. Much like Instagram—it provides the ability to discover others’ galleries and work developments via the connections based on like-minded, relative visual styles. (And since Pinterest provides a profile area at the very top of each user page—it’s incredibly easy to source a particular artist’s website, twitter or facebook page after discovering their Pinterest pins.

I’ve noticed several photographers and brands even beginning to create pinboards that additionally showcase their image libraries, instagram galleries, campaigns and recent projects.

This is a simply yet another free social platform which allows for very quick and easy hosting of one’s work, increasing the opportunity to gain more public exposure.

Obviously, posting on Pinterest as a photographer allows possibilities for the general public, art directors and/or art buyers, brands and potential clients to discover one’s images. Thus, the more clearly the credit attribute information is labeled, (in addition to website URL) ensures a greater chance of proper credit to be established, as well as chance for others to re-direct back to portfolio site as a resource. Having the artists’ name with copywright symbol also helps in discouraging those re-pinning the image(s) from modifying associated credit information and provides greater chance for this information to travel around the Pinterest site (and distributed web) with proper credit attributes.

Here is a great format that I personally use when pinning images from professional photographers which helps provide a pretty visible, clear copyright association:

When other pinners notice this image on my board—they are more hesitant to manipulate the image if they see the photographer’s credited name and the “©” copyright symbol.

Additionally, there are a few other ways in which professional photographers can prepare their galleries on portfolio sites to help encourage Pinterest integration with their work:

-Adding instant share (Pinterest) social icon button to website images:

-Although many photographers are less concerned with using watermarks these days as it discourages the “social share” factor—even if you decide not to incorporate them into images, it’s best to add any relative copyright adjacent to image(s) or ensure to have a page on website clearly showing general copyright information whenever possible.

Embedding metadata into image files and in image file naming system (ie. when saving/exporting out of Lightroom, Photoshop, ensure to embed all associated URLs, copyright info and meta data) so that if someone does pull an image which may have missing info—there is a chance of still maintaining related information. (This is especially key for videographers and DPs out there, as Pinterest is now allowing users to pin videos—if a pinner pulls a video from Vimeo or YouTube—Vimeo currently features the Pinterest-share icon associated with videos, however, YouTube currently does not offer this direct capability at the time of this post.)

Do note, most flash galleries do not allow for compatibility with the Pinterest browser toolbar app.

See image below for what occurs when one attempts to use the Pinterest toolbar app. to pin an image featured in a flash gallery:

(In some cases, I have seen images on Pinterest by photographers who I know host flash-based galleries.) My guess it that these images were then either screen-shots or they were pulled from images hosted externally from portfolio(s) elsewhere on the distributed web.

For general public pinners, if you can additionally try to ensure the following information is visible whenever you add new content, or simply help to correct/update the information (if you notice it’s missing credits) when re-pinning any images/videos—that is always ideal…And somewhere the original artist will be thanking you for taking the time to help preserve the integrity of their work as they generously allow our greater community to enjoy it!

Amanda N. Cooper is a freelance Art Director, Designer living/working between S.F. & L.A. and is deeply passionate about photography and surfing. She has been an active member of the Pinterest community since April of 2011 and her first re-pin on the site was of a beautiful, rusted-out vintage VW bus parked at a surf break. You can see more of Amanda’s work, link to Pinterest collection and learn more about her at:


5 Popular Legal Errors in the Photo World

Leslie Burns, of Burns Auto Parts fame has recently joined forces with Carolyn Wright of to further educate the photo community on legal issues.  Once Leslie was officially onboard,  timing was right to ask her if she would consider contributing to our blog.  She did not hesitate and offered to share with us what she thinks are the 5 most popular legal errors in the photo world.  If you have other questions not addressed  here, please email me and we will see if we can get them answered.

5 Popular Legal Errors in the Photo World

There is a lot of mixed legal information out there now. Unfortunately, much of the info available, particularly on sites like Wikipedia, is legally inaccurate and can hurt you if you rely on it. So, in the spirit of trying to help, here is a list of five common legal misconceptions in the photo world.

1. If you make a photo, you have to register its copyright within three months or it’s not worth bothering.

This is a common misunderstanding of the 3-month rule. That rule is really a safe harbor for published photos. It says that if you shoot a photo and publish it, you have 3 calendar months from that first publication date to register the image’s copyright and it will be like you registered it the day it was published. If someone infringes on your work during that time, you can still get the enhanced remedies of statutory damages and attorneys’ fees, even if you register it after the infringement starts (as long as you register within those 3 months).

The general rule is that you have to register the work before an infringement to get enhanced remedies, but the 3-month rule gives you a window. However, lots of infringers will say you can’t get statutory damages and attorneys’ fees if you don’t register within three months, period. That isn’t true. As long as you register before the infringement starts, you can get enhanced remedies–even years after you make the photo. And you have to register your work to bring suit anyway. So please, register all your work, as soon as possible!

2. You must pay your models real money or the release is invalid.

“Consideration” is a nebulous concept in contract law but the fundamental thing is that it doesn’t have to be of the same value on both sides. So, although you need consideration and it should be mentioned on your model releases that there has been an exchange of consideration (“given and received”), that consideration can be a dollar or a print or just about anything.

Relatedly, always get a release signed if you possibly can, even if you don’t think you need one. Better to have one and not need it than the reverse. It;s damn cheap “insurance.” The release apps are fine, but take photos of IDs to prove age and identity just to cover your butt.

3. If your work appears on a site with a DMCA Takedown Notice procedure and the site takes down your work, you cannot sue anyone for the infringement.

DMCA takedowns only protect the third-party hosts of blogs, user-generated content sites, etc. So, for example, if you make a video and someone posts it to YouTube (without your permission or a license) and YouTube takes it down when you ask, you cannot sue YouTube; however, you can sue the person who put your work up there in the first place!

4. There is no need for a copyright notice on your work.

Although there is no requirement that you post a copyright notice with your work in order for the full protections of copyright to apply, if you do post one it can make a big difference in any infringement case. If there is a notice and your work gets infringed, that eliminates the possibility of “innocent infringement” by the infringer. Also, if the infringer removes your notice, you may have a claim under the DMCA for Copyright Management Information removal (the DMCA is not just about takedowns).

Oh, and if you use a copyright notice, make sure it’s in the correct form of “© + date of first publication (not creation!) + your name” so, for this post which is my copyrighted work (published by Heather with my permission), the correct notice would be “© 2012 Leslie Burns.”

5. If someone uses a photo on a personal blog or editorially, or if someone only uses a small part of a work, that use is Fair Use.

Fair Use is a much, much more complicated thing than most people think. Courts must look at all four factors in each case and those factors are not what they sound like to the lay person on top of it all: Purpose of the use; Nature of the use; Amount and substantiality of the work used; and, Impact on the potential marketability of the work. So, for example, while a non-commercial use is a plus in the Fair Use column, it is not close to conclusive. There are cases where a whole work being used was Fair Use, and others where a very small part of a work was not Fair Use. There simply are no hard and fast rules. You should definitely ask a lawyer before assuming something is or is not Fair Use.

By the way, this post is offered for educational and informational purposes only and should not be taken for legal advice. Yes, I have to say that.


Leslie Burns has been involved in commercial photography and the creative industries since the mid-1990s. After working on both sides of the business (buying and selling), she became a rep and later a marketing consultant to commercial photographers. Her oddly-named Burns Auto Parts has worked with photographers from San Diego to Boston, Denmark to South Africa, and even Australia. With three books under her belt, she got to fulfill her life-long dream when she earned an academic scholarship to attend law school. There she studied IP and small business law in order to help photographers and other creative professionals even more. She passed the CA Bar exam on her first try in 2011 and now both consults under the Burns Auto Parts brand and offers legal services as a part of the Law Offices of Carolyn E. Wright, aka