Photograph Moments That Really Matter, With Any Camera Available 

…if you wait until you’re completely qualified for something, it might be too late. 

– Bernard Kleina, Photographer

Forget about whether you’re a “pro” or an “amateur”. Just continue shooting, always trying to improve your craft. And someday you might be surprised the doors that open to you.

Gotta Love the Internet

Editorial photo by Paul Ottaviano

Photo I shot in 2008. Used by a French publication in a story about Portland, Oregon.

While doing some matching on Pixsy, I discovered that a photo I shot 8 years ago and put on my late great Flickr profile was used in 2012 by a French publication. The article, as best as my poor French can make out, was about Weird Portland and its so-called hipster culture.

I got a chuckle out of this. It’s funny that a photo I shot so quickly eight years ago, with a Nikon Coolpix of all things, found new life across-the-pond. I also appreciate them giving me attribution and using a photo with a Creative Commons license that gave them permission. If they hadn’t or had infringed an all rights photo, this post would’ve taken on a completely different tone.

Speaking of the photo, I wonder what he is up to now?

Time Out

Yes, Time Magazine sucks. No, it’s not the end of the world. 

Time Magazine’s new photographer agreement and pay rates is out. Upon further review, it’s something I hope nobody signs.

For more you can follow these links:

If you haven’t seen it yet, here is a brief summary…

  • Time Magazine will now pay less than they did 35 years ago, adjusted for inflation. That’s if they choose to run the photos. If not, photographer gets nothing.
  • Costs, liability, etc., all on the photographer. Considering they want photographers to drop themselves into perilous areas, this is scandalous.
  • If the project is cancelled, tough luck. No payment or costs covered.
  • No re-use rights.
  • To top it off, photographers cannot keep copyright nor show the work on their website or portfolio.

This all from a publication who charges over $300,000 for one full-page ad.

I’m not a Time Magazine photographer. So why do I care?

Because I did view editorial as something to eventually grow into. Re-use rights on editorial photographs are important if wanting to earn ancillary income through stock photo sales. Also, photojournalism and editorial are essential to our culture, history, and not living in ignorance.

“Young or emerging photographer? Drop dead.” – Time Magazine

What Time Magazine is essentially saying, particularly to young and emerging editorial photographers, is that there is no future in editorial photography. Not if you want to make a living with it or use to enhance your portfolio.

If this is the future of editorial photography, why bother? Why spend the next five or ten years working on it, just for a photo credit? I don’t know about you, but I won’t. There is no incentive.

It’s also very clear that Time wants to, eventually, not pay for photography. Perhaps just pull stuff from user-generated content or adopt “orphan works”, which also exploits amateur photographers. But they just don’t have the guts to say it yet.

When thinking broadly in context of it all, it’s also disconcerting for agents, associations, and creative people generally. Linear paths to middle class stability for creatives are being systematically destroyed.

Good News is You’re Free!

The bright side is there is freedom in this. Freedom for photographers to reinvent themselves. Freedom from being tepid and holding your tongue, hoping not to appear “unprofessional” and alienating some photo editor.

Who gives a crap about an editorial photo editor, if this is where it’s going? Who gives a shit about what is “professional behavior”? Who gives a damn about keeping appearances?

Shoot what you want, how you want. Say what you want. Be who you want. Be your own brand, amateur or “pro”, regardless of commercial success or popularity. Own your work. Say yes to the good business deals. Say no to the bad ones, regardless of the name.

For better or worse, that’s what I’m going to do. What else is there now?




Atlanta Has Outlawed Photography

The City of Atlanta thinks that shooting street photography is a crime.

I don’t know about you, but sidewalk photographers should be the least of government worries. There is also an itsy bitsy thing called the U.S. Constitution. They should look it up.

I wonder if there is commercial protectionism in this? After all, are police going to cite every person snapping selfies with an iPhone? I doubt it. All the “Filmed in Georgia” still photographers don’t have much to worry about, either.

Perhaps only properly “credentialed” photographers can shoot on Atlanta’s illustrious sidewalks. Yay for “professionals”! But who knows? It’s a stupid law.

“Yes, officer. I’m just an Instagram photographer.”

Unless Facebook/IG actually starts paying their photographers some of those billions they now make off free labor. But that would be bad, or something, says Atlanta.

This is shocking coming from a region that routinely declares its pro-business and anti-regulation street cred. On the other hand it’s not surprising, is it? 

By the way, this law apparently prohibits editorial use, too. If Atlanta police went aggro on protesters down there, you would be a criminal for photographing it “without permission” of every business and person in the photo.

Never mind that model and property releases, for commercial use, has always been a private agreement and suitable way for handling this sort of issue.

But we all know that getting signatures for everyone and everything is damn near impossible sometimes, and often times impractical, particularly for a photo of large scope in public. Also, this is America. Not Moscow.

Many photos in the previous century, a major part of our history and culture, would not have seen the light of day if Atlanta’s new ordinance had been the national legal standard.

What a pathetic excuse for governance. High-tech dark ages. 

MLK Day March

Photo of Alfonso López-Vasquez prior to the 2015 MLK Day march in Forest Grove OR by Paul Ottaviano

Alfonso López-Vasquez, Associate Professor and Director of Diversity at Pacific University, speaks to the group prior to the march. Forest Grove, OR. 

Monday I had the wonderful opportunity to participate in and photograph a march, in remembrance of Martin Luther King, Jr.,  through the town of Forest Grove, OR. The group of people in attendance were spirited and good-natured. All exhibited genuine appreciation towards what was a diverse crowd of about 100. For a small town, this was a good number, particularly since this was their first MLK Day march in many years. And, as is often the case, it’s not just the number of people but the quality of person that counts.

Here are some of my favorite MLK Day photos.