The American Society of Media Photographers provides this forum to encourage the development of critical skills and to foster new ideas. Our goal is an informed and savvy professional photography community.

State of the Industry

I just had the good fortune to give my seminar, Earning a Living in a World where Everyone has a Camera for ASMP’s Seattle and Oregon chapters.  When I gave the first iteration of this talk in 2013, my observations about how our industry was changing and the ways photographers would have to change their approach in order to successfully adapt were received with a certain amount of anger and resistance.  Today, however, those same ideas and observations were hungrily absorbed and inspired an open dialog with these photographers who have accepted that the industry has irrevocably changed.  This week, our contributors share their insights into the state of our industry and I hope that you, our readers, will use their observations as a springboard to your own adaptation and growth. ~Judy Herrmann, Editor

By webmaster | Posted: October 12th, 2015 | No comments

Photography is the Disruptor

[by Richard Kelly]

At many cocktail parties, conversations usually start with “Hey, I bet digital cameras have changed your business.” I usually explain that the digital camera is only a small component of the bigger disruption affecting my business and add that photography itself, is always a disruptor.

When Mr. Niépce, fixed the first photographic images over a century ago, painters were disrupted. When roll film was prepackaged for cameras and consumers let Mr. Eastman do the rest, portrait studios knew their days were numbered.

In a flash, Dr. Land threatened the darkrooms of Rochester when he encouraged us to peel back a print in an instant.  Long before computers, photography was a central industry disruptor.

Today, diverse creative industries – music, publishing, movies and television – are being disrupted by digital connectedness; an ecosystem where ideas and their expressions are born, live and die in an all digital environment.

I find the intertwining of music, film, books, magazines with technology into a digital medium very exciting. The creative possibilities seem infinite, and the global connectedness was until recently, unfathomable.

All this disruption, though, has had life altering implications for most creators.  The old business models that served us well for decades no longer work. Instead of longing for the lucrative past, though, we must look collectively forward and figure out how can we use these digital tools and their global connectedness to solve real problems and tell real stories.

For professional creators, the “grand disruption” and the economics of the new, new have left us with the all-important question: Where is the money?

To date, the “sharing” model is mostly a “sharecropping” livelihood that’s not very profitable for the creative classes. While we create the music, words and pictures that the world shares, the technology companies – which have morphed into media companies – rake in micropayments to generate billions of revenue and/or a high market value off the content they exploit.

It’s time for the next disruption – the one that creates the tools, time and money to finance our creative lives.  My bet, is that photography will be there.

None of the earlier photography disruptors completely ended as they had feared. Instead, the fate of Kodak and Polaroid was sealed when they failed to keep disrupting themselves.

Richard Kelly is a photographer and early adopter masquerading as an Associate Professor of Photography at Pittsburgh Filmmakers. Follow him @richardkellyphoto on Instagram.


By Richard Kelly | Posted: October 13th, 2015 | No comments
Get Connected

Guiding the Renaissance of Visual Language by Telling Our Own Story

[by Tom Kennedy]

As humans first moved into southern Europe, they used cave walls as mural spaces to depict elements in their environment important to their lives. These images have come down through the centuries as silent testimony to their world and a potent reminder of the power of visual language to express fundamental truths about our life in the natural world.

Today, photographers still have that same power to illuminate, inform, and leave a legacy that will reverberate through millennia, speaking to our lifetime and the forces at work now shaping our planet’s destiny.

While technology has lowered the barrier to producing photographs and enabled anyone with a smartphone to record images that can be instantly shared across the globe, it is proving to be both the great disruptor and the great enabler for all those seeking to express themselves through visual language.

New imaging technologies continue to advance how life can be revealed and shared through photography, but the ultimate value continues to be found in the skills of professional photographers, who as native speakers of visual language, express the reality of today’s world most eloquently.

While “selfies” on social media channels can be entertaining, it is the deeper expression of visual language that reveals the truly significant observable moments and renders them for posterity. Years of dedication to craft practice, mastery of aesthetic elements, honed powers of observation, and the ability to discern meaning and capture it in the blink of an eye are all essential to fully revealing the human condition through photography.

The simple, yet paradoxical truth of our times for visual creators is that our craft practices and applied skills are still essential to creating lasting, impactful work, but that work must compete with a far greater daily flow of images supplied by fellow citizens who aren’t necessarily motivated by the same desire to witness, understand, and express one’s observations with visual acuity and power.

As the most fluent native speakers, I think we have an opportunity – and a responsibility – to promote visual literacy through our work and the ways we communicate about our motives as photographers; to guide the renaissance of this language and to reaffirm its value as a way of understanding the world around us.

We can instruct by example and elevate the meaning and importance of visual language through our work. But we must also back up our creative actions with a continual conversation about the meaning we are seeking to find and convey. Our truths as practitioners and artists have to be part of the dialogue with our audience, whether clients or the general public.

To enable the public to recognize, understand, and value our photography, we need to be able to speak other languages ourselves and not shy away from opportunities to tell our own story as creators.   This is the “new normal” for professional photographers in the early part of the 21st century.

ASMP Executive Director Tom Kennedy is an internationally known visual journalist with 35 years of print and online journalism experience including positions as Managing Editor for Multimedia at The Washington Post and Director of Photography at the National Geographic Society.

By Tom Kennedy | Posted: October 12th, 2015 | No comments

Tethering: A Case Study

[by Rhea Anna]

The following case study is excerpted from The Ultimate Tethering Guide.

I love to shoot tethered whenever I can. I believe clients are more engaged in the process when they are able to see what’s going on via the big screen. I find it’s the most successful way to create real collaboration on set. There are a couple of different ways I’ll shoot tethered, depending upon the environment and the demands of the production.

In the Studio
In the studio or in more controlled environments where the camera and computer will not move much, I will sometimes shoot with the laptop on a Tether Table using a wired connection. This way, the computer can be anywhere that’s comfortable for the client and the images transfer as fast as possible directly from camera to the computer. There’s almost no delay between firing the shutter and seeing the images on screen.

The one issue here is the cable. It can get yanked out of the camera port easily, or wiggle loose just enough to break the physical connection and then the software often needs to be restarted before it will recognize the camera connection again.

One tool that does help with this problem is the Jerk- Stopper Camera Support from Tether Tools. It helps minimize the movement of the cord and can prevent it from inadvertently coming unplugged. They also make a version for the computer end, which is somewhat less critical, but it helps make sure that the USB cord isn’t going to come unplugged by accident.

The most important piece of equipment for wired tethered photography is the cord itself. It’s really worth the extra effort to get a good quality, extra-long tethering cable that has plated connections, coatings to reduce signal noise, and a core that provides the best possible transmission.

Out of the Studio
With all of that said, I shoot out on location almost all the time. I have tried (many, many times) the scenario above, but that workflow isn’t always optimal for me in the field. Being connected by cables to a laptop was too limiting for my shooting style.

I searched for quite some time for a reliable wireless tethering system and finally landed on the CamRanger Wireless Tethering System. The CamRanger is a small device that plugs into the camera’s USB terminal and then can sit in the hot shoe or any- where you care to put it within range of the cord that connects it.

The CamRanger creates its own network and wirelessly transmits the images (JPEG or RAW) via the CamRanger software. This allows you to not only monitor the images, but also control the camera (change ISO, shutter speed and f-stop) as well as fire the shutter. You can also watch Live View on your computer monitor. The images are saved to the CF or SD card as well as the computer’s hard drive (some camera models) at the same time. So, there’s no need to transfer the images after the shoot (depending on your camera model).

I import all of my work into Adobe Lightroom, so when shooting with the CamRanger and CamRanger software, I like to use the Auto Import feature of Lightroom. This way we’re ingesting the images into Lightroom right away, making selections and flagging our favorites right there at the shoot. Doing this on set takes a big step out of the post processing workflow and I find it to be a great time saver.

There is one big drawback with this system: lag time. The images do not appear instantaneously; there’s a delay of 15-30 seconds or more while the RAW images fly into the computer. The faster you shoot, the longer you wait. I might have already made changes to lighting or composition by the time the client is responding to the images on screen from a minute or two ago. The delay takes some getting used to, but I think it’s a very worthwhile trade-off for what you gain in the process. And just think, not so long ago we used to have to wait two minutes for every Polaroid to process before we could get client feedback!

Rhea Anna shoots narrative based, conceptual lifestyle stories in the still frame and in motion. Rhea’s lifestyle imagery is used by businesses and brands that inspire.  For the rest of the case study, including details on wireless tethering to a tablet and backing up during tethering download The Ultimate Tethering Guide.


By Editor | Posted: October 9th, 2015 | No comments

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