Wednesday, April 25, 2012
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
We produced this video for a luxury yacht marketing firm here in Florida. The 3.5-minute film is designed to hypnotize you with visual and audible beauty, thus prompting you to click the link in the lower corner and book a week's vacation (costing you $100,000).
All kidding aside, the link is how we track response to the video as it gets picked up by travel blogs, Facebook fans and other websites around the internet, always driving traffic back to our client via the link that always travels with the video wherever it appears. Do your videos feed you bookings like this?
We featured the 130-ft. Westport tri-deck "Mary-Alice II" piloted by Captain Kelly Esser at 23 knots off the coast of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida just two weeks ago. Helicopter wizardry was provided by Iftach Shimonovitc with Boca Raton Helicopters who had us at about 20 feet off the water at times. Music composer was Ganga http://bitly.com/rme78c
If you're interested in seeing more of our work, please visit http://bit.ly/rspcin
Friday, October 14, 2011
We were hired to produce a video of the 130-ft Mary-Alice II luxury motoryacht http://bitly.com/qwf3wF which you can charter for around $100,000/week.While I shot with a Canon 60D http://bitly.com/nN9dwZ this BTS video was captured using our GoPro http://bhpho.to/GoProCar which was mounted to the cockpit windshield with the suction cup mount (still vibrated heavily). But, I felt it was good enough to enjoy along with Darko Saric's high-energy track http://bitly.com/darkouplift
Skillful helicopter flying was courtesy of Iftach Shimonovitc with Boca Raton Helicopters http://bitly.com/qyK0gpas the yacht was piloted by Captain Kelly Esser. The shoot lasted 1.5 hours and took place off the coast of Ft. Lauderdale and Dania Beach, Florida.
Saturday, September 24, 2011
We just produced a cool, dramatic, sexy video of Andaz San Diego, a boutique hotel brand you will hear more about in the coming year. As usual, we've included the "click to book" link so viewers can go directly to Andaz's booking engine.
We'll monitor traffic and our client will monitor ROI. When did image marketing become so accountable? It's about time.
Music track is by British electronica band Urban Myth Club http://bitly.com/mYrZDo
Thursday, August 25, 2011
Sure, every resort has a video showcasing its "fabulous spa" and "ten thousand square foot fitness center" and "championship golf course." Oh and I almost forgot to mention the "award-winning chef."
Don't any of these marketing pros (many who are my friends and clients) realize that these words have become innocuous, if not annoying to the consumer? But, properties continue to churn out these videos featuring the same two or three voice talents and stock musak tracks.
It's time to shake things up a bit.
While the above video is certainly not "award winning," it is a small test sample of a new direction in video marketing for resorts. Visuals that are shot at the right time of day, carefully chosen and legally licensed music tracks with no annoying voices reciting the well-intentioned bullet points. However, all important areas (i.e. guest rooms, restaurants, pools, etc.) will be well covered.
The best part is the ability to track response. That logo in the video's llower right corner is actually a clickable link to an external website (my portfolio, in this example). But, imagine if consumers could click this link and be taken directly to a booking site. Now that's a great idea.
Monday, August 22, 2011
Suddenly I'm obsessed with driving ecommerce traffic to fashion websites. Do you run a fashion website? Want traffic from people who are—at that very moment—feeling interested, excited and/or seduced by your product? Then let me produce a video for you. We will send it everywhere and track the results.
Above is a 42-second viral video for Levi Strauss & Company that when embedded, includes a clickable logo in the lower right corner which leads directly to product purchase. Go ahead, click the logo and see what happens. (Well, at least wait until the video is over...unless you're so excited you cannot contain yourself.
Here are some other "case studies" of ours:
CALVIN KLEIN LINGERIE
Our CK Perfectly Fit lingerie video has over 10,000 views and was picked up by many fashion blogs, websites and Facebook fans. We embedded CK's logo directly in the video, taking viewers to a page to purchase.
DEAR EARTH ECO FASHION
Here's a "lookbook-in-motion" we did for Dear Earth, an organic apparel designer based in Miami. This was shot in 3 hours using minimal lighting and equipment. When it appears outside of my portfolio, a link at the end drives traffic back to Dear Earth's ecommerce website.
UNITED NUDE SHOES
We produced this video for Dutch shoe brand United Nude at their Miami Beach pop-up store. After getting picked up by many fashion bloggers, it appears worldwide.
Here's the same video as it appears on the InYourHead blog http://j.mp/rawb1Z and after being picked up by the Brazilian sapatos.net website where it drives traffic back to United Nude's website via the trackable link http://j.mp/pnZDfZ
If you're interested to know how viral videos can help sell your product, feel free to give us a call at 1.561.912.9921.
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
We scouted and planned a sunny rooftop video shoot with Miami-based Elite model Courtney O'Connor. It didn't go according to plan when, on the shoot day, the weather was not sunny. In fact, it was dark, cloudy and pouring rain. The footage looked more like Northern Europe rather than South Florida. So, I bumped up the blue (a lot) and let Courtney take command of the architecture.Soundtrack is called "Beached" and legally licensed from Shawn Ethier "Revalver" based in Montreal, Canada. CINEMATOG: Corey Weiner http://redsquarephoto.com
ASSIST: Jeff Herron http://jeffherron.com
MODEL: Courtney O'Connor http://courtneyoconnor.org
SOUNDTRACK: "Beached" by Revalver http://twitter.com/tweethier
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
This morning, I was standing in front of the Ensemble Collection furniture store in Ft. Lauderdale holding a sign with the word "THIEVES" in large caps (and I never type in large caps). It's a hefty accusation to make publicly.
So, how did I get here?
It was bound to happen at some point. While I've always had slow-paying clients, it would usually end after a few uncomfortable phone calls and then finally, a payment. One time, I had a client file bankruptcy with a $3,500 write off. But, for some reason that I will never understand, Ensemble Collection decided it was worth it for them to test my will to collect a bad debt. So for the first time in my life, I exercised my First Amendment right to free speech and picketed outside their store in order to collect a long-outstanding debt of $1,600.
It all started in late 2010 when I gave EC some very nice art pieces to sell on consignment. It was part of an effort to establish relationships with a few high-end retail furniture stores in hopes of selling artwork to their customers. Since EC carries top designers like Kartell, Eames, Stark and Saarinen http://bit.ly/kjZXPp I thought they were a perfect fit for my artwork.
For those not familiar with art consignments, both artist and retailer are equal partners (unlike a supplier relationship where a retailer can negotiate months to pay). After consigning two pieces, I received a call from an EC salesperson who announced that a customer was about to purchase one entitled "Water" http://bit.ly/mDNsu3 so after having to call multiple times to find out it had eventually sold, I invoiced EC in January 2011. When payment wasn't received by February, I followed up by sending a few polite emails and voicemails with no response. In fact, there was no response in April, May or June either. Internally, there were a few employees trying to facilitate payment but all of their efforts were falling on deaf ears at the top. Once, when I was lucky to speak with their CFO Kathy she told me the "check is going out tonight" and then rushed me off the phone. After 12 more days passed without payment and even more of my voicemails ignored, I suddenly realized they were making an effort to avoid paying me. According to our signed agreement, this money belonged to me "upon sale" and since they were refusing to forward my portion, I now considered this not a matter of late payment but matter of theft.
So, what's a recession-weary father-of-two supposed to do at this point? Call the police? Pay my lawyer good money to go after them? I decided on an interim step before legal action: picketing their store.
Ensemble Collection is located on a very busy intersection of Sunrise Boulevard and US1 http://bit.ly/iuzgYE and I knew that a regular weekday would have thousands of cars passing by. I cleared my schedule and planned to picket for two full days, 11am-6pm. I had some friends who offered to stand there with me but I figured I'd use them on the second day, if I had to. If that didn't work, I would then have my lawyer start the meter.
In a phone call with one sympathetic EC employee, I said that if their bosses brought me to the point of picketing, I would also use my 20+ years in marketing and my 5,000+ Twitter followers http://bit.ly/jx5LFI to make sure everyone knew that it was EC's choice to escalate this matter. The day before I planned to picket, I sent both store owner Joe Mirabile and CFO Kathy one last email in hopes either one would give me my money or at least respond to me in some way. Here is the final paragraph of my email:
I hope you understand I have done all that I can and have waited as long as possible before losing hope to be paid by EC. If you do not return my call today or a check is not received, I will be in the unfortunate position of having to collect this debt in court which will make it more expensive for both of us. Please don't force me to do this as I am only trying to be paid for my work.
Neither phone call, check nor response was received. Exactly twenty-four hours after that email, I arrived at the store with sign-in-hand and asked to speak with Joe in a last ditch effort to avoid publicizing this piece of dirty laundry. After all, it was Joe who I had originally met with face-to-face (yet was avoiding my calls and emails for six months). When store employees once again told me "There's no check here for you and Joe isn't available right now," I politely told them I would stand there with my sign until someone puts that non-existent check in my hand. It was 11:05am.
Over the next 20 minutes, I estimate 300-400 cars passed by with many drivers craning their necks to read my 4x3-ft sign. I had designed it in Adobe Photoshop CS5 http://adobe.ly/miCzHd using the store's logo and large, bold 900-point type (yes, 900 points) with a clean, black and white palette to match the store's sleek, modern inventory. The sign company http://instasign.com also had an 8-ft sign but I felt mine was plenty enough to do the job. As I was standing out there in the midday Florida sun, five or six store employees and a few curious customers seemed somewhat entertained by my willingness to right this easily avoidable wrong.
By 11:25, an employee came outside and said, "Well, it didn't take long. Here's your check." Feeling relieved, I immediately drove one block to BankAtlantic and walked out with my $1,600 cash-in-hand.
Well, not so fast. I take pride in having warned Ensemble Collection multiple times that I am a publicist by trade (in fact, it's basically my only marketable skill) and it's so gratifying that I was able to use my advertising, PR and journalism experience to bring justice to the situation. Every EC employee knows how hard I tried to avoid getting to this point.
Once I posted this story, my Facebook page lit up like a Christmas tree with words of support from family, friends, friends of friends and complete strangers. It's been retweeted multiple times and bit.ly shows it trending with 152 clicks in the first hour after posting. It seems everyone has faced something like this at one time or another and considering EC's 2-star rating on Google http://bit.ly/mCEe92 and 2.5-star rating on Yelp http://bit.ly/k5b5cz I'm not the only one unhappy with the way they do business. With the internet being the world's great information archive, your reputation in cyberspace becomes an organic, dynamic and permanent record of who you really are.
Ok, now, case closed.
UPDATE JUNE 22, 2011: Case re-opened. At 11:12am this morning I received a call that began, "Hi, this is Joe Mirabile." I immediately thought he was calling to sincerely apologize for mishandling this whole thing. Instead, he went on to say, "You mentioned in your blog that I'm the owner. Well, I'm not the owner. The owner is a company that might take legal action against you." After a stunned pause, I asked him, "After six months of ignoring my calls, that's what you called to tell me?" Then I hung up.
If Joe Mirabile is, in fact, not the owner then the owner must be really, really pissed at him right now. And, what's the first thing an incompetent manager does when the boss asks why some man is picketing outside the store on a hot summer day? Managers like Joe (and so many companies are filled with them) try to blame the victim (because he certainly couldn't have caused this himself, right?). I sure hope Joe's boss is smart enough to see through it. If not then any decent legal counsule should ask, "Why didn't you just give the guy his money to begin with?"
Monday, June 20, 2011
If your father is Italian, your mother is Dominican and you're 24, there's a remote possibility your body could look like this. It might also depend on diet and exercise but without the genetics, you'll probably be on my side of the camera.
Wilhelmina New York fitness model Johanna Sambucini was in Miami Beach for a few days so we decided on a quick collaboration. Just east of Collins & 18th is a newly-painted white wall. Next to that is a beach shower. Add a model (and a bit of clothing) plus the Miami sun and you'll have all the ingredients of a video shoot.
Legally licensed soundtrack is "Macky" from Danish composer Ganga http://ganga.dk
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
This is the strikingly beautiful Kendra Holliday. Kendra is a Miami-based Elite model and we've worked together before. I was thrilled when she agreed to be a part of this first "portfolio-in-motion" idea of mine.A 2.5-minute video can give a photographer or filmmaker a better idea of what a model or actor would be like to work with more so than any headshot or still portfolio. There's a big difference between seeing a frozen 1/250th of a second that's been photoshopped to death versus seeing a captured 5 or 10 seconds of motion. The cost of producing a video like this (with full studio rental, assistants, hair, makeup, etc) would certainly be a few thousand dollars. However, multiple talent can split production costs to make them palatable. Plus, every video doesn't have to include this many "looks" but we wanted to get as much done as we could while on set. Equipment included one Canon 60D, 24-70 L zoom, Cinevate Atlas 10 slider, Gitzo 5-series, Glidecam 4000HD, ShotTracker skater dolly and one 7-ft Westcott diffuser umbrella. Lighting was done with either one or two Lowel DPs. Edited in Adobe Premiere Pro CS5 and color graded with Magic Bullet Looks 1.4 (based on their presets but highly modified). CINEMATOG: Corey Weiner http://redsquarephoto.com
MODEL Kendra Holliday http://kendraholliday.com
HAIR/MUA Jennifer Majewski http://kissthismakeup.com
ASSIST Alex Markow http://alexmarkow.com
SOUNDTRACK Slinky Gal by Darko Saric http://bit.ly/lIhaRq
Monday, June 6, 2011
Thursday, May 26, 2011
Monday, May 23, 2011
This is a list of fax machines that call my cell phone. Most likely, they are the telemarketers too.
Wednesday, May 4, 2011
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
Saturday, April 3, 2010
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Saturday, December 12, 2009
Sunday, September 27, 2009
Friday, September 18, 2009
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Monday, September 14, 2009
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
Friday, August 21, 2009
Friday, May 29, 2009
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
Friday, April 3, 2009
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
Saturday, February 28, 2009
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
This was Apple's advertising slogan back in 1997. The company, long known for its creative thinking, inspired its core customer to think outside the norm.
After shooting about 300 hotel rooms over the last decade, I've learned the bed, desk, TV and lamps are all givens. So, if a photographer's job is to set clients apart from their competition, they have to think differently.
I shot the above guest room for a major resort client on the island of Aruba and decided to just ignore the room (yes, a room shot that ignores the room) and focus on two elements: windows and view. After all, most consumers can figure out what the rest of the bed looks like, right?
While the last photographer of this room certainly didn't take a bad shot, it looks like a very typical Caribbean resort room. If you put both images side by side, which room would inspire you to pay more per night? If you were a magazine editor, which shot would you devote more space to? That, dear reader, is the bottom line. Photographers who are able to increase the perceived value of a client's product will always get more opportunities to Think Different.
Saturday, November 1, 2008
Back in November 1998, I had grown tired of the advertising business. As any ad agency staff can attest to, burnout is easy when you're overworked, underpaid and spend your days (plus some nights, weekends and holidays) surrounded by the wittiest, most intelligent, manipulative, fun and narcissistic people. I fell in love with TV and print advertising at a very young age and always thought I belonged in that industry. But after eight years in agency account management, I became depressed with the realization that the more brilliant our ideas, the more tumultuous the process of getting them approved and produced.
Finally, at famed Miami design firm Pinkhaus it was Joel Fuller who pulled the plug. He told me, "Corey, you're not the guy I heard about before we hired you" and he was absolutely right. He also said, "All the clients think you hate them" and he was right about that too. I agreed with Joel on all accounts, made a sincere apology and left that Friday with my final paycheck.
The very next morning, I got a call from Palm Beach interior designer Annick Presles who does very opulent residential work in South Florida and the Caribbean. My in-laws hired Annick to decorate their home and she had seen some snapshots I took around the house just for fun. She told me they were very good shots and that she would pay me to shoot her projects. I asked her if this type of photography was a real job and she replied in her very French accent, "Oh yes, I pay architectural photographers thousands of dollars."
That was all I needed to hear. I shot the job for Annick and began assisting Dan Forer, a veteran architectural photographer based in Miami. I told him that I had just given up my $70,000/year advertising job, my wife is three months pregnant and I wanted to be his assistant. Dan said, "Great, you can start at $5 per hour."
Lucky for me, I was also starting to shoot real estate for a Sotheby's affialiate in Boca Raton called Premier Estate Properties. Premier had three marketing-savvy partners who wanted to build their brand with the distinctive look of super high quality architectural images. They saw the value of good photography in not only selling properties but wowing a homeowner into giving them the listing to start. Over the next six years, I would shoot hundreds of homes for Premier, most of them massive estates which not only built my architectural portfolio but gave my client editorial coverage they would not have received with the typical low quality images like the rest of their industry.
That was how Red Square started. As of today, total company sales during the last 10 years have been $1,760,465.78 with the bulk of that from the last six years. While I do work from home in a mostly fee-based business, this number still includes travel expenses, employee payroll, equipment and other outside costs so it's not my personal income. But, what that number represents to me is the total value of my work to all of my clients. That's what they have given me to create marketing tools to help sell their products. In a way, I'm still in advertising.
Behind the scenes there are a few people who have been with me since Day 1 and they must be acknowledged. First is Lauren White who for 10 years has kept my books in order, taxes paid, forms filed and QuickBooks running. This is one job that I could not do.
The other person I have to thank is my wife Katia who was only supportive when I decided to change careers. Since then, she has spent many dusks and dawns alone with our kids so I can travel. She never gets to come with me when I work in amazing places like China, Bali or some island in the Caribbean. And now that I'm doing more resort lifestyle, I'm coming home with shots of models running on the beach or half-naked on a massage table. How many wives would put up with that? She knows she can trust me and she's right because I am doing this job for my family. I remember Addie Lorber (wife of photographer Peter Lorber) once told me, "We aren't 'photo wives' we are 'photo widows.'"
As for the future, I can see three things on the horizon (not including a painful recession): video, a new website and more photo products.
First, I've been experimenting with architectural timelapse HD video which I find a beautiful and natural progression from still images. I'm teaching myself Final Cut but have yet to find a commercial client willing to pay for this type of moving imagery. For the website, I have contracted with famed Belgian web designers Group94 for a complete re-design of the portfolio site which will launch next month. Last, Red Square's sister company Kamra will continue to make photo-based decorative and food service items for hotels and restaurants. It's been a slow start but I still believe the idea has potential. We will see.
This blog post officially concludes the first 10 years of Red Square Photography. Next update: November 2018.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
This makes the stock photography market feel more like that other stock market, doesn't it?
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
These shots will be part of my redesigned portfolio site which is set to launch in December.
Saturday, October 18, 2008
far, impressive. And, as I flip through this month's in-flight
magazine, I recognize one of my shots.
Back in 2004, we went to the Hyatt Regency Kauai and cleared a
restaurant of its tables, brought in lounge chairs and wet the floors
in order to make it look like a private waterfront cabana (they pay
us to think of these things).
One thing we did not plan is the tiny sparrow on the left, who landed
just as I snapped this exposure. He quickly left as the strobes
popped so I was unable to get him to sign a release.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Despite the economy, current bookings seem to be good through 4Q/2008 and 1Q/2009 (if I can offer myself as an economic indicator). The other purpose of this post is to test the direct email-to-blog posting system which I plan to use while traveling.
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
A few years ago, I was on a shoot in Orlando when I came across a patch of wheat grass. It looked thin, tall and green so it caught my eye and I shot it.
A few days ago, Zazzle launched a custom shoe program. Now, the boring white shoe and the tall green grass can live together in harmony. And, for $67.50 plus shipping, your feet can join the love fest.
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
My two good friends, Claude and Jacques, are obsessed with an old radio antenna. And they've expressed their unrequited love by writing the sappiest poem, set to the cheesiest music. Feeling sorry for those two quiche-eaters, I allowed them to use my images in their video.
If you like cheese...bon appétit!
Friday, August 8, 2008
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
Friday, August 1, 2008
It was interesting when I was hired by Moscow-based real estate developer Mirax to shoot one of their projects in Miami. Not only was the location interesting but so was seeing the long reach of Russian wealth and business interests.
It got even more interesting two weeks ago, during a lunch in Gent, Belgium with local web design firm Group94. Project manager Tamara Schauvliege casually mentioned a client of theirs, "Mirax" and my ears perked up. Could this be the same Mirax that I know from Russia?
As it turns out, it was the exact same company. Not only that, but I remembered during the processing phase of the shoot, my client rushed me to finish the images because they had to "get them to the web design firm." I never asked who the design firm was and like so many of my delivered projects, it was deleted from my cerebral hard drive to make room for new projects. Meanwhile, unbeknownst to Group94, they were using some of my images to launch the project's new website.
It must be nice to be headquartered in Russia, manage projects in Miami and choose a web design firm in Belgium. Then, at a chance lunch, it all comes full circle. The world is certainly getting smaller by the minute.
Saturday, July 26, 2008
When I started my photography business back in 1999, I searched for a name that was simple to say and easy to spell. Most of my fellow photographers use their own names like "Joe Smith Studio," and this being a very personal business, it makes sense for the craftsman to have his name on the door.
But, my name is "Weiner," a name I hate to hear, spell or speak. So, my business name was to be my departure from my ancestors who came from Austrian Galicia in the 1880s. Maybe Weiner was a wonderful-sounding name back then but today, it's either pronounced "whiner" (a complainer) or "wiener" (a hotdog...or worse).
One day, my wife just said, "How about Red Square?"
Without any thought, I filed for the S-corp "Red Square, Inc." (d/b/a Red Square Photography) and designed a logo with, you guessed it, a four-sided shape in the color of red. At the time, I knew there was a very famous Red Square in Moscow and a Red Square nightclub in Miami Beach. I knew the nightclub wouldn't last and I figured the one in Moscow was too far away to be a factor.
What I didn't realize is how many other people loved the red square idea and how the internet would soon make any physical distance irrelevant. Hundreds of companies from all over the world in all different industries use a red square in their identity. It must be a trend because Wikipedia shows nine different "red squares." Even a fellow Florida photographer offered the sincerest form of flatulence.
The best example is another company actually named Red Square Photography in Derbyshire, England. They started about five years after me (which makes me wonder why they didn't just choose some other name) and they shoot weddings, kids and animals. Not exactly competition, except maybe at domain registration time.
So, here I am in an industry that lives by serving the newest, freshest and most creative ideas. We're supposed to help clients stand out from the crowd, build unique identities and other things like that. I'm going to stop whining and design a new logo.
Friday, June 27, 2008
A few months ago, I got a call from Stanford Magazine, the alumni publication of yes, that university in California. In typical photo editor fashion, the voice on the other end asked if I was "available for a shoot tomorrow" and of course, on a limited budget.
Normally, I would just politely hang up the phone at this point but realizing this could be the closest I might ever get to a fine educational institution like Stanford, I had to at least find out what they needed.
Apparently, two of the engineers behind the "on-demand" jet charter company DayJet were going to be at Boca Raton airport for just a few hours and the publication needed a quick portrait for an upcoming profile on these guys. They did a Google search for photographers closest to the airport and since I live about 3 minutes away, I guess I won the contest.
I immediately thought of that great portrait of actor Morgan Freeman standing on the wing of his jet. Another image that popped into my head was Sir Richard Branson in the Samsonite ad. Aviation is filled with interesting visuals, if only we had time to set something up.
The best we could do was open the hangar at dusk and position a few aircraft for the shot. (Luckily, DayJet's rocket of choice is the very light Eclipse 500 which the average photographer can lift and maneuver for good prop placement.)
By the next day, I electronically transfered the high-res file to California and they went to press. The online article can be found here. As a side note to photo geeks: See how the website's version of the image has dropped the color profile versus the sRGB-tagged example above. I guess Stanford could use a lesson in digital!
Thursday, June 26, 2008
Hopefully Liz remembered something from that class because she just won a copyright infringement case with an award of over $12 million.
The case involves a residential real estate developer who hired Liz to shoot his properties a few years ago. Liz granted his firm an unlimited, non-transferable license to use the images to promote his building company, excluding usage by third parties. (This happens to be my standard license as well.)
When the builder ignored the license and the additional usage was discovered, the builder refused to acknowledge Liz and instead, let the problem snowball into a Federal lawsuit. The defendant then let said snowball grow by refusing to show up for trial (which the judge didn't really appreciate) so the entire amount of the suit was awarded to Liz. Apparently the judgment will stick, even if the defendant files for bankruptcy.
To some, this large amount of money might seem disproportionate to the value of a few house photos. But, our copyright laws award large statutory damages of $150,000 for each work willfully infringed. So, a few stolen photos can cost a few million bucks if the infringer is aware of the copyright but chooses to ignore it, as in this case.
I've had a few of my own infringement cases over the past 10 years and even when I was awarded a judgment, I was never "made whole" again after the battle. But in each case, I was able to make enough of an impression on the defendant that would certainly cause him to think twice about stealing my work again. I also learned some important lessons:
Our legal system is not based on truth. Seemingly good people will certainly lie in order to suppress the truth and when confronted with hard evidence, these liars will change their story in order to minimize the damage they've done to themselves by offering a settlement that should have been offered on Day One. When it's all said and done, the defendant will always see the plaintiff as the bad guy.
Nevertheless, I congratulate Liz on her victory and hope the news deters people from stealing property for commercial gain. With today's anti-copyright culture, it will certainly remain an uphill battle.
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
These aren't your grandfather's photographic plates. They're actually 8" (20cm) porcelain appetizer plates with green nature images I shot in Miami, Orlando and Lake Tahoe and orange images shot in Miami, Kauai and Puerto Rico.
They're part of my side-project Kamra, a product design firm where we create custom photo-design items for hotel, restaurant, spa and retail. We also make glassware, serving trays, votives and other items out of handmade glass, crystal and melamine.
Above are the porcelain plates left in inventory and we need to make room for a shipment of new products coming in (yeah, sounds a little Ronco-esque but it's true). So, if you act now, you'll get the green porcelain plate collection for one easy payment of just $39.99. Or, you can have both collections—that's eight plates in total—for just $79.98. U.S. shipping is always free so order your's today!
Sunday, June 15, 2008
This is our first remote blog post, directly from Cancun, Mexico.
No, we're not here to parasail, drink tequila or jump from one hotel balcony to another. We're actually on day six of a 14-day shoot for a major resort company.
After four days of thunderstorms and schedule revisions, we're now back on track. It's 12:07pm and we've come inside to download about eight gigabytes of raw captures shot from 6am to 10am this morning.
The weather is spectacular and as proof, I shot the above image about 5 minutes ago. While I did use a polarizer filter, I promise that this color was not enhanced in any manner.
Sunday, June 1, 2008
I haven't been this excited about a Nikon since I bought an F3 back in 1997. When the quality of digital SLRs overtook film around 2003, I sold everything Nikon and switched to everything Canon. Most of my colleagues did the same, all with no regrets.
So, why does this new Nikon make my mouth water?
First, it's actually a cake in the shape of a camera. Second, it's red velvet cake with vanilla buttercream and fondant. Third, it was created by Lise Ode, a good friend of mine who recently launched a gourmet custom bakery in Delray Beach, Florida. Lise (pronounced "Leeza") bakes cakes in the shape of books, dolls, flipflops and lots of other things (gift-wrapping available upon request).
No, the camera cake was not for me. It was a custom order for a photographer who was getting married last week. Lise studied Nikon's actual D300 product shots in recreating the menu buttons, hot shoe and eyecup. She cut the logo by hand and just about matched the font. She even remembered the little red triangle (what's that thing for, anyway?). She left out the small lens detach button but if someone wants to remove that lens, they can just use a fork and knife.
So, how many photo geeks does it take to make a camera cake? One to order it, one to bake it and one to write about it.
Friday, May 30, 2008
When I was 17, I had saved up some money working as a busboy to spend six weeks backpacking through western Europe. It was the most liberating experience, much needed at the time. I took tons of pictures and kept a written journal through nine countries (which might get its own blog someday).
I've always felt the ultimate luxury was being able to transport yourself to some far off place to taste the food, see the art, meet the locals and feel like a foreigner. Lucky for me, my job takes me to places where I get to do just that.
Work-related travel for photographers is much different than travel for most people with real jobs. We're not traveling to open a new branch, source suppliers or close any deals. We are traveling because some client feels there is no one in that particular spot who can do the job better than we can. That's a serious validation of the service we provide. And in the internet age, when it's fairly simple to hire any photographer in any locale, I hope clients opting to send "their photographer" overseas continues.
A traveling photographer knows his job is not as glamorous as his friends think. Convincing a flight attendant that your carry-on is not actually 3x the weight limit, watching a clueless TSA agent smear his greasy fingerprints over your $2,000 lens and waiting in the baggage claim area with your fingers crossed is certainly no way to commute to work. One time, my assistant asked an American Airlines flight attendant for a pillow and she barked, "We have no pillows!" and once I was told, "since 9/11, we have no more magazines."
Did bin Laden plot to take away my in-flight reading material?
To keep a running documentation of these glamorous trips, I'm using a custom Google map of our work locations (not personal trips but places where clients have actually paid us to create images). The map will be continually updated as new travel is completed.
Once in a while, I am asked by a new client if I can work somewhere like...Ft. Lauderdale (about 15 minutes from my house). Now, I can just email a link to this map and they will see that my love for travel knows no boundaries.
Monday, May 19, 2008
Now imagine your lawyer saying you had no case because the company is protected by a law that entitles them to use your likeness since... well... they just couldn't find you to ask your approval.
This scenario is what all photographers, writers, musicians, illustrators and filmmakers grapple with every day, especially with the proliferation of digital technology and along with it, the ease of copying, distributing and profiting from other people's work. And it's about to get a whole lot worse if certain interest groups have their way with the Senate.
At this very moment, lobbyists representing the publishing industry and other sectors are working to persuade our Congress to adopt S.2913, the Shawn Bentley Orphan Works Act of 2008. If this law passes in its current form, it will make it fairly easy for all companies to steal someone's creative work, for profit.
If you ask the proponents of this bill, they will argue that large amounts of historic images go unpublished because their photographers are unknown and probably deceased (hence the term "Orphan Works"). This is a legitimate concern since schools, public libraries, museums and other institutions cannot afford to be sued for copyright infringement by a surprise claimant. These images can be useful for any application for "the public good" where there is little or no commercial profit. And, if these were the only applications for Orphan Works, most photographers (including me) would wholeheartedly support this bill. Too bad the bill suspiciously omits any protections from large, for-profit companies who will certainly use it to their advantage.
If you think this is just a problem for photographers, think again. The same problem could eventually extend to architects, interior designers and many other industries reliant on innovation and protection for their original ideas.
If you think this is just a problem for professionals, think again. There are a lot of very talented amateur photographers showing their high-res images on photo sharing sites like Flickr. If I was a publisher under Orphan Works protection, this is the first place I would go to right-click a free stock image library for my advertising campaigns.
For those who are not in creative industries, just simply imagine doing your current job for free. Or, maybe just 2 weeks per month free. Or every Tuesday, for free. Would you accept any of those scenarios?
If you are a creator who opposes the Orphan Works bill and wants to join the cause, you can find your senators by searching for them here and write them using this template from photographers, rewording it for your particular industry.
If you're actually a supporter of this bill, feel free to leave any comments below.
Friday, May 9, 2008
I know we're making Wal-Mart nervous. As of today, we are what business professors call "horizontally integrated," with solid footings in both the photography and farm animal t-shirt sectors.
The Six Angry Cows t-shirt uses an image I shot on a farm in Damme, Belgium back in 2000 when I was experimenting with Kodak's EIR infrared film. Photo geeks older than 30 might remember that anyone loading, focusing, exposing and developing this invisible light-sensitive film resembled James Bond diffusing a doomsday bomb. The film was so sensitive that you had to load your camera in 100% darkness. But, the grainy, glowing look was really beautiful and even under/over exposures had completely different and usable results. Kodak discontinued EIR film last year and I felt sad to hear the news, even though I went completely digital in 2004.
I had fun with Zazzle's custom apparel website and the interface is wonderfully intuitive. Other e-businesses have a lot to learn from them since they're one of the few who work hard on the front-end design so the consumer can quickly order what they want, minus their money. No "Want to take a survey?" popups or other annoying things that degrade the user experience. Within a few days, the order comes well-packaged and everyone is happy.
For $25 plus shipping, you can wear a piece of bovine beauty and halide history.
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Anyone who has ever been to South Florida knows the name Addison Mizner. Mr. Mizner, who died in 1933, is the only architect to complete more projects in death than in life. If he could Google himself from the heavens, he would be proud to find over 30,000 results... or, maybe he'd sue for misappropriation of his name.
Today, just about every developer of apartment complexes, shopping centers and country clubs "borrows" Mizner's name, along with a gross bastardization of the great architect's design elements. One offender is Mizner's best-known project, The Boca Raton Club (as it was named in 1925). While being passed around various real estate investors, this once charming lakeside hotel erected an ominous pink skyscraper in the late 1960s. Retained are still some of the original charming areas like the mosaic fountain garden just beneath the tower but even that area is adorned with a large green vinyl awning.
So, imagine my expression when I was hired to shoot the new Grand Del Mar resort near San Diego, arriving to find a familiar "Mizneresque" style of architecture. This Mizner project, however, seemed much different than the others.
As we went through our shoot days, I noticed that despite the large scale of the resort, none of the individual areas seemed too big. Intimate living room spaces, hallways that lead to special views, staircases that wind down underneath spectacular chandeliers... someone actually thought through these things. The Moorish archways, pinkish exterior, Spanish tile roofs and an elegant motorcourt all made me feel like I was in Florida circa 1925. (The only difference was seeing the California mountains and not having to eat mosquitoes during dusk and dawn shots).
The Grand Del Mar is Mizner's best work in 75 years.
The actual project architect is Robert Altevers who, according to his wife Lyla, studied Mizner's style from old project plans and photographs. As I told Lyla, her husband did a great job of interpreting Mizner's style and design elements. It really feels like Mizner, who appreciated the warmth of Spanish villas and Mediterranean patios. Sure, there are some modern elements that take away a bit of the charm but I'm probably too idealistic to be objective about the technical requirements of a modern resort facility. Anything short of actual time travel is just not good enough.
That's probably why I take pictures for a living.
Monday, April 7, 2008
It has been a while since my last post. We have been busy shooting in San Diego, Miami and Trinidad. I have about 200 RAW files to process (taking 1-3 hours per file) and I'm about to take a 4-day workflow seminar with the famed Seth Resnik at d-65.
On the stock photo sales front, despite my 1,000-image library with Digital Railroad, I have yet to receive my first sale (I did get excited to provide a quotation for one image to be used at a trade show in Ghana but they decided not to invest the $99). I am beginning to question DRR's interface and wondering if PhotoShelter might have been a better solution for me.
In other news, the German photography website Inpholio has featured our recent Ritz-Carlton Palm Beach spa shoot, along with some great advertising images from other photographers around the world. Once you're on the site, make sure you click on my image to see the others from the shoot.
More news later...
Friday, February 8, 2008
While I'm not generally an obsessive person, I have been obsessing about uploading, keywording and monetizing my intellectual property. It's not that my kids are starving but more my pent up frustration with the lack of entrepreneurial options for photographers who want to license their images.
Most photographers using the traditional routes to image licensing like Getty and Corbis are keeping roughly 30-50% of the sale (details of which are kept from the photographer). If the sale is sub-licensed through some other agency, the photographer makes an even smaller percentage and has less control over the license and is paid anywhere from 60 days to one year. With Digital Railroad, I keep 80% of the sale, set my own pricing with complete knowledge of the details and paid in 15 days. Granted, agents like Getty reach millions of buyers a day but I'd rather keep my images rarely licensed at a premium than often licensed at a substantial discount.
There's a great interview with the legendary Tony Stone in this month's PDN magazine. In it, he discusses the royalty-free movement and the nature of photographers to be independent in all aspects of their careers. I think if Digital Railroad stays true to it's current path of empowering photographers to make a living with licensing, they are certain to succeed.
That being said, I'm going to get back to keywording and uploading. So far, all of my best images are included. If you don't believe me, just enter the word "beef" in the searchbox: