Friday, June 27, 2008

Yo, Airtaxi!

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

Florida Builder Crushed By Giant Snowball

Liz OrdoƱez-Dawes is a fellow photographer and a friend of mine. She's based in South Florida so technically, she's my competition. But, since both of us share an open attitude towards the photo community, we have each benefited by sharing ideas as well as the frustrations of our industry. I met Liz over 20 years ago when we both attended the same accounting class at our very non-Ivy League university.

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

Photographic Plates

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

Live From Cancun

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

Let Them Eat Nikon!

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.


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