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Author Topic: Why Abruptly Quit the Business?  (Read 10730 times)

Gulag

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Why Abruptly Quit the Business?
« on: November 17, 2014, 05:13:12 pm »

“Digital changed the landscape. Before the pixel, craft was still an elemental component of the narrative. A process that involved trusting strips of cellulose in a mysterious dark box was replaced by instant, impeccable rendering, in situ on vast monitors. The photographer’s role as sorcerer and custodian of the vision was diminished: The question ‘have we got it?’ became redundant. Now it was the photographer asking the art director asking the client. Which is a big deal. Because the previous dialectic was that you engaged people who brought something to the party you couldn’t provide yourself. Like Magi, the ‘creatives’ brought creativity; photographers, vision. By abdicating those responsibilities to the guy who’s paying, you’re undergoing a sort of self-inflicted castration. A culture of fear and sycophancy develops. Self-worth diminishes, because nobody really likes being a eunuch, even a well-paid one. There’s less currency in having a viewpoint. The answer to the question ‘What have you got to say?’ drifts towards ‘What do you want me to say?’ There’s reward in being generic, keeping one’s vision in one’s pocket. Trouble is, when your vision has spent too long in your pocket, sometimes you reach for it and it’s not there any more.”

— Photographers’ Rep Julian Richards on Why He Abruptly Quit the Business

http://www.pdnonline.com/news/Photographers-Rep-J-12033.shtml
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Ellis Vener

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Re: Why Abruptly Quit the Business?
« Reply #1 on: November 17, 2014, 06:27:45 pm »

"Before the pixel, craft was still an elemental component of the narrative. A process that involved trusting strips of cellulose in a mysterious dark box..."

Clearly he only worked with photographers who were extremely lucky and never, ever used labs that even once screwed up a processing run, or a film manufacturer that screwed up an emulsion batch. Digital photography  transferred the power color processing  labs once held as a near exclusive fiefdom to the photographers who make the photos.  Some people were not and some still are not ready to accept that responsibility.
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David Anderson

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Re: Why Abruptly Quit the Business?
« Reply #2 on: November 17, 2014, 07:06:43 pm »

He didn't mention the flood of instant Facebook famous photographers working for almost no money to get likes ??  :D

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Gulag

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Re: Why Abruptly Quit the Business?
« Reply #3 on: November 17, 2014, 07:24:42 pm »

Theodor W. Adorno said beautifully about the Culture Industry, "Happiness is obsolete: uneconomic."
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MrSmith

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Re: Why Abruptly Quit the Business?
« Reply #4 on: November 18, 2014, 02:01:43 am »

It's not really about film/digital. The problem lies with the agencies and client led decision making. In the past the agency told the client what they and the photographer were doing and they waited patiently while it was done. Now it's all client led art direction because of junior AD's without balls. Often the decision making isn't done on set but by email. Usually the clients wife doesn't like it so you get an email the next day saying they don't like it despite them being visually unaware and not an art director.

Though I did a shoot recently where client was very quiet and didn't really get involved, turns out the agency had said 'observing only' and to leave art direction to them. Surprised that happens at all these days as it's usually the total opposite.
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jjj

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Re: Why Abruptly Quit the Business?
« Reply #5 on: November 19, 2014, 09:54:30 am »

After reading the whole interview, the sense I get is that Julian Richard's got older and his priorities changed.

"Hey, photography was a passport to a lot of amazing shit in amazing places. And there was no watching from a distance, fingering the banknotes while the photographers did their stuff. We were all right there, giggling in the trenches, making it happen. We were invested. It was naughty and subversive and it really mattered. But none of us had families, second homes, health insurance, pension funds. And at some point, understandably, those things became priorities."
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Gulag

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Re: Why Abruptly Quit the Business?
« Reply #6 on: November 20, 2014, 11:55:39 pm »

And the ad industry is firmly moving to more CGI/less photography route for better bottom line (if he hasn't noticed the IKEA story).
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Ellis Vener

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Re: Why Abruptly Quit the Business?
« Reply #7 on: November 21, 2014, 10:11:13 am »

After reading the whole interview, the sense I get is that Julian Richard's got older and his priorities changed.

i think you nailed it.
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JoeKitchen

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Re: Why Abruptly Quit the Business?
« Reply #8 on: November 21, 2014, 09:52:30 pm »

This reminds of a recent interview I watched with Gregory Heisler.  He said that when he was young and in college an old time very famous photographer came to give a talk.  At the end the photographer insisted that the industry was dead; that it was impossible to make a career anymore and it might be better to look at another industry.  

I am glad Heisler did not listen; he is amazing and it is great to see what he does with light.  And from the looks of it, he does pretty good for himself.  
« Last Edit: November 21, 2014, 10:09:19 pm by JoeKitchen »
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jjj

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Re: Why Abruptly Quit the Business?
« Reply #9 on: November 24, 2014, 06:39:52 pm »

This reminds of a recent interview I watched with Gregory Heisler.  He said that when he was young and in college an old time very famous photographer came to give a talk.  At the end the photographer insisted that the industry was dead; that it was impossible to make a career anymore and it might be better to look at another industry. 

I am glad Heisler did not listen; he is amazing and it is great to see what he does with light.  And from the looks of it, he does pretty good for himself. 
Plus ça change.
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Phil Indeblanc

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Re: Why Abruptly Quit the Business?
« Reply #10 on: December 01, 2014, 02:27:01 am »

He didn't mention the flood of instant Facebook famous photographers working for almost no money to get likes ??  :D

Quote
And the ad industry is firmly moving to more CGI/less photography route for better bottom line

Quote
It's not really about film/digital. The problem lies with the agencies and client led decision making. In the past the agency told the client what they and the photographer were doing and they waited patiently while it was done. Now it's all client led art direction because of junior AD's without balls. Often the decision making isn't done on set but by email. Usually the clients wife doesn't like it so you get an email the next day saying they don't like it despite them being visually unaware and not an art director.

Though I did a shoot recently where client was very quiet and didn't really get involved, turns out the agency had said 'observing only' and to leave art direction to them. Surprised that happens at all these days as it's usually the total opposite.

All the above!

Joe,
Quote
... And from the looks of it, he does pretty good for himself. 
Can you put a number on that?
I know Tom Hanks does rather well for himself too. :-)
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JoeKitchen

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Re: Why Abruptly Quit the Business?
« Reply #11 on: December 01, 2014, 02:30:15 pm »

All the above!

Joe,  Can you put a number on that?
I know Tom Hanks does rather well for himself too. :-)

No, of course not.  He just looks like he is busy and doing well, however looks can be deceiving.  

In any event, the market is changing and how/why business is done is changing too.  The principals remain the same of course, but the methods are changing.  Does this mean photography is dead?  Does this mean it is now impossible to make a good living from photography?  

No, you just need to learn to change with the market.  This may involve looking to how others are reacting, or maybe, if you want to be a real trail blazer, try thinking about things from your clients point of view.  

For instance you agree that clients are "moving to more CGI/less photography route for better bottom line."  Of course firms are moving towards CGI, but is it really due to cost?  Or maybe it has to do with time frames?  

Maybe firms don't to wait the 4 to 5 months needed to set up a studio shoot and CGI just allows them to get to market faster?  Maybe they want to not have a limit on how large they can print an image?  

If the former, well then just give up.  If the latter though (and it is most likely the latter), you have plenty of opportunity to help clients save money by purchasing stock images, especially if you shoot medium format. 
« Last Edit: December 01, 2014, 02:32:44 pm by JoeKitchen »
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Phil Indeblanc

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Re: Why Abruptly Quit the Business?
« Reply #12 on: December 01, 2014, 07:22:03 pm »

Its all a clusterfak!

Quote
For instance you agree that clients are "moving to more CGI/less photography route for better bottom line."  Of course firms are moving towards CGI, but is it really due to cost?  Or maybe it has to do with time frames?  
Maybe firms don't to wait the 4 to 5 months needed to set up a studio shoot and CGI just allows them to get to market faster?  Maybe they want to not have a limit on how large they can print an image?  
If the former, well then just give up.  If the latter though (and it is most likely the latter), you have plenty of opportunity to help clients save money by purchasing stock images, especially if you shoot medium format.  

Often it has to do with flexibility, and integration with motion.
I don't know any firm that waits 4 to 5 months for a studio shoot. CGI is not faster. Often slower.
CGI is limited in the size it is rendered, and often takes quite a bit to print large from a CGI file...
Well, at least its what I have experienced and seen.

« Last Edit: December 01, 2014, 07:54:45 pm by Phil Indeblanc »
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JoeKitchen

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Re: Why Abruptly Quit the Business?
« Reply #13 on: December 01, 2014, 08:04:14 pm »

Its all a clusterfak!

Often it has to do with flexibility, and integration with motion.
I don't know any firm that waits 4 to 5 months for a studio shoot. CGI is not faster. Often slower.
CGI is limited in the size it is rendered, and often takes quite a bit to print large from a CGI file...
Well, at least its what I have experienced and seen.



Well, for my industry, construction and design, it is not so.

Not 4 or 5 months for the photography, but 4 or 5 months for the art director to plan out the project from start to finish.  It takes that long for a the AD to discuss the project with the client, go over ideas, source stylists and photographers, get quotes, make decisions, source props and a location, have everything sent to that location, have sets built, etc, etc.  Yes, it is a long process for the AD, maybe not the photographer though.  

CGI has great advantages of speed for the Ads. You can skip so many steps.  Only you need to hire interior designers and architects to keep up with the market, and good interior designers and architects want to design projects that actually get built.  So to employee good designers who know their designs will never get built can be very expensive.  

Much cheeper to source well done interior photography from recent projects and CGI products in it than to go straight CGI.  

I know this, because I have spoken to Ads about this and sold images to them.  

« Last Edit: December 01, 2014, 08:05:45 pm by JoeKitchen »
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Phil Indeblanc

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Re: Why Abruptly Quit the Business?
« Reply #14 on: December 01, 2014, 08:30:24 pm »

For cars, the CGI is already done, so its very simple to go in that direction. I think architecture is often the same. Certain products also. Then you gotta make it look real, and sometimes too perfect is fake :-)
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bcooter

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Re: Why Abruptly Quit the Business?
« Reply #15 on: December 01, 2014, 08:45:52 pm »

Well, for my industry, construction and design, it is not so.


I don't know about you industry in specifics of construction and design, but when it's done in the computer, whether it be cgi, editing, effects, titling, grading, retouching, (well you get the idea), the "committee process" tends to slow the back end up tremendously.

Maybe because the AD and clients, think anything on a computer is an easy fix, or maybe because most of the work is done overnight and then on the server for the client to review the next morning, but ask anyone in the effects and editorial side of motion imagery how long it takes to get a locked edit and it's amazing what the "real" answer is.

If you can get a client/AD to sit with the editor, or effects artist during the process, you'll get to an edit in a few days, given the fact that nobody wants to spend weeks sitting there watching people move data, but if you do it from afar the approval time goes up 10 to 100x.

We had one series of 4 edits (actually from a good AD) that went through 56 final locked edits.  56.

Creative approved it, said go to color then conform and just when the last pixel was burned in, here would come a client "request".

So ... 56.

On set, decisions are usually made quickly, especially when you have a large crew, lots of talent, expensive locations.   Then we have a have to list, a want list and a maybe list and there is so many hours in an on set day.

IMO

BC
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JoeKitchen

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Re: Why Abruptly Quit the Business?
« Reply #16 on: December 01, 2014, 09:37:03 pm »

I don't know about you industry in specifics of construction and design, but when it's done in the computer, whether it be cgi, editing, effects, titling, grading, retouching, (well you get the idea), the "committee process" tends to slow the back end up tremendously.

Maybe because the AD and clients, think anything on a computer is an easy fix, or maybe because most of the work is done overnight and then on the server for the client to review the next morning, but ask anyone in the effects and editorial side of motion imagery how long it takes to get a locked edit and it's amazing what the "real" answer is.

If you can get a client/AD to sit with the editor, or effects artist during the process, you'll get to an edit in a few days, given the fact that nobody wants to spend weeks sitting there watching people move data, but if you do it from afar the approval time goes up 10 to 100x.

We had one series of 4 edits (actually from a good AD) that went through 56 final locked edits.  56.

Creative approved it, said go to color then conform and just when the last pixel was burned in, here would come a client "request".

So ... 56.

On set, decisions are usually made quickly, especially when you have a large crew, lots of talent, expensive locations.   Then we have a have to list, a want list and a maybe list and there is so many hours in an on set day.

IMO

BC

With movie and motion and fashion, I am sure things are much different.  Especially when you have to start from scratch and are dealing with big committees.  But I guess I am guilty of just thinking about my own industry and not others.  

I am often only dealing with one over seer, if that; sometimes I am working with no one on site other than me and my assistant.  So I would assume that with the CGI some of my images have been used for, it would be the same. 

That IKEA article is still fresh in my mind.  When I hear CGI, I automatically think of cad and rendering softwares that take mechanical drawings and create very real looking images in a short amount of time.  Then, when products are already rendered in CGI anyway, for manufacturing, placing them within that image is easy.  

When planning the release of new products, whether they be tiles or stones or stoves or whatever, sets need to be built in very large warehouses.  Everything needs to be shipped to a central location and stored for weeks and months, not to mention all the props need to be ordered and whatnot.  This cost time and money and manufacturers want their product to market asap.  

So, it has been explained to me, by in house ADs, that sourcing high res image and CGIing their product into them is a happy medium.  It cuts the time to get product to market from 4 to 5 months to 1 month.  It also cuts out the need to hire good interior designers to keep up with the market; they can just source designs that are already in place.  

So, for construction products, CGI mixed with good stock photography becomes a very valuable tool to get products to market faster.  Or at least this is how it was explained to me by a couple of Ads recently.  
« Last Edit: December 01, 2014, 09:40:15 pm by JoeKitchen »
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JoeKitchen

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Re: Why Abruptly Quit the Business?
« Reply #17 on: December 03, 2014, 02:03:40 pm »

Number of designs was 12 to 14, so it would have been 12 to 14 sets to build if they did it the traditional way.  I could imagine that if they did it that way, the "process of committee" in getting the project going would have slowed down the planning by quite a bit.  By sourcing images, the committee just had to say yes or no on the images.  

I did not deal with an agency, but an in house AD at the company using the images.  I do understand your point however that doing it this way could increase an agencies profit on a project if an agency was involved.  

I licensed him the image he was interested in for a period of 5 years, for use on website and catalogs only in North America.  They did ask for the option to extend that if need be.  Also, the usage was not exclusive and I made sure they knew that.  The amount that I charged for this one image was about 50% more then what i charged the architect for the entire day of images (8 images).  

I would say yes, that this did save them money, but not on the licensing fees for the photography (assuming the other photographers demanded the same price I did!).  They did save money on the production fees though.  Yes, if I was hired to set up a 12 set photo shoot in a warehouse, my revenue on the project would have been more than 12 times that amount I charged, but much of that revenue would have went to the production.  So I would have made out a little more per image overall, but there would have been a lot more work on my end for setting up the sets.  
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Phil Indeblanc

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Re: Why Abruptly Quit the Business?
« Reply #18 on: December 03, 2014, 08:42:44 pm »

there are so many variables why bother trying to agree on different ones.

Bottom line is we are shooting for amounts we never thought we would.
Things going in house has killed most of my work.

I have to work much harder for much less in fields that I wasn't planning on working in
(oddly enjoying it much more than being in a dark studio most of the time).
Then I see shooters doing headshots or portraits from $100-200, with multi looks, and I think how is that possible?
But its sad to think that that could be closer to my next direction if things don't get better...
Or just take up a job as an AD someplace!?
« Last Edit: December 04, 2014, 12:06:39 am by Phil Indeblanc »
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Iluvmycam

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Re: Why Abruptly Quit the Business?
« Reply #19 on: January 08, 2015, 08:56:06 pm »

Don't quit. Just do it for love and not $.

I refuse to shoot for $ I do it for love only.
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