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No More On-Location Workshops

If you’ve taken a look at my workshops listing page lately, you’ll notice there are some major changes - namely, all of my workshops are pretty much gone. The reason for this is something I want my past, present and potential clients, so desiring, to know. So I’ve created this blog entry to explain what’s going on here...and I’m going to be brutally honest.

As much as I love delivering on-location workshops and despite how rewarding it is to help people become better photographers (and believe me, it is very rewarding), this is a business venture and the idea is to make a profit.

After delivering workshops for almost a year now, I’m sorry to say that they just aren’t profitable enough for me to continue on. Between my expenses, my low tuition fees and all the time spent on planning, promoting and delivering, I discovered that I was netting about $0.78 per hour! Also (and the whole reason this is coming up right now) I'm learning that the State Park system requires ridiculous permit fees, annoying protocol and other requirements that make the time and money spent on these workshops too outrageous to hold. Even with higher tuition fees (which I don’t want to do) and lower costs (which, no matter how I cut it, is impossible), I just can’t pay my bills with these on-location photography workshops. So, I must bring them to an end and focus my efforts on more viable ventures. I can see now why the "big guys" will hold workshops with 20 people at $4,000 a head and still need corporate sponsorship from Nikon or Canon!

Now this revelation, to be perfectly honest, was absolutely devastating. It shook my entire foundation as far as my career and income goes. I was completely terrified for about 24 hours straight, wondering about my immediate future, what I’m going to do, if I’ll still be able to pay my bills and all the usual worries that seem to come with getting fired. I felt like I’d lost my job!

But, with the support of my amazing girlfriend, my awesome brother and my always-helpful sister-in-law, I decided to turn this into something good - nay, something great! So, I’ve decided this is an opportunity...an opportunity to get back to what makes me happier than anything else in the world, the thing that made me fall in love with photography in the first place - making fine art.

One of the most rewarding things I have ever experienced in photography is getting a big, beautiful print made, getting it all matted and framed, and showing it to other people. Letting other people feel the beauty and awe you felt when you took the picture - that’s why I do this. So I’m going back to my passion. I’m determined to make the fine art facet of my business successful. It’s been my dream since I started.

Now I don’t want you to get me wrong here, it’s not that I hated delivering workshops or that teaching isn’t something that makes me happy. It’s quite the contrary. I love teaching! And that’s why I’m going to be offering more private lessons and more classes through third-party venues like community centers and retail stores! I still intend to spread my knowledge of photography to anyone interested and I will continue to help you pursue your passion - only the vehicle in doing so will be a little bit different.

The people I have helped in my workshops have been some of the most grateful, friendly and genuine people I have ever met. I’m proud to say I’ve met them. I’m proud to say I’ve helped them. I’m proud to say I’ve played a hand in making some new professional photographers out there. You, my students, have made this past year one I will never forget and I thank you for being a part of my journey.

I hope to see you again soon.

So in summary, I will no longer be offering privately-run on-location photography workshops, but...

- I will still be offering private photography lessons (info)
- I will still be giving seminars and classes through third-party venues (info)
- There are 2 workshops left that I will still be delivering in the next month (info)
- You’ll be seeing a lot more on the fine art front in the coming months!

More Ranting About Microstock

So I'm in line to checkout at Barnes and Noble yesterday when a stack of books catches my eye. The title of the book is "Best Easy Day Hikes Orange County" and features a photo of a hiking trail on the cover. There's something weird about the picture. I know where that trail is, I know I've been on that trail, I know I've taken a picture of that trail... hey, wait a minute... that IS MY PICTURE. But something about it is off... the sky isn't how I remembered it, but I am almost certain this in my picture. So, I take a shot of it with my iPhone so I can compare it my file at home.

Sure enough, it's definitely my picture. They just decided to switch out the sky for something else and lighten up the whole thing. If you're thinking "well, maybe someone else took a very similar shot under a different sky." No. The perspective, the arrangement of leaves, the debris on the trail - everything is identical to my shot. Here, check it out:

And here's a closer look of the book cover:

So, there's no doubting this in my picture. But am I happy about my picture donning the cover of this widely-published and widely-available book? Sort of, but mostly no. Sure, it's good to add to the resume, if you will, and it's nice to say my picture is on the cover, but I don't remember getting paid for this!

Then I remembered my sad, early days with microstock (check out my†earlier†post entitled "My Thoughts on Microstock" to learn more about microstock and how I feel about it). I used to have my entire catalog of images with Shutterstock and iStockphoto - 2 microstock agencies that are raping photographers on a daily basis. Unfortunately I was uneducated on the market of stock photography and made the unfortunate decision to do business with these corporations.†

Nevertheless, I did†do business with these companies and I did sell some images through them. So with that in mind, I checked the book for a photo credit... it was on the back cover: (C) Shutterstock!†

That's right! Not "(C) Nick Carver"! It was "(C) Shutterstock"! I didn't even get a photo credit for this! And you want to know how much money I got for this wide use of my image on a book cover? 20 bucks! That won't even cover a tank of gas!

So that's why I'm not happy about this. I got 20 measly dollars for this major publication and I didn't even get a photo credit. And the worst part is, it's totally legal because I was dumb enough to put my images on a royalty free microstock agency. So I'm not mad at the book or the agencies, I'm mad at myself for being ignorant in my early days as a professional. If I'd researched stock photography better and if I'd really thought about fair use rights, I never would have sold this image for unlimited use†for 20 greenbacks. I'd rather not sell it at all than get 20 bucks for unlimited licensing rights.

Shame on me.

DISCLAIMER: I have strong opinions on this and I am blunt, I know that. If you are offended by any of this, I apologize, but I'm just being honest. I'm not greedy or self-righteous, I just feel artists should get fair pay for their hard work. And, again, it was MY mistake to join up with these agencies.

PhotoShelter Collection

The PhotoShelter Collection closed its doors on September 11. This date is turning out to be the Friday the 13th of the 21st century.

I was a recent convert to PhotoShelter. I learned about it through Chase Jarvis and finding it was like experiencing a heroic rescue from Batman. I felt like I could finally tell my microstock agencies to (insert f-bomb here) off so I could start supporting a stock agency that was out to make the industry better and actually make it possible for photographers to buy more than half a bag of M&Ms with an image sale. I was so jazzed to shut down my accounts with iStockphoto and Shutterstock and move my portfolio over to this gallant lionheart of stock. I knew it was the best thing for me, for the industry and for photographers everywhere.

Unfortunately, PhotoShelter broke the news on 9/11 that they'd be closing their doors on their Collection. They're still in business and will still be offering their Personal Archive services, but this is such a horrible loss for photographers everywhere.

PhotoShelter Collection, you are a fallen hero. Thank you for your efforts, honesty and integrity. You will be missed.

For more information on this announcement, read their blog about it and check out the FAQ.

Also, please read this blog by Vincent Laforet about the close of the PhotoShelter Collection and his thoughts on microstock. We share similar viewpoints on this matter.