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9May/09

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.

26Oct/08

Sedona


Well I finally got through editing my pictures from Sedona, AZ! I took a little trip there a couple weeks back and it was really awesome! The trip was just 4 days including travel time, so I only had 3 sunsets to work with, but it turned out great anyway. I'm pretty pleased with the results (especially considering the strong winds I had to contend with). Below are the results along with some notes and experiences in getting the shots.




The sunset of the first day was the only day we had clouds - thanks to the strong winds I would guess. I had just arrived in Sedona a few hours before sunset so I wasn't able to get to any prime spots, but I did manage to snap a few shots from outside my hotel and at the Coconino National Forest Visitor Center. I used my 70-200mm to crop out the surrounding buildings and trees so I could focus on the red rock at sunset.






The next day my brother and I drove north a little bit into Oak Creek Canyon to see what kind of fall color was available. There was definitely a lot more color than south of Sedona, or near my home in Southern California for that matter, but it was no East Coast display. I really enjoyed the backlighting of the sun on the yellow and green leaves and tried to take advantage of that. Oak Creek proved to be a great subject. I hadn't photographed any creeks in awhile - been mostly beaches for awhile - so it was real nice to do that again. My Singh-Ray warming circular polarizer was on my lens most of the time.



I went to a scenic spot near my hotel for sunset later that day. Yeah, it was touristy, but it served up some great shots of Courthouse Butte at sunset. This little sunset sesh destroyed my neck for some reason. I was in excruciating pain for the rest of the night. Still worth it, though.






My brother, my dad and I went to the Palatki ruins the next day to check out the old dwellings and petroglyphs. I was pleasantly surprised by this place. I was a little put off at first because the ruins and petroglyphs were heavily protected by ropes and rangers, so I didn't have all the freedom I would have liked. I guess that's the price we all have to pay for jackasses that decide to add their own "petroglyphs" and think it's fun to destroy historical landmarks. But after hearing all the enlightening data the rangers had on these ruins and petroglyphs, I was really glad they were there. Some of the information they offered regarding the petroglyphs was intensely interesting. It really made me appreciate what I was looking at.


The petroglyphs pictured above are estimated to be over 10,000 years old!



After Palatki, we headed over to Red Rock Crossing to photograph Cathedral Rock over Oak Creek. Yeah, this is easily the most photographed scene in all of Sedona, but I still had to check it out. This place was a lot of fun. I took off my boots, rolled up my jeans and spent most of the time photographing knee-deep in Oak Creek. The water was freezing and I really had to fight to keep my balance on the slippery bottom, but it made for a little more unique shots. My Gitzo tripod held up like a champ in these conditions, too. I would have really liked to have had my photo vest and I wished I had worn convertible pants, but live and learn.

On a side note: We rented a Nissan Xterra for the trip and I am officially back in love with that car. I wanted one for awhile and changed my mind to a Subaru for the better mileage, but I don't care anymore. That Xterra was way too sweet. I can't wait until I can afford one...

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14Oct/08

Sedona Teaser

Cathedral Rocks over Oak Creek

Took a little 4-day trip to Sedona over the weekend with my dad and brother. Sedona is gorgeous. I think it'd be even more beautiful without all the human development, but the red rock formations, ancient petroglyphs and Indian dwelling ruins still made for amazing photo subjects. I'll be a doing a full-length post with all sorts of details and tidbits about my trip, but I wanted to post one picture up partly as a little teaser but mostly because it's been way too long since I've posted anything on my blog.

Enjoy and keep an eye out for the next Sedona post!

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