Instagram Changes Its Policies

From my urinal project.

From my urinal project.

I, like many photographers, have an account on Instagram. I rarely use it, but occasionally I'll share something there.  Yesterday, I heard about a change in their terms of use that I found very disturbing. While many focused on the ability of Instagram to use a photographer's photo in an ad without compensation other than the use of the service, I saw something else that is making me reconsider my account there.

From their terms of use:

Some or all of the Service may be supported by advertising revenue. To help us deliver interesting paid or sponsored content or promotions, you agree that a business or other entity may pay us to display your username, likeness, photos (along with any associated metadata), and/or actions you take, in connection with paid or sponsored content or promotions, without any compensation to you. If you are under the age of eighteen (18), or under any other applicable age of majority, you represent that at least one of your parents or legal guardians has also agreed to this provision (and the use of your name, likeness, username, and/or photos (along with any associated metadata)) on your behalf. [Emphasis added}

My issue is that they can take my image and username and use it to endorse a product that I may or may not like. In my book, using my name and likeness to sell a product without my consent is wrong, immoral and unethical. It saddens me that they would have the language.

Fortunately they seem to be listening to their users. In a new post today on the Instagram Blog they said that they would be removing language where they could use the photos.  I look forward to seeing if they change the language about using my name and likeness as well. I don't mind ads, something has to pay for the service.  Nothing is free after all.

I did see that the New York Times had a good review of the policy I suggest you read. And if you are wanting to leave, I suggest you read this Wired article.

And I'll be keeping my eye out...

Portraits of beauty, pride |

This weekend I was able to take part in the Help-Portrait project again. For those of you not familiar with the event, every year thousands of photographers across the country get together to take portraits of people in need. We are joined by volunteers who do make-up and picture editing, along with those who just wish to give. Everyone who poses gets a copy of their picture printed and framed.

The Observer came out and did a great writeup of the event, I was even lucky enough to be seen shooting at this even, and got my picture on their website.  You can read their full article here. While it was fun getting seen there, I liked the fact that the event got such great publicity. Front page of the Observer on the Monday edition isn't bad. Hopefully it will mean better recognition for the group next year.

This is the third year I have helped out, and I find it both fulfilling as I get to see the light in the client's eyes, and I get to learn my craft better. I have seen both my technical and social skills grow with each event.

Image curtsey of @Rae_Images. Used with permission.

Image curtsey of @Rae_Images. Used with permission.


The one thing you don't want to see?

Ok, I was settling down Tuesday night to edit some product shots I had shot for a client (and friend). It was behaving oddly, so I restarted. Then it hung. And it began a check disk.

I thought, "This isn't good." and I waited.  I thought I would be ok after a minutes, then a few hours. It would definitely be finished when I got up in the morning.

I am still down, 5 days later.

But I am not worried too much. I have Lightroom duplicate my raw files to a second internal hard drive when i import the photos I have a backup NAS on my local network that backups my machine's data every night.

I also have both drives backed up to Carbonite in case something gets missed.

Fortunately, I am in IT. I have seen others loose data because they didn’t expect this to happen. They didn't take precautions. Careful thought and long term planning has helped me ensure that while I am down, I am not out of the game. I may loose some data, but I will be back up and running in a few days.

But the real question is, "Are you ready for a drive failure?"


Missing the Shot

Rebecca Flambe

A few months back, my wife ran in the Spartan Race here in Charlotte. For those of you unfamiliar with the race, basically you run, crawl, walk, and climb through mud and obstacles. It was her first time running. I thought cool. Practice photography. Get some cool shots.  I forgot one thing.

I don't shoot sports.

The type of photography I do is mainly shooting beautiful women in glamorous settings that move in a controlled fashioned or landscapes that don't move at all.  I have very little experience shooting moving things.  Looking at this picture I see several things that I have done wrong.  Rebecca is out of focus is the big one. My buffer kicked in on my camera and I missed her jumping over the flame itself. But it is still an interesting shot. The flames look great. The smoke and heat impart an almost water-color look to the photo.

So what did I learn from this? Take your time. Anticipate your shots. Pre-focus and pre-visualize your shots.  Know your aperture and depth of field. Slow down. Know the limitations of your camera. Consider JPEG for sports shots, so the buffer doesn't fill up.

What did you learn the last time your shots didn't turn out so well?  I would be interested in hearing from you about this.

Trash the Dress: Why?

Jennifer in a wedding dress

A while ago I saw a notice from one of our local photography meet-up groups (I’ll leave them nameless for now) had a session for their members to participate in a “Trash the Dress” photo shoot (one since the said “Rock the dress”, I guess even they are starting to see the concept as dated). A couple of days later I saw this posting about that same topic. It got me to thinking, why do it?  What is in it for the bride? Many wedding dress may be passed down from mother to daughter.  Others cost thousands of dollars.  

I mean, I get why a photographer would want to. It is something that at one point was novel.  Something that is unique.  But now it has been done to death. Every photographer is getting brides to destroy their dress for a photo that isn’t really unique.  doesn’t seem to be worth it to me.

Now if you can come up with a good idea, something that hasn’t been done before, then sure. I could see that.  But how likely is that? Are we so out of ideas for creating art that we are reduced to destroying things?

And I am not saying that you should do interesting shots that may leave the dress messed up.  Sure, that happens on a shoot.  But why do it if you are not really doing something different?  

Here is a thought, go to Goodwill. Find a dress. Hire a model, and really trash it, if that is what you want on your portfolio.  Then if a bride approaches you, then you can show it to her. Let her decide from your work. Otherwise, let her have the dress. Make good photos. Strive to Create, not just Copy.

Update: Apparently there are risks involved too.  A bride drowned recently during a "trash the dress" shoot. So please keep safety in mind when shooting.