Search Results for: cherry

Photographing Bottled Light

What: Photographing Bottled Light

When: Thursday, October 29, 2020 at 10am PT. Duration between one and two hours, including Q&A

Where: On your computer or mobile device from anywhere via Zoom. Zoom authenticated registration and a tuition payment of $29.95 are required for enrollment. Seating is limited. The registration link is https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_EZbniD4eQ1G6C3A2Usw9nA.

Details: How creative can get you get with colored liquid, sunshine, some glass bottles, and a camera? In this webinar, Harold will show you how he used these simple materials to come up with entire new worlds, recreations of Mark Rothko paintings, abstractions, highways at night, and much more!

Even if you don’t have any food color sets around, you probably have colored liquid (soda pop, brandy, maple syrup, cherry juice, red wine, and blue Gatorade all work well). Be creative! What can you do close to home with these everyday materials? You’ll be surprised at how easy it is to get fantastic results.

There will be ample time for Q&A.

Tuition: The tuition for this webinar is $29.95, and requires prior registration. Seating (on a first come, first served basis) is limited. You must register via Zoom to be enrolled in this webinar! The registration link is https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_EZbniD4eQ1G6C3A2Usw9nA.

A lightly-edited recording of this Webinar will be posted following a time delay on the Harold Davis Photography YouTube channel

Natural Bridge © Harold Davis

Natural Bridge © Harold Davis

About Harold Davis: Harold Davis is a bestselling author of many books, including Creative Garden Photography from Rocky Nook, which can now be pre-ordered. He is the developer of a unique technique for photographing flowers for transparency, a Moab Master, and a Zeiss Ambassador. He is an internationally known photographer and a sought-after workshop leader. His website is digitalfieldguide.com.

Homage to Rothko © Harold Davis

Photo Challenge: How to Capture and Photograph Bottled Light

I will be leading a photography challenge on behalf of the Out of Chicago Live! World Online Photography Conference on Tuesday April 21 at 10AM PT. This is a free event, and anyone can watch the livestream using this link.

Seeing Rothko through a bottle.

PHOTO CHALLENGE
How to Capture and Photograph Bottled Light with Harold Davis

Tuesday, April 21st, 10am PT

How creative can get you get with colored liquid, sunshine, some glass bottles, and a camera? In this challenge, Harold will show you how he used these simple materials to come up with entire new worlds, recreations of Mark Rothko paintings, abstractions, highways at night, and much more! Even if you don’t have any food color sets around, you probably have colored liquid (soda pop, brandy, maple syrup, cherry juice, red wine, and blue Gatorade all work well). Be creative! What can you do while sheltering in place with these everyday materials?

Click here to watch the live stream at 10am Pacific Time on Tuesday, April 21st.

Harold Davis
Harold Davis is a bestselling author of many books, the developer of a unique technique for photographing flowers for transparency, a Moab Master, and a Zeiss Ambassador. He is an internationally known photographer and a sought-after workshop leader. To learn more about him, click here.

Out of Chicago LIVE! brings together over 70 world-class photographers online for one weekend to share with you what inspires them most. Be part of a very special event with 3 days of LIVE! instructor guided learning with 100+ interactive sessions, including panel discussions, tutorials, individual photo challenges and group image reviews. To learn more and register for the full conference and participate in all the challenges, click here.

Posted in Photography, Writing

Apple Blossoms

From the median strip of nearby Arlington Avenue we clipped some branches from a beautiful, blooming apple tree. Arlington Ave is too busy for my taste, and one has to be careful of cars zooming by when one does this clipping business, but some of my best photographic subjects have come from this location—such as this cherry branch, and this blood-drawing thistle.

If you look closely, you’ll see a patch of lichen on the lower left of my light box arrangement. I particularly like this touch, because I feel it adds apparent verisimilitude to the composition.

Apple Blossoms Daze © Harold Davis

Apple Blossoms on White © Harold Davis

Apple Blossoms on Paper © Harold Davis

Apple Blossoms Inversion © Harold Davis

Posted in Flowers, Photography

Harold Davis—My Best of 2017

Any compilation of one’s best work for a given time frame has to be somewhat arbitrary. With 2017, for me this is particularly the case. Once again, I’ve been at home abroad, and abroad at home (the latter particularly the case considering the illness in our body politic).

More specifically and geographically, I’ve spent time and photographed in Budapest, the Eastern Sierras, France, Maine, Majorca, Malta, New York City, Romania, and Vietnam (as well as in my studio, of course). Most of these places are well-represented in my archives from the year. But with all of my peregrination, I’ve hardly had the chance to look through, let alone edit, my work—and of course there is also a great deal of variety in subject matter and approach. I’ve made an eclectic selection based on my personal taste; you may prefer one kind of my imagery to another, and that of course is your privilege.

In case you are interested in learning more about the context of an individual photo, with many of these images, I wrote a blog story fairly contemporaneously with the photography. Where there is a blog story, which is much of the time, I’ve linked to it, below the image. (Images that I haven’t written about have a title below in italics that isn’t linked.) In cases where I have series of related images, I’ve typically only presented one of the images; if you want to see others in the series, you can click the link below the image.

The images are presented chronologically by date posted, which translates with some variations to more-or-less chronological order in terms of when made, starting in January 2017. 

Cherry Branches © Harold Davis

Cherry Branches

On the Brooklyn Bridge © Harold Davis

On the Brooklyn Bridge

White Rose with a Blush 2 © Harold Davis

Rose with a Blush 2

Long Bien Bridge © Harold Davis

Long Bien Bridge

Thap Rua (Turtle Tower) © Harold Davis

Thap Rua

Mountains near Meo Vac © Harold Davis

Mountains near Meo Vac

Lady in a Local Market © Harold Davis

Lady in a Local Market

Scale and Wonderment © Harold Davis

Scale and Wonderment

Portals © Harold Davis

Portals

Han River, Danang © Harold Davis

Han River, Danang

Entrance to the Warlord’s Palace © Harold Davis

Entrance to the Warlord’s Palace

Garland © Harold Davis

Garland

Hang En Campsite © Harold Davis

Hang En Campsite

Nets in Halang Bay © Harold Davis

Nets in Halang Bay

Perigueux Cathedral © Harold Davis

Perigueux Cathedral

Tables and Chairs, Valletta © Harold Davis

Tables and Chairs, Valletta

Blue Grotto, Malta, from above © Harold Davis

Blue Grotto from Above

Valletta © Harold Davis

Valletta

Sea Cliffs of Gozo © Harold Davis

Sea Cliffs of Gozo

Sapa © Harold Davis

Sapa

Matilija Poppies – Variation II © Harold Davis

Matilija Poppies—Variation II

Flower Petals © Harold Davis

Flower Petals

Mariposa Lily © Harold Davis

Mariposa Lily

Bouquet of Neighborhood Flowers © Harold Davis

Bouquet of Neighborhood Flowers

Design for a Stained Glass Window © Harold Davis

Design for a Stained Glass Window Made of Flowers

Pink Peony © Harold Davis

Pink Peony

Wisteria Leaves © Harold Davis

Wisteria Leaves

Purple Succulent © Harold Davis

Purple Succulent Flower

Magical Floral Medley © Harold Davis

Magical Floral Medley

Son Doong Cave © Harold Davis

Son Doong Cave

Gone to Seed 1 Monochrome on Black © Harold Davis

Gone to Seed 1

Summer Experiment 2 © Harold Davis

Summer Experiment 2

Mooring Lines, Rockport Harbor © Harold Davis

Mooring Lines, Rockport Harbor

Pink Dahlia © Harold Davis

Pink Dahlia

Disturbance in the Force © Harold Davis

Disturbance in the Force

Fireworks in Budapest © Harold Davis

Fireworks in Budapest

Budapest Apartments © Harold Davis

Budapest Apartments

Sunrise in Rural Romania © Harold Davis

Sunrise in Rural Romania

Alone © Harold Davis

Alone

Portrait of a Gypsy © Harold Davis

Portrait of a Gypsy

Bran Castle © Harold Davis

Bran Castle

Umbrellas over Bucharest © Harold Davis

Umbrellas over Bucharest

Nucleus 1 (on Black) © Harold Davis

Nucleus 1 (on Black)

Tulips and Lobelias © Harold Davis

Welcome Home Flowers

Blue Danube © Harold Davis

Blue Danube

Hunedoara Castle © Harold Davis

Hunedoara Castle

LAB Rose © Harold Davis

LAB Rose

Floral Composition © Harold Davis

Floral Composition

Chorus of One © Harold Davis

Chorus of One

A Simple Twist of Fate 5 © Harold Davis

A Simple Twist of Fate 5

Inside the White Rose © Harold Davis

Inside the White Rose

Rose Eye © Harold Davis

Rose Eye

Lonely Road © Harold Davis

Lonely Road

Autumn Poplars © Harold Davis

Autumn Poplars

Under the Sheltering Sky © Harold Davis

Under the Sheltering Sky

How Long Must Eye Wait? © Harold Davis

How Long Must Eye Wait?

Grizzly Falls © Harold Davis

Grizzly Falls

Down in the Valley © Harold Davis

Down in the Valley

Petals of the Rainbow © Harold Davis

Petals of the Rainbow

Spitfire Lily © Harold Davis

Spitfire Lily

Stars of Petals on Black Variation 6 © Harold Davis

Stars of Petals on Black Variation 6

Mottled-leaf Paphiopedilum © Harold Davis

Mottled-leaf Paphiopedilum

Amaryllis Unfurling © Harold Davis

Amaryllis Unfurling

Yellow Tulips on Black © Harold Davis

Yellow Tulips on Black

So it begins © Harold Davis

So it begins

Floral Mandala on Black © Harold Davis

Floral Mandala

I hope you’ve enjoyed looking through some of my images from 2017. If you are interested in comparing 2017’s crop with previous years, you can check out:

Posted in Best Of, Photography

Woman with Bucket

This woman runs a watermill that uses water power and wood-fired steam to power grinding flour, carding wool, and more. Her husband has an adjacent cherry brandy still.

Woman with Bucket © Harold Davis

Posted in Romania

Tattoos with iPhone Camera

I’m a sucker for heroic tattoos, although I’ve never had any myself. Herewith, a couple of tattooed arms observed with my iPhone camera. The first one shows Vishnu, photographed at a classmate of Katie’s birthday party in Live Oaks Park here in Berkeley (thanks Aaron!).  

Vishnu © Harold Davis

The tattoo in the image below belongs to an anonymous but friendly stranger on the Malta-Gozo ferry this spring (I’m not quite sure what mythology is depicted).

Tattoo on the Gozo Ferry © Harold Davis

Somewhat related: note that the early-bird discount on my January 2018 iPhoneography workshop expires soon (August 1, 2017). Something else that is different but also somewhat related: Cherry Blossoms on Skin, one of my images used as a tattoo!

Posted in iPhone

Putting Paid to Purloining Picture Snatchers: Working with Pixsy

I am often asked how I deal with the issue of image theft, considering my extensive online presence on my blog and on my Flickr stream. My answer has been that I don’t release high-resolution files except to known reliable clients under contract, and that I expect some image thievery to be taking place with the low-resolution versions I post online. This, I explain, is a little like “spoilage” in a retail store: part of the cost of doing business. Without images online no one will find me, and over the years I have made many new clients via my blog and Flickr. Incidentally, I explain, I don’t watermark my online images because watermarks are ugly, and can easily be cloned out.

Wasp © Harold Davis

Wasp © Harold Davis

It turns out that I have substantially underestimated the prevalence of commercial image theft of my work. Sure, I was aware of quirky uses of my work like the woman who tattooed my cherry blossom branch on her back. But by and large, I didn’t look for examples of image appropriation, and I was unaware of the extent of the problem. For example, my photo of a wasp shown above, shot somewhat precariously on the ceiling of my living room while standing on a cardboard box (a diaper carton, fortunately we have past that stage, you can see this in the blog story about the photo, but I digress) placed on a chair, has been widely used without a license by many pest control companies.

The gentle image of waves on a shore shown below is used without license by several real estate companies located near one of the coasts.

Generally, image theft is as easy as right-clicking on the image, and choosing Save As from the context menu, then posting the photo without attribution. The fact that all my images are labeled as copyrighted, and that Flickr is set to “All Rights Reserved” seems to be widely ignored. I’m sure this is the situation for many photographers who post their work.

Waves on the Shore © Harold Davis

Waves on the Shore © Harold Davis

This information about the extensive use of my photos on the web came to my attention via a startup company named Pixsy that has some nifty technology to combat image theft, along with an innovative business model. Here’s how Pixsy works: First you register with Pixsy, and point their software at your online image stream, such as my website and Flickr. Pixsy then comes back with an automated image-matching search of the Internet, with matches showing suspected image theft. In my case, initially there were six-figures of matches (hence Phyllis and my internal designation of looking through these matches as “going down the rabbit hole”).

It’s up to the individual to go through the automated matches to determine which ones are legitimate, and which are image theft. For example, images I have actually licensed might show up on the Pixsy search, as well as all my book covers.

Road Trip © Harold Davis

Road Trip © Harold Davis

When you find an example of image theft, you submit it to Pixsy. For example, my image of an empty road in Nevada shown above seems to turn up without license on a great many travel websites.

Pixsy lets you know whether they’ve accepted or rejected the submission. It’s company policy to only accept image submissions where there is a good likelihood of collecting a usage fee. Image submissions that are routinely rejected include: uses in countries that Pixsy doesn’t police (some countries are on a list for future handling, others are simply too lawless when it comes to copyright); non-commercial uses; the general catchall that Pixsy doesn’t think there is a “statistical likelihood of recovery”; and malefactors like Pinterest who hide behind the noxious common carrier provisions of the DMCA. Phyllis has most often been going down our rabbit hole, and trying to take some care with what she submits so that the usage is likely to meet Pixsy’s requirements; our acceptance rate is running somewhere between 30% and 50%.

Wet Poppy Bud © Harold Davis

Wet Poppy Bud © Harold Davis

Even if Pixsy doesn’t accept the submission, now that we know this usage is out there we can of course send a take-down notice on our own. Depending on the user, this may or may not work—my image of wet poppy bud shown above seems to turn up (among other places) on X-rated sites, many of which seem not to be particularly cooperative.

With an accepted submission, Pixsy determines a rate for the usage and begins negotiation with the image thief (who may have made a mistake in ignorance rather than with bad intentions). The starting point for the license fee is an industry-standard database of usage fees. By signing up with Pixsy, the user commits not to contact the infringer directly, except to confirm that Pixsy is the authorized representative.

Pixsy’s business model is to take 50% of any fees collected. This is inline, or a little more favorable, compared with the percentage taken by a conventional stock licensing agency.

Pixsy has submitted numerous invoices on my behalf, a few of which have been paid. It is a little too soon for me to get a definite sense of the overall financial success of their approach, but I am highly optimistic.

Most of all, these commercial and professional users should have known better than to steal my images without contacting me, or paying for the usages. My hope is that when it is widely known that “crime doesn’t pay”—because Pixsy will come after them—these image users will decide to do the right thing, and pay for their usage upfront. This could reverse some unpleasant trends in the photography business—the general lowering of licensing fees because of widely available online content perceived as free, just as in the music business.

I’d like to see leverage restored to image creators whose work is in demand, and from this viewpoint Pixsy’s technology and business model is a very positive development.

Posted in Business of Art, Photography, Writing

Flickr and me, and stock photography: Adventures in photo licensing in the Internet Era

I have been a Flickr member for almost a decade (since 2005). According to Flickr’s dashboard, there have been more than 5,000,000 views of the 4,500+ images that I have uploaded to the site. It’s my general practice to upload a low resolution JPEG to Flickr with every important photo set I make, which accounts for my almost 5,000 images over ten years. On average, it amounts to about one uploaded image a week.

Statistically, I am probably somewhat unusual as a serious professional artist and photographer, and widely-read author, with an active and ongoing Flickr presence. One reason I maintain my Flickr persona is that over the years I’ve got a lot of photography business from my Flickr images, including prestige publications as well as assignments. This comes and goes, and is not something that can be counted on, but I find the best publicity one can do for one’s images—when one produces something unusual, unique, and striking—is to get them up on the Internet.

I like to say that when it comes to image licensing “the Internet giveth and the Internet taketh.” Against a background of racing to the bottom with things like microstock sales, and the pronouncement by Marisa Mayers—the head of Yahoo, the owner of Flickr—that “with cameras as pervasive as they are [today] there’s no such thing really as professional photographers,” I have been contacted by legitimate upper-end image acquirers from around the world because of my presence on Flickr. Of course, you have to have a unique and compelling offering, but these companies never would have found me in the past.

Tulip Pano © Harold Davis

Tulip Pano © Harold Davis

I do find there is a certain amount of image “appropriation” based on what I’ve uploaded. I combat this by being careful to only upload low resolution, small files—so my potential losses are limited, and tends to be things like individual wedding invitation usage, or for personal notecards. When these people do the right thing and contact me, I grant permission, and request a small donation to a charity that benefits children. I usually see this as a teachable moment, to help educate people out there about issues of copyright and image ownership.

Probably the most unusual licensing request I’ve ever had via Flickr was to use one of my cherry branch images as the basis for a tattoo extending pretty much the entire length of a woman’s back and up onto her neck. Since the request was made after the fact, there wasn’t much I could do about it (although scenarios resembling Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice do tend to come to mind). But I asked for some photos and was pleased by the beautiful tattoo—my cherry blossoms had become living art.

Cherry Blossoms on Skin

But I look at the issue as “spoilage”: if you don’t put your work out there, no one will see it, and no one will license it. But I also need to be nuanced, and take some care, which is why I am careful about releasing high resolution files “into the wild.”

I also do select the “All rights reserved” setting within Flickr, and include my copyright notice beneath each of my images. Some people who contact me need to be educated about what this means, but for the most part, contemporary art directors regard Flickr as just another image pool—perhaps the world’s largest database of imagery—and understand that they need to contact me to get permission to license or use my work (or to obtain a high-resolution version, if they need it for their usage).

So Flickr is part of my business strategy. An important part, but not a vital part—not as important to me as, say, my blog. I’d hate to lose my Flickr presence, but it wouldn’t be the end of the world for me, and it is perpetually irritating to be working within a hierarchy of people running Flickr who seem to be most interested in amateurizing and dumbing down the interface and patronizing the serious photographers who do use the site.

Window in Bourges © Harold Davis

Window in Bourges © Harold Davis

Now a word about stock photography. First, let’s consider the way stock photography is licensed. Stock photos are licensed under two general schemes: royalty-free, and rights-managed. When you license a royalty-free image, you can use it for anything you want (except, usually, for reselling it as part of a stock collection). Often, royalty-free stock photos are sold for pennies, or as part of a downloadable collection where the end-user can download a certain number of photos per subscription period.

Obviously, an individual royalty-free stock photo is not worth very much, and the hope, of course, is to make it up on the volume: either in the number of purchasers or (from the viewpoint of the photographer) from the sheer volume of photos that an individual has licensed as royalty-free stock. If you have 100,000 photos that are royalty-free licensed, even if you only average $1.00 per photo per year, obviously it adds up.

In contrast to royalty-free, rights-managed licensing demands a higher price, and often includes exclusivity for a given usage, sometimes limited by time. Generally, if you had a distinctive and special collection of images, you’d want to employ rights-managed licensing as opposed to royalty-free licensing, since the best royalty-free images tend to be a bit generic so as to be more ubiquitous. Distinctive collections of work also tend to be concerned with branding, may want to avoid certain kinds of usages, and can be involved with furthering the career of the artist involved.

In fact, leaving licensing aside, it is a truism that the images that are shot for stock, and those that do well as stock, tend to be bland and generic. There’s a contradiction in terms between saying that an image is striking and creative and unique, and at the same time is likely to be widely in use as a stock image.

Gran Via, Barcelona © Harold Davis

Gran Via, Barcelona © Harold Davis

Personally, over time, and as the stock photo industry has transformed, I’ve become increasingly skeptical whether my work as a place in it. I’m happy to consider rights-managed licensing of my work for appropriate usages, and in some cases have worked with industry-specific agents. I’m not opposed to paying commissions, and have had a long and fruitful career with my book agent over many years.

Speyer Cathedral © Harold Davis

Speyer Cathedral © Harold Davis

But I’m just not that interested in licensing away the control and rights to my own work. I’ve sweated hard enough to create it, and risked enough to create my body of work, why should I lose control of it now? As the photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson put it, giving up the rights to my work is like giving up the skin on my eyeballs.

This is not to say that this anti-stock stance is right for everybody. I have at least one pro-photographer buddy who makes a very good living via stock photography sales made by a number of prominent agencies. And speaking of stock photography agencies, it’s become apparent over the years that I’ve been posting to Flickr that stock photography is increasingly being managed with business efficiencies in mind. The stock industry has consolidated, with many smaller agencies now being subsumed by Getty Images, the incumbent behemoth in the stock photography business.

This brings me somewhat indirectly back to the topic of Flickr and stock photography. Maybe three or four years ago, some brainiac at Yahoo-Flickr looked at the fact that they had this huge image repository, and figured they could make some money on it via stock sales. Of course, this imagery didn’t belong to Flickr (it belongs to the individual contributors) so Flickr would only be making a commission. The other problem was that recognizing that some Flickr contributors were of marketable or publishable quality opposes the no-nothing pseudo-populist spirit of Flickr’s ideology that “there are no professional photographers” anymore (which implicitly flatters the amateurs).

Into the Vortex of the Universe © Harold Davis

Into the Vortex of the Universe © Harold Davis

A concrete manifestation of the prevailing lack of respect for professionalism and image ownership at Flickr was the encouragement of uploading imagery with the default Creative Commons license—which allows usage without permission if certain conditions such as attribution are met. (One form of the Creative Commons license only allows non-commercial usage, but that is a side discussion.) As I’ve noted, I’ve always eschewed the Creative Commons license, and uploaded images to Flickr as “All rights reserved”—which is what I generally recommend.

In any case, the first iteration of the attempt to monetize Flickr’s image library was an arrangement that allowed Getty Images to troll the Flickr user base. Getty could enroll the Flickr photographers by invitation in a Getty library (this library always seemed something of a second-class citizen compared to the more orthodox Getty libraries). In addition, Flickr photographers could be invited by Getty to enroll in a program that added an icon to the images in their Flickr stream. Viewers could then request a license to specific photos, and Getty and Flickr would then intermediate to make sure the paperwork was in order, and to deliver a file to the license purchaser. Both schemes primarily involved royalty-free licenses. Presumably, Getty paid Flickr some share of the proceeds, but the exact terms of this arrangement were never to my knowledge published. As you’ll see, the business probably didn’t work very well for either party, as Flickr canceled the arrangement at what was their first opportunity, two years into it.

Getty Images in fact asked me to join their Flickr program, and for a brief while I did, mostly out of curiosity. Apparently, one of my images—a fisheye photo of the great Hoover Dam—was quickly requested by a client, so to see what would happen I opted it into the Flickr/Getty royalty-free program. I don’t know how my image was used, but I do know that my share came to a grand total of roughly $80. Following this experiment, I left the program, and continued to use Flickr the way I always have.

Hoover Dam

In mid-2014 Flickr announced that they were ending the relationship with Getty, and starting a new in-house stock program called at first Curated Connections, then termed the Flickr Marketplace (more info about the program here).

The idea behind this program was that Flickr’s curators would get everyday members of Flickr “discovered.” Flickr would handle the paperwork and business details, and place images with prestige outlets including the New York Times, and (somewhat curiously) Getty Images. Beyond licensing opportunities with photo agencies, other opportunities were held out: “We will look for ways to showcase your photos on the Flickr blog and across other Yahoo properties like News and Travel. We’ll also try to connect you with original photo assignments!”

In mid-February 2015, I received a communication via the internal Flickr mail system:

We love your photos! Your beautiful and genuine photos could be in high demand in today’s global photo marketplace. We want to work with you to increase the visibility of your photos across multiple platforms such as wall art, photo agencies, editorial placements on Flickr and Yahoo, and other media outlets.

If your photos are selected and sold in the marketplace, we will share 51% of the net sales with you through your PayPal account. There is no fee to join and you control your level of participation.…

Once we receive notification that you have enrolled, our curatorial team will select photos from your photostream and be in touch to see which ones you would like to approve for inclusion in the new Flickr Marketplace!

Bounty of the Garden © Harold Davis

Bounty of the Garden © Harold Davis

In the interests of science, I took care of the formalities involved in program enrollment, and waited to see what would happen next. I didn’t have long to wait. I did note that I would only be interested in the rights-managed program (as opposed to Flickr’s royalty-free offering).

The Flickr curators sent me an extensive list of my floral imagery—almost all flowers photographed using my transparency technique—that they wanted to add to the collection.

I wrote back to the curators noting that many of these were already subject to licenses for art reproduction, and that I needed to be able to use my images for my books and the prints that I make. Would this be okay? (The program FAQ allows artist “limited edition” prints, but this isn’t a term that specifically covers what I do, since many of my editions are not, in fact, explicitly limited.)

Castle Made of Sand © Harold Davis

Castle Made of Sand © Harold Davis

In response to whether I could carve-out rights already granted, I got a boilerplate negative:

Because you requested that your photos only be included in the Rights-Managed exclusive collection, we would need you to opt out anything that is licensed elsewhere. For photos accepted into the rights managed collection, exclusivity is required due to the type of rights that may be granted to a buyer.

Since higher royalties are often generated from this type of sale, the photographer is not allowed to (1) license the same photo to any other source (past, present or future) and (2) license a “similar” photo.

I never really received an answer as whether “limited edition” prints included the prints I make in my studio that are not in fact limited, or whether use in my books constituted a permissible promotional use: “You are still allowed to use the photos enrolled in the rights managed collection for self-promotion and as limited edition prints, so long as the prints are not sold exclusively. For the other two parts of your question, I am still waiting to hear confirmation and will get back to you.”

Often, as a freelance artist in business for myself, and supporting my rather large family essentially by my wits, I am struck by how hard it can be to decide if something that comes along is an opportunity or a pitfall. The opportunity is all the nice things that these Flickr curator people were saying they were going to do for me. The pitfall would be to tie up some of my best work for years. I like to tell a story about a cleric caught in a great flood. The religious gentleman ends up on the roof of his house. A helicopter comes along and offers to rescue him, but “No, no, God will rescue me.”

The question, of course, is whether God sent the helicopter.

Sagrada Familia © Harold Davis

Sagrada Familia © Harold Davis

In the case of the Curated Connections program—or Flickr Marketplace, as it has been called more recently—I decided that the risks clearly outweighed the potential rewards. The underlying problem was the inflexibility of the program in regard to work that already had a licensing history, and also the attitude that Flickr’s curators would be “discovering” me. This seems a little unreasonable if they had taken the trouble to research me even a tad, and not what my work needs. An offer to co-market my work as a unique collection with some understanding of how best to brand it would, of course, have intrigued me. Here’s what I wrote back to Flickr, declining to enroll any of my images in the program:

“I am really saddened, because like most professional photographers I can always use an additional revenue stream, but based on your response I will not be able to work with your program.

Of course, I do understand what a rights-managed program means and implies. Of my images that the curator selected, about half are subject to prior licenses of some kind, as I noted most existing licenses have to do with art reproduction or wall decor. With an organization that understood the value of my offerings, I could probably enroll these in a rights-managed program, but of course both sides would need to exclude the rights that have already been granted. Note that my existing licenses would absolutely prevent me from licensing on a royalty free basis (and I also don’t believe in this kind of licensing as a matter of principle because it degrades the value of the art licensed).

While I could probably select a few images from the list that the curator put together that don’t have any licenses outstanding, I do need to retain future art and book publishing rights to all my work (I see that you’re still researching these areas for me). But this hardly seems worthwhile for either me or Flickr/Yahoo, considering the few number of images that I could put into your program, and the fact that I would need to retain these future abilities.

I do hope you understand, but for now I will have to pass. Should you be willing to reconsider and negotiate an arrangement that meets my needs, considering the licenses that are outstanding and my future likely uses, I think that reasonable parties could reach such an agreement, and I would certainly be willing to discuss it. By the way, my images are available in extremely high resolution versions.

But without a customized business relationship that meets the needs of a distinguished educator, professional, and artist of my caliber, I shall have to decline, and remain the sole legitimate source for rights-managed licenses to my work (if there is a specific image of mine and a use you and/or a client of yours wish to discuss I am happy to quote a licensing fee, of course).

My very best wishes, and good luck with your venture.

Waves Long Exposure 5 © Harold Davis

Waves Long Exposure 5 © Harold Davis

The devil, of course, is always in the details, particularly in anything as complex as licensing imagery that involves several intermediary organizations. I do feel that the Flickr image repository is a very real asset that Yahoo and Flickr could monetize, at the same time helping the participating photographs earn some extra cash. But I don’t think this can be done with a patronizing stance about discovering people, and the underlying attitude that Flickr’s members have full-time IT jobs and are just happy to be noticed. Nor can it be done with a “stock photography as usual” one-size-fits-all business model.

Overall, the stock photography business is if anything oversupplied, and in a dismal race to the bottom. Only those with truly unique offerings will thrive, and probably they will thrive best if they use the tools the Internet provides to dis-intermediate parasitic organizations like traditional stock vendors, and those like the Curated Connections program that would try to emulate this clearly broken model.

Here’s what Flickr should do: They should give up on the idea of curating (not their area of expertise in any case) and on “discovering” Flickr members who may already be well-known. Flickr is never going to successfully compete on the same turf as a conventional stock source like Getty. So it’s time to innovate. Create an efficient and transparent market mechanism for willing buyers and sellers of licenses, and facilitate these transactions, taking a small cut of the fees. It’s foolish for Flickr to try to be another Getty, instead they should aim to be the eBay of image licensing transactions.

Star Magnolia © Harold Davis

Star Magnolia © Harold Davis

Posted in Flickr, Photography, Writing

My prints in a New York loft

I recently had the pleasure of visiting the New York loft apartment of a friend of mine who collects my prints. My prints were carefully selected and framed, tastefully arranged, and placed in positions that made sense in the context of the layout of the loft. Of course, I work frequently with my images and prints, but that doesn’t mean I really “see” them.

I know these snapshots are not great interior design photos, and that this is a lived-in space (which is a good thing!). But I think you’ll get the idea. What’s striking about seeing a substantial body of my work integrated into a living space is that there is kind of a glow—harmonious, serene and powerful—that emanates across my prints, regardless of the subject matter. One can have no idea of the power of the prints from looking at an online version of the image: they become so much more when they are made manifest as physical objects. Which is part of why I think it is so important for photographers to be closely involved in making their own prints.

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Links to the images shown here as prints (from top to bottom): Star Magnolia Panorama (bedroom); Papaver and Iridicaea; Cherry Blossoms (two prints in the dressing area); Kira at Passy Station (over the dresser); Egg Yolk Separator, Story of O, and Lonely Islet (Dining area); White Irises; Temple Dragon.

Related story: Print prices to rise; special print offer.

Posted in Photography

Upcoming events and early registration discounts

Please keep in mind the following upcoming events and early registration discounts!

Weekend Workshop, October 4-5 2014—Photographing Flowers for Transparency. If you want to learn the techniques I use to create my botanical art in Botanique and elsewhere, this is your opportunity. Please don’t miss this chance because there are no current plans to schedule another session of this popular workshop.

Saturday, October 18, 2014 at 3PM—Live Photo Critique in Berkeley, CA (free, but advance registration required): bring six of your photos (prints preferred).

Time is running out for registration for the Photographic Odyssey to Japan in the spring of 2015 (a prime time of year for visiting Japan to catch subjects such as the cherry blossoms in Kyoto). If you are interested, you need to let me know now so we can hold a spot.

Early registrations discounts: We are offering a small discount (a $50 price reduction) off the workshops that are scheduled for the first half of 2015 if your sign-up before October 15, 2014. The normal price for these two or three day workshops is $695. The early-registration discounted special price is $645.

Flowers for Nicky © Harold Davis

Early registration helps us plan our schedule and make the necessary arrangements to hold workshop space. If you are thinking of one of these workshops, please help us by registering now, and accept the $50 discount as a small token of my thanks.

Here are the 2015 workshops with the early registration discounts for your consideration:

 

Misty Mountains  © Harold Davis

Misty Mountains © Harold Davis

Posted in Workshops

Last week for the Japan special print offer

Special Japan special offer. I am eager to get the Photographic Odyssey to Japan well-launched by the end of August. So this offer is intended for you, if you are sitting on the fence. If you follow the simple registration steps, fill out the registration application and pay the $500 trip deposit (by check or Paypal) before September 1, 2014, I will send as a gift to you a signed, original 11″ X 14″ print of either Dawn in the High Fields, Takihara or Buddha Samadhi. The archival pigment prints are handmade in my studio on Awagami Kozo washi, and have a retail value of $495 each. The images are shown above in this story. (The Awagami Factory is where we will make paper on the trip!)

You can find the full trip itinerary here, and trip costs with registration info here.

Dawn in the High Fields © Harold Davis

Dawn in the High Fields © Harold Davis

The “fine print” on my print offer: There really isn’t any. If the trip doesn’t run, of course your deposit will be returned, and you can keep the print as my gift. If you have already signed up, of course you are entitled to your choice of either print.

A friend writes, “Would love to go on the Japan trip; the trip looks like excellent value for the money . . . and I have been to Japan easily 25+ times.”

When you review the detailed itinerary, please keep in mind:

  • Japan is an expensive place to visit.
  • There is a tremendous amount included in this trip. It runs for eighteen days. This is a long trip, it includes most meals, airfare from Hiroshima to Tokyo, a workshop at the fabled, 700-year-old Awagami Paper Factory on Shikoku Island, the hotels I really wanted (in Kyoto during cherry blossom season this is a big deal), many admissions (which in Japan really add up), all kinds of transport, and bilingual guides throughoutPlease take a careful look at the itinerary to see all that is being offered.  You will see that it is assembled with a great deal of care, and that those lucky enough to join us will have unique experiences, and come home with many great and unusual photos–not just the typical tourist photographs.
  • The kicker is the small group size. Many things cost the same amount no matter how many people are in the group. This goes for guides, buses, and more. The more people, the lower the per-person cost. Of course, in a smaller size you also don’t get substantial group discounts.

Generally, I want to lead smaller groups when I travel with photographers, and it is a fact of life that this leads to higher costs. The point is a more personal experience, so that I can spend ample time in a collegial fashion with each photographer on the trip.

In the case of the Photo Odyssey to Japan, some of the very special places we will visit and stay at can only accommodate the smallest of groups. So if I wanted to present this fantastic trip, I had no choice but to keep the group size small. All that said, I have worked hard to keep the costs as low as possible.

Buddha Samadhi, Tokyo © Harold Davis

Buddha Samadhi © Harold Davis

So what are you waiting for?

Visit a Japan that most westerners never get to see with special, once-in-a-lifetime photographic opportunities.

Harold Davis

For the itinerary: www.digitalfieldguide.com/japan-workshop

To register: www.digitalfieldguide.com/japan-registration

Posted in Photography

Letter about the Photo Odyssey to Japan & Special Offer

I’ve been asked to explain by several people who are interested in my photographic trip to Japan why it is “so expensive.” You can find the full trip itinerary here, and trip costs with registration info here.

I have not created this trip as a money making venture—this trip is a matter of the heart for me that I would like to share with a select few. I have spent a huge amount of time planning this trip. I am eager to share the aspects of Japan that I love with other photographers. I’ve worked hard to keep the costs as low as possible, but some things—like being in Kyoto for cherry blossoms—are simply not about money.

Dawn in the High Fields © Harold Davis

Dawn in the High Fields © Harold Davis

Essentially the old adage about getting what you pay for comes to mind, but let me be more specific:

  • Japan is an expensive place to visit.
  • There is a tremendous amount included in this trip. It runs for eighteen days. This is a long trip, it includes most meals, airfare from Hiroshima to Tokyo, a workshop at the fabled, 700-year-old Awagami Paper Factory on Shikoku Island, the hotels I really wanted (in Kyoto during cherry blossom season this is a big deal), many admissions (which in Japan really add up), all kinds of transport, and bilingual guides throughout. Please take a careful look at the itinerary to see all that is being offered.
  • The kicker is the small group size. Many things cost the same amount no matter how many people are in the group. This goes for guides, buses, and more. The more people, the lower the per-person cost. Of course, in a smaller size you also don’t get substantial group discounts.

Generally, I want to lead smaller groups when I travel with photographers, and it is a fact of life that this leads to higher costs. The point is a more personal experience, so that I can spend ample time in a collegial fashion with each photographer on the trip.

In the case of the Photo Odyssey to Japan, some of the very special places we will visit and stay at can only accommodate the smallest of groups. So if I wanted to present this fantastic trip, I had no choice but to keep the group size small. I do realize that not everyone is “made of money,” and I have worked hard to keep the costs as low as possible.

Buddha Samadhi, Tokyo © Harold Davis

Buddha Samadhi © Harold Davis

If you take a look at the detailed itinerary, you will see that it is assembled with a great deal of care, and that those lucky enough to join us will have unique experiences, and come home with many great and unusual photos–not just the typical tourist photographs.

Now here’s the special offer. I am eager to get the Photographic Odyssey to Japan well-launched by the end of August. So this offer is intended for you, if you are sitting on the fence. If you follow the simple registration steps, fill out the registration application and pay the $500 trip deposit before September 1, 2014, I will send as a gift to you a signed, original 11″ X 14″ print of either Dawn in the High Fields, Takihara or Buddha Samadhi. The archival pigment prints are handmade in my studio on Awagami Kozo washi, and have a retail value of $495 each. The images are shown above in this story. (The Awagami Factory is where we will make paper on the trip!)

The fine print: There really isn’t any. If the trip doesn’t run, of course your deposit will be returned, and you can keep the print as my gift. If you have already signed up, of course you are entitled to your choice of either print.

So what are you waiting for?

Visit a Japan that most westerners never get to see with special, once-in-a-lifetime photographic opportunities.

Harold Davis

For the itinerary: www.digitalfieldguide.com/japan-workshop

To register: www.digitalfieldguide.com/japan-registration

Posted in Workshops

Photographic Odyssey to Japan with Harold Davis

Please consider joining me on a photographic odyssey to Japan in the spring of 2015. This is my dream trip to Japan, a once in a lifetime exclusive eighteen-day opportunity. This is an absolutely unique trip. Group size is limited to a maximum of twelve people. The dates are March 29 – April 15, 2015, selected so as to have the best chance of being in Kyoto for the cherry blossoms.

If you look at the detailed itinerary, I think you’ll be amazed at all we’ve managed to pack into this Photographic Odyssey to Japan, from big cities and luxury hotels, to temples on pilgrimage routes, rustic ryokans, 17th century castles, and much more. The route of the trip follows a meandering path south from Tokyo round Mt Fuji, the Japanese alps, and the mountainous Japanese interior.

Misty Mountains
We’ll pause for a few days in Kyoto and photograph cherry blossoms, then visit the ancient capital of Nara, and head on for the terminus of the famous Kumano Kodo pilgrimage trail. From there, a trip to Shikoku Island will feature the Naruto whirlpool, a washi paper making workshop at the famous Awagami factory, and a visit along the Shikoku 88 temples pilgrimage circuit.

Continuing south, we’ll stop to photograph Himeji Castle, pay our respects to the Atomic Dome in Hiroshima, and take our time photographing the giant Torii built over the inland sea on the sacred Island of Miyajima. From there we’ll fly back from Hiroshima to Tokyo (airfare included).

Please consider joining me in Japan! You can check out the detailed itinerary by going to http://www.digitalfieldguide.com/japan-workshop. I’ve included links to the hotels and ryokans where we’ll be staying. Also there are many links to locations on Google maps so you can get a better sense of the route.

Dawn in the High Fields © Harold Davis

When you look at the itinerary you may be surprised at how much we’ve managed to pack into this photographic trip, with excursions, night photography in Tokyo and Kyoto, temples and so much more. We’ll have the services of an English-speaking guide throughout the tour, and many meals are included in the trip. You can find pricing and registration information here: http://www.digitalfieldguide.com/japan-registration.

Group size is strictly limited (the maximum size is 12, with a minimum of 6 needed to run the trip). If a photographic tour of Japan under my guidance intrigues you, please take advantage of this offer, and don’t delay.

Click here for detailed information. Please drop me an email and let me know if you have any questions.

Gion at Night © Harold Davis

Posted in Photography, Workshops

Adding Textures to Flower Photos

I have a new column out on Photo.net, Adding Textures to Flower Photos. Here’s the description of what you’ll learn: This column explains all you need to know to get started adding textures in Photoshop to your photos, starting with the concept of “texturizing.” I’ll explain the mechanics of adding the texture overlay, choosing a blending mode, and masking the texture (if desired). You’ll also need to know where to find textures to license, and how to make your own textures if you are interested.

Setting Sun and Cherry Blossoms © Harold Davis

Setting Sun and Cherry Blossoms © Harold Davis

About the image: With this shot of a setting sun seen through a cherry blossom, I focused on the flower blossoms, relying on the fact that throwing the sun way out-of-focus made it appear much larger; I added artistic impact using a textural overlay as I explain in Adding Textures to Flower Photos on Photo.net.

Posted in Photoshop Techniques, Writing

New Harold Davis Photonet column: Placing a Flower Photo on a Background

Please check out my new column on Photo.net, Placing a Flower Photo on a Background. Stay tuned for the sequel, coming next month to Photo.net, explaining how to add a texture to a flower photo to get painterly effects.

Have you ever wanted to turn your flower photos into fine art design pieces? With a little bit of Photoshop know-how, a few inexpensive tools, and the techniques explained in this column, it’s easy to create unique art imagery, guided only by your vision and creativity. Read more.

You may not be aware of the extensive archive of my columns available on Photo.net on a wide variety of topics related to creativity, photography, Photoshop techniques, and marketing your photography. Links to this material can be found below the image.

Cherry Dance © Harold Davis

Cherry Dance © Harold Davis

Photo.net columns by Harold Davis

Posted in Flowers, Photoshop Techniques, Writing