APA – American Photographic Artists – is a national organization that supports and advocates for the elevation of industry standards and rights of photographers nationwide. Check out this recent profile they did of me.
Recently I have had a few clients and friends initiate the conversation about using photographs from the web. You know, just pulling the image off of a site and using it for your own purposes, say a Facebook post, or a blog article, or god forbid, for marketing purposes or even an ad. The average person thinks this is okay, acceptable, not illegal. Some are under the impression that as long as you are not using it for monetary gain, that it is completely allowable. It’s not any of these.
First and foremost let’s be VERY CLEAR about photographic copyright. The moment you snap a photo, it is copyrighted. And that copyright belongs to you… the author of that image. There are a few exceptions -i.e. if you are doing “work for hire” or are under contract where the contract specifically states copyright belongs to a third-party. But aside from specifically called out exceptions, when you take a photo, you are instantly the owner and copyright holder of that image.
Registering with the Copyright Office is not required to establish your copyright but it does give you added remedies should someone violate your copyright. Heather Elder has a great blog post that explores this topic really well.
So back to the title… It is illegal to use a photograph, that is not yours, without first obtaining permission from the author or licensing the image. That being said, there are a lot of photos out there that actually are free to use. One source is WikiMedia Commons, where people post their images with the intent of letting others use them for free. But the point is that you need to be sure that you are allowed to use imagery before you simply copy and post it.
This is not just about the very valid argument that artists make their very real living from creating their art, and by simply taking it and using it you are not just disrespecting them and their craft, you are also, quite literally, stealing from them. No different from walking in their front door while they are not home and taking their computer. There are also legal ramifications to YOU.
More often than not, if someone sees that you are using one of their images without licensing it or obtaining permission, you will get some form of a “cease and desist” communication, requesting that you immediately stop using the image. BUT should the author choose to, they could pursue legal action and damages. It’s just not worth the risk!
This long-winded preamble brings my to the point of my post… one of the questions asked was “How do you find out if an image is copyrighted and who the author is?” The truth is, more often than not, this is difficult to do, but let me give you two ways to start the process. Most professional photographers will embed both their copyright and contact info within their images. I do this to every single one of my images. And if you care about preserving your copyright, you should as well. If you go to my website or to any post on my blog and pull and image off, my info will be embedded. The unfortunate part is that if, rather than “pulling” the image off the website, you do a “screen grab” of it, none of my embedded information is included in the resulting file. This is where the trouble starts. But let’s be optimistic and say you are working with a file that magically still has the embedded info. You can then open that image, either in Photoshop,
or even a simple application that comes with your operating system (“Preview” for Mac OS, “Photo Viewer” for Windows) and view the file info or IPTC data.
(the operation should be similar in “Photo Viewer”)
IF the author has embedded the info and the image is not a “screen grab” then the information should be there for you.
The more likely scenario will be that these windows will show up empty.. with no info… should this be the case there is another route to pursue. Go to Google Images.
Go to google.com and click on the word “Images” in the upper right corner.
In the resulting window click on the camera icon in the search box.
In the pop-up window click on the “Upload an Image” tab.
Then select “Choose File” and navigate to the image that you have dragged to your computer. When you select the file, Google will find as many matching instances of that file on the web as it is able to. By investigating the search results you hopefully will be able to find the author of the image.
Whether you find them through the file’s metadata or the Google search, once you track down the author, reach out to them and ask permission to use the image. If you are not using it for commercial purposes, most will let you use it if you attribute the photo to them / give them credit, and link to their site. Hey… it’s free PR and will hopefully drive more traffic to their site! If it is for commercial purposes, try to negotiate an affordable fee that benefits both you AND the author! But don’t be offended if their price is too high… remember it cost them money to produce that fantastic image AND this is how they put food on their table!
If you are unable to track down the author and the image does not come from a site indicating that the image is free to use, DON’T USE IT, just don’t. You would not want someone taking something of yours without your permission. Don’t fall victim to the erroneous concept that just “because it’s on the web, it’s free.”
I feel very honored to once again be included as a finalist in the Hasselblad Masters competition. The imagery included in the various categories, as you can imagine, is stunning! And to be part of such a distinguished group is truly humbling. As of today, Public Voting is now open! So check out the galleries and cast you vote for the top three in each section. My selected image is in the “Product” category and is a photo I shot for Darling Magazine – an article about Heirloom L.A.
We recently had a project come through, where we needed to shoot and feature a hamburger. Unfortunately several issues prohibited us from having a food stylist on set for this particular project. Consequently I was a bit disappointed with the outcome. It wasn’t that we didn’t get a nice shot, it’s just that I know how much better it COULD have been had circumstances been a bit different.
So… what did this provide? An Opportunity!! What a perfect chance to talk to one of our favorite food stylists, Stephanie Greenleigh, get a quick critique, but more interestingly get her take on what a good food stylist does and can do for any given project. And maybe get her to share a few trade secrets along the way 😉
First off here is the finished shot that sparked the conversation:
And we might as well show the unretouched shot that came out of the camera as well:
Stephanie and I have worked together on many occasions. Most recently we did a shoot for Dean’s Dip where she crafted, well…, some perfect burgers!
Let’s dig in…
DHP: Looking at the shot we ended up with, what did they do right?
SG: They captured a realistic looking burger with “appetite appeal” in a natural setting.
DHP: What did they do wrong? / What would you do differently?
SG: I would have constructed the burger differently by building in more symmetry and stair-stepping the ingredients. I probably would have chosen a lettuce leaf that was more graceful and interesting. The top bun could have been a better fit. Redo on the cheese melt.
DHP: What is the most difficult part about styling a burger?
SG: It’s all tough. Finding the right hamburger buns, building the sandwich structure, melting the cheese and applying the condiments at the last-minute on-set. You can imagine how difficult it is keeping the lettuce and tomatoes fresh and spritzed, while melting the cheese and heating the patty!
DHP: What does a food stylist “bring to the table” in situations like these?
SG: Experience. Stylists are used to dealing with constraints (product, layout, location, etc.) —and of then of course being able to meet client needs. Also, a good sense of timing, the right tools and patience.
DHP: Are there things you CAN’T do (i.e. legally) when shooting a burger that is actually the product? And, what if anything is different if the burger is NOT the product but rather just a prop?
SG: When the product is the actual burger, you must use the client-supplied meat, and depending on the client, the buns and cheese. Most fresh ingredients and condiments can be store-bought (with the exception of proprietary sauces).
When food is featured as a prop (i.e., not the product being sold), the sky’s the limit. You can even substitute dark turkey meat for hamburger meat, and use fake pickle chips.
DHP: What is the most important tool in your styling kit
SG: Without a doubt my long-handled tweezers. Ninety percent of the time spent on set is moving around small items without disturbing other ingredients —it’s a game of pick-up-sticks.
DHP: Is there a “secret” you are willing to share that would make this or any other food product “sing”
SG: I’m not sure this is a secret, but I would lightly brush the top bun with a small amount of oil to give it a nice sheen and look hot, and hollow out the top of the bun so that its “sits” comfortably on the top of the burger. As a final touch, I would spritz the lettuce and tomatoes with a small amount of glycerin and water to enhance the look of freshness.
DHP: How did you get started in this industry?
SG: I studied design and art history in college while running a restaurant.
My first job out of school was in textile design, which eventually led me to start a children’s clothing line.
This kind of crazy, eclectic background turned out to be a good resume for a stylist. After assisting established food stylists in the field for a couple of years, I put together a portfolio of my work and starting calling on photographers. I was lucky, my first project was a cookbook which helped expand my portfolio and gave me experience styling a variety of food —everything from appetizers to desserts.
DHP: Advice for anyone thinking about food styling as a career?
SG: Make sure your personality is compatible with working on set. I’ve seen a lot of people coming from a culinary background who are used to a fast-paced environment. Food photography is different; it’s a “hurry up and wait” environment. Styling a bowl of cereal may take up to 4 hours, with stakeholders asking you to move a cereal flake over 1/32nd of an inch. There’s a lot of patience involved.
DHP: What is the biggest misconception about Food Stylists?
SG: That we are magicians with secret potions.
DHP: What is involved in prepping for a job from your end?
SG: It starts with a shopping list which evolves as the pre-production layouts/boards are finalized. There are many trips to the grocery store. Some items can be purchased a couple of days ahead, others immediately before the shoot.
On the Dean’s Dip shoot, we needed to determine the exact size of the finished burger. The ad’s story was that this container was large enough to dip an entire burger into it. The challenge was that the talent needed to be able to comfortably place the burger in the container and yet it still had to be large enough to emphasize the story.
The first step was finding the perfect bun that was also the correct size – not easy! After two days of constant searching we ended up having the buns custom-made. We then had to determine the size of the patties so that they would fit the bun properly. We experimented with the type of hamburger meat, what diameter to shape the patty to allow for shrinkage after the patty was cooked and the best cooking method to brown the meat consistently.
The tomatoes and onion were cut to size and the pickles sorted. All food and equipment was properly stored and packed, making sure everything was ready to go for an early morning call time the next day.
DHP: What questions are you sure to ask before starting production?
SG: I ask to see the updated layouts/boards, how many shots per day and will talent be involved?
Does the client have a particular way that they’d like to see to product portrayed?
Will the client supply the product? If so, how much will be sent.
What is the budget?
DHP: Budgets are tight everywhere today… I know the answer to this, but can you explain from your perspective why it is worth the additional expense to have a food stylist on set?
SG: A chef’s main concern is that the food tastes good, a stylist’s concern is that it looks good.
Food is generally prepared differently for the camera —we focus on preserving and enhancing its shape, color and texture.
We also understand layouts and camera angles which can be tricky for someone not used to considering these constraints, and how these things ultimately will determine how the food is presented.
We also understand the photo shoot process and what our role is within the photo team to produce a successful shoot.
DHP: What can a client or photographer do to elevate the aesthetic when a Stylist is simply not an option?
SG: I would imagine the photographer and client need to have a clear vision of how they would like to see the food prepared and a shared aesthetic sense.
DHP: What do you want people to know about you / your profession?
SG: It’s a creative and rewarding profession, but not always glamorous. There’s a lot of schlepping and dishwashing involved.
Stephanie is an AMAZING food stylist and you can see more of her work on her website: http://www.sgreenleigh.com
And you can see us both in action in this Behind the Scenes Video from the shoot!
So! The latest edition of Darling Magazine is hot off the press! In this issue we had a little fun photographing molecular structures made from the fruit in which the structure is most common. It was a fun play on concept and color. We shot the fruit on glass floating above a complimentary color, did a few tweaks in post, and came up with some great vibrant and graphic images! It will be interesting to read the accompanying article!
But wait! There’s More! This quarter Darling is offering a $5 off promotion! Goto: shop.darlingmagazine.org and enter promo code ISSUE12CONTRIBUTOR (that’s me!) to get your discount. If you have not seen Darling Magazine, you should! It is a super high quality “art magazine” with unique and engaging articles centered around “the art of being a woman” (their tagline).
So here are a few more images from our recent cookbook project. We tried to use as much natural light as possible, with a few accents of course. The theme of these shots were soup’s, and congee bowls. While we have pretty much wrapped this project , we have just started yet another cookbook, so hopefully we’ll be able to share some of that imagery with you later this year. Thanks again to Nicole Kruzick of Belly Food Style for making everything look so yummy!
We have been working on a variety of projects lately that have been a bit “hush-hush”, one of them is a cookbook. While we are not able to say anything about the cookbook itself, we ARE able to share some of the images we have done for it! We’ll post a few today and some more next week, but the shoot has gone super smoothly and we are pretty pleased with the finished images… styled by the lovely Nicole Kruzick / Belly Food Style.
We just wrapped another project with the great folks at High Wide & Handsome. This time it was for Rosatello Wines. It was a fun project to be a part of as we were producing the print portion of a multimedia campaign. We actually do this a lot, working in tandem with a film crew to make the most efficient use of talent, location, and crew. While it would seem that it might be chaotic, the production was smooth and easy, and given that we had to produce a print ad and a 30 second spot in one day, that is saying something! The key is working TOGETHER. Having done this many times before, I have certainly seen my share of crews working against each other, which has never made sense to me. We are working for the same client and most of the time through the same agency.. all headed toward the same goal. So to have anything other than a mutually supportive attitude is counter productive. But I digress… THIS set was easy, relaxed, super productive and lighthearted! The clients even got into the spirit … which is always Fun!
(I LOVE when clients have have a blast on set!)
We’ve recently started working with the folks at The Habit Burger Grill. Our projects have been very early morning productions as we are shooting in actual restaurant locations and we have to get everything done and be wrapped out in time for them to open for lunch. We have mostly been shooting new menu items, so we get to check out their latest offerings right as they are introduced. The weird part is having your mouth water for a juicy burger at 8:30 in the morning! Hop over to your local Habit and see what’s new on the menu! (it will probably be one of our photos!)
We have had the great fortune to work with the amazing folks at Darling Magazine for the past year! In the latest Issue that released this week we have three spreads! One article is on Spring Salads and share three delectable recipes. The other is about Pencils of Promise, a charitable organization striving to ensure a quality education for all children regardless of where they are born. Check out these articles and all the other great features in the latest issue of Darling Magazine!
The latest issue of Darling Magazine is out and we have two feature articles in this issue! The first is on cookies and we shot some beautifully hand decorated cookies by Bethany Wiseman of Batch Please Cookies. Bethany does intricate custom cookies that you would be more likely to want to frame than eat (but they’re so tasty you have to eat them too!) It’s like having art in your tummy! There are five delicious recipes that accompany the article, so that should be incentive enough to seek out this issue!
The second article is on canning / preserving. This article had a little mix of everything… a little fashion, a little beauty, a little humor, a little food.. and again… Recipes to be had!
Check out both articles in Issue No.10 of Darling Magazine. And Look for us in Issue No.11 as well!
Now what you ask? ENJOY!
That is what we are about to do… take a little time off, sit back, relax and feast. We have much to be thankful for and we’re going to take the opportunity to do so and share it with friends and family! We hope your Thanksgiving Holiday is filled with Family, Friends, Love, and Sharing! See ya on the other side, just in time for the NEXT holiday! Happy Thanksgiving!
Wow! Just Wow! What a whirlwind! It feels like we were just here! Well, no sense in fighting it, and there’s never a bad time to be thankful! So as we push headlong into this holiday season we hope that you have plenty to be thankful for and that you are able to take some time to reflect on the good and brush away anything that’s not! But don’t relax too much! The year is not over yet! There is still much to do and plenty of time to do it! So enjoy THIS holiday and keep the spirit!
We received a couple of Honorable Mentions in this years IPA’s (International Photography Awards)! It is always so great to be included with such a distinguish group of professionals and we love the winning imagery this year! So much talent out there! Thanks so much to the judges for including two of our images in the mix!
Toshiba knows this. The great team at LehmanMillet asked us to help them illustrate that fact in our latest photo shoot. This new campaign, directed at the medical industry, is geared towards making sure that the professionals that use Toshiba Medical Products know that Toshiba is listening to them and incorporating their input! In a simple and graphic way we represented the various constituencies that utilize Toshiba products and “Gave Them a Voice”!
Here is the third ad from our recent shoot for Dean’s Dip with High, Wide & Handsome. This image was a bit of a challenge as it was shot on location in Los Angeles at the height of summer (it was literally one of the hottest days of the year) and in the midst of our lovely drought. The responsible homeowners of the cool (looking, not temperature) location we were shooting at had pulled back on their watering so as to conserve. That however made for some unfortunately yellow grass and background. What came to the rescue was the extensive background library we keep in-house. I am ALWAYS shooting grass, skies, and textures of all types so as to have a healthy arsenal for just such circumstances. We had been shooting into some bamboo that was fairly burnt on the tips and of course the grass was none-to-happy either. So instead we ended up stripping in some heathy Ficus and dropping in a bit of grass from Versailles, no… really! That is royal French grass you’re looking at! So if you see me out there pointing my camera at what looks like nothing, it’s probably something… like grass.
As the new campaign rolls out, here is another image from out recent shoot for Dean’s Dip. We shot the whole campaign at a really cool mid-century modern home in Pacific Palisades, CA. It gave us some great variety for living room, kitchen and outdoor spaces. In addition to a great client and agency (see our last post) we had a great crew, including Arpen Productions, Stacy Quackenbush on prop & wardrobe styling, Stephanie Daniel on hair & make-up and Stephanie Greenleigh doing food styling! All simply Amazing!
We recently completed a project for Dean’s Dip and the campaign has just launched. It was two fun-filled days of wacky and over the top expressions to illustrate how some folks are SERIOUS about their dipping! We got the opportunity to work with the great creatives over at L.A. based High, Wide & Handsome as well as the wonderful folks at Dean’s Dip. The whole project, from casting to completion kept a smile on my face and we had an amazing crew and cast of characters! Keep an eye out for additional shots from the campaign or check out the “Behind the Scenes” video from the shoot!
LAST year we did a photo shoot for a “hush-hush” product and at the time we were not allowed to share about it (because it was “hush-hush”!) But now the cat is out of the bag so we can talk about how much fun we had! It was a great couple of days where we were looking for energy and excitement from our talent about the new product. We also had the opportunity to work with some GREAT gymnasts who performed some amazing feats in front of the lens! We have already posted a “behind the scenes” video of the shoot. But also wanted to share some of the finished imagery as well!
One of the (many) incredible things about this profession (okay TWO) are 1.) The GREAT people you get the chance to work with (and this shoot was no exception!). The Agency folks at LehmanMillet and the Client (Exact Sciences) were all SO GREAT! and 2.) The fun and different stuff you get to do every day, just makes this one of the best professions out there!
Thanks to everyone involved in this production! From client to agency to cast and crew. It was ALMOST too much fun to be paid for!
Check out the latest edition of Darling Magazine! We photographed an article on “Food as Art” featuring recipes from Heirloom L.A. – a boutique catering company in Los Angeles. Executive Chef – Matt Poley – did the styling in what was a very impromptu decision on look and style. It was fun and challenging to work “in the moment” and we were very happy with the results. There are a lot of other great articles in this high-end, BEAUTIFULLY PRINTED publication, so get your hands on an issue!
We have just returned from a weeklong, whirlwind, multi-city trip. Along the way, one of the stops was Valencia, Spain. While there, we had just enough time to check out La Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias. Wow! What an amazing complex! Unfortunately, the hour at which we were there, the entire complex was basically closed, so that meant exterior exploration only… 🙁 But it was still SO MUCH FUN to wander the complex and shoot some imagery! I would have loved to have been able to stay longer and fully experience the facility in its entirety, but alas, I may just need to schedule another trip. If you are ever in Valencia, this is something I would not miss!
Here are just a few of the images we captured:
Late last year we did a VERY fun shoot and have been excited to share the results. However, the product we did the shoot for had not been released to the general public and we were under NDA’s (Non Disclosure Agreements) until the official product launch. Well, just this past week the client was finally able to launch and so we’re thrilled to be able to start sharing some of the imagery! We’ll do that in the coming weeks.. but first, since we are in BTS (Behind the Scenes) mode already….
We are just wrapping up post-production on a shoot we did for Dean’s Dip. What a fun couple of days! Despite being the hottest days in Malibu in recent history, we enjoyed the hospitality of our location, and had a wonderfully smooth production! Client, Agency, Crew… ALL Fantastic. We are looking forward to sharing the final results but in the meantime here is a little Behind the Scenes Action!
From another one of our shoots at Nikita Restaurant on the coast in Malibu California, Executive Chef Salvatore Sodano & Sommelier Rene-Nicole Kubin. Teaming up to create the perfect pairing of food & wine. Throw in the spectacular vistas and you’ve got a dinning experience that’s hard to beat!
Okay, … one last post from our Hawaii excursion. On our final scouting day on Lana’i we took UTV’s (Utility Task Vehicles) to the back side of the island. We traversed the Munro Trail (in the rain) and went down a remote trail that even the locals were balking at – especially given the wet conditions. This took us to Naha Beach which we shared a panoramic photo of in our last post (center photo). From there we traveled up to Club Lana’i. Now deserted, the location was a day resort, where folks from Maui would come to “get away”. It is really quite beautiful. There are talks from the new ownership on the island to potentially revitalize the resort or repurpose the area into some other type of destination. But while we were there is was easy to imagine the run down structures in their more glorious days. A fun weekend destination more for locals and those “in-the-know” than for the average tourist. If you ever make it to Lana’i it is worth the trip on a beautiful day (which it could be there, even if it is raining in Lana’i City). And there is a much easier route to get there than the one we took, with some other points of interest along the way! Any local can point you in the right direction! Aloha!
When we were on a recent scouting trip to Hawaii, we took the opportunity to shoot a few Super High Resolution Panoramics. I always enjoy being able to do this when the opportunity presents itself! The only drawback is that it is so hard to appreciate the grandeur of the scenes on the web. There is just not enough screen real estate to be able to show all of the subtleties and spectacular detail. The images below get as large as 2GB in file size and are equivalent to an image that would come out of an imaginary 250 megapixel camera! We have pretty large displays in the studio and even those only start to show the massive amounts of detail we get! So enjoy these teeny tiny versions and imagine yourself in these amazing locations!
We recently did a shoot for Darling Magazine. I have to admit that I had not heard of the publication, until they called. The article we did was on essential oils.. the shoot got a little messy, in a good way! Darling is a quarterly magazine and SUPER high quality. At the shoot the photo editor brought a copy of the then current issue and I was REALLY impressed with the paper, printing and just overall presentation. It really is a very refined publication. This last Sunday we went to the launch party for this issue down in the industrial area of east L.A.. It was a fun evening of drinks, music, socializing and people watching! But check out Darling Magazine, it really is something special!
We just did a shoot last week for one of the largest technology companies in the world, based here in Southern California. Something that came as a bit of a surprise as we were doing it was how many people confessed they had never seen the inside of a computer hard disk drive. We deal with a LOT of HDD’s these days because of the volumes of data we produce, and the need to have a lot of redundancy for our image archives.
It was a great reminder that just because you experience something on a regular basis, does not mean it is commonplace for ANYONE else. So share the things you know about and ask others about their passions! Little wonders can be found everywhere, let’s discover them together!
We had so much fun shooting with the folks at Manduka, we thought we’d share a few more shots. Across this multi-day shoot we had shot a variety of profile portraits of folks that use Manduka products. Then we also shot the new product line for 2014. To get many of the larger shots we had to rig the camera a story and a half up in the rafters in order to get the proper angle of view. We then triggered the camera remotely from down below. It was a bit odd not being “behind the camera” for the full day! But it also allowed the Creative Director, Rand Denny, to have a little fun!
We have had a lot of chefs in front of our lens lately! Recently we got to play with Salvatore Sodano, Executive Chef at Nikita Restaurant in Malibu. Chef Sodano was so amazingly gracious, accommodating, easy to work with, oh…and Fun! (I think the photos might show that…) We also shot some of his beautifully plated dishes (which tasted as good as they looked!). Check out some of the other incredibly talented chefs that we’ve had the great fortune to work with here.