APA Contest Winner / BlinkBid Giveaway

Wading Giraffes

I was excited to hear that my giraffe image picked up 2nd place in the Fine Art/Personal category of APA’s 2013 photo contest! There were some great winners in the various categories, and you should check them all out here. While I don’t really enter contests, I do enter and support ones from the big names like APA, PDN, etc. I love seeing the amazing work coming out of those contests.

One of the prizes for my category was a copy of the software BlinkBid. If you are not familiar with it, it’s sort of the de facto tool for estimating commercial shoots. I use it for all of my estimates and it has support for almost anything you could imagine needing to include. Need to have a line item for striking a set? Do you shoot film and want to make sure to bill for developing your B&W 8×10? Blinkbid has you covered. The estimates you print out are great too – you can customize them to fit your studio’s look.

Since I already use Blinkbid, I have this extra license sitting around. I asked the Blinkbid crew and they ok’ed me giving it away. So, let’s do it! If you are interested in a chance to win the software (a $229 value), leave a comment below. I’ll randomly pick a winner on Monday, November 18th using some sort of fancy web-based random number generator thingy.


Rob Thomas for REAL Magazine

I’ve been waiting to talk about this shoot all year. When REAL Magazine asked me sometime in March if I’d be interested in shooting Rob Thomas, I jumped at the chance.

Now, I know exactly what you are thinking. No, not that Rob Thomas (although he’s on my list too). This Rob Thomas is the creator of the show Veronica Mars. You probably heard about him in the news earlier this year, as he and Kristen Bell led a Kickstarter campaign which raised over 5.7 million dollars for the production of a Veronica Mars movie. Since then, other high-profile film projects have gone the Kickstarter route (most notably Zach Braff’s “Wish I Was Here“), but no crowd funding campaigns so far have been as successful as Rob’s.

Talking with the creative people at REAL Magazine, we decided on something fun to match Rob’s personality. I sketched up several ideas, one of which involved him at a lemonade stand selling props from episodes of the tv show to help fund his film. Rob liked the idea, so we scouted locations around town that could serve as our neighborhood house.

Right before the shoot, I thought it would be funny if we added in a Ferris Bueller reference and played off the “Save Ferris” idea with our own “Save Veronica Mars” riff. In the Ferris Bueller movie, an iconic scene is the “Save Ferris” water tower that appears in the film. We added that to our image below and the scene was set.

Rob did a great job with a variety of expressions and poses, and after our shoot we took some additional shots that his agency could use for promo purposes.

Below is a great little BTS video that the crew from Reel Visuals put together. I loved working with Terrell, Lauren and Richard on this, and if you need something similar, you should definitely look them up. A big thanks to Bert Mclendon and Justin Leitner who helped out on this shoot, and a heartfelt thank you to Nell at REAL Magazine for the opportunity.

Rob Thomas Veronica Mars Image 1

Rob Thomas Veronica Mars Image 2

Rob Thomas Veronica Mars Image 3

By |September 25th, 2013|Photography|0 Comments

Expedition Central America

I have a friend that runs a company called Enzoology Education. You might have heard of the company’s innovative elementary and middle school instruction program Exploration Nation on Ellen, Today, NBC News, Scientific American or Time Magazine. I’ve done some shoots for them in the past, and always look forward to the next project with them.

Enzoology is a social enterprise that creates inspiring science instruction featuring real kids doing real science research. The program’s hosts do some pretty big things but now, in partnership with humani.tv, EARTH University, Rio Indio Lodge, Bushmaster Survival School and others, they are doing something global in scale that will have real impact on kids everywhere. Check out this video:

In April of 2013, a team of kids, Special Forces veterans and surgeons will travel from around the world to San Jose, Costa Rica to begin a 14 day scientific expedition through the jungle that will culminate in setting up a surgical clinic for the Rama indians in Nicaragua.

During this 14 day expedition, Enzoology will produce a series of lesson programs that illustrate the message to our future innovators that:

Science and innovation is the tide that lifts all boats

 Here’s how you can help: 

1. Go to www.ExplorationNation.com/contribute to contribute to this cause. You’ll get great rewards ranging from a lifetime subscription to Exploration Nation for you and a school of your choosing to actually going on the expedition with the team. Or how about seven days of Spec Ops survival training in the jungle?

2. Next, please send this message to your friends. 

3. Finally, get the message out on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, etc. Hash tag include: #TeamXN #STEM

I’ve been following the progress of Pete and his team since they started on this project last year. If you can contribute in some way, please consider it!

Making the Right Choices

Allen is on a mission to get fit. When he found me last month, he had a very interesting story. Here’s a guy that, for years, had been making the wrong choices regarding food. And he knew it. Too much fast food, not enough exercise. No energy to do anything. It had started to affect him to the point where he didn’t even know if he was going to live much longer. I can’t imagine what that level of helplessness feels like: being trapped in a pattern that you can’t break free of, even if you want to.

Enter my friend Linda Wagner. She’s a nutritionist here in Austin.  Allen reached out to her, and she’s been helping him get on track. He has made amazing progress since they started working together, already dropping 80 lbs and making better food choices.

Allen asked if we could take some pictures to serve as ‘before’ images. We headed to a local track where he brought plenty of props. In the shot below, I believe he’s holding kale. Something I should be eating more of, I am sure.

Down the road, we’ll do another session to show his progress. He’s got more work to do, but is determined to get there. In fact, his determination is contagious; I found myself wanting to improve areas of my life just based on his will to improve his.

I can’t wait to see the progress he and Linda make over the next several months. If a person can improve themselves physically through sheer determination, surely we can all find a way to improve some small part of our lives. A part that doesn’t require as much work. Or as much kale. :)

Good luck, Allen. We’ll create amazing shots soon.

Allen’s blog | Linda’s website




A Live Studio Audience

I had the honor last night of taking part in something special. If you are on Google Plus, you probably know that the first-ever Google Plus Photography Conference is going on right now. This conference is being run by the Scott Kelby’s crew (the same one that runs Photoshop World), along with Google.

I wasn’t able to make it to San Francisco, but I was asked and excited to be a part of it (albeit remotely). For a lot of the presentations, the conference team ran live hangouts and displayed the video on a large screen. This brought a unique element to the presentation (which already was in front of a large crowd). For the first time, a presenter could give a talk and also field questions/input from the hangout members.

I was happy to be one of those hangout members for Jeremy Cowart’s presentation last night. During the event I kept thinking “Cheers is filmed before a live, studio audience.” That’s what it felt like. I was an observer, and also a participant. I was far away, but close, because I could ask a question at any point. If I did speak, my face was immediately shown on the huge screen in the conference hall. I’m glad I brushed my hair.

If you’d like to watch Jeremy’s presentation (which is awesome btw), I’ve included it below. It will leave you, like me, feeling both inspired and unproductive! Dang you, Jeremy. I’ve also included some stills that my friend Frederick Van Johnson sent me from ‘behind the curtain’. Literally, behind the giant projection screen.

Congrats to Google and Scott Kelby and his team for pulling off this new conference, and congrats to Jeremy Cowart for a great presentation!

 [yframe url='http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=xmLgqjzju90#!']

Pin the Tail on the TOS

I’ve been watching the Pinterest saga for a few weeks now. Although I have an account, I haven’t used it yet (although I find it interesting that people have somehow found me there). As is the case with many social networks, the issue here are the terms of service that you agree to when you use Pinterest. Depending on your position (and your area of photographic expertise), you are either unbothered by these terms or you find them ridiculous. First, here are the terms as posted here (emphasis mine):

By making available any Member Content through the Site, Application or Services, you hereby grant to Cold Brew Labs a worldwide, irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, royalty-free license, with the right to sublicense, to use, copy, adapt, modify, distribute, license, sell, transfer, publicly display, publicly perform, transmit, stream, broadcast, access, view, and otherwise exploit such Member Content only on, through or by means of the Site, Application or Services. Cold Brew Labs does not claim any ownership rights in any such Member Content and nothing in these Terms will be deemed to restrict any rights that you may have to use and exploit any such Member Content.

You acknowledge and agree that you are solely responsible for all Member Content that you make available through the Site, Application and Services. Accordingly, you represent and warrant that: (i) you either are the sole and exclusive owner of all Member Content that you make available through the Site, Application and Services or you have all rights, licenses, consents and releases that are necessary to grant to Cold Brew Labs the rights in such Member Content, as contemplated under these Terms; and (ii) neither the Member Content nor your posting, uploading, publication, submission or transmittal of the Member Content or Cold Brew Labs’ use of the Member Content (or any portion thereof) on, through or by means of the Site, Application and the Services will infringe, misappropriate or violate a third party’s patent, copyright, trademark, trade secret, moral rights or other proprietary or intellectual property rights, or rights of publicity or privacy, or result in the violation of any applicable law or regulation.

Right off the bat, it’s obvious this is generic CYA legal speak: when in doubt, claim everything and you’re covered. And looking at the terms, it looks like they’ve claimed just about anything they can (except for ownership, which is relegated to near-junk-bond status after the pilfering of rights listed above). As listed, they can do pretty much whatever they want with the content you have. At first glance – who cares? If I’m posting a product link to B&H, I don’t care about this part. Where I do care, however, is with my content. My images are mine, and I don’t like such grandiose rights claims about them, especially on a site that won’t work without users submitting their content. Even more ridiculous is the second paragraph above, where they assert that you must either have the ownership to the content you post, or have secured the rights to post it. Who has such rights to all of the content on the internet? Of course, no one. Your interests are varied, and you want to share them. You’re not a ‘collector of rights.’

In this way, Pinterest’s TOS are at odds with its own reason for being: if you can’t share what you don’t own, you can’t pin, and if you can’t pin, Pinterest has no content. It’s like signing up for a 5k race and then being told by the organizers that you need to get the proper permits from the city to have a race. No one would show up.

Some photographers (Trey Ratcliff, notably) argue that you should stop complaining and embrace the wave of the future. This being the wave of giving away your work for free, hoping that exposure to the world (consisting mostly of, surprise, other photographers) leads to being hired by ‘other’ people (the ones that actually hire photographers)). Trey is an awesome, successful photographer, but he’s also an edge case. You cannot start a photo business today by self-funding shoots, giving those away for free, hoping for someone to hire or license them. It’s not a business plan.

Indeed, some photographers have begun to question their use of Pinterest, even removing their images entirely. Others (some wedding photographers, for example) have openly embraced Pinterest because it is good at driving traffic and getting your work in front of the public. This is why I said that it depends on the type of photographer you are. Family/couple-related imagery usually has no lasting commercial value, because (at least on the wedding side) most photographers license those images to the clients to do with as they please. There’s nothing to stop someone (nor should there be) from pinning their favorite image from their wedding.

What’s been missing so far in this is a response from larger commercial companies. Should the legal team of a large company be concerned that Pinterest claims an open-ended license of their assets? Maybe, maybe not. On the one hand, what would Pinterest do with them? I thought of this for a while. What if they put together a harmless television ad, showing a collage of content submitted by users? Do you think the Pinterest legal team might make some effort to license, say, this pinned image before featuring it in an ad? You bet they would.

Pinterest eventually will have to clarify their TOS (last updated March, 2011). We saw the same thing with iBooks Author when it was released. Pinterest can be a very powerful platform, with a lot of *trusted* engagement, if they do.

In the meantime, I’ll keep my account there open, with nothing pinned. Well, except for this article.

The irony of pinning this post, with accompanying Pinterest logo, is not lost on me. According to their TOS, I must own their logo.


By |February 28th, 2012|Photography|3 Comments