Three Dot for Photography is moving to email soon: Three Dot Lounge for Photography for May 25, 2015

How to Survive as a Photographer in Today’s Industry

How to Survive as a Photographer in Today’s Industry

The BlackRapid team did a short video with artist representative Maren Levinson to talk about how the industry has changed and what you need to do to survive in it. I’ve never seen someone so clearly and simply explain what the changes to the industry are and why they affect your ability to sell images and yourself as a photographer. Anyone who’s ever complained about not being able to make a living selling stock any more, or bitching about people who give away images online, really need to watch this and think about what she says.

As she says, it used to be if you could set lights and create a good image, you could sell yourself. Today, anyone with a phone can do that — so you need to understand what unique things you bring to the table.

She says you need to be able to describe yourself in a sentence — “He is that guy who generates those does those fun, colorful still lives”; what we in high tech call the elevator speech.

What’s your sentence? When people describe you and your images to others, how do they describe you? How do you describe yourself if you only have that one key phrase?

I have to admit, I don’t have an easy answer to that myself. I need to go figure that out.

Fuji is updating the XT-1 Firmware

Fuji has announced a significant set up upgrades to their camera line, through a firmware update due out in June. As people who have talked to me know, I’ve been saying that I have been expecting an update to the XT-1 that solves some of the challenges I’ve run into trying to use it as a serious wildlife/birding camera body. Fuji introduces the upgrade and goes into it’s features in this short video.

What I didn’t expect was that this update would happen to my XT-1 via firmware instead of as a new camera body (which is likely going to happen as well). This is a pleasant surprise and Fuji deserves a lot of credit for not reserving this capability as a way of trying to coerce camera upgrades. Fuji really needed some improvements to properly support the upcoming 400mm (equivalent) lens that’s on their public roadmap — and this firmware upgrade seems to be that upgrade.

What does the new firmware have? Significantly upgraded autofocus, including a new “Zone AF” mode where the camera recognizes the subject and tracks it as it moves through the frames by changing out which AF points are in control. For action/sports type work where subjects are in movement, this looks to be huge. Phase detection AF is now usable down to EV 0.5, making autofocus a lot faster and more effective in poor light conditions.

Dan Bailey is one of the photographers who has been testing the beta and talks about the upgrade in depth. His work is well worth a read; he’s a photographer that has sold all of his DLSR gear and is now 100% Fuji. If this upgrade does what I expect it will, there’s a very good chance I’ll follow once that big glass appears.

Purists Beware

I don’t know why we’re still having this argument over “is this photoshopped?” — shouldn’t the real question be whether the image is well done or not?

But some people can’t get past that technology allows us to do things we never could in a wet darkroom, and yes, at some point, you cross a line where it’s no longer really a photo and now it’s some other kind of art — but seriously, as Chase Jarvis notes, a “properly exposed photo”, even back in the film and enlarger days, was still strongly modified to bring it out to its absolute max. And Jenna Martin does a great job talking about how the people who push this agenda can hurt the development of newer photographers who are simply trying to do the right thing.

My view: an image has to be beautiful, well processed, and true to the photographer’s vision of the scene they’ve captured. If it is, it’s a success. How the photographer gets there is not something I should be defining as appropriate or not, unless it’s my photograph.