I Am Copy Editor

October 14th, 2014
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by Gwyn Headley

Managing Director

During the Frankfurt Book Fair, just past, my bedtime reading was an ebook, a thriller recommended to me by Yvonne: I Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes, whose name, bafflingly, does not appear on the cover. It’s a rollicking and undemanding read, so I recommended it to my friend and travelling companion Mike Shatzkin, who immediately bought and downloaded it.

I had been complaining of the poor editing quality of most ebooks — the Copy Editor, diligently scanning for literals, is now an extinct species in the wild — and I Am Pilgrim hits you in the first line, with a Beatles quote and a mistake:

“THERE ARE PLACES I’ll remember all my life — red square with a hot wind howling across it …”

Such a shame that people don’t seem to be bothered any more. If you know enough about style to start a chapter with the first three words in small caps, then surely you’ll know that ‘red square’ should be ‘Red Square’ — and your copy editor should be on to it like a vat of hot metal.

Mike’s version was published by Emily Bestler Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, whereas my British version was published by Transworld, owned by Penguin Random House. Entirely separate companies, one in America, one in the UK.

Nevertheless the fact that they didn’t exchange digital files for the ebook and each created their version from scratch somewhat surprises me. “Keep the change” is not a frequent phrase in my vocabulary, but this seems like a wanton waste of money.

Mike said “What’s the problem with Red Square? It looks OK to me.” And in his version — the American edition — it was.

The troubling thing for me is that the American typesetting is more correct than the British version. Here they are, so you can compare them:

BRITISH  vs  AMERICAN
Chapter One   vs   1
FIRST THREE WORDS in small caps   vs   First three words in U/LC
space dash space   vs    em-dash
red square   vs   Red Square
8-Mile   vs   Eight Mile
Theatre   vs   Theater
burnt   vs   burned
Choo’s   vs   Choos

and I’m sure there will be examples on every page, but you get the drift.

Two nations separated by a common language, indeed.

First page of I Am Pilgrim, UK edition

British edition

First page of I Am Pilgrim, US edition

American Edition

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by Gwyn Headley

Managing Director

Last night a brilliant idea came to me in my dreams. Why not program the CCD sensor in your camera to mimic the effect of your favourite film stock? (if you can remember what film was.)

As is often the case, someone else had not only had the same idea but had done something about it, and what’s more, many, many years ago and far more intelligently than me. Instead of the insanely complex reprogramming of hardware, people have created Photoshop plug-ins that can mimic the film stock of yesteryear. But by experimenting with the Channel Mixer settings, you can replicate these yourself.

Years ago I set the fotoLibra subscription level at £6 as month because that was the cost of a roll of Fuji Velvia, the finest film for recording buildings in the British countryside because it loved doing greys and greens. And that’s all I photographed really, because as you all know I am NOT a photographer, I am just a bloke with a camera.

If you went to a fairground, or visited New England in the fall, or went on a beach holiday, the Velvia would be useless.  Instead you’d be taking boxes and boxes of Kodachrome, incomparable with reds and yellows and oranges.

And now there are plug-ins, or Actions, or Channel Mixer tips available for many of your favourite film stocks. To show you how they work, I’ve hacked a couple of my own images about. Criticism of my work is NOT solicited or even permitted; these are simply examples to show the effects these Channel Mixers can achieve.

I am awed by the quality of work produced by fotoLibra’s contributors, and I’m diffident about offering any hints or tips to you, but some of you may have forgotten these tricks and might enjoy playing with them.

Original Image

Original File

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Velvia Effect

Velvia Effect

Pontcysyllte Acqueduct

Kodachrome Effect

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

VELVIA EFFECT USING CHANNEL MIXERS

1. Layer> New Adjustment Layer> Channel Mixer> Click OK
2. Make these changes to each of the red, green, and blue sliders for each
output channel
3. These changes are guides which you can vary, but try and make sure the Total always = +100%

Output Channel: Red
> Change Red Slider to: 141%
> Change Green Slider to: -20%
> Change Blue Slider to -21%

Output Channel: Green
> Change Red Slider to: -21%
> Change Green Slider to: 144%
> Change Blue Slider to -20%

Output Channel: Blue
> Change Red Slider to: -21%
> Change Green Slider to: -20%
> Change Blue Slider to 144%

Original file

Original file

 

FOT70.jpeg

Velvia Effect

Kodachrome Effect

Kodachrome Effect

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

KODACHROME EFFECT USING CHANNEL MIXERS

1. Layer> New Adjustment Layer> Channel Mixer> Click OK
2. Make these changes to each of the red, green, and blue sliders for each
output channel

Output Channel: Red
> Change Red Slider to: 140%
> Change Green Slider to: -20%
> Change Blue Slider to -20%

Output Channel: Green
> Change Red Slider to: 10%
> Change Green Slider to: 80%
> Change Blue Slider to 10%

Output Channel: Blue
> Change Red Slider to: 0%
> Change Green Slider to: 0%
> Change Blue Slider to 100%

I don’t think anyone has managed an ORWOChrom effect yet but I will tell you the moment I hear about it.

The last time I had a brilliant idea in my dreams I briefly woke and wrote it down. When I awoke, the piece of paper by my bed read “Rubber Hammers”.

Hotmail and fotoLibra

August 7th, 2014
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by Gwyn Headley

Managing Director

This is getting beyond a joke.

Yesterday our web editor Jacqui Norman sent out a Picture Call to all our contributors. Nearly 50,000 photographers have signed up to fotoLibra since we started ten years ago. When people leave, we remove their names from our mailing list.

Yet Jacqui’s simple request for images to be purchased by a long-established and reputable British magazine, paying fair prices, has not reached 3,850 of our contributors because Hotmail has classed it as spam.

They are preventing us from communicating with members who have voluntarily signed up to fotoLibra’s services.

How can they do that?

They just can. Some Hotmail computer in Seattle noticed a small company in Britain was sending out 3,850 emails to Hotmail subscribers once a fortnight, and arbitrarily blocked it.

Nobeody read the emails. Nobody checked the content. Nobody asked the sender (that’s us) what on earth it thought it was doing, emailing nearly 4,000 Hotmail members. It just blocked us.

That’s harming its own subscribers more than it harms us, because it’s our Hotmail members who are deprived of submitting images to the Picture Call. People who use other email suppliers get to see the Picture Call, submit their images and will no doubt make sales.

But Hotmail subscribers won’t get that chance. That’s tough on them.

And exasperating for us.

 

 

 

 

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by Gwyn Headley

Managing Director

Is it August already? Where does the time go? And where does the money go?

Greg Lumley's $35,000 photograph

Greg Lumley’s $35,000 photograph

In a week where Greg Lumley, a South African photographer, made the news by offering a unique ultra-hi res print of his gorgeous photograph of Cape Town for $35,000, an influential photo magazine despondently commented that “Photography as a business is competing in a race to the bottom. Photographs are regularly devalued by people who steal them, agencies that sell them for a pittance, and photographers who are willing to work for free.”

It is very true that it’s a rough time to be in the picture sales business. Clients have lost interest in the quality of the image; their sole concern is price. National newspapers are a closed shop — management won’t allow picture desks to use anyone other than their contracted agency, unless the paper’s readers give them up for free, an acquisitions policy energetically pursued by the BBC among many others. And the agency’s photographers are up in arms because their images are being traded for pence.

Meanwhile photographers spend more and more on kit which makes their already great images even better, and still no one is buying. Tiny publishers who 20 years ago would come cap in hand for permission to buy from the lordly picture libraries now want to pay prices for RM images that you’d expect to see on a £50,000 a month contract. Mind you, they don’t get them; not from us at any rate. It’s like being bullied at school. Once they start picking on you, even the weediest gurly will fancy his chances chiz chiz.

Yesterday I came across this eye-opener of a website, Who Pays Photographers?

It’s a crowd-sourced spreadsheet of publishers around the world who pay — or don’t pay — for photography. It makes riveting, if clunky, reading. Everyone who’s ever sold a picture, or tried to, should have a look at this. And contribute, if you can.

It's not all good news

Part of a very large spreadsheet

 

The site owner writes: “[This is] a space to list how much — and how little — magazines, newspapers, websites, NGOs and corporations pay photographers. Editorial, commercial, advertising, entertainment — any and all presented. Listing based on anonymous submissions. This is intended as an exercise in sharing, rather than shaming — but feel free to warn your fellow photogs about deadbeats.”

The creator of this fascinating site prefers to remain anonymous, but gives credit for the idea to Manjula Martin, who devised the ‘Who Pays Writers?‘ website. I’d remain anonymous too if I came up with the bowel-tinged background colour of the site. Maybe it looks OK in Windows. It certainly doesn’t on a Mac.

I remember reading last year on several photographic forums that more than one American photographer was claiming recent $10,000 sales for book front cover image usage. But to a man they were too bashful to reveal the names of the books, the publishers, or even to show off their expensively purchased images.

Oddly, those sort of claims don’t appear on the Who Pays Photographers? site. But reports of offers of “picture credits” abound.

DON’T give your pictures away for a credit. You know what a credit is worth. As my friend Mike Shatzkin used to say, “That, and 10¢, will get you a subway token.” I’ll update him — “That, and £4.70, will buy you a tube ticket to travel the 260 metres between Covent Garden and Leicester Square.”

Shatzkin’s is pithier. Mine is scarier. But they’re both true.

We regularly send out mailings marketing your images to registered picture buyers. We don’t send them to people who haven’t signed up to fotoLibra, because we’re terrified of being seen as a spammer by some robot in California.

Choosing subjects is fun. Our Taxonomy Matrix (at the back of our User Manual) covers 256 aspects of life and stuff in, on and out of this planet, so we never run out of interesting and topical things to tell buyers about. Occasionally we’ll feature one of our leading photographers, and with the Tour De France starting in Yorkshire tomorrow, we thought we’d give Nick Jenkins a turn.

Here’s what we sent:

fotoLibra mailing

A fotoLibra buyer mailing

We had this reply from the Picture Editor of a famous magazine, one of the best-known and most venerable magazines in Great Britain:

They are fab – are they free to use, sorry we do not have a budget

Words failed me. So I resorted to expletives. Luckily I wasn’t allowed to reply, as I’m recovering from an op and as a result all my opinions are censored.

What do they think we are? Who do they think you are? How do they imagine we feed our little ones? I assume they all work for free and give the magazine away?

As Jesus said, the labourer is worthy of his hire, so if you missed Italian photographer Enzo dal Verme’s video in this blog post we made in May, now’s the time to watch it.

Let’s get this straight — I love America. It’s a great place; brash, confident, a can-do country. If a British business fails, the humiliation and disgrace is a permanent stain. If an American business fails, they pick themselves up, dust themselves down, and start all over again. And some of my best friends are Americans, as you’d expect me to say.

In fact it was my American friend Martha Moran who alerted me to this extraordinary story, an unprecedented combination (to my mind) of ignorance, hubris, licit connivance and venality.

Photographer Udi Tirosh posted this blog. It describes how the US Patent & Trademark Office has awarded a patent to Amazon for photographing things against a white background. That’s right — a patent on what we call cut-outs. The imagery that made Dorling Kindersley books famous around the world.

How can they get away with this? What effect will it have? The darker side of American business confidence also lies in this “let’s try it on” attitude. And all too often the American establishment colludes.

There’s much not to like about America. Deranged gun laws. The Albuquerque Police Department, who have shot dead 55 people since 2010. The US legal system. The $67 million claimed by a judge for a lost pair of trousers. Companies who attempt to copyright phrases in the English language. Bridgeman Art Library‘s case against Corel for nicking their images — Bridgeman was British, Corel won. The publishers of He’s So Fine sued George Harrison‘s Harrisongs for plagiarism with My Sweet Lord, which had one chord change in common. Harrison lost. The catastrophic Gulf oil spill caused by an American subsidiary of the British firm BP — BP was given a swingeing, humungous fine and ordered to pay billions of dollars of compensation, sometimes to people living a couple of hundred miles inland.

Every man, woman and child in the United Kingdom spends £70 a year with Amazon. It provides an amazing selection and a terrific service. Of course we buy from Amazon SARL in Luxembourg, not from Amazon.co.uk, which merely takes our order in the UK, locates the product in the UK and posts it out to us in the UK from within the UK.

In the past three years Amazon has generated sales of more than £7.6 billion in the UK, without paying any corporation tax on the profits from those sales. They paid just £4.2 million in tax in 2013, 0.1% of their UK revenues.

And you know why? Because their tax advisors are smarter than our taxmen and our government. Amazon is doing nothing wrong. We are missing out because of the incompetence of our legislators and HMRC.

And can Dorling Kindersley now expect Amazon to come knocking?

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by Gwyn Headley

Managing Director

Ace picture librarian Philip Enticknap (now retired, luckily for us) posted a link on the Picture Editors & Researchers group on LinkedIn to a short video made by Italian photographer Enzo Dal Verme. It’s a quiet, gentle way of dealing with a situation we often address in the fotoLibra Pro Blog — the inability of some people to realise that photographs cost money, and photographers need to be paid.

 

Dal Verme’s blog appears to be offline at the moment, so I hope it helps if I post his video here. It’s been going the rounds for the past two years, but I hadn’t seen it before. It’s well worth watching. Thanks for finding it, Philip.

 

 

I can’t let a link go by without clicking it, so I discovered that Enzo acquired his unusual surname because an ancestor of his killed a dragon that had been terrorizing the inhabitants of Verona. Hence he was named Dal Verme — The Worm. Cf the Lambton Worm in Durham, a dragon killed by an ancestor of the photographer Lucinda Lambton.

 

Worms, dragons and photographers. There’s a combination.

 

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by Gwyn Headley

Managing Director

In March we were contacted by a picture buyer who was working on a set of booklets for a health clinic. She wanted 100 pictures of various foods and people. The pictures were to be used on company brochures, their website and information booklets. She said her budget was €100, and would we like to offer her a price?

“Is that your budget per image?” enquired Yvonne innocently.

The buyer responded “You can’t be serious — April 1st is next month. I think the megabuck days are over. We have a US site giving us the deal for $175.”

So we lost the job and suffered a little humiliation into the bargain.

But is she right? Are the megabuck days over?

Yes, if there ever were megabuck days. We never experienced them.

Before digital replaced film — perhaps the most crushing disruption ever experienced by any peacetime industry  — buyers would spend £1,000 on a front cover image. As regular readers will know, I am no photographer, but a magazine paid me £1,600 for four of my distinctly average photographs in the ’90s — for the simple reason that they couldn’t find them anywhere else.

That’s what all picture libraries want to be able to to do — supply images that can’t be found anywhere else.

But that’s not always what the market wants or needs. Like most markets, the lowest common denominator is king. If you’re selling insurance, houses or holidays to the over-60s, then you have to use a photograph of a smiling, handsome, healthy grey-haired couple. I believe it’s enshrined in American law.

As a result microstock sites are awash with such images: happy couples running hand-in-hand through the surf, a phalanx of ethnically correct young executives smiling at the camera. They sell over and over again. But if you need a picture of the ruins of St Peter’s Seminary, Cardross, then your average microstock agency ain’t gonna help.

The difficulty is that buyers have rapidly become accustomed to paying a dollar for any picture, so when we try to charge real money for a real image, they throw their hands up in horror. My dream conversation:
THEY: “£100? You’re havin’ a laugh. I buy me photos from fotoLia for a dollar each.”
WE: “Then may I suggest, Sir, that you purchase said image from the establishment wot you mentioned.”
THEY: “But they haven’t got one.”
WE: “That’ll be £100 then please sir, ay theng yow.”

It doesn’t often happen. Shame.

But yesterday we heard news of a fightback by photographers. fotoLia is a microstock agency with a name suspiciously reminiscent of a longer-established company (called fotoLibra). It has millions of royalty-free images, and it recently launched a new initiative called The Dollar Photo Club, where they sell ten images for $10 (it works out at $10 for the image you actually want, and they throw in nine more).

This has proved one step too far for some people. A group has been set up by Olga Kostenko, a Ukrainian photographer (I’m amazed she has the time at the moment) called Boycott fotoLia.

It first appeared in the Stock Photography Buy and Sell Images group on LinkedIn, but mysteriously it has now been taken down. Nevertheless their English language website is still active, and as of today it claimed that 432,563 images had been removed from fotoLia in the past week, and 176 photographers had removed their entire portfolios. It’s a drop in the ocean for fotoLia, but the worm, if not actually turning, is at least glancing back.

 

Kostenko writes: It is clear that the final target of Fotolia owners is not a new market but a takeover of the current stock market. Fotolia management tries to convince us that they are care about us, the content creators. They tell us that it is profitable not only for Dollar Photo Club and Fotolia. They tell us that it is profitable for authors as well. But it is not. DPC incomes will grow by pulling existing buyers away from other stock agencies, not by finding new buyers. DPC’s goal is get a big bite of the stock pie, cut out this market, move to a completely new arrangement with buyers and crush its competitors. And all of this is done with our unconditional support. Because at this moment we don’t have rights. We cannot refuse to allow our images to be used on DPC. All our images from Fotolia are on DPC as well. We don’t have the choice to add or delete our images from DPC.

 

FotoLia responded to Will Carleton’s Photo Archive News, and you can read their reply here.

If you are a contributor to fotoLia, are you happy with this development?

Have you removed your images?

*prior to The Worm Turning?

Bada Bing!

April 4th, 2014
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by Gwyn Headley

Managing Director

As an Apple user of 23 years’ standing, I obviously prefer to use the Bing search engine from Microsoft rather than any goggle-eyed alternative. It has a very rigorous porn filter, so when I search for Gwyn Headley (come on! don’t we all?) I get 31,000 results as opposed to 64,000 from a rival search engine.

But the main reason I like to use Bing is that it looks so nice. And one of the reasons it looks so nice it because they buy photographs from fotoLibra to use on their home page. Here are two fotoLibra images they’ve recently chosen:

Three baby scops owls, by Linda Wright

Three baby scops owls, by Linda Wright

 

A herd of Oryx

An oryx herd, by Paul Benson

 

Congratulations to fotoLibra contributors Linda Wright and Paul Benson.

And what’s more, Bing pays decently as well. Full marks.