Archive for May, 2010

Guitar Porn

May 26th, 2010

Three male members wrote in to complain about Jacqui’s “sexist” depiction of male readers in the GUITAR PORN Picture Call (read it here) sent out earlier this week. She was prepared to stand her ground, but on my advice she unreservedly apologises for any upset she may have caused. It was clearly an improbable assertion; the story was meant to be funny, and she is sorry people were unable to read it as such. What amuses some will offend others.

The fault lies with me. I told Jacqui about Guitar Porn, saying there was a sector of the book publishing market which aimed books at people who preferred to look at pictures rather than read too many words. This sector is overwhelmingly male, and subjects they enjoy are big breasts, Harley-Davidsons, guitars, farm machinery and so on. More granular market research reveals that these books are generally bought by women for their menfolk. What Jacqui wrote was based on what I said, and I fully approved it.

Despite some confusion about my name in foreign parts, I am a man, and I know the markets these books reach. I feel it’s perfectly reasonable to poke fun at them — unless we can’t poke fun at anybody ever again for fear they’ll take offence.

Nevertheless my comments as interpreted by Jacqui were seen as sufficiently offensive for three people to complain. That means there were at least thirty who felt the same way but couldn’t be bothered to write in. I’m sorry that I (for it was my doing) upset these people, but it was meant to be light-hearted. A flat announcement for photographs of guitars is too dull for fotoLibra.

That said, another three people wrote in to say how much they enjoyed Jacqui’s sense of humour.

That argues at least another 30 do too.

You, I thank.

Gwyn Headley

by Gwyn Headley

Managing Director

The great American adman Leo Burnett (he of the red apples in reception)  memorably defined advertising as saying to people, ‘Here’s what we’ve got. Here’s what it will do for you. Here’s how to get it.’

This is a lesson conned by every marketing student since Leo first formulated the thought.

But now this tripod trope has evolved into a biped.

Advertising now is only about ‘Here’s what we’ve got. Here’s what it will do for you.’ People no longer have to be told how to get it.

We got it. We have credit cards, broadband, Google and Amazon. We all get it.

Gwyn Headley

by Gwyn Headley

Managing Director

  1. Pluck the low hanging fruit first by photographing the subjects people want to buy. You can indulge your hobbies later.
  2. Make sure people can find your photographs by keywording them well. Buyers search for words, not images.
  3. Put them on a busy street which professional picture buyers walk up and down. Like fotoLibra.
  4. Get your exposures and white balance right. Out-of-focus may be artistic or deliberate, but under- or over-exposed is just wrong.
  5. If you’ve taken 20 photographs of the same thing, choose only one — the best. Don’t upload all 20. You will weaken your appeal.
  6. But take it in portrait AND landscape. Offer empty space such as sky and sea so designers can envisage room for text.
  7. Got a favourite local building, tree or landscape? Take it in summer, winter, autumn and spring. Take it in storm and sunshine.
  8. Don’t be the same as everyone else. Be as good or better.
  9. Become technically proficient. Taking a photograph should be instinctive. Post processing is as, if not more, important than pressing the shutter.
  10. “Everyone is capable of making at least one great photograph in their life.” — Henri Cartier-Bresson.

Every day hundreds of thousands of innocent fotoLibra photographers are hauled off the streets of London and incarcerated in foul, dank dungeons with no hope of release for simply snapping a cop brutalizing an illegal immigrant, or some other harmless pastime.

OK, that may be a mild exaggeration but it’s nothing to what might happen if [insert name of your most loathed political party here] comes to power.

In the event of this happening — or in any event — fotoLibra members might like to read the Metropolitan Police’s official line on taking photographs in public places.

It is not what the scaremongers would have you believe. In general, you’re allowed to do pretty much what you like. And the police have NO POWER AT ALL to delete your photographs.

All the same, if you’re taking photographs in London, better print it out and keep it in your camera bag.


Picture Perfect

May 1st, 2010

Another politician gets into trouble on the run-up to the UK General Election, to be held next Thursday, May 6.

The Liberal Democrat candidate for Arfon in Wales (that’s Bangor & Caernarfon to you and me) illustrated her campaign leaflet with photographs sourced — let’s be kind — thoughtlessly.

The slogan “Regenerating Welsh Towns” was accompanied by a photograph of a derelict building in the very English city of Bath, Somerset.

Her concern for jobs was illustrated by a Job Centre in Sidmouth, Devon. Another photograph showed a team of builders in Barnet, North London.

We must praise candidate Sarah Green for her international outlook, but when a campaign is fought on local issues, she really ought to source local pictures. There is an excellent picture library based in her county Gwynedd, I believe. We Welsh are particularly sensitive about such matters!

When Labour launched its campaign with an image of sunrise over a cornfield, I contacted them via their website to ask where they sourced the picture. It looked somehow American to me (yes, sunrise is sunrise, and a cornfield is a cornfield, but if you study a lot of images every day, as I do, national differences such as colour preferences become more marked).

Strangely enough, I haven’t had a reply. I would love to know where the British Labour Party purchased the picture. It would be great if it was a British picture library, a British photographer and a British field.

I wonder.