Someone on PPA (Professional Photographers of America) recently asked “Ads in Instagram… should you consider them?”, then went on to talk about seeing ads on their Instagram feed and noticing the “lack a sales message”.  Really?  Are you serious?I really don’t get this method of thinking by photographers sometimes.  As we continue to lose control of major sections of our industry, so many still haggle over the ridiculous minutia that really doesn’t make much of a difference.  

“I really want my byline to be a larger font.”  

“I’m going to demand my copyright includes my website.”

“Should a magazine send me one or two copies of the issue where my photos appeared.”

What?! Who cares about this stuff – we all are making less and less each year.

All while big companies or corporations make more profits off our photographs by presenting lousy contracts (that most photographers don’t read or alter), offering low or no pay, and creating businesses where they trick photographers into believing exposure will help you make more money. Bullshit. It’s like throwing a penny down on the ground and having all these photographers run to pick it up while they reach into your back pockets and steal your cash-filled wallets.  And as far as exposure goes, I say exposure my ass.  My business has never flourished from my images being used for free.

The bigger question is, why would any photographer use Instagram after they changed their terms to use your images. Instagram’s terms still state “you hereby grant to Instagram a non-exclusive, fully paid and royalty-free, transferable, sub-licensable, worldwide license to use the Content that you post“.

That’s bad for photographers and come to think of it, bad for everyone….except Instagram.

Btw, I call them Instagrab now- seems to be a perfect name for who they really are.

This kind of rights-grabbing terms on social sites is unacceptable, and there needs to be stronger backlash against it by photographers, artists, or any creative person who’s livelihood deals with visual media- stills or video. Facebook tried to follow this method earlier this year (no wonder- they own Instagram and got away with it once already) and even Google+ is trying to implement something similar.

By the way, I used to have an Instagram account, and I enjoyed it.  It was fun to create images and share them with others- silly photos, creative ones, others to promote my business, and so on.  But the second they stuck with their new terms, I dumped my account, and closed my family member accounts too.  Today, there’s news on Instagram adding video functionality or ads but this is besides the point. I’m baffled why so many would still be on Instagram when their terms state they can use your images for anything- also confused why big companies (i.e. National Geographic, NY Yankees, 49ers), sports athletes, or celebs are on Instagrab since they can do this to them as well.

Training Timber – © Sean Arbabi | seanarbabi.com (all rights reserved worldwide)

Come on people, grow a backbone and dump any account where the company tries to use your work to make millions while paying you nothing.  Complain to these sites and spread the word.  Social sites can make their money from ads. I could care less about that since it seems like a fair exchange for a free way to market your art.  Just as long as they don’t try to take my images without my permission and use them for these ads….or for that matter, any other lousy rights-grabbing idea they have to please their shareholders or investors.

See how some in the UK fought back: http://www.bjp-online.com/british-journal-of-photography/news/2290837/photography-organisations-rally-against-instagrams-terms-of-use

More on how stripping metadata by social sites can lead to abuse of a photographer’s images (and how some companies are trying to make that okay): http://eposure.com/blog/the-instagram-act-new-copyright-info-for-photographers?goback=.gde_2093733_member_248489690

Read two of Daniel J. Cox’s blog posts on Instagram: http://www.naturalexposures.com/uk-gov-passes-instagram-act-all-your-pics-belong-to-everyone-now/ 
and 
http://www.naturalexposures.com/instagrams-new-policy-to-steal-your-photos-returns/

Once more article about Instagram from ASMP (Amercian Society of Media Photographers): http://asmp.org/articles/instagram-papers.html#.UnVhGZRAThA


30Jul

Taking a break from photography


As I was on a run this evening listening to John Mayer’s “Into Your Atmosphere”, I thought I’d write to all of you to talk a bit about taking a break from photography. This may mean a few days to some, it may mean a few months to others- it all depends on your personality and what’s going on in your life. Sometimes this simple act can work as a catalyst helping you push forward into projects you’ve been holding off on, or help you create new images you might not have thought of in the past.


As a person who’s captured images since I picked up my first camera at the age of 11 (now 41), I’ve been deeply engulfed in photography in every way possible – from planning and shooting my assignments around the world, to holding gallery shows displaying my fine art prints – writing a 50,000 word book on exposure, to organizing industry events for ASMP – dealing with all that goes into a photo business, to all the self-educating needed to keep up with the latest and greatest in gear and software – and now attempting to create tv show and be the Photoguru to the general public – it’s a lot to do on a regular basis.

And even though I love my career, a few years ago I began to burn out on it a bit. I was always aware of this happening and knew to get away and take breaks from it when I had to, but at that point I realized I needed to slow down on my shooting to find that hunger again. Photography tends to ground me from time to time and has brought a lot of peace to my life, but doing it as a full-time job is whole other ball of wax.

People often think having a career as a photographer is this great job where you travel and get paid for a living – piece of cake right? Far from it. Capturing great shots is a blast, but working on deadline, tight budgets, lots of pressure sometimes, all kinds of weather issues, as well as all the other major and minor details that goes into every shoot is tough. When I get just a one-day assignment, I have to plan that day out, make sure I produce the work needed within the budget allocated, and although some think “hey, if you don’t get the shot, you can always go back the next day”, that just ain’t the case. Your profits drop, expenses increase, and it ends up being an expensive hobby and not your main source of income.


After a few year of shooting less (finding bigger clients, more commercial jobs, and diversifying my business some to maintain the level of income I was earning) my excitement for photography came back 100%. I never stopped shooting, but I definitely cut back on the frequency. I’ve never been one to take a camera everywhere I go, and that too I feel has helped me stay fresh in my outlook of the art, carrying that jubilation of capturing a great shot whenever I do so.


And whether it’s jammin’ to Kanye while ridin’ my mountain bike, or leaving my cameras at home while visiting Lake Tahoe for the weekend, I believe these mental breaks have played just as big of a role in my photography as did the times where I had all my gear- where I may have worked 20 hours in a day to complete a job, or been two weeks away from home on assignment. Photography may be my job, and yes I love making images, but it doesn’t rule my life- the constant search for happiness – contentment – peace – laughter – that does.

So if you take a deep breath or sigh when you pick up your camera, find yourself getting extra frustrated when you miss a shot, or think you’ve reached a plateau in the images you’re creating, consider the option of back burnering your photography. Go for a ride, get back into running, or wait a while until a little dust collects on your camera. You might be thinking “What Sean? Stop shooting photos? Didn’t think that would come from you.” To quote Chris Rock in his last HBO special “That’s right, I SAID it! And I’m looking straight at cha!” 🙂

Remember, you’re not alone in feeling that way, and your passion for the medium will never go away. Happy humpday photo-geeks and geekettes.