PDN Photo District News


Award Opportunity: The 2016 Ian Parry Scholarship

Geared toward:
 Students and emerging photojournalists

Open to: Full-time BA, MA or MFA students (or graduates from the past year) from any age, as well as any photographer 24 years or younger. Open to residents of all countries.

Criteria for application: A 12-image portfolio, essay or singles with clear captions for each image; a brief and clear proposal for a new project, including scope and purpose, with research and basic budget included.

Fee: None

Awards: Two awards available this year, the Award for Achievement and the Award for Potential. There is not separate criteria for the awards; recipients will be selected based on “merit and appropriateness of the entries.” Finalists will also have the opportunity to have their work shown online and in a curated exhibition.

Each winner will receive:
-$3,500 to complete the proposed project
-Addition of work to the collection of The Incite Project, plus a private tour

Award for Potential recipient will receive:
-One-year personal mentorship by photojournalist and Ian Parry board member Tom Stoddart

Award for Achievement recipient will receive:
-Inclusion on the final list of nominees for World Press Photo’s Joop Swart Masterclass
-Inclusion in the roster of Reportage by Getty Images Emerging Talent

More prizes listed at www.ianparry.org

History of the award: The Ian Parry Scholarship was founded in 1989 in the name of photojournalist Ian Parry, who was killed on assignment for The Sunday Times at the age of 24. Former picture editor (and current vice president of Getty Images) Aidan Sullivan founded the scholarship in his memory.

Past honorees: www.ianparry.org/alumni

Apply: www.ianparry.org/apply-now



Spring 2016 Product News

Nikon D500
Want the power and performance of Nikon’s flagship D5 DSLR in a more compact body? The DX-format D500 delivers it. From the speedy 153-point AF system to 4K video recording, the two powerhouse DSLRs hail from the same high-performance pedigree, but the D500 brings the goods within reach of both pros and enthusiasts alike. The D500 boasts a new 20.9-megapixel CMOS sensor and EXPEED 5 image processor that deliver a native ISO range of 100-51,200 and an extended ISO range on the high side of 1,640,000, allowing you to shoot in extreme low-light environments with confidence. This camera is a speed demon, with burst modes clocking in at 10 frames per second for full-resolution images with both autofocus and auto exposure engaged. In addition to sharp stills, you’ll enjoy 4K video recording (3840x2160p30) alongside the ability to output an uncompressed video signal through the camera’s HDMI output to an external recorder. Shoot in Full HD and you’ll enjoy up to 60 fps recording plus the ability to use a new 3-axis electronic stabilization system that can be paired with any lens to minimize motion-induced jitters. There are memory card slots for both SD cards and the speedier XQD format, so you’ll have plenty of space for your 4K films. The D500 also marks the debut of Nikon’s updated SnapBridge technology for wireless image transfers to mobile devices. SnapBridge automatically transfers JPEG images to your compatible phone or tablet in real time while you shoot, so you can focus on the moment, not fumble with your phone.
Price: $2,000 (body only)

AF-S DX NIKKOR 16-80mm f/2.8-4E ED VR
AFS_DX_16_80E.high 2
This high-end lens is a great complement for a D500, D7200 or any other DX-format camera in Nikon’s lineup. It features several firsts for Nikon’s DX lens series. It’s the first DX-format glass to use Nikon’s Nano Crystal Coat, an exclusive optical coating that reduces ghosting and lens flare. It’s also the first DX lens to incorporate an electromagnetic diaphragm, which electronically adjusts the aperture in the lens and helps improve exposure during high-speed shooting. This lens’ 24-120mm (FX-format equivalent) focal length makes it a versatile shooter for everything from landscapes to tight close ups. In fact, you’ll enjoy a minimum focusing distance of 1.2 feet throughout the zoom range. The lens’ maximum aperture is variable from f/2.8-4, depending on your focal length, and the seven-bladed aperture diaphragm creates a circular bokeh when shooting with a shallow depth of field. The lens uses Nikon’s Vibration Reduction technology to deliver up to four stops of image stabilization per CIPA standards and can automatically detect when you’ve mounted the camera on a tripod. If you’re prone to making a mess, the lens’ fluorine coating on both the front and rear elements make it easier to wipe away any dirt, moisture and finger prints that glom onto your glass.
Price: $1,070

Glow ParaPop 38
Glow Parapop GLSBSM38PP_1 (1)
The Glow ParaPop 38 is a portable parabolic softbox that creates a 105-degree spread of light. It’s an ideal key or fill light for studio or environmental portraits. The 12-sided shape and parabolic profile of its 38-inch diameter and 16.5-inch depth will ensure that the photons streaming from your flash land evenly from edge to edge. It packs down quickly thanks to jointed positioning rods that lock with a simple click into the dedicated speed ring. It earns its “pop” moniker by the popping sound you’ll hear when you collapse the softbox using twin safety tabs. Adorama promises that setting up the ParaPop will take three minutes the first time you take it out of the box and collapsing it takes a mere second. Custom interchangeable rings (sold separately) let you use the ParaPop with a variety of speedlights, monolights and studio strobe heads. It includes a bracket for hot-shoe mounted speedlights. The ParaPop is built from heat- and water-resistant material and features a reinforced support rod pocket, seams and Velcro closures. At 2 pounds, the ParaPop is easy to carry with you wherever your photography takes you.
Price: $220

Tenba Cooper Messenger Bags
TENBA Cooper2
Tenba’s Cooper messenger bags are made from peach-wax cotton canvas with full-grain leather accents and trim. The canvas is water repellant—and there are rain flaps that fold down to keep your gear dry—and when the skies really open up, you can use the included WeatherWrap cover to shield your bag. It can also protect your gear from the sun with a reflective silver side on the reversible cover. There’s also a secondary zippered enclosure inside the bag for a bit more security. The leather base panel is water and scratch resistant and the interior is lined with a water-repellent ripstop nylon. The padded camera insert can be customized depending on your lens size and can be removed entirely, and the shoulder pad is removable as is the hand strap. The bags also have MOLLE-compatible side loops to attach accessory pouches. Sizes range from the petite Cooper 8, large enough for a mirrorless or rangefinder camera with up to three lenses and a flash, up to the Cooper 15, which can store a pro DSLR with battery grip, three to four lenses, a flash and 15-inch laptop.
Price: $170-$300

Nikon SB-5000 AF Speedlight
This is Nikon’s first flash to operate using radio frequency, so it has a bunch of new and creative tricks up its sleeve. First, it can operate without a direct line-of-sight at a range of 98 feet when used with select Nikon cameras (the D5 and D500, for now) and Nikon’s WR-R10 and WR-A10 wireless remote-control set. That means you can drop them in another room, around a corner, on a rooftop—basically anywhere you need them—and be confident they’ll fire. Owners of older Nikon models can still use the SB-5000, but you’ll rely on an optical trigger so you will need to stay within view of the flash to fire it. If you use the new speedlight with the WR-R10 wireless transceiver and the D500, you can control up to six groups (A-F) or 18 flashes in all. Besides radio control, the SB-5000 sports a new, more compact design and a new cooling system that enables it to fire up to 120 continuous flashes at 5-second intervals. Owners of older Nikon speedlights will notice the redesign extends to the flash’s exterior as well. There’s now an “i” button for quick access to commonly used settings. The flash head can be pointed down at -7 degrees or up to 90 degrees as well as rotate horizontally 180 degrees to the left and right, affording you a wide latitude to direct your light as needed.
Price: $600

Epson Legacy Paper
Screen Shot 2016-05-25 at 5.28.17 PM
Epson’s Legacy Paper is the company’s new, top-of-the-line inkjet photo paper collection. The papers feature a micro-porous inkjet receiver layer that Epson claims will produce deep blacks, an expanded color gamut and smooth tonal gradations. The paper lineup includes Legacy Platine, a 100-percent cotton fiber paper with no optical brightener additives (OBA) and a smooth satin finish. Legacy Fibre is another 100-percent cotton fiber paper that’s OBA free and offers a smooth matte finish. For darkroom lovers, the Legacy Baryta paper has a smooth satin finish and, unlike other baryta-based papers on the market, is more durable thanks to a pair of layers separating the baryta base and inkjet coating. Last but not least, Epson’s Legacy Etching paper has the feel of traditional etching papers, no OBAs and a 100-percent cotton fiber base. The Legacy Papers have already been tested for print permanence by Wilhelm Imaging Research with encouraging results: Color prints made using Epson’s HD and HDK inks on the Legacy papers should last for 200 years if properly cared for; black-and-white prints will reach 400 years of light fastness. The paper will be sold in cut sheets from 8.5 x 11 inches up to 17 x 22 inches and in 50-foot rolls in 17-, 24- and 44-inch widths. Custom sizes are also available.
Price: From $39

LumoPro LP605M
Lumu LP605M Stand Monopod Combined 300 dpi
Multitasking is our modern imperative, a truth that holds as much for photo gear as it does for personal life. The LP605M is a photographic multitasker. One minute, it’s a light stand for off-camera flashes; the next minute, it’s a monopod for your DSLR. As a monopod, the LP605M can support a camera and lens up to 5 pounds. It extends from a minimum height of 24.8 inches to a max height of 6.4 feet. The monopod features a fluid chamber with adjustable tension for locking your camera in place or panning smoothly during video shots. When you’re ready to illuminate your scene, simply retract the monopod’s feet. As a light stand, the LP605M can extend from its minimum height of 19.5 inches up to 7.5 feet, and it features built-in ground spikes to secure the stand on semi-soft surfaces. The stand’s legs can flatten when extended for low-profile support and fold tight to the center column to give the LP605M maximum portability. The LP605M’s aluminum build weighs in at a very portable 3.6 pounds. It collapses down to 24.6 inches with the adapter attached and features metal locking collars, five sections and four risers. The monopod feet are made of aluminum and have rubberized ends. The LP605M features a standard 5/8-inch top with 3/8-inch thread and includes a platform mounting adapter and the LP605-3 3/8-inch to 1/4-20 adapter.
Price: $75

Manfrotto Digital Director
Manfrotto’s Digital Director turns your iPad Air/Air 2 into a giant remote control and live-view monitor for your DSLR, giving you a huge screen to check focus and navigate camera functions. The Director uses a dedicated CPU housed in an iPad bracket and connects to your camera via USB. Once connected, you use a free app to gain remote-control, live-view and touch-focusing capabilities over your camera. The app provides live, dynamic control over white balance, shutter speed, image quality, ISO, aperture and more. You’ll be able to view a histogram, audio levels and use touch-focusing as well. The Digital Director can save high-resolution JPEGs to your iPad as well as generate and save high-res preview JPEG images if you’re only shooting RAW (RAW images won’t be saved to the iPad). The app can play back videos stored on a memory card too, but won’t save video locally to an iPad. The app has some basic sorting functions, such as star ratings, and supports email, FTP and saving to the iPad’s camera roll so you can share your work on social networks. A nice bonus: If you use Manfrotto’s Bluetooth-enabled LYTRO LED lights, you can control them wirelessly through the Director app.
Price: $499


Apply for the Eddie Adams Workshop by June 3

Don’t sleep on the deadline for the Eddie Adams Workshop—it’s one of the best opportunities for emerging storytellers to create new work under the close guidance of mentors, and to begin building a network of peers and potential colleagues.

The annual photography workshop is a free four-day intensive, with all students selected based on the merit of their portfolio.

Apply at http://www.eddieadamsworkshop.com/



Award opportunity: Digital Silver Imaging Portfolio Awards

Fund your print portfolio! Our friends at Digital Silver Imaging will award three emerging photographers with $1,250 in printing services (silver gelatin black-and-white prints and/or museum-quality color inkjet prints) to help further their work. To apply to the Digital Silver Imaging Portfolio Award, you must have graduated from an accredited college or university within the past five years. The jurors are esteemed gallerist Steven Kasher, educator and artist John Lehr, and curator J. Sybylla Smith. Read more at http://digitalsilverimaging.com/digital-printing-blog/digital-silver-imaging-portfolio-awards/


How to Win Clients and Influence People—Presenting Your Work Online and in Print

By Mindy Charski

Marketing your photography services is a lot like paying taxes: If you don’t do it, things could get ugly. After all, it’s really hard to build a business when potential clients don’t know about you and your work. Building a website, sending promos and staying on top of social media are the standard trifecta when it comes to getting noticed by your target audience. Standing out from the pack and building the foundation for client relationships, however, takes both persistence and a good understanding of your own brand and what you have to offer.

Strive for a good user experience online

Having a good website design is essential today. “Nobody’s going to pick up the phone and call you if they don’t initially see something that entices them on your website,” says Sherry Riad, owner of the artist-management agency RIAD Represents.

If you choose not to hire a website designer, you can customize templates offered by website builders that are designed specifically for photographers. Creating a strong brand identity can help buyers remember you and your work, Riad says.

When you’re planning your design, prioritize organization and navigation. “Having an experience that is easy and will let people get to the meat of what you do [quicky] is ideally what people are looking for,” Riad says. Thumbnail views of categorized portfolios, for instance, can help busy visitors look at your work quickly.

Also include photos that will help buyers feel confident you’re a good fit for a project. “You want to show off the things you want to get hired for even if they’re less sexy,” Riad says. “If you’re interested in going after business clients, you have to have something representative of that work on your website.”

Likewise, Staci MacKenzie, a producer at the graphic design firm Doyle Partners, says to consider your edit when putting up work to engage clients in a specific field. “I would want to see at least five pictures that tell a story, where there’s some consistency and some visual rhythm to it or point of view,” she says. “We often show our clients photographers’ pictures, so sometimes we have to be very literal and have to say, ‘They would shoot like this and here are five photos that demonstrate that.’”

A good bio is important, too. It doesn’t need to be long, but it should give buyers an idea of who you are and your interests. “It’s not a deal-breaker, but it gives me a sense of personality,” MacKenzie says. “If I’m going to be working with someone beyond a one-day job or something extensive, I want to know them.”


Creative director Jed Grossman recently worked with photographer Carl Kleiner, who has a graphic and eye-catching site design (left); For a straightforward, easy-to-navigate site, producer Staci MacKenzie points to photographer Christopher Wahl (right).

Create effective printed and digital promos

Printed promotional pieces can still make an impact: Buyers don’t get many anymore, and less competition in the mailbox can be advantageous.

“I love to get a printed promo, and if it’s good maybe it will go on my wall or in a box and I’ll keep it,” MacKenzie says. She prefers a big image in a mailer. “I want a picture that I can remember them for,” she says. “Because I’m visual and I have a visual memory, I want that single image. If I‘m overwhelmed with many images that are small, there’s not going to be a standout per se.”

MacKenzie thinks showing a single image is best because it demonstrates confidence. “From [a photographer’s] perspective, this is an image they really believe in and stand behind and represents them and they’re proud of,” she says.

Single-image promos can benefit those looking to send a large mailer, but multi-image promos can be sent to a more targeted list. If you do want to send something with more heft than a postcard, Riad recommends creating a strong content piece like a zine, perhaps including copy that complements images. These can be done in smaller runs, she says, and can even be self-printed and staple-bound. “There are definitely cost-effective ways to make zines,” she says. “And I think there’s something nice about something that’s well printed but a little DIY that can stop people and make them take a peek.”

Email promos are another option. Jed Grossman, former creative director of agency Mother and current managing creative director of agency B-Reel, sees email as “an important piece of the communication process” and “the quickest way and probably the least amount of investment to get to me—if you can.”
That’s a big caveat. Templated emails can help you get images into the inboxes of buyers only if spam filters don’t nab the emails first.

Likewise, even if emails do go where they’re supposed to, busy creatives like Grossman find they must pick and choose which of the overflowing messages to open. When he does click one, he wants to be able to absorb the images as fast as possible. Getting to the work quickly is more important to him than receiving an email that is tailored, he says.

Still, taking a customized approach for top prospects can be beneficial. MacKenzie, for instance, appreciates receiving promos—printed and digital ones—that show someone not only knows about her firm and its clients but also has some kind of connection. A mention might be along the lines of “I’ve seen your XX project and really love it and thought you might like to see some of my work,” she says. “Or even just some kind of small gesture and acknowledgement that maybe we have the same values or look at the same thing.”

2016-01-21 15.20.55

Print promos from Riad Represents and Riad-represented photographer Troy House. House’s newspaper-style promo showcases his recent work, while Riad’s collaborative promos feature the work of all photographers on its roster. / Photo by Svetlana Blasucci

Find a balance on social media

Social networks can be great vehicles for featuring your talents—especially Instagram, which Riad has found to be “the sweet spot for photography.”
Grossman says he looks at Instagram to get a sense of a shooter’s narrative or storytelling abilities through the platform. “It’s interesting for me to see how they’re visualizing their everyday life,” he says.

Social sites also offer unique opportunities to show people who you are. Instagram posts help Grossman see if someone is fun, “or they’re doing cool personal projects that I haven’t seen, or they have a really interesting eye,” he says. “You want to identify who that photographer is along with what they’re physically capable of because all of that goes into the stew when you’re creating something.”

Use the real estate of your profile section on social networks to both link to your website and say a bit about yourself that is witty but not long winded, Riad says.

Finally, remember the importance of interacting with others while maintaining the right balance. Commenting on posts from a photo editor at a magazine whom you don’t know can get awkward. “Engagement is extremely important,” Riad says, “but it’s also important to not be overbearing.”

And that, actually, is a pretty good maxim for all your marketing efforts.


Nate Gowdy’s “Campaign in Contrast”

2013 PDNedu Student Photo Contest winner Nate Gowdy has been on the campaign trail for the 2016 presidential election, capturing bold black-and-white portraits of the candidates that reflect the polarizing state of U.S. politics today.

Reminiscent of the style of photojournalist Mark Peterson, Gowdy’s portraits are jarring and exaggerated, showing the unflattering sides of candidates on both sides of the fence. Gowdy says: “‘Campaign in Contrast’ visually echoes the spectacle of a starkly polarized presidential election: the harsh contrast of passionately partisan contests and the blunt ways supporters see themselves as well as their rivals—Republican versus Democrat, the Left versus the Right, capitalist versus socialist, conservative versus liberal, even good versus evil.”

The work has been featured and recognized by TIME, American Photography 32, Communication Arts‘ 57th Photography Annual, and Al Jazeera English, among other publications.

See more from Nate Gowdy at nategowdy.com

All photos © Nate Gowdy

 Gowdy_Campaigns in Contrast-2 Gowdy_Campaigns in Contrast-1Gowdy_Campaigns in Contrast-3 Hillary rally in Manchester, NH, on Feb. 5th, 2016.Gowdy_Campaigns in Contrast-4



Timothy Hutto on Romance and “Things”

By Brienne Walsh

Timothy Hutto describes his relationship with photography as a “crazy, romantic story.” “I was in Paris, trying to figure out my life,” he begins over the phone from Brooklyn, New York, where he’s currently living while working towards his MFA at Pratt Institute. Hutto was in Paris on medical leave from the Navy, which he had joined right before September 11, 2001. It was in May 2011 that he received the phone call announcing his discharge thanks to an inner-ear injury that caused him constant vertigo.

Hutto had been interested in photography since childhood, but had never considered it a real career possibility. While stationed in Bahrain, he spent leave time photographing local kids riding their skateboards. Being released from the military left his life wide open; rather than emptiness, Hutto saw an opportunity. “‘You’ve always had a passion for [photography],’” he recalls thinking. “‘Explore it now or you’ll never do it.’”

That day, he began applying to art schools. He ended up at the Savannah College of Art and Design, where he began to experiment with style and develop a voice.


“Beauty” Photo © Timothy Hutto

At first, he found himself frustrated with the work he was producing. His instinct was to create portraits that mimicked the styles of some of the 20th century’s greatest photographers—such as Richard Avedon and Irving Penn—which he thought would make him more appealing to potential future clients. But his portraits didn’t work. “I couldn’t establish the rapport I needed with my subjects,” he explains.

Around the time he realized he needed to find a new direction for his work, he got a job as the student photographer for the college’s media department. It freed him from the pressure of having to make what he thought was “commercially salable work”—as an adult putting himself through school, he had to be practical—and provided him with an income. Once some financial pressure was alleviated, he had a powerful realization: “You don’t have to be a portrait photographer, you don’t have to be a fashion photographer,” he says. “You can say what you want to say, and have fun doing it.”

Soon after, the work that set him apart from his peers, his multi-part series, “Things,” was conceived. It began with a desire to photographically illustrate idioms and tongue-in-cheek jokes using mass-produced objects painted in bright colors. Hutto began experimenting with photographing different colorful, spray-painted props, arranged as still lifes in a studio. The images themselves were often elusive; the titles Hutto gave them offered keys for the viewers to understand what he was trying to say. For example, “Politics” (2013), one of the first “Things” images, is a photograph of three dinosaurs painted red, white and blue, and looking over their shoulders. It was meant to express Hutto’s own weariness with the government—and it worked. Like a newspaper cartoonist, Hutto intuitively understood that simple, clean compositions would make the punch line of a joke funnier.


“Sexuality” Photo © Timothy Hutto

The process for developing the series, which currently consists of four parts, was cheap, solitary, and very hands-on. Every image began with a rough sketch and a trip to the 99-cent store (“I love cheaply produced objects,” he confesses), followed by the art-supply store for paint. “The colors had to have a common thread,” he explains. “Either punchy and saturated or toned down, so that they’d work together.” Color theory, which he learned as part of SCAD’s curriculum, became increasingly important to the work. Unique—and sometimes jarring—color combinations enlivened the compositions. Doing the “wrong thing” emboldened Hutto to break rules he’d learned in class.

Each of the images in “Things” was photographed in a studio against a backdrop of colored paper. Hutto described his early lighting setups as “daft.” “I was using four or five lights, all with modifiers, focused on a tiny, brightly colored set.” Eventually, he switched to Profoto strobe lighting and honed his technique. Although the images look like they’ve been digitally retouched, Hutto did very little work in post-processing. 

The images became more sophisticated over time, the titles more elusive, the color combinations more bold. “Sacrifice II” (2014), from “Things IV,” depicts the black bust of an owl set against a backdrop of purple and turquoise, implying that one must sacrifice for knowledge. “Synergy” (2014), from the same series, shows an unusual combination of colors—lime, peach, sky blue, mauve, purple—and depicts a sheath of photocopy paper torn from its wrapping only in the top right corner. In “Synergy,” something greater has been created than the sum of its parts: alone, photocopy paper is mundane, but juxtaposed in such a color environment, it becomes a painterly abstraction.

“‘Things’ is about many things,” Hutto laughs when I asked him if together, the images told a single story (about America, or mass production?). “They are complex but not complicated. They are about objects and how they define the world around me. The beauty of mass production, the restoration of aura through artistic processes, glamour and isolation, humor….”

Timothy Hutto, Elizabeth City, NC, BFA Photography, Senior Project, Professor Dixon, 2014

“Narrative” Photo © Timothy Hutto

Timothy Hutto, Elizabeth City, NC, BFA Photography, Senior Project, Professor Dixon, 2014

“Attraction” Photo © Timothy Hutto

 “Things” closed his chapter at SCAD as his thesis project, and after graduation, Hutto moved to New York City. “If you want to catch elephants, you have to go where the elephants are,” he says. Along with enrolling at Pratt, he began a steady gig as a staff photographer at Barney’s New York. With a full schedule at school and at work, his time to shoot personal work has shrunk. Still, he continues to sketch out ideas for future tableaus to add to his “Things” series. He has also begun working on a layout for a “Things” book, finding the time to write rough copy for the book while riding the train from his apartment in Greenpoint to the Barney’s studio in Long Island City. “I’d [like to] have the book 80 to 90 percent done before I start schlepping it around to publishers,” he says.

Hutto has all of the things required to “make” it in New York—drive, a vision and a voice. “Ultimately, as an artist, I’m showing the world my soul,” he says. “Mine happens to be brightly colored, cheap, cheerful, intellectual and playful.”


Cameras: Nikon D800, D7100

Lenses:  AF-S NIKKOR 50mm f/1.4G, AF-S NIKKOR 85mm f/1.8G, AF-S NIKKOR 28mm f/1.8G, AF-S VR Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED, AF Nikkor 180mm f/2.8 IF-ED

Lighting:  Nikon SB-910 speedlight

Drives: LaCie 2TB Rugged Thunderbolt HDD, Seagate Backup Plus Fast 4TB HDD

Editing Software: Adobe Creative Cloud, Capture One Pro 9


Is it Legal? Outtakes From Client Work on Social Media

Q: Can I post outtakes from client work on Instagram? I took them with my smartphone, not the camera I used on set, so are they even part of the shoot?

A: If you work as a freelance photographer and are not employed by a company, you own all the work you create. The client hiring you is granted rights to use the photographs you make, but you retain the copyright. How the client hiring you can use the photographs created on assignment is controlled by the terms of your agreement. Having an agreement in writing that clearly explains what each of you can do with the photographs avoids misunderstandings that can arise from an oral agreement. If the hiring party requests any exclusive rights, the agreement must be in writing to be valid.

If a client wants to own the copyright and requests an assignment of all rights, you would not be able to use the photographs, even on
Instagram, unless you receive an exception for personal use, including your portfolio and self-promotion. Whether to assign all rights is a business decision, but you should understand that you lose the right to use your photos in the future without an agreement. You should request the right to use any photograph taken on assignment for self-promotion, in all forms of media.

Because Instagram, as well as other forms of social media, is a form of self-promotion and marketing, it functions as a digital portfolio, just as much as any personal website. Often photographers are hired just because of their social media following. Some clients will want the photographs taken on assignment posted on your social media account to create interest about a story. This may be more frequent for editorial assignments where the publisher benefits from increased interest in a story ahead of time. Many agreements with publishers provide that a publisher will receive exclusive publishing rights for a limited period of time, and after this embargo period you have rights to publish the images in any way you wish. If you want to use the photographs from the shoot on your own social media channels during the embargo period, you should request to do this in the publishing agreement. You may be asked to include language saying that the images were first published by the assigning publication.

When working on an advertising assignment, confidentiality and exclusivity may be a priority to the client, and the client may not want any photographs posted on your social media accounts until the media campaign has been launched. You should carefully review the contract and, in particular, the “grant of rights” clause to make sure you can post your photographs on your own social media channel after the work is made public. Some advertising contracts contain very broad “assignment of rights” clauses, which will restrict the use of all photographs taken on the shoot and could include photographs taken on a smartphone.

Some contracts may require you to ask permission before posting the work on your personal website or social media channels. Typically clients will grant permission once the campaign is launched, but may want to reserve the right in a contract to have you seek permission first. Once any work is part of the public campaign, you can always link to that work and identify your contribution.

You don’t need to worry about Instagram owning photographs you post on your account. The terms of service you agree to by joining contain a “grant of rights” clause that permits the social media platform to use your images as part of its service, which usually includes the ability for you and others to share and like images and other content. It does not give these platforms the right to sublicense your images for any profit. So enjoy posting on your account—just make sure your client does not have any limited restrictions before the campaign goes live.

Nancy E. Wolff is a partner at Cowan, DeBaets, Abrahams & Sheppard, LLP. Her practice focuses on intellectual property and digital media law

Got a legal question? E-mail jacquelyn.palumbo@emeraldexpo.com



From a Viral Series to a Book Series: How Carli Davidson gave her “Shake” portraits longevity

by Taryn Swadba

Photographer Carli Davidson was reaching for a towel to clean her dog Norbert’s drool off of her wallpaper when she was struck with an idea that would eventually become a wildly successful viral series. “I thought, I bet it would be pretty amazing to see what my dog’s jowly, drool-filled face would look like in a photo,” Davidson explains in a recent interview with PDNedu.

Carli Davidson Pet Photography

Photo © Carli Davidson

Davidson began assisting for editorial photographers at age 17 in 1998. A few years later, she attended school at The Evergreen State College in Oregon, and she also took a job at the Oregon Zoo, where she cared for and trained animals, in addition to teaching conservation education classes.

In 2009, a car accident forced her to leave her labor-intensive job at the Oregon Zoo. It was during this time that she began taking animal portraits, and that the idea for what would ultimately become her viral series, “Shake,” began to bloom.

Featuring adorable canines mid-head-shake, the images in the series offer viewers a detailed look at a moment that usually passes in the blink of an eye: a freeze-frame of a dog in all of its spit-flying, jowl-flapping glory. “Shake” initially went viral in 2011, shortly after it was named a winner in the animal category in the PDN Faces photography competition, and after The Daily Beast ran some of the images. From there, The Huffington Post ran a piece; then requests started pouring in. “I had one day where my website got a quarter of a million hits,” Davidson says. And it was this influx of attention that made going viral a “full-time job.” She explains: “I did interviews almost every day, and put together press packs and contracts. Everyone that I shared the work with would have to have my name on or below the images, links to my website and agree to image usage for just the one article.” Davidson believes that these parameters are what kept her images from being another flash in the pan, and instead gave her name lasting visibility. “It built a brand, and a business,” she says.

Carli Davidson Pet Photography

Lil Bub! Photo © Carli Davidson

After the series went viral, Davidson worked with her agent to negotiate a contract with HarperCollins to turn “Shake” into a book, which was published in 2013. Having an agent, she says, was “invaluable” for getting her work on the radar of editors and negotiating her rights as an author. Since her first Shake book, featuring all dogs, Davidson has also published Shake Puppies in 2014 and Shake Cats in 2015. Currently working on books with Chronicle Books and HarperCollins, Davidson notes both publishers have been “really amazing to work with.”

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While there are currently no plans for another installation of “Shake,” Davidson says that she never knows what she might be inspired by in the future. Whatever she sets her sights on, she’ll commit to it fully. “I’ve never really seen anyone succeed in photography as a career without being totally immersed in both the medium and whatever subject you are shooting,” she says, “and I’m no exception.” 


Davidson has spent close to a decade working with animals—here’s how she gets them to shake:

+ Become familiar with the animal’s  general behavior. “For new animal photographers I recommend walking animals at a local shelter to build this skill set.”

+ Let the animal come to you. “If you run up to a shy animal and scare them, you might not be able to recover that relationship at all.”

Get your subject used to the lighting first. Davidson starts out with animals off set and offers treats after triggering the flash from a distance. Sometimes it takes up to an hour to get the animal comfortable.

+ Try the easiest method first. Davidson’s vet technician musses up the dog’s hair, blows on its face or plays with its ears to get them to shake. The last resort is an Epi-Optic ear cleaner, which usually does the trick. She notes to never use water in their ears, and suggests having a professional on set for the safety and comfort of the animals.


Make Yourself: Carlos Serrao on Forging a Career

By Harrison Jacobs

When Carlos Serrao began making pictures in the 1980s in Miami, the resources for aspiring photographers were slim. If that was the career path he wanted, he knew he would have to figure it out himself.

Today, Serrao is one of the most sought-after photographers in portrait, fashion and fitness photography, shooting one-of-a-kind imagery for brands like Gap, Nike and Under Armour, and editorial features for FLAUNT, GQ and ESPN’s The Body Issue. Look at his career now and it may seem like a smooth ascent, but Serrao will tell you it was a turbulent ride.


A campaign image for the fall/winter line of Nike Tech Pack sportswear. Photo © Carlos Serrao

Do It Yourself

Serrao’s first camera was a Super 8 that he begged his parents for after seeing Star Wars in theaters in 1977. Serrao spent his childhood making animations, and at age 13, took an interest in skateboarding that would prove formative for his work. 

Skateboarding culture was just getting underway in Miami. There were no international competitions or celebrities, and the skaters built a community on a shared do-it-yourself principle. Serrao became the skaters’ documentarian, filming them in every playground, park and emptied-out pool they skated in.

“I wanted to emulate what the big skate companies did. I’d film amateur skate videos and edit them crudely with two VCRs. I’d shoot photos of my friends skating and then Xerox the photos for our zines,” Serrao tells PDNedu in a recent interview.

The skaters’ do-it-yourself mentality made a deep impression on Serrao. His high school guidance counselor told him if he wanted to go into a field like medicine, business or law, she could help him, but for photography, he was on his own. Serrao was undeterred, enrolling in Florida International University to pursue a B.A. degree. When he found his art courses lacking, he supplemented his education with photography classes at Miami Dade Community College. In his spare time, he conducted shoots with models he met at school and equipment from the photo department to build out his portfolio. He knew he wasn’t going to be able to make it if he didn’t take the initiative.

“I was always very competitive,” Serrao says.

Heading Out West

In 1992, Serrao shipped out to California with the intention of attending Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, but upon realizing that he only had enough money to last him a semester, decided it was the time to pursue photography full time instead.

After weeks spent trying to meet editors at major publications, he found success with L.A. Reader, an alternative arts newspaper. The photo editor agreed to put him on the freelance roster, sending Serrao to press junkets, theater and restaurant openings. It wasn’t lucrative, but it was hands-on training like he’d never had before.

“I would have 15 minutes to shoot this celebrity in a bland hotel room. I learned to work fast, to make interesting compositions with light and shadow,” Serrao says. “I had to make something out of nothing.”

Serrao spent nearly half a decade shooting for arts papers and alternative magazines in Los Angeles, then Miami, then Los Angeles again. Serrao took each assignment as a chance to experiment.

“Back then, most of the photographers were these old-school photojournalists that shot everything the same way,” he says. “I was this young kid that was always trying different lenses and new techniques.”


Russian athletes Darya Klishina and Adelina Sotnikova shot for Vogue Russia. Photo © Carlos Serrao

The “Big Break”—or a Series of Small Breaks

After years of “scraping by,” he had the opportunity to present his work to photography agent Laura Hinds, who had heard about Serrao from a friend. Hinds netted him assignments in national fashion magazines like Glamour and Mademoiselle, and promised him an advertising client by the end of the year. In the meantime, he had to shoot non-stop.

“That first year was crazy,” Serrao recalls. “I was shooting so many assignments that I was practically broke, because I had to pay for everything up front before getting reimbursements.”

But Hinds made good on her promise. Delta Air Lines had seen Serrao’s work and wanted him for their next campaign. Serrao was introduced to concept meetings, casting calls and committee upon committee for creative direction. In comparison, the shoot itself was a piece of cake. After years of living check to check, the shoot was a game-changer: Delta ended up buying all 36 images he turned in—33 more than they contracted him for. Serrao finally had some money to put back into his business.

Breaking Out of Typecasting

After a year of working with Hinds, he realized that editors were hiring him to do the same beauty shots for every assignment. He wanted to shoot big fashion stories and cover portraits, but it wasn’t going to be handed to him.

“It was a constant struggle. I always had to push for the bigger stories,” Serrao says.

For years, he shot experimental assignments to showcase his talent alongside the stock assignments that became his livelihood. In 1999, when PAPER offered Serrao a big fashion spread, he knew he had to make the most of it, and decided to conduct a shoot he had wanted to do since college: a science-fiction-inspired shoot at Miami Dade Community College, which had the Brutalist architecture of a futuristic dystopia.

“Occasionally, you get those shoots that come out exactly how you imagined it. Those are rare. This was one of them,” he says.

His editor at PAPER loved the shots and gave Serrao regular fashion stories and portrait assignments, which in turn lead to more advertising clients who gave him the creative control he wanted. In a short amount of time, he picked up assignments from IBM, Ecko Unltd. and WIRED.


Actor Mads Mikkelsen shot for FLAUNT magazine. Photo © Carlos Serrao

Upping the Difficulty

In 2003, Serrao got a call from the client that changed his career: Nike. After years of working for incrementally larger brands, his work had gotten on the radar of creative director Heather Amuny-Dey, who was heading up the major 2004 Olympic Games initiative at the company. According to Serrao, she was tired of the blurry motion look that Nike had been using since the ‘90s and wanted a crisp, fashion esthetic.

Perhaps what most sets Serrao apart from other photographers is his inexhaustible desire to experiment. When Nike called Serrao to shoot the biggest project of his career, he suggested he shoot the entire campaign digitally, at a time when the vast majority of campaigns were shot on film. Serrao was convinced that digital was the right decision for a high-pressure shoot where the creative team would want to see what Serrao
was producing right away. His clients were skeptical, but he lobbied hard and in the end, they agreed.

“Very quickly, I went from, ‘This is going to be great,’ to, ‘Oh wait, how are we actually going to do this?’” Serrao recalls. “I had to figure out how to do it fast.”

Serrao went to Samy’s Camera in Los Angeles for a consultation and came out of the store with a digital tech. Photographer Damon Loble, a sales rep for Samy’s at the time, impressed Serrao with his expertise, so Serrao suggested he leave his job and work with him. Loble, while skeptical at first, ultimately agreed. His role was to make sure the camera ran smoothly and to create a color profile to apply to new images so Nike could see a rough draft as Serrao shot. At the time, digital techs were unheard of except for the biggest shoots, and Serrao’s forward thinking left an impression on the client.

The Nike campaign proved to be a huge hit in the wider advertising community, and soon he was working on campaigns for adidas, Gatorade and PUMA.

Building the All-Star Team

In the years since Nike, Serrao’s list of clients has grown and his shoots have become more elaborate. While the sports-fashion esthetic that he pioneered with Nike has become a mainstay, his pursuit of challenges has become his calling card.

“I’ve become the guy that clients call when they have something very difficult that they want to figure out. Every shoot I get is a Rubik’s cube of problems that I have to solve,” he says.

Those challenges range from “beast” lighting setups to requests for complex art direction. When Reebok wanted to shoot Kendrick Lamar landing in a cloud of dust and smoke, they called Serrao. When FLAUNT wanted to shoot a high-fashion spread of Alice in Wonderland actor Mia Wasikowska in tandem with a short ethereal film, Serrao was game.

Serrao, in part, owes his accomplishments to the team he has built around him. Some members, like Loble or chief lighting technician Ron Loepp, have been with him for a decade.

“My digital tech, my lighting tech, my assistants have all grown with me,” Serrao says. “We are very well orchestrated on set because we all know each other so well.”

A recent shoot for Nike was one of the most complex he’s ever undertaken. The campaign required Serrao to shoot a new line of all-weather apparel called “All Conditions Gear.” Serrao and the art director envisioned a shoot that would have models running through the streets of New York City wearing items from the collection in rain and snow. The creative team at Nike loved the idea, but, after the budget arrived, Serrao realized that the location was too costly.

Instead of dropping his concept, Serrao scouted locations in Los Angeles that could double as Manhattan and Brooklyn, settling on the famous New York City set in the Paramount Studios back lot and a series of pre-war buildings in the city’s Arts District. Next his crew had to make the sets look like SoHo in the middle of the winter in the California heat. On top of this, Serrao was shooting stills for print, and video for a web campaign at the same time. It was a dizzying set to be on, but for Serrao’s seasoned crew, it went off without a hitch.

“It was a lot of fun because I was photographing and directing at the same time. We’d film a segment and then I’d grab my camera and shoot for 15 minutes and then we’d do it again,” Serrao explains. “We were in a great rhythm.


Photo © Carlos Serrao


Out in the snow for Nike’s “All Conditions Gear” campaign. Photo © Carlos Serrao

One Step at a Time

Serrao has always been someone who never looks too far into the future, and takes his work day by day. In truth, he never thought he would make it as far as he has.

“When I was working, I would always look at the next biggest shoot and think, ‘I’ll never shoot something that big. That’s crazy,’” he says.

When Serrao looks back, he says that there’s one lesson that he wishes he learned a lot earlier—and that he would pass on to anyone looking for advice.

“Limit the amount of time you spend on projects that don’t fit your work,” he advises. “People will pigeonhole you and the more time you spend doing that stuff, the longer it takes to break out.” EDU