Thursday, November 20, 2008


I have officially moved this blog onto my own servers. Please refer to in the future.

Sunday, October 26, 2008


Well I finally got through editing my pictures from Sedona, AZ! I took a little trip there a couple weeks back and it was really awesome! The trip was just 4 days including travel time, so I only had 3 sunsets to work with, but it turned out great anyway. I'm pretty pleased with the results (especially considering the strong winds I had to contend with). Below are the results along with some notes and experiences in getting the shots.

The sunset of the first day was the only day we had clouds - thanks to the strong winds I would guess. I had just arrived in Sedona a few hours before sunset so I wasn't able to get to any prime spots, but I did manage to snap a few shots from outside my hotel and at the Coconino National Forest Visitor Center. I used my 70-200mm to crop out the surrounding buildings and trees so I could focus on the red rock at sunset.

The next day my brother and I drove north a little bit into Oak Creek Canyon to see what kind of fall color was available. There was definitely a lot more color than south of Sedona, or near my home in Southern California for that matter, but it was no East Coast display. I really enjoyed the backlighting of the sun on the yellow and green leaves and tried to take advantage of that. Oak Creek proved to be a great subject. I hadn't photographed any creeks in awhile - been mostly beaches for awhile - so it was real nice to do that again. My Singh-Ray warming circular polarizer was on my lens most of the time.

I went to a scenic spot near my hotel for sunset later that day. Yeah, it was touristy, but it served up some great shots of Courthouse Butte at sunset. This little sunset sesh destroyed my neck for some reason. I was in excruciating pain for the rest of the night. Still worth it, though.

My brother, my dad and I went to the Palatki ruins the next day to check out the old dwellings and petroglyphs. I was pleasantly surprised by this place. I was a little put off at first because the ruins and petroglyphs were heavily protected by ropes and rangers, so I didn't have all the freedom I would have liked. I guess that's the price we all have to pay for jackasses that decide to add their own "petroglyphs" and think it's fun to destroy historical landmarks. But after hearing all the enlightening data the rangers had on these ruins and petroglyphs, I was really glad they were there. Some of the information they offered regarding the petroglyphs was intensely interesting. It really made me appreciate what I was looking at.

The petroglyphs pictured above are estimated to be over 10,000 years old!

After Palatki, we headed over to Red Rock Crossing to photograph Cathedral Rock over Oak Creek. Yeah, this is easily the most photographed scene in all of Sedona, but I still had to check it out. This place was a lot of fun. I took off my boots, rolled up my jeans and spent most of the time photographing knee-deep in Oak Creek. The water was freezing and I really had to fight to keep my balance on the slippery bottom, but it made for a little more unique shots. My Gitzo tripod held up like a champ in these conditions, too. I would have really liked to have had my photo vest and I wished I had worn convertible pants, but live and learn.

On a side note: We rented a Nissan Xterra for the trip and I am officially back in love with that car. I wanted one for awhile and changed my mind to a Subaru for the better mileage, but I don't care anymore. That Xterra was way too sweet. I can't wait until I can afford one...

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Sedona Teaser

Cathedral Rocks over Oak Creek

Took a little 4-day trip to Sedona over the weekend with my dad and brother. Sedona is gorgeous. I think it'd be even more beautiful without all the human development, but the red rock formations, ancient petroglyphs and Indian dwelling ruins still made for amazing photo subjects. I'll be a doing a full-length post with all sorts of details and tidbits about my trip, but I wanted to post one picture up partly as a little teaser but mostly because it's been way too long since I've posted anything on my blog.

Enjoy and keep an eye out for the next Sedona post!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

PhotoShelter Collection

The PhotoShelter Collection closed its doors on September 11. This date is turning out to be the Friday the 13th of the 21st century.

I was a recent convert to PhotoShelter. I learned about it through Chase Jarvis and finding it was like experiencing a heroic rescue from Batman. I felt like I could finally tell my microstock agencies to (insert f-bomb here) off so I could start supporting a stock agency that was out to make the industry better and actually make it possible for photographers to buy more than half a bag of M&Ms with an image sale. I was so jazzed to shut down my accounts with iStockphoto and Shutterstock and move my portfolio over to this gallant lionheart of stock. I knew it was the best thing for me, for the industry and for photographers everywhere.

Unfortunately, PhotoShelter broke the news on 9/11 that they'd be closing their doors on their Collection. They're still in business and will still be offering their Personal Archive services, but this is such a horrible loss for photographers everywhere.

PhotoShelter Collection, you are a fallen hero. Thank you for your efforts, honesty and integrity. You will be missed.

For more information on this announcement, read their blog about it and check out the FAQ.

Also, please read this blog by Vincent Laforet about the close of the PhotoShelter Collection and his thoughts on microstock. We share similar viewpoints on this matter.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

My Thoughts on Microstock

I've been wanting to post a blog about microstock agencies for awhile. I have some very strong opinions about microstock, and well, I guess I'll just feel a little better if I know I've put them out on the web for others to read. Maybe some photographer will come across this post and it will help them keep their integrity when deciding whether or not to join up with iStockphoto or Shutterstock. Then again, maybe I'll just piss off a lot of people and sound like a ranting idiot. Either way, I think I'll sleep better tonight.

I am ashamed to admit that I was with iStockphoto and Shutterstock for several months. I joined because I was uneducated on the photography market and what pictures are really worth. I would justify it with things like "there's no way to compete with microstock" and "that's where the industry is headed" and "the number of downloads makes up for the horribly low commissions." I used to liken it to iTunes. "iTunes sells songs for $0.99. I'm sure a lot of musicians aren't happy with that, but that's where the industry is headed. Same thing for stock photography. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em," I'd say. I knew deep down that iTunes was selling songs for $0.99, but if you purchased a 12-song CD at Best Buy for $14.99, you were only paying $1.25 per song. So given the lack of CD production costs, selling a song on iTunes is right about on par with what the industry has always been collecting. Not to mention the fact that the songs on iTunes come with very limited rights!

Meanwhile, stock photos that used to sell with limited rights to a buyer for hundreds to thousands of dollars were now selling with unlimited rights for $1.00. I remember getting a raise at Shutterstock from $0.25 commission per download to $0.33! I couldn't believe the enthusiasm in the forums! They were excited about $.08 more per image! I find more than that in my couch cushions.

Shutterstock also offered extended license options to buyers. This is where a buyer can use more of their "credits" (or however the hell their system works) to buy an image that offered them more usage - billboards, multiple ads, anything. Earned me somewhere in the neighborhood of $20. Think about this: That would be like a movie production company purchasing a CD for $20 from Virgin Records and using a song on it, with no further royalties, in a multi-million dollar grossing movie. A musician and a record company wouldn't allow that in a million years - why are we?

I think photographers are doing this for a couple reasons.

The first is that a lot of the people signed on with these microstcok agencies aren't, in fact, photographers. Sure, they have a shiny new DSLR and they took a pretty good picture of their kid for which they will sign the model release, but they don't give a shit about the photographic community, the industry or what's fair. They make their living from a 9-5 and do this microstock stuff on the weekends. They have no reason to demand a fair compensation for their pictures - they're happy to get anything from their snapshots that they would have taken anyway. Their day job (or parents) pay their bills.

The second reason is because so many amateurs are suddenly "pros," the real pros feel like they have to sacrifice their integrity and what they know is fair compensation so they can compete with them. Rights managed agencies have been dropping like flies, so they feel they need to protect themselves by joining up with the microstock agencies. But if no self-respecting pro ever supported microstock, then the micrstock agencies would be flooded with so much crap and nothing of any real value, they'd all go under. People want quality - if the microstock agencies didn't have any quality to offer, they'd burn like the horrible garbage heaps they are.

There is some amazing work on these microstock agencies sprinkled in amongst all the crap. Here's an example search for "Half Dome". Both images are from Shutterstock. Clearly one is a much higher quality image. Why are they both getting the same shitty $0.33 commission?! If you have better work, you should get paid more!

And another example for "sunset."

And another example for "Golden Gate Bridge."

Now I'm not one to blow my own whistle and go around touting my pictures as the best thing since sliced bread. I don't claim to be a veteran or to know the ins and outs of this business. I've been taking pictures for 7 years, but hell, I'm only 21 and I've only been doing this full-time for a year now. I do, however, have the power of observation. I can see when a business model is ruining an industry. I can see when a picture is crap. I can see when something is unfair. And I can see when photographers worldwide are bent over with their pants down around their ankles.