A Few Links For Illumination, Elucidation & Enjoyability

The Young Leonardo, Pitti Palace, Florence, Italy.

The Young Leonardo, Pitti Palace, Florence, Italy. Photo by Barry Schwartz

Here’s a collection of pieces I’ve come across recently that apply, are useful for, may be of interest to anyone who creates or appreciates other people’s creativity.

Copyright is an issue of concern to writers as much as to photographers. While writers may incorporate other creator’s work in perfectly legal ways, they have a very specific set of restrictions that photographers can learn from and keep in mind for their own careers. The Authors Alliance is giving away a comprehensive guide: Fair Use For Nonfiction Authors, which provides a terrific overview of the legalities of using other people’s work in your own.



Cecil Beaton, a multi-hyphenate master artist of the twentieth century, was a legendary (and remains) an influential photographer with a wide range of interests who also was a respected film and theatre designer (he won an Oscar for My Fair Lady). There is a new book about him, Love, Cecil, and a documentary, both by Lisa Immordino Vreeland (Diana Vreeland’s granddaughter). By David Schonauer in ProPhotoDaily.

Trending: The Journey of Cecil Beaton, In a New Book and Film


aPhotoEditor has posted a terrific article about a community exhibit in Mumbai, started by the street artist JR, the St+art Urban Art Festival. The “show” takes place out in the open, involving professionals and the public alike as participants.

St+Art / Sassoon Dock Art Project


A photographer from the Vietnam War, Catherine Leroy – not well known in large part simply because she was a woman – had a long career as a professional photographer. A slide show of very fine pictures from the war, along with a great article in the New York Times Lens Blog, by Elizabeth Herman.

In Her Own Words, Photographing the Vietnam War


The writer Orhan Pamuk, who won the Nobel Prize in 2006, is an investigator of photographs. “The qualities that preserve a photograph’s relevance to future generations transcend the purposes of those who saw the frame and captured it. The lens sees things the photographer was never looking at, and years later, new generations, people with fresh eyes and novel interests, will find entirely different meaning in these accidental particulars.”

The link will take you to an excerpt of the introduction to Istanbul – Memories And The City, published on the terrific site Literary Hub.



Susan Meiselas is often thought of as a war photographer, based on her long-term project in Nicaragua, but she in fact has always had a much larger project in mind, as her other, wide-ranging work confirms. Meiselas does more than simply document what she experiences via photography: “From the outset, the idea of a narrative that extended beyond a single frame lay at the heart of my work”. In The Nation Magazine, by Ratik Asokan.

Susan Meiselas’s Redemptive Time

In her new photo-memoir, the photographer returns to the origin of her career to reflect on all she’s remembered, and why it’s worth remembering.


Alex Soth on the book that made his name, Sleeping By The Mississippi. With photos, on the Magnum photo website (where he is a member), interviewed by Anne Bourgeois-Vignon.

Sleeping By The Mississippi. On the occasion of its fourth reprint, Alec Soth looks back at his career-defining project.


Peter Krogh, expert in all things digital asset management (he wrote The DAM Book) and a working photographer, has written about the big changes that have just come to Lightroom, why they happened, and – more importantly – where he thinks the software industry is going. As always, a great, informed read on his Dam Book blog.



Jay Allison’s Five Heretical Sermons

Barry Schwartz Photography

Jay Allison is an award-winning radio producer, reporter, and writer who, in addition to his own work, has mentored and sponsored countless creatives over decades. He gave the opening keynote at the Third Coast International Audio Festival last year, where some of the best and soon-to-be-best audio producers gather to sustain inventiveness and excellence in themselves and their peers.

His talk was directed at audio professionals, but if you substitute “creator” for “producer”, his detailing how to maintain a career by obeying and breaching rules fully applies to anyone whose job is to create something out of nothing.

Allison called his talk Preaching To Myself: Five Heretical Sermons In Five Minutes. He begins by saying “They’re heretical in that they’re the opposite of a lot of advice, but they’re some of the things I tell myself when I stray from what feels most abidingly important.”

The Sermons are:

1 – Don’t Ask Permission
2 – Be Odd
3 – Stay Home
4 – Don’t Try To Be Cool
5 – Stop Competing

Allison’s talk is on Transom as a stream and a transcript. Transom a great resource for all things audio (and therefore video): equipment reviews and tutorials, interviewing techniques (including interviews with such folks as Ira Glass), how to structure a story, many fine workshops, and much more. And it’s free. More than that, Transom is about how to be a storyteller; and in the end, that’s any creative person’s job.

Check it out:

Preaching To Myself: Five Heretical Sermons In Five Minutes


On Walker Evans


Floyd and Lucille Burroughs; Walker Evans (American, 1903 – 1975); 1936; Gelatin silver print; 19.1 × 21.4 cm (7 1/2 × 8 7/16 in.); 84.XM.956.336


From the 1920s until he died in 1975, Walker Evans’ work set a high bar for documentary photography, revealing poetry in the ordinary. He was a photographer’s photographer, already accomplished by the time of his unique collaboration in 1941 on Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, a groundbreaking book written by his friend James Agee (himself a unique talent – a writer’s writer).

Evans’ career was not a straight path to what he became famous for, not least because he drew from a much larger culture than photography alone.

Known for being a most American photographer, documenting ordinary lives and environments, his focus came out of an early antipathy for his own country; he started as a writer influenced by European taste and culture, where he got assigned to see the conditions he would choose to document on film.

Every photographer in the Western world, documentary, commercial, or fine art, can trace a link in their work back to Walker Evans.

Meredith Mendelsohn, writing for the terrific Artsy website, has written a well-informed, thoughtful piece on the opening of a major museum retrospective.

Read it here: https://www.artsy.net/article/artsy-editorial-walker-evans-changed-way-america



Attending a conference can give rise to either longing or loathing, whether attending or working.

It is of course fantastic to be around people excited about the same things. Yet, going to a conference requires spending time in enormous, sterile, noisy rooms with bad light, bad air, with bathrooms hidden hundreds of yards from anywhere. It’s enough to make you want to stay home, but that would be a miscalculation.

I’ve been on both sides of the booth. To the attendee, conferences present calculated features: There are vendors in their booths to sell you a thing or a service or both. There are teachers running workshops to sell you on an idea or a skill or their thing or service. Or all four. There is the conference producer who arranged the whole event whose idea is to sell you the idea that you should come back next year – and bring your friends! Everyone wants your attention – and your money.

It’s not a one-way street, though. Conferences, conventions, and exhibitions are usually oriented towards helping you figure out how to generate more success with less effort, or at least with a more informed effort. The focus is: knowledge translates to professional advancement. Everyone is there to learn more about their field, and that includes the vendors, teachers, and producers.

On offer for people on both sides of the booth, not obvious but in plain sight and even more valuable, are people, and plenty of them.

Everyone wants to leave the event with more than they came with: more sales, more skills, and the most valuable thing you can take home: new contacts and colleagues, even friendships.

Professions are built on relationships and people skills, which can be considerably more important than technical skills. Lots of people have technical skills – those are relatively easy to acquire from school, from books and magazines, on the job, from online tutorials.

In the world of work, whether as a freelancer or employee, people get hired because of who they are and how they behave as much as what they know how to do. Careers – particularly freelance careers – are built on getting re-hired and referred. In the end (and the beginning), people want to work with people they like.  Those people have soft skills.

So how does this translate to the value of attending a conference? You can’t develop soft skills – people skills – without spending time with people, in the same way you can’t develop camera skills without spending time with a camera.

That means hanging out and reaching out, exchanging business ideas and business cards (take lots of cards!), asking questions, finding out from others how they do their jobs and sharing how you do yours, and what you know or want to know. Connecting with other people in your field – including the vendors, teachers, and producers – can lead to unexpected places. It can be fun, no trivial thing when you consider that fun is an important factor in any business relationship, because…people want to work with people they like.

So go breathe the bad air, be sure to rest your eyes from the bad light, remember to find the bathroom locations well before you need them, and find some folks to hang out with.  It’ll be fun.

Reading Roger Deakins

THE VILLAGE, Roger Deakins, 2004, (c) Buena Vista


Here is a lovely piece – not an interview, but a profile – on the terrific cinematographer, Roger Deakins, by way of reading Deakins’ blog. By Noah Gallagher Shannon in The Paris Review.

Read the piece by clicking on the link at the bottom.  Meanwhile, a few quotes from the article:

…The highest achievement a cinematographer can garner, Deakins says, is to have his or her work go unnoticed. If the viewer is made aware of a frame’s composition, the thinking goes, they’re taken out of the narrative, maybe not unlike a reader noticing a novel’s font as they stumble over a cluster of adjectives. A cinematographer should have style, in other words, but only in service of story. Deakins puts it this way: “people confuse pretty with good cinematography.”

…Asked by “rileywoods,” a film student, how he came to master lighting, Deakins replies, “I have been lucky over the years and have been pretty constantly working.” He continues, “I do think observing is important in learning”—meaning, observing the world, not others at work. In a recent thread about how to create the look of a thunderstorm, film students go back and forth on the right diffusion gels and light screens before Deakins chimes in with a one-sentence solution: “You could always shoot at night.”

…Which is partly why I understand him to mean it humbly when he says he’d rather have his art go unnoticed; as a cinematographer, it’s professionally unwise to develop a recognizable style. But now that I’ve read Deakins blog for a few years, I also understand how he might mean it artistically, and honestly so. How having one’s work go unnoticed might in fact be an achievement.

Master of Light

Business Is Business


Philip Morley, a custom woodworker in Austin, recently wrote a short, concise article in Fine Woodworking Magazine explaining how he prices his work using just three main points – based on three main mistakes.

Morley builds and designs his furniture by himself, manages his own website and social media (with 41,000 followers on Instagram), does his own billing, and works directly with clients. Literally, a one-man shop.

Everyone who works for themselves struggles with pricing, no matter their level of experience or number of employees. Replace with “furniture” with “photography” or “graphic design” or even “accounting” and it’s all the same.  He writes:

“First, I have learned to be direct and open with clients.”
Morley says his style of high-touch communication results in clients being sympathetic about why his work has the monetary value he places on it. That sympathy leads directly to sales.

“Second, I have become much more careful with regard to pricing materials.”
Wood, saws, and drills (or computers, cameras, and internet): it’s all about fixed costs, and if you don’t get a handle on those items, the result may mean you will be working for someone else in the future, at which point fixed costs become your employer’s problem, and you’re collecting paychecks instead of producing invoices.

“Last, I no longer even try to calculate what I am making per hour.”
Hourly rates are how some some clients calculate what they believe is a fair price while entrepreneurs have to justify fees that accurately reflect their cost of doing business.  See points One and Two.

It’s not a false analogy to say that Morley’s product – furniture – is similar to any entrepreneur’s product.  Business is business, product is product, and the logic behind how an entrepreneur stays in business is just the same. The price is the price.

Read the article here:


I WORK FROM HOME – from the New Yorker

If you are a solo entrepreneur, work from home, or know someone who is a solo entrepreneur who works from home, well, here is the real real life (but funny).  By Colin Nissan:


Interview with Melissa Golden

I was one of several authors of a book published several years ago, the ASMP Guide To New Markets In Photography. My contribution was a series of oral-history interviews with thirty-two photographers totaling 21,000 words. The editor, the late Susan Carr, asked me to speak with photographers of a wide range of specialties and ages who were working professionals preoccupied with the never-ending labor of keeping their career – and work – fresh and engaged.

Some of these interviews have been published in ASMP’s Strictly Business blog, but most have never appeared outside the book. I’ve picked a few for my own blog, appearing as they were in the book.  Other than the introduction, the words are the photographer’s.

MELISSA GOLDEN   melissagolden.com

Started Career in 2006

Career Summary:
Majored in International Affairs and Journalism.  Worked as a staff newspaper photographer for six months then went freelance.  Mostly editorial.  Portraits, documentary projects, and photojournalism.

~ ~ ~

Personal Work  I try to make all of my work personal, even the assignments.  I always try to shoot what the client wants, but if time allows I also shoot for myself on every assignment I have.  And often that’s what I end up featuring from my assignment work, so when I say that all my work is personal work, most of it really, really is.  For the most part I try to feature pictures I care about.

I pursue a lot of personal projects, things I shoot on spec or for my own artistic fulfillment, because if you’re just shooting for the paycheck, I think that your work gets stale, you stop loving it, and this is such a wonderful field, that to treat it as a job you have to do is just depressing.

I shoot two or three weddings in a year; it’s not a huge percentage of my income, but I treat the weddings in particular as grants – the money from the weddings I use to go shoot personal projects. Other things I want to pursue in other areas of photography, I allocate wedding money to do that.

The high end portrait has become my bread-and-butter; I’m still a photojournalist at heart, but the portrait photography certainly pays the bills.  They always say, with your work, with your marketing, show what you want to shoot, and that’s what I try to do.

Copyright  I want to drive home the point that, as an editorial freelancer, everybody and their mother is trying to get you to do work-for-hire and take your copyright, and it’s so essential to guard against that if you hope to sustain your career for any length of time.  Either that, or have a staff job, but those are few and far between.

As a freelancer, you have to own your copyright or be properly compensated for your copyright.  Otherwise, you’ll never make it very long.

I turned down a lot of work at first, when I switched my policy.  And it hurt.  But in the long term, I have really benefitted myself, and I keep making money off of pictures I’ve already been paid to take.  Syndication is a beautiful thing.

Networking  I didn’t even think of it as networking at the time, I just enjoyed my colleagues’ company so much that I sought out conferences and events; anything where there were going to be photographers and photojournalists.  I made it a point to build that network of friends and colleagues nationally.  I travelled to meet people, just photographers at first, but some photographers became editors, over time positions changed, and my network kept expanding.  When I went freelance, I was able to call upon that network to get me started with some news organizations, wire services, national papers, and I built up myself from there.

Blog  It took me a number of years to start a blog, but now I would say my blog brings in more viewers on a monthly basis than my website.  That’s were I put all my fresh work, and my thoughts and musings.  I use Twitter, Facebook, Google +, Tumbler,  I use all the social media networks to spread the word when I have a new blog post, a new feature on my website, and I get a good number of hits off of that.  People re-Tweet, they re-post, and that just spreads the word organically. I never do any direct mail marketing.

Contests and Awards  I find that the ultimate bit of advertising for getting your name out to the ears and minds of editors is winning contests.  I consider the entry fees as part of my marketing budget, and when I do place, invariably I get a dozen phone calls within a short time after the contest, usually from new clients, usually from editors saying “I just saw your work in such-and-such contest”.  To me, that’s the absolute best way…but the odds are not good.  It’s extraordinary what winning a contest can do for you, career-wise.

It’s more of a rocket-boost, it’s not a sustainable strategy unless you can win contests every damn year. A sustainable strategy at this point is keeping up with my blogging.  I try to blog two-to-three days a week, and I keep track of my analytics for my blog, and incoming traffic, number of views, and there are noticeable spikes on the days that I blog, people coming in from all venues.  My blog is really my public space, even more than my portfolio website.

Eddie Adams Workshop  It really was the start of my work as a successful freelancer, and it boosted me towards the magazine world and away from newspapers and wires, and towards magazines, where I actually got to keep my copyright.

While I was there, I won an award, it was an assignment with Parade Magazine.  A year went by, and I hadn’t heard anything from them, and I kept calling and I thought they forgot about me. One day they called me up, and they were familiar with my work from the 2008 campaign trail, and they asked me if I would like to spend a day in the life of Secretary Clinton, shadowing her at the State Department from dawn ‘till dusk.  That level of exclusivity, and the pictures I got…those pictures still sell.  That got me in front of some agencies when I was shopping that around looking for a place to syndicate, and that’s when I met with Redux and hooked up with them.  And that all originated with the Eddie Adams Workshop and that award.

When I went to meetings with editors at newspapers and magazines, I carried my laptop and an iPad to show my work, though am now transitioning to show my work exclusively with a formal printed book.  I was doing pretty well getting meetings on my own, but there was a certain level of clientele that I was trying to break through to reach, and it wasn’t until I hooked up with Redux Pictures, my agency where I’m a contributor, that they were able to get the meetings, the assignments at the higher-end magazines, like GQ and Esquire, that I had been wanting to meet with and work with, but couldn’t get in myself.

The combination of personal marketing, low-level things, social media, and Redux, and having my name up on their website, having them Tweet, and feature me as a photographer, it’s kind of that one-two punch that helps get my name out there.

New Workshop In Los Angeles on January 14.

I’m teaching an all-day workshop on business for photographers in Los Angeles on Saturday, January 14.

Like all my workshops, this one covers a lot of ground: marketing, websites, contracts, insurance, types of careers, social media, negotiating, digital workflow, affiliated trades, finding work and representation, and way more.

Everyone who attends gets pages of resources, including links to free and paid software, useful blogs and websites, continuing learning, and business books and publications. You also get a set of documents such as sample contracts and spreadsheets.

There will be breaks – including lunch, which is provided – and coffee all day. (There is no reason to suffer while you learn.)

The workshop is sponsored by three organizations: ASMP Los Angeles, the Lucie Foundation through their Month Of Photography (MOPLA), and by the Los Angeles Center of Photography (LACP), where the workshop is taking place.

This particular workshop has been designed to be inexpensive (or free!) to attend through the generosity of the three main sponsors and the support of two more: Dripbook and Yodelist.

Register and find out more, here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/what-it-takes-building-a-creative-career-tickets-30397360323

You can also find out more about the workshop by clicking on ABOUT in the menu.

Come On Down!

You Never Know

Ethan Iverson, the wonderful pianist, teacher, and member of The Bad Plus, has a terrific blog, Floyd Camembert Reports.  This is his most recent post, #37: (ECM records, the moral of the story), about being engaged, showing up, and being ready.

“In the 1990s, I went out to see music whenever I could. I was broke but I found money to hang anyway. A lot of the time I was at Smalls seeing Kurt Rosenwinkel, Mark Turner, Ben Street, and Jeff Ballard play their near-weekly Wednesday gig. This band really taught me something about group sound: they all played so great, but together they all seemed even greater.

Things went well for the quartet, they signed record deals and eventually they played the Village Vanguard, which was a big step up from Smalls.”

Read the rest here: http://tinyletter.com/ethaniverson/letters/floyd-camembert-reports-37-ecm-records-the-moral-of-the-story