In August 2006 I paid up for a Flickr Pro account. I’ve had a decade of use on the platform now, and still love it. Since 2006 I’ve swapped cameras multiple times, changed blogging platforms a half dozen times but I’ve never found anything that is an improvement on Flickr. It’s cheap, it’s reliable, it’s versatile and it looks great on any device.
Another year has almost passed us by. Where doe the time go? This year it was spent in London, Istanbul, Berlin, the south coast of England and at various country estates around the south. All carefully documented with my camera. I had a little look back and choose my favourite/better snaps of the last 12 months. And so I present to you, in no particular order, a selection of 18 shots that I liked the best. The next Ansel Adams I am clearly not. But I enjoy getting out and photographing what I see. And then processing the images into something more interesting when I get home…
In Islamic culture, it is common for a sultan to keep a number of wives tucked away in a harem. Well, they do say, when in Rome do as the Romans do. Istanbul, or rather Constantinople was once capital of the Roman Empire. Alas, my plans to become Sultan Gary I turned out to be bull, rather than Istanbul.
A few months back, I wrote about my efforts at digitising a few dozen of my grandfathers ancient photos using little more than a cardboard box, some sticky tape and my mobile phone. A lot of the photos taken on his holidays in Europe. Others were from his home in London and around the UK. One batch were from some unknown gardens.
It turns out that Unknown Gardens is also known by the name of Compton Acres. Which happens to be just a stroll away from my home here in Bournemouth. I’d never been, so I didn’t recognise it. Yes, of course I have now paid the place a visit. It would be silly not to. It was a great chance to do a ‘then and now’ comparison.
I must admit, I’m a little jealous of the greens in my grandfather’s shot. And also a little envious of the fact that he obviously knew the best time to visit. His photos were graced with a substantially more colourful array of flowers. But he, in turn, would have been rather jealous of my iPhone, I dare say he might have found even the very existence of such a device as likely as aliens landing.
All good photos need a good model. Allow me to present, on the left, Mrs P senior, and on the right, Mrs P junior. Ironically, Mrs P junior is substantially older than senior. In the photos, anyway. Not so in real life. Although you cannot see the spot I am standing on, it is, thanks to shrubbery and a single paving stone in the middle of a stream, the only spot to take this shot. That is the case today and it was the case 50 or so years ago when my grandfather took his photo. I will admit, it was a little strange taking this shot, knowing that he had stood on exactly the same stone nearly half a century earlier to create his photo.
Compton Acres is a pleasant way to spend a couple of hours in the afternoon. You can see the rest of my photos on Flickr by clicking here. And who knows, maybe in another half century or so, Mexile Junior will be able to turn this photography theme into a trilogy.
For my birthday a couple of months back, I got a new camera bag. A very nice bag it is too. It’s lightweight and compact enough to carry around without getting an aching should. It’s big enough to pack my camera, two or three extra lenses, my wallet, my Kindle Fire and other small odds and ends. It’s also a sling design, which is important. It’s good to be able to swing, unzip and retrieve the camera quickly when an unexpected potential photo turns up.
But what I really needed was an extra lens or two. Fuji are trying very hard to push their X range of CSC cameras. I originally bought my X-M1 and 16-50mm kit lens on a special offer – they threw in a zoom lens (XC 50-230mm) for free. And their promotions keep on coming. Some of the deals seem crazy. But Fuji’s X range is one of the newer CSC options, and I guess they want people to buy into the system. Sell a camera, you’ve got a customer for the life of the camera. Sell them the lenses, you’ve got them for life.
The latest offer was too good to turn down. To be honest, whilst the Fuji kit lenses are pretty good for kit lenses, they are still kit lenses. You’ll never get the most of out a good camera with kit lenses. So I now have a pair of prime lenses, the f1.4 35mm and the f2.4 60mm macro. I chose the latter largely because the pancake lens I really wanted was not in the offer. I’m pleased to say that I think I was ‘forced’ into buying the right lens. How good are they? I feel my photography has been transformed. I have awakened. I finally have some proper photographic gear!
A confession. I have shot most of my photography up to now in auto mode. Sometimes I switch to aperture priority. But mostly in auto mode. Creativity was always in the post-processing of the image. Since mounting these lenses on my camera I have shot exclusively in manual mode. Having decent aperture rings on the lenses and dials on the camera makes it easy to shoot in manual. And the results are all the better for it. I’m not forcing myself to shoot in manual mode, and then having to think about what I’m doing. It instantly became a natural and instinctive way of shooting.
Fuji XF 60mm f2.4 Macro.
The macro lens was the first to arrive. The name is really a bit of a misnomer. It’s not what most people would call a macro lens, capable of only a 0.50x magnification. Fuji have just released an extension tube for about £70/$100 which increases that to a more respectable 0.76x. It’s a bit of a jack of all trades. Decent for close-ups, portraits and as a compact telephoto lens. Bright enough for use in all lighting conditions.
The focal length is a bit long for general use though. Photos are sharp. Bokeh is easy to create. Depth of field is easily controlled with pleasant, soft background blur. Colour and tone are spot on. While that longer focal length does sometimes mean I have to back up, back up and back up a bit more to get everything into my shot, for the most part it’s pretty easy to leave it on most of the day. The shot below is one of my favourites so far. But there’s a whole bunch of sample images in a set on Flickr – click here.
I noted that the 60mm is a bit awkward to use for general use. That is what this lens if for. A much shorter focal length means it’s a great street camera to tote. But it really comes into its own after dark and indoors. It’s a very bright lens. Like the 60mm, it’s a high quality metal lens that feels like a top of the range piece of gear. The rings are smooth and precise. This is the lens that will spend most of the time mounted to my camera. Sharp, great colours. The full package. With its own set on Flickr – click here, and a sample below starring Mrs P.
While working for British Airways (or one of its previous incarnations) my grandfather struck up what was to be a lifelong friendship with a pilot of a Czechoslovakian airline. This was back in the days when most Czechs were held tight behind the iron curtain. Not so the international flying pilots, of course.
My grandfather went to Prague to visit him a few times. One of those trips was in 1973. He took plenty of photographs, all carefully transferred to slides and stored in secure cases. I dare say they haven’t been seen by a single soul in decades. Today they can be seen by everyone and anyone with a web browser and an internet connection.
Again, I could have done more work on the photos. But I’m really after quick and easy. But nonetheless, I was pretty happy with the results. So, without any further ado, I present to you a slideshow of Prague in the midst of the Cold War. You can see the full set on Flickr by clicking here.
Allow me to introduce you to the photographer behind this project, my grandfather. His birth certificate says William. Everyone knew him as Bill. Except me and the other grand kids, to whom he was known simply as grandad. He served in World War 2, getting through it without a scratch to speak of, although there was an unfortunate incident when he was caught milking a cow. Such antics were frowned upon in those days, what with rationing and all.
I remember him as being ridiculously well presented. Shoes that shine like mirrors. He’d be dressed in formal gear to do the gardening. And everything was in its place. Including all his photos and slides, carefully labelled and sorted. He later worked for British Airways and its earlier incarnations, for some 30 years I believe. He loved travelling, so the free tickets he got via BA were a boon. Alas, he married a woman who wasn’t as keen on flying as him. He made up for this with his love of technology and photography.
I also remember the holidays in Kent in that caravan you see down below. We’d pitch up in a field and then head off to explore towns and castles or just spend a relaxing day on the farm. I made friends with the farm boy one year and went hunting rabbits with nets and ferrets. I brought some back to the caravan, and we dined on rabbit stew. He’d tell us war stories. He always had a new war story to regale us with. Alas, he passed in 1994, just over 20 years ago,
Also featured is my grandmother. Irene, or simply Nan. Not the extrovert than my grandad was, but the sort that keeps order and discipline. She didn’t technically serve in WW2. I say technically, because the reality was that every man and woman served in WW2 in one capacity or another. All hands on deck sort of a thing. Must keep the Hun at bay.
Unlike grandad, she didn’t escape the war unscathed. Exiting a cinema when the air raid sirens went off, she was caught in a blast. She passed a few years ago with shrapnel from that blast still embedded in her back. It was shrapnel from a British anti-aircraft shell that went wrong. We’d call it friendly fire today. Back then I guess they call it unfortunate. On the plus side, as badly injured as she was, she made it through to tell the tale. As a direct result, I’m also here today, to retell the tale.
She was a careful sort of person. When grandad was gone, his secret stash of receipts for cameras, lenses and other assorted boys toys that he’d secretly acquired were discovered. He lived for the moment. She planned for the future. A bit like me and Mrs P really.
There’s the photo of him with his organ. He used to spend what seemed like weeks and months building them. It probably was weeks and months. Then he’d upgrade and build a new one. I saw him putting his organs together far more often than I saw him playing them. There’s also a photo of him with a gas fire. I found a number of them, with both taking it in turns to pose with the gas fire.
I am assuming that it was a new feature for the house. Something we take for granted, which was a luxury ‘back in the day’. I suspect that the arrival of the fire coincided with the arrival of piped gas in their neighbourhood. Fortunately, the arrival of indoor toilets wasn’t given the same photographic treatment.
There’s also a group photo there. It’s in Prague. He made friends with a Czech pilot during the heady days of the Cold War, and they kept in touch till the end. My family remain in touch with them, on and off. I think it’s now on a Christmas card basis. The pilot passed away just recently. Months ago, not years. The photo of the little boy? Not me. My younger brother, Richard. You’ve no idea how delighted I was as a child when I found out that a short version of Richard is Dick.
Can you imagine what my grandfather would have made of it if you’d told him back in the 50s, 60s or 70s that I would one day photograph his slides with a smartphone camera and share them with the entire planet on the internet, organised in virtual folders on the internet, available to view 24 hours a day, 365 days a year? Smartphone? Internet? He’d not have a clue what I was talking about.
But he’d most definitely want to know all about it and to have a go. He’d have had a whale of a time. My nan, most likely, would be grateful they lived in a pre-internet era. Mrs P would probably share that sentiment. I’m supposed to be cooking dinner at the moment…
I also wonder what will happen to my photos. It’s great that they’re on the internet and so readily available. But, 20 years after I’ve passed, and half a century after my earliest snaps, what will have become of them? There will be no boxes of slides for someone to look through and puzzle over how, exactly, they transfer them onto a modern format for viewing.
But perhaps they will still exist. Maybe Flickr will create accounts that you purchase ‘in perpetuity’. Meh. I’m not holding my breath. But I would definitely love to know how we look at photos in half a century from now. How they are created, stored and viewed. Perhaps technology will allow us to walk into photos, reproduced as holographic representations created from the 2D images I’m taking today. How cool would that be?
For now, Flickr will have to do. Click here to see the entire set in all its glory. Hopefully I’ll get to have a look through more boxes of slides in the future and see what else is hiding away, and bring it into the 21st century. Maybe I will even make an updated version of my slide duplicator. A deluxe model, sort of thing.
For years and years, Adobe Photoshop was amongst the most pirated pieces of software on the planet. Not surprising, really. It was, is, the best photo editor available. And it was so prohibitively expensive, the only way the average Joe could afford it was to steal it. Then along came Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, to complement the original. Another slick and essential piece of gear for the digital photographer. It was cheaper too, but still quite a financial outlay. And, as a result, just as heavily pirated.
Last year, Adobe tried to crack down on piracy by moving their software into the cloud. Would you be surprised if I told you that cracked versions were on torrent sites within days? Perhaps hours. Invariably, despite software creators doing their darnedest to prevent it, the pirates will find a way round any protection that is put up. It’s a pointless battle.
But I’m really, really pleased to say that Adobe has found a genuinely novel, workable and real world model to help reduce piracy. They’ve made their product affordable. Really affordable, with monthly plans that make sense to even the hardest up snapper. Photoshop and Lightroom are such powerful, yet user friendly pieces of kit, that they should appeal to every enthusiastic photographer. I have signed up today for the Creative Cloud Photography Plan. Available to US citizens for $9.99. Us Brits have to pay an inflated, but still reasonable, £8.78.
I love Adobe Lightroom, which is my primary photography processing and management tool. It’s a work of digital genius. I like Photoshop, which I use less often, but it’s such a powerful tool. I love the fact that I now own them both. Two legit installations on my laptop. The latest editions, and I’ll be getting all the latest updates. Have you given Lightroom a try yet? You’ll never go back to whatever you used before once you’ve given it a fair run on your PC.
This is something of a follow on post from my previous piece, The Marketplace. It’s a follow on of sorts to another post on Viva Veracruz. I was going to title the post ‘The Milwaukee Art Museum Stole My Photo Of The Milwaukee Art Museum’. But, whilst factually correct, it’s a bit of a mouthful for a post title. Besides, this post asks more questions than it provides answers. The topic at hand, is the use/theft (delete according to your wishes) of one’s photos.
Kim pointed out that the photo above of the Milwaukee Art Museum is all over the web. I took it back in the summer of 2005, and have only a small image of it left, at just 640px wide. The original was lost in a hard drive failure later that year. I started backing everything up to Flickr shortly afterwards. A good move – I’ve had catastrophic hard drive failures since then.
The photo is indeed all over the web. I used to use TinEye to search for errant photo use. These days, Google does just as good a job, with greater ease. Right click on an image in Chrome, and the option to search for the image on Google is there. It found nearly 400 pages where the photo had been used. Am I bothered? Not at all. I’m delighted. I put the photo up on the net to be seen in the first place.
I also assume that any photo I upload on to the net will be used. Many, I’m sure won’t, but plenty are. But theft on the internet is the default setting. You can argue whether that’s wrong till you’re blue in the face. But it will still be the default setting long after you’ve run out of breath. I apply a copyright setting with this in mind. I use Creative Commons ‘Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike. What does that mean?
So, basically, do what you will with it. So long as you’re not using it for commercial purposes. But this raises a few questions. What exactly is the definition of Non Commerical? It turns out (perhaps not unsurprisingly) that there is no water tight definition. There’s an interesting comment in this Quora piece, as well as worthwhile reading here and here. Do they clear it all up satisfactorily for you? No, I thought not.
But still, if you’re upset that someone has stolen your photo, you can do something about it. Is it worth the time, cost and trouble. I doubt it. What I do is just look through how my photos have been used. Just for interest. Most of the time, in my case, the use is fair under the terms of the CC license I use. Or would be, if they bothered to credit me. A lot of them don’t. This is important for one basic reason. By not crediting me, they increase the risk of the work being picked up as an ‘orphan work’ and used with royalties paid to someone other than me.
Tsk. These are mostly naughty bloggers. It’s also fair to say that a lot of the bloggers who’ve used my image didn’t even get it from the original source. They’re ‘stealing’ a ‘stolen’ photo. Although, come to think of it, with so many copies of that photo on the web, I have only my word to say I am the original photographer. Although I can point out that no one will be able to produce that photo with proof showing it was uploaded to the internet earlier than my image.
There are some really blatant uses of my image on sites which have solely a commercial purpose. This site here, for example, has a shrunken version of the image for the purposes of selling limousine rides. Horrific web design, by the way. Very 1990s. I wouldn’t rent a spoon from something so sloppy. But my favourite commercial use is from this Groupon advert. The Milwaukee Art Museum ran an offer for discounted membership, and used my image to promote it. I wasn’t kidding, at the beginning of the post. The Milwaukee Art Museum really did steal my photo of the Milwaukee Art Museum.
Ironically, to sell it to them I would have needed a commercial release consent from them. But the bottom line seems to be this. The Non Commercial part of the CC license is a bit of a non license. Some publishers will do the decent thing and contact you and offer a payment. Most won’t. The default remains. If you put your photos in the public domain, then theft is a likely outcome. So just relax, share and enjoy the fact that other people enjoy your photography.
I recently took a swipe at people who walk around museums taking photos of every single exhibit. I must confess, I have gotten snap happy in plenty of museums before. Never have I tried to document every item though. That would be silly. But I did get to thinking, was all the effort worthwhile? Do I have enough photos to create a decent gallery to display to the world. Well, the answer to that question is subjective.
The browse through a whole load of old museum based photos did drive home what a vast quantity of very mediocre photos I possess. Museums are poorly lit, and decent photography is difficult without a DSLR. And that did reinforce my opinion that spending your entire visit photographing everything is wasted time. Still, I have curated a selection of my better photos for you. You can be the judge. Featuring museums and exhibits from both the UK and Mexico.
More and more museums, galleries and other places of interest are banning photography. Some museums have always forbidden photography for various reasons, or limited photography due to copyright issues. It is ever so frustrating. But I don’t entirely blame them. There are more photographers out there than ever before, and far too many of them break the rules or otherwise cause a disturbance. I’m sure most museums would actually like people to take a few snaps. They get uploaded, tagged and shared – free advertising! If only everyone could be trusted to behave themselves. Here’s my quick guide to Museum Etiquette. I know. It’s all so obvious. To everyone bar millions upon million of museum visitors, anyway.
If you see no signage giving guidance on photography, then ask someone. It’s so simple. Preferably someone who actually works there. As opposed to a random passer-by. Find out if you can take photographs, if there are any restrictions and if flash is allowed or not.
Turn Off The Flash
Before you even take the first photo, check that your flash is turned off. Take a practice shot in the foyer. Quite frankly, inconsiderate idiots who start shooting with their flash turned on when it is not allowed should be kicked out of the museum, and perhaps even kicked into the gutter a little bit. They ruin it for everyone.
Go With The Flow
If it’s busy, don’t hold everyone up by insisting on shooting the same thing from every angle, or getting the same shot a half dozen times for each friend you’ve got with you. If possible, visit when the museum is quiet. But regardless, once you’ve got your shot, move on and allow others to have a go. This is precisely why St Pauls Cathedral in London have banned photography – too many people loitering under the dome in a massed huddle.
Pick and Choose
This one really gets me. There are countless people who now seem to want to shoot every painting or exhibit in the museum. Why on earth would you do that? Just because you can? Seriously, to all those people in the Van Gogh museum who snapped literally every painting…Van Gogh is actually quite famous. There’s not a single piece of his work that is not already available to see on the internet. Your photo is not going to be the slightest bit better than what is already out there.
Just try and think about why you’re taking the photo. I like to take photos in museums. I’ll grab a few shots of museum scenes and a few shots of some of the exhibits. For memories and to use on my blog. Sometimes I’ll see something that I feel I want to shoot in a different way. Or something that is not well know. Or something that is particularly interesting. But I’m not going to ruin my whole visit, as well as other people’s, by trying to document every last shard of pottery.
Tomorrow is a big day for ‘the Mexile’. But more about that, well…tomorrow. Today, I want to take you back nearly ten years ago. My backpacking tour of Mexico. My photos have been on Flickr for years. Or so I thought. I do look back through my shots from time to time. But there’s more than 11,000 of them, so I’m not likely to notice anything amiss.
Except, when looking back at the photos from 2003, I did notice that there was something not quite right. I was sure I’d taken more photos. Yet there were only a couple of dozen in a few assorted albums. And not one from Mexico City. The images were all really small, only 500 pixels wide.I had a brainwave. In the old days, didn’t I burn my photos to disk? I hunted around for my CD wallets and leafed through them. Sure enough, there was a CD with Mexico/New York scribbled on it in felt pen.
Just over a hundred and thirty photos, all full sized and with the Exif info on them, proudly declaring that these snaps were the produce of a Nikon Coolpix 880. Finally, after ten years, I have the photos of that trip, all the photos, uploaded on to Flickr. In two sets. The first is here, and has just basic post processing applied. Cropping, straightening, a little extra contrast etc.
The second set is here. I let rip with my Lightroom presets. There’s no getting away from it. Camera technology has moved on a lot in the last ten years. But for a decade old compact, I think the image quality that Nikon produced has stood the test of time ok. When viewed on a monitor anyway. I was very, very proud of that Nikon. It was, at the time, cutting edge tech.
If you take the time to have a look through either set, I hope you enjoy the short photographic tour of Mexico. Mexico City, Veracruz, Tulum, San Cristobal, Palenque, San Blas, Guanajuato and the Copper Canyon – all fantastic destinations. How lucky was I to have the time and funding to go see them all over a couple of fantastic months?
I like taking photos. It’s probable that you, whoever you are, also take photos, either with a camera or cell phone. It’s just as probable that you upload them to the internet. To Flickr, Facebook, Picasa, Instagram and other photo sharing sites. We all own our own photos. If your photo was taken after 1978, it’s automatically copyrighted for as long as you live and then a further 70 years after they put you in the ground. Which, incidentally, I hope is many, many years from now. So, in summary, the photos we take are our property. Except, they’re potentially not. Not anymore. Not in the UK.
I took the photo below, and shared it on Flickr. Now I’m sharing it on my blog. Want to use it? Fine. I’m pretty easy going. All my photos are licensed on Creative Commons, and anyone can use my photos for non-commercial purposes for free. Want to use it for a commercial purpose? I’ll probably be ok with that. Get in touch, and we’ll agree a price, providing I’m happy with who is using it and how. Actually, the image above perhaps isn’t the best example, because it’s a photo of artwork by Damian Hirst, and he might have copyright issues if I sold it commercially!
What if someone uses my image for commercial purposes without telling me? Well, that’s called theft and I will seek recompense, and plenty of it. Far more recompense than had they just asked in the first place. But here’s the problem. There’s every chance that in future I might find myself unable to negotiate or demand a fee or damages. I may not even be able to get them to stop using the image. Why? Because, under the UK Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act, they may well be using the image legally. Yes, it is still my image, yes it is still in copyright. But no, copyright doesn’t actually mean anything.
Here’s the issue*. Random people out there in the world do have a habit of using images that don’t belong to them. Let’s say a chap called John Doe decides to start a blog. He writes a half dozen posts, and then gives up. In one of those posts he used your photo. Can John Doe be contacted? Nope, he used a pseudonym and never did get round to putting contact info on his blog. Anyway, along comes some ad company, and they see that photo on his blog. They like it. They try to contact him and, of course, fail. At that point, the photo is considered ‘orphaned’. And now that it’s orphaned, the ad company can use it. They have to pay a fee to a Collective Licensing Organisation. But you, the owner of the photo, get nothing.
Your photos can become orphaned almost instantly. The moment you upload them to the internet, they are exposed. If one is used under the new Act, then it’s your job to find that out and to claim a fee from the Collective Licensing body. And as I understand it, they’ll tell you what you get paid. And if you don’t like it, then tough. And if you don’t want it used in the way it is being used, there’s a big question mark over whether you can put a stop to it. This is a genuine and serious issue. I know for a fact that dozens of my images have been used across dozens of sites on the internet. These are just the ones I’ve found or come across and therefore know about. Some of them credit me, many don’t. Some asked my permission (technically unnecessary), many didn’t.
As a photographer, this irks me, to put it mildly, on three main counts. Firstly, as a point of principal. If the photo isn’t yours and can’t be purchased from the owner, then don’t use it. If it’s a digital image, then it’s clearly been taken after 1978 and is therefore still in copyright – fact. Secondly, I may well not want a particular organisation to use any of my photos. For example, if the English Defence League, or other extremist group, found a photo of a flag that I’ve taken and decided they liked it, I would reject their offer. Thirdly, every time an orphaned photo is bought through Collective Licensing, potentially two photographers are robbed of their rightful dues. The guy or gal who took the photo. And the photographer of an alternative image that would otherwise have been purchased.
*There are actually many issues. I’m not going to pretend I’ve gone into all of them, let alone understand all of them. I still have many unanswered questions myself. Many of those questions, it appears, currently have no answers. Some parts of the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act are poorly defined, and we will have to wait and see how it works. How will this work internationally? If an orphaned image belongs to an American, for example? How on earth would any one know the nationality of a photographer? There are positive benefits to the bill too, though, in that cultural entities such as museums and libraries need legislation in order to allow them to preserve important photos.
But it seems to me to be another shoddy piece of legislation, part of the Digital Economy Act, that’s been rashly thought up by people with little concern for their constituents and maximum concern for big business. It’s been rushed through parliament without proper debate and it’s just yet another sorry chapter of government and business not understanding what the digital age is or means. There’s plenty of research you can do if you’re interested. There is an organised protest group called Stop 43 (Clause 43 is the relevant part of the Act), and articles on the BBC and New Statesman. The Act has been referred to as the Instagram Act.
I do wonder how the photo above stands in copyright law. Of course, I did not take it. That’s me in the photo. It was taken prior to 1978. But I scanned it, with permission, and processed it through Photoshop, creating a new and discernibly different image.
I like taking photos. Our world is so thoroughly photographed today, that we are recording history in real time in a way that has never happened before. Not that this means anything as far as how history will be written or viewed. I mean, look at 9/11 and the JFK assassination. They were caught on film, which is supposed not to lie, and yet we have more conspiracy theories about them than any other murder or terrorist attack.
There’s a type of photo that I rarely capture. A lot of my photography is so structured or thought out or overly framed. I’d like to take more photos of a spontaneous nature. To capture a moment. A photo that will carry emotion, meaning a sense of occasion with it down the years. Where am I heading with this? I’ve found an absolutely fabulous blog called Vintage Everyday. It’s full of fascinating photography from down the ages. The image below is from a concentration camp, shortly after liberation. In colour. Quite rare.
There’s a quality to many of the photos posted in the blog that is impossible today. Has digital photography become too perfect? How much further will the technology advance? Enough so that one day in the distant future our digital photos taken today will look as old as they are?
Poor Jessops. Britain’s largest camera retailer has gone to the wall. It’s not surprising. They’ve been in trouble for years. More importantly, they’ve been in trouble because their business model failed. But rather than try something different, Jessops stuck solidly to their failing business model. They borrowed more money to keep it going a bit longer. But the inevitable had to happen sooner or later. If you’re tumbling towards a cliff, it’s generally advisable to change direction, rather than try to extend the cliff.
There was a place for a camera retailer on the high street. But they need a business model online too. Things that I noticed were almost completely absent for Jessops. Photographs. I’d go into their shops, which sells just one things. Cameras. All there was, was bland decor. Few, if any, photos. Those that were there were all very blah. No inspiration. No life. Lomography is a growing market, and has been for a while. Where were the Lomo cameras and films in Jessops? I liked looking at the cameras. In their secure glass cases. I’d have loved to have been able to hold one, without waiting for an assistant to finish with someone else and unlock the cabinet for me. And hover over me. The phone market is big into cameras. Why not have mobile phone concessions in store?
Jessops online was just as bad. Worse, in fact. I don’t ever remember seeing a Jessops advert. You have to specifically go to Jessops website to find them. Why not do a deal with Flickr and give every camera buyer a three or twelve month Pro membership? Set it up, with their first Group already added – the Jessops community. Why not have a review blog, that gives simple, easy to understand product reviews. On cameras, on software, on anything photography related. Have a proper online presence to spread the word. A Community Manager – my dream job. On Twitter and Facebook. Engage with existing customers. Reach out to new ones. Organised photowalks. Find the customer…..don’t just wait to see if they happen to wander in your store. Inform your customer….help them find the camera they want. Sell to the customer…..you’re half way there if you’ve got the first two points right.
Back into the shop. Bring the online site into the shop. Have cameras displayed next to screens, where customers can see samples of their output. Where they can read the review. Make the company cool. Give the brand credibility. Make the company visible. Help the customer. Keep the customer. None of this is particularly difficult or expensive. Indeed, much of it was pretty obvious. Except to Jessops, it seems. For them, it’s now all too late. RIP Jessops. There are plenty more famous high street names who will keep you company in shop heaven soon…
Update 15/01/13: I mentioned Lomography. They have a new product out. It’c cool, trendy and interesting. It is a little niche too. But it is a growing market, and they regularly release new products. Best of all, the profit margins have got to be good, there’s a ton of products and because it is film you get plenty of repeat footfall. People coming back to buy film, get processing done, stock up on accessories. Footfall that never ventured into Jessops.