Friday, November 26, 2010

Bistro Style

Poultry Hangover - The Day After Remembering The Day Before

Fresh Cut Flowers From Yard To Table
Gravy Stock Simmers All Day Long
Waiting Patiently
Table Preparations
Stovetop Stuffed
The Moment Of Truth

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Now Be Thankful

"When the stone has grown too cold to kneel in crystal waters I'll be bound. Cold as stone, weary to the sounds upon the wheel. Now be thankful for good things below. Now be thankful to your maker..." Richard Thompson/Now Be Thankful

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Real World Estimating... Wading Into the World of Fine-Art... Book Signing Schedule...

Always an educational & informative read, today's entry at the blog A Photo Editor gives us another glimpse into the process of estimating and bidding an assignment. Jess Dudley, producer with the production company Wonderful Machine, takes us inside the process of estimating a still life product assignment for a national brand glass manufacturer who's products are sold through big box stores.
The client needed pictures showing several variations of each of the bowls, plates, and cups so that they’d have different options for use on packaging, point of purchase displays, and on their e-commerce site. They wanted everything shot on white background. Their in-house designers would process the raw files and handle the silhouetting and any retouching. The client would plan to bring a hard drive with them and simply take all the raw files with them at the conclusion of the shoot.
 Additional information going into the thought process in preparing the estimate:
Whether I quote the high end or the low end is going to depend on how prominent the brand is, the complexity of the pictures, how prominent the photographer is, how busy he is, and the exact licensing. The number of shoot days and the regularity of the work is a factor as well. If a one-day shoot suddenly becomes a five-day shoot, I would probably discount the additional days.Location of the photographer and the client can also factor in. If the client (even a big one) is in a smaller market and you’re competing with other photographers in that small market, you might not be able to charge as much as for a similar project taking place in a bigger market. In this case, the client and the photographer were in a big market, and I felt that all of the other factors together pointed to about the mid-point of the range, so I quoted 4000.00/day. The client specified the exact usage they needed, which I quoted on the estimate. 
Jess includes in his estimate fees for a digital tech and one assistant, studio & equipment rentals, expendables (set-paper backgrounds, etc.), milage, and fees for shipping & delivery of the work and catering for breakfast & lunch. The client planned to provide the stylist. ( I also note that no fee was included for digital post-production to prepare the image files for delivery & publishing. For this particular assignment, I am assuming those duties fall to the on-set digi-tech who will correct the Raw files, color correct, sharpen, etc.)

For some time now, the trend among mainland photographers has been to charge fees for studio & equipment rental, even when the photographer may have his own shooting space & gear. This is a trend I would like to see happen here... especially the equipment rental which suffers much wear & tear and is very costly to purchase & replace.

As for catering, it has been my customary practice to include expense items to cover meal per diems on shoot days for myself & crew. Catering would be quite a luxury and something I don't think most Hawaii producers or photographers include in the estimate budgets. Fortunately for me, the bulk of my work involves either food & beverage or architectural photography for resorts, hotels & dining establishments where food is easily accessible. For us, it's simply a matter of breaking for lunch in most cases. For major resort assignments with large crews, talent and early, pre-dawn call times, it's always a good idea to plan ahead and have the F&B folks and/or Room Service deliver to the location an assortment of juices, coffee, teas, fruits & pastries.  This helps to insure that the cast & crew are always on set when you need them and are fed, happy, awake and ready to work. When the body is nourished, feeding the creative hunger is much easier. 

The APE post should be an eye-opener for many of the up & coming photographers around this state. Though much of the assignment work generated in Hawaii is, for the most part, for local & regional brands where a day rate of $3K-$5K would never fly for a myriad of reasons (local or regional brand & marketing, lack of education-self confidence-Wall Mart pricing strategies and rabid undercutting amongst out newer talent pool). There are many new additions to the talent pool here that have never had the opportunity to work on or be exposed to productions of this type and simply haven't had the opportunity to be educated as to real-world values of the work they produce. Information like this post by APE provide some of those opportunities to educate yourself. Please take the time to read it here.

In other asides, I'm feeling a bit schizophrenic these days as I float between the world of commercial assignment photography and the world fine-art photography. The weekly gallery set-ups & sittings at the Four Seasons Resort & Spa in Wailea has been a learning experience indeed. 

While I could argue that what passes as a fine art market in Hawaii is more of an expensive souvenir market (and do argue this point frequently with the Art Hash Harrier gals), the point is a moot one given that I have been given the opportunity to get my personal work in front of a large & captive audience of very well-heeled and very pre-qualified potential buyers. I am further enthused by the fact that my sales thus far have been of work I am emotionally attached to, feel very proud of and has been anything but "Hawaiian" in subject matter. That I haven't yet resorted to producing tropical sunset pics or ripping off the wave photos of Clark Little, like so many others, is comforting. Mrs. NC insists that I need some of those types of images in my display and I think she may be right. Gotta get right on that! What a great luxury it would be to be generating income in this manner, freeing me considerably from the concerns of the commercial side of my business to pursue work of a more personal nature. 

And I'm enjoying my time sitting the resort gallery too; enjoying getting to know the other artists working in other mediums, enjoying the people watching, getting to meet the celebrities visiting the resort, watching what images people seem most drawn to from week to week. I'm paying close attention. My first five weeks of sittings has been during the traditional pre-holiday slow time for tourism in the islands All the better... allowing me some time to develop the learning curve as to what works , what might work and what doesn't. By Christmas peak season, I should just about have things fairly well wired. Already, new work is being produced to meet what I'm beginning to sense is the market. New work will be on display this coming monday and I will get a chance to evaluate how well it will potentially be received. Drop by on mondays between the hours of 7:00am & 1:30pm to say "hi" and check out the new work if you plan to be near the Four Seasons.

Old dog, new tricks...

I will be joining authors Mark Ellman & Barbara Santos next weekend for two books signing events as the launching of the just published Practice Aloha book continues. Next Saturday, November 27th, we will be at Borders Books & Music on Dairy Road beginning at 2:00 pm.  Word is that legendary drummer, book contributor and old friend Mick Fleetwood will be joining us for the event, signing copies of the book and greeting fans. Here's an opportunity to pick up a few excellent gifts for friends and family as you prepare for the holidays. 

On Sunday, November 28th, we will again be signing books at the Maui Ocean Center in Maalea beginning at 11:00 am. Please come & join us!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Friday, November 5, 2010

Note To Self...

As soon as possible, create account at WORDPRESS and migrate this blog. Formatting issues & glitches here at Google, causing weird paragraph spacing, strange, unalterable font & font-size transformations upon publication, etc. are apparently beyond the grasp of Google Blogger's programming wizards. 

Time consuming, yet fruitless... frustrating... 

Never Piss Off The Nerds

Cooks Source Magazine editor Judith Griggs has found herself in the frying pan and the nerds are turning up the heat. 

The New England based food journal evidently published a story originally written & published elsewhere in 2005. A friend of the original author contacts her to ask how CSM had gotten hold of the story copy. Said author conducts a basic web search and indeed finds the Magazine's website & Facebook page(s) here & here (ed. note: It is at this time unclear as to whether or not either of these Facebook pages are legitimate or the products of further retaliation by the growing angry mob). The author does, in fact, find her story, re-edited and published in CSM's online edition and ostensibly in the printed version too.

Author makes a call to CSM HQ. Author sends email to CSM via the website Contact Form asking them what had happened and how they had gotten her article? Author believed that maybe there had been some sort of inadvertent mix-up or that someone had perhaps "posted it to some sort of free article database". Further research indicated that the article had simply been copied off of a website owned by the author and sporting the author's copyright notice.

According to the author of the article, a couple of emails passed back & forth between herself & CSM editor Griggs before Ms. Griggs finally asks the author what she wanted in the form of compensation.

On the author's blog, she writes that she: 
"... responded that I wanted an apology on Facebook, a printed apology in the magazine and $130 donation (which turns out to be about $0.10 per word of the original article) to be given to the Columbia School of Journalism."

Instead of meeting the author's request, an hubris-filled email response , so condescending, so completely unprofessional, arrived from editor  Griggs, a portion of which is posted below:
"Yes Monica, I have been doing this for 3 decades, having been an editor at The Voice, Housitonic Home and Connecticut Woman Magazine. I do know about copyright laws. It was "my bad" indeed, and, as the magazine is put together in long sessions, tired eyes and minds somethings forget to do these things.
 But honestly Monica, the web is considered "public domain" and you should be happy we just didn't "lift" your whole article and put someone else's name on it! It happens a lot, clearly more than you are aware of, especially on college campuses, and the workplace. If you took offence and are unhappy, I am sorry, but you as a professional should know that the article we used written by you was in very bad need of editing, and is much better now than was originally. Now it will work well for your portfolio. For that reason, I have a bit of a difficult time with your requests for monetary gain, albeit for such a fine (and very wealthy!) institution. We put some time into rewrites, you should compensate me! I never charge young writers for advice or rewriting poorly written pieces, and have many who write for me... ALWAYS for free!"
You can read more about this story straight from the author's blog here. 

In the ensuing 48 hours since the story became public, evidence that CSM may be a serial infringer/plagerist has surfaced and the news has gone viral, complete with stories in the Washington Post & LA Times Blog. The magazine's Facebook pages have been turned into a screamfest of comedy... postings from "fans" pointing out that:

"Cooks Source killed Michael Jackson","Cooks Source trapped the Chilean Miners",  "Cooks Source makes Baby Jesus cry" ,"Cooks Source tastes like chicken"....

And on & on it goes... nearly 4000 comments on one of the FB pages and thousands (several since removed) on the other "potentially real" FB page. In fact, so much controversy has been created over the issue, that the most recent FB posting, ostensibly from Griggs or someone else at the magazine, posted in the last half hour reads:
"Cooks Source Mag Numerous derogatory posts have been removed and members banned and reported. Those people here to cause trouble are wasting their time. Don't you think that jumping on a band wagon just makes you look lily-livered?"
 Another FB post appeared yesterday morning, supposedly by Grigg's herself  reads:

 Cooks Source Magazine
 Hi Folks!
Well, here I am with egg on my face! I did apologise to Monica via email, but aparently it wasnt enough for her. To all of you, thank you for your interest in Cooks Source and Again, to Monica, I am sorry -- my bad!
You did find a way to get your "pound of flesh..." we used to have 110 "friends," we now have 1,870... wow! Best to all, Judith
How's that for humble pie? Your original story sucked until I got my hands on it... you should pay ME for finding it, stealing it and turning it into something readable seems to be the gist of editor Griggs'  responding screed. The apology? Hmmm, well she did ackowledge that the controversy has generated "interest" in her rag.

And, as of now, her "fans" number more than 5131 and growing with each passing minute.
The point to be taken from this very public debacle is this: 

perception that anything found on the interwebs is "public domain" is as prevalent as ever. I lay much of the blame for this completely inaccurate view of web content squarely at the feet of former music file sharing sites like Napster & Limewire, both shut down by the US Courts for infringing on the rights of artists. Those decisions seemed to do little in terms of helping to sway that perception that content published on the internet is free for the taking.  Seasoned editors with "3 decades" of experience in the industry, as editor Griggs claims, should know better. The fact that she apparently is clueless on matters of intellectual property (not to mention punctuation & grammar--- where's the apostrophe in Cooks Source?) reflects poorly on not only Ms. Griggs & her employers past & present, but to us--- the community of artists, illustrators, photographers, writers and designers that fail --  first to © register the fruits of their labors & second, to enforce their rights when infringement occurs.

Let's just hope that author Monica decides to put the full weight of the legal system available to her to bear heavily on Griggs &
CSM. They were given the opportunity to pony up & do the right thing... a cheap & easy fix which would have been belatedly satisfying to both parties. Instead, Griggs offered a left-handed critique of Monica's work, an admission that the practice of infringement was standard operating policy and a very public non-apology. Nothing short of an overwhelming defeat in the courts and the promise of punitive damages would appear to make this publisher stand up & take notice.

The nerds have time on their hands--- can make life miserable for you when you offend their sense of right & wrong, especially when they are right & you are wrong. 

CSM & Griggs are not alone in their beliefs that online content belongs to everyone (available is a very different thing than belong. Thus far, the courts have been most consistent in confirming that infringement, be it online or elsewhere, is wrong, illegal & prosecutable). That perception will only grow, ultimately affecting all of us in the long run, unless we are willing to enforce and protect our rights to control our work. The internet is now a necessary & required method of reaching out, promoting our work, communicating with others and accessing information. It's a blessing. It's a curse. It's the wild-west, anything goes etherworld, requiring caution, care, attention and a workflow & operating plan that aids in protecting the work you publish there.

Nerds are cool! 

(ed. note: As of 12:30PM, CPT Time, CSM's two Facebook Pages have gathered a combined total of 5220 "fans", 89 new "fans" in the past half-hour---3350 more since posting her "apology" yesterday.)