TWiP #187 – Crowd-Funded Photography

Audio MP3

This week on TWiP: The evolution of photo printers, the Gap gets caught red-handed, and crowd-sourcing your next photography project.

Hosts: Frederick Van Johnson, Catherine Hall, Tristan Hall, and Sara France

Printers Adapt to World of the Web
Printers have evolved quite a bit over the years.  Some now come with their own email address you can send photos to from anywhere in the world and others even have apps that cut out the computer from the process completely.  But because it’s so easy these days to have our photos live online or to send out print jobs, do we still print at home?  Catherine uses Epson’s fine art Exhibition Fiber Paper and doesn’t see anything evolving that will de-value a high-quality, fine art print with a heavy-weight feel.  She also realizes that the new generation of users that communicate through Facebook, Twitter, and Flickr and share everything online will probably not continue to print images themselves as much.  Sara says the majority of her studio’s work goes out as albums or mounted canvas or wood mounts printed by labs.  She thinks all photographers do eventually print their work, but that some consumers these days want to arrive at a print in as few number of steps as possible so they will opt to send images off to places like Costco or Walmart instead of dealing with paper and ink cartridges.  Tristan is of the opinion that an important photograph is not a photograph until it’s in printed form.  Frederick agrees with the romantic, nostalgic aspect of that, but also thinks that a photograph isn’t a photograph until someone else sees it so there’s something to be said about the massive online audience who can potentially see an image versus the smaller, finite number of people who would see a physical print.

Gap Uses Flickr Photo for Clothing Graphic without Permission
Flickr user Chris Devers noticed that one of his photos on Flickr was used in a design for Gap kids’ clothing even though he gave his image a Creative Commons license requiring attribution and prohibiting commercial use or derivative works.  Peta Pixel’s write-up of this story lets you mouse-over the image to see a before and after comparison for you to decide for yourself.  Sara says Gap should have obviously compensated the photographer up front before the clothing was sold online.  Catherine thinks the most disheartening part of this story is that a large corporation is profiting off someone’s work versus an individual using the image for, say, a t-shirt for personal use.  Tristan is surprised Gap would stoop to something like this but also can’t help but wonder if this wasn’t slightly intentional by the company because there are now many, many more people who know about this product because of the controversy.

Crowd-funded Photojournalism
While photojournalists in the past have self-funded their projects or attempted to secure funding from publications or NGOs before they go shooting, sites like Kickstarter and are now allowing artists to post a project or issue they are passionate about and ask the public to donate towards it.  Catherine plans to look into these sites and thinks this is great because it could revitalize the photojournalism field where funding has really dried up over the years.  Sara says, no matter what genre of photography you are in, there will always be projects and ideas you want to pursue so these new sites could be worth checking out.  Frederick wonders if this crowd-funded trend could work well for something like the “Detroit in Ruins” project mentioned in TWiP episode 183.  Sara points out that, from a funder’s perspective, this is an amazing resource for finding artists who have a vision or a passion about something in particular.  Tristan also says these endeavors should remind the public to make donations, no matter how small, because quality photography and quality content need significant financial contributions.

Preview of an Upcoming TWiP Episode
A future TWiP show will focus on photo-sharing sites, in particular how Flickr is being challenged by competitors like Facebook, Instagram, Smugmug, and other companies who are coming on strong by innovating much faster.

Every week our producers scour the TWiP forums to find the best questions for us to answer on the show. Here are this week’s questions:

Question #1: Henrik from Nürnberg, Germany says he is going to the Grand Canyon and hopes to see the Horseshoe Bend and the Antelope Canyon. He wants to know what lens focal length(s) are recommended for his camera that has a crop factor of 1.6.  Having been to a place like Victoria Falls recently and seeing members of his group wishing they had wider angle glass, Tristan strongly recommends a lens in the 10-22mm range and to experiment with panoramic shots that you can stitch together later.  To get shots with a 4×5 format feel,  you could consider a tilt-shift lens, but Tristan is afraid they don’t really work well on cropped-sensor cameras.

Question #2: Chris Campbell from Agoura, California wants to know what folks are doing with their excess or “outdated” camera gear besides selling it to used equipment dealers or on eBay.  Is there a worthy organization who would put some working photography gear to good use?  Sara recommends trying to stay local by donating gear to newbie photographers in camera groups or clubs (as well as schools) in your area or to consider contacting a photography-centric non-profit like 100cameras.  Tristan also reminds listeners that just because a camera has been replaced by a successor in the model line, it doesn’t mean the camera doesn’t have a lot of life left.  Consider converting your older camera body to infra-red, for example.

Question #3: Glenn from Las Cruces, NM is considering joining a professional organization, but is having trouble choosing which one.  Any recommendations between Professional Photographers of America (PPA), Wedding & Portrait Photographers International (WPPI), and other organizations for someone who is going to specialize in general portraiture and high school seniors (and maybe eventually weddings and events)?  He also wants to know if joining one of these groups is really worthwhile in the first place.  What are the benefits?  Sara says there are great benefits to all these organizations and 100% recommends going to WPPI’s conference and soaking it all in.  It can be a little overwhelming though, so Sara reminds listeners to first become involved in local photography groups where it’s easier to make connections and build relationships with other photographers.  She also recommends that Glenn check out Senior Portrait Artists if he is going to be focusing on photographing seniors.  Catherine likes PPA for its support network and WPPI for its convention and its Hy Sheanin Scholarship which accepts applications each December.  The bottom line is the real benefit to these organizations is actually going to the conventions, learning from other photographers’ presentations, and exchanging ideas with others in person.

Tristan: The b-grip camera belt grip which keeps your camera on your side like it’s in a holster, ready to shoot.  You can see Tristan’s review of it on PhotoComment.

Catherine: Manfrotto’s Aluminium 3-Sections Stacker Stand which is super compact and easy to travel with.

Sara: the Sony Video Light which she will demoing at the Sony booth at WPPI this month.  It’s inexpensive and small which makes it easy to have a video light with you at all times. A bonus Pick from Sara: the fact that Aperture is now only $79 in the Mac App Store.

Frederick: Photo Trade Secrets by Zeke Kamm which is collection of “microlessons” on easy-to-carry cards.

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Producer: Suzanne Llewellyn
Show notes by Ernest Aguayo: and
Photo above by Daniel Lobo
Bandwidth provided by Cachefly
Intro Music by Scott Cannizzaro


  1. Should the designer of the Jaguar E-Type be compensated by the photographer in the event Gap compensates him for use of the image?

  2. @stowaway – that’s completely different. You could say the same thing about photographing buildings, or really any man-made object… Creating the photograph is an artistic interpretation of the objects in the picture. However, if the photographer built a replica E-Type and tried to pass it off as his own creation, then maybe Jaguar could have a word!