What is the real value of photo copyright?

February 26, 2009

Here is an actual case that just made the news and offers a lot of good insights. We’ve talked about photo copyright before. In fact, it is one of our most read stories. In an article by the National Post on Thursday, February 26, 2009, there is a story about a famous photographer, Annie Leibovitz, has pawned the copyright and ownership of her photos for around $16 million US to an art-based lender.

Her photographs are seen frequently in Vogue and Vanity Fair and throughout the public space.  In this digital age it would be easy to find a copy of one her pictures and put it up on a website. Some would see it as petty theft, but the copyright and ownership of those images are worth a great deal and are not for the taking. This event illustrates unequivocally the value of copyright, without the need of legal jargon.

Marketing with connectivity (part 4)

February 23, 2009

For the next several weeks, the CEO of CleanPix, Nelson Vigneault, will be sharing his thoughts on “Marketing with connectivity”.


For the journalist, pressuite.com provides a platform to discover, pick up content, or elect to receive RSS feeds that meet their specific interests. For our clients, the posting of several, short stories per week creates a momentum that works best. A very good example of use is by Space Coast CVB, where twice a week a new “landing” on pressuite.com of a newsbrief creates sparks of interest from the media. In this manner, stories are picked up and transferred from one Social Media news stream to another. We have also noted some cases where, after a few fervent initial weeks of positive results, clients suddenly slow down their posting activity. Almost immediately the stats register proportional slowdowns on their success score. Again, presence and consistency appear to be key … the “seeds” need nurturing. When asked, “Why did you stop?” The most common answers boil down to: “I ran out of ideas!” or, “I did not believe I needed to keep at it!” Hey!  It’s called s o c i a l  media … you have to keep interacting with it for it to work. Secondly, truer then ever, marketing on the Internet is the business of IDEAS. For success in marketing with connectivity you absolutely have to keep coming up with new and fresh ideas. This means finding new angles, new avenues to tell the story by reviewing and questioning upside down your knowledge about your product, destination or event. A sort of revisiting of your campaign and your product from a Web culture perspective, a perspective where the audience defines how they connect with you and dictates what they are looking for.

Because Social Media is a LIVE medium, its architecture is as digital as it is volatile. It appears that everywhere you look, speed of action is paramount — interaction must be prompt. The need to actualize content (i.e. make the news responsive, attuned to world events, trends and new emerging contexts) puts writing for Web at a premium even if the final destination may very well be print media (i.e. how you write for the Web differs from how you write for traditional media). One must constantly create fresh content.

Check back again soon for part 5 of this series.

Check out part 1 of this series
Check out part 2 of this series
Check out part 3 of this series

Our Twitter needs a voice

February 19, 2009

We have designed a new logo for our Twitter feed.  It is quite chirpy! It contains its own talk bubble.

Now what are we doing with it?
Literally speaking, this issue is the talk of the industry. “Now that we have a Twitter account and a blog… what do we do with it?” Yes, we can tweet about it on our blog or blog about it on Twitter but then what. Todd Lucier, of Tourism Keys, offers 15 ideas specifically for Travel Associations. In particular:

“3. Use Nearby Tweets to track local tweets within a defined geographic boundary.”

Building on this tip, you can use Nearby Tweets to pick up news stories ideas about your geographic region. These tweets can be used to inspire a new pressbrief post, for example.

Photo Copyrights: the Basic Principles

February 18, 2009

Simply said, copyright laws exist to protect the rights of the creators of information, industrial or cultural works. Not ideas themselves but, rather, the embodiments of these ideas.

What are these rights? They may vary from country to country but, basically, they deal with the right for acknowledgment, compensation and restriction on usage. If you appropriate something that is not of your making (creation) and use it without permission, you are basically profiting from someone else’s property without their knowing. This is a NO-NO. Similarly, if you grab a graphic or a photo on the Internet and modify it a little (or a lot) to become your own, it is simply not OK either. You see, it is like fair play, a huge ethic dimension is involved in copyright.

This is all too heavy, let’s get practical: I bought these photos from a professional photographer they should be mine… should they not?  Yes, you bought the photos but not the right to use them. That is impossible! Then what is the use of these pictures, if I can’t use them? That is exactly the point, you cannot use them, unless you clear up the usage restriction with the photographer and this is what you have to do to make it OK with the copyright of the creator. One basic thing to keep in mind is that a good photographer can only survive if paid, and that is the very reason you can hire this photographer in the first place.

Topics ahead:

• Here is what you can do, if you commission a photo shoot
• The photo credit
• Your copyright rights
• Counterproductive copyright jargon
• A change of attitute toward copyright – avoiding the fiasco of the music industry
• Does Facebook own you?

Read the rest of this entry »

Getting It Right: Photo White Balance

February 13, 2009


I got a phone call yesterday from Nelson Vigneault CEO of CleanPix. “Your white balance (WB) on your camera is all messed up SIR”! Not something you want to hear. This was in reference to a set of photographs I took to assist the Florida Rep theater.  I had done a studio shoot with strobes for their kids performance PR images. Nelson said that it took  demanding Photoshop skills to get the pink/red color cast out of the photographs.

I shoot with a 2 year old Nikon D70S. I went and googled the problem and found this site  by Ken Rockwell. The solution was toward the bottom of the page and this is what it said: “Try the Daylight setting to match carefully daylight balanced studio strobes”. Aha! I just excepted that the camera new best and had been setting it on the flash setting. Nelson commented: “In doubt, shoot a grey scale, that will tell you.”). I raced to my storage room and dug around in an old trunk of photo stuff from college days 28 years ago and found my grey scale. Then I did what I should have done in the beginning and ran a simple test with the camera. WOW! Sure enough the Flash WB setting gave a terrible cross curved pink photo. The Auto WB setting was a little better but still poor and the Daylight WB setting was pretty much spot on. Needless to say my computer screen is not calibrated. I sent the grey scale test pictures to CleanPix to be checked.

I stand corrected and somewhat ashamed but I now know how to better calibrate my camera for the white balance, or at least check if my settings are off. I would certainly recommend the purchase of a grey scale at your local photo store for some simple tests.

Photo skills: a bit of digital polishing

February 11, 2009

click-photoThe Media, cannot always do a custom photo shoot for each news item they cover. And sometimes, Web journalist are happy to give a small article about it, if their posting can be supported with some hot visuals. This is where your photo collection becomes of great value. It is a good idea to have some great shots available, on demand, as long as they meet editors’ and journals’ and web standards, so they can be used to feature your story.

Here some basic tips and why:
Have your photos ready in high resolution. (A picture that will cover a magazine page needs to be at least 300 dpi at 8″X10″. A smaller picture will not give you a cover, so you may as well have a large picture ready.)

A) Look at you collection, analyze which are the most often asked-for pictures. This will give you great insight into what the media wants. Do not hesitate to get these shots professionally re-photographed from time to time to maintain a fresh and contemporary look to your product or destination. Be ready to provide new angles, new views or different times of the day versions. (The journalist gets tired of the same old shots.) It is not the product or the destination which is a deterrent, it is too often how it is portrayed.

B) Do not underestimate the keen EYE of a professional photographer. Whether the purpose is fashion, documentary, action, or scenic, a pro does give a shot that visual twist that makes it something like: great, attractive, actual, fresh, powerful and charged with emotion. (Discuss with your photographer the essence of what the pictures should be and launch them on a shooting “spree”. To get a great shot even with pros, it often takes hundreds of clicks.)

C) You cannot hire a top photographer, o.k., and sometimes some good snaps are all you can manage at the time or moment. There is nothing wrong with that. But do not forget to polish you photo skills a bit. Our experience has been that most snaps become unusable because 3 simple precautions have not been taken:
Insure you get the white-balance right to compensate for the light conditions (indoor, outdoor, flash, etc. No camera does this by itself, you have to make a selection in the menu of each photo-camera.
Insure you take your picture in the best resolution possible (saving your file as jpegs is fine but delivering RAW files is questionable).
If you are not sure about your light exposure, use the auto-bracketing, so you end up with 3 shots (from light to dark, you can always choose the best one afterward).

Oh, I almost forgot my secret tip: use a tripod or lean against a solid object, if you can, as you take the shot. For some pictures, a blurred effect, makes the shot but in most cases there is nothing sharper than sharp.

- Polishing compound
If this is all seems too complicated, you may brush up you skills by making a few tests. Where to start? What is white-balance, right exposure, etc.? We found great straightforward polishing info on this site among others:

How to spam a journalist?

February 6, 2009

The secrets most PR wont tell you.

The art of getting any press—bad press or good press—is hard to master and time intensive anyway you slice it. The usual tips look like:

- Refrain from………
– Pitch in points….
– Do not try to match……..
– Stick to……….
– Consider this…..
– Create brief word sequences to……..
– Thank profusely……
– Do not send email attac……….
– Support material has to……

It takes two for a pitch.

883,000 “creative marketing” entries on Google. It can be frustrating trying to find relevant information to demonstrate how today’s PR/Marketing success is, by far, the result of nothing less than an enhanced relationship with the Media through the social web. Although one needs the proper tools to make the bridge, I insist it is not about technology but rather about a concerted drive to commit serious elbow grease and tons of consistency to learn how the message links with the medium.

This is no longer news: The medium is… THE WEB!  What is not so obvious is that:  the web is media, message, and medium in one. This cluster—cemented with the birth of Social Media—is, I believe, the fundamental shift we are witnessing and has permuted forever our perception of community and everything about it, inclusive of global behavioral laws. For example, with regards to MEDIA PR, the person to person relationship (me and the journalist) is more than ever valuable. This relation begs for a renewed model of “social media” polishing. Media PR spamming is the biggest mischief.

Social consciousness is a pitch

The language is brutal. The methods are new. The shift in attitude is definitive. The risks are real, so are the fears. The risk that the “info-snippets flux” obliterates the need for knowledge based consciousness, is such a fear. Here is what that looks like: Since all info-bits on everything are available for access, the need to juxtapose, compare, analyze, cohort, fuse and confuse may vanish lazily. In consequence, the regression of this human process to consciousness pins the erosion of creativity, that is the fear. Thinking creative!

Ok, here is an interesting take and a creative Robert Proctor word: Agnotology. Or we could call it: The lost civilization nightmare… “For God’s sake what were they thinking?”  But do not worry, looking outside my window I think the loss of civility is more likely to become the disease. The effervescence of Connectivity via the web over vast distances seems to have adversely deteriorated human conduct in close proximity: “Can’t you tell I am twittering on my cellphone… you twit?” We all agree, Social media is in need a of a self-administrated dose of ethical vaccination. It is coming. Vaccination or not, one thing is sure, it is time to roll-up the web sleeves. It is hard work, but smart work, it is time.

So I won’t pitch you any further on Media PR as we have found a few smart authors and entire websites that shed practical light beyond the course of info-snippits. From time to time we will point you toward sites of interest that address squarely the shift in PR/marketing behavior of today’s times. We urge you to share with us some of your best finds.

Further reading:


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