Sunday, July 22, 2012

Copyright Infringement...

I love the internet.

For the last couple of hours, I've been engaged in an on-and-off online debate regarding copyright infringement. Specifically, I've been trying to get a particular group of hammerheads to understand that something being on the internet does not translate to it being "uncopyrighted".

Yes, one of these pointy-headed geniuses actually uttered the word "uncopyrighted".

A blogger I'm acquainted with was recently sued because she used a photo without permission. Why she chose to do that is anyone's guess but, by all appearances, it was an honest mistake. As soon as the  photographer contacted her about the unauthorized use, she took the photo down.

And then he sued her.

Unfortunately, because she was, technically, in the wrong, she lost.

It's a cautionary tale, to be sure. Nobody wants to be sued. But these days, given the economical hit that photographers claim to have taken, legal action becomes a very viable revenue stream for some if the proper circumstances exist. 

Personally, in the case of an honest mistake, I can't imagine going after someone in the courts. Take the picture down, say ten Hail Mary's and five Our Father's and call it a day. No harm, no foul. The reality, though, is that I could pursue someone through legal channels if I felt so inclined.

I've had a couple instances where someone lifted a photo off my Facebook page or my blog, and a quick e-mail is usually all it takes for them to take it down. If someone asks beforehand, I might say "no", but I also may say "yes". Trust me, though, when I say that there isn't a photographer alive who "should feel flattered" by having his photos stolen.

Yes, that little wisdom-filled nugget was suggested by the same person who believed that photos on the web were "uncopyrighted". 

Well, flattery is great, and I know I certainly enjoy feeling flattered. But flattery doesn't pay the bills. Flattery won't put groceries in the shopping cart or gas in the car. To that end, flattery doesn't hold a lot of value.

The same can be said for "credit".

I've lost count of the number of times where people have told me "We'll give you a photo credit". Well, just like flattery, photo credits don't pay the bills. A "by line" is nice, but it's not gonna' keep the lights on.

I'm a photographer. I take pictures, and then I sell them. That's what I do. Asking for a photo in exchange for a "credit" is more than mildly insulting. You're a plumber? Hey, great! How about coming over to fix my leaky faucet, and I'll be sure to let all my friends know about the great job you did in exchange for repairing that faucet.

What's that? You want to be paid? Oh, no... "I don't have a budget for that".

Making good money as a photographer is tough, and photographers being more vigilant has become more commonplace than it was even three or four years ago. If I find out one of my photos is being used without my permission, I'll ask the offender to take it down.

Once.

After that, it's an issue of outright theft, and I have no love for thieves. Hey, I was one of those people who actually supported Metallica during their fight with Napster. If someone creates a work of some sort, be it a photograph or a song or a poem, they should expect to be compensated if someone wants to use their work. If the work is going to be used without compensation, that should be the sole decision of the artist. I know I've allowed it, but that decision was mine. I donate photos to various charities for silent auctions, but the decision to do that is mine.

But it's nice to make money, as well.

I shot a band at the House Of Blues a few weeks ago. One of the members of the band contacted me and asked if he could buy some of the images I shot. I gave him a price, he agreed, and that was that; cash money. That's how it's supposed to work, and it's refreshing that there are people out there who understand that.

I realize I'm rambling. Hey, it's almost two thirty in the morning and I'm stone cold sober. I'm tired and I'm rambling. But I've been getting more and more frustrated by dealing with blockheads to whom the concept of fair compensation is an entirely alien concept, and I needed to vent.

As I don't think I'm going to get through to these people anytime soon, at least not this evening, I think it's time for bed...







Thursday, July 19, 2012

A Pirate Looks At 40...

Well, that was what Jimmy Buffett talked about, anyway. I remember thinking about that song ten years ago, only because I was turning 40 at the time and, like the modern-day pirate in the song, was contemplating my future. Now, ten years later, I find myself doing it again.

 
Hitting that "half century" mark is a bit sobering, I think. I can remember, as a kid, thinking that anyone who'd reached such an advanced age was, in fact, ancient. I mean, come on... 50? I can still remember my Dad's 35th birthday party at our home in Hauppauge, New York. I was 11 days shy of my 6th birthday. I don't know why I remember that particular birthday of his, but I do. At 35, Dad was one of the oldest guys I knew.

So, I'm 50. I hit the big "5-0". I am, as I would've believed when I was a kid, "ancient".

You know how you know you're old? You don't get any of the traditional "old guy" presents. I didn't get a cane with a fold-out seat, and I didn't get a box of Depends. Nowhere on the party decorations were the words "OVER THE HILL". Aside from being asked to wear this button, you'd never know that it was a party for someone of such advancing years:



See, for the most part, it's serious business, this turning 50. It makes you take stock of, well, everything.

Someone called me "middle aged", which would suggest that I'll live to be 100. Well, I'm just not sure I want to do that. Quite honestly, if I got another 30, maybe 35 years under my belt, I'd call that a pretty good run. But I also can't ignore the longevity that runs in my family. In 2003, Grandma died at age 91. She'd quit smoking at age 85. Grandpa died five weeks late at age 95. He never smoked. My Dad, who's always been a smoker, is 79 years old and is in perfect health.

The smoking issue is a big one for me. I'm not the kind of guy who'll ever insist that someone else quit, but it was the right choice for me. Back in December, I'd decided that I didn't want to be a 50 year old smoker. It was nothing more than a simple coincidence that my six month anniversary of being a non-smoker was July 16, which was my 50th birthday.

I really do view it as my birthday present to myself.

It was a major change, no doubt. Initially, I even lost weight. But, as weight will often do when it's lost, it all came back, and it brought friends. Since quitting, I've gained about 25 pounds. While I feel very good, the jeans aren't fitting quite as comfortably as they used to, and the shirts don't fall as nicely as they used to. Make absolutely no mistake here. I would much rather be a non-smoker dealing with a few extra pounds than a relatively skinny guy trying to quit smoking. I'm very proud of the fact that I quit smoking. Now it's time to address the additional poundage which has taken up residence around my mid-section. I made the change to quit smoking. Now I'll make the change to lose the pounds I gained.

There are other changes, as well. For those of you who were unaware, I left Taylor Guitars back in February. It was just time for me to go, and I'm happy that not a bridge was burned because of my departure. Since then, I've been doing a lot of photography, and considering my next move. I've got a plan in place, generally speaking, and will start down that road. I'm excited to get started, and the fact that a trip to Vegas plays into all of this has nothing to do with the joy of this. Nooooo... Not at all.

Okay, I'm full of it.

The bottom line is that, at 50 years old, I need to start thinking about "what's next". The old saying "This is the first day of the rest of your life" is, indeed, true. These will be the first days of forever. I guess I did the previous days right, as I've made it this far.

Let's see what the next 50 years brings...

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The County Fair...

When I was a kid on Long Island, we would often pile into our 1965 Plymouth Belvedere and drive to my grandparent's house in Hopewell Junction, New York. They lived on a mountain and, if memory serves, there were only five or six other houses on that mountain. It was a nice, quiet, idyllic place which only now do I think I can truly appreciate, regardless of the fact that I haven't been there in over 30 years. The house was sold long ago, and Grandma and Grandpa both passed away in 2003.

Now, for a ten year old kid, there wasn't a Hell of a lot to do on a six house mountain in Hopewell Junction, New York. Daily hikes through the woods were common and, when we got a little older, we would go shoot guns out in the backyard (it was a really big backyard). For the most part, though, it was a routine boredom that we simply got used to.

Except in the Fall.

Danbury, Connecticut, lies about 40 miles from Hopewell Junction. That made it an easy day trip to make if, say, the Danbury Fair happened to be running. We didn't go every year, but we did go a few times. I can remember it being, mainly, an agricultural fair, but I also remember there being rides and displays of, well, whatever was "cutting edge" in the early 1970's. As my brother and I got into our teens, though, our folks figured (correctly, I might add) that our weekend interests were no longer focused on a small town in western Connecticut.

That said, though, there's just something about a fair that's a lot of fun.

It was with that in mind that I headed out to the San Diego County Fair with my daughter Jessy and her boyfriend Dom. The last time I attended, it was still known as "The Del Mar Fair" and, in fact, I still call it that. It's held at the horse racing track in Del Mar, and it just seems wrong to call it anything else.

The idea, initially, was to go to the "Summerland" concert, which featured Everclear, Sugar Ray, Gin Blossoms and Lit. I tried scoring a photo credential so I could shoot it, but since the decision to go was made at the last minute, I didn't meet the time restriction of 48 hours. I was trying to get the pass on five hours notice, and it just wasn't going to happen. The head of media relations, though, graciously offered me two media seating passes for the show. I promptly bestowed them on Jessy and Dom (I was really only mildly interested in seeing Gin Blossoms), and we agreed to meet at 10:00pm. My plan was to simply walk around the fair and take pictures, and I'm glad I did.

The "county fair" is a wild place. First off, it brings out everyone. Rednecks, gangstas, yuppies and, well, everyone. The come out for the food, they come out for the rides, they come out for the music, and they come out just because.

Okay, I'll curtail the narrative and settle for captions from here on out. If you've got a county fair, go.

Eat.

Be seen.

Enjoy.

Chocolate covered bacon. Fair fare is awesome...

See, I wasn't making it up...

Who needs to be bothered with a pesky hot dog bun?

I have nothing funny to say about these. They were crazy...

You can actually hear your arteries hardening...

Nothing like walking through the fair trying to eat the messiest meal within a five mile radius...

After all, we are known for our fish & chips...

I think they finally found the only two things not previously battered and fried...

An HDR look of one of the plazas from the Heineken Red Star Lounge...

I didn't even know they called them "grinders" out here...

"Jumbo", "Giant", "1/2 Pound", and more grease than a well-stocked Jiffy Lube...
Vendors along the Midway...



I was unaware that people still did this. And, for $40.00, you, too, can go hurtling towards the
pavement while hoping that the bungee cord doesn't fail...

Prizes are a bit bigger than I remember them being...

One of the many games at which you will gleefully piss away $100.00 in an effort to win a $2.00 stuffed animal...

They even have food on the Midway. And it's big food, too...

One of the Midway rides. Surprisingly, there were very few lines...

Some of the prizes along the Midway...

"The Tango". It just didn't strike me as something I needed to do before I die...

The Midway...

Rides along the Midway, including the "Grand Wheel" Ferris wheel...

Okay, just a little more narrative here:

Like I said, there was a lot of music. Now, while Jess and Dom were at "the concert", I stumbled across a Bruce Springsteen tribute act in one of the beer gardens called "Thunder Road".

Damn.

Think Bruce, circa 1975, close your eyes, and you're there:




Thunder Road...
Our fair closes down tomorrow night; July 4th, just has it has since it was first held at the fairgrounds in 1936. Other fairs, though, take place all over the country throughout the summer, and they're definitely worth checking out...






Let's Talk Apps...

From time to time, I'll be talking about cell phone apps as I find good ones. Let's face it, it's almost impossible to get thro...