#103 R&R

I have some work and play coming up that will consume much of my time. Alas, my blog posts over the next two weeks will be sparse. I will likely post a couple of notes but want to limit my time in the office to charge my batteries!

Perhaps in my relax time I will get a chance for a ride in an old roadster:Roadster @ ChelseaGallery.ca
Blur action in an old roadster – ChelseaGallery.ca

The Photo Story:

I developed this idea of highway summer photos in Chelsea, Quebec. I scouted the highway and found a nice background with a safe spot beside my car to get the fun perspective. Within minutes I was lucky enough to catch this classic roadster on the highway. I added the hint of motion with a slow shutter speed – slightly blurred roadster – that adds to the fun.

A police officer ‘moved me along’ a few minutes later! He was quite nice – no ticket – but a little perplexed at my project!


#102 Stock assignment

I will be handing in the first installment of a stock assignment with the Canadian federal government. The shooting has been very fun – right up my alley – it involves people and motion.

Stock Photo @ HarryNowell.com

Shooting stock is what brought me into this business of photography. Naturally, my business has progressed to include other elements of work. The freedom and creativity shooting stock is what makes me smile the most!

I have an intriguing photo adventure coming up later this week. I’ll be smiling…


#101 Supply and Demand

I just shot Ottawa Bluesfest for a couple of different media outlets. The festival has grown into an extravaganza of international music festival proportions.

Wyclef Jean
Wyclef Jean 

For the last night of the fest I was hired to shoot and file the headline show. I got called in the afternoon to see if I could cover more. That meant twice the work. “Yes,” I said and asked for a larger budget to cover the extra work. “No,” they said.
I stood my ground and said for the original budget I’d shoot the original assignment. Their freelancer’s rates are very low already. They changed the show I was to cover. Fine – same work but I was done earlier.

I saw the staff writer covering the event. “What?!” he exclaimed! He phoned the media outlet – my assigned photos wouldn’t match his review. The office spoke to me again and asked if I could shoot more – “Yes,” if there was a larger budget!

They ended up hiring a student on site at the last minute for the extra work. The student told me he was paid $40 to shoot. Apparently he borrowed a laptop to file the work. Another photographer told the student what just went down. “You just took Harry’s work!” …and accepted almost nothing to do it. The student was a little uneasy! I am not upset with him – but he has some learning to do!

Bluesfest crowd photo
Crowd at Bluesfest 

There are many people who see shooting Bluesfest for a paper a great opportunity with great exposure that could lead to great things. With an attitude like that it will likely lead to low, unsustainable wages.

“But he got $40! Better than nothing.”

No! With the amount invested in photo and computer gear, the price of gas and the cost of doing business the student would be far better pursuing other jobs that paid a realistic wage.

“But it’s Bluesfest!” (ie fun). The media outlets know there are many ‘wanna-be’ photographers with stars in their eyes! This scenario often leads to low, unsustainable wages.

I filed my assigned work, enjoyed the show for twenty more minutes and went home to my wife. I filed my invoice and said I was interested in other work “… if the rates were reasonable.” I may never get another call from them. That’s fine – I’ll be working for better clients!

Sam Roberts at Bluesfest
Sam Roberts 

If you have a new creative business BE CAREFUL OUT THERE! There are few clients who will pay you a penny more than they have to. They know there is a far greater supply of new photographers (or other new creatives) than there is demand for their services. They can often get away with paying low $. Saying “no” to low $ can get you further in the long run.

How can you learn the ropes of a creative business?

  • Consider a professional organization. I started a network group for “Working Creatives” in Ottawa.
  • Work as an assistant in the field.
  • Go to school!
  • Also consider my Creative Business Seminar November 1, 2008

#100 – A milestone

This is the 100th photoblog post at HarryNowell.com — thanks for your messages, support, and most of all for taking the time to read about my working world!

Today some news about imagery theft and other elements of photos on the web.

There’s all kinds of hubbub over people using your photos from the web without permission and free of charge. First an interesting article by Krista Neher. She blasts the blasé idea that it’s ok to pilfer online pictures. She follows up with an article: “5 most outrageous photo thefts” posted at hyperfocal.com.

There is also an article posted at Photo District News about a new licensing agreement between stock giant Getty and Flickr. Read about the interesting photo licensing deal!

You may want to show off your stunning photo successes on the web – and you have good reason to be proud! But be careful out there:

  • sometimes your photos can be snatched and illegally used around the world. So what? How would you feel if someone stole your car, skis, stereo? It also brings commercial photography to a new low making it harder to make a living!
  • read Facebook’s policies for photos. An edited excerpt: “By posting User Content to any part of the Site, you automatically grant … to the Company (ie Facebook) an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldwide license … to use, copy, publicly perform, publicly display, reformat, translate, excerpt … for any purpose etc.” Yikes! I won’t post my photos there outside my headshot!
  • watermark your photos – it promotes the idea that your photo is worth signing and makes it harder to pilfer. It also advertises your work if you include your website.
  • any photos posted online should be small files! 300-500kb.

Take care out there!


#98 Loose ends

Bluesfest continues – looks like I may be shooting for the Ottawa Sun again this weekend – Donna Summer and Wyclef Jean.

Another of the new photos at ChelseaGallery.ca:

Thundering Horse at ChelseaGallery.ca

I love shooting motion but horses and show jumping were new to me! I was invited to travel to Kingston, Ontario for a stock shoot centred around the world of horses and jumping.

My photographic style has always drawn me close to the action with wide angle lenses. After many jumps and discussions we were all feeling pretty comfortable with each other’s technical abilities.

The idea of a photo from beneath the horse was discussed. After some safety and technical discussions I planted myself under the a substantial jump. Timing was, of course, an issue but the thundering hooves vibrating through the earth gave me a clear indication when shooting time had arrived. My new friends soared beautifully above me as I caught the slightly blurred hooves of my magnificent new equine friend.


#97 Exposed! Photo Newsletter

Our monthly newsletter, ‘Exposed!‘ is going out today – we discuss “Passion in Portraits“:

… Many of my Natural Light Portraits students fall into the same trap. They are so stressed about getting the right light, location and composition that they forget they are working with a living, breathing, emotional creature. Their portraits often mimic a lifeless boulder in a desert landscape…

The article illustrates pitfalls of portraiture with tales from the studio! To receive ‘Exposed!’ automatically – sign up above, right.

There is also new work at ChelseaGallery.ca – some renovations going on at the site, too!

Football at ChelseaGallery.ca

Have Fun,


#96 Copyright revisited

I had two slightly disturbing comments in response to my post (#94) on copyright. They both came from the same ‘anonymous‘ person – no name was attached & only a ‘fake e-mail’ was given. They demanded that I “Delete this post (#94)”!

My best guess from the mystery person’s angry responses was, perhaps, they hired a wedding photographer and there was a misunderstanding as to who had what rights to the photos and files. That’s a tough scenario and illustrates a good reason to have a written agreement clearly outlining details of the service.

There are two common wedding scenarios:

  • The traditional wedding photographer usually offers coverage of the wedding for a set fee and then sells packages of photographs to the couple.
  • Sometimes, a photographer will offer an inclusive package (for a higher price!) including the negatives or digital files and the rights to reprint the photos as they wish.
  • It is important to know what you are paying for! Either way, the photographer generally retains copyright.

Some comments from the Mystery Person:

  1. … why should the consumer be jerked around…
  2. This law was designed to be as anti-consumer as possible.”
  3. you (photographer) should be allowed to use the photos you sell by default for non-profit/ personal use.
  4. … shouldn’t be allowed to turn around and use photos from my wedding and sell them to a stock photo company.
  5. if it was as bad as you say, how have people lived so long in your business?

Some responses to the angry person’s comments:

#s 1&2. Sounds like something went terribly wrong in their experience. That’s a shame!

3. … you should be allowed to use the photos you sell by default for non-profit/personal use.

Working photographers run photography businesses with the goal of earning a profit that supports a person or family. Selling only for “for non-profit/personal use” does not pay the bills!

4.… shouldn’t be allowed to turn around and use photos from my wedding and sell them to a stock photo company.

The mystery person is onto something here. As I understand it, a wedding photographer cannot license wedding imagery of recognizable people or private property without a proper agreement from the people or property owners. For exact specifics consult a lawyer!

5. … if it was as bad as you say, how have people lived so long in your business?

Running any small business is tough and hard work. Long hours, few certainties, changing markets and angry, anonymous messages add to the challenges. The business of photography has grown more demanding over the last twenty years. Some photographers have survived using good business practises, adapting to market changes and educating themselves on important issues like copyright!

Normally, I will not acknowledge angry, anonymous, impolite rants. But I hope this helps the Mystery Person and anyone else out there!

Interested in learning more about a creative business project? – consider my Creative Business Seminar in November, 2008.

Take care out there,


#95 Student successes!

I taught a custom course last month to a woman working for the federal government – she was given the task to photograph the Canadian government’s apology to survivors of the native residential school system. See post #81.

She went from an occasional hobby photographer to being in the photo hot seat – capturing a highly emotional event with our highest elected and appointed officials!

Talk about stress!

Terri arranged for some of my photo training through her workplace to help her achieve some good photos. We spent time refreshing ideas of photography – this won’t make anyone a pro but it will help achieve results.

Terri did well – see her photos – posted with permission:

student photo
Assembly of First Nations leader Phil Fontaine

student photo
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper

student photo
Canadian Governor General Michaëlle Jean.

Nice work Terri!

A custom course makes sense for the workplace when there is no budget for a pro photographer but good photos are required!


#94 Copyright Reform

First – thanks for all the birthday wishes!

Now down to business – here in Canada our copyright laws related to photography are well out of sync compared to most of the rest of the developed world.

You see, by default in Canada, a customer automatically receives copyright of your commissioned photo work once they provide payment. Unless it is specifically written otherwise you lose control over your work once the customer pays. As a photographer, copyright is the most valuable asset we have.

In most of the rest of the developed world the photographer, by default, retains their copyright unless otherwise stated.

It’s a small but important distinction. Currently if someone hires you to take a photo you have NO rights to those pictures once they pay unless it is clearly agreed you, the creator, retain copyright of the work. This means:

  • you CANNOT show any family portraits you took in your portfolio (online or paper) without permission.
  • you CANNOT re-license imagery (ie earn money) from a magazine assignment down the road – all your work is pinned to that one small sale.
  • you have no rights to your commissioned creative produce.

“So?! The photos belong to the client – they paid for them? Right?” Other creative producers in the world – musicians, writers, illustrators – retain their copyright by default. Without copyright there is little incentive to remain in business. Without incentive there will be fewer talented photographers and less available working photographers.

There are many myths around copyright and photography in Canada:

  • Usage: copyright and usage are separate entities – the photographer can retain copyright while offering the client ample usage of the photos.
  • Privacy: copyright does not mean a photographer can use photos of a person without permission. Model releases are often needed to show photos of people.

Currently, copyright reform is underway in Canada: CAPIC recently trumpeted:


Toronto, June 12, 2008 – Andre Cornellier, CAPIC Copyright Chair, reports from Ottawa that the Government of Canada included photographers in Bill C-61, An Act to amend the Copyright Act, which had its first reading in the House of Commons today.

For over 12 years CAPIC and PPOC (Professional Photographers of Canada) have worked together as the Canadian Photographers Coalition to have Section 13(2) of the Copyright Act removed. This section treated photographers differently from all other Canadian creators when photographers produced commissioned work (assignments) for third parties.

In Bill C-61, introduced today, Section 13(2) is repealed. CAPIC is pleased that the Government of Canada has listened to our concerns and introduced the appropriate legislation to deal with those concerns.

What Happens Next?

The Bill will have a Second Reading and then be referred to Committee. After hearing from interested parties, the Committee will report back to Parliament with recommendations for the wording of the final Bill. If the Bill passes Third Reading it will be forwarded to the Senate where the same procedure will be repeated. Upon approval by the Senate the Bill is signed by the Governor General and proclaimed.

That’s good news for photographers – but it’s not complete yet…

For more copyright info check CAPIC’s copyright page.

That’s a heavy topic. But, please, learn about your specific copyright laws. They’re important!