Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Do You Know This Woman? (Part I)

Do You Know This Woman? (Part I)
Originally uploaded by lorenzodom

September 13, 2006, New York City, School of Hard Knocks:

Do you know this woman?

Alas, I don’t.

And now, I'm sorely paying for it.

Well, sort of, nothing truly horrible. Actually, quite the opposite, in a way.

You see, the powerhouse advertising agency DDB Berlin (i.e. Gunn Report's Most Awarded Agency Network in the World. For the second year in a row Adweek's Global Agency Network of the Year. Four-time winner, Clio Agency Network of the Year. Winner of more awards than any other network in the history of the Cannes International Advertising Festival.) contacted the editor at Look magazine, which has featured a couple of sets of photos of mine (July and March).

Apparently, they were in love with the same photo that both Look and Gnostic Magazine used as well, because they called me twice from Berlin and sent two e-mails. In the process they attached the mocked up magazine advertisement for Max Magazine that you see here.

Unfortunately, I was at an off-site meeting for work all day long, and missed their calls.

However, I was never paid for the photos used in Look and Gnostic, and being that they were not directly tied to an advertisement, and thus not serving commercial purposes, I felt that they fell into the safety net of “Photography for Art and Editorial” purposes, which is legal in the State of New York, and for which one does not need a written model release form.

Hence, my frustration (Fuck!). Hence, I ask “Do you know this woman?”

Because quite honestly, my gritted teeth, my tense shoulders, my exclamations of “Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck!” tonight are not about the money. Far from. Because I love what I’m doing.

Photography has become such a beautifully fulfilling experience for me that it doesn’t bother me one bit that I have not made a cent since I began this endeavor a little over a year ago. It does not bother me that only get 4-5 hours of sleep a night because my passion, my fervor, my exuberance, for both writing and photography keep me working tirelessly—yet, oh, so wearily—night and day.

But it does irk me that I am missing out on an amazing opportunity.

I like to think that there is an opportunity around every corner and that you just have to be prepared to meet and take advantage of her. Unfortunately, apparently, obviously, I wasn’t ready this time. That sucks, big time.

In July, Germany’s premier magazine, fotoMAGAZINE, featured a story on my cut-out technique and now a major-major advertising agency wants to use one of my photos, but they can’t. Because this wholly amateur photographer didn’t get his unsuspecting model to sign a release form. How frustrating is that? I keep lamenting over how much instant exposure and worldwide recognition for my work that might have garnered for my work (sigh).

So, let that be a lesson to you. Please let that be a lesson for you, or at least someone out there learn from this, because I had to learn it the hard way, and that’s tough.
To paraphrase the good ol’ Admiral Hyman G. Rickover learn from others' mistakes—you’ll never live long enough to make them all yourself.

Oh, well, at least, perhaps, I can boast to my grandchildren some day that I earned my hard knocks on the gritty streets of New York. At least, I guess, I’ve got that going for me.

By the way, here are a few more lessons I’ve learned on the streets of NYC: 25 Lessons I Have Learned. Earlier this year Cyan Books approached me about publishing this work. Subbsequently, I've expanded the work from the original 25 pages into a tome of about 500 pages with lots and lots of photographs. It will be published in the Spring of 2007.

Any way, so, learn by my mistakes and Act Now! Get your release form here! Print it out and carry it wherever you go, so that when you know that you’ve got the photo that might bring you instant fame, shamelessly run after your subject, and get her to sign the damned thing.

That said, there may be hope after all!

Because not only to you have to remember, that regardless of the curve balls life throws you, you’ve got to keep thinking positively, so that you’re ready to swing at the very next pitch, but...

...I just read about a court case adjudicated this year in New York City where the judge decided in favor of the defendant, the artist who took photos surreptitiously near Times Square, and then sold 10 prints of it at $20,000 to $30,000 each. Here is the article, the aforementioned case is at the end in the couple of paragraphs on Invasion of Privacy.

Also, I met someone on the subway platform recently, and we happened to have a conversation about photography, because I thought he was dressed rather dapperly, and so I offered to take his portrait. It so happened that he’s been working in the photography print business for 15 years now, and currently focuses on producing exhibition photography only now.

He passionately stated that if he had an opportunity to publish a book of his photographs that he would not hesitate to include those of strangers on the street ,because they are in “the public domain.” He argued that the popular photography of the fifties and sixties was established upon street photos of anonymous subjects, and that no one ever ascertained release forms. In particular, he cited the exhibit of Lee Friedlander’s prolific work last year at the MoMa, whose prolific work is well known for documenting city life.

So, that said, there may be hope for us aspiring street photographers after all. If you work hard enough, if you’re undaunted, if you don’t get run over or beat up by some stranger you dared take a photo of, if you don't get taken advantage of by big avertising agenices that like to take advantage of little people (i.e. DDB), and if your genius is recognized before you ultimately perish, then who knows? Maybe you too can have your own exhibit at the MoMa….

Do You Know This Woman? (Part II)

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