Tag Archives: insurance

Copyright and the photographer

One of the biggest areas of misinformation and confusion for photographers is the area of “copyright“. Things like who owns it, when you can own it, how to get it, how to keep it and much more are things that all professional photographers should at least have a working knowledge of to protect themselves and their clients.

The good news is there are alot of places to get good information that is accurate which is probably one of the most important aspects of this. Inaccurate information can end up costing you more than you think in lost images and money.

Not being even close to being a lawyer, I will refrain from “telling” anyone any copyright information for fear of getting it wrong and then it coming back to bite me. Suffice to say that I’m working hard this year at learning my own way around copyright. I am now in the process of copyrighting ALL of my images that I have taken in the past and I have incorporated copyright into my workflow as “things to do after the shoot”. With the ability to file copyright online for something like 40 dollars, there is no reason in the world not to do it. When I did my first filing, the only issue I had was to break my files into smaller uploads due to the time restriction for uploads. The website also a bit confusing (designed by policy wonks I’m sure) but you have gone through it once, it is not so bad.

One way I’m learning copyright right now is a free course on iTunes U from MIT.

MIT OCW: 6.912 Introduction to Copyright Law, January (IAP) 2006

Here is the official syllabus

Course Highlights
This course features video lectures and an extensive list of readings. A description of assignments is also available. This course is offered during the Independent Activities Period (IAP), which is a special 4-week term at MIT that runs from the first week of January until the end of the month.
Course Description
This course is an introduction to copyright law and American law in general. Topics covered include: structure of federal law; basics of legal research; legal citations; how to use LexisNexis®; the 1976 Copyright Act; copyright as applied to music, computers, broadcasting, and education; fair use; Napster®, Grokster®, and Peer-to-Peer file-sharing; Library Access to Music Project; The 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act; DVDs and encryption; software licensing; the GNU® General Public License and free software.

Another free source is the copyright office themselves (our tax dollars at work) with their fairuse FAQ.

There is another good FAQ found at photolaw.net on copyright.

This is one of the best editorial primers on copyright I have been able to find.

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Posted in Business Aids, commercial photography, copyright, photography, ramblings, wedding photography, workflow Also tagged , , , |

Save a buck

Lets be honest, most photographers are equipment junkies. We view lenses and camera widgets like a crack addict views crack, cant get enough and no matter how much we do get, we want more. To aid you in this endeavor, I want to offer up some tips I have used over the years to at the least, lower the acquisition cost of new toys.

One of the biggest expenses is good, fast and heavy glass.. primes or zooms, they cost a mint to buy new. For example, I wanted a Nikon 17-55m F2.8 for shooting weddings and events. It’s heavy, temperamental focusing but when it’s on, it is VERY good. The damn thing also costs 1,600 bucks new even at a discount. So what is a poor boy to do? Can you say “Ebay”? But, you say, the lenses on ebay are abused, no warranty, grey market, stolen etc. All true to be sure but with some careful shopping and planning, you can pull the deal of the year. Here is how I got mine at less than half the new price.

The economy tanking has driven down the prices somewhat on good glass but it really has brought alot more on the market. Some of the glass are what I call “trophy” pieces, bought when times were good and the person had too much money in their pocket. Now times are tough and cash is needed so the trophies go on the auction block. These are what to look for and careful reading of the ads can help as can a bit of luck. Even a high milage wedding lens IF at a GOOD price will work for this tip. Even a damaged lens so long as the glass is good. I found my lens from a seller with good marks (200 plus postives), good price as a “buy now or best offer” AND I had an Ebay coupon that was 10% off the price. So the 800 price came with free shipping (20 bucks), 80 bucks off with the coupon and another 25 bucks off due to my best offer. Total saved was 125 so the lens cost me 675 delivered.

But, it is still a used lens and when I got it, I noticed the zoom was stiff in the middle. Here is where the second part of my plan came into being. I specifically found a lens with good glass and no apparent damage but I had already planned on sending the lens to Nikon’s repair shop for a “tune up and alignment”. So opened the box, looked at the lens, closed it back up and shipped it to Nikon. Three weeks later I got my lens back completely rebuilt and repaired from an apparent drop onto something hard. Cost was 190 dollars but after the savings adjustment of the purchase, my out of pocket expense was 65 dollars for basically a new lens. I also pursued the seller for not telling the truth about the lens and got some wedding album templates for my troubles. He really should have known better but hard times caused him to make a poor judgement. His karma, not mine.

In the end, the lens cost me 865 total and it’s new on the inside. A brand new lens is 1600 plus tax of 130 plus shipping of 20 for a total of 1750. So my price is just a touch less than 50% of new. Yes it cost me in time with a week or so for the seller to get me the lens and another three in repair but I think it was worth it.

My second lens was a 12-24mm F4 which cost me about 60% of new from eBay and cam to me looking and working like brand new.

So deals on ebay can be had with some patience and luck. Another way to save is look at refurbished bodies. My D300 was 400 less than new as a refurb and there was absolutely nothing on it or in how it worked to tell me it was a used camera. The warranty is a bit different than new but Square Trade or in some case, the seller like Adorama offer extra warranties if you feel the need. In my case, I have insurance through PPA that covers all my equipment from theft and damage.

Craiglist is another potential gold mine of cheaper equipment. I found a very nice Nikon D70s (electronic shutter so sync speeds are upwards of 1/4000 with flash) for a cheap price locally. I also picked up a fourth SB800 flash for about 2/3s of new, it was well used but still very serviceable.

Posted in commercial photography, equipment, Hardware, photography Also tagged , , , , , , , |

Links and Thoughts

Times are changing in the world of photography as fast as you can read this line. Canon has finally gotten the message that more megapixels and tiny space is a bad idea with the release of the new G11. They have dropped the megapixels from 12 to 10 which is still plenty big for 99% of the people out there shooting. I still shoot and use an older Nikon 950 2.1 megapixel rig because I LOVE the twist body.  Canon is dropping the count for low noise, finally.. I love pocket cameras but man can they generate the noise at a high (cough).. ISO 400. 

Video is another up and coming tidal wave. With the release of SD video and HD video on small cameras like the D90, Canon 5D MII and even the pocket cameras,  the ability to take a HD video stream and then “cut” out the one single image you want is very close indeed. This has been done for an advertisement using the RED camera and with the same camera, a wedding was recorded and then the stills were taken from the RED’s video stream. Expensive so far but prices are falling. I just walked into a favorite coffee bar and ran into a bunch of Chapman students finishing up a student project shooting with a RED. When the students can afford to rent a RED, it’s getting almost reasonable. My SD800 Canon takes better video than my Sony super duper 8mm or my Canon Mini video cameras. Still, all the video in the world does not make a good still, you still need someone who can compose and take a decent picture. Trees sticking out of persons head in video is still bad imagery, even in HD.

Speaking of video, I bought a itty bitty Kodak “flip” style recorder as a lark for a hundred bucks at target. It shoots “HD” which means that it has the right pixel count even if it’s washed out and a bit coarse compared to a real HD camera. But, for the price, it’s amazingly good. The unit is tiny and light.. the bad news is no image stabilization so the pictures goes all over the place trying to hand hold it but it does have a tripod mount. It uses standard SD flash cards and dumps the video out precompressed and ready to play. If you have a Zi6, then get the firmware update here:


When playing MR. Photographer, one has to have a few important items like liability insurance. I carry a million dollars and I just can not understand how someone would take the chance shooting with models, heavy equipment, power cords etc and have someone hurt themselves (real or feigned ) then sue them. The insurance is cheap compared to what you could lose. Same goes for wedding insurance, I also carry that to cover me against the bride-zillas of the world who feel they are entitled to anything they want for free if they complain loud enough. Or if I get hit by a car, or my camera is stolen and so on. Again, it’s so cheap compared to what is at risk you really can not justify not having through someone like the PPA.


I love Lightroom, it’s my main “goto” editing tool nowdays with Photoshop doing the heavy lifting as required. There is so much to learn about it that a good reasource to use is at the Photoshopuser site:


Drop by and poke around if you like Lightroom and want to improve your skillset with it.

Posted in commercial photography, photography, ramblings, wedding photography Also tagged , , , |