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a picture and a thousand words

December 23, 2011 at 1:34am

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Weddings in winter on Flickr.

Weddings in winter on Flickr.

December 17, 2011 at 7:10am

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Shooting like a pro: 5 things you must know!

I always wanted to know how the pros shoot. All those photography forums, blogs, websites I Google for and visit regularly didn’t really tell me much. At least, there wasn’t any data. I decided to do a bit of research of my own. Perusing few research reports on pro photography in the US revealed some very interesting facts.

  1. Resolution

    Between 2010 and 2011, with all those newer, better cameras, Info Trends reported an increase of only 0.7 megapixels year-on-year (which is roughly 5% considering 2010’s mean of 13.7 MP). Let’s take a look at the resolution the pros needed back in 2010: Move forward to 2011, and what do the pros need today?
    So, how many megapixels do you have? I’d bet between 12 and 18. You know what, that’s about all you need! The pros don’t need more than that.
  2. Image Format

    There are fanatics on both sides of the format war. Some say shoot RAW, some say JPEG is dandy enough. Let’s take a look at how the pros were shooting back in 2010: Okay, so RAW seems to be the format of choice. Now, move forward an year and we get: Note how RAW usage has increased. Much more interesting is the fact that TIFF usage has increased twofold percentage wise. Which is lot!
  3. Deletion Ratio

    I shoot a 100 photos and end up with about 10 that I can keep (if I used my better judgement I really would’ve ended up with 6 or 7). Kind of disappointing when you think of the time, energy and effort I’ve spent on the 90 that I have to discard. Obviously, I wanted to know how the pros work. Here’s the data for these past two years: Whoah! There’s a slight improvement from about 15% to 20% between now and last year. But still a long way to go! The pros are literally twice as good as I am.
  4. Ownership

    • Compacts

      Ever wondered if the pros used compact cameras in the field? They sure do.As you’ll see in fact, the majority of the pros own and use compacts. Let’s we take a look at the ownership of compacts: No surprises really with the leading brands here. Note that Canon far outnumbers Nikon in this category.
    • DSLR

      Canon and Nikon again. Their flagships hog this segment. If you guessed D700, 5D, D300 you won’t be far away. A quick look at the top few: Note that respondents were allowed multiple responses so it is highly probable that the same photographer owns both a D700 and a D200 or a D200 and a 5D! But the bias towards 5D Mark II sure is telling.
  5. Primary Camera

    The thing you wanted to know the most: Which is the most used camera in assignments? Well, the top brands are none other than Nikon and Canon and the hot favorites are definitely full-frame cameras. Note that sub-full frame cameras figure too and are pretty heavily used too! The Canon EOS 5D Mark II is like a light year ahead. I am a Nikonian, and I don’t feel well enough to be blogging anymore today :(
NB: I used the following reports for data:
  1. ITREND_US_Pro_Photographer_Survey_112210 
  2. ITREND_ProPhotoDemo_101211
  3. ITREND_Pro_Photographers_Survey_021411

December 14, 2011 at 12:52am

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4 Photo competitions you must enter - Read the legalese too!

Shooting isn’t enough! If you have a talent you have to, have to share it with the world. Competitions provide just that little window of opportunity that you’ve always wanted.

The good thing is there are a gazillion competitions. Some big names and some not so big names. Some free and some not free. Most of them have separate categories such as travel, sports, street photography, portraits etc. Most would allow you to submit in more than one category. And more than one photo. However, some paid competitions allow a fixed number (say, 5 or 8) of photos for the entry fee (again around $5-$15 though it can go up to about $35) and then charge extra for additional photos. So, Google, and ye shall receive.

There’s a small catch though: It’s about the Intellectual Property Rights. If you are like me you probably wouldn’t mind the legal fine print but then you should at least know what they take away. At least I have started to, thanks to David Sanger’s post and Jim Goldstein’s post. Most of the time, when we don’t read the fine print and go ahead, we give away the rights to our photos to the agency (and its friends) running the competition for free and mostly indefinitely. Which is a shame. Particularly, when you think of the paid competitions. A good rule of thumb is to open up the terms in your favorite text editor and search for terms such “irrevocable”, “perpetual” and “royalty-free” and read the relevant section(s). When in doubt, shoot the organizers an email.

Anyway, I still have a few free photography contests lined up here which I think are kinda fair. Go ahead and take a pick!

  1. Google Photography Prize

    Entry Closes: January 31, 2012

    This is Google and you’d expect it to be open and fair and everything but it isn’t. The two conditions you really, really should read are:


    To be eligible to enter the Contest, you must be: (1) 18 years or older on the submission date and enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate course at any higher education institute, college, the equivalent of college, graduate school, or trade school (“Higher Education Institution”); (2) not a resident of Brazil, Quebec, Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Syria, North Korea, Sudan, Libya, Liberia, Zimbabwe, or Myanmar (Burma);

    Translation: If you’re not a student, this isn’t for you. Pro-tip: Get a PhD.


    As between you and Sponsor, each entrant shall retain ownership of all intellectual property rights in the entry (including moral rights) subject to these Official Rules. As between you and Sponsor, each entrant shall retain ownership of all intellectual property rights in the entry (including moral rights) subject to these Official Rules. However, by entering the Competition, and to the extent allowed by law, entrant grants, but solely in relation to the promotion and/or advertising of the Google Photography Prize or Google+ service only, to Saatchi Gallery, London, Google and Google’s affiliates, licensees, promotional partners, developers and third party marketing entities (“Permitted Users”) a non-exclusive, perpetual, worldwide, royalty-free license to modify, rearrange, copy, reproduce and adapt the images only to fit the format required for product web pages and marketing materials, and to publish and use the Photographs themselves and the content of and elements embodied in the Photographs, including any names, locations and likenesses, for the duration of the rights, in any and all media, including but not limited to digital and electronic media, computer, and audiovisual media (whether now existing or hereafter devised), in any language, throughout the world, and in any manner without further review, notice, approval, consideration, or compensation. Google will not commercially exploit the Photographs and all such rights of commercial exploitation remain with entrants.

    Translation: Okay, the rights aren’t limited to the competition but encompass a bunch of other Google products and friends. Pro-tip: It’s okay as long as you’re busy with your PhD.

  2. Sony World Photography Awards 2012 - Open Competition

    Entry Closes: January 4, 2012

    7.2 All entrants understand that any image submitted to the competition may be used by WPO, and its Event Partners, for marketing and promotional purposes of the event only, for a maximum of three years after the awards ceremony on 26th April 2012. You hereby grant WPO a non-exclusive, irrevocable licence in each Entry throughout the world for three years in all media for any use connected to the promotion of the SWPA event and/or competition, including, but not limited too:
    (a) judging the Competition
    (b) displaying the winning entries and runners up at public exhibitions promoting WPO and organised by WPO
    (c) inclusion within the Website, a World Photography Awards book, magazine or similar
    (d) inclusion within any materials promoting of the Competition and / or any exhibition organised by WPO, in the promotion of the WPO
    (e) inclusion on Competition- and exhibition-related products to be sold by the WPO or any third party following the individual agreement by the author
    (f) sub-licencing the Entries to the press for reproduction in connection with the Competition and any exhibition
    (g) allowing viewers of the Website to view images on a computer screen, PDA or mobile telephone and store such pages in electronic form on disk or on a PDA or mobile telephone (but not on any server or other storage device connected to a network) for their personal, non-commercial use only. Please also refer to clause 9.
    9 You acknowledge that it is Your responsibility for protecting any Entry against image misuse by any third party, for example, but not limited to the insertion of a watermark. WPO and its Event Partners assume no responsibility and are not liable for any image misuse.

    Translation: Probably the fairest of them all! Three years is all they ask for. Pro-tip: Learn how to create watermarks. Sony runs a host of other competitions for professionals, students etc. Feel free to check these out too!

  3. The Professional Photographer of the Year 2011 Awards

    Entry Closes: January 27, 2012

    7. Use of Images
    By entering the competition, Participants grant Professional Photographer and its Competition Partners an irrevocable, non-exclusive, worldwide royalty-free licence to reproduce, publicly display, distribute, publicly perform and create derivative works from their Submitted Materials, in all media, solely in connection with the administration, judging and promotion of the Professional Photographer of the Year Awards 2011. Submitted Materials will NOT be used for commercial advertising purposes and will NOT be altered without the prior consent of the author, except as necessary to display or distribute them in a particular medium or format. Permissible uses of Submitted Materials shall include their reproduction, distribution and display in exhibitions, multimedia presentations, and printed materials related to or promoting the Professional Photographer of the Year Awards 2011 and/or its sponsorship by Professional Photographer and their Competition Partners. Professional Photographer and its Competition Partners shall have the right to grant sublicences to the press and publicity agents in connection with the promotion of the Award or the competition. Professional Photographer and its Competition Partners also shall have the right to make the Submitted Materials available to third-parties for viewing on computer screens and other media devices, and for storage in electronic format, for personal, non-commercial uses only.

    Translation: They promise not to use it for anything other than this contest of theirs. But I am not sure. And I am not a lawyer. Pro-tip: When in doubt, shoot an email.

  4. Adobe My Best Photo Ever Contest

    Entry Closes: December 22, 2011

    12. Entrants’ Finalists’ and Winners’ Publicity; Ownership and License of Entries: Sponsor does not claim ownership of Entrants’ Entries, however, by submitting an Entry and entering the Contest each Entrant warrants that he/she has the legal right and necessary permission(s) to do so and hereby (i) grants to Sponsor, its subsidiaries, and agents and assigns, an irrevocable, worldwide, perpetual, royalty-free, non-exclusive, transferable right and fully-paid up, fully-sublicensable license, under any and all such rights, to use, post, host, store, cache, index, archive, crawl, duplicate, modify, composit, remix, morph, scan, excerpt, adapt, alter, prepare derivative works of, publicly perform and display, publish (or not publish), in whole or in part, or otherwise exploit in any manner, including in conjunction with other images, sounds, and text, his/her Entry(ies), first name and surname, voice and/or likeness and photograph, Facebook username or screen name, hometown state or territory, opinions or testimonial statements and biographical information, without any restrictions, on and through the Site and/or other website(s) owned and/or controlled by Sponsor (and in the case of Winners, to participate in any publicity arrangements made by or on behalf of the Sponsor), in and in connection with promotion, publicity and advertising for this Contest, or other promotion, publicity and advertising for Sponsor, or products and/or services offered, manufactured, distributed and/or supplied by Sponsor, or other commercial purposes, including without limitation, the right to access, reproduce, transmit, broadcast and distribute the Entries in any media format or medium (whether now or hereafter known) and through any media channels, without any further attribution, notification payment or compensation to the Entrant, Finalist or Winner, his/her successors or assigns, or any other person or entity; and (ii) grants to other users of the Site, a perpetual, worldwide, royalty-free, non-exclusive license to access, distribute and/or display his/her Entry(ies) through the Site and to rate, review, comment on, “Like” and/or tag the Entry(ies) and share the Entry(ies) using commercially available means.

    Translation: Probably the worst offender in my opinion. They don’t even leave your Facebook account out or some of your personally identifiable information. Pro-tip: Skip this one, maybe?


You can keep a tab on this listing of current photography contests here!

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