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PPA Today: Inspiration Archives

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Tom Bochsler's 50-plus year career took him all over the world as a photographer and speaker, but he didn't have to look far to find a home for his massive collection of images.

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The 82-year-old Burlington, Ontario native decided to gift his life's work to the Hamilton Public Library. The recently completed donation took place over about six years and contained a total of 500,000 negatives. The library found value in the images as they provide a visual history of the area. 

Bochsler, who was designated as having Outstanding Significance and National Importance by the Heritage-Cultural Property Export Review Board, started his career in Hamilton in 1956 and joined PPA not long after.

The collection spans the well-known industrial photographer's early years in photography and thousands of local images. Many of his black-and-white historical photographs were created using the 10-pound Speed Graphic camera, which used one-shot flashbulbs as its lighting source. Bochsler has photographed every single nuclear power plant in Canada, and the collection includes images of nuclear reactors, salt mines and steel factories from across Canada. The photos will stay in a climate-controlled archival vault to ensure the images don't decay over the years. The library's history and archives department is tasked with scanning the images and making them available to the public.

Last month, Bochsler also had the opportunity to give an audio/visual presentation in a display of selected images during Super Crawl, an annual art and musical festival downtown Hamilton. In addition to the collection, Bochsler published a book, The Art of Industry, which features 272 of his favorite images from 1950 to 2003.

According to Bochsler, he donated his life's work rather than the alternative--throwing them in the trash. 

"It's all very exciting for me," he said. "There are many members out there who find their old negatives and files a burden. I initiated the contacts to explore a home for my collection. Along the way I found people interested in saving history."


Got a cool story to tell? We're always looking for more! Email PPA's communications specialist, John Owens, with yours (put 'PPA Member Story' in the subject line) and we'll see if you're worthy of a spot on the mighty PPA blog! 

We've (finally) got an update on the Walmart v. Huff case! Brush up on the story below first if you need a refresher. 

Update 7/16:

At a recent case management hearing, the judge set the trial for the trial term beginning April 6, 2015 and ending April 30. This doesn't necessarily mean the case will go to trial April 6, just that the case is set to be tried sometime during that term.  

Read the full story:

Your typical copyright infringement involves one photographer stealing another photographer's images, or reproducing copyrighted images without permission. But in this case, it's the largest retailer in the world bullying a small Arkansas studio.

Walmart and its founding family, the Waltons, have filed suit against Helen Huff, the widow of Arkansas photographer David A. Huff.

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David Huff's studio, Bob's Studio of Photography, was founded by his late father, Robert A. Huff, in 1946, and created portraits of the Walton family before the expansion of Walmart grew them into one of the wealthiest families in the world. But now Walmart and the Walton family are demanding that Helen Huff hand over those works.

The complaint states that they (the Waltons) seek to obtain six or more boxes of photos, negatives, and proofs, alleging that over the years, Bob's Studio retained those items "as a courtesy" to Walmart and their family (they didn't). The complaint further states that the Waltons own intellectual property rights to the photos (they don't). The fact is, under federal law, photographers own the copyrights to their own works.

PPA has been working with Huff to support her case and thereby advocate for photographers' copyrights.

"If there were ever a David vs. Goliath situation, this is it" says PPA CEO David Trust. "We simply can't remain idle and allow this to happen--it would set a terrible precedent. In our opinion, this obviously is a violation of copyright law and it is beyond question that Ms. Huff owns the photographs and if the Waltons want the photographs, they should pay for them. PPA as an association stands behind Ms. Huff and supports her case as the rightful owner of these images. We have contacted her lawyers and offered to file an amicus brief* when and if that time comes."

*What's an amicus brief, you ask? It's is a legal opinion or testimony that is volunteered by a "friend of the court" who is not a party to a particular lawsuit but has a strong interest in the case. It is a way to introduce concerns ensuring that the possibly broad legal effects of a court decision will not depend solely on the parties directly involved in the case. 

PPA also advised Huff and her attorney of a separate suit, Natkin v. Winfrey, in which Oprah Winfrey claimed she owned the rights to photos of her created on her set. Since the photographers were hired as independent contractors and had not signed work-for-hire contracts, they owned the full copyrights for the images, and Winfrey's argument was swiftly rejected by the court.

Walmart filed its lawsuit against Helen Huff in state court, but because it is a copyright issue, Huff's defense removed it to federal court. The defense argues in its answer to the Walmart complaint that Huff owns copyrights to all the works her late husband and father-in-law created for the Walton family, and that they worked as independent contractors for the Walton family. In addition, Huff's defense filed a counterclaim of copyright infringement, alleging that in the past Walmart has reproduced and allowed third parties to use Bob's Studio of Photography's copyrighted works. Huff and her attorney are awaiting Walmart's answer.

UPDATED 5/21: Walmart spokesman Randy Hargrove issued a statement this afternoon: 

As you can imagine, many of the photos go back many years and commemorate the history, heritage and culture of our company. We believe that some of the photos that Bob's Studio has belong to Walmart. All we want is for the court to make it clear who rightfully owns these photographs. We tried very hard to resolve this without involving the courts. We never wanted the issue to reach this point and we've done everything possible to avoid this. 

PPA always stands for photographers' copyright protection. As such, we will continue to provide information as these cases develop. Check back for updates!

 

 

Helping a friend and veteran leave a legacy

By Penn Hansa

Bruce Roscoe, CPP, orchestrated a portrait session of his best friend, Joe Rowe, that he'll remember for ages. As a photographer who served in the Vietnam War, taught workshops all over the United States and has been named as one of the top photographers in Arizona, Roscoe has had his share of photographic experiences. But this was the only shoot that he could give credit to fate for making it happen. "It could only have been divine intervention to have everything work out the way that it did," Roscoe said. "It was that incredible."

In a way, the photo shoot was 58 years in the making: Roscoe and Rowe have been friends since they were eight years old. "If I didn't see him in 10 years and then I saw him again, it would be just like yesterday," said Roscoe. "Nothing would change."

The origins of their friendship are a little hazy to both. "We probably met after getting in a fight with each other," Roscoe guessed. But they both recall the childhood they spent together on the East Coast. They sailed, surfed and snorkeled together at the beach, and spent hours in the forest climbing and exploring.

"We had it great growing up," Roscoe remembered. "We didn't know how poor we were. We bought a bike and it was Joe's and my bike. So he'd have it for a day, and then I'd ride it for a day, like a family bike."

When they finished high school in 1967, Rowe joined the Marines, and Roscoe decided to postpone college to join the army. The army recruiter asked if he had any special skills, and Roscoe told him that he wanted to be a photographer. It was the first thing that came to mind.

"My parents gave me a Brownie Bullet camera when I was younger, and I loved it," Roscoe said. "I thought I was going to travel and take pictures of kings and queens."

That wasn't quite what he ended up doing. After he went to school in the military to be trained as a combat photographer, his first orders were to go to Alaska.

But it was just a mistake - he was actually supposed to be in Vietnam.

During their service in Vietnam from 1967-68, Roscoe and Rowe never saw each other, and only had vague ideas of where the other was. When they returned, they were changed people. Both suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder.

"It was just different. We had our issues. We never knew what life was going to be like in a warzone. We changed, not for the good or the bad. We just came back as good as we could be," Roscoe said.

For years, Roscoe didn't touch a camera. "I always had a love for photography, but because of the memories I had associated with a camera, I had to be ok with myself before I got back into it," he said.  When he eventually returned to the art, portraiture became his specialty.

"I think why I got into portraiture is because some of the pictures I took overseas and some of the ways people's faces looked told a story. And I thought, Well, you know what - if I can learn how to capture faces in a storytelling way, that's what I need to do. I need to start capturing people and telling a story with their face."

Roscoe ended up in Arizona and joined PPA in 2008. He became a Certified Professional Photographer in 2010, focusing on photographing the elderly.

"There's just so much character in their faces. In young people, you don't have the wrinkles, the character lines, the things that show how much time you've been in this world," Roscoe explained. "For these people who are grandparents, I want to pull a character out of them to leave a legacy for the younger generations."

As they lived their lives on separate American coasts - Roscoe in the west, Rowe in the east - they stayed in touch through their families and the occasional phone call. "Joe's mom was like my mom. I'd find out from her how he was doing, and she would tell him how I was doing," Roscoe said.

And then one day, Roscoe got a call from his friend Joe. Rowe told him he had been diagnosed with lung cancer, which his doctor said had been caused by Agent Orange, one of the herbicides and defoliants the U.S. military used as part of the herbicidal warfare program Operation Ranch Hand. The effects of the spraying affect both the Vietnamese and Americans as terrible remnants from a war that no one wants to remember.

Shortly after hearing the news, Roscoe left for Rhode Island to take Rowe's portrait. It wasn't a question of obligation, just a sense of duty to his friend and those who loved him. "I was trying to create Joe's final image for his family," Roscoe said.

He called the Veterans of Foreign Wars post in Wakefield, and they graciously allowed Roscoe to use their hall for a temporary studio. But it left the question of lighting equipment, things that Roscoe couldn't bring from Arizona for the session. So he did an online search for photographers near Providence and came across Chris Garrison's studio. Roscoe emailed him and explained what he was trying to accomplish, and asked to borrow his gear. Without hesitation, Garrison heagreed to share his studio's equipment.

"I didn't know him before this email," Roscoe said. "I asked him why he would let me, a complete stranger, borrow his equipment and he told me, 'You know, Bruce, I've had people help me out when I needed them. I'm just trying to return the favor.'"

Fellow PPA member Roger Salls from Roger Salls Photography, who had attended one of Roscoe's photography workshops, came from Connecticut with a makeup artist to help with the shoot. Roscoe, recognizing the importance of the event, also contacted the Providence Journal for a reporter to cover their story.

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The shoot only took a little more than an hour. Rowe arrived and spent an hour with the makeup artist, then Roscoe started doing his job. The Providence Journal sent a reporter, who was also a Vietnam veteran, to interview Rowe. It was as if all the stars had aligned. Everyone who was there that day was there for Rowe and to help create an image that would capture his character. "I felt like a movie star," Rowe said to his friend. "It lifted my spirits, and we had lots of fun."

It was a highly emotional shoot for Roscoe, who realized that this would be the last portrait he would take of his friend. "It is crushing to be losing one of the people you can really talk to without having any problems," he said. "There's not a lot of people you can call your best friend, and Joe is one of mine."

Rowe, who works with PeaceTrees Vietnam to raise money for schools and libraries in Vietnamese villages, asked his friend to help make his last wish come true: to see through the completion of a library in the village of Mo O, close to where Rowe was stationed in the war.

Thinking back on the shoot, Roscoe couldn't believe that it all happened so perfectly. After all, if he didn't have the venue, the lighting, or the assistant and makeup artist, the final image wouldn't have been as meaningful as it is for both him and Rowe. "I find it interesting that you can get photographers from all over the country together, and you can make something happen," he said. "Nobody got any money from it. There wasn't any incentive. They were just doing it to help."

The ties of friendship and kinship, he realized, were stronger than he could have ever imagined.

                                                       

Happy Friday! We've pulled together the best of the internet when it comes to photography - check out these articles to have a laugh, get inspired and stay in the know. 

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We love getting a little love from our members, so when Dominique Harmon recounted how she made her journey from being a "mom with a camera" to professional photographer, we just had to share it! 

Being a photographer on assignment for Reuters at the World Cup, while being a once-in-a-lifetime experience, is also pretty limiting. You have to get pictures of the goals, the fouls and everything in between, so where does your creativity get to come in? Reuters Global Editor Russell Boyce shares the project that's giving photographers free reign to capture all the action in Brazil. 

What would you do if a leopard seal put your camera into its mouth? Photographer Paul Nicklen was on assignment for National Geographic in Antarctica documenting leopard seals when one approached him, and nearly ate his camera! But instead of devouring him whole, the seal tried to take care of Nicklen for four days. Watch him retell his unforgettable experience, and see if you could handle the encounter (we couldn't)!

When Andrew Watson wanted to make a film about a man's journey to becoming the most quoted man in the news, it was rejected again and again. Until the New Yorker picked it up and made it go viral. So what does photographer Chase Jarvis get from his interview with Andrew that you can take away? That you really can do anything you put your mind to. 

For most businesses today, an online presence is everything! But then how does one photographer stand out from the next? PetaPixel features photographer Erik Almas, who thinks that going hands on is the key to building a real connection to the customer. Get some inspiration on how to pitch your work. 

Say goodbye to trash the dress pictures - it's all about nature's fury in wedding photos now. Pros of a tornado wedding portrait? An unforgettable image. The cons? Possible danger. Space explores other options for those one-of-a-kind photos.

David Guttenfelder, an Associated Press photographer who was named TIME's Instagram Photographer of the Year in 2013, shed light into the mystery of North Korea when he helped create AP's first bureau in the country. TIME interviews him on his influences, keeping a work-life balance and his success on Instagram. 

Who said photography was an expensive undertaking? Inspiration comes free. Gizmodo's highlighted a few DIY tricks to turn ordinary things about the house into reflectors, cool backgrounds and more! Will you try some of these out? 

As a professional, you've had your fair share of faux pas and missteps, but you know better now! So you'll be able to enjoy Toronto Star photographer Randy Risling's hilarious video "How to Ruin a Wedding" as he points out every wedding photographer's pet peeves. 

There you have it! Our favorite posts from around the net this week. What are your favorite photography blogs? We want to know! Will you let us know on theLoop?

Hello July! Holy smokes--where has this year gone? It's already half over! How is your business shaping up? Check out these top discussions on theLoop to see how you can always improve your skills, your business and your bottom line.


What Was Your First Digital Camera? [PPA members community]

Take a trip down memory lane with this thread. What was your first digital camera? How far have you come since? Ah...memories. 


Starter Speedlight [lighting community]

Do you love your speedlight system? Help this PPA member see what might work best for a beginner. 


Photographing in Public Areas [PPA members community]

We get this question ALL the time! What are your area's policies for having sessions in public? Do you like them? What would you like to see changed? 


Shooting My First Wedding Today [PPA members community]

If you have a wedding story that'll make you cringe, this thread is for you! Crazy (unsolicited) 2nd shooters and how to handle them appropriately are covered here!


RC Aerial Photography [commercial photography community]

Learn the laws, ins and outs of the blossoming field of RC aerial photography! There are laws on the books, but can be difficult to decipher. Get the details and join the discussion here!


If You Could Photograph Any Event, What Would You Choose? [PPA members community]

No time machines allowed- but if you could photograph any current event, what would you do? There are some interesting and inspiring responses on this bad boy!


Everyone Wants A Discount! [finance community]

Where do you stand on the slippery slope of offering discounts? Does everyone get one? Are you 100% against them? Join the conversation and help this photographer get out of a sticky situation! 


Don't forget, theLoop is YOUR safe and secure online community where PPA members can discuss various photography topics... away from the public eye! 

You don't belong to PPA? Don't be left out! It's so easy to join, do it today!


It's Friday, which means it's time for our favorite photography posts of the week! From advice to inspiration, you'll find it all in this collection of posts. Enjoy!

It can be tough breaking into the photography world. Since newbies are rarely welcomed with open arms, Lauren Lim wrote an open letter to explain to them what they are up against and why they shouldn't give up. Granted that some points aren't always as on-point as we'd like them to be, but still, it's a feel-good-letter that'll motivate you right into the weekend!

With all of your summer adventures coming down the pipeline, you might stumble upon some great locations for upcoming sessions. What happens when those great locations are privately owned? The Law Tog walks you through how to negotiate permission and what to include in contracts to make sure you're covered!

Take a walk down memory lane with Kim and A Camera and A Dream to shine some light on why you might think the clients from 2008 are superior, and why you might be wrong.

Referral business is always welcomed--and with these tips from Digital Wedding Forum, you'll never miss out on becoming a venue's first photographer they recommend. See how they'll get you to be first choice at your top locations!

hotographyTalk gives you the points to hit the next time your mother-in-law starts judging your life choice to become a professional photographer. No, it's not a regular job, and yes, you're totally ok with that. 

You don't always have to go big to make a great impact. In this blog from National Geographic, Adam Vorhes (along with the team of engineers at the University of Texas at Arlington) created the world's tiniest* wind turbine, and then let an ant crawl on it. The images and perspective are fantastic. 
*Not confirmed to be the world's tiniest, we're just guessing.

We love a good marketing blog! The folks at Photography Spark have 10 practical ideas you can implement in your business to make your phone start ringing off the hook and increase sales! What will you implement today? 

In a creative rut? Spencer Lum at Ground Glass walks you through why your current patterns are holding you back and what you can do to move past your road blocks. It's a great read for anyone who just feels stuck.

You already know this, but it might be a great share for your clients! Educate them on why ordering from you (and a lab) is epically better than going down to your local corner store for some quick copies. 

If you're planning an epic photography-inspired adventure this summer, this is a must read. Executing the perfect trip takes a lot of forethought. This article from Photography Concentrate is perfect for your peace of mind. 

There you have it! Our 10 favorite posts from around the interwebs. What are your favorite photography blogs? Let us know on theLoop




By Mariah Ashley

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I often write about spinning negative scenarios into positive experiences. So how do you know when a scenario can't be spun and it's best to run? Read on.

Friday I sat in a lovely restaurant overlooking the river and the city. My table was covered in beautiful linens and adorned with fresh flowers. The hum of happy, satisfied diners chatting softly and clinking crystal wine glasses filled the candle lit room. 

I made the reservation six months earlier and couldn't wait to view the menu, imagining each beautiful dish and trying to determine which decadent offering would be my choice. The fresh ingredients, the interesting pairings, all lovingly created by the chef would make the decision very difficult. 

I sent our attentive waiter away several times so I could make sure to read every option twice before making my decision. In the end what really enticed my taste buds was the restaurant's specialty: baked stuffed lobster stuffed with... lobster. The dish is renowned, worth every penny at $200 per plate. Our waiter glided over and poured my wine and readied himself to take my order.

"Have you decided what you would like?"
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As a professional photographer, you deal with people's insecurities in front of the camera on a daily basis. We asked OurPPA Facebook followers to share the craziest things clients have asked for, and the photography community came forward with some pretty ridiculous situations. Here are our favorite responses:

• "A bride asked my husband to stretch her limo to make it appear more expensive." Martha C.

• "An architect asked if I could open the front door in Photoshop. On another shot he needed me to turn on all the lights. I told him that was level 7 magic and I was only in my 3rd year at Hogwarts School of witchcraft and wizardry." Erica B.

• "A bride who was taller than the groom asking me to stretch him after the pictures were all taken to make him look taller than her by a foot or so." Jillian C.

• "A middle-aged housewife once asked me to shoot 'romantic, soft, tasteful photos' of her for her husband, for their anniversary. She then produced an 18" stack of Hustler magazines, all opened to the centerfold as examples." Anjani M.

• "While shooting a maternity shoot, the mom-to-be who was barefoot turns to her husband and says, 'Honey, you need to take your socks off.' Then looks at me and asks, 'Or can you Photoshop them?'" Tyson P.

• "I had a studio in Hastings, England, and we used to make copy negatives of old photographs on 10x8 film and retouch them. An elderly lady came in with a photo of her dead husband who was wearing a trilby hat. She asked my assistant if we could remove his hat. The answer was yes madam. Assistant asked what color was his hair, her reply was 'Don't be stupid - you will see that when your remove his hat.' On another occasion a lady bought in 2 very dead stuffed monkeys to be photographed and framed. My wife asked the lady if she wanted them mounted. The lady blushed and said 'No thank you, holding hands will be adequate. The joys of being a GP Photographer.' Ian H.

• "At a newborn shoot, most babies are sleeping. One parent wanted me to Photoshop their child's eyes open. Really? Not only that, but during the shoot they started annoying the sleeping baby trying to wake her up. Job well done. Now you have a screaming baby." Michelle C.

• "To make sure her face cheeks were even because her collagen injections were not FDA approved. (And was given a before photo for reference)." Rachel T.

• "Can you turn my head sideways for a profile photo? I like my profile." Marty R. 

• "I once had to 'remove' a rather large penis on a horse. Bad enough, but then the family insists that he 'never' does that (which I took to mean the horse must really like me) *blushing*" Shannon M.

• "'I don't like my daughter's outfit, if I take a picture of a skirt. Can you Photoshop it on her?' Umm no." Heather S.

• "Can you iron my kid's shirt in Photoshop?" Kristen J.

Have a story to share? Post in on the thread! We love hearing the shenanigans that happen in your studios! 


We love hearing stories from our members, and this is one we couldn't resist sharing. And seriously... what's cuter than baby ducks?! 

But before you get your ducks in a row (ha! duck pun!), make sure you read about Georgia photographer Judith Ann's first time using ducklings in a portrait session. Hilarity will ensue!


Baby Ducks Don't Swim...

By: Judith Ann

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When I say baby ducks don't swim, it's partially correct and incorrect at the same time, because they do, they just didn't swim in the conditions I provided for them.

What am I talking about you ask? Let me back up and tell you about the large class I attended by a well-known photographer that taught how to build detailed sets for children. I was particularly interested in the set that included an indoor pond with live baby ducks that swam around at the feet of a child sitting on the end of a pier. I had to try it out myself!

So here's my story...

The day of my sessions, my mail-order ducks arrived at my post office with a morning call from the postmaster telling me to come pick up the little quackers immediately. He said he was not sure what I had ordered but they were screaming their little hearts out and wanted to know how fast I could get there to pick them up.

I returned to my studio baby ducks in hand with a short time before my first child client would arrive. I was totally pumped to get my photography shoot into motion. I had four 8-foot, 2 by 4's nailed together with a piece of pond liner that held the water in with plants, reeds and a pier that jutted out into the water, along with a basket and cane pole for "fishing," which made my set look "pond authentic."

We began the session by putting a three-year-old boy near the edge of the pier with a cane pole in his hand. My assistant was standing by waiting for my order to release the baby ducks onto the pier. I readied my camera for an adorable moment and with the nod of my head the ducks began their march toward the child.

The chaos erupted in a matter of seconds.

The little boy was freaked out by the ducklings heading his way and started whipping the cane pole at them. The first little quacker panicked and jumped into the water with the other five following him off the end of the pier.

As the ducks entered the water, some turned belly-up in reaction to the cold water. Others frantically tried to climb up the plastic reeds to escape the obviously too cold water and the cane pole that had become the boy's weapon as he attempted to save himself. My assistant frantically tried to pull the ducklings out of the water, while I ran to grab some towels and a blow dryer to hopefully help them recover from their unexpected hypothermia. The flurry of activity caused me to point toward the shocked mother and give non-understandable orders to apprehend the weapon and secure her ballistic son.

Miraculously, no ducks were harmed (other than being cold).

So what did I learn from the experience? First off, after you build the set, have playtime and a practice run. Warm the water with an aquarium heater at least 24-hours in advance of your photography session. Allow the child to warm up to the ducks and get to know them before sending them in his/her direction. Buy a dozen ducks and rotate six at a time to give them time for recover.

Oh and pro tip: Ducks by nature love to jump into baskets, so put a basket on one side of the pier so they will cross over and jump into the basket or put them in the basket and allow the child a moment of surprise (or horror) as they open it and find these adorable, fuzzy little quackers greeting them.

Despite the early chaos, by the end of the day I felt like I was a baby duck whisperer and did get some truly great images.

*NOTE: Please make sure you are in compliance with all state and local laws when using live animals during a session.

About Judith Ann:

Judith Ann is originally from Texas but calls Georgia home. A full-time photographer, she owns and operates Judith Ann Photography, with two studio locations. A self-described "photo-storygrapher," she brings her own unique flair and energy to the mix that keeps her clients coming back for more.  Her personal journey into photography has been an eclectic gathering of lifelong experiences from many different artistic mediums, including painting with oils and pastels to set design and handling black tie galas. When she discovered photography over 20 years ago her instincts told her she would make this her lifelong passion and career.  

 

 

What to do when your clients don't want you to use their photos online

 

By Mariah Ashley

The conversation was going so well. Jenny, the bride, wove her vision for her wedding day into a photographer's dream before my very ears.

No expense would be spared to get us to her exotic location. Photographs were of the upmost importance to her she explained, so she had taken great care to choose the timing of the day to coincide with the sunset. She had scouted locations for portraits to insure turquoise seas and fuchsia bougainvilleas as our backdrop. Her dress, she promised, would be like nothing I had ever seen. As we spoke, I pictured her gliding across a sandy beach with me, her photographer, clicking away and making her dreams and mine come true.

That's when a rogue wave Jenny's next comment slapped me out of my stupor. "So of course, I am going to need a clause in the contract to protect my privacy," she causally added.

"Huh?" I stammered.

"I don't want any photographs of myself, my family, or my guests on the internet. I don't want to be on your blog or on your website at all."

Oh no! Mayday! Think brain think, I thought as my beautiful sparkling turquoise vision and coinciding bragging rights faded to a fuzzy dull grey. Not knowing what to do I defaulted to my emergency response, "That's an unusual request. Can I think it over and get back to you on that tomorrow?"

When we hung up my initial feeling was of disappointment, which turned into annoyance and then quickly spiraled into indignation. Hadn't she told me she spent hours looking at all the photographs on my blog? Hadn't she said that she knew right away that we were the photographers for her because of our online gallery? It's not fair that she should benefit from viewing all my other clients but not give me the opportunity to attract new clients with images from her wedding. Sure, I want to travel to an exotic location and take beautiful photographs, but if I can't show them to anyone what's the point?

I remembered reading about a similar situation once on another very popular photographer's blog. Someone had written to her for advice on this very subject. Her response was that since her business model was through referral and not paid advertising she attributed most of her bookings to potential clients viewing her online portfolio. For this reason she would feel inclined to refuse the booking if she could not share the photographs on her website and blog. That seemed reasonable to me. Decision made, I would not be accepting this bride's wedding, no matter how dreamy she made it sound.

That night after a veggie stir-fry dinner, I settled on the couch with a glass of wine and an episode of Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown. I know, I know. What's a vegan like me doing watching a greasy lipped carnivore like Anthony Bourdain traipse around the world munching on animals? For some reason I find this entertaining and I close my eyes when he meets the critters that are about to become his dinner. It's a paradox. Anyway in this episode Anthony was in Copenhagen talking with a chef about Denmark's Law of Jante.

A colloquial term used in Denmark, Sweden, and most Nordic countries, Jante describes a condescending attitude toward individuality and success. The term refers to a mentality that de-emphasizes individual effort and places all emphasis on the collective, while discouraging those who stand out as achievers. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Law_of_Jante)

This all sounds decidedly un-American doesn't it? Well that's because it is. It goes against everything we have ever been taught about business never mind life in 'Merica. But let's consider this: Denmark is consistently ranked one of the happiest places to live in the world. In fact of the top five happiest places to live, Nordic countries take up all five spots. The United States doesn't even make the list. (http://unsdsn.org/resources/publications/world-happiness-report-2013/)

Please, don't anyone take this the wrong way I'm as patriotic as the next girl. My favorite song of all time? America the Beautiful. Let's move on.

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Maybe just maybe there's something to this "thinking of others before ourselves" jazz and not believing the "I'm all that and a bag of potato chips" philosophy.

The next day I called Jenny and told her I would be thrilled to be her photographer and would happily include a clause in our contract to protect her privacy. I told her the clause would include the use of any identifying photographs of her, her family or her wedding guests. However, I asked that detail photos such as the dress, flowers, reception, atmosphere and scenery photos would be fair game for me to use. She asked to include in the clause any identifying photos of the outside of the property that belonged to her parents and I agreed. We had a deal.

This is when I started "Gettin' Jante Wit It" (gratuitous Will Smith reference). If Jante deemphasizes the individual and emphasizes the collective then I would pump up my collectives, mainly the wedding planners, band and videographers traveling with us to the wedding from Boston. We had never worked with these particular wedding planners before and surely if we could make them look good it would mean some nice referrals for us in the future.

At the wedding we made sure to take as many photos of our fellow vendors that showcased their hard work and efforts as possible including photos of them working over the course of the weekend. We even got creative with some photos that showed the bride and groom but didn't reveal their identities. When we were finished we had more than enough images to put together an effective blog post to help our vendor friends strut their stuff.

If we had turned down this wedding because it didn't afford us the opportunity to brag about ourselves we would have missed out on the chance to do some serious networking with vendors who could potentially give us some excellent referrals (never mind some excellent rum punch). The restraints that our bride Jenny put on us forced us to think outside the box in the way we use our blog for marketing. As it turns out, with blogging and marketing there is more than one way to skin a cat an onion. (Skinning a cat is a sticky prospect best left to Anthony Bourdain, I'll stick with onions).

To see how we pulled off a "faceless" blog post check out our post here: http://www.snapweddings.com/blog/dominican-republic-destination-wedding-photographers/


About the author:

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Mariah Ashley is co-owner of Snap! Photography in Rhode Island. She is blonde, loves to bake fruit pies, wears flip flops way past the summer season, should have been born in the 50s, paints and writes when the mood strikes her, is mother to Jacques and Vianne, vacations on Block Island, is vegan, never has proper or stylish outerwear, fears frogs and toads but loves turtles, has really skinny legs, personal Style- Bohemian Chic, wants to own a VW van,  grew up on a cranberry farm and is happiest when snorkeling is happiest when sipping a rum punch under a palm tree.

 


 



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