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What I’ve learned after sharing my photos for free on Unsplash for 4 years

20 Jan
Stairs in Coimbra, Portugal?—?one of the 460 image I uploaded on Unsplash

This editorial was originally published on Medium, and is being republished in full on DPReview with express permission from Samuel Zeller. The views and opinions in this article are solely those of its author.


What is Unsplash?

Unsplash is a website where photographers can share high resolution images, making them publicly available for everyone for free even for commercial use. It was created in May 2013 by Stephanie Liverani, Mikael Cho and Luke Chesser in Montreal, Canada.

Four months after creation they hit one million total downloads, and a year after they had more than a million downloads per month. Now there are 400,000+ high resolution images hosted on Unsplash, which are shared by 65,000+ photographers from all around the world.

Last month 2,400 photographers joined Unsplash and shared 25,000 new images (not just snapshots, some really good photography).

Here are a few examples:

Visitors in the last month viewed 4 billion photos and pressed the download button 17 million times. The average Unsplash photo is viewed over 600,000 times and downloaded over 4000 times. No other social network can give you those numbers.

Unsplash is massive, and it’s (currently) one of the best place to get visibility for your work as a photographer. Some of my most appreciated images were viewed over twelve million times and downloaded a little bit more than 125’000 times.

Here are the top nine below:

I receive 21 million views per month (677’000 per day) and 93’000 downloads (3000 per day). As a result, every day there’s one or two person that credit me on Twitter for an image they’ve used. I also get emails regularly and new backlinks to my website every week.

And it’s not just for old users who’ve been sharing for a long time, here’s the stats from someone who joined Unsplash just three days ago:

In total I’ve uploaded 460 images, they’ve been viewed over 255 million times and downloaded over 1.7 million times. Of course these are just numbers, but they are much more meaningful (and larger) than the likes you can get on Instagram or Facebook.

Designers all around the world have been making album covers, posters, article headers, blog posts, adverts and billboards with my images on Unsplash. Like many photographers I chose to turn what was idle on my hard-drive into a useful resource for other creatives.

Here’s a few examples:

That’s not all, one of my first client (when I started as a freelancer in 2016) found me on Unsplash. They’re the biggest bank in Switzerland and I did four projects for them.

One included spending a night at 3,571 m (11,716 ft) at the highest observatory in Europe, the Jungfraujoch Sphinx observatory to document it (full project visible here); the second one was much lower at the Zürich airport photographing below aircraft like the Airbus A340.

The reason why they reached out to me? They were already using a few of my Unsplash images in their global database and wanted more in the same style.

Fast forward to a few months ago, I landed a new client (a design firm) and at one of the meeting they introduce me to one of their designer. The guy said after hearing my name “I know you already, I’ve been using some of your images on Unsplash, they’re great.”

The problem with social networks

People, especially the new generation, are becoming incredibly lazy. Our attention span is lower than ever, and we get stuck in nasty dopamine loops—we literally need to check our phones multiple times a day.

Social networks make us think we need to post new work often to get good engagement and get noticed, but the truth is great photographers take a year or more to publish new projects (for example Nick White “Black Dots” or Gregor Sailer “Closed cities”). Good work will always take time, and it will always get noticed.

We all fight for attention, for likes, for numbers that will not bring us anything good. We are in that aspect devaluing our own craft by over-sharing—being tricked into becoming marketing tools for brands.

The rise and fall of Instagram

What will you do once Instagram becomes old school? I don’t know if you noticed, but Facebook are ruining the whole Instagram experience by bloating the UI and releasing features for brands.

Here’s the user interface in March 2016 vs today on an iPhone 5/SE screen:

Seriously, what the heck? I can’t even see the user images anymore when I land on their profile.

Before Facebook bought it, the app was a simple, chronological photo-sharing service. Now they’re rolling out “recommended posts” from users you don’t even follow right into your feed. The suggested content will be based on what people you follow have liked (and probably on how much brands are paying to shove their ads right into your smartphone screens).

By sharing on Instagram daily as a photographer you are basically expending a ton of effort to grow a following on a network that’s taking a wrong turn. It’s like trying to build a sand castle on a moving elevator—sure, it works. but it’s not the most effective use of your time.

Not only is real engagement dropping, soon your reach will crumble unless you pay to promote your posts. I’m running an account with a little bit over 50,000 followers, and for a post that reach 25,000 people, only 170 of them will visit the account—the rest will just merely glance at the image for a second (maybe drop a like) and keep scrolling.

People create accounts on Instagram, then stop using it after some time. Truth is, many of your followers are inactive by now, and most of the ones that are active don’t care enough about your work to even comment on it.

What’s even worse is that Instagram makes photographers literally copy each other’s styles because only a few type of images can get better engagement and please the masses—think outdoorsy explorers taking pictures of forests from a drone or hanging their feet off a cliff. They’re diluting their work and style by focusing on what will grow their account.

Followers are still valuable now, but in two to three years they’ll be worthless. There’s a ton more 50k+ accounts than two years ago. Brands are now looking into accounts with 100–150k to do collaborations. Instagram is a big bubble that will blow one day, and I don’t want to have all my eggs in the same basket when it happens.

Would you take someone seriously if he told you, “I’m working on my Myspace/Flickr account every day! I got soooo many followers, I’m famous!”

I have 16,500 followers on my personal Instagram account and I could close it any day. The reason why? I also have a newsletter with over 25,000 subscribers. Guess which is more valuable and long-lasting?

Too many photographers today are forgetting that a portfolio, experience, publications and exhibitions are far more important than building up their following on a social network.

There’s still a lot of good sides to Instagram, the community aspect to start with and also the fact that there’s not yet a proper contender to replace it. It’s still (to me) the best place to discover emerging photographers and get your dose of inspiration. There’s also a great deal of photography magazines that are actively curating work on it.

The culture of the new

That’s the big problem with photography online as curator and photographer Andy Adams explains, “It’s always about the new, which inevitably means the not new drops off our radars way sooner that it should.”

Social networks like Instagram and Facebook are flawed for photographers for this particular reason. They are great for brands who can afford to hire social media managers and post regularly or sponsor content.

There are other social networks that don’t rely on a feed but rather on search, for example Behance or EyeEm. Those are way better for photographers in the long term. They have a higher rate of discoverability.

The images I share on Unsplash don’t lose value, in fact there’s no difference at all between a year old shot and a week old shot. Their value are not based on time. I could stop uploading new images and still have a lot of visibility every day. Try not posting on Instagram for a month…

Here’s a real example, those two images below were shared on Unsplash in October 2014. Notice how they still gather a ton of views/download per month even after four years?

Leaving a mark

Last year in February I lost my dad to cancer—he was diagnosed just a month before in January. I wrote before on the concept of memory and digital data (See: the data we leave behind) but his sudden death made me realize how short life can be.

We always say “we need to enjoy every moment, life is fragile,” but it’s impossible to understand it fully until you have lost someone close. My father had bookmarked my website, my Instagram account and my Unsplash account on his laptop, he was checking them often, he was probably my biggest fan.

What’s left of him are memories but also his files on his computer—photos of him and his art (he was doing digital art and uploaded a lot of pieces on DeviantArt). I’m grateful to have all of this to remember him.

As a photographer and artist I feel like it’s a necessity for me to also leave something behind, because we never know what will happen tomorrow.

Having some of my images on Unsplash is one way to ensure that even if I’m gone my work will keep on living. Another way is through prints and books. Speaking of which, I’m finishing my first book that will be published in April by Hoxton Mini Press.

Photography isn’t about making money as a freelance photographer, it’s also a part of us, stories of where we traveled, visual tales of our singular experiences with life. I choose to share it as much as possible because I can.

There’s one last reason why I share photographs for free and Josh summed it up very nicely in one of his Medium article, here’s what he wrote:

“Beauty has always been free. It came in the box with sunlight and eyeballs. It was granted to us upon birth as we first laid eyes upon our beautiful mothers and then mother Earth. For those of us with extreme empathy and a wide-eyed approach to seeing the world, finding the beautiful all around us and capturing it is a deep and glorious honor. Yes, you can have that image at the top for free?—?perhaps not because it has no value, but because I simply want you to see what I can see. I want to share in the joy of this world’s beauty. The image, in that scenario, is only a document of our mutual appreciation for it. And maybe taking money off the table in that discussion is actually what helps it remain beautiful.”

Josh S. Rose

What’s next

I feel like Unsplash is just the beginning of a new era of photography. It’s thrilling to be able to grow with it.

I was born in 1990 just before the world wide web, and I’ve seen how technology evolved for the past twenty years. I’m afraid of how addicted we have become to it. How fast paced things have become. We need more generosity, community based efforts, human curation and less algorithms driven by the need of profit. We need to slow down.

Some projects are trying to focus more rewarding artists instead of advertisers, and Ello is one of them. I’ve made the decision to stop using my personal Instagram account and switch to their social network.

But that’s a topic for a different article.


Samuel Zeller is a freelance photographer based in Switzerland, an ambassador for Fujifilm and the editor of Fujifeed magazine. You can contact him here and follow his recent work on his website and Ello.

Articles: Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com)

 
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Houston neighborhood removes photography ban after sidewalk compromise

23 Dec
Historic Broadacres neighborhood of Houston, Texas. Photo by Ed Uthman, used under CC 3.0 license.

Broadacres, a wealthy Houston neighborhood, has reversed its ban on photography following a previous attempt to prevent photographers from holding photo shoots in the area. The issue, according to the Broadacres Homeowners Association (BHA), was that commercial photographers were blocking public sidewalks. “It’s the abusive commercial photographers that have ruined it for everyone,” BHA president Cece Fowler said in a statement to the Houston Chronicle.

The neighborhood has attracted an increasing number of photographers who use it as a picturesque backdrop for wedding photos and more. This has resulted in 50 or more photo shoots every week, according to residents, which at times are said to include large props and groups. Fowler claims that some of these shoots have even caused damage, such as when a Jeep was reportedly driven onto the neighborhood’s esplanade.

Some of these shoots have even caused damage, such as when a Jeep was reportedly driven onto the neighborhood’s esplanade

Frustrated by this, Broadacres put up signs that read, “Welcome to Broadacres; No Photo Shoots.” That resulted in quick backlash on social media, however, and the signs have since been removed. Photography is again permitted in the neighborhood, but with one exception: photo shoots can’t take place on the sidewalks due to city ordinances. Residents have been advised to call the city’s 311 line if such obstructions appear in the future.

According to the Chronicle, Houston Public Works public information officer Alanna Reed said, “We hope the community will be respectful of the neighborhood. Remember the Golden Rule — would you want somebody coming into your neighborhood doing the same thing?”

Via: Fstoppers

Articles: Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com)

 
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German publisher Steidl ordered to pay $77k after losing photographer’s prints

22 Dec

German publisher Steidl has been ordered to pay photographer Lawrence Schwartzwald €65,000 / $ 77,000 after losing his portfolio prints. According to Artnet News, Schwartzwald sent the prints to Steidl in September of 2014 for inclusion in a book project. The photographer was reportedly told in June of 2015 that the project wouldn’t proceed, and that he’d get his photos back… but that never happened.

Despite repeated requests, Schwartzwald never did receive his portfolio. And so, after a year of waiting, he filed a lawsuit in a German court against Steidl for the return of his prints, which he valued at $ 1,200 each. That lawsuit has now culminated in a ruling that Steidl must pay Schwartzwald €65,000 in compensation for the lost prints, plus legal fees.

Gerhard Steidl, the company’s founder, gave Artnet News a different version of events, claiming that Schwartzwald’s photos had been selected for print publication, but the photographer grew impatient with the duration of the process and requested that his prints be returned.

Regardless of which version of events is true, however, the outcome is the same: Schwartzwald’s portfolio went missing.

Steidl acknowledged this in his statement to Artnet, explaining that it was an accident and that the portfolio couldn’t be located. “Someone probably packed it incorrectly and it ended up somewhere else, but it’s not there anymore,” said Steidl. “It just happened, in my opinion I don’t deserve the death penalty.”

Articles: Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com)

 
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The Isolite intelligent modifier system lets you change a photo’s lighting after it’s taken

01 Dec

An intriguing new lighting system called Isolite just launched on Kickstarter. The system of hardware accessories for strobes and speedlights comprises what parent company Phototechnica calls the “first ever intelligent light modifier.” What does that actually mean? Basically, with Isolite, photographers are able to modify the lighting in an image after taking it.

Phototechnica stresses that this process involves turning on and off actual lighting in the image, not simply lightening /darkening it or adjusting contrast—this is the real deal, not a post-processing trick.

The Isolite system doesn’t require a 3D render or special camera to enable light changes during post-processing. Raw images are converted by the Isolite converter, which enables users to adjust the image’s lighting before outputting it as a raw DNG file. That final DNG file can then be edited with compatible software like Capture One and Lightroom.

Phototechnica lists the following capabilities on its Kickstarter campaign:

  • Turn real lights on and off after the capture has been made.
  • Push, Pull, Paint light after the capture has been made.
  • Hard and soft light in one capture.
  • Adjust the exposure and ratio of each light source after the capture has been made.
  • With selective masking of each light source, difficult or impossible lighting control can be done with ease.
  • Light can be animated after capture turning still image captures into full motion video.
  • Using our proprietary tools, online images can be brought to life with light.

Here’s a video intro the further explains what the Isolite system is and how it works:

As far as hardware is concerned, the Isolite system features the Duolite and Beauty Dish Kit. The gear is designed to work with popular Speedlight sizes, most legacy Speedlights, the newest Profoto and Tri/Bowens Mount Strobes, plus there are adapters for using it with Elinchrom products.

Phototechnica is offering the Isolite Dualite through Kickstarter for pledges of at least $ 195 CAD (~$ 150 USD), a Dualite Speedlight Kit for $ 250 CAD (~$ 195 USD), Isolite Studio for $ 500 CAD (~$ 390 USD), and the Isolite Deluxe Studio for $ 1500 CAD (~$ 1,165 USD). The campaign is also offering early bird versions to backers who make pledges starting at $ 95 CAD (~$ 75 USD).

For now the campaign has a long way to go before its funding goal is met, and only 15 days to get there, so we’re not holding our breath on this one. But if the campaign is successful, shipments to some backers are estimated to start in May 2018.

To find out more or put down your own pledge, head over to the Kickstarter campaign.

Articles: Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com)

 
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Researcher says he was threatened after finding major DJI security flaw

28 Nov

Drone maker DJI has been criticized roundly this weekend over its alleged response to security researcher Kevin Finisterre’s discovery of a significant security issue involving the company’s system. According to Finisterre, he began hunting for bugs in DJI’s system under its recently established bug bounty program. In the process, Finisterre says he discovered a major security issue, but rather than rewarding him for his effort, DJI accused him of hacking and threatened to report him to the authorities.

DJI announced its bug bounty program in August following a report that claimed the U.S. Army had banned use of the maker’s drones over security concerns. As part of its announcement, DJI had stated:

The DJI Threat Identification Reward Program aims to gather insights from researchers and others who discover issues that may create threats to the integrity of our users’ private data, such as their personal information or details of the photos, videos and flight logs they create.

According to a long report on the matter published by Finisterre, he spent many weeks communicating with DJI through email about the scope of its bug bounty program, which hadn’t yet been publicly defined. After receiving confirmation that it included the company’s servers, Finisterre went to work in writing up a report disclosing his discoveries. Speaking of which…

Due to multiple security issues, including publicly available AWS private keys for DJI’s photo-sharing service SkyPixel, Finisterre reports that he was able to get access to highly sensitive user data, including: identification cards and passports, flight logs, and drivers licenses. Once he found this flaw, he claims that he alerted DJI to this vulnerability, and that the company acknowledged it.

After more than 130 emails back and forth between DJI and Finisterre, he states in his report that DJI said he would be rewarded with $ 30,000 under the bug bounty program (the maximum award). However, Finisterre reports that weeks later he received an agreement for his particular bug bounty that was “literally not sign-able.” As he goes on to explain in his report:

I won’t go into too much detail, but the agreement that was put in front of me by DJI in essence did not offer researchers any sort of protection. For me personally the wording put my right to work at risk, and posed a direct conflicts of interest to many things including my freedom of speech. It almost seemed like a joke. It was pretty clear the entire ‘Bug Bounty’ program was rushed based on this alone.

Efforts to alter the agreement didn’t pan out as hoped, says Finisterre, who goes on to claim that several different lawyers advised him that DJI’s final offer was, “likely crafted in bad faith,” and that it was “extremely risky” for him to sign it. It was about this time that Finisterre also receive a legal demand from DJI ordering him to delete/destroy the data he had gathered during his investigation, while appearing to threaten Finisterre with the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

In a statement to Ars Technica, who was the first to cover this spat between DJI and Finisterre, the Chinese drone giant referred to Finisterre as a “hacker,” claiming that he had accessed one of the company’s servers without permission and that he had tried to claim it under the company’s bug bounty program without following “standard terms for bug bounty programs.” The statement goes on to claim that Finisterre “refused to agree to these terms, despite DJI’s continued attempts to negotiate with him, and threatened DJI if his terms were not met.”

For his part, Finisterre says that he ultimately turned down the $ 30,000 in favor of going public with what he sees as an unsettling and unacceptable experience, concluding with the following statement:

If you that are wondering if DJI even bothered to respond after I got offended over the CFAA threat, you should be happy to know it was flat out radio silence from there on out. All Twitter DM’s stopped, SMS messages went unanswered, etc. Cold blooded silence.

Articles: Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com)

 
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Kodak will lay off 425 employees after reporting millions in losses

14 Nov

Kodak recently disclosed its third quarter fiscal results, revealing that it had a GAAP net loss of $ 46 million on $ 379 million in revenues during its Q3 2017. This marks a sharp downturn of fortunes for Kodak, which saw $ 12 million in net earnings during the same quarter last year. “An overall print market slowdown and rising aluminum costs have impacted our commercial print business,” explained Kodak CEO Jeff Clarke in a release.

Clarke went on to explain that Kodak is, “taking immediate actions to accelerate cost reduction and reduce investments to sharpen our focus as we continue to actively pursue changes to the Kodak product and divisional portfolio.” According to New York Upstate, “accelerate cost reduction” translates to the Eastman Kodak Company cutting 425 jobs.

The quarter had its upsides for Kodak, however, which reports that its Kodak Sonora Plates saw a 24% growth in Q3 and its Flexcel NX revenue grew 2% year-on-year. Overall, Kodak’s CFO David Bullwinkle said the company anticipates generating cash during Q4 2017. “We plan to improve our cash balance through reducing working capital and through cost actions,” Bullwinkle explained, “including focusing investments in technologies most likely to deliver near-term returns.”

Articles: Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com)

 
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Faker exposed after convincing top news media he was a war photographer for two years

07 Sep

Over 100,000 Instagram users and some of the world’s best known media organizations were fooled for over two years by someone pretending to be a front-line war photographer. The entire stranger-than-fiction story was revealed recently by BBC Brazil after a lengthy investigation.

According to the BBC’s report, so-called ‘Eduardo Martins’ posed as a Brazilian UN photographer by using a collection of images stolen from other photographers’ websites and from news organizations. Stealing with care he built a body of striking work that brought him to the attention of BBC Brazil, Al Jazeera, the Wall Street Journal, Getty Images and many others, and amassed him over 120,000 followers on Instagram.

‘Eduardo’ posted tear-sheets of his work in print and recounted stories of his encounters and ‘humanity’ in the face of chaotic and violent scenes. He was able to keep the ruse going by never speaking to anyone in person, and sending only recorded or emailed messages. His photographs were placed with Getty Images and tales of his exploits made print with some of the world’s biggest newspapers.

An interviewer at the BBC became suspicious, however, and started to ask questions that revealed other Brazilian war photographers working in the same zones had no idea who Eduardo was. As the war correspondent community is tight knit and journalists in conflict zones inevitably know one another, alarm bells began to ring.

Enquiries with the UN also established that no one with that name was on its books as a photographer, and that neither were other UN photographer friends that Martins referred to—including some that Martins mourned in his posts after they were ‘killed’. Amazingly the UN even followed him on Instagram.

Pictures from the Facebook page of photographer Ignacio Aronovich that demonstrate how Martins manipulated photographs belonging to Daniel C. Britt to disguise them from image recognition software.

It turns out the profile picture Martins used was of a UK surfer called Max Hepworth-Povey, and that the images Martins posted, distributed to news outlets and supplied for his interviews were stolen from other photographers. The images were often flipped, cropped and manipulated to disguise them from automated visual-matching services so Martins could pass them off as his own.

His technique became clear when a photographer noted that other photographers in a picture credited to Martins were holding cameras with the shutter release on the left hand side of the body instead of the right.

As news of suspicions got back to Martins via a photographer he corresponded with online he disappeared, deleting his Instagram account and shutting down the phone number he used for Whatsapp messaging. His last message said he was planning to tour Australia in a van for a year and to cut communication with the world.

Whether Eduardo is a man or a woman, or even owns a camera at all, remains unclear—and indeed whether he/she is even from Brazil and is or isn’t currently in Australia. These things may never be known, but the story does raise questions about how well news organizations vet their contributors and interviewees.

Articles: Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com)

 
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Lensrentals shares photos of destroyed camera gear they got back after the eclipse

02 Sep

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Our friends over at Lensrentals shared an entertaining-if-a-bit-depressing post today: rental camera gear destroyed during the solar eclipse of 2017. It seems that, despite plenty of warnings from other websites and Lensrentals itself leading up to the incredible celestial phenomenon, not everybody got the message that you always need to use a solar filter to shoot the eclipse.

As such, Lenrentals got back everything from melted aperture systems, to burned shutters, to a fried mirror—ostensibly because people were shooting in live view.

LR is careful to specify that they actually got very few damaged units back given just how much gear they rented ahead of the eclipse, and that this post is meant to entertain not criticize:

“Please keep in mind, this post is for your entertainment, and not to be critical of our fantastic customer base,” writes Zach Sutton. “With this being the first solar eclipse for Lensrentals, we didn’t know what to expect and were surprised with how little of our gear came back damaged.”

So, entertain away. You can see a few of the images in the gallery above, or visit the full Lensrentals blog post for more pictures and descriptions of the damage the sun can do to expensive camera gear when you’re not properly equipped to shoot it.

Articles: Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com)

 
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Photographers face three felonies after climbing bridge for cityscape shot

01 Sep
Benjamin Franklin Bridge at night by Jeffrey Phillips Freeman

Breaking the law to get the perfect shot can have serious legal consequences, a harsh reality currently facing photographers Martin J. Romero-Clark and Andrew Lillibridge, who were arrested after climbing onto the Ben Franklin Bridge in Philadelphia.

According to local news site Philly.com, police received an alert at 12:50AM on July 25th about a potential jumper on top of the bridge; this prompted a response from the Philadelphia Police marine units, port authority police, and the Philadelphia Fire Department. Upon arriving at the scene, authorities reportedly discovered the two photographers with camera gear. By the time the two were arrested at 1:20AM, the incident had drawn 36 firefighters, eight port authority officers, and seven port authority rescuers.

Statements from authorities to local news indicate that the photographers’ climb onto the bridge had tripped security alarms and was captured on security cameras. In addition, the bridge had to be shut down for 103 minutes.

In a statement to Philly.com, Delaware River Port Authority CEO John Hanson said the two had worn black clothing and climbed the bridge on a wet night, putting both themselves and everyone on the ground at risk. “They could have fallen, they could have been injured in the process of apprehending them, and they put the heroic men and women of our police department and the Philadelphia Fire Department at risk,” Hanson said. “We’re going to prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law. I am not amused, and I am very angry.”

The pair now face two third-degree felonies, one fourth-degree felony, and their photography equipment has been confiscated.

Articles: Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com)

 
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Photo of the week: Drone portraits bring healing and awareness after wildfire

19 Aug

On November 23, 2016, a fire started along the Chimney Tops 2 that would spread throughout Gatlinburg and become the worst fire in Tennessee of the last 100 years. It claimed 14 lives and over 2,000 homes and businesses.

As the devastation became apparent, I had an idea to use my camera to bring healing and awareness to the region’s victims in a series of photos. From December 14-20, 2016, I photographed as many individuals and families as I could. There were already lots of photographers and drone enthusiasts there but I don’t find that more cameras help in times of need. There has to be a specific idea or angle to tell the story in a different, emotionally-compelling way.

As story-tellers, we have to use the creative director parts of our minds to think differently.

So I had the idea to place a stark white mattress in the middle of these blackened, charred homes and then place the homeowners on the mattress and photograph it from a drone. I had never used drones before but I knew it was the right solution for this project. And I was hopeful that it would be a bit therapeutic for the homeowners to lay down one last time in their former home… a moment of quiet remembrance in a time of distress.

This is the very first photo I took for the project, a portrait of a new friend named Kirk Fleta. He’s a famous musician and had built his home himself, with his own hands.

We had him lay down and then started flying the drone. As soon as I took this first photo, I started crying. I’ve never cried in my entire career, upon seeing one of my images for the first time. But this one got me on every level. Not only was it a successful vision but it uniquely displayed Kirk’s loss and it seemed to represent such a vulnerable moment for him… the end of one chapter and the beginning of a new one.

We used a variety of different drones and DSLRs to capture the aerial shots and portraits for the project, respectively. For this shot, we were using a DJI Inspire Pro (X5). You can see the entire project here.


Jeremy Cowart is an award-winning photographer, artist, and entrepreneur whose mission in life is to “explore the intersection of creativity and empathy.” His work ranges from celebrity portraiture to deeply personal projects like the Gatlinburg portraits. To see more of his work, visit his website or follow him on Facebook and Instagram.

Articles: Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com)

 
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