Thursday, December 31, 2009

Goodbye 2009, Hello 2010. On Being a Greensboro Photographer.

(Photograph copyright 2009 by Dan Routh)

Another year has passed and we are headed into a new one. What will it mean for photography in Greensboro, North Carolina? Guess that’s the big question, at least for me. To be honest, this past year has been pretty rough economically for photography and most other businesses in these parts. Of course, commercial photography is totally dependent on other businesses, so things sometimes compound. 2009 has been a year of low budgets or no budgets for many clients. Photography has become an option for some marketing instead of a necessity. Quality has become less of a key word than the term commodity. Competition for jobs has kept increasing.

What does 2010 have in store for the business of photography in general and for this blog in particular? Lest I dwell too much with what was wrong with the past year, I can honestly say I’m optimistic about the new one, guardedly so, but nonetheless optimistic. I have to be. Photography is my profession, my livelihood, and my passion, and I’m determined to continue in this business. For all you potential clients out there, that means I am open and available for assignments. As for this blog, I intend to try to continue to shoot and post as frequently as I can. I have tried to post daily and share my images and my vision, as it were. Don’t know if I can continue on that schedule, but I will do my darnedest. I can truly say that I enjoy the effort it takes to create new work, and I really think that although the effort hasn’t necessarily created a huge monetary return on my time investment, I think that I am a better photographer than I was before I started posting over a year ago.

I also hope I can begin to understand the phenomena of social networking. I want to figure out if it is truly a way to market myself and disseminate information to a willing group of people, or it’s “the” thing to do at this particular time and will become a way to waste a tremendous amount of time. The jury is still out on that one, although I still have hope.

Happy New Year to each of you. Thanks for letting me share my work with you this year, and may 2010 bring peace, good health and prosperity to us all. Stop by when ever you can.

Splitting Wood on a Cold Day

Spent the afternoon yesterday splitting wood with my son Tristan, his wife Christine and my other son Devin. I'll put my wood crew up against any around. They made the chips fly and we rebuilt my mother-in-law's supply for the winter.

(Photographs copyright 2009 by Dan Routh)

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Making Goat Cheese

Steve Tate and his staff work on making goat cheese at the Goat Lady Dairy near my home in Grays Chapel, North Carolina.

(Photographs copyright 2009 by Dan Routh)

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Photograph of a Young Woman

(Photograph copyright 2009 by Dan Routh)

Jennifer. Greensboro, North Carolina.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Railroad Tracks in the Snow

(Photograph copyright 2009 by Dan Routh)

Railroad tracks in the snow. Julian, North Carolina.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

(Photograph copyright 2009 by Dan Routh)

It has been a rough year for the photography business and 2010 looks to be quite similar, but right now I am warm, healthy, surrounded by my family, and quite thankful for all my blessings. A Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all who follow me. And thank you for coming by.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Milking Cows

Milking cows in the dairy parlor of Williams Dairy, a family farm south of Greensboro, North Carolina.

(Photographs copyright 2009 by Dan Routh)

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Bad Contracts are Bad Business

I started this blog to share my photography with other people, not to be political or post news about photography equipment. There are other blogs that do that better than I can. Most of my posts are simply images and maybe a few words about the people or places I shoot. Since I am a board member of ASMP-North Carolina, I do occasionally make an ASMP announcement or talk about the business of photography. This is one of these posts.

Professional photographers are often requested to sign contracts when they accept new assignments, and over the years I have seen my share, some good, and some not so good. An art director for a large US book and magazine publisher contacted me yesterday with a request to license an image he had seen on this blog for use on a book cover. He sent me a PDF of a layout with my image on it. Evidently he didn’t see my notice that no use of my images is allowed without express permission. Nonetheless, I gladly quoted him a very fair figure for very specific use and terms for the image, and he said everything sounded fine. He said he would forward a contract to me. I questioned the need for me to sign a contract, since the image was a stock image of mine, and my invoice and usage forms act as a contract by themselves. He said the publisher was required to have a contract and that their’s was very simple and would reflect my terms. I told him I would take a look at the contract and if everything were in order, I would then forward a high rez file.

Today I received the contract and it was the most heinous document I have ever seen in my 30 years of business. First of all, the contract read as if I was doing an assignment. My image is a personal image, shot on my time, and already totally my property (The shot had no people in it, so model releases were not involved.). I had offered the art director non-exclusive rights for a book cover first run plus reprints, period, with my terms being payment due upon receipt of my invoice. The contract I received required me to give the publisher exclusive world-wide rights to the image for the life of the work. Editorial use of the image was allowed in any of the publisher’s subsidiary publications for 15% of the original fee plus advertising use was allowed for 20%. They also claimed a six-month option to buy my copyright for an additional 100% of the fee and there was a clause stating that I would be required to reshoot the image if they found it inadequate (Remember, this was for a stock image I had already produced.). Payment for any invoice would be on their “normal” schedule, for which they did not define what normal is .

I immediately called the art director and told him that there is no possible way I will ever sign such a contract. He told me I could cross out any offending language, and I told him I would have to cross out the entire document. I then told him I would be happy to license the image for my original usage terms. He said he would get back to me.

The photography business is rough these days, and none of us can afford to miss a sale, least of all me. However, a bad business climate is not an excuse to give away your work through bad contracts, nor is it an excuse for publishers to try to take advantage of innocent and gullible artists. I still have hope in negotiating a sale, however, a bad deal is a bad deal, especially when it jumps up and slaps you in the face.

Commercial Still Life Photograph

(Photograph copyright 2009 by Dan Routh)

Commercial illustration of fly fishing equipment for a brochure cover. I started out in photography as a table top shooter in Greensboro some 30 years ago. I still enjoy it.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Winter Feed Mill

It was snowing Friday, so I stopped by Jimmy Horney's mill, Julian Milling Company south of Greensboro, to pick up a load of cattle feed so I could feed my cows. Jimmy was manning the register and sharing the news of the day with his customers.

(Photographs copyright 2009 by Dan Routh)

Monday, December 21, 2009

Church in the Snow

(Photograph copyright 2009 by Dan Routh)

In Grays Chapel, we missed the heavy snows that most of the East Coast got this past weekend. We seemed to be on the dividing line between rain/sleet and the heavy stuff, but we did get enough to whiten the ground, but not the trees. Photograph is of Melancthon Lutheran Church in eastern Randolph County.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Deep River Stairs

(Photograph copyright 2009 by Dan Routh)

Old stairway. Franklinville, in Randolph County, North Carolina, along Deep River.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Asheboro Holiday Home

I went along with my mother this weekend to visit a house on the Asheboro Holiday Tour of Homes. Owned by two lovely ladies and retired teachers, Emma Washington and Barbara Tazewell, the century old rambling bungalow is filled with the treasures, artwork and mementos of these two women's lives and travels.

(Photographs copyright 2009 by Dan Routh)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Franklinville Still-Life

(Photograph copyright 2009 by Dan Routh)

Old mill door. Franklinville, North Carolina.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Art's Town and Country Store

Art's Town and Country Store in Liberty, North Carolina. Plants, sundries, feed, country ham and great cheese.

(Photographs copyright 2009 by Dan Routh)

Friday, December 11, 2009

College Students

We older folk get caught up in our businesses and daily lives too much and worry about the economy and such. Sometimes you have to get around young people and get a fix. I shot over at Elon University the other day among students in class and on break, and was struck by the pure optimism and enthusiasm that flowed from them. Wish I could hook a hose up to them and siphon off a bit.

(Photographs copyright 2009 by Dan Routh)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

ATV in the Woods

(Photograph copyright 2009 by Dan Routh)

Out-take from a recent fashion shoot for men's outdoor apparel.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Signs of the Christmas Season

It's that time of the year for Yuletide decoration. These natural wreaths are from Williamsburg, Virginia.

(Photographs copyright 2009 by Dan Routh)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Oil Change at Alvin's

I stopped by Alvin's Automotive in Grays Chapel, North Carolina on Saturday morning to get my car inspected. I found Alvin Ward, my cousin's husband, changing the oil in a car. When he's not restoring old cars, Alvin's provides repair and maintenance for neighborhood vehicles and acts as a center for local news and entertainment.

(Photographs copyright 2009 by Dan Routh)

Monday, December 7, 2009

The Lunch Counter

(Photograph copyright 2009 by Dan Routh)

The lunch counter in the Woolworth building in Greensboro, North Carolina, site of historic civil rights sit-ins in 1960 and part of the new International Civil Rights Museum that will open in February 2010.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Portrait, Old Greensboro

(Photograph copyright 2009 by Dan Routh)

Sometimes you happen upon photographs and sometimes they happen upon you. I was leaving my studio yesterday on Elm Street in Greensboro to walk up town to shoot a quick job when I heard from behind me, "Mister, take our picture." I swung around and caught this couple enjoying the mild sunny weather.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


(Photograph copyright 2009 by Dan Routh)

Portrait photograph of college student, Greensboro, North Carolina.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Candle Still Life Photograph

(Photograph copyright 2009 by Dan Routh)

Winter sun streams across an old table in our den in Grays Chapel, North Carolina and forms a graphic still-life.