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Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Press Photos

 I always like the thought of collecting press photos. The idea of having the only known physical copy of a print is an exciting one. Yes some photos were printed a few times, especially if the print itself was made by the photographer who took it but most news agencies made only a single print, used it for publication and then shoved it into a filing cabinet. You do have to keep an open mind when collecting this type of photo because you're not going to get a pristine print and they will most likely have damage such as creasing, stains, small tears, or discoloration. To me this only ads to the charm. The back of the print usually has the subject, news agency, a short story, and sometimes the photographers name. The cost on average can run between $10 and $30 a print depending on size and condition but there are those rare occasions when a photo of a famous person or scene will run into the hundreds or close to a thousand if it was made by a photographer such as Weegee. I paid $10 for this original 8"x12" silver gelatin print.

Friday, October 11, 2019

The Night Alive

I would like to thank the Inis Nua Theatre Company in Philadelphia for projecting photos from my Philadelphia Project in the lobby during the play "The Night Alive".


Sunday, October 6, 2019

The Philadelphia Stock Photo Company

 I've been giving some thought about a Philadelphia centric stock photo company. Only a little thought at this time because I have no idea about the start up costs and if there's even a market for it. I have plenty of photos that don't fit within my portfolio but make for good stock photos. I've been a contributor to iStock/Getty for 8 months now but I find the ridiculously low earnings of around 25 cents per sale insulting and a waste of time unless you have 10,000 photos uploaded. I have no idea where I'm going with this.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Ain't No Stoppin' It

     It's been a while since I've discussed the mess that is the internet and permission for using one's photographs. In the past year lawsuits have been filed, cease and desist letters sent, DMCA forms filed, and hundreds of emails. During this same period of time I registered copyrights for over half my portfolio. This process takes a tremendous amount of time and my talking about has discouraged other photographers from posting their portfolio photos online and I can't blame them. Others feel that searching for their photos would ruin them mentally, again I don't blame them. Over the last year alone I've had my photos removed hundreds of times and it looks like I've stopped Amazon from selling third party items with my photography on them. But that's where the progress has stopped.
      I have a few photos that I watch more closely because they known to be used without my permission more than the others, but every once in awhile I'll find an unsuspecting photo being used for website design, product design, or illegally printed. Take the photo below ( Philadelphia 471) which has been the biggest source of illegal and not permissioned use. I've sent a couple hundred notices to people on social media claiming they took the photo or using it for advertisement. Interior designers, realtors, communication companies seem to be the biggest offenders. They either claim ignorance or the fact that they've seen it all over the internet so it must be alright to use without permission. There is no stopping the spread of a photo once it's been uploaded to the internet. I've spent thousands of hours trying to stop or even just trying to slow it's progress with no such luck.

This photo represents only about one sixth of the current locations on the internet where it's been shared or used even though I've had hundreds removed. Using the Russian search engine Yandex reveals even more with a disturbing amount being used for commercial purposes.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Snapshot Sunday

The continuation of photographing diner waitresses and people shopping in Acme.

Friday, September 27, 2019

Best Advice

 Several years ago I was part of a large group exhibition in New York City. While there I was approached by a few photographers who asked me what advice I could give them. I immediately said "edit your work". I think they were expecting hints while photographing on the street but none of that matters if you don't edit after the fact. Today that advice is more important than ever with the immediacy of digital cameras, smartphones, and social media. Mostly editing has taken a back seat because of the urgency of posting on Instagram. In short people are posting photos fast for the sake of posting.
   Today how many photographers live with their photos for a year, a month or even a week before showing anyone? I would guess next to none. Like most things today fast has replaced good. To make matters worse most photographers are horrible editors of their own work, especially early in their career. I rarely accept a photo that I haven't run by at least one person. These outsiders can offer a fresh opinion, have saved me some embarrassment over the years and also opened my eyes to photos I initially dismissed. Photographers can sometimes be too close to their own work. Slowdown.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Print Special

For the next week I'll be offering three different prints from my 6x6 portfolio for the very low price of $75 each (domestic shipping included). The prints will on 8.5" x 11" Hahnemuhle Photo Silk Baryta paper and will be signed on the back. Image size will be 7"x 7".

Email me michaelpennphotography@gmail.com

Friday, September 20, 2019

Elmo Tide

Today in the world of photography it is rare that you stumble upon something new, something good, something NOT New York City. I've known about Elmo Tide since 2008 when this mysterious person first appeared on Flickr. His subject is good, his photos are good, and his new book stands out in the sea of mediocrity of todays photo book publishing. As far as I know nobody has figured out the real name of this photographer and there are the skeptics who think that this is just another branding or marketing ploy. I might agree with you if it began in the last 5 to 7 years but he/she has been Elmo Tide since at least 2008. Who ever they are I hope they continue and I want to thank them for showing the 21st century world that there's more to photography and photo books than New York City.

Elmo Tide Flickr

Who Is Elmo Tide

Elmo Tide Book

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Before Social Media, Photography Was a Social Medium

 The state of photography as an art just keeps moving into further oblivion. The talk going on is not good and I'm wondering if and when it will reverse course. If you're into instagram selfies, lunch photos, and the now majority Keeping Up With The Joneses, you'll be perfectly content. If you're into whatever cluster fuck of the day social or political issue you'll be fine as well. It's why so many galleries and museums are hosting exhibitions on these topics of the day. They know the iZombie drones will stumble through their doors. I watched a couple of good photographers throw in the towel over the years such as Markus Hartel who moved out of New York City, Clay Benskin also from New York but for reasons unknown, and most recently Zoe Strauss from Philadelphia who has won just about every major grant and fellow, had a major museum retrospective, and had a shot joining Magnum. She is going to sell all her camera gear because she's flat broke. If she can't afford to live as an artist what hope do the rest of us have !?
 I've spent a great deal of time speaking to those in the field such as gallery owners, curators, collectors, critics, and they're not sure of what's happening either. I've read hundreds of articles, books, blogs and forums searching for an answer beyond the obvious that Instagram and smartphones have devalued the photographic image. Remember when people though that digital cameras will be the death of it ? Well who knew something worse was around the corner.
  Speaking of forums, I freaking hate them but someone talked into joining one of the largest in photography to pep it up. I was very reluctant because I knew what to expect which was a bunch of gearheads who constantly buy the latest gear but rarely take photos and God forbid ever post them. The place always erupts into the most insipid arguments when these fauxtographers should be out there taking photos or at least learning how to. So after I grew tired of the camera forum I moved to its Street Photography/Documentary Photography forum. There are photos posted by a handful of people but nothing that comes close to good mostly because they don't have the discipline to learn. Communication is rare because they're either afraid or because today's internet has made everyone too lazy except for a click on a like or little red heart. When they do respond most of it is in the form of an argument which is either uneducated in the field of photography or a personal opinion being passed on as fact. When you have no experience why talk when you can listen ? Even when you try to help they take it as an attack on them. I've brought up the question about street photographers collecting others work and just about all said they don't and they won't. Claims of clutter, living minimal, not wanting to leave physical things behind for love ones, and my personal favorite not wanting strangers hanging on their walls even though they themselves go out and take photos of strangers. It's a typical Millennial attitude that even two of the late 40's members agree to. Fucking Millennial wannabes are the worst. Some of the more Google savy people will try to use terms such as "historical baggage" as a narcissist way of saying that time didn't exist before them. What a sad existence they've constructed for themselves and at the same time destroying photography.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Matt Weber

I'm dedicating this post to New York City photographer Matt Weber. Not only is Matt a great photographer but he's one of the most humble and down to earth people that you'll ever want to meet. His photos of New York go back to the early 80s when he drove a taxi for a living. I could write an entire book about Matt but it will be more fun to discover him for yourself. I'm proud to own 3 of his prints and all of his publications. Lots of links below.

Matt Weber Website

Matt Weber Instagram

Book - Street Trip. Life in NYC: Photographs by Matt Weber


Daily Mail - Matt Weber

Book - The Urban Prisoner

Press Photos

 I always like the thought of collecting press photos. The idea of having the only known physical copy of a print is an exciting one. Yes so...