Credits for the Photographer? Please?

•September 12, 2016 • Leave a Comment

Of all the news feeds in all the profiles on Facebook, this article had to land on mine.

The topic of crediting photographers is somehow a controversial one with a wide variety of opinions as to whom is correct on the topic.  The law says the Copyright Holder is typically the photographer in question.  Various models / cosplayers have said that because it is “their image” on the line, they are the ones who should have final say.  Sadly, many businesses / conventions have used the “It’s on Google, so it is therefore free for anyone to use” defense, though that is not technically true.  As a TL;DR to this article, if someone is searching for royalty-free / free to use photos, they should check out sites like ShutterStock.com to get them (This is not an endorsement by BlizzardTerrak Photography but rather something I have heard from various content creators.  Please do your due diligence when using stock photos).

The sad truth is that this kind of thing happens to many photographers, including cosplay photographers.  While many of our photos occupy a legal grey area (again, due to insufficient copyright laws), it is generally accepted that the photographer is the copyright holder.  However, I have had several cosplayers whom have refused to give credit, giving such reasons such as “Instagram forces me to crop it out”, “It’s my image”, and “I kept your watermark. That is good enough”. I’ve especially had this happen by various conventions whom feel that because the photo is freely available online that they can use the entire image or crop / edit it.  They argue that it becomes a “transformative work”, which makes THEM the copyright holder / artist instead of the photographer.  I’ve consulted various legal experts and, generally speaking, this is not true in photography.  Again, this is a legal grey area photographers occupy.  Nevertheless, there are times when it would generate negative word-of-mouth, so generally this is a bad idea.

There are only a few choices for a photographer to mitigate people from using photos without your permission:

  • Local Court System. This will involve lawyers and registering the photo with the Copyright Office.
  • Using obnoxious watermarks like the default ones on DeviantArt that cover the entire photo.
  • Making sure the model / cosplayer / agent you are working with/through has the ability to mobilize a large fan base or cause enough negative drama to force a party to stop using photos.
  • Giving up because you don’t make enough money or because it takes a lot of work.

All of the ones above are not guarantees that you will regain control.  That is the risk-reward of the current system available to photographers in general in order to promote oneself.  Again the complexities of copyright laws as well as the desire to show off your work to the masses makes it difficult.  My only suggestion is to pick your battles.

As for cosplayers / models whom we photographers serve, here are a few things that help us keep working:

  • Keep in contact with each other. Ask each other when submitting a photo for a contest is a good idea or if a promotional deal is wise.
  • Make agreements ahead of time (preferably on paper). Define the goal of the photoshoot (commercial prints, posting on social media, etc.).  And if you want to change the terms, renegotiate.  The worse thing is that the photographer says “no” and you can go to another photographer who will say “yes”.  (We’re kind of stupid like that…or is that just me?)
  • ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS tag / link the photographer. We generally like it when you, the model, uses something we shot to promote yourself.
    • And really, does it actually cost you anything?

This is a blog so my opinions do not apply to every single photographer out there.  Some of us want to make sure we get paid because it’s how they put food on the table.  Some of us do it more as a hobby than to get paid (such as myself).  It does take a little extra effort, but I’d like to think that the work we do to promote your image is worth that extra effort for our fragile egos.

If you have managed to get this far, I implore you to do the following (other than sharing this of course):

  • Thank your photographers. It’s not as simple as pushing a button.  Even selfies need some effort other than stickers.
  • If you want a photographer to remove their watermark / not credit them…at least use a contract.
  • Don’t reply like the café owner in the article (linked below).

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Source of Discussion / Topic:

http://petapixel.com/2016/09/08/cafe-mocks-photographer-asked-stolen-photo-taken/

(PS: I really should make that review for the Samsung T3 and Nikon D750 I’ve been using…someone remind me.).

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Photographer’s StarLog – 8/12/2016

•August 12, 2016 • Leave a Comment

Apologies for neglecting this blog page.  A lot of things have been keeping me busy in my personal life.  Mainly, work is getting more and more hectic, so I have had less time to do any writing.  Hopefully I can do shorter posts like these, but we’ll see.

I have finally started an Instagram page (@BlizzardTerrak) so please check it out for random photos of the day (around 12 PM PST).

In the mean time, I do have 2…maybe 3 product reviews:

  • Nikon D750 (Full Frame)
    • Maybe the Nikor f2.8 24-70mm Lens will be combined?
  • Samsung T3 External SSD Drive (specifically for low-powered machines)

I also have the following events and shoots coming up in August:

  • Off-Con shoots during misc weekends in August
  • ?Heroes Fest? (Pending Ride / Commuting/ Shoot Requests)
  • SacAnime Summer 2016 (Pending Ride)
  • Yaoi-Con (Hotel Confirmed)
  • Comikaze (Confirmed)
  • KrakenCon Fall (Commuting)

Anyways, if you have questions, please comment below or email me.  Or message me on the following areas:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BlizzardTerrakPhotography/

Instagram: @BlizzardTerrak

Twitter: @BlizzardTerrak

Anime Expo 2016 – After Action Report

•July 6, 2016 • Leave a Comment

I don’t think I need to describe Anime Expo for the Sixth time in a row, but as to whether or not I can call it the San Diego Comic Con / Comic-Con International of Anime is well earned this time around. A lot of changes happened this year along with the staff apparently.  One of the biggest thing attendees noticed was the move of the Artist Alley from its usual location inside of the Exhibit Hall into the…what is the Kentia Hall?  The indoor parking lot with barely any Air Conditioning? I gathered that the Exhibit Hall didn’t actually use the space that Artist Alley used to occupy.  Nor was the Photography / Video Game Entertainment Hall filled to capacity (in terms of booths and area used.  I think the worst part is that one really does need a badge to enter their baggage-check lines, something that wasn’t there during WonderCon this year. Oh, and no one without a badge was allowed inside, so anyone who wanted to purchase / pick-up a badge had to go all the way to the South Hall from the outside (so the JW / Luxe hotel advantage was nullified).  I have to wonder how many people at the con had suffered heat stroke / exhaustion as a result of all these “necessary changes”.

Sad to say that the problems didn’t end there.  In attendance were a lot of cosplay guests which would of course bring a lot of photographers and vidographers.  Of course, many of them, particularly the videographers, were rather rude to everyone, their peers, me, and even some of the cosplayers they were photographing.  I’ve had several videographers barge in and take clients right in front of me (again). I’ve also had a couple of photographers insult the cosplayer I am friends with or working with right in front of me.  Somehow, this whole con was more about me resisting the urge to not leave people in a bloody mess.

Did I regret going?  No, I’ve had a few cosplay shoots arranged and met a few new people…hopefully future clients for shoots.  However, this con is still far from my first choice.  IF I had to compare, Fanime 2016 (which I rated poorly) was much better than Anime Expo and one I’d rather go to even if I had to fly out to it.  Honestly, if it weren’t for a select group of people like Dokitude, PolarBearSeatBabySeals, and a couple of others, this con would be an absolute zero…something I wish I had to endure the sweltering temperatures.

The bottom line: The ONLY reason one should go is the special guests from Japan.  Otherwise, I’d highly recommend other conventions.  They may be smaller, but you’ll have a much better time than deal with TSA: The Anime Convention.

Con-Rating

:star-empty: :star-empty: :star-empty: :star-empty: :star-empty:  – Con was designed to lock down, Apple-style, rather than put the needs of the con-goers.  I have to wonder what the hospital bills total up to.

Personal Fun-Factor

Star! Star!   – Bullied by Staff AND by the locals / famous shooters.

PS: Locking people out is a dick move.  I hope they’re ready for the cleaning bill….to say nothing about all the ambulances they probably needs for those who fell from heat stroke.

Warning:

  • Heat-Advisory (outdoors)
  • Heat-Advisory (indoors)
  • Lockdown
  • TSA-style bag check

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I’ll be going over what happened to me personally with some of the more…famous photographers and videographers in the next report.

Fanime 2016 After Action Report – Part 2

•June 15, 2016 • Leave a Comment

In terms of my photography, Fanime was not a complete Charlie Foxtrot like last year was, but it was a below average year overall.  It would be easy for me to blame it on my gear (I had just moved to Full Frame) or because of the hotter temperatures or because of the convention organizers (see Part 1).  But I have to be objective and blame one part of me that is going to stop: Overbooking.

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In the past, overbooking myself because that way I would always be kept busy.  Anytime one person cancels, either the next person gets an earlier shoot or I would head to the convention center.  Unfortunately times have changed and it is getting harder and harder for me to both find a good location and find people to shoot with.  I had many cancellations and had to rush to the next person in order to get shoots done, which made my overall quality suffer in my opinion.  In 2014, I could shoot from 10 AM to 2 AM.  Now, I’m huffing and puffing at 10 PM.  It wasn’t like that for MAGFest where I shot till 1 AM, and that was in a different time zone AND with completely new people.

Fanime 2016 has made it official:

Shoots will be unplanned during the day except for non-convention safe cosplay and for priority cosplay (KOS-MOS, Ghost in the Shell, Mass Effect).

Hopefully this works out in the long run…
Guess I’ll find out at AX 2016….

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Fanime 2016 After Action Report – Part 1

•June 10, 2016 • Leave a Comment

Fanime 2016 After Action Report.

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After a rather large disaster at 2015 involving convention drama, I went into 2016 hoping the drama part was burnt out of me.  Sadly, this was not the case.  While many of the problems that plagued me involved the convention itself, I will have to say that the problems I’ve had were mostly directly related to me an my status in the community.

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For this report, I’ll try to keep it short:

I had reserved the Fairmont San Jose Hotel during the early Fanime Hotel Reservation Block and got a 2-bed room.  When I arrived early Thursday morning, it had been changed to a 1-bed King room without my authorization and without notification.  I showed the staff the exact emails I received and managed to get a small discount along with a Rollaway bed.  Good thing I had arrived early because later that same day, I heard reports on my Social Media and in person that the Fairmont had actually overbooked.  Now they were sending people to the Fairview which was 5 miles away.  Few people had emails sent out on Thurday, but by then many people were in transit and unable to rearrange things like airport shuttles.  I have not gotten a straight answer about the situation from the Fairmont or CMR Housing (the company responsible for Fanime Housing Block), but since all the reports were focused on the Fairmont, I have to assume the Fairmont was the guilty party.

#linecon was definitely back and in force during a very hot weekend.  At first it seems like they might actually pull it off, but the machines and staff started to break down early Thursday and the line formed around the convention center and the Marriott Hotel.  On Friday, the lines still extended to the “Photographer’s Corner” of the convention center.  While I don’t use that area of the con for photos, it did limit the number of locations I had available.  And as usual, rovers were highly inconsistent in terms of how their Weapons Policy / Prop Policy was enforced as once again “Sailor Moon had to have her wand checked” (an old joke, but still relevant in 2016).  And for many events that had long lines, not enough staff were on hand to assist such as the famed “Hentai night” being somewhat delayed.  The one good news was the success of the Swap Meet since my roommate was a seller.

FanimeCon 2016 management definitely took several steps back in terms of organization and enjoyment.  While it was understandable to implement both badge checks at the main entrance of the con center as well as the need for badges for room reservations, the actual execution and timing of these announcements were either handled late or not at all.  The overall mood of the attendees were to just avoid the con center and just use the nearby areas for shoots, hanging out, and parties.  Sadly, the con is becoming just a party con with few mentions on Special Guests or Panels.  Many changes need to be done if they want to remain the king or NorCal Conventions.  (Personally, I’m rooting for KrakenCon.)

So with all the negativity, did I, personally, have fun?  The answer is both yes and no…but in hind sight, I think the con was more a personal failure than the con.  I’ll elaborate in my next report.

Con Rating: 1 (Definitely a downgrade from recent history)

Fun Factor: TBD

 

Reference to Fairmont San Jose:

http://forums.fanime.com/index.php?topic=20693.0

(probably many others on the Forums)

MAGFest 2016 – After Action Report

•April 11, 2016 • Leave a Comment

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MagFest was a unique event for me as being my first Out-of-State / East Coast convention.  Originally, I had to transfer a flight meant for the defunct AkibaExpo 2015 (my first non-starter convention) and tried for KatsuCon.  I could not square the timing with work so after consulting with Genesis Cosplay/ PaiXingCai Cosplay as well as Eurobeat Kasumi Photography, instead moved my flight a week later to MagFest.  As it turned out, this would be the best convention experience I’ve had for years.

MAGFest (Mid-Atlantic Gaming FESTival) is a Videogame Festival (though I will still refer to it as a convention) held at the Gaylord Resort in Maryland.  Many of you will think of that location as KatsuCon since both are held there.  This year, the conventions were back to back so I was worried there would be even fewer cosplayers.  While I’m glad I was wrong, I’d still have lots to do since it’s was video game event.  There were literally rooms filled with games from arcade boxes to consoles to PCs and board games.  For me, these definitely a good reason to go.

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There were many live events at the convention too.  At any given time, there are intense video game tournaments, board games, and livestreams going on for people to watch and even participate in.  And with this being a major gaming con, you can see some of your favorite video games stars.  From voice actors like Bear McCreary (Battlestar Galactica Reboot) and Ashley Burch (Borderlands) to game creators such as Kenji Inafune (MegaMan / Rock Man series) to YouTube stars like James Portnow and Daniel Floyd (Extra Credits on YouTube) and James Rolfe (Angry Video Game Nerd).  There were also plenty of video game music performances such as brentalfloss and Ninja Sex Party.  All in all, if you want to celebrate video game culture, this was definitely the place to be.  I was only sad that I missed many of these performances as it really was hard to choose which to go to and many of these are not blocked off like how I am used to like at SDCC or WonderCon.

Of course the biggest question people asked me was whether or not I would have picked Katsu or MAGFest if work was not a factor.  The truth is that I do not know.  However with hindsight being 20/20, I can see how things would have happened.  Many would comment about the high number of superb cosplays at Katsu, but with the freezing temperatures and the sheer number of people in the building, I would not have been able to get the shots I wanted.  I’ve never been good with cramped spaces and I hate shooting when people are in the background (unless it was series appropriate).  Truth is as the years gone on, my backgrounds are just as important as the cosplayer/model in the shot to me.  And even just seeing the photos from Kastu while I was at work (fire alarm not withstanding), I am very much glad I missed out on Katsu.  And now that I experienced MAGFest, it might be my go-to con between the two….if I had a choice of course.

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On a personal note, despite having to Uber in from a motel miles away and having fewer cosplayers to shoot, this was the least boring and most fun convention I’ve had in terms of shoots alone.  After 8 years of being a photographer in NorCal, I am forced to always act like the Freaking New Guy (FNG) instead of being my true self.  At MAGFest, I could be just as dopey / serious / professional / silly as I would like without people judging me too harshly.  It was a fresh start for me and something I hope to repeat in future events.  I might have been to new guy in town but at least they treated me fairly.  And I thank everyone involved in making this happen.

Star! Star! Star! Star! Star! – A well-oiled machine of a convention that ran all night long.

Star! Star! Star! Star! Star! + Star! – So…Little….DRAMA!!!!!  AND I LOVE THAT!

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Animation on Display 2016 – After Action Report

•March 8, 2016 • Leave a Comment

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Apologies for the tardiness of the report as MagFest 2016 the weekend after really knocked the wind out of me (but more on that later).

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Animation on Display is one of the most recognizable San Francisco-based animation-based conventions left in the Bay Area.  Starting as “Anime Overdose” several groups later combined to form AoD around the time it moved to San Francisco’s Japantown in 2010.  In 2014, the convention moved to the Hyatt SFO in Burlingame, which gave it some breathing room while maintaining its close proximity to their home city.  For 2016, the convention moved to Santa Clara Convention Center, the former homes of both Fanime and later Japan Expo USA.

I must admit I was not a fan of the move since it was much further out and there were fewer food options in the area than at the Hyatt.  The location is somewhat remote as it is near Great America and the new Levi’s Stadium, so it is quite the trek on Public Transit or even for parking.  For some reason the convention-rate hotels were located at the Biltmore Hotel & Suites which is several miles away instead of the nearby Hilton and Hyatt.  Apparently this is because the convention center was actually triple-booked by AoD, a body building symposium, and a large Kindergarten through Adult Dance Event that took the majority of the convention center, leaving AoD with the 2nd floor area and a small corner of the center.  That, along with the time conflicts with Valentine’s Day, the Deadpool movie (kidding, though I did find it funny), KatsuCon in Maryland, and Galifrey 1 in Los Angeles lead to a feeling of a diminished turnout.

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Despite these obstacles, AoD still managed to bring a lot of good to those who got badges.  Those at the con seem to manage to enjoy the various performances of Ti@mi, Hello Musume, and especially the huge Lotus Juice performance on Saturday Night helped bring people to the convention.  Special guests such as Yuu Asakawa (Rider/Medusa from Fate/ Stay Night as well as Priss Asagiri from Bubblegum Crisis) and Hsuna Hasehura (Spice and Wolf) along with Western ones like Adam Harrington (Walking Dead / League of Legends) were in attendance.  While the Exhibitors brought the usual suspects for sale, there were a lot of Artists who brought some unique wares.  The convention had limited space, but at least they used it well, having the panels, autographs, and the Tea Time Cafe upstairs while the mini stage, main stage, video game room, and Exhibit Hall/Artist Alley in the first floor area.  Despite being cut in half, the con managed to get along ok with the non-AoD attendees as there were clear lines of separating between AoD and everywhere else.

Overall, it wasn’t the best showing and there were lots of room from improvement, but I felt that it was mostly a logistical challenge to get a time and place at all within an area that it was still accessible enough.  At least it wasn’t the San Mateo Events Center (also referred to as the “Anime Convention Graveyard”).  Still, better timing to avoid larger competition or being triple-booked as well as more activities on Sunday would be welcome for next year.  This would apply whether or not the convention remains in Santa Clara or moves back to the SFO area.

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:star: :star: :star-half: – Convention was run well, but the timing was rather poor.

:star: :star: :star-half:  – Due to extenuating circumstances, I’m on the fence as to whether it was worth going.