Orchard and Annie

This morning, along with much of the photo world, I got a little bit of interesting news.

First of all, let me say that once your personal financial situation is splashed across the NEW YORK TIMES, there's not much you can do about keeping things which should be personal... personal.

"It's very discreet," said Ian Peck, a co-owner of Art Capital.

Ummm, or not.

I remember a conversation with Eddie Adams about something like this. Eddie would often find himself in financial difficulties. This was a different time of course, not like our current economic situation. Anyway, shortly (the very next day) after complaining about this problem, Eddie went out and bought a brand new Range Rover.

What are you going to do? Creative people think differently. Their ways often don't make sense to those around them. It's just how it is.

How do you start out with a simple idea, brainstormed by a bunch of big-brained executives and somehow, spontaneously come up with an original or slightly brilliant photograph in the middle of a photo shoot, that no one expected? I don't know. It hasn't been explained, but that's how it often works.

Right now I'm listening to Charlie Parker. An artist who's life and work pretty much sums up the mystery of the creative process.

I don't really know Annie Leibovitz. I saw her last week in London. I can say that she was far too nice and way to polite for anyone who may be going through difficult times.

Which says a lot about her.

She's not only a bit of a genius, but she's fiercely loyal.

The editorial agency we share, Contact Press Images (her for 32 years, me for 22) is a exclusive, and somewhat eccentric little family that is also fiercely loyal. Obviously, Annie could have left this group years ago. There must have been plenty of big money offers during this time, but she has stayed.

Listen, Getty has a global reach. No other agency can compete with that. The idea here, from what I can gather, is to capitalize on Getty's dominate position and secure some international advertising gigs, and there's nothing wrong with that.

Meanwhile, Contact Press Images remains the place to license Annie's archive for editorial work, and Art+Commerce remains the classy place to commission Annie for commercial work.

Just Desserts?

OK, say you're a well known art dealer, and you specialize in the photography market.

Say a few months back you fell in love with a beautiful iconic poster. Something that speaks to your heart, perhaps because it syncs with your political point of view.

You can't get enough of this thing. You love it so much that you ignore the fact that the poster was based on an uncredited, stolen photograph.

You know it's wrong to steal photographs.

In fact, a few months before you made the argument that a magazine should put a disclaimer on some modern photographs it published, because you felt they shared some similarities to photographs that were created over forty years ago.

That reasoning, although farfetched, shows that you have an understanding of the value of intellectual property and how important it is to protect that property. Perhaps this is because you represent the older work and have a financial stake in it.

Now, you love photography and that's to be commended. So you go in search of the photographer that made the image on which the poster was based, while at the same time claiming that the poster is clearly not a violation of the photographer's copyright because it is undeniably a case of "fair use".

After some false starts, and with some help within the photography community, you find the photographer that made the image.

It turns out this photographer was working as a stringer for a wire service

The photographer doesn't own the copyright to this image. He had (foolishly in my opinion) sold his copyright when he signed the work for hire agreement that would allow him to work for this wire service for a rate of about $250 a day.

Ouch, at this point I'm not so upset with the artist who stole the image in the first place anymore.

Photographers don't sell your copyright, and if you do, make sure you at least get some health insurance and a pension out of the deal.

OK, but you've found your guy. Wouldn't it be great if you sold prints of the image for about $1000 a pop. You bet it would. It's such a great idea that you've already pre-sold about twenty of them.

Awesome! I'm so down with that. That's how things are supposed to work. Everybody gets a little taste of the action.

I know you're a good salesman. I know you've got a good eye too. All is forgiven.

Oops, hold the phone. That wire service, the one that actually owns the photograph, they aren't so down with this. Oh, sure they'll let you sell the print, but they want their money.

Well, you kindly explain, the prints don't have any value if they're not signed by the photographer that made the image. Surely you can understand that.

Oh, we understand that. You can pay the photographer for signing the prints out of your share... bitch.

Yeah, but... don't you realize that the photographer is the one that actually made the image in the first place, and that's what has value to collectors, and it was the photographer that decided to make this image in this way and, and, and....

No, we own the image. It's ours. And yes, we will soon be out of business, because all of our clients are going out of business, and maybe all of this is because we weren't that smart with our business practices in the first place, and we can't survive by making less than twenty or thirty percent profit each year, but until we do go out of business, we're going to piss on this deal of yours... because we can, and we sure as hell aren't going to change our ways now.

I guess that was fair use. I mean, it's certainly fair that the only person to benefit from this image was the artist who stole it in the first place.

Yeah, that seems fair.

On the Misery of Moving Horses on a Cold Winter's Day


Kenneth Jarecke, Contact Press Images

Every now and then I find myself in the need to move some horses. Usually the need arises on a day like today, when the temperature is working its way down and the wind is whipping across the plains.

I checked the fences yesterday in anticipation of this move, but I wasn't expecting this weather until the afternoon. I guess you could say I was half prepared. I thought I could get the job done before it got nasty, but this stuff rolled in before sunrise.

Kenneth Jarecke, Contact Press Images

The idea is to offer some small enticement, in this case some nice alfalfa, and then the horses will naturally follow as you drive off to the other pasture. That's the idea anyway, the reality is much different. It actually works about half of the time, but today was the other half. You see that bossy looking bay mare (second from the left in the first photo)? She's looks bossy because she's the boss, and today she decided that nobody was going anywhere.

Kenneth Jarecke, Contact Press Images

This is the last you'll see of them as she turns the herd. You've lost at this point. You might as well go get a cup of coffee. Never-mind the fact that the pasture you had waiting for them has more feed and better wind protection, she's made her decision.

The thing is, horses aren't as smart as they think they are, but they're smarter than you think they are (this is kind of an old cowboy saying).

You can see these guys are plenty fat, and they've got the protection they need right where they are. So really, her decision is good enough. They don't need to make any changes right this second.

That old cowboy saying works for photographers too.

Kenneth Jarecke, Contact Press Images

As the horses high-tailed it, one of my helpers turned to me and said, "What's plan B?" I replied, "Shoot that mare and let the coyotes eat her through the winter." The both started laughing, they're (for better or worse) use to Daddy's dry sense of humor.

No, we don't shoot our horses out here. We don't get rid of them when they eat too much or don't work so good.

Man, its getting cold out there. I'm going to have to bring the dog in tonight.