10 Great Movies That Perfectly Blend Arthouse With Grindhouse

Ingmar Bergman and Herschell Gordon Lewis walk into a bar, a magical pub populated only with filmmakers. Seated in a smoky corner lit via neon beer sign, Ed Wood and Andrei Tarkovsky gab about science fiction over a couple of bourbons. Elsewhere Lynne Ramsay chalks her pool cue while she debates Roger Corman on the importance of realism when portraying violence on screen.

This fantasy scenario unites celebrated art film auteurs with infamous exploitation directors. And every cineaste who adores both halves of the cinematic yin-yang wishes such a harmonious place existed, though we take comfort in the fact that some films create a perfect synthesis of arthouse motifs and grindhouse silliness.

The following list chronicles ten of those motion pictures, showcasing pieces of cinema that prove how placing mismatched notes beside one another makes the loveliest music.

 

1. You Were Never Really Here

Grindhouse connoisseurs define their genre of choice through its depiction of violence. This characteristic transcends all other elements on the rubric, and You Were Never Really Here clears the brutality hurtle with ease. After all, the story follows a PTSD-riddled veteran turned vigilante who uses a ball-peen hammer to cave in the faces of child predators.

If arthouse aims to explore the intricacies of human motivation and grindhouse shows us the aftermath of psychotic breakdowns, then Lynne Ramsay’s fourth film pulls off a brilliant balancing act. The film oscillates between moments of brutality and tenderness, human decay and human decency. In one regard, Joe, our protagonist, speaks in a soft, almost nurturing tone, especially when communicating with the aging mother he cares for at home. At the same time, we understand why he chooses to hunt down and bludgeon those who harm young girls.

Flashbacks of his history show us how and why the brain’s wiring short circuits in the instant. Once you receive the wrong kind of push, from the wrong kind of person, you go quite berserk. In fact, Joaquin Phoenix, the film’s principal actor, listened to a recorded loop of fireworks exploding, a technique that allowed him a small preview of the soundtrack playing on repeat for war veterans and crime victims forced to live with post-traumatic stress. In the end, the director refuses to fetishize violence, though she shows no mercy in revealing the reality of it, culminating in a flawless blend of two cinematic categories.

 

2. Lady Snowblood

Lady Snowblood

Arthouse and grindhouse both involve a sense of self-awareness, a nod and a wink for the cardigan-clad grad students who use these films as fodder for cocktail party conversations. In this regard, Lady Snowblood provides the most mileage of any motion picture appearing on this list. From the metal-swishing sound effects that accent kitana swipes to the candy-apple red blood that spews like a carbonated stream from limbs those blades lop off, Lady Snowblood gathers everything we love about revenge flicks and unspools those tropes with vaudevillian colorfulness.

It revels in its own postmodern artifice, creating a rich spectacle that director Toshiya Fujita ensures the audience remains cognizant of from start to finish. The hyperbolic dialogue alone provides evidence of this, e.g. “People say you can’t wash away the mud of this world with pure white snow. You need asura snow – stained fiery red.”

Almost every piece of writing on Lady Snowblood mentions how the film provided the chief inspiration behind Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill duology. Look at the blood that gurgles from opened necks and the cold nonchalance our revenge-obsessed protagonist shows as she slices off arms and heads, and the influence becomes clear. But where the latter picture functions as a love letter to chanbara cinema, the former focuses on presenting grotesque subject matter under the most elegant light.

 

3. Body Double

body-double

Every single night, a woman performs a ritualistic striptease number. The audience knows this, because the protagonist figures it out first. In fact, he uses a telescope to gain a more intimate/intrusive look, making us voyeurs by proxy. Now add this to the equation: our hero, the peeping tom Jake, works as an actor, one who lost a job as an eyeshadow-clad b-movie vampire. The dismissal came in light of Jake’s claustrophobia, a debilitating fear that renders him unable to complete scenes that place him inside a coffin, a plot point that comes into play later.

The plot grows becomes evermore absurd and complex. From there, we see theatrical violence on par with Slumber Party Massacre 2 (read: unorthodox murder weapons enter into the fray). And, to culminate with a perfect crescendo, Jake uses his thespianic chops to audition for a speaking role in an adult film—an elaborate ruse executed in the interest of revealing the film’s central mystery, of course.

The description sounds as if director Brian De Palma went bananas, throwing his every idea into a tonally incoherent script. Yet, Body Double remains a delightful, multilayered picture that employs silliness to deconstruct the fickle nature of glamour-obsessed Hollywood. To complete its mission, the film required a designation as trash cinema. It dabbles in poor taste, sure, but its low-brow sensibilities perform a public service.

 

4. The Love Witch

the-love-witch

A black widow narrative about a woman who kills men with whom she mates, Anna Biller’s The Love Witch mixes together the elements that remind us why we love both highbrow and exploitation art. In this way, it strikes that delicate balance. To get specific, the film marries the dreamy technicolor that mirrors Dario Argento’s most harlequin giallo films with glib dialogue reminiscent of Beyond the Valley of the Doll’s dramatic rhetorical choices.

Yes, the influences remain clear, but rest assured that Biller made a wholly original, delightfully imaginative motion picture. The egg-shaped jewel medallions, the long shiny wigs, and the various sets of lingerie bring to light the hammy pageantry that makes b-movies so watchable. But at the same time, the farcical humor of a circle of nude witches sharing a goblet and chanting embodies the quintessential absurdity inherent with postmodern art.

Though The Love Witch relies on its over-the-top nature, its flashiness never detracts from Anna Biller’s genius as a filmmaker. In a scene where a wife finds her husband lying amid a trail of blood spatter, the camera captures the power of her scream through dollying closer, zooming in until the audience nearly sees her uvula dangling. These examples, among many others, provide a testament to the way this film shows how the siloes of art and trash play together beautifully.

 

5. Possession

Possession

Upon its release, Possession gave audiences, critics, and censors very specific reactions, though these groups never settled on a label for the movie. Its win at the Cannes Film Festival lends an arthouse credence; however, its banning in England designates the film as “low art.” Film festival awards aside, Possession reached the censorship accolade, which marks a high honor in the grindhouse tradition.
So which category does the film fall under?

Both.

In Possession, director Andrzej Zulawski executes a perfect tightrope walk. On the one hand, marvelous beauty remains his chief cinematographic mission. On the other hand, the film stays rife with gross-out features, including sex with a squid and a gluey milk substance that pours from eye sockets. The mise-en-scene epitomizes every tenet of aesthetic judgement, the principle that dictates elegance and sophistication remain possible even when the subject matter focuses on grotesqueries.

A Fascinating Look at How Film Cameras Superimposed Dates on Photos

A Fascinating Look at How Film Cameras Superimposed Dates on Photos

If you have ever shot with certain film cameras of the past, you have probably noticed that the prints came back to you with the date of capture superimposed on them in the bottom corner. It is a neat and very useful function, and this fun video will show you how cameras of the past made it happen.

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ICG At NAB New York 2019

The International Cinematographers Guild (ICG, IATSE Local 600) will be exploring ways to enhance the creative focus and production efficiency of commercials in a panel titled Nailing a Commercial’s Look & Sailing Through Post, set for NAB Show New York on October 16. Panelists Joe DeSalvo (Director of Photography), Kazim Karaismailoglu (Digital Imaging Technician), Adam Kimmel, ASC […]

The post ICG At NAB New York 2019 appeared first on Below the Line.

New Adaptalux flash arms on Kickstarter. Two days left to get the discounted Luminar 4

Two days left to get the new Luminar 4 for the discounted price! Adaptalux launched a new Flash Arm product on Kickstarter (Click here to learn the details). This is how it works:

The post New Adaptalux flash arms on Kickstarter. Two days left to get the discounted Luminar 4 appeared first on sonyalpharumors.

The New IVY REC Activity Camera From Canon: Wearable, Clippable, Colorful Confusion

The New IVY REC Activity Camera From Canon: Wearable, Clippable, Colorful Confusion

Canon has officially announced the launch of its new IVY REC wearable “activity camera,” and everything about it is slightly bizarre: the marketing, the design, its purpose, and its intended market. Who is it for, and will you be buying one?

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Ultra-thin lenses could eliminate the need for smartphone camera bumps

Protruding camera bumps like on the iPhone 11 Pro Max could soon be a thing of the past.

Smartphone cameras have been improved a lot over recent years and while many improvements are down to software and image processing, hardware also plays a big part. Sensor sizes have been increased, lenses have become faster and optical tele lenses offer better zoom performance.

However, there’s also a drawback to these developments. Due to the laws of physics, faster and longer lenses, especially when combined with larger sensors, take up more space in a device. Combined with the device designers’ obsession with ultra-thin bodies this resulted in many devices coming with unsightly ‘camera bumps’ that protrude from otherwise perfectly smooth smartphone housings.

Those bumps could soon be a thing of the past, though. A research team at the University of Utah has developed a super-thin camera lens that would easily fit even in the thinnest smartphone body.

Current lenses are, depending on lens type and sensor size of the camera, a few millimeters thick. The new lens type is only a few microns thick, that’s about a thousand times thinner than current smartphone lenses. They are also one hundred times lighter.

Flat lens developed by researchers at the University of Utah, photo: Dan Hixson/University of Utah College of Engineering

The method the researchers have used to make this possible has been detailed in a research paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The new lenses are flat and consist of a large number of microstructures, each bending the light towards the sensor rather than just one single piece. As part of the project the team also developed a fabrication process using a new type of polymer and algorithms than can calculate the exact geometry required for these microstructures.

‘You can think of these microstructures as very small pixels of a lens,’ says Rajesh Menon, one of the co-authors of the project, ‘They’re not a lens by themselves but all working together to act as a lens.’

According to the scientists, the new lens type could also help give smartphones thermal imaging capabilities as well as design more lightweight military drones that could fly longer and lighter night vision cameras for soldiers in the field.

This Photographer Shoots Impressive Conceptual ‘Selfies’

When Montreal-based photographer Véronique Duplain started out in her photography career back in 2014, she decided to take one self-portrait per day during the month of February. After the intense effort, she decided to keep the series going. Fast-forward six years, and her “Selfie Project” has grown to be an impressive body of work that captures her development as an artist.

In creating her “selfies,” Duplain is in charge of all aspects of the productions: the ideas, the setups, the styling, the modeling, the lighting, the photography, and the editing.

Each self-portrait features a different playful — and often thought-provoking — theme or idea.

Here’s a 6-minute mini-documentary about Duplain’s work by the Montreal gallery Arsenal Contemporary Art, where the photographer did a residency this past year.

You can find more of Duplain’s work and follow along with her selfie project on her website and Instagram.

Are You Making These Lightroom and Photoshop Mistakes?

Are You Making These Lightroom and Photoshop Mistakes?

If you’re like me and primarily use Lightroom Classic for your photo editing, you probably occasionally edit a photo in Photoshop. If you do, you might be making the same Photoshop file mistakes I made.

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How to Remove Light Stands via Compositing in Less Than 2 Minutes

In this video, I’ll show you a simple Photoshop compositing technique to remove light stands from your images in less than two minutes. Then, we’ll do a complete rundown of how the image was shot, lit, and processed.

Why is Compositing Useful?

Here are some reasons why you’ll want to spend a minute and learn this technique:

1. Not enough flash power: We’re often working with lights that don’t pack enough power to be placed out of frame. Although medium-large strobes (like the Profoto B10 or Godox AD200) have become quite popular, they aren’t in everyone’s toolkit.

2. Shooting wide: maybe you are looking to achieve a wider composition but still need to add light to your subject.

3. Creative purposes: maybe you are intending on using your lights to really spotlight your subjects and getting your light stand close to your subject is the easiest way to do this.

Regardless of the reason, this is a useful and simple technique to master, here are the steps. To make this quick, we’ll jump straight to the editing portion of this tutorial, assuming you’ve already shot a “plate image.” If you don’t know what a “plate” shot is, watch the video in full, or start with the section below on “How the Image was Lit and Photographed.”

Here’s how to remove light stands via Photoshop:

1. Sync Develop Settings with the “Plate Shot”

After processing your image for the desired look, sync your develop settings over to your plate shot. If you don’t know what a “plate” shot is, we’ll dive further into the subject down below.

2. Right Click > Open as Layers in Photoshop

Right-click > Edit in > Open as Layers in Photoshop

If using Lightroom, select both images, right-click go to Edit in > Open as Layers in Photoshop. If you are using a different raw processing solution, jump into Photoshop and simply open up both your lit image and plate shot on two separate layers.

3. Auto-Align Layers in Photoshop

Make sure you Auto-Align layers to avoid any alignment issues.

Ideally, you shot the image and plate on a tripod. But, regardless, and just for good measure, I want you to auto-align the layers to ensure they are pixel perfect. To do so, select both layers then go to Edit > Auto-Align Layers > Auto.

4. Add Layer Mask & Paint Out Lights

With a black brush at 0% hardness, paint with a Wacom pen or mouse to conceal the stands.

With the final lit image on top, add a Layer Mask and select your Brush (B) with default colors (D). With a black brush at 0% hardness, paint with a Wacom pen or mouse to conceal the stands while revealing the plate shot below.

Final image with light stands photoshopped out.

That’s it! Now, let’s dive into the actual creation of this image.

In the Lighting 3 workshop we created over at SLR Lounge, we introduced the C.A.M.P framework as one of our SLR Lounge teaching methods:

  • Composition: What do we want our scene to look like? Where do we want the camera to be? What’s the angle? What do we want our subjects to be doing?
  • Ambient Light Exposure: Choose the intention of the scene. Do we want a dramatic image (darkening the ambient light and using more flash) or do we want a softer image (brightening the ambient light and using a more natural power of flash)?
  • Modify/Add Light: Are your subjects visible in the frame or do they need to be chiseled out? Do you need to add an additional light source?
  • Pose & Photograph: Take your shot!

This image was actually created during the filming of that workshop and is, in fact, one of the tutorials we teach called “Light Stacking.” We are going to break it down step by step and walk you along on how we created this shot.

Step 1: Composition

I wanted to get my subject, Seth, placed in an area where the background could frame him. You can see in the behind the scenes video that he is framed within the pillars of the cafe, right on the left third of the image. I made sure that his body and head were placed against a dark background so that he would pop out more in the scene. In addition, all the lines of the building lead to our subject.

Step 2: Ambient Light Exposure

Camera settings: 1/200th of a second, f/18, and ISO 50

The difference between a natural-looking image and a dramatic image has nothing to do with whether you are adding flash or not, but instead, it deals with ambient light exposure. If you want a more dramatic looking image, you’re going to pull the ambient exposure down and pump up your flash power and do the exact opposite for bright more natural-looking images.

Here is a reference to help you get the perfect exposure for when you are incorporating flash for a more dramatic look.

We are shooting this at mid-day in harsh sunlight, which is why the lights are so close in the first place. I opted for a more dramatic exposure and chose to use my lights to brighten my subject.

Step 3: Modify or Add Light

You can see one speedlight with a MagSphere that is being used to light Seth’s face while 2 Godox AD200’s are a little further back in the MagBox with the FocusDiffuser.

Now that we’ve chosen to create a more dramatic image, we will need a ton of power to get our subject to be brighter than the background. For this shot, we used 2 Godox AD200’s firing through a MagBox with the FocusDiffuser as our key fill light and one speedlight placed closer to Seth with a MagSphere to really chisel his face out of the scene. An equivalent setup could be used with say a Profoto B10+ firing through the MagBox or any small beauty dish or softbox.

Step 4: Pose & Photograph

Remember the plate shot! After capturing your perfectly lit shot, remember to remove the light stands and shoot what’s referred to as a “plate.” This is where a tripod comes in handy to ensure that there’s no movement from the shot that had the lights, to the plate shot after. This can be done handheld, but it potentially can mess you up and slow things down in post-production. Best bet, use a tripod. Here’s our plate image below.

With both the lit image and the plate shot, we’re ready for post-production.

I won’t get into the nitty-gritty here, but for those that want a complete breakout of all the settings, just check out the video.


About the author: Pye Jirsa is a wedding photographer based in Southern California and the co-founder of SLR Lounge. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. You can find more of Jirsa’s work here. This article was also published here.

Shutter Noise Comparison: Fuji X-H1 vs Canon 1D IV vs Nikon D300

I decided to compare the sound of my three cameras: the Fuji X-H1, the Canon 1D IV, and the Nikon D300 with the optional battery grip and AA batteries (to enable the 8 FPS mode).

The Fuji X-H1 has the boost mode turned on. All cameras were set at 1/500s and the lenses are wide open.

The Fuji is a game-changer, in a way. Achieving 11 fps with this level of noise is incredible. Shooting weddings will be a blast from now on.

I can’t believe that I used to shoot with two Nikon D3/D3s at full blast!


About the author: Jean-Pascal Remon is a photographer and world traveler. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. You can find more of Remon’s work and writing on his website, The Most Beautiful World, and his Instagram. This article was also published here.

Street Photography Doesn’t Need to be ‘On the Street’

It can be very easy to arbitrarily limit oneself by genre; I think the effect this has on the mindset of a photographer can potentially really damage the quality of the work they look to produce.

I think that street photography is one of the broadest and most inclusive genres, and it’s interesting to see the ways that some photographers are distancing themselves from the name: some have started to call it “everyday photography/documentary” or “life photography” among other terms. “Street” is a very loaded directive, which really implies that the photography must take place on a street — or even that the subject of the image is the street.

In my own understanding of street photography, I incorporate the idea that “street” is more of a mentality, similar to the idea of a street artist, street musician, or street dancer, who can ply their art/technique pretty much anywhere, rather than being anything to do with a physical location. It connotes improvisation and spontaneity.

For me, the location doesn’t matter as much as the actual content of the image, which has most recently been a balance between action and interaction. Whether it’s an action of a subject, or interaction between subject/s and environment that’s what tends to catch my eye and keep my interest.

I think that photographers who take “street photography” too literally end up with fairly basic images of what tends to happen on a street – people walking from one place to another, people standing around, people crossing roads. This doesn’t really offer anything distinct to an audience and is unlikely to provide anything of substance on repeat viewings.

Of course, things like interesting characters, interesting compositions, or use of the light can elevate these, but without that core action/interactivity I find the majority lacking. It didn’t take long for “straight” streets to lose my interest and focus – I think even street corners provide more room for interesting interaction than something as basic as a straight path.

There are so many other options for places to exercise a street eye. London has many incredible squares, both iconic and residential. Iconic squares provide massive foot traffic, and many opportunities to capture street portraits, candid scenes, and interesting details. The cozier residential squares offer intimacy and often isolation, with calmer conditions. People tend to let their guard down, and a camera can go unnoticed in a crowd, or otherwise photogenic location.

For me, a street itself is more a conduit between these places of interest. Aside from when something exceptional or out of the ordinary is happening, which provides perhaps a crowd, or unique conditions, I don’t see many opportunities for photographs on the street itself.

I think Londoners are used to maintaining a respectful distance, which makes the 28-35mm techniques of layering, stacking, and close up flash a little trickier – these styles I associate with New York and Japan, and are not something I’ve seen executed well in London.

Other spaces I feel are prime for street photography include bus stops/garages, on public transport itself, stations, squares, parks, beaches, galleries, and museums. All of these are places where people really exercise behavior other than simply wandering around, and offer a far more diverse range of environments to work with.

In the past when I’ve produced this kind of write up I’ve wondered whether it’s actually worthwhile or necessary, and I’ve seen this sentiment in the comments as well. Why spend time defining things when you could simply act, and shoot, and not worry about it? This is a valid argument. After all, the “greats” didn’t have access to this kind of blog to get lots of different opinions about their field, they simply produced work. There are fantastic examples of street photography taken all over the world, even in rural areas, where there isn’t even a street nearby!

My answer is that the connected nature of art and photography means it’s unavoidable to have this kind of discussion around a genre. Language greatly informs the way we frame ideas and conceptualize our actions – whether conscious or unconscious. Photographers I know personally have become frustrated with shooting street photography as they are limited by the definition, the issue I mentioned at the beginning of this article. Their street results have not yielded the results they wanted or expected, but their work shines in other areas.

It would be so simple for them to excel if they only shifted their understanding of what they were out to create and the tools and boundaries they were able to use to do so.


About the author: Simon King is a London based photographer and photojournalist, currently working on a number of long-term documentary and street photography projects. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. You can follow his work on Instagram and you can read more of his thoughts on photography day-to-day over on his personal blog. Simon also teaches a short course in Street Photography at UAL, which can be read about here.

The Decline of Instagram: Should Photographers Start Using Other Platforms?

The Decline of Instagram: Should Photographers Start Using Other Platforms?

One of the things that I’ve noticed over the last year on Instagram is just how little of an effect most of my efforts make. A few years ago, we were quite literally receiving thousands of likes and hundreds of new followers daily. Today, I’m lucky if I get anywhere near a hundred likes on new posts, and my follower count remains pretty stagnant.

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A Response to: Six Reasons It’s Time for Brands to Replace Stock Photos With User-Generated Content

Recently I came across a blog post that essentially blamed professional photographers for creating boring stock photos, and that boring stock photos are the key reason that companies should be using User-Generated Content.

To sum up: stock photos are bad/boring, therefore companies and marketers are forced to look elsewhere. Deep into the article, we get this gem:

People whose work is used don’t merely provide high-quality content for free; after being invited to take part in a campaign, they tend to also often become its biggest cheerleader.

The author’s conclusion (according to me): giant wealthy companies and mega marketing firms want free photography and unpaid spokespersons.

In this response, I’ll dissect a few key sentences.

Let’s face it, stock photography is boring.

Advertisers and their clients have made it that way. Their drive to pay less and less, and to apply the Walmart philosophy of value drove photographers away from creating high quality/high-value imagery. Why create really good work if it’s only worth a $1 to a Fortune Five Hundred company?

By shifting the financial burden onto the shoulders of photographers—“Just lower your prices and license more images! It’s so easy to license a million images for a 1$ each!” said the fictional CFO at Getty Images that lives in my mind—this model decreased the effective per photographer revenue down to almost nothing.

So what’s the solution for “boring photography”? Clients should pay more for images. That’s it. If collectively marketers would appreciate and reward creativity with actual money, they would see the quality go up immediately.

Best Buy commissioned me to create a branding campaign—for each scene, once I got the shot, I quickly created a version with a decidedly darker outlook.

As consumers become inundated with marketing content, they increasingly resist anything that looks and feels inauthentic […] In fact, 84% of millennials don’t trust traditional marketing and 92% of consumers trust user-generated content more than advertising.

Yes talking to the millennial demographic (which is a huge undefined constantly shapeshifting catch-all term) seems to work differently, but the question that should be asked is ‘what was the real change?’ I’d say it’s the venue.

Any demographic that doesn’t spend much time with magazines (print or digital), doesn’t watch traditional TV, and doesn’t read a newspaper—you have to identify where they get their information (and marketing) from.

A demographic that uses the web, content aggregators, social networks and text/chat chains to get their information, frequently using their mobiles to do so, is going to ignore traditional methods and channels of advertising. Just because the venue changed on you doesn’t mean you can blame “boring stock photography” for your inability to connect.

I was commissioned to create images for the Oregon Lottery’s Powerball campaign—but it’s always worth taking the time to have a little more fun.

Satisfied customers are increasingly taking to social media to write, talk or post about products and brand experiences they love, and those social engagements are key for marketers.

I wonder if your demographic is really reaching out to brands to express authentic feelings of love? I wonder if it’s more likely they are bragging to their friend. Maybe, just maybe, they heard you can get famous and/or get free stuff by bragging on social media. Your millennials are only human after all. This also seems like it has nothing to do with stock photography.

…the availability of authentic and unfiltered content [is growing], including images, from social media. And that presents an opportunity.

Translated: companies don’t know how to carry on an authentic conversation, so they astroturf the channels their targeted demographics live on, aping what they think is working. Also, these companies are super excited to get 1000’s of images without paying for them.

Here are six reasons why it’s time to ditch stock photos in exchange for user-generated content. We can’t all look like models […] Consumers know that models can look good in just about anything, which is why it’s important to demonstrate how that same item looks on a range of body sizes, styles, ages, ethnicities, and shapes. Unfortunately, traditional marketing doesn’t easily lend itself to that sort of variety, but user-generated content does.

Putting the blame squarely back on your shoulders here, marketers. Start choosing and requesting authentic looking real people, in your stock and assignment photography, and you’ll have plenty to choose from as that market segment grows. Oh, and again, you’ll need to start paying the photographers to do this, because we don’t do this for “fun”, we do it for a living, and we can’t help you if you don’t pay us.

People are creating better imagery. The quality of user-generated content has increased significantly in recent years, with regular people now able to take brand-worthy photos. Part of the reason for the improvement is the gradually increasing quality of smartphone cameras, which now use sophisticated software to help users get the perfect shot every time. […] those with even a casual interest in improving their photography skills have a wide range of affordable or even free resources to help them up their game […] enabling more amateurs to capture higher-quality content.

So what’s being said is that a person doesn’t need to have any training, experience, or skill to take good photos—you just need a smartphone and some YouTube lessons. Cool. And that is going to solve the whole ‘boring’ photos thing how? Oh right, it’s not.

You are also delivering the message that big companies and huge marketing firms should take advantage of people who don’t realize they have created a valuable commodity: “Oh, what a fun hobby you have! Hey, sign this and we’ll start using/benefitting from your work while not paying you any money. Boy, you’re having so much fun!”

Olympian track and field runner Carol Rodriguez for Monster iSport

The numbers don’t lie. Brands in various industries achieve success with user-generated content every day, and sometimes the numbers are truly staggering. We’ve seen similar results across other channels—from websites to microsites to display ads—increase engagement, reduce bounce rates, and improve recall.

But the numbers do lie—and empirical conclusions don’t make them real. The Sun appears to rotate around the Earth, and I can prove it by watching the sky!

You’re saying the same group that’s allergic to marketing has no issues clicking on those incredibly annoying ads that clutter up a website or are on social media and decide to stop looking at meme videos to go look at the website for a product they already own? They’re not clicking by accident to make it go away, due to UI design tricks? And you’re sure it’s not the result of a click-farm somewhere?

Data doesn’t lie—but it’s super easy to slip a little confirmation bias into the mix and decide that your data backs up your ideas. There’s a chance the author is right, but again this is not the fault of professional photographers.

Though stock photography libraries can seem infinite, those who have spent time digging through them for the perfect shot know that it can be painfully difficult to find exactly what they’re looking for—especially if they’re looking for something that looks authentic.

Right. You’ve just described assignment photography—where companies pay photographers to create something not-boring, authentic, specifically and exclusively for them, using talent that represents their authentic demographic. And surprise surprise, this imagery can be used even on social media! Weird, right?

By contrast, user-generated content offers an even greater and constantly expanding pool of content to choose from. Furthermore, it’s a lot easier to find real people demonstrating real emotions—like joy, fear, surprise—on social media than it is to find models and actors with the chops to nail those expressions in a stock photography pool.

Right. Again. Because marketers stopped paying photographers real fees for their work, especially in the realm of stock photography. It’s not hard to create really good stock photos that have all joy, fear and surprise you want. It is hard to do though if you’ve decided that an image is worth $1, or in the cases you’ve been describing, $0.

Good, Fast, Cheap. They can only get 2.

With user-generated content, however, [companies are] able to collect images and videos from far and wide, with a volume and perspective unmatched by anything stock photography libraries can offer.

Yes, of course they can. And pay very little for them. Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you have permission to do it.

People will help spread the word about your brand when you feature their content […] People whose work is used don’t merely provide high-quality content for free.

Right there. You said it. I quote “high-quality” and “free” — am I the only one that has a problem with this model? I’m pretty sure all those Fortune 500 companies could afford to pay for high-quality content. But doubling down, and making these people also provide you with free spokesperson duties? Damn.

It’s never been easier. Many marketers know that audiences respond better to user-generated content, yet many are intimidated by the task of sourcing images—for example, securing rights to use them […] User-generated content has never been more accessible, effective or of higher quality than it is today. So why would anyone continue using stock images?

I’ll agree with the author here at least, it has never been easier to scam your way into grabbing millions of images, using them for commercial gains, and not paying a dime. Marketers should be ashamed.

Don’t blame professional photographers for not providing you with free, high quality, not-boring images—you can place that blame right at your own feet.

Again, you can read the original article here.


About the author: Andy Batt is a photographer of entertainment, motion, sports, and people. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. You can find more of Batt’s work on his website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. This article was also published here.

Photographer Compares an iPhone 11 Pro Against His $13,000 Camera

Photographer Compares an iPhone 11 Pro Against His $13,000 Camera

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