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Best of the rest: July 25

Here is a collection of interesting articles recently published by photography websites that aren’t Inside Imaging. Sony’s innovation ‘hurting the photo industry’?Best of the birds… Is Instagram worthwhile?… Jason Edwards in Antarctica…

First, a confession about the wonderful world of digital publishing and online journalism. We, practically all online journalists, ‘copy taste’ other news websites or blogs for stories to source, appropriate, draw ideas from or republish – why some are even known to plagiarise!

While Inside Imaging strives to find a fresh angle, a unique perspective, or add new elements to a story, sometimes articles by other websites are outside our editorial scope, or not quite what we’re chasing.

So here’s a round-up of this week’s stories we considered, but then decided ‘yeah nah’ for various reasons:

Sony’s latest machine, the a7r IV.

Sony’s innovation ‘hurting the photo industry’?
These days photo news aggregator, Petapixel, rarely publishes original content and has slipped into a habit of regurgitating any fluffy piece loosely related to photography: ‘Photos of sandhill cranes raising a baby goose‘, or ‘Photographer turns huge shipping container into working camera‘.

We’re being a little snarky, perhaps. Petapixel is one of, if not the most, popular photo news blogs around so it’s fair to say it serves photographers the content they want. And occasionally there is a big scoop, or an interesting article, hidden between the listicles and ‘This Elephant Doesn’t Like Having Its Picture Taken‘ articles.

Petapixel editor, DL Cade, recently wrote a highly-criticsed opinion piece, ‘Is Sony’s Pace of Innovation Actually Hurting the Photo Industry?

DL claims that, because Sony doesn’t have a ‘rich imaging heritage’, it cannot understand imaging the same way a company like Nikon, Leica, or Canon does. He cites their apparent poor customer service, lacklustre colour science, and bad ergonomics and menu system as proof that it doesn’t ‘get’ photography.

He said that Sony, a hugely successful consumer electronics giant which has tentacles in the music and film industry, can afford to spend way more money on research and development than its competitors. This has led to innovation at a pace that heritage brands cannot keep up with, forcing them to panic and scramble in a variety of ways.

Canon, for example, is spending less on its consumer division, Fujifilm has gone medium format, and Nikon is already discounting the Z6 and Z7. But is Sony really to blame?

This article fired up the Petapixel‘s comment section, a place where photographers seem to go to knock the living daylights out of each other, with disputes often going full circle several times over. Sometimes (often, actually)  comments can be the most entertaining part of an article, but a reader has to know when it’s time to tap out. Life is too short to be lost in the Comments section. But anyways, here’s one comment, by Christopher, picked from over 400.

“Because these companies have something Sony doesn’t: heritage.” (- DL Cade)
That’s a lot of ignorance baked into one statement. Do these authors not do five minutes of research before spouting their ignorant opinions and somehow being given a voice and platform?
Sony is a very old company. They have been making cameras since the dawn of video and television. They have been making digital still cameras just as long as Nikon and Canon and everyone else. They saved and acquired Minolta over 10 years ago…inheriting their heritage (“alpha”).
Dreadful writing.

(Sure am glad Inside Imaging readers don’t come at us this hard!)

Best of the birds
US National Audubon Society
The Audubon Photography Awards celebrates some of the best bird photography captured by North American photographers.

Grand prize winner.
Red-winged Blackbird. Photo: Kathrin Swoboda/Audubon Photography Awards.

The awards are run by the National Audubon Society, named after the great naturalist John James Audubon, who  made dramatic life-sized paintings of birds.

The 10th annual Audubon Awards showcase some truly striking bird photos, along with stories behind the shot and additional bird nerd facts.

Whether photographing or just watching, birds are fascinating subjects – they are ‘beautiful and resilient, complex and comical’, as the Audobon Society puts it.

The contest received 2253 entries, and was just open to photographers from the USA and Canada. The judging panel operates with a meticulous and ethical system. If it were a world-wide contest (ie, if locals had some skin in the game), Inside Imaging would have published the full gallery.

Is Instagram worthwhile?
London-based travel photographer and Fstoppers writer, Jonathan Reid, tackles the $64,000 question: Is Instagram worthwhile? ‘If you’re not on Instagram, you don’t exist’, he has been told.

Inside Imaging readers may have noticed we are pretty quiet on the social media front. An intermittently active Facebook page (like here!) is our only presence, because we feel the ‘organic reach’ ship sailed long ago. Social media is undoubtedly powerful, but it’s nice to think business can be done without playing into the hands of the almighty Zuckerberg. And frankly, running content ‘off-website’ isn’t a very supportive gesture to our advertsising supporters.

Many argue it’s a different story for professional photographers, who can connect with clients or even monetise social media. Instagram is the most visual platform, so photographers are naturally drawn to it. But some photographers, like Reid, feel disillusioned by the ‘Gram.

‘I figured that if I had spent the same amount of time actively marketing instead of on Instagram, I would have had a lot more to show for my efforts. I felt that for business purposes, Instagram offered poor return for effort and therefore was not worth it.’

But, rather than using Instagram as a business tool, a fellow photographer explained that he enjoys using the platform to find inspiration and connect with other photographers.

Again, the comments section proves a worthwhile read. Reid tells readers he swapped social media marketing for ‘old school’ methods, such as picking up the phone and asking for clients referrals, which has been way more successful for his business. Other photographers share their experience, both positive and negative, with using Instagram.

Jason Edwards in Antarctica
National Geographic
Australian National Geographic photographer, Jason Edwards, talks about visiting and photographing Antarctica.

‘It’s like a giant sensory deprivation chamber. But at the same time you are acutely aware of everything around you,’ he says.

The National Geographic article has a nice spread of wildlife, landscape, and lifestyle photos from his expeditions, with a little background about Edwards and the most southern landmass which has him captivated.

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