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Inside Imaging’s 2018 in Review

As 2019 kicks into gear Inside Imaging has reviewed the archive of the photographic industry’s publication of record (that’s us!) to reflect on the year that just passed.

And what a year it was. Yes, it certainly was a year. All 365 days of it…
So let’s look at what went down.

2018 erupts with a scandal!
The year erupted with a scandal as high-end fashion photographer, Bruce Weber and Mario Testino, had multiple allegations of inappropriate sexual behaviour in the workplace hurled at them.

Vogue dumped both photographers and did a convincing line in outraged indignance, while just about everyone else in the fashion industry stepped a few paces away from the two.

But let’s not forget dirty ol’ Terry Richardson, the creepy New York skater punk-turned-fashion photographer, who was dethroned in 2017 for his lewd on-and-off set behaviour. The allegations suggest these high profile fashion photographers leverage their positions of power to gain sexual favours from aspiring models, who are in turn promised a kick start to their career. It’s highly likely the goat-like Mr Richardson wasn’t the first man in the history of fashion photography to assume this kind of behaviour a legitimate perk of the business.

But #metoo wasn’t finished with photography. Photojournalism was next. In July, Columbia Journalism Review published a 9500 word article on US photojournalists behaving badly.
The story picked up considerable momentum. And then quickly disappeared. For now.

A rocky road for the AIPP
By the time February rolled around, the Australian Institute of Professional Photography (AIPP) had been brought to its knees. Members were outraged that senior AIPP volunteers, Tony Hewitt and Peter Eastway, were forced to step down and given new roles with the Awards Team.

There was some confusion as to what happened with Tony and Peter. At the time we prepared an article providing background details on what could be called the ‘amateur APPAs’. Given the volatile situation we didn’t want to add any fuel to the fire. So we canned it. But, now the dust has settled, read it here!

Many members felt the AIPP had been heading in a bad, perhaps one might even say empire-building, direction for years, and this was but the final nail in the coffin.

There was an immediate drop in membership renewal payments and event bookings.

Without a change of direction, the AIPP was heading towards financial ruin. The solution was the resignation of the AIPP Board, closure of the National Office, cancellation of the major Lenscape 2018 event at Sea World, a down-scaling of all planned activities, and the revival of the state AIPP groups and the quaint notion of volunteerism, which we had previously been told was totally foreign to Milliennials – the reason the empire was being constructed in the first place.

There was a sudden wave of support. Members rallied together. A significant uptick in membership renewals showed that this was the kind of change many wanted.

By April a new National Board was announced, and by May the plan was laid for a restructure – AIPP 2.0. While there’s still a challenging road ahead, the future certainly seems much brighter than it did this time last year.
Here’s the latest updates of the AIPP board: Melinda Comerford announced her resignation from the board at the 2018 AIPP AGM, after serving for three years; Melissa Neumann has resigned as treasurer and will now handle communications; Sara McKenna was co-opted by the board to take on the role of treasurer; Steve Wise has taken on the new role of board convenor; and Louise Bagger has taken on the new role of vice president.

John Swainston, formerly the AIPP treasurer, was co-opted to the extinguished board and subsequently appointed the Institute President.

Kodak does more dumb stuff
Kodak will license its brand name to practical anyone with enough cash. Around US$750,000 should buy usage rights to what was one of the most distinguished and venerable brands ever created – a damning reflection on the bozos currently living off the husk of the business.

Look no further than these bizarro cryptobro ventures – KodakOne, KodakCoin, and the Kodak Kashminer!

KodakOne is a cryptocurrency image rights platform operating on the blockchain, where professional photographers and clients are supposed to trade with KodakCoin, a cryptocurrency that they’d buy with real money.

The platform is the brainchild of obscure paparazzi agency, Wenn Digital, which paid US$750,000 for the marketing rights to Kodak’s iconic name and logo.

Another unrelated company also licensed the Kodak brand name for the Kodak Kashminer, a sci-fi-looking gizmo that ‘mines’ bitcoins, and launched at CES 2018. Riding on the coattails of the BitCoin hype, Kodak shares doubled overnight, with Kodak directors reportedly cashing in big time before the bubble burst.

The KodakOne platform appeared to be a stunning train wreck from the beginning. KodakCoin promised to launch in early 2018, but this was initially delayed by a couple weeks due to the overwhelming interest from accredited investors – or some such crap.

Right now the KodakOne platform and it’s silly coins still await an ‘imminent’ launch. Please dear readers, do not hold your collective breath!

Unfortunately, the KodakOne bullshit generator continues to churn product. A deal was signed with Oak View Group, an entertainment facility company, to bring KodakOne to sports fans at six stadiums in the US. This move was a pivot away from pro photographers, and toward sports fans. Just imagine the pitch. ‘Believe me, this next-gen on-demand platform will engage a huge audience, while simultaneously disrupting the sports media field by having fans trade content, in real time, for a cryptocurrency that’s only usable with stadium walls’. Or something.

Wenn Digital also recruited F1 World Champ, Fernando Alonso, in July to have something to do with it all. This is what Fernando had to say, for reals: ‘We live in a world driven by content distribution across different channels, especially during such large events as F1 and WEC. I’m very excited to know that I have the ability to reward my fans and professional photographers for their creativity, and that the content they produce can be protected by a single platform.’ But Alonso, what does it all mean?!

Last we heard in November 2018, contractors working on the ICO (public launch) hadn’t been paid upwards of US$150,000 and were threatening to sue.

Here we see Kodak slightly distancing itself from the third-party brand licensee by Wenn Digital.

But wait, we here at Inside Imaging have another great application for the fabled Kodak brand: KodaKondoms! We take the packaging from, say, Kodachrome, tweak it a bit, put prophylactics instead of film in the canisters  and produce a classy new addition to the Kodak range.

Honestly, George Eastman would be spinning in his grave…

Related: Kodakit photographers liable for GST

And the award goes to…
Photo contests provided a healthy number of topics in  2018. Primarily about the winners and their work, and occasionally focusing on what is emerging as the ‘photo comp industry’

Here’s a few award wins by Australians on the international contest circuit:
Ben Thomas became a Hasselblad Master;
Patrick Brown and Adam Ferguson took out category wins at the World Press Photo Contest;
Australians dominated the WPPI awards;
Georgina Steytler won a category at the Natural History Museum 2018 Wildlife Photographer of the Year contest.

The Behaviour: Invertebrates category winning photo, by Georgina Steytler.

And the local contest circuit…
Chris Saunders wins APPA;
Lee Grant won the National Photographic Portrait Prize,
Young Melbourne photographer James Bugg won the Moran Contemporary Photographic Prize;
Hoda Afshar won the Bowness Photography Prize;
Dean Lewins won the top Nikon-Walkley prize.

One of Chris Saunder’s winning APPA images.

Industry figures also received honours for their significant contributions to Australian visual arts.

The late Ian Poole posthumously received the John Oxley Library Award.

Curator and historian, the inestimable Gael Newton, and Head On founder, Moshe Rosenzveig, were named as Members of the Order of Australia (OAM) recipients.

Speaking of Head On – that event deserves an award of its own, too! Check out our review of the festival.

Photo contests are also controversial beasts. But this year things weren’t as bad as in 2017, when that crazy Justine Varga ‘spit portrait’ controversy blew up. (If that was a photographic portrait, then I’m a purple banana!)

In some instances they are an outright cash grab, luring contestants in with a grabby title (often starting with the word ‘International’), and running off with the entry fees.

Contest judging is often shrouded in mystery, so it’s fascinating when there’s a behind-the-scenes look at how a genuinely prestigious contest implements its meticulous award selection criteria.

Oh, and what about the anteater photo. Real or fake? I’m going to go against the scientists and say it’s real! It can be if I want it to be – just ask The Donald.

Smash the mirrors
High-end mirrorless full-frame cameras are a big deal right now. Things have changed. A year ago the mirrorless full-frame market was dominated by Sony A series releases. But now we’ve got entirely new lines, with the Nikon Z, Canon R, and Panasonic/Leica/Sigma L.

Ain’t she a beauty?

New cameras were introduced in September at Photokina in Cologne, Germany. Reviews suggest the latest releases by Nikon are Canon are powerful enough to compete with Sony, which enjoys several generations’ developmental head start with the technology.

But the worst psychic in the world could have predicted the arrival of these cameras – even without the tedious teaser campaigns from the camera companies’ PR platoons. It’s the ‘next chapter’ that’s exciting, and we have many questions. Will full-frame DSLRs – cameras with mirrors and mechanical shutters – become extinct? In 20 years will the youth look at a Canon 5D and think ‘neat viewfinder!’? Or will this now old school technology – essentially a marriage of optical and digital components – buck the trend and weather the mirrorless storm?

Are you disrupted?
Start-ups love disrupting markets. And boy oh boy, if there’s a market worth exploiting it’s professional photography.

Sydney on-demand photography start-up, Snappr – a business we’ve kept a close eye on – made a few big moves this year. The start-up charges $75  (up from $59 earlier this year) for a half-hour shoot with an approved photographer from its fleet. The platform takes a 20 percent clip of all sales, earning the photographer $60 for a 30-minute shoot. Probably a break-even rate for a part-time snapper, but after factoring in transportation and parking, post-processing, and the cost of gear, it’s a bit rubbish. Snappr has been accused of devaluing  and disrupting pro photography with its race-to-the-bottom pricing and use of entry-level snappers.

While the AIPP was in turmoil, Snappr swooped in on the opportunity. Snappr and Photographers.com.au – another el cheapo start-up  – emailed  Inside Imaging a joint statement, inviting disgruntled AIPP members to jump ship. It came off as an aggressive but boldly opportunistic move, which probably didn’t pay off given the three entities are vastly different.

The email signalled the close working relationship between the two photography platforms, whose management are fundamentally entrepreneurs with no prior involvement in photography. A couple of weeks later Snappr announced the acquisition of Photographers.com.au, a directory and marketing platform for professional photographers.

Many established and semi-pro photographers pay Photographers.com.au good money to have a top directory listing and various other marketing benefits through the platform, and were uneasy about Snappr acquiring the business. The directory needs photographers to sink their hard earned dollars back into the platform, so those photographers need work. Work that pays better than what Snappr offers.

Frankly, the concern from professionals using Photographers.com.au was warranted.

Here’s an edited screenshot that shows how Snappr is using Photographers.com.au to drive clients toward the on-demand photograsphy start-up

The directory’s new owners are now luring Photographers.com.au visitors to ‘Search for a Photographers’ or ‘book instantly with Snappr’. By tempting visitors away from browsing the photographers who pay to be listed on the platform, Snappr is cannibilising its own new business. Will Snappr eat itself?

But wait, there’s a new disruptor in town. Introducing Emotion Wedding Photography!

This is a big one. It created quite the stir when Inside Imaging published an article about the new business. Emotion promises to deliver next-day wedding photos at an affordable price. Wedding packages start at $1650, with Emotion photographers paid $600 per shoot.

The pre-vetted photographers, with their cameras set to P mode, frame the shot and let their gear do the rest. No unpleasant and time-consuming post-processing necessary. Apparently.
Emotion is headed by three experienced photo industry figures – Michael Warshall, founder of Nulab; former AIPP president and Viva Photography founder, Vittorio Natoli; and former AIPP executive officer, Peter Myers.

After Vittorio shared the Inside Imaging article to the private AIPP FB Group things got wild.

No doubt that in 2019 we’ll be hearing much more from Emotion Wedding Photography.

Inside Imaging is born!
ProCounter and PhotoCounter, are our former photo industry trade publications, with which you may be familiar. ProCounter targetted the professional photographic industry, while PhotoCounter carved out a niche in the photo retailing world.

While maintaining a loyal and dedicated readership, the websites weren’t mobile-friendly and became aesthetically outdated. The themes were no longer supported, and with each update there was a frightening chance the rusty machine would stop working.

So we cooked up a new and improved website with a fresh brand name.

We originally came up with Imaging Insider. Turns out that name was taken. Oops! So we flipped it around to Inside Imaging, which in hindsight is a cooler name. Calling oneself an ‘insider’ did feel a bit pretentious and arrogant. Unlike most specialist publishers, we believe journalists should be on the outside looking in.

ProCounter remains as an archive.  There’s some original material written there that would sadly disappear and be lost if we were to turn off the switch. PhotoCounter‘s archive exists within Inside Imaging‘s walls.

Those who passed…
The photo industry lost a few special people in 2018, who will not be forgotten.

These people include Ian Poole, Polixeni Papapetrou, Russell McPhedran, Trevor Giezendanner, and Ros O’Gorman. We will definitely have missed many others worthy of mention – please add to the record in our Readers Comments section below and we will update this story.

That’s a wrap
Thanks for coming on this walk down memory lane. I could have gone on tangents about any number of other topics – we’ve left out a whole section on low life photographers damaging the professions’ image, and haven’t even touched on sensor resolution, pixel pitch, global shutters, AF points or EVF speed but hey, we’ve almost clocked 2500 words and that’s about the limit for comfortable reading on a screen. So we’ll leave it there.


Imaging Insider Inside Imaging wishes everyone all the best with 2019. Thanks to all our readers, advertisers, contributors, critics, and colleagues. It’s a real pleasure.

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