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2020: Straight back at ya!

How good are Inside Imaging readers!

Here on the top floor C-Suite at the vast Inside Imaging publishing compound, we are proud that we have attracted a fairly classy bunch of subscribers. Some of them will be familiar names to anyone with more than a passing interest in photography, which induces a warm sense of chuffed-ness from the get-go; but it’s the quantity and above all quality of the Readers Comments which give us the sense this little publication has connected with the more cerebral and engaged bit of the photo community, both here and overseas.

Of course if you jump over to, say, DPReview or Petapixel, there’s a shedload of reader feedback, but it’s largely the various fanboys – almost always boys – taking unseemly potshots at each other. With a side-serving of virtue signalling, the rocket fuel of social media.

Here at Inside Imaging I don’t think we’ve once had a reader call another a ‘Nikon shill’ or a ‘Canon troll’, and nobody has ever, ever compared someone else to Hitler or the Nazis.

When we look at our local competitors, they either don’t allow dialogue with their readers, or maybe score a comment a week, or two or three when things really hot up: ‘Hey guys, the link you provided goes to last year’s competition’…’Thanks Tarquin, we’ve fixed that!’

So as we come to the end of what has been, let’s face it, an unprecendentedly shitty year, we thought we might ditch the standard ‘year in review’ and feature some of the more astute, amusing or passionate comments from you, our readers, which go to show that Inside Imaging is the thinking person’s photo industry website. (These are just from the first six months – we ran out of time to round the year off.)

…But sometimes people come across Inside Imaging stories not because they are regular readers but because they have been on the receiving end of Photographers Behaving Badly. We are often the only publication that follows these things up. (We are still in 2020 getting former staff and customers writing in after the disgraceful take-the-money and-run-to-a-Greek-island performance of the directors of PixiFoto back in 2013, for instance.) A more recent example is feedback on a story we wrote about some of the hard sell tactics used by portrait photography businesses:

I really wish I had read this before I went into [You Know Who You Are] Portraits in Perth. We got completely ripped off. We told them we really couldn’t afford it and they called us every few days until we gave in. They said we didn’t have to buy anything as our “voucher we won” would cover at least one or two photos and they come with the digital copy. We were pretty happy with that considering we thought all we needed was a couples photo for our budget wedding. Well we got our little prints and bought another ‘cos it was really too good of our 11 month old. We got the digital prints and they are such low terrible resolution you can’t do anything with them. We were promised we were ok to reprint from them and they were good resolution. I hate being lied too. They promote how they are a family business and how they look after families. Well they just shafted this little family. It took us over an hour to get ready then over an hour to drive there. Then to keep a baby and 2 year old occupied and happy for the shoot was so stressful. They are a joke. – Zoey 

– The number of comments which come in along those lines should be of concern to every ethically-run studio in the country, and the AIPP. Earlier this year we were thuggishly threatened with legal action for simply running a report about a $1.1 million ACCC fine handed out to one of these characters.

Then again, illegal business behaviour aside, there’s a counter argument, based on the notion of personal responsibility for one’s actions and decisions:

Well, I wish to say something in defense of these businesses.
it is not true that the sale is unsolicited, most of them leave competition boxes out in different retail businesses, it is your own decision to grab a pen and fill the card with your details. Pretty much all of them offer you a free photo shoot and the opportunity to walk away with a free print of your choice, if YOU choose to buy 15 of them or a big piece to put on your wall, you get told a price and pay for it you can’t blame them for their sales tactics. it’s like going to buy a TV, you have in mind you want to spend $800 and then the sales person shows you a 2k one and explain how better it is, you buy it and then accuse him of stealing your money! makes no sense to me. Photography is an expensive business, not just because of the physical cost of prints, equipment etc.. but also because of the creative mind behind it. Always puzzle me when I see people covered in tattoos complaining for the cost of a photo, when they spent thousands on black ink! If you have a weak personality and regret spending money on memories for a lifetime, then maybe get someone else to manage your life.. don;t go around complaining that someone forced you to spend money! MG

When we publish anything about printing technology it gets plenty of traffic. There’s oodles of stuff out there about cameras, sensors, lenses and the like, but it can be hard to get straight answers from the printer manufacturers, especially when it comes to inkjet printing. These comments  from a reader were a little off-topic, as the story itself from 2019 addresses colour gamut, but nonetheless remain unanswered, despite our best endeavours. So she is probably on to something:

As a photographer, I’ve had my doubts [about inkjet printing] for a long while, but the more I read the more I want to stay with my classic Fujifilm DPII C-prints. With a trusted wet lab (good quality control, good colour management, fresh chemistry) I see no point in selling clients pretty dry lab prints that will fade even in an album because of air pollution and ozone. Dry labs are a new technology, with an unknown track record and worrisome science (dye inks are dye inks after all) – C-prints at least have some known history and have vastly improved since their shameful 1970s beginnings. If dye “lab” print longevity was all that great, they’d boast far and wide about their test results… And there are barely any available. Neither WIR nor Aardenburg had done gas fade testing on them, and of the producers themselves, only Canon speaks openly of dye print longevity at all (some data is available on Chromalife 100+ inks and the Dreamlabo 5000 system – but there’s not a lot of information there). In general, gas fading seems to be a problem and the coatings are brittle – much less durable than AgX papers. So no, I’ll be going the C-print route as long as it’s available. – Eve

There were some other really astute comments after this story. Well worth reviewing.

One of our first of umpteen stories related to Coronavirus was a contribution from Stuart Poignand, former senior executive with Canon’s photographic division, and now principal of Poignand Consulting.

We were grateful to Stuart and equally so to have a responding comment from Peter Rose, the last and highly-regarded director of PMA Australia:

…The opportunities created by our current situation will be found by a few and exploited.
1) We all now recognise the shortcomings in ‘offshoring’ certain production and processes. Where are the opportunities for our industry?
2) On line shopping growth is certain however in the current lockdown the value of having local retailers who have adapted with local delivery, takeaway food options, willingness to make home visits and generally ‘being there’ will not be forgotten.
3) All of us now, value greatly what we are missing in interpersonal contact in our daily dealings. What value is now placed on an up to date data list to allow text/email contact with our valued customers to tell them what you are offering to help them through this tough period
As Stuart says ‘retail will never be the same’. I 100% agree, however there are enough smart,active retailers in our industry who will not lie down and are planning right now as to how they will adapt and prosper. I hope you are one of them. Peter Rose

Here’s one from the great Andy McCourt on a topic which has, as they say, ‘trended’ recently: bullying from China and the lack of backbone of, in this instance, Sony and the WPO, in standing up to that pressure:

As an editor, publisher and photo-journalist whose images have been published all over the world – including China in the past – I would like to denounce the WPO’s censorship of valid photo coverage of an event of international significance. Some of the best photos ever have been taken in conflict situations – what gives the WPO the right to be judge jury and executioner on this matter? The images are either worthy of an award or not – irrespective of subject matter. WPO’s stance is pusillanimous and immature and, being headquartered in London – the home of freedom of the press – I am amazed that this has occurred. Sony appears caught in the WPO’s weakness but if they concur with the decision, effectively dictating what images can be taken on their cameras once sold and entered in awards – every professional should reconsider whether Sony should be part of their kit. Andy McCourt

This is a cached version of the WPO gallery, which shows five images are no longer displayed.

– Looks like we can scratch Sony of the list of prospective advertisers. Oh well…

Adobe probably won’t be sending us a Christmas card, neither! We have been gently suggesting for years that there’s a bit of Stockholm Syndrome about the continuing success of the Adobe monthly rental model, and did so again this year, suggesting Coronavirus provided the free time necessary to dump this price-gouging behemoth and switch to a software supplier that respected its customers:

I purchased Serif Affinity Publisher earlier this year because I just couldn’t justify the expense of Adobe Indesign for the few times I needed it each year. Whilst I can accept the Adobe Photoshop CC subscription model because I use it daily, any add-on was double the price for little return. Affinity Publisher has well and truly exceeded my expectations at a very low price. Yes it does some things differently, but again it also does some things better. More importantly it does exactly what I need.

I recently downloaded the trial version of Affinity Photo and familiarity is the biggest issue I face at the moment, however months of self-isolation and a business in hibernation for many months more may well change this. Now is the time to try out some alternatives, especially with a 90 day trial period and at half price (AU $38.99). Malcolm
The stories which elicited most feedback this year was our series covering microstock giant Shutterstock’s decision to rip off its contributors just a little bit more, reducing payments to a base of as low as US$0.10 cents per image. We even had the honour of one of our stories being taken down from Facebook, a business partner of Shutterstock. This story ‘went viral’ (not such a popular form of words this year, for some reason) and our Readers Comments section became something of a default platform for the #boycottShutterstock movement, which evolved into something more positive,  the Stock Coalition.

I am currently in Level 4 with my Shutterstock illustration portfolio, but there’s no way I will be selling my images for ten cents per download! I already started to remove some of my best imagery. I will move all of it to Adobe. I also sell on Creative Market and will recommend that site, too. They pay 40% from each license, and since you can set your own prices, this works fine. Anna Repp

I’m a small contributor on shutterstock with 400+ images and 70-80 odd sales in a month when going good. And I’ve paused the sales. Like Gerhard Pettersson said even 0.25 is too low and by reducing it further shutterstock has certainly stooped too low. For a contributor, it’s like giving away the pictures/art/illustrations for free…Bye Bye Shutterstock. Time for the contributors to unite and pause sales. Pixellicious Photos

As a long time purchaser of shutterstock photos, can somebody recommend a provider that pays their contributors fairly? Mary

Getty and Shutterstock did not drive down the price of stock photography, the market did that. Photographers who are complaining should focus their ire on their fellow photographers who give away their work for free on all the free stock photo sites. Tim Collins

There was a lot of dialogue from the several other stories we wrote on Shutterstock’s mean-spirited attitude towards its contributors, not least after we looked into just how much dosh Shutterstock and its shareholders were making from the work of the contributors it was ripping off.

Back in December 2019 we reported, with restrained delight, that KodakIT, Eastman Kodak’s half-arsed attempt at pimping out professional photographers had failed. ‘Good riddance to them and I hope the others go under as well…especially Snappr,’ Roger commented at the time. But as is often the case, readers come across what we have written long after it has been published, in this case 6 months later:

There is a way forward from here and that’s to accommodate a community mindset through an AirBnB style marketplace platform.

Our future doesn’t have to be bowing down to faceless corporate entities who want to homogenise us. It can be through mutual cooperation and understanding.

Photographers rights and fair practices is something we’re passionate about at Come and join our progressive community where customers have the convenience of aggregation but photographers are in control of their own business practices! Alex Hewitt

Photo credit AGE CAPTIONS(L to R): Bob Newman, Vee Speers, Tim Page, Astrid Blazsek-Ayala, Dave Tacon, Nikolaos Menoudarakos, Li Wei.

We’ve always made a big effort to support local photographic exhibitions, as was the case with this year’s extraordinary effort by Moshe, Anita and the Head On Team in presenting the world’s first online Photography Festival. The following comment by Jeff Moorfoot, founder of the Ballarat Biennale and one of Australian photography’s living treasures, makes a passing allusion to the tendency of some purportedly photographic festivals – specifically Photo 2021 in Melbourne and, now, unfortunately, the aforementioned BIFB – to be hijacked by inner-city arts luvvies, who really don’t give a damn about the kind of people who read Inside Imaging.

People like you.

Have viewed a fair swag of exhibitions and visited and enjoyed a few artist talks, panel discussions and participated in the portfolio reviews. Think the registration process is unnecessarily involved, but apart from that, my hat’s off to Head On. Most gratifying is that Head On is still firmly a festival of photography front and centre, unlike so many others that have been hijacked by administrators and curators and turned into arts festivals that only acknowledge photography in passing…. Hold the line Moshe! Jeff Moorfoot

Words inadequately describe the achievement of this year’s Head On Photo Festival for me. A breathtaking series of events and talks – far too many of which I missed through poor planning on my part. But the thought of this in hybrid, with a full face-to-face event next year and it could become the world’s largest photo community for two whole weeks.

Moshe and team. Congratulations. John Swainston

But of course not all Readers Comments are so articulate and well-considered. Nonetheless it’s nice to be liked – even by a bot.  Though our spam filter blocks most of the thousands of fake comments which come in, the occasional one slips through. And even though we know it’s false flattery, it always raises a smile to get something like the following on the screen when you fire up the ‘puter in the morning:

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