Monday, 28 September 2015

Patron of the Arts - Patreon, the old is new again.

I was listening to a video where Jock Conte, one of the co founders of Patreon, and it's CEO, spoke about the heritage of patrons, and I just felt it bared repeating here.

I'm sure you're aware by now that I have a Patreon page, it's plastered all over my Website and social media. But, if you are unaware, well, you can check it out HERE!

You might also be totally unaware of what patreon is.
I suppose the best way to think about it, the nest anaolgy, is to think of it as a tip jar.
I an am artist, I am creating art and putting it out there, for free for you to see.
If you love what i do, you can help me do more of it by becoming a Patron of my Art.
You sign up at my page and pledge to give me a certain amount each month.
As a thank you, I, in return, give you certain perks and extras depending on how much you pledge.
Thats it.

Patreon is growing, more and more artists are signing up to it, and there's plenty of them who are earning well out of it.
But, it does sometimes create waves as there are plenty of people out there who disagree with it.
Sometimes vocally.

They're used to the current way things have been done, which is unit sales. When for instance a musician would create a song, you'd then go out and buy said song, and the creator would then get a share, usually a very small share, of that profit.

Things have started to change though, with the Internet being perhaps the biggest motivator of that change, and the world, including the Artwork, needs to change.
Now there's no barrier to entry. Now you can publish you art, your song, your video, for free, online and reach a global market, instantly. And that is beyond Awesome!!!!

And thats great, it means that Art and music and video can be cheap, or even free.

But, people arn't free. We need money.
We all have bills to pay, food to buy, family to support etc etc.
We need money to survive in this capitalist culture. If I can't get money for my art, then I need a job. If I am doing a job to earn money, I wont have time to spend doing my Art, meaning you don't get my Art.

But you want my art. I know this because I get so many messages saying so many lovely things and asking me to keep doing what I'm doing.

I really appreciate that, and I want to. I WANT to keep making art and putting it out there for everyone to see.
I really do, but I need, NEED money to do that, otherwise it's down to the job center for me, and less, maybe no art for you.

This support can be given through Patreon.
You can be a Patron of my Art. And you would be part of a heretige and a system that goes back thousands of years.

Until the mid 1800's, early 1900's, Art was often/mostly created under Patronage.
It's only in the last 100 years or so that we shifted to unit sales, where publishers or record companies would put out the art for people to buy and a small percentage would go back to the creator.

Before this, it was the Patrons who supported an Artist.
The wealthy of all stripes from royalty to the church to rich business people, would become an Artists Patron.
Saying we love what you do, keep doing it, and here's some money so that you can live while making your art.
The artist would also no doubt create art for their patrons in gratitude for that support.
And this system has been going for centuries, and was the primary way that great art was created, until about 100 years ago.
Patrons still exist, but it has not been the main way Art has been created for a long time.

The Internet has led to a return to that model, all be it a modified version, through the creation of Patreon.
Now, rather then one wealthy Patron who might put big demands on you, now that patronage can be crowd funded from the masses with much smaller amounts, from a global audience.
Meaning you can create what ever you want, and those who like it and want to see more can pledge their support.

We're returning to the way things used to be done.
And if it was good enough for Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, William Shakespeare, Mozart and Beethoven, then it's good enough for me.

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Cosplay Photography: Copyright and Etiquette and Intellectual Property.

So, yesterday the issue of copyright in the Cosplay Photography community reared its head once more when a Photographer posted a gallery of images to his Smugmug site and offered them for sale.
Cosplayers were crying foul and were claiming the photographer had no right to post these images or sell them.

This is something that has been an issue in the Cosplay community since forever. I myself have had many heated conversations with cosplayers about copyright. Most cosplayers, and many Photographers don’t understand how the issue of copyright works, and with the internet, it can lead to online lynch mobs and some pretty bad feeling all round.

So, in the interests of trying to clear up a few things, lets look at the law and etiquette surrounding this issue.

I am not a lawyer. I do have a basic understanding of how this works, but this post should not be considered legal advice. Also, the law is a constantly changing thing, and this may well be out of date at some point.
Also, this article relates to UK law. The law in other countries may differ.

The Law.
So, providing the photographer is stood on public property, or has permission to shoot on private property, the Photographer can take photos pretty much of whatever they want, even private buildings and members of the public of any age, with a few exceptions.

I won’t get into the private building issue as that falls outside of what I’m talking about.

Can the photographer take photos of people?
Providing the subject cannot reasonably expect to have a degree of privacy, anyone can take their photo.
So, if a Photographer is stood on a public footpath, and you’re out sunbathing in your open front garden that anyone can see into, the photographer can, legally, take your photo.
If however you were in your bathroom having a shower, you would expect a degree of privacy, anyone taking your photo using a long lens and sniping between curtains, would be breaking the law. This would be a human rights issue.

So, lets apply this to cosplayers and conventions.
Firstly, yes, a convention is a private event usually held on private property. But, most conventions and venues simply wash their hands of this, often stating on their websites that if you attend the con you must expect to have your photo taken. It would be a nightmare and very costly to try and restrict this.
In other words, the con is basically for all intents and purposes, public property.
The photographer can take photos.

As a Cosplayer, you are generally walking around the con, dressed flamboyantly or outlandishly in a costume, you are also posing for photos and letting people take your picture.
Unless you’re hiding in the bathroom when someone takes your photo, you cannot reasonably expect to have a degree of privacy in any way. You are effectively waving your right to privacy while wandering the con.
So whether they ask your permission or not, anyone can take your photo.

Rights over my likeness
You have no rights over your likeness, and just because you are in a photo, does not mean you have any degree of copyright to it. If you’re out in public, people can take your photo.

Same goes for children. If they’re out in public with no reasonable expectation of privacy, anyone can take a photo of them. Their age has no baring on this matter.
It also doesn’t matter of they are a member of a modelling agency.

Commercial usage
In other words, can the photographer make money from their images?
In a nutshell, yes. If you make art, be it a painting or a piece of music, or a photo, you can sell it. It’s your work so you have the right to profit from it.

What if it’s a photo of someone?
If the subject was out in public and could not reasonably expect to have a degree of privacy, then the Photographer may profit from the sale of that image.

But don’t they need a Model release from me?
Actually no, not really. A model release has no legal standing in UK law. A judge may throw it out at any time and is free to ignore it. However, if you have signed one, a judge would probably take it into consideration expecting that you would have a basic understanding of what you were signing and what it meant.
A release is basically a written agreement between the photographer and model with the model giving up all rights over images of them taken by the photographer.

But these are images of my kids! 
The only thing that changes when it’s photos of children is that they cannot sign documents such as a Release as they are under age. Their parent or Guardian must sign for them instead.

So basically yes, the photographer may sell those images of you, and you as the cosplayer or con attendee have no legal rights over those images. You cannot stop them from being sold.

If you have NOT signed a release, you could ask for a share of the profits. And you are within your rights to approach the photographer and ask for a profit share. The Photographer may well say no.
You could then take the photographer to court and try and get a share of the profits that way. But even if you won, you would likely end up spending WAY more on legal fees, so it’s probably not worth it.

This is basically the reason why model releases are a thing.
In the past, people have taken some ones photo of them posing nude. Then, later in their life, that person hits the headlines for some reason and those nude photos are suddenly worth a LOT of money.

If the model signed a release, the Photographer could take 100% of any profit he makes from selling them.
If a release was not signed, the subject could then sue for a share of the profits made from that sale, or get injunctions put in place, claim libel, etc etc.
Both of the above are subject to a Judge’s decision though, so it’s not all cut and dried.

So the photographer could sell my images to anyone or any company?
In theory yes, but in practice, probably not. Most companies are very wary of using any images of people if the person in the image has not signed a release. So in reality, although the photographer could sell the images privately, they would find it very difficult to sell them to a company etc.

Libel, disrepute and indecent.
There are some exceptions to the above though.
If the image in question could be considered libellous, or could bring the subject into disrepute, then the subject could very well sue and have a greater chance of winning as the image being in public could impact their life in a detrimental way.
Also, indecent images taken without consent are of course against the law.

Commercial IP
Now, all the above is all very well, but when the subject is a cosplayer in costume, there is another issue here.
The cosplayer is very likely to be dressed as a well-known character, let’s say Batman for example.
Batman is under the copyright of DC and by extension, Warners. They own that IP (Intellectual property). They may use the image of Batman how they please and profit from it.
The cosplayer, by dressing up as the character might well be opening themselves up to breaking copyright and being sued themselves.
If the cosplayer was dressed as batman doing something DC considered detrimental to their IP, they could sue you.
If you have profited in any way from the IP of Batman, you have breached their copyright and IP and they could sue you.
The same is true for photographers selling images of people dressed as Batman.

Of course, this is very unlikely to happen. Some no-name cosplayer selling a few prints is hardly likely to impact DC’s bottom line any. If DC were to sue such a person, the bad press they would get from that would cost them way more then what the cosplayer did.

The real issue here is Cosplay Photography etiquette. As the hobby has grown, the etiquette about how Photographers and Cosplayer work together has evolved and these days there’s a generally accepted code of conduct when it comes to taking a photo of a cosplayer.

Don’t snipe from the sidelines, don’t be a creep, ask permission and be curtious.
If you plan on selling the images, say so and agree terms.

The Photographer I mentioned at the start had clearly taken photos of people who didn’t know they were being photographed.
Although he has legally done nothing wrong and can even profit from the sale of those images without permission from the subject, it is considered bad form to do so and you might get yourself a bad reputation for this kind of behaviour.

I hope this clears up a few things. 

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

New Compositing Workshop - 17th July in Surrey

I'm running a new compositing workshop on the 17th July here in surrey.
These have been great fun to do and I'm hoping I can continue to run them as I love to teach!

If you are interested to learn how I do my composites and would like to book your place, you can do so on Eventbrite here;


I hope to see you there!

Photoshop Compositing Workshop

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Swords of Sorrow Cosplay Cover

A few weeks ago Tabitha Lyons came to me with an idea to do a shoot based on the Swords of Sorrow comic that has just recently been released by Dynamite Entertanment.
The comic features an entirely female team of Heroes and is written by the excellent Gail Simone and her all female team of writers.

There are far too few female led comics, and for that matter, Sci-Fi/Fantasy movies and such. So when Tabitha came to me with the idea of turning the variant cover by J. Scott Campbell into a live action shot, I thought it was a great idea. And so we gathered together an amazing group of Cosplayers, arranged the costumes and set a date.

The shoot went really well. We held it at Square 1 Studio in Surrey, a new and upcoming studio with loads of space for a shoot with 4 models.

The final group of models were;

Tabitha Lyons - An awesome cosplayer and great friend. She works at Artyfakes in the UK, a Prop Making company. I have worked with Tabitha a lot over these past few years and she's always a great subject and easy to work with. She wore her awesome Red Sonja Cosplay.

Tasha Cosplay - Tabitha's best friend and fellow cosplayer. I have met Tasha a few times and cons and knew she'd make a great Deja Thoris for the shoot.

Chiquitita Cosplay - I knew of Chiquitita's cosplays from seeing her around the online cosplay community, although I had not worked with her before. She came aboard to play Jungle Girl, and did a great job. I also did a quick shoot with her after the main Swords of Sorrow shoot with her dressed as Super Girl. Something I have been wanting to do for a while.

Mojo Jones - I have never met Mojo before, but she stepped in last minute after one of the original 4 cosplayers had to pull out due to unforseen circumstances. Mojo dressed as Vampirella for the shoot, a costume I had made by Arena Costumes a while back.
She also did a great job.

I wanted to get one final edit out as quick as I could to try and coincide with the release of the comic, and so here's my first edit from our shoot.

The Swords of Sorrow Cosplay Cover.

Swords of Sorrow Cosplay Cover

And here's a few Behind the Scenes for you.

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Vote for the next Group Shoot Theme

The last group shoot, which had a Latex theme, went really well and I had a total blast!

For the next ones, I thought I'd let people vote on some of the ideas we have for them.
So, if you would like to vote, you can do so here;

Latex Model Olympus OMD EM5 MkII

Friday, 1 May 2015

Latex photo appreciation, with K-Jey and Dead Lotus Couture

In the last blog post I shared a shot from the latex group shoot at the weekend.
Here's another.

I added this one to Purple Port the other day and they have already promoted it to their Front Page, which is great!

Hope you like it.

Dead Lotus Couture Latex

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Switching to Olympus Mirrorless

This post is all about camera gear, and might a bit camera geeky for some, but, hopefully it will be of interest to some of you.

For a while now I have been eyeing up the new breed of Mirrorless (otherwise known as Compact System) cameras, and the latest additions to this new and exciting range of cameras.

But before I get into them, a little bit of my personal camera history.
For years now I have been a Nikon user. When I got my first SLR, it was a choice between a Canon and Nikon, and of the 2 cameras I was eyeing up, the Nikon edged it, so that was that. Over the years I have bought more gear and more camera bodies, upgrading my gear as I went.

Let me state right now that I still love my Nikon kit, I have no issues with Nikon really, the camera has served me very well and I will still use my Nikon gear from time to time, but, I needed to make a change.

This all stems from something that happened back when we last moved house, and part way through the work on the new house, I woke up one morning with a crick in my neck, like I'd slept funny. I didn't think much too it at first, but within a few days the pain had grown to the point were I was living on Painkillers, waking up at 3am in agony and I ended up getting some Physiotherapy on my right shoulder.
Turns out, the muscle that holds my right shoulder blade in place, doesn't work properly. Most people Scapula's glide over their backs and stay flat and flush to their backs. Mine doesn't, when my arm is in certain positions, it sticks out.
This aggravates the muscles holding it in place and causes them to become inflamed, and eventually go into spasm.
The Physio helped, and I soon had it under control and the pain slowly went away.

During that time I had to shoot several weddings, meaning I had to carry a heavy bag of gear around with me all day. On each of those weddings, I was popping pain killers and by the wedding breakfast I was in a lot of pain. But, I got through them.
The biggest issue I had was the weight of the gear.

Between then and now the issue with my shoulder has come back from time to time, but only in a very minor way and I know how to deal with it.

But recently its come back again and it's even spread to my other shoulder, no doubt because I'm compensating for the right hand one.
It's under control, and I can work quite happily, but it can be uncomfortable.

The biggest issue I have now is that my job means that I need to carry around heavy gear.

But, does it????

Thats where mirrorless comes in.
I've been looking at the Mirrorless systems for a while, and I love what they offer.
Fuji, Panasonic, Sony and Olympus all now have some seriously great mirrorless gear with some very high tech and Pro Spec cameras.
Some of the things these cameras do is amazing.

One of the biggest plus points is the Silent Shutter that some of them offer. And it really is totally silent. For a wedding Photographer, that alone is a game changer. I can't count the number of times I have had dirty looks from a priest or registrar due to the unavoidable click of the shutter on my Nikon SLR. And the shutter on the otherwise Awesome D800, is not the quietest.
With a silent shutter, I can be so discreet it's untrue.

Other great points include Wifi, so I can upload a preview to Facebook immediately while on a job.
Social media is after all, vital to our work as Photographers.
In body image stabilization, meaning all my lenses have I.S.
Cheaper gear, some of the kit for these cameras is so affordable, it means things like travelling with your kit carries less risk.
Also I can, with an adapter, use all my Nikon gear, and in fact, pretty much any lens I want!

But, by far the biggest advantage for me is the weight.
Most of the mirrorless camera available (not all of them though) are smaller and lighter then their SLR brothers. Some more then others.
And as the issue with my shoulders flared up again, and as i look down the barrel of all my summer weddings that i have coming up, things suddenly became very real and very urgent.

So, I took another good long look at what was available, and what I could afford.
I was lucky, I have a bunch of kit that I don't use sat on the shelf, kit that I could sell quite easily.
And with that, I could suddenly afford to make the switch.

In the end, I went for the Olympus OMD EM5 Mark II.
A terrible name for an otherwise beyond Awesome camera.
And this thing is small! Really small and light. Also, the images it creates are just gorgeous.
I can carry this kit around all day very easily, and it won't ruin my shoulders.

It's also had the added benefit of renewing some of the fun of photography again for me on a personal level. I find myself messing about with the camera more and more. Which is great.

I now cannot wait to shoot my first wedding with it, it's going to be a blast!

The image below was shot with the Olympus OMD EM5 Mark II
Olympus OMD EM5 Mark II