Discreet Photography for Private Events

posted on: May 27, 2014

In the last 3-4 years I've seen a steep increase in my everyday clients requesting additional privacy of their images for things like celebrations and family portraits.  Sometimes it's because of their political stature, occasionally for the sensitivity of celebrity guests, and most often with regular families just because they really prefer to protect their image from being shared in any way that isn't approved by them first.  I've encountered more speakeasy-style events with an intimate audience in which guests are asked to leave their phones and cameras at the door, as well as home events or private gatherings away from traditional public access to keep the atmosphere secluded.  Many people want to focus on having fun, but still want some great photos to remember the event by, so they hire a photographer who helps put their guests at ease and provides private access to images, but rarely do they consider all the ways in which we can protect their privacy.  Read on to learn about the many ways you can protect your image privacy online.

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As much as I appear to share openly on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook, I fully appreciate the differences between a very public life and the privacy desired in a personal life, especially when everything else about a person's life can be so public regarding their career.  People come to feel like they know me well over social media, but in reality, they're only getting the story that's curated for public consumption.  So, when clients ask to keep their images of family photos, weddings, or other personal celebrations private, I completely understand.

Hiring a professional photographer for an event can ensure greater image privacy and quality curation than working with an amateur who has no formal privacy agreement or business reputation to maintain.  Before you work with a professional, it's important to define what level of privacy is desired in advance.  If all expectations are clear and well-defined before any work begins, it will prevent any surprises or slip-ups later on.  Whether you're working with me, or another photographer, here's a check-list of questions regarding privacy protection that you might want to consider:

Online Proofing Gallery:

  • Does the photographer offer a password-protected online gallery?
  • Is the gallery publicly searchable?
  • Does the gallery require email log-in so that invited visitors can be tracked?
  • Can the proofing gallery be made available only to the client and to no one else?
  • Is it possible to make select images private while still allowing guests to see most of them?
  • Are images watermarked to provide an added layer of protection in case of a screen capture?
  • How easy does the online gallery make it to share images on social media without registration or approval?
  • Is there an option to proof in person instead of using an online gallery?

Blogging:

  • Is it important that a blog post or portfolio of images be made available to the client first before sharing in a public format? 
  • If the photographer has permission to blog some of the images, which images are OK to blog, and which are not?  For example, a private event may approve public sharing of images related to the venue, catering, decor, and flowers, as long as no images of people or faces are to be made publicly available.  This solution helps the photographer and other vendors promote their creative work, while still protecting privacy for the client.
  • If approval is given by the client to allow certain faces or moments to be shared publicly for the photographer's use and public portfolio, can any names be used with the images?  If so, first names only, last names only, or initials only?  (This is often taken into consideration most when a family has children that they are concerned about sharing publicly.)

Social Media:

  • What sites are approved for sharing the images on, and what ones are not?  This comes into play because many social media sites and image banking/sharing sites retain permissions and controls over the images once they are uploaded to that site.
  • Will images be watermarked when shared online to provide an extra layer of client and photographer protection if they go viral?  What kind of watermarking or other image protection is important and appropriate for the images that are made publicly available?
  • If an image appears to be featured on an unapproved website or format, whose responsibility is it to pursue the removal and privacy infringement of that image placement?

Image Ownership:

  • In the event of client or photographer death, who retains permission and control over the images and honoring the privacy agreement?
  • Does the client have the ability to purchase full rights to the images, sacrificing all privacy protection and control that can be offered by the photographer?


Do you see any privacy considerations missing from this list?  Let me know by leaving a comment here so others can see what you feel is important to know as well.  If you'd like me to be your discreet photographer, please visit http://anneruthmann.com to get in touch.



Meet the Intern: Brian

posted on: May 21, 2014

Name: Brian Wright

Location: Nyack, NY

Age: 34

Website: www.allredstudio.com

How did you find out about the internship?
I found out about the internship through Facebook of course.  I have been following Anne's work for several years and I just happened to be in the same neighborhood as her this time.  I couldn't let this opportunity pass me by, although I almost did.  I lost the nerve right before I submitted my video.  I must have done 15-20 takes before I finally said 'Brian this is your last one, you better hit it on the head,' and miraculously I did.  

Why were you interested in the internship?
I've seen Anne's posts and kept thinking she is so zen-like with her business and I'm over here, freaking out with mine, not knowing where to begin.  I couldn't think of a better mentor for me, I want my photography business to be zen-like too!  

What are you hoping to get out of the internship?
I hope to absorb some of Anne's good karma with her business skills and apply it to my everyday life.  I have only been with her for a week and already the inspiration is rolling in and I cant stop thinking photography.  She is constantly motivating me to do better, quicker and easier, I am very excited for the next 6 months working under her mentorship.  =)

What is your education  background?
My educational background is Peter Johansen HS in Modesto California and the United States Air Force Technical School for Heating Ventilation Air Conditioning and Refrigeration.  When I finished HS I had no idea what I wanted to be so I joined the AF hoping to make it a full time career, or so I thought.  Little did I know that photography would be my passion and love.  When I got out of active duty AF, and signed up for the Air Guard, I pursued photography part-time and eventually started a business for a few years in Hawaii before I transplanted myself here in NY.   

Are you currently working elsewhere?
I am currently working on my photography business, getting it started with a good client base in the NY tristate area.  I think that being Anne's intern has already boosted my photography cred 10 fold. =)

What would you attempt if you knew you could not fail? If I knew I wasn't going to fail, I would be a traveling photographer- traveling the world documenting unknown people, places and events, hoping to bring the world together through my photography.  I truly believe there's a whole world out there that we don't know about- incredible people, magnificent places and cultural events that I would love to share with my family, friends and followers through my lens!  Traveling the world visiting incredible places and meet wonderful people...sounds like my kind of dream for sure!

LOVE IT: What We Think Of You

posted on: May 16, 2014

As a portrait photographer and occasional boudoir photographer, I resonate with all of the things that a makeup artist experiences when working with other women on their image....



How important is it to be confident with what we have and honor where we are right now?  The Atlantic recently did an article on how our own self-sabatoge is affecting our ability to lead and inspire others, it's time for a change in how we approach ourselves....
The Confidence Gap:
http://www.theatlantic.com/features/archive/2014/04/the-confidence-gap/359815/

Amateur Vs. Professional Photographers

posted on: May 12, 2014

Ever wonder what the difference is between an amateur and a professional photographer?  I've seen some amateurs that have more expensive equipment than me because they think the camera is what makes images better, only to be sorely disappointed that they still get blurry and out-of-focus images after investing over $10,000 in professional equipment, rather than 10,000 hours in developing their eye and technical understanding of light, composition, and technique, which can be applied to any camera or lighting situation.  Likewise, I've seen some AMAZING work from amateur hobby or fine art photographers who dedicate a lot of time to learning the craft, but can't produce that same quality of work when forced into situations they can't control or are outside of their comfort zone, which is why they don't sell themselves as a photographer for hire, only their work as fine art after they've been able to control all the elements.

Much like a painter - we all start with the same canvas - the world around us.  We all have the same paintbrushes and tools - the cameras that are manufactured for everyone to purchase and the software anyone can use to edit the images after they've been captured.  If you were just looking at the canvas and the tools, or even the quality of work after it's been fully controlled and manipulated, you'd be hard pressed to know who's a professional and who's an amateur!  So, here are the things I've come to understand as the defining factor between professionals and amateurs...

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1. Free Without Expectation, or Paid to Produce On Deadline?
The most obvious difference between an amateur and professional is whether they charge for the work they produce and whether people are actually willing to pay what they charge for what they produce.  It seems like such a simple and no-brainer distinction, but the fact is that once people have taken payment to produce something requested by another person, there's a professional responsibility and code of ethics that must be acknowledged and upheld in order to honor that commitment, or the pro takes a hit to future business and referrals.  An amateur doesn't need to honor any commitments when they aren't being paid, and they have the freedom to do whatever they want without worrying about whether they got the right shot, did the work well, or delivered according to a promised deadline or standard.  There's a lot of freedom in not collecting a fee for your work, because once a fee is collected, so are someone else's expectations and professional requirements.

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2. Knowing What Tools Are Right for The Job
An amateur photographer uses the equipment they have, because it's what they have.  A professional knows when a job or request will require more equipment, skills, or technical expertise than they have or can offer alone, so they are more likely to rent equipment when they need it rather than owning a bunch of things they don't need for every shoot, hire extra help when they need it, and outsource when they know that it will create a much better result than they have skills to create on their own.  It's also the difference between knowing why a $30,000 camera is worth it for one job, but excessive for another job that would be much better suited to a $3,000 camera, and why you might use a filter on a lens for one shot before it's taken but do filtering afterward in photoshop for another shot after it's taken.

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3. Knowing How to Use the Tools For The Best Results
Many amateurs don't actually take the time to read their camera manual and understand everything their camera can and can't do.  An amateur tends to shoot in one way and not think about any of the technical choices involved in why it might be better to shoot differently.  For example, using a camera in full-auto and allowing the camera to make automatic but unskilled decisions that may lead to mediocre or missed results, rather than selectively choosing when it would be best to have more control by using manual, aperture priority, shutter priority, or bulb.  The same goes with lens choices.  An amateur will often be satisfied with a kit lens because it covers the majority of their needs, rather than understanding why you might want a 50mm prime lens for some things, or a lens that can zoom across its full range at f/2.8.

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4. Getting The RIGHT Shot, Not Just ANY Shot
Amateurs are often satisfied with first or second look at a subject and tend to have an "I already got it" mentality after taking a photo, where a professional might take 10 shots an amateur would be satisfied with just to get one image that a professional would be satisfied with.  An amateur will quickly move on to the next pretty thing, while a professional might obsess over making the shot better until they're satisfied or absolutely must move on for the sake of time.  An amateur will be happy with all images captured from a basic level or position with whatever light and background are already there, where a professional will carefully choose their angles, background, framing, composition, and lighting for their subject.  Most amateurs don't have the patience to wait for a better shot to happen, while a professional can sense in advance that there may actually be a slightly better moment, expression, or lighting situation if they just take a little more time and patience to explore the scene in front of them.

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5. Editing Is Everything
An amateur is often happy with 80-90% of the images they've taken because they shot it as they saw it and they're satisfied with what they saw to begin with.  A professional is often happy with about 10-25% of what they've taken because they saw it one way, then another way, then another way, and finally the way they really thought was best.  An amateur will share so much more of their work because it's not about how they saw it, it's about what they saw, where a professional will carve down everything they saw to the very best way of seeing it.  An amateur may be happy to throw a quick and easy action or filter on everything, whereas a professional is going to take the time to adjust more than what a filter can do until the image is its best possible representation of the image according to the professional's eye and style.

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6. Backups, Storage, and Insurance
When someone doesn't collect money for the work they produce for others, there's no expectation that they'd need to backup their work, store it for any length of time after it's beed delivered, or have on-site equipment backups or insurance in case something goes wrong while they're shooting.  There's also no expectation that they'll correct any errors, or provide a reshoot if the shoot just wasn't right the first time.  A professional is paid because they are expected to deliver no matter what the conditions are, and no matter what curve balls are thrown at them.  If one camera stops working, they have another to the rescue.  If one battery fails, they have several others to get them through the rest of the day.  If they break a leg before an event, they have backup photographers on call that will fill in for them so their client isn't left high and dry.  A professional has a contract and honors it, while an amateur doesn't need to honor anything because there's no risk or reward involved except personal fulfillment.

Hopefully this helps outline some of the major differences between an amateur and professional photographer.  Is there anything I left out?  What do you think is the difference between an amateur and pro?  Leave your thoughts in the comments!

Brooklyn Blossoms - Desktop Images

posted on: May 1, 2014

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Over the weekend, and before our record breaking rainfall of 5+ inches in one day, I set out to capture as many spring flowers as possible while enjoying the Cherry Blossom Festival at Brooklyn's Botanical Gardens.  The delicacy of spring blooms, especially on trees, are often a fragile and fleeting encounter, easily washed away by a day of spring rains.  In fact there weren't many cherry blossoms open yet, but plenty other flowers were in full bloom.  What better way to freshen up your desktop for spring that to add a little bit of nature and color to your computer screen?  Feel free to grab one of these images for your own workspace!

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