Picture Panics: or how to get free pix without being sued!

I was rushing about the class the other day, trying to get a load of potential journalists to meet a deadline for their qualification and they were looking for pictures. They were creating a magazine on Mac in InDesign. They should have taken their own photos, some had, but some were hunting around looking for generic photos they could use, nothing iconic, just a landscape or two, a photo of couples for the agony column – well you can guess where this went. I did warn them of course, I have told them about copyright, I have told them that I have some respect for copyright. Whatever!! They had downloaded a picture that knew it was being reproduced and simply wouldn’t copy or insert. In the past I have been asked for £300 pounds for a single image and a mate got stung for £700 fine, for using a photo commercially that he had cleared, he thought, with iStockphoto – but they are now owned by Getty so all bets were off. If you want to frighten yourself just google “Getty Letter” and read on. “Royalty Free” doesn’t mean free. Starting prices even at £1 are too much for educationalists. Education can’t afford to pay for anything! Aside from anything else it is public money and we can’t run around spending it on pix that we could take ourselves and that, of course, is the way it’s going to go. I understand that photographers want, or need to make money, but the argument is the same for them as it was for musicians. Recently, on a Radio 4 interview, Mick Jagger, conceded that the years between 1970 and 1997 were good years for musicians to make money, but before then and now after, they have to struggle. Now they compete for attention amid the plethora of easily distributed talent to make money and get noticed. Photographers, in fact any one who makes creative content, may well find they suffer the same fate. Don’t get me wrong, I have some sympathy for copyright holders, I am one myself, but there is such a thing as pricing yourself out of the market. No doubt it would be a breach of copyright for me to show you the Radio Times front cover I worked on in the 1983 that featured Jonathan Pryce in an early television role as Martin Luther, a striking photo, taken by Ric Gemmell and placed on the cover because I and others fought for it to be there, partly by getting good photos commissioned in the first place. The photo did a lot of people’s careers a lot of good, sadly not mine, but to stay on the right side of copyright, I’ll keep my copy in the filing cabinet and leave you this link. Now we may not all be able to sing or be in a band but we can all take photos, so if you’re looking for that background for your .ppt or to do dress up a handout or electronic resource, get your camera, or your phone and if you can a few .apps  and take a photo and get going – here’s a few I prepared earlier.

Ordinary doggy taken by me on iPhone

Ordinary dog cropped using Photoshop for mobile and cartooned in ToonPAINT iPhone app.

Pretty flower - why pay more?

Next door's cat - tooned up and separated from ordinary doggy!

There’s app for this next thing that does fascinating stuff to pics and needs a steady hand!

Tap somewhere light and take photo - you get this,

Stage 1: Tap somewhere light!

Stage 2: Tap somewhere dark!

Tap somewhere dark and you get this!

The app called Pro HDR combines them and you get this - kind of archaic!

With this app economically named “TiltShiftGenerator” (which fakes photographic shallow depth-of-field) you can make things smokey or blurred like this

Ordinary photo of tacky souvenir!

A little circle dragged over the photo and a little blur gets this.

... or this

Rather than suffer the backgrounds of Microsoft for .ppt take a pic and set as background …

Stone background

Mess about with brightness or make into watermark.

Hey look a Blue Skies thinking!

...and if you don't like my photos...

If you’re not in the mood for the DIY then there’s always Flickr Creative Commons, or a site I like  – Morguefile a resource for the hassle free photo.

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