An Open Letter About Sexism, Feminism, and the Industry That I Love So Much

My name is Susan Stripling, and I’m a wedding photographer based in New York. This is an open letter about sexism, feminism, the industry that I love so much, and everything in between… I have been a wedding photographer since 2002. I was 24 years old when I started my business. I took out a loan to start my business. A small one. I remember the man at the bank talking to me like I was a child when I was setting up the paperwork. He told me that if it didn’t work out, I could always “stay home
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I Shot a Hurricane Irma Photo That Went Viral, and I Wasn’t Paid a Dime

My name is Michael Sechler, and I’m a photography enthusiast based in Sarasota, Florida. I recently shot a Hurricane Irma photo that went viral and was used by media all over the world… and I wasn’t paid a dime. Here’s why. Firstly, I’d like to say that although I am not a professional photographer, I am definitely an enthusiast and somewhat familiar with things like usage rights. A few days ago, a few friends and I were doing some last minute preparations for Hurricane Irma. While we were out, we noticed some objects out in the bay where the
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Dear Canon, What Happened To Your Innovation?

Dear Canon, You and I have had a very, very long friendship that has lasted many years and many, many generations of cameras. Ever since my first camera purchase, you have been my brand of choice. I still have my original Canon IXUS 40 and multiple generations of full frame and APS-C SLRs going back as far as the 450D, which was released in March 2008. I own more Canon lenses than I know what to do with including many “L” series lenses which I firmly believe are the best lenses on the market. I have recommended your cameras and
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The Importance of the Photograph

My father passed away a month ago, and his birthday was on August 31st. I’m letting that sink in. Death is never easy and for those that have lost a parent, it has a certain significance. The person who has been there your entire life is now gone. There are things that I am now thinking about that hardly, if ever, crossed my mind. The biggest being that I am mortal and I too will meet the same fate some day, and the other, related to photography, is the importance of the photograph. I am camera shy. This has been
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I Just Had 20,000 Slides Returned from Sports Illustrated

Ever since I was a kid, I loved saving stuff. I saved all my baseball cards in rubber band stacks in shoe boxes. I collected stacks and stacks of 7-Eleven Slurpee baseball cups in 1973. Every San Francisco Giants yearbook and media guide going back to the early 1960s? Yup, got them too. I have a Mason jar of every ticket stub from every sporting event I attended as a kid in the 70s and 80s with the results written on the back. I saved every credential I have been issued to cover a sporting event as a professional photographer
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Photographers: Beware Violent Antifa Protestors

This past Sunday, I photographed the “Rally against Hate” protests in Berkeley, California, which was organized to oppose a “Say No To Marxism” rally that had been planned. There was very little representation of the so-called alt-right at the park on Sunday. However, there were 100 to 200 Antifa (or anarchists, or whatever they are called) who showed up dressed in all black to the protest. Warning: This post contains images of violence and strong language. The vast majority of the people protesting were anti-hate, peaceful protesters. But this group of black clad masked protesters assaulted several photographers at
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Who Needs a Photo Permit in Nevada State Parks?

Nevada Law and the Nevada Administrative code have a simple definition of when you need to have a permit to shoot photos in their parks. It is based entirely on whether or not the pictures will be sold. Nonetheless, the policy of the Parks division is that anyone shooting pictures of a model is assumed to be doing “commercial photography” even when they have evidence to the contrary. After a lengthy discussion with both a park and the Deputy Administrator of the Parks Division, they have confirmed this interpretation. And it’s worse than just getting a permit; there is a
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A New Camera Just Came Out

There was a new camera that was just announced. It’s really good, apparently. It’s got more megapixels. A brighter screen. It can stack lots of images together. It does everything you’ve ever wanted. There will soon be images on websites taken with this camera (resized for the Internet) that folk will pore over and convince themselves that they can see a difference between those taken with the shiny new camera and those taken with their own drab old camera. There might be some really cool photos of the new camera itself, probably taken with the old camera. Or maybe you’ll
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Is This Eclipse Photo #FakeNews?

Much ado about nothing or a serious ethical breach of photojournalistic norms? A debate emerged on Facebook when freelancer and Pulitzer Prize winner Ken Geiger’s image appeared in the National Geographic Instagram feed and in a slideshow on the NatGeo website. The image was a composite of multiple images created in-camera that resulted in an photo that never existed because the eclipse was never positioned against the Tetons as depicted.

My Photo of Four Bikers, and the Power of Photography to Connect Us

While visiting Yosemite in June, I took this photo of 4 riders on the road. A couple of days later, I posted the photo on Reddit’s /r/pics. It made it to the Reddit front page with more than 40k upvotes and almost 600 comments. I saw that location many times on the Internet, and I wanted to add it to my portfolio. I drove up to Glacier Point, parked my car, and walked back a few turns to the place I had seen so many times in pictures. After setting up the tripod with my favorite composition, I started waiting
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Confessions of a Failed Eclipse Photographer

I’ve dreamed of seeing a total eclipse of the sun all my life. When I read there would be one on August 21st that passed dead-center over the town of Newberry, South Carolina, I was overjoyed. This was my chance. My wife and I had lived in Newberry in 2013. I had friends there. I had a place to stay. I wouldn’t need to pay $1,000 for a hotel. I had friends who owned Enoree River Vineyards and Winery (a slight plug for a great vineyard and great wine.) They were throwing a party for 300 people at their
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How NOT to be a Photographer: The Case of Tony Le-Britton

If you’re in a photography-related industry, I would highly recommend that you avoid working with photographer Tony Le-Britton, unless you would like to work with someone who has used other people’s images as his own, and would like to potentially be paid in eternal excuses. The short version of the story is: Tony has been caught stealing and using other photographers’ work as his own. He has also not paid me and others huge amounts of money for over a year. I don’t know who else he has screwed over, so I am speaking out. Learn from our mistake.
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I Biked Across the Canadian Rockies to Build a Photo Portfolio

I decided a while ago that for my high school graduation and summer trip, I was going to photograph the Canadian Rockies. I started pursuing landscape photography seriously a little over a year ago and wanted to build a photography portfolio. I had mostly been shooting cityscapes locally around my home in Toronto and wanted more than anything to visit Banff and Jasper National Parks, and include them in my new website. The biggest hurdle that stood in my way, however, was my ability to drive, or rather the lack thereof. At 17 years old, I did not have a
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How to Successfully Fail at Photography

Photography is a lot of fun. For the most part, it’s a solo pursuit where you are completely responsible for your own success or failure. But anyone can be a great photographer! Most people in the world are professional photographers now that phones are taking world-class, billboard-worthy images. If you want to stand out in this sea of photographers, you’re going to have to learn how NOT to swim. So here are some tips on how to become a successful failure in the photography age.

Let It Come Naturally

First time using a camera? Perfect! Nothing says talented like natural
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The Epitome of Cool: My Photos of the Late Baseball Star Darren Daulton

The past few hours of digging up and scanning my old files of MLB baseball star Darren Daulton have only made the pit in my stomach tighter. Sometimes looking through old pictures after someone’s passing is cathartic, but not now.
Portrait for the original 1991 Leaf Studio card set
We weren’t friends; we were workplace acquaintances. But in the skewed world of photographer-athlete relationships, there were few that required fewer words or involved as many knowing looks. Photographer-athlete relationships are complicated. We don’t talk to them every day like writers do. We work on the periphery basically unnoticed shooting the
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I Fell Victim to a $1,500 Used Camera Lens Scam on Amazon

I’ve been ordering used lenses for years and have never had a problem with any purchases. That is, until now. I recently ordered a $1,500 used camera lens from Amazon. The lens never showed up, and Amazon is refusing to return my money because they claim the tracking number shows that it was delivered to my address. Here’s the story of how I fell victim to this used lens scam. On June 29th, I ordered a used lens through Amazon Marketplace, and the seller’s name was “Lana’s Store”. The lens is a Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 II, which normally runs
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How I Shot a Photo Assignment in Zero Gravity

One of the greatest things about photography is the seemingly endless supply of new opportunities and new challenges. No matter how many “new” or “weird” or “difficult” experiences you’ve had as a photographer, you’ve never seen it all, and there’s always something unique about each project. Last summer, Smithsonian magazine Director of Photography Jeff Campagna contacted me about doing some work on the subject of scientific research conducted in zero-gravity conditions. I’d shot for the magazine previously, and it sounded like an interesting assignment. Little did I know, however, that when everything came together and it was time to do
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How I Saw the World Before and After I Became a Photographer

About two years ago, I used to go about my usual everyday life like most people do, not noticing all of the beauty around me. After I picked up a camera and started taking photos of my kids, I started to see the world in a whole new way. Once you start to see it, you can’t unsee it. I started to notice how light affected things, and how looking at something from a different perspective could change the whole scene. The whole world seems to be trying to tell us a story in the most beautiful and colorful display.
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I Gave Up Painting to Do Photography, And It Shows in My Work

Painting and photography are often considered similar artistic expressions. Henri Cartier-Bresson was a painter before he became a photographer, and became a painter again in his retirement. While his artistic sense informed his photography in terms of his ability to see the world in constantly changing light and compositional potential, he never considered photography as art. I can only wonder: if HCB had lived to see the full potential of digital and how it has afforded us the ability to paint and create with light as never before, might he have come to change his mind?

Brush Strokes

As a
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The Future of Photography: Thoughts on the Impact of Free Photos

We didn’t start Unsplash to reinvent an industry. We started Unsplash because we thought it might be useful. Unsplash is a community where anyone can share high-resolution photos for anyone to use freely. It began as a Tumblr blog with ten photos we had leftover from a photoshoot. Instead of letting our photos sit dead in a hard drive somewhere, we thought it would be better if they were put to use to move other creative projects forward. A freelance designer could grab an image to pitch a mockup or demo. An entrepreneur strapped for cash could put a website
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