Business Trends
Finding New Media Markets For Your Work

Photos © 1999, Maria Piscopo, All Rights Reserved (original image in color)

New media technology provides one of the most important industry changes in the photography marketplace. It is important because it creates many new job opportunities for photographers who know how and where to look for the work. It is important because new technologies, client mergers, and the proliferation of stock photography sales have besieged the assignment photography marketplace. The answer to having less work is to find out where the work is now, not simply complain about it going elsewhere!

The first step is to shift from thinking of photography as an isolated discipline. It is now a team effort. For the new media markets, this means a photographer working as part of a group of image-makers. It means working with other creative professionals including graphic artists, computer artists, and filmmakers.

Tony Luna and Harry Liles co-founded New Media Marketplace for this new market. Luna teaches a lecture on this topic, titled, "Visual Content for the New Millennium." Some of their recent clients include Bozell Advertising, Johnson and Johnson, and DePuy-Ace. Their affiliates have worked on movie projects including True Lies, Flubber, The X-Files Movie, The Parent Trap, and Titanic. To find out how to get started, we interviewed Luna for his advice on developing new media clients.

Shutterbug: What is "new media?"

Tony Luna: "New media" is a catchall term that generally applies to computer generated and/or manipulated images. Because it is an evolving term it can apply to a wide spectrum of media including photo retouching and photocomposition to sophisticated visual effects. The exciting thing about "new media" is that it is constantly creating itself as innovative applications arise out of new and old technologies. The interesting thing to keep in mind is that technologies which were originally developed for use in surveillance, or space exploration, or scientific research, etc. have been refashioned to create software which artists have embraced and turned into new forms of expression. When these forms of expression gain acceptance by the viewing public they generate new markets and, therefore, new job opportunities. One example would be fractal technology which had its roots in mathematical games, then was used in intelligence gathering, and now is used to create mathematical models of images which can be manipulated and compressed for transmission over phone lines worldwide without corrupting the original image.

SB: How did you get started in this direction?

TL: From my own point of reference I was "bitten" by the new media bug in the mid-1980s. I was part of a panel discussing the impact of technology on the business of photography. I was amazed back then at the doomsday attitude that some of the photographers were expressing. They were fretting that robots were going to take away their jobs, and that "programs" were going to rob the soul of photography. At some point I had an insight as to what it might have been like to be in Paris in 1836 listening to artists decrying their fate as they worried that their jobs would be wiped out as a result of the new image taking machine invented by Daguerre. The point is that you embrace the new technology and infuse it with your own special point of view or you become the best of the last remaining artists and continue to make a living. In either case you are contributing to the collective visual consciousness and you are sharing your vision.

SB: What part does each person on the creative team play and who does what?

TL: One of the most intriguing factors of involving yourself in the creation of new media is that it is so highly collaborative. The photographer who involves himself in new media must be able to express his vision to a wide array of team players. Your images may be used in traditional print, then be put on a web site, and on to a CD-ROM and eventually broadcast through developing media. As an image capturer and image enhancer you have to be conversant with an ever-changing landscape of applications. With these shared responsibilities come the need for new media producers who can make sure a job stays focused and all the players are on the same page. You will have to spend more time in preproduction to make certain that you are creating your images in such a way that they will work seamlessly in the final products. I get calls from people who have started on projects, had visual assets sent in from various suppliers, and now have stacks of floppy, Zip, and Jazz disks, flat art, and other media and none of it will track with the design the technical staff wanted to employ. To make these elements work together our industry needs technical supervisors with an aesthetic sense and artists who can talk to the technical people.

SB: How does a computer literate photographer get started?

TL: I encourage photographers, filmmakers, and graphic artists who are interested in getting into this field to go back to the basics of why they got into their art form. The technology is another tool to explore your unique way of seeing and capturing the world. Don't get romanced by a technological "look"--that is too fleeting. Sooner or later that look will be obsolete. But rather look for ways to reach more people more effectively using a technological palette. The hardware and the software mean nothing without the soul you infuse into it. First of all you still have to tell a story, and secondly you have to have that story touch on the human condition. That is something that no one can program.

SB: What can you recommend for the photographer who is less computer savvy?

TL: Be aware. Look for images that touch you. Find out how they were created. Ask questions. One of the greatest things I have seen in the new media is that people are sincerely interested in helping each other. When I first started in the 1970s people were guarded, insulated, about their craft as though you were going to steal their ideas and ideas were too precious to be revealed. But nowadays we need each other more than ever and there is a change of heart in the developing industries. As a result there is more innovation, more risk taking, more choice. Overall I believe this to be the real beauty of the new media and the new artist--we are not just creating new art forms, we are creating new ways of applying our craft.

Note: New Media Marketplace is based in Burbank and their web site is at: www.newmediamarketplace.com.

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