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Our Top 10 Blog Posts of 2021

From common photography website mistakes to the latest photo contest controversy and debating whether Instagram is still useful to photographers, c...

2021 has flown by. As vaccines rolled out and we all began to emerge from the pandemic, the photo industry began to bounce back. 

This year, we unpacked how the inauguration was photographed by seasoned pros, talked about *that* Bernie Sanders viral photo meme, raised eyebrows at the quality of Super Bowl coverage, outlined the limitations of one of the latest AI advances and debated the usefulness of Instagram for photographers after their announcement to focus on e-sales (and not photos). 

All the while we had ethical debates, like who should own photos of enslaved people, discussed how photography can help Indigenous people reclaim their identities and weighed in on Apple’s latest efforts to tackle child sex abuse imagery.

But let’s not forget our chats about the value of photo mentorship, tips for how to attract more clients with better visual storytelling, why LinkedIn can be your next secret weapon and what photo editors say you can do to stand out.

So much has happened this year, so check out our top ten blog posts of 2021 below and put your best foot forward toward 2022. 

5 Marketing Tactics Every Photographer Needs to Know

When it comes to marketing your photography, you’ll hear people talking about the importance of SEO and page ranking, the power of networking, debating whether to focus on Instagram or your portfolio website. It’s easy to get overwhelmed. How are you supposed to narrow down where to start? These five marketing pillars are here to help quiet the noise and get to work. 

Photos by Paul Kessel (L) and Tom Brenner (R)

Street Photography’s Snakes on a Train?

An image of a young mother in a short dress on a New York City subway raised ethical questions and the ire of some commentators on Twitter. Unlike the conversation around “newsworthy” images and the First Amendment, street photography often occupies a much creepier and ethically ambiguous space. But what exactly made this image so polarizing? 

A Retoucher Altered the Expression of Genocide Victims To Make Them Smile

In the mid-to-late 70s, the Khmer Rouge committed a heinous genocide in Cambodia that killed 25% of its population. The government infamously photographed many of these victims at Tuol Sleng, a school that was converted into a torture facility. Inexplicably, retoucher Matt Loughrey decided to colorize and alter the expression of some of the depicted victims of the Cambodian genocide into smiles, and as you might imagine, people were outraged.

New Rights-Managed Licensing Categories to Help You Earn More

Earn More with the Latest Version of fotoQuote + PhotoShelter

fotoQuote is the industry standard in pricing for rights-managed licensing and it’s built right into PhotoShelter to help you earn more. This year, we added 115 new licensing categories to the fotoQuote rights-managed pricing calculator and are breaking it all down for you.

A Student Plagiarized an African Artist. Then His Work Was Exhibited at the Milan Photo Festival.

In 2014, curator Simon Njami engaged Ethiopian artist photographer Aïda Muluneh to interpret Dante’s Inferno for an exhibition at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art entitled The Divine Comedy: Heaven, Purgatory, and Hell Revisited by Contemporary African Artists. Muluneh’s “The 99 Series” featured a model set against a light grey mottled background, with her body and face covered in white paint, and her hands dipped in red. In arguably the most iconic image, the model places her left hand against her cheek and her right hand on her chest, while three other red hands extend from outside the frame to grasp the model at various points.

On Twitter, the African Women in Photography account noticed a far too similar image created by an Italian photo student, Andrea Sacchetti, which was a part of a group exhibition at the 2021 Milan Photo Festival.

It’s indisputable that Sacchetti plagiarized Muluneh. The only problem? The Festival doesn’t seem to care…

10 Tips and Takeaways for Freelance Photographers

Making a living as a freelance photographer can be tough, but it’s always rewarding. You have the freedom to work for yourself and pursue your passions. However, navigating the world as a freelance photographer can be tricky and you might find yourself with more questions than answers.
We spoke with Tara Pixley, accomplished freelance photographer, photo editor, media scholar and NPPA’s current presidential appointee, to get her take on what freelancers can do to be successful in such a competitive market. 

10 Common Photography Website Mistakes (And How to Fix Them)

When it comes to websites, SEO is all important right? Wrong.

“Photographers first need to nail other aspects of their sites,” says website designer and PhotoShelter certified consultant Alex Vita. “That’s where I stand when it comes to SEO. I know the power of SEO, but not at the expense of huge user experience issues and mistakes.”

Before you focus on improving your page ranking, you need to make sure your website is easy to navigate, features great photos and a great user experience. Without that, your SEO efforts will largely be futile. Check out our top ten website mistakes and find out how to fix them.

On the Depiction of Africans in Photo Contests

In November, Antonio Aragón Renuncio won £10,000 and the Environmental Photographer of the Year 2021 award for his image of a toddler lying in the ruins of a dilapidated building in Ghana. His image along with other winners were published on the BBC and The Guardian, causing quite the ruckus on Twitter. 

As critics chimed in, two Black photographers, UK-based Shaun Connell who runs TheBlkGaze and Ghana-based Nana Kofi Acquah, grabbed our attention. Both were outspoken on negative depictions of Africans and the way the contests and the media continue to award photos that perpetuate colonialist stereotypes and sat down for interviews. Here’s what they said. 

How Magnum Photos’ Jonas Bendiksen Nearly Fooled the Entire Industry

When Magnum photographer Jonas Bendiksen fabricated a photo project, an eagle-eyed Benjamin Chesterton (@duckrabbitblog) spotted some holes in the story. Then, the intentionally deceptive tale unraveled. Intrigued? So were we.

You’re Using Your Ring Light Wrong

As the COVID-19 pandemic forced vast swaths of the population to resort to video conferencing, many people purchased supplemental lighting – and often ended up purchasing ring lights without understanding how they work. But if you learned your ring light skills from an influencer, chances are you’re using it incorrectly. Here’s how to right the wrong. 

From everyone at PhotoShelter, we’re looking forward to creating a happy, healthy and successful 2022! To dive deeper into our blog content from this past year, check out our blog archive and follow us on Twitter @photoshelter

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