many things

Facebook: Photo sharing and premium accounts

The IPO is only one of the many things that are changing rapidly on Facebook. People are starting to point out that there's a huge problem at the very core of Facebook: It's an ad-driven site. And like all ad-driven sites, it has an enormous problem: People are so ridiculously blind to online advertising, that even with the incredible possibilities of putting your adverts right in front of the people who would, in theory, be interested in them, you're barking up the wrong tree. Online advertising, quite simply, is working less and less, and eventually the advertisers are going to realise this, and take their advertising spend and using it differently.

Facebook knows this. They are run by clever people, and post-IPO Facebook has plenty of money to hire more clever people. They've seen this one coming for a long time. And they're nearly ready with their response.

Premium accounts & photo sharing

In parallel with the bottom falling out of the advertising market, there are a few sites that are positively thriving; and many of them are photo- and video related. Vimeo, Flickr and 500px have all gone the free-then-premium-account route, and are making quite a lot of money in the process.

So, premium memberships are one of the potentially incredibly lucrative things that Facebook could offer - but what can they offer, that people haven't yet been used to getting for free?

The core service of Facebook will always remain free: Status updates, events and invitations, and the ever-embarrassing stream of breakups and social drama will continue as it has.

Making sense of Instagram

The big shift is what has been starting to show up on Facebook in other avenues: That change will be premium accounts, and it's going to happen within the end of the year.

The brand new Facebook Camera and the recent Instagram acquisition simply don't make any sense in the larger context of Facebook... Unless there is also another change coming.

Instagram, especially, is one of the apps that has attracted a very large user base of mostly casual photographers. Not only that; but casual photographers who are willing to spend money. A perfect place to start building the brand new service, in other words.

Facebook, with only minor changes to their platform, will be a huge competitor to the Vimeo, Flickr and 500px platforms of the worlds; perhaps not for high-end photographers, but certainly for serious amateurs and semi-professionals who want a solid platform to show off their photography.

The benefit is obvious: When Facebook makes this leap, photographers and video-makers no longer have to invite their audiences to a separate site to view their work: You could simply invite your friends directly, from within the familiar walled garden that is Facebook.

Wanna join the competition fun?


In the spirit of Christmas, and good cheer, and giving, and not being grouchy, and trying not to tear out our hair with too many things to do, we thought that we’d give you an extra week to submit your photos to our December competition. This means that you now have until 29 December to snap a gorgeous photobook-winning portrait.

For the full details of the competition, have a look at the competition page, and then submit your portraits to our Flickr pool for our perusal.

Have fun!

Book review: How to Photograph Nudes Like a Professional

How to Photograph Nudes

Photographing people without any clothes on. It’s pretty popular. (Mmhmm, people really are interested in getting it right; Try Nude Photography is one of Photocritic’s most popular articles.) It takes lots of different forms and if you’re good at it, there’s money to be made from it. But, like many things, it can be hard to get right, which is why Ashley Karyl, a photographer with 25 years’ experience taking pictures of people wearing nothing, has published his book How to Photograph Nudes Like a Professional.

Wanna know what I thought of it? Sure? Okay then!

Technical, practical, and philosophical

At 328 pages, this book contains masses of information. It covers the technical: cameras, lenses, lighting, editing, and retouching. The merits of colour or black and white are compared. The superiority of digital over film is debated. It tells you everything you need to know about lighting a shoot with candles. And it gives you lots of post-processing information.

It looks at the practical: finding and working with models, comparing shooting on location with in a studio, makeup and hair, and printing. You get anecdotes about the models Karyl’s worked with as well as guidance to find the right model for the job. There are some very helpful tips for shooting on location. You’re reminded not to interfere with the makeup artists and hair stylists because they’re professionals, too.

It even gets philosophical and talks about photography as a medium and a profession. Some of his advice here doesn’t relate to the photography world alone, it is sound for anyone who works as a freelancer. (Yes, it reminded me when I was working past midnight that I ought to be in bed, or at least not working.)

And all of this is backed up by Karyl’s experience in the business.

Personal but not so practical?

It is aimed at amateurs who are on the verge of turning professional or professionals at the beginnings of their careers, but in many respects it reads much like Karyl’s autobiography. Karyl talks you through how he came to nude photography, how it has changed over the years, the people and the projects he’s worked on, and what he has experienced and learned through this. It’s full of anecdotes and observations which give the book a personal feel. In fact, he prefers to think of it as being a conversation with him because he didn’t want to write a step-by-step guide.

Unfortunately for me, this is where I think that the book falls down. It contains so much information that its largely unstructured and unsystematic form makes it unwieldy. A step-by-step guide might not be what he wanted to create, but his information still needs to be accessible to the reader. Karyl is a photographer, not a writer, and it shows. He has a great deal to relate and would have benefited from the guidance of a ruthless editor to help him express it all. Ironic, really, considering that he covers editing ones photos so extensively.

And despite it already being 328 pages, the book could do with more pictures. There are barren wastelands of pages with no images. It’s a book about photography, after all.

And finally

So what do I think overall? I want to like this book. I want the gems of information and the anecdotes to sparkle. I want an editor to take to it with a scalpel so it can live up to its potential. And I want more pictures.

How to Photograph Nudes Like a Professional, by Ashley Karyl. Available for download at at $29.