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What Do You Care About? Let's Talk!

Published by Jen Tse · August 3rd 2011

All of us here at 500px are passionate photographers just like you. While discussing our own reasons for taking pictures, we realized that not only do we share a love for photography, but we also care deeply about certain issues specific to photographers.

What is a manifesto? As defined by Merriam-Webster, it's "a written statement declaring publicly the intentions, motives, or views of its issuer". We'd like to invite the 500px community to participate in a discussion on various topics, starting with your manifesto as a prompt: What's your personal manifesto—why do you take photos, and for whom?

From there, we'd like you to voice your opinions on whatever else you care about in your profession or hobby that others (i.e., non-photographers) might not understand or appreciate. There are many, many ideas to possibly touch upon:

Appreciation of photography as work: Do you feel that photos are undervalued because technology has made images are so ubiquitous? What else do you feel clients, editors, and people who look at photos need to understand?

Payment and pricing for your work: What price is fair for gigs, prints, and assignments? Do you find it difficult to make a living as a photographer? How can we try to increase the perceived value of our work and make things easier for ourselves?

Shooting rights: Have you been harassed about shooting something when it was perfectly within your rights to do so? Is the awareness of photographer's rights important to you? What actions could the photographer community take to make these rights known, and/or to protect themselves?

Copyright and a user's respect (or lack thereof) for the limitations it places on the use of your photos: Do we still own our work after it's been published online? How can photographers protect themselves and their photos, or take legal action (and win) when their copyright is ignored? Is there a better way to find and bring image-stealers to justice? How can we avoid being taken advantage of through loopholes and legal grey areas?

Altering images and journalistic integrity: Where do we draw the line when it comes to publishing altered photos? What amount of processing or editing would be considered enough to obscure the "truth"? To what standards should commercial photographers and photojournalists adhere, and what rules should we be allowed to bend?

...etc, etc, etc.

Hopefully we can get a conversation rolling. Leave a comment (or two, or three) with your thoughts!

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Albert Mares  almost 3 years ago
I realize I am in the learning stages and my photos are not as dramatic as many I have seen, never the less, I have seen many many photos that have been photo shopped. On in particular which depicted rocks in fog in front of the Golden Gate Bridge. I was just there and there is no landscape like that there. Many other photos have been enhanced and doctored. This is all fine, yet my only question is, Are Photo Shopped photos allowed ? Thank you, and I would appreciate your views.
Shelby Lewis  almost 3 years ago
I'm steadily moving away from an end product (a photo to show, sell, share) and finding my main goal to be an intimate, connective experience with my subjects. I'm professionally trained as a musician (baroque trumpeter) and a designer (architect)... and all those things come to bear in my work... but in the end, for me, the emphasis on a photo "product" leaves something missing.

I ran a studio for several years. I shot weddings, seniors, portraits, concerts, art, you name it. Anything to pay the bills.

Yet, the sheer volume of imagery surrounding me (and everyone else) always seemed to add a competitive bent to image-making that I found (usually) unnecessary and excessively oppressive. By 2009 I was growing pretty weary of the whole situation... and then the sudden and tragic loss of a very close loved one in December 2009 brought everything into perspective. Somewhere along the way the importance of the entire "journey" as a photographer was lost amidst all the concern about the destination (greatness? success?).

So here I am, retooling. I've begun planning on shooting intimate 1-on-1 sessions that begin with coffee or maybe wine... maybe a meal... and steadily lead to an intense but unswervingly relaxed session with me on one end, and RZ with an Aptus in the middle, and my subject on the other end. What comes from it is the experience of making art together as opposed to a product-dictated time slot that I've filled with yet another "client". I'm hoping that, in due time, the experience of "sitting" with (not for) me leads to the ability shoot these sessions regularly as I find them as good for my soul as anything else.

I'm steadily coming to believe this mode of thinking is applicable whether your subject is a person, a landscape, an animal, and so forth.

I guess you could say my manifesto is: (loosely) to establish a connection with my subjects such that the photos that arise from the situation are merely a by-product of the experience... the connection... and not the reason for the experience. (I have almost no photos on 500px yet... but here is one that begins to show the connective ease that I'm working towards: http://500px.com/photo/1449876)

Cheers! Shelby

Jen Tse  almost 3 years ago
Wow, thanks for the responses everybody, keep 'em coming! Lots of inspiring words and interesting ways of looking at something we all do.

I'm reading every comment and making notes of your opinions/manifestos for something cool to be published later...stay tuned ;)

Sam Coran  almost 3 years ago
If not Photography, there is nothing else for me. I have not graduated College and on my first job i saved up enough money so i can buy my own DLSR so i can show my parents and my friends back home (Philippines) how life in the UAE is through my lens. I used to work as a receptionist for a Fitness Club and every time i get some free time to browse the internet, i made sure that i check on all things about photography. I started posting photos that i took of friends in Social sites until i got a lot of clients asking for a session. When my network grew, i even got to teach a few people as well how to use a camera. Eventually after everything that has happened, i fell in love with photography. It's my connection to the world and without it i feel worthless in society. I make photos to be connected with people.

Sisco Rubies  almost 3 years ago
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Alessandro Casagli  almost 3 years ago
free your API and protect us from misappropriation and unfair use/ photo stealing
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Robert Wood  almost 3 years ago
I love learning. I love getting out and shooting the best. That is where it is at for me. Using my eye to create a good foundation. To me, it is art. I love and have a passion for it that is insatiable, it seems. I love sharing my photos with others and getting feedback. That is important, but if I never had the feedback, I'd still be out shooting every chance I could.
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Robert Wood  almost 3 years ago
Hello Everyone,

I love taking photos first and foremost. Second is the processing, if there is any. Third, but not the least, I love sharing them with anybody who will look.

I was in the journalism field for 30 years, but not as a photographer. In journalism you do need to keep to a standard of realism when covering a news story. There are stories where art can take over and processing can run loose, but you need to know the difference so you keep your journalistic integrity intact.

As far as processing with Photoshop or otherwise, I look at it as art, therefore whatever I create as art is my judgment alone. If someone doesn't like it, that is their prerogative. I've noticed over and over again how one photo of mine is loved by one person and passed over by the next. Another note, when entering a contest that iuries the entries, I often find my favorite entry often does not get picked, but other photos of mine are selected. Art is subjective, so to say it isn't photography is a personal choice in my opinion. One last idea. I used to hate over saturated HDR photos because they looked too much like cartoons, or animation. However, as I did more and more HDR, the more tolerant I became of what I used to call over processed photos. I just decided it was better to remember that art is whatever the artist wants it to be. I can't say something is not art, I can only truly say, it's just not my cup of tea. I don't care for rap music, but it is still music, it's just not my kind of music. ‘capisci?'

I have a passion for photography and learning is probably just as important, if not the most important of everything I do. I cannot learn enough and I love trying new things. I think growth leads to experimentation that helps me become a better photographer. I always want to learn new techniques and see what other photographers do to create their best images. I love the in-camera skills the most. If you can get it there, you are a great student and photographer in my opinion. The rest is just more fun.

Get out and shoot!

Your buddy,


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Peter Visima  almost 3 years ago
Sorry for the multiple posts. I had error messages when posting. Apologies to all.
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Peter Visima  almost 3 years ago
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Peter Visima  almost 3 years ago
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Peter Visima  almost 3 years ago
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Peter Visima  almost 3 years ago
Photography has been a life-long passion of mine. I learned this passion from my father who was a professional photographer in Sweden and worked as a skilled custom black and white darkroom technician here in Canada for almost 40 years. I am blessed with having some of the best photographs of me as a child because my father knew what he was doing behind the lens. Thank you to Rolleiflex and all of my father's 2-1/4" negatives which I still have. I remember at a very early age visiting where he worked and seeing the magic of a print develop in some strange liquid with some bizarre safelights…it was truly an amazing bit of alchemy to witness.

I photographed semi-professionally for many years doing wedding photography on weekends. Old school: Mamiya RB67 with a Metz 402 flash. No auto-focus, no auto-exposure, no auto anything! The studio I worked for gave us 5 rolls of film to shoot a wedding=50 shots. Every shot had to count!

Fast forward to today and I photograph for myself. I have no desire to make money from my photography because I shoot to share my images with family and friends. I love making slide shows of my latest vacation and trust me, I try very hard not to make them boring.

Today's digital cameras and the marriage of workflow using computers such as an iMac now add such an additional dimension to the entire creative process. I love where the technology has taken us thus far and where we are headed.

I have a profound respect for true professional photographers. Today it is so difficult to make your sole source of income from photography and as we all know only a very few can make a decent living doing this.

What is my manifesto? I love to create images and challenge myself technically and creatively. But the sharing of my images is of prime importance to me. Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and 500px have given me new avenues for friends and family to critique my work. I love my life-long hobby of photography.

Andrey Ospishchev  almost 3 years ago
Passion for photography, traveling and fishing gave me from his father. I do not regret it. For me, photography - it's fun and enjoyment, as a tasty mouthful of wine, an interesting book or beautiful music. I like the whole process - from choosing a subject to the resulting printout. I'm just learning, gaining mastery of the masters though. I want to become a professional photographer and perhaps passion is to generate income.
I welcome the processing of pictures, but only if it is appropriate. Photographer as an artist. He has his eyes on the world around us.
I do not mind if my photo is used in blogs and I have been told about it. But against without my permission if used for commercial purposes.
I like the pictures of different genres, but not violence.
Sorry for my English.
Dru Stefan Stone  almost 3 years ago
A lot of questions and they are all good. My "manifesto" or philosophy for all my art is that it should be evocative. A fuller explanation is here http://bit.ly/pTdIKM
I definitely think that the PERCEPTION of the value of photography is diminished by the onslaught of photographs in the digital world, but the real value of photography is not. The sheer pleasure derived from both the taking and viewing of photographs should be something that stems from the inside where the real value of photography is felt, that is something that does not diminish over time nor with an onslaught of prolific photographers. Thankfully this world is filled with many people who have different and eclectic views, feelings, likes and dislikes, it allows for the vast creativity that the world of photography holds. Life evolves as does the ability to make money from your craft. You have to be able to adjust to the changes and success is found in the ability to do so. That being said I still find people do not understand the time, materials and costs of being a photographer and expect it to be less because their camera cost them $100.00 and they take pictures in their time. Most people would not work for what a photographer/artist makes per hour unless they really love what they do, those in the industry, should understand this.
In this digital age, protect yourself. Don't upload large images without watermarks at least those images you expect to use to make money and register them at the copyright office for further protection by the law. Consider your watermark free advertising, put your web URL on it!
Image altering is fine, as long as it is posted as art and not as photojournalism. While I believe that you are editorializing any situation by choosing what you put within a frame and what you leave out the further altering of an image beyond basic exposure et al unless so stated would not even be photojournalism or documentation in my understanding.
Thanks for letting me rant in response, bur you did ask a lot of questions all at once! :)
Rj Dollen  almost 3 years ago
I don't think that the tools in your hand or the kind of work you do really have much to do with the underlying motivations of any human. Even a photographer :) Everyone wants to be appreciated, challenged, make a difference and be recognized for what they do. Just having the technical savvy to accomplish a great image isn't that impressive anymore. Anyone can get digital camera and point it at a pretty girl, stoic mountain or a famous person and make a picture. Capturing images, music, moments, sounds and situations all comes down to telling a story. I like to think of my photography and video work as a life brand. Just like a biker would get a Harley Davidson tattoo on their arm or an Apple user is as loyal as a dog. It all comes from a genuine place and ultimately answers that famous question "what would you do if you knew you could not fail?" I didn't get out of bed today to make money with my camera. I got out of bed today to be creative and a little better than the day before.
Shiaoshiao Chen  almost 3 years ago
I find it most rewarding when someone enjoys my photos. Like Daniela said, I won't lose sleep over someone putting my photo on their blog, but it'd nice for them to let me know first anyway :). I liked taking pictures during my high school years, and found capturing "moments" satisfying. Especially spontaneous ones, haha. As a Student who wants to pursue a career in International Relations, I hope the be able to capture a moment as a means to help me document the things I experience in life.
Sisco Rubies  almost 3 years ago
I'm not a pro and I take pics to relax myself.
I like photography but massive using of cs5 annoys me.
My dream is taking benefits from my photos. Meanwhile, I'm enjoying every single shot I do.
Colin Delehanty (inactive)  almost 3 years ago
Photos can serve the same purpose as a map giving others a first person view into the location they aspire to visit. Normally before I visit a climbing location I look for directions and pictures of the features I plan to visit. A good photo from the summit of a peak will get me psyched and also warn me of what I'm up against. Recent pictures are always more informative than outdated ones. I think value is found in a photo when the person viewing it shares common interests with the photographer.
Caterina Gualtieri  almost 3 years ago
Well I'm not a pro photographer but I'm trying to make profits with my photographs.
My manifesto is to represent feminine body without vulgar poses or skimpy dress trying to erase the clichè of "women as object".
It started like a passion and I hope I'll make it a job :)
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Anton Antonov  almost 3 years ago
@Justin Green Don`t worry if you do not want your pictures fell into the selection, so you will never go in my fresh digest
Keith Bloemendaal  almost 3 years ago
I am only beginning to take images, I use only my 8MP camera on my Droid Incredible 2, and I edit using only Droid apps, my reason for being here is simple: I love looking at images I consider to be art (which is almost anything right now), and I want to learn more.

This is a hobby to me but I have mad respect for it as a profession....

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John Arnold  almost 3 years ago
Eeek too many questions in this blog post. I'll take just the first one. I shoot for me alone. My measure of success is getting something I think is worthy of hanging on the wall. I try many different styles of photography because I OCD and want to try *everything*. I don't believe photography has been undervalued but I do think the increased availability of images has greatly increased standards. I can see how that might be very upsetting or threatening to people who've been in the business a long time.
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Daniela Duncan  almost 3 years ago
Interesting questions and wow, so many relevant and different topics at once!

I take pictures because I LOVE to – I’m afraid I’d die if I had to stop. And I don’t discriminate; I enjoy photographing almost everything.

Pricing and value - as a Getty Images contributor I was surprised to learn that the best pictures are not the bestsellers – on the contrary. The most a customer ever paid for a single picture of mine was around $650 – a bank in Germany purchased a very simple beach shot (I almost didn’t even post it o Flickr because I thought it was so bland) – that picture was also licensed other times... The picture that made me more money was a very simple rose capture, that capture sold multiple times and made me over $1,300; and one of the pictures of mine that sell more often (shockingly) is a portrait of a pigeon taken with a P&S.

Seeing my pictures on blogs without my permission annoyed me, but it comes with the territory, I won’t start a battle with a teenager blogger or lose sleep over it… Sometimes I even like the way they use it, but it would be nice if people were more educated and knew they can’t just take someone’s work without permission (many think it’s ok to just add a link back). Oh well, this can’t be completely avoided if you put your work out there and your work is interesting or pleasant to people. And you can’t grow if you’re afraid to put your work out there. -Would take action if they used my images commercially or on a commercial site, though.

Shooting rights – you can take pictures of pretty much anything and anyone if you’re in a public place – but lots of security guards and even policemen don’t know that, which has to be frustrating for many photographers. As far as people…Personally, I don’t take pictures of anyone who doesn’t want to be photographed. I just don’t enjoy it - it’s the connection I enjoy when photographing people. I can admire street/ candid photography when the subject is portrayed in a cool, favorable, artistic light, though.

Copyright – you don’t lose copyright of your images after you make them public or license them to others, you still retain them if you’re the author - unless you give away authorship in writing. Though it is not absolutely necessary, it’s safer to register your Copyright officially: http://www.copyright.gov/eco/

Altering – Depends. In my book: it’s ok to remove pimples, soften lines, improve skin tone, make minor adjustments to present your model/subject in the best light possible… not ok to distort someone into looking unbelievably thin or like a wax mannequin. It’s ok to add textures, remove distracting objects, create beautiful composites and surreal images as a way of artistic expression, as a work of art. But not ok to alter the images if you’re presenting them as a photojournalism.

There - my two cents on the matter(s). Keep the interesting discussions coming :)

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Shawn Colborn  almost 3 years ago
I enjoy taking pictures for myself and if others enjoy them, that is wonderful. I have sold 3 prints so far and have no idea on how much to charge for them. One of the shots was of the Philadelphia skyline and the other 2 were sports shots. I primarily focus on landscapes and street photography, while trying to respect my subjects. I have had a portrait of my wife used for a pornography site and I tried my best to get them to take it down, but with no funds for an attorney, I felt there was not much I could do and she was not naked (in fact she was fully clothed). The Creative Commons does not seam like a bad option to get my work out there, but I do not want any alteration to the original work. I love 500px and the community! Cheers everyone!
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Valerio Berdini - Live on 35mm  almost 3 years ago
As a concert photographer I like the challenge of not having control of what is happening in front of me. I can't set the lights, I can't pose the subject, I can't remove those microphone poles. I have to do with what I have, and I have to do it in "three songs, no flash".
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Simon Gelfand  almost 3 years ago
Exposure & Feedback, as I personally have only started getting in to photography
Luis Figuer  almost 3 years ago
I take my pictures because I love to remember, and for as sweet as our memories are, I rather see them on a photograph.
Our minds are a complex thing that may or will fail eventually and I think it is very important to remember, I wish I had more pictures of my Mother, or from my childhood, so I want to grow old and see pictures that remind me of moments that should have been forgotten otherwise. I am a very passionate and a very easily moved to tears 35 year old man that has been deeply in love with photography ever since I can remember, I hope to grow old and be proud of my photographs and never to forget. I have always been afraid to forget...
Arpita Dixit  almost 3 years ago
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Arpita Dixit  almost 3 years ago
I like to relive the moments captured in the pics, be it friends and family, wildlife or places I visit!!!
Simon Brown  almost 3 years ago
I take photos because I like to see a different perspective on things. Or like to share an experience by bringing an emotion to a photo.

With the increase in available technology and the popularity of cameras whether it be mobile phone, compact camera or otherwise, I think this has definitely had an effect on photography. In some ways this has forced photographers to become more creative to find that unique perspective but on the other hand, because there is so much information nowadays, especially with the internet - maybe photos are less "special". Just a thought...

Justin Green  almost 3 years ago
I Dont want my photos used on a blog without my permission.
Mark Kalan  almost 3 years ago
That I enjoy my photos, both while making them and while viewing them - that is ALL that matters to me.
Justin Green  almost 3 years ago
I Dont want my photos used on a blog without my permission.
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Chris Lounsbury  almost 3 years ago
I'll bite.

I'm not a professional photographer, I don't make a profit off photography, only breaking even on prints at this point. So I'm less concerned about the marketing/financial aspect and more concerned with artistic exposure.

Coming from someone who is still attempting to master a craft, getting my work out there for simple exposure is a big reason many of us flock to sites like 500px. It also helps to be in the company of such esteemed professionals, because that gives us hobbyists motivation to get better.

So I'd say exposure is what I care about, and more opportunities to engage with veteran photographers willing to both display and discuss their art.

Paul Morrison  almost 3 years ago
My Manifesto is to improve other elements of my life style. I realized that the reason I enjoy photography, is that 'photographers eye'. You start to look at everything differently, you want that unique view nobody else noticed. This applies to my career, and several other elements in my life. Shooting Photos has trained me to solve my problems differently, to look at everything in a new way.

Similar to the concept of 'Designers are not actually Designers', most Photographers aren't Photographers. Appreciation of photography, and all other forms of web media have definitely declined. Everyones a hobbyist who goes by the name of 'Designer', 'Photographer', etc.

I have no idea, I'm not living off my Photography. In fact, it costs me instead.

As for Altering images, I'm originally a large-scale-art-designer, not Photographer. Photoshop is like my left hand, Photography is 80% post-work in my eyes. But that's just me, and I'm certain there will be some SOOC advocates here. As for Photo-Journalism, anything beyond sharpening / chromatic aberration fixes / slight level/curves changes shouldn't be allowed. Pasting together soldiers is not journalism.

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