my Burning Man 2009 photos are here

Share your pictures and video. Tell us about the sights, sounds, and scents, as well as the rumors and truths found at Burning Man.
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Tristan
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Post by Tristan » Wed Dec 16, 2009 1:31 pm

Risky wrote:How do other burners recoup costs for gifting pancakes, or pendants or rides on an mutant vehicle?
How about the use of a chill tent, DJ's compilations or producing laser/light shows?

I think the issue is that no one is guaranteed any recoup of any cost.

Thank you for posting your pics - I enjoyed your gift.
thanks, Risky! glad you liked my photos.

i gave a lot of other things at burning man. i gave free performances (like my land sailing with the big red streamers that many people true enjoyed watching and trying themselves for several years, see my photos here: http://www.flickr.com/search/?ss=2&w=18 ... ing&m=text ).

this was pure gifting, and i got nothing in exchange - not even free sex :) . well, in fact i got something really bad: in 2007 all my landsailing equipment got stolen at BM, $1500 worth of board, sails, masts and booms. yes, stolen, by some "burners" who came with tools and broke the cable that was securing my equipment to and anchor while i was not using it. all i got was a "police case number". that was the end of my windsailing gifting a BM :( as i did not have the heart to do that again.

yes, with the photos i took for many years, i think already give a lot back to the community, to BM ORG, to the artists and to the models, as you can see in the list i posted above. but unlike other artists, i feel that photographers like me are not given a fair opportunity to recoup the costs involved in providing those images, which are, as people say, and "invaluable gift to the community".
-- Tristan - http://www.playa-dust.com

actiongrl
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Post by actiongrl » Wed Dec 16, 2009 1:52 pm

But I need to repeat that this is not about us "not letting Tristan sell his prints" - he asked to do something new & unorthodox for us, that to my knowledge was not at all something a "lot" of people are engaging in -- we have only been asked a few times and have rarely ever granted permission, and my understanding of Flickr as a Pro subscriber for several years was that only I could buy copies of my own prints, not others.

And, I communicated then that his request was in an approval queue (decisions on commercial use are not just up to me) along with dozens of other photographers asking for dozens of different kinds of permission for distribution, and that as things became more unorthodox, we were working on some new solutions for such requests, but it was a rare permission level and I'd get back to him.

Then, when it became obvious that there was a bigger issue of solving the sheer volume of approving prints at this new volume and mass distribution/sale level, I started working on how to reanalyze and address this entire area of intellectual property, and how we can move forward with this evolving area of copyright given the circumstances we've set up on the playa for over 10 years to protect our participants. It's a very big change, not something that happens over night, which I've also explained to Tristan several times.

Next, I nvited him to an open forum discussion about this issue that we're trying to organize, with experts in the related fields, Burning Man photographers who sell their work, artists, participants, legal counsel, etc... to try to evolve things to the next level. Unfortunately, I've been sick, such that we've had to postpone that event until after the holidays, but it's a very important discussion to have.

It is not fair to characterize this as BUrning Man not letting you make money on your work or recoup your costs of shooting at the event. It's not about what kind of camera you're using, either - that's not my point. I feel i've been working pretty hard to get to a place that serves you AND our participants better, and I feel like you keep attacking us over our stance, in various forums, and it's very frustrating. Our policies have been clear about commercial use since long before you joined the Doc team, AND I'm working to try to change them to help you.

Look -- it is never good form to say you speak for others who are not present at a discussion, but: I work with hundreds of photographers every year, many of whom have been supported mightily by Burning Man in their efforts to sell their work - yes, Burning Man images. It's at least 1/4 of what I do all day long, and really, I could find you many a shooter who'd attest to the fact that we've been expedient and helpful in an approval process with them selling work in all kinds of ways.

So perhaps part of the problem is the way you keep categorizing us as out to persecute your work- when nothing could be further from the truth. We love your work and I know many others do too. That's not in dispute whatsoever - and I never once said getting good photos at Burning Man is easy! I've seen 'em all, and you're among the best - year after year there are some top shooters who are able to capture the magic, but it's definitely not easy. And it's not cheap.

It boils down to this: We have an overloaded system of personal review and interaction for such sales. That process absolutely requires revision, and so do our licenses. Right now there are conflicting opinions about whether the mass sale of prints counts as "commodification" and how artists' and subjects' rights should be attended to, and our site license's utility may be becoming outmoded in this evolution of digital photography on the web. (See blog post:http://blog.burningman.com/?p=4599_).

But still, it's BRC, and it's been privately held for years. So should you be able to sell someone else an inexpensive print without asking me, even if I'm wearing clothes, without a model release? What about pictures of my artwork, or a video of my performance? What if you make a "profit" (after all those photography expenses, I mean) - what's the right of the artist if your print of the Temple goes viral and is purchased in the thousands? These are the lingering questions I have since BRC's rules have long offered a process that helped to address some of those questions. Right now,w hat you're asking to do is forbidden by longstanding policies. I haven't said it's not time to talk about changing them -- but you're not giving me much of a chance to work with you on it!

I hope it makes sense that we want to take the time to come up with a better way forward. THat's why I sought to specifically include you in a conversation to collaborate on a solution that works better for photographers like you, Tristan, and still protects our culture in the way we've done for so long.

But it may not happen overnight - and it may have to wait until after Christmas . It's not just as simple as releasing all our former efforts to protect Burning Man into the ether.

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Tristan
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Post by Tristan » Wed Dec 16, 2009 2:34 pm

thanks actiongirl. i appreciate your honest answer above, and i understand that significant policy changes are not something usually made fast, since they involve many people from all sides.
actiongrl wrote: what's the right of the artist if your print of the Temple goes viral and is purchased in the thousands?
i wish!

but on the internet, "viral" things are usually youtube videos (e.g. surprise kitty ), sometimes photos (e.g. ) , but usually not something people actually buy, like photo prints. so revenues from viral things, if any, is done via advertising attached to it, and advertising revenues are generally extremely small (pennies) per view of the viral content.

the only BM thing that has gone viral is the expression "burning man" :)
-- Tristan - http://www.playa-dust.com

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Post by actiongrl » Wed Dec 16, 2009 2:55 pm

I really meant it that way, I've seen items for sale get passed around in this community enough to know that they can become memes & go viral. It sounds weird to say in those terms, but it's true.

I look forward to more. Right now I'm gonna bury my head back in this budget, but it sounds like I'd better get some cheese and crackers ready for a very lively conversation for all of us.

Thanks for what you do, Tristan.

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Post by eyeruh » Sun Jan 24, 2010 3:56 pm

actiongrl wrote: Look -- it is never good form to say you speak for others who are not present at a discussion, but: I work with hundreds of photographers every year, many of whom have been supported mightily by Burning Man in their efforts to sell their work - yes, Burning Man images. It's at least 1/4 of what I do all day long, and really, I could find you many a shooter who'd attest to the fact that we've been expedient and helpful in an approval process with them selling work in all kinds of ways.

Sorry if I'm beating a dead horse but since no one else had spoken up, I figured I would. :-)

I can't speak for anyone but myself but my limited experience shooting at BM seems to back up what Actiongrl's saying. I had no problem getting permission to sell prints after this year's Burning Man and I was never asked about the prices I would be selling prints at. My impression was that the method of sale & the content of the photos were the issues of concern not the price. My photos were all related to the temple build and contained no nudity so I wasn't exactly pushing the envelope but still, the process was relatively painless.

Having said that, I never asked about selling prints online and that *is* something I'd like to be able to do in the future. I'll try to offer a few arguments to balance out Actiongrl's concerns about commodification--

The argument about recouping losses seemed kinda lame to me at first because *everyone* who brings art to the playa loses money and time to it. At the same time, we know that people can't afford to throw money into these things year after year and we want to encourage art, so their communities help them by throwing fundraisers. This is generally considered totally kosher ... but it's probably not a viable option for most photographers.

The only option most of us have is to sell prints and please believe me when I tell you that few photographers are getting rich off of prints! Personally speaking, I can tell you that I didn't come close to recouping my losses selling prints locally in Austin after BM . . . but I made a lot of people very happy. Is it really so bad for me to make those prints available to people elsewhere? The Austin burner community is not all that big and we did fundraiser after fundraiser to make this year's temple go. Trying to get more money out of this small pool of people just isn't something I want to do.

I can certainly back up Tristan's claim that it's an expensive proposition--I have decent gear but none of it is professional enough to be weather-sealed. Keeping it all alive on the playa for 4 weeks was not easy or cheap! My cameras survived but all incurred at least minor damage and my camera case and tripod are kaput. All things considered, I had an amazing experience and I hope to go out and do it again but my finances aren't infinite so I have to figure out a way I can do it sustainably.

For anyone curious, the photos I received permission to sell as prints can be seen here: http://sevenstarphoto.com/temple/bm_permissions/

-- Ira

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Simon of the Playa
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Post by Simon of the Playa » Sun Jan 24, 2010 4:20 pm

i sold my ass to get to burning man...

http://www.lux666.com/photos/index.php? ... pgmPicture


ok, humor aside.

Tristan, I love your Photos, always have thru the years.

with that said, i think the BMorg has the difficult job of walking the razor's edge
between total control and a jumpin' jehosaphat free-for-all.

how to stop the icy pandemonium of extraneous wills?

im sorry, i couldn't help myself.

Now, how to stop the ever encroaching commodification that we've managed to avoid and virtually eliminate?

more gifting.

big gifts, little gifts, Patronage and Matronage and sharing.

its not about the money, nor should it ever be, it's just pieces of shitty ass paper.

whats more valuable, the Integrity of the festival, or money made from it, off of it, thru it?

i think you know the answer.
Frida Be You & Me

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Tristan
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Post by Tristan » Sun Jan 24, 2010 4:23 pm

My impression was that the method of sale & the content of the photos were the issues of concern not the price.

yeah, the method is probably part of the problem. i want to sell prints cheap using on-line ordering with good but inexpensive companies such as smugmug. the point is to make it easy for people to order prints (with many print size and quality options), to make it easy on me (the process is automated so i don't need to spend time dealing with selling prints), and because of the two points above, to be able to sell prints at a low price point (i.e. instead of a 300 "fine-art gallery print", you could get the same quality print for say $30 or $40 (and less than $10 for smaller prints).

the content should not be a problem: very few of my photos have nudity, and those that do have nudity would be be sold only when i have the model releases.

no, this is not a dead horse!

i am still very much hoping that the burning man will find a way to allow photographers - particularly those. like me, that do an enormous PR / advertizing job for BM- to recoup the cost of their equipment and most importantly the cost of their working time (not at BM, but after, i.e. processing the photos that they nicely give back to the BM org for free in exchange of a free ticket and some "work assignment").

unlike other artists, photographers have very few ways to recoup theirs costs. BM tells us that we can license photos to magazines, but this market is shrinking due to the paper to web / video shift, and over the last two years i made a total of less than $200 from licensing BM photos to magazines.

another thing that annoys me is that some photographers license burning man photos on getty-images, like:


i asked for permission to license one aerial photo of BM (selected by getty) through getty-images, and i was turned down, BM telling me that selling BM photos on stock sites was completely illegal.

i don't question that selling BM photos as stock is not allowed (unless authorized by BM), but at the same time BM is taking no action to remove all the unauthorized BM photos being sold on many stock photo sites (including in some premium collections like getty-images). It feels like different rules applies to different people... or at least, the rules are not enforced the same way.

whats more valuable, the Integrity of the festival, or money made from it, off of it, thru it?

of course, the integrity of the festival is more valuable, but everything costs money to do, and my landlord does not wave my rent just because of spend one month working for free for BM. some of the people who work in the BM office every day receive a pay check. some artists receive large grants to cover some of their costs.
-- Tristan - http://www.playa-dust.com

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Post by eyeruh » Sun Jan 24, 2010 7:41 pm

Tristan wrote: yeah, the method is probably part of the problem. i want to sell prints cheap using on-line ordering with good but inexpensive companies such as smugmug. the point is to make it easy for people to order prints (with many print size and quality options), to make it easy on me (the process is automated so i don't need to spend time dealing with selling prints), and because of the two points above, to be able to sell prints at a low price point (i.e. instead of a 300 "fine-art gallery print", you could get the same quality print for say $30 or $40 (and less than $10 for smaller prints).

Yep, I agree. As near as I can tell, it seems to be ok to say "contact me for prints" on your website but it's not ok to automate the process & that distinction strikes me as fairly arbitrary (although i could be missing something).

However, I have mixed feelings about the idea that we should be reimbursed for our time. If we can sell enough prints to make money beyond our expenses, I think that's awesome and should be allowed . . . but I don't feel like I have any particular "right" to being paid for the time I put in.

At the end of the day, Burning Man is not a job (for most of us) and it's probably not very helpful to think of it in those terms. Yes, a few artists get grants but if my experience on the temple is any indication, no one's getting enough to even cover expenses let alone getting paid for their time. There were literally thousands of volunteer person-hours put into this year's temple (and that surely goes for prior years too) -- if any of us got paid even minimum wage to do it, it would never have been built. (Not to mention the bazillion hours the DPW crew puts into the city for essentially no pay).

Maybe it's just semantics but I feel like it's healthier to think in terms of what you really need in order to create the art--not what you should get paid for doing it.

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Post by Simon of the Playa » Sun Jan 24, 2010 10:30 pm

Yeah, Larry owes me TWO marriages, FOUR jobs and at least 2-3 months of Psychiatric care.
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Post by ygmir » Sun Jan 24, 2010 10:35 pm

Image
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Post by rodiponer » Mon Jan 25, 2010 11:14 am

Tristan, I like your photography.

I think pursuing your work at Burning Man should be it's own reward. That you have been given a free ticket, weeks of highly coveted early arrival to take nearly exclusive photos of the construction, use of a basket crane for your photography, and probably free donuts, internet, and electricity in the media tent... It seems to me that the event organizers have been very generous with you. If after all of that you feel like you deserve more compensation for pursing your art in such a wonderful setting, well, I think your expectations are unreasonably high.

I know it can be a complicated mind space to be a Professional Photographer and find yourself doing the same things while you are at Burning Man that you do when On Assignment and being paid a daily rate. I know that Professional Photographers, like many independent contractors, can be especially touchy about working for free. And, to add insult, there are photographers at the event who are being paid by their employers to be there. I'm sure they subtly brag about that.

But you are, evidently, not being paid by someone else to be there. So you are there as an artist, just like the blue guy who dances with the umbrellas or the folks who made the Neverwas Haul. I feel it is... invalid to consider the PR impact of various people's contributions, as you brought up. Who spent more time and money on their contribution? Who was given more by the event organizers? Who has the best opportunity for financial compensation? Who deserves more compensation? Who let their contribution interfere the most with their job or professional tools, or felt like their contribution was the most like work, or derived the least personal satisfaction from it as an artist? Whose contribution was the most unique, and whose could be reasonably done by any of several hundred other artists in their field?

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Tristan
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Post by Tristan » Mon Jan 25, 2010 1:18 pm

rodiponer wrote:Tristan, I like your photography.
thanks!
I think pursuing your work at Burning Man should be it's own reward. That you have been given a free ticket, weeks of highly coveted early arrival to take nearly exclusive photos of the construction, use of a basket crane for your photography, and probably free donuts, internet, and electricity in the media tent... It seems to me that the event organizers have been very generous with you.
you must be confusing me with someone else.... maybe with John Curley?

i have never been given access to the BM site for early arrival, i never took exclusive photos of the construction, they never gave me donuts, only once did i have access to a cherry-picker crane (a few years ago), and i was never offered to use internet in the media tent. ok, i did use their power outlet to recharge my camera batteries, i did drink some of their water, and they gave me a free ride around the playa in their overcrowded bus...
If after all of that you feel like you deserve more compensation for pursing your art in such a wonderful setting, well, I think your expectations are unreasonably high.

I know it can be a complicated mind space to be a Professional Photographer and find yourself doing the same things while you are at Burning Man that you do when On Assignment and being paid a daily rate. I know that Professional Photographers, like many independent contractors, can be especially touchy about working for free. And, to add insult, there are photographers at the event who are being paid by their employers to be there. I'm sure they subtly brag about that.
But you are, evidently, not being paid by someone else to be there.
i never asked or suggested i should be paid for my time on the playa. but BM asks me to do a lot of work for them, for free - it amounts to about one month of work to process the photos they request from their "documentation team", in addition to all the trashed equipment.
So you are there as an artist,
it would be the case if i was not part of the "BM documentation team". but being part of this group, BM asks us to provide them all our processed photos (and they give us shouting assignments).
just like the blue guy who dances with the umbrellas or the folks who made the Neverwas Haul. I feel it is... invalid to consider the PR impact of various people's contributions, as you brought up. Who spent more time and money on their contribution? Who was given more by the event organizers? Who has the best opportunity for financial compensation? Who deserves more compensation? Who let their contribution interfere the most with their job or professional tools, or felt like their contribution was the most like work, or derived the least personal satisfaction from it as an artist? Whose contribution was the most unique, and whose could be reasonably done by any of several hundred other artists in their field?
most artists are given the right to benefit from the art that they created at BM, and BM allows them to even sell or rent their (unburned) arts to recover their costs. Some even sell prints of photos (of their art) that I took (and gave them) to raise funding, but I am not allowed to sell prints of the very same photos on my website.
-- Tristan - http://www.playa-dust.com

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rodiponer
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Post by rodiponer » Mon Jan 25, 2010 11:58 pm

I'm sorry, I read what I wrote earlier today-- I was overly antagonistic.

It's too bad about the donuts.

The rules are silly if you do not consider what the organizers are trying to do. I believe the big picture is that they are trying to keep Burning Man themed shirts out of Hot Topic and Urban Outfitters. So I can see why they see a difference between a handful of fine art prints and automatic posters on Flickr. Because the next step is Cafe Press, with t-shirts and bumper stickers, and after that-- why not Hot Topic?

I also feel that going into detail about how much time and money you spend our your art and how little you benefit, well, it seems like whining. I say this with polite brutal honesty and no malice. That you were able to recover $200 in your expenses from less than $1000 in broken equipment is much better than almost every other artist. And not being satisfied with that seems a little self centered or ill informed. A month of work is not at all unusual for bringing or doing some kind of art to Burning Man, and could even be considered small. So I think you may have unreasonable expectations.

In fact, I think that as a photographer you are in a uniquely favored position to benefit from the current rules. With proper approvals, you can market and sell your work with the "Burning Man" label online, or even publish an Art of Burning Man book. I do not think that a DJ could release a "Best Music of Burning Man 2009" CD. Or that an artist who works in sculpture could sell their work as a "Burning Man Sculpture." The label is incredibly valuable.

Further, I think you've got to chill out a little when working with the organizers. They are big enough to be an organization, and organizations look completely ridiculous and disorganized from the outside. Rules are usually inconsistent, decisions that seem tiny from the outside can drag on forever, and communication is very spotty as individuals and projects shift orbits. It's best when working with any organization to be unfailingly polite with everyone, on every level, and not read too much into anything that looks like flailing around.

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Tristan
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Post by Tristan » Tue Jan 26, 2010 12:30 am

rodiponer wrote: With proper approvals, you can market and sell your work with the "Burning Man" label online.
that's what i'm trying to do: just get permission to sell prints of my photos. not $300 fine-art prints, but cheaper prints, with smugmug or similar outlets (e.g. zenfolio). and i don't want any "Burning-Man" label with my photos. the photo prints will be bought mostly by people who have been at the event and want a memory of it on their wall. why does BM prevents all those people from being able to buy prints of my photos, if they want to? people ask me if they can buy my prints, and i must turn them down because BM does not gave me permission to sell my prints at a price-point they can afford.

i am not trying to sell cafe-press t-shirts or mugs with BM photos. just prints. of my photos.

and BM has not given me that permission yet. but i'm pretty sure they'll be happy to use some of my photos in their calendar or literature...
That you were able to recover $200 in your expenses from less than $1000 in broken equipment is much better than almost every other artist.
no, i was not. that was two years ago. last year, i recovered nada, since no magazine was willing to pay anything for BM photos. I am not asking BM to pay me for the time i spent working for them (i.e. processing the photos that they ask me to provide them), i'm just asking them to give me permission to do business with those photos, since they don't pay volunteer who work for them. i don't think that's too much to ask for.
-- Tristan - http://www.playa-dust.com

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Post by Simon of the Playa » Tue Jan 26, 2010 6:32 am

'm just asking them to give me permission to do business with those photos, since they don't pay volunteer who work for them. i don't think that's too much to ask for.
the key word here is VOLUNTEER.

youi are asking the BMORG to open a very slippery slope that leads into the shithole of commerce because you feel you should be able to make a buck off of what you originally gifted.

you seem to feel that you and your work is somehow MORE special and MORE deserving of an exception to the RULES than any of the other artists who work all year to GIFT their art to the playa and community, with no monetary compensation or thought of one.

whining and complaining about other so called money making by others only cheapens your argument.

you are not the contents of your khakis, tristan, and you appear to be holding your work above others by saying that you DESERVE to somehow benefit financially from your work on the playa that when you bought the ticket you expressly promised not to do so.

buck up and get a job if things are that bad.
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Post by actiongrl » Tue Jan 26, 2010 9:51 am

The price point isn't the issue - the mass availability and outright commercial nature of internet availability is the sticking point that we're up against, and that shouldn't be too hard to understand.

If a photographer wasn't asked about his sale price when approved to sell prints, that was an error, just to be clear, because we do so as a rule before approval. Generally a hand-to-hand gallery sale or fine art print online that isn't associated with mass promotion is easier to approve than something on a millions-strong commercial website, and since it's new territory (and only one of many, many things we have to deal with day to day) it's a slow, methodical decision how to proceed.

And Tristan, we have been taking action behind the scenes for about four years now with the very few images that have found their way to Getty. It's really unhelpful to accuse us of doing nothing when you simply don't have the facts.

I don't disagree that when you start to take this apart and compare it to the experiences of other Burning Man artists, it kind of rings a little flat. However, I think we should think about it in a more global perspective -- how are our policies and practices as a community working for us or against us when our lives bump up against the real world need to make money? Does the "no commercial use without permission" policy hold up when now there are HUNDREDS of requests in a year, not just a few dozen, to sell images? It's not like that staff time pays for itself by any stretch. Should we just start letting everyone do it, no one do it? Should we stop reviewing these requests, image by image and frame by frame, to ensure privacy and accurate artistic credit where due?

That's where this is stalled Tristan - not on your particular request, but on the volume of others like it. You can expect this answer to evolve slowly, and you can help to craft it with reasonable conversation, or you can shake your fist and be angry that we are trying to oppress you personally... but only one is going to help us move forward.


(And Tristan, if you've only availed yourself of asking for lift access for your particular photographic skills once and never asked again, you cannot blame us for not putting you there. I can't think of a time I ever turned you away, and I"m the one who personally makes the call on who gets to fly on burn night!)

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Post by eyeruh » Tue Jan 26, 2010 12:16 pm

actiongrl wrote: You can expect this answer to evolve slowly, and you can help to craft it with reasonable conversation, or you can shake your fist and be angry that we are trying to oppress you personally... but only one is going to help us move forward.

Is there a way for those of us outside the org to be involved with this discussion? This was my first year at BM but I've been shooting at Burning Flipside since 2004 (and Flipside's LLC tends to follow your lead on stuff like this).

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Post by actiongrl » Tue Jan 26, 2010 12:21 pm

well, here, for starters, although there is so very much nuance to the discussion that isn't represented here, about the philosophies and how and why we are so careful about images, beyond mere issues of privacy.

I'm trying and may have gotten a panel at SXSW to have a public dialogue, (hopefully with members of the EFF, Creative Commons, and a few other thinkers?) to examine the subject of digital use of rights-protected imagery from unusual rights zones for photography...I also want to do a series at the Burning Man office on the subject, but with the budget cycle and a few other urgencies including planning the upcoming Regional Leadership Summit eating my month, it hasn't happened for January....

One would definitely need to start by reading the Afterburn reports for the Media Team dating back a few years, and probably the press section and our current contracts for the context to understand how we actually deal with the images, when, and why. So if you're serious, perhaps yes, but trust me the answers are not simple to untangle this ten-year-history! ;)

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Post by Tristan » Tue Jan 26, 2010 12:33 pm

actiongrl wrote:The price point isn't the issue - the mass availability and outright commercial nature of internet availability is the sticking point that we're up against, and that shouldn't be too hard to understand.
but both are very related, aren't they?

with low price-point, there is mass availability. so the only way to prevent mass availability is to sell print at high / very high price point. to me that's not hard to understand either.

you can't deny that the internet exists and that millions of BM photos taken at the event circulate on the web, and that is what i would call "mass availability of BM imagery". for free for the viewer and for photographers, i.e. only the BM org commercially benefits from this mass availability (as beeing a form of advertising).

the only issue with print is that money is involved, so there is a commercial aspect there and BM should make sure that they control well who benefits from it and how much they get from that (in regard with to the cost involved). the idea is to make the situation sustainable for photographers that put time and equipment on the table. sustainability is an important word, no?
The price point isn't the issue
If a photographer wasn't asked about his sale price when approved to sell prints, that was an error, just to be clear,
aren't those two sentences somehow contradictory?
so the sale price is indeed part of the issue...
Does the "no commercial use without permission" policy hold up when now there are HUNDREDS of requests in a year, not just a few dozen, to sell images? It's not like that staff time pays for itself by any stretch.
of course, that's why i don't want to ask permission for each image print i want to sell. i want to have permission to sell prints of my entire BM portfolio, with exception of the few photos with nudity for which i don't have a model release, and with exception of any photo that BM does not want me to sell for some other reason (e.g. photo of law enforcement action for example). it's like making a large coffee-table photo book, except the printed pages are sold individually, and on the internet (BM photo books are also sold on the internet, btw).
you can shake your fist and be angry that we are trying to oppress you personally...
i know you are not trying to oppress me personally. the situation of most other photographers is the same. only a few are allowed to sell prints, and that's only for a handfull of expensive fine-art prints that very few participants can afford.
-- Tristan - http://www.playa-dust.com

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Post by eyeruh » Tue Jan 26, 2010 12:34 pm

actiongrl wrote: One would definitely need to start by reading the Afterburn reports for the Media Team dating back a few years, and probably the press section and our current contracts for the context to understand how we actually deal with the images, when, and why. So if you're serious, perhaps yes, but trust me the answers are not simple to untangle this ten-year-history! ;)
K, will do.

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Post by lambert13 » Tue Jan 26, 2010 1:16 pm

Take my words for what they are worth as I have no dog in this fight. I am a photographer myself and know at least a little bit about a lot of the issues here.

The gift economy aspect of BM is one of the big concepts that is drawing me to the playa. A chance to entertain and be entertained without a price tag beyond the initial ticket to drive through the gate. An area where money is useless and things are created solely for the enjoyment of others rather than profit. My favorite method to create art and make people happy is through photography. Always has been since I could hold a camera and probably always will be. How can that translate to the playa?

The ideas I have been kicking around in my head are still in line with the gift economy. And yes, I also have thousands of dollars in camera equipment that I will gladly bring to the dust bowl.

1. Bring a photo printing setup and give away prints to whoever wants one. Expensive? Most definitely. Rewarding? I would imagine so.

2. Give my contact info and let people know that I will gladly give them a copy of the hi-res image file to print themselves at home. I am not sure if this works with the media rules and regs and I will have to make sure it is kosher before I did it.

3. Take a bunch of photos and set up online galleries for people to look at after the event. No selling of prints or transfer of images. Just putting the galleries out there for people to enjoy looking at.


Why should any other photographer have any special rights to capitalize on what myself and countless others would be ecstatic to do for free as a part of the gift economy? I would be jeopardizing a shit ton of money in equipment, spending quite a bit of time taking photos and even more time editing them and expecting nothing in return.

Bottom line.........why not do it for free? Or even at a substantial loss? I do that all the time with my art. The idea that something I created makes someone happy is all the payment I need.
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Post by eyeruh » Tue Jan 26, 2010 4:18 pm

lambert13 wrote: The ideas I have been kicking around in my head are still in line with the gift economy. And yes, I also have thousands of dollars in camera equipment that I will gladly bring to the dust bowl.

1. Bring a photo printing setup and give away prints to whoever wants one. Expensive? Most definitely. Rewarding? I would imagine so.

2. Give my contact info and let people know that I will gladly give them a copy of the hi-res image file to print themselves at home. I am not sure if this works with the media rules and regs and I will have to make sure it is kosher before I did it.

3. Take a bunch of photos and set up online galleries for people to look at after the event. No selling of prints or transfer of images. Just putting the galleries out there for people to enjoy looking at.


Why should any other photographer have any special rights to capitalize on what myself and countless others would be ecstatic to do for free as a part of the gift economy? I would be jeopardizing a shit ton of money in equipment, spending quite a bit of time taking photos and even more time editing them and expecting nothing in return.

Bottom line.........why not do it for free? Or even at a substantial loss? I do that all the time with my art. The idea that something I created makes someone happy is all the payment I need.
If you have the financial means to do these things, then more power to you. However, I've already "gifted" 2 months of back-breaking labor in the Texas heat, another month of grueling work on the playa + 1 month or more of my time in post-processing work after the event. This is in addition to well over $1000 in expenses.

All of this was gifted freely, with no expectation of reward or repayment & I've made my photos freely available for viewing (http://communityartmakers.com).

Since I've been back, many people have expressed an interest in prints and so I've made them available at dirt-cheap prices ($20 for a matted 8x10 on metallic paper). I just don't see anything wrong with that. I don't have the financial means to give them away for free and there's a ton of labor involved--if I'm somehow obligated to do it then it's no longer a gift. Furthermore, I'm certainly not asking for any "special rights".

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Post by Simon of the Playa » Wed Jan 27, 2010 6:26 am

situation sustainable for photographers that put time and equipment on the table
a lot of people put "time and money" on the table tristan...

they never expect anything in return except the smiles of the people who enjoy or participate in the art.

again, you need to pull the monetization thing out of your ass, it's clouding your thinking.

It ain't about the fucking Money...
Frida Be You & Me

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Post by lambert13 » Wed Jan 27, 2010 7:11 am

eyeruh wrote:
If you have the financial means to do these things, then more power to you. However, I've already "gifted" 2 months of back-breaking labor in the Texas heat, another month of grueling work on the playa + 1 month or more of my time in post-processing work after the event. This is in addition to well over $1000 in expenses.

All of this was gifted freely, with no expectation of reward or repayment & I've made my photos freely available for viewing (http://communityartmakers.com).

Since I've been back, many people have expressed an interest in prints and so I've made them available at dirt-cheap prices ($20 for a matted 8x10 on metallic paper). I just don't see anything wrong with that. I don't have the financial means to give them away for free and there's a ton of labor involved--if I'm somehow obligated to do it then it's no longer a gift. Furthermore, I'm certainly not asking for any "special rights".
I would tend to agree with you in a lot of ways. I think there is a BIG difference between what you are talking about and what Tristan is talking about. Having people pay for a print they want with no profit going to you *should* be acceptable. I would definitely think that is still in line with the gift economy theory. Charging for prints with some profit tagged on to recover costs of taking photos on the playa should not be.

No one is forcing anyone to drag a bunch of gear out there and spend hours upon hours taking photos followed by all the time it takes to process them at home. Trying to cover costs for what is essentially a voluntary action is just not cool.

One of the problems as I see it for BMorg in deciding on policy regarding this is how to separate those who want to profit from it and those who just want to share with the community while not going broke. Do you take people at their word? Does BMorg set up their own photo sharing and printing service that they can control access, price, etc? There is certainly no easy answer and as technology rapidly changes, so do the questions.
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Post by eyeruh » Wed Jan 27, 2010 4:19 pm

lambert13 wrote: No one is forcing anyone to drag a bunch of gear out there and spend hours upon hours taking photos followed by all the time it takes to process them at home. Trying to cover costs for what is essentially a voluntary action is just not cool.

Well, I don't see this as quite so clear-cut. As I alluded to earlier in the thread, I don't see this as substantially different from having a fundraiser to fund an art piece for the playa (except that the destination for the funds is not explicitly specified--and maybe that's part of the problem?).

From my perspective, Burning Man is already too much of a rich man's game--I see nothing wrong with a model that lets an artist keep contributing even if they're of modest means. However, I think I do understand the mountain of logistical difficulties this entails and I don't blame the org for wanting to do this in their good sweet time.

And just for the record, I *do* make a profit on my prints but it's very small (and that's only if I don't put any price on my labor).

Finally--a question for you: why is it ok for BM to sell prints of one of my photos online (in calendar form) but it's potentially not ok for me to sell the same photo on my website? Don't get me wrong, I freely gave them permission to do so & after seeing this year's calendar, I'm very proud to be in it--but I think the question is still valid. Maybe that money is all earmarked for a noble cause but if it is, it's not made clear to the purchaser.

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Post by lambert13 » Wed Jan 27, 2010 5:46 pm

eyeruh wrote:.

Finally--a question for you: why is it ok for BM to sell prints of one of my photos online (in calendar form) but it's potentially not ok for me to sell the same photo on my website? Don't get me wrong, I freely gave them permission to do so & after seeing this year's calendar, I'm very proud to be in it--but I think the question is still valid. Maybe that money is all earmarked for a noble cause but if it is, it's not made clear to the purchaser.
Personally, I do not think it is ok for BM to sell prints, merchandise, etc with the BM logo or representations of art by participants. To me it is a double standard that also goes against the stance of removing commerce from the equation. As far as I know, the money gained from the sales of those things is recycled right back into the system, but it is still commerce. Being able to go on the BM website and order a tshirt with the BM logo on it seems pretty shitty to me. The double standard comes into play if I were to silkscreen my own shirts with some sort of BM design and try to sell them (even at cost with no profit) to other people. Do as I say..........not as I do.

As we have both said (along with a bunch of others), there is no easy or quick answer. I think I may see it slightly differently than you, but I also agree with a whole lot of what you are saying too. Your point of fundraisers for artists and/or their projects made me think in a different direction. And that's a good thing!
Burning Man is already too much of a rich man's game--I see nothing wrong with a model that lets an artist keep contributing even if they're of modest means
Another good point. That would be great if some sort of agreement on regulations could be reached that made it possible for more people to contribute and even more contribution from those that already do. The current model seems to favor those with a bunch of money or an already established presence as far as BM art grants. Allowing artists an avenue to generate money to further their contribution on the playa would be fantastic! But, how would a system be designed to prevent abuse of the concept? Again, no easy answers.
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Post by eyeruh » Thu Jan 28, 2010 5:52 am

lambert13 wrote: Personally, I do not think it is ok for BM to sell prints, merchandise, etc with the BM logo or representations of art by participants. To me it is a double standard that also goes against the stance of removing commerce from the equation. As far as I know, the money gained from the sales of those things is recycled right back into the system, but it is still commerce. Being able to go on the BM website and order a tshirt with the BM logo on it seems pretty shitty to me.

Well, I can't really argue with your position--at least it's consistent. I don't really mind the calendars or books personally--I see them as propagating art which is generally a good thing. As for the t-shirts? Yeah, that always struck me as bizarre--I'm not even gonna touch that one. All I know is I really wanted to go around Burning Man yelling at people to cover up their BM corporate logos. :-)

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Post by rodiponer » Thu Jan 28, 2010 9:57 am

I just don't get it.

Being a photographer at Burning Man is one of the least expensive arts you can pursue there. All you have to do is bring equipment that you already have.

To say that Burning Man is a 'rich mans game' and that you can't afford to pursue your own art unless you can make money off of it later, and then go on to compare your 'need' to raise funds to the very large installations like the Raygun Rocketship... Well, that is so naive and self centered that I would hope you guys are just being facetious.

But I have a great idea. Why not raise funds by doing a simple art project whose photographs you can sell to raise money? Something very easy, like giving away snow cones at the base of the man. You won't have to learn how to weld, glue wood, or draw plans-- for less than the cost of a 300mm F/4 lens and a D3X you can buy a snow cone machine, trailer to haul it, blocks of ice, lights, batteries, and everything else straight off of craigslist. The planning among multiple people before the event is just a few hours a week-- nothing compared to all that fiddling on your laptop it takes to post processes a dozen photos. And the back breaking labor and dedication it requires to drag the machine around, keep it stocked with ice, and then man it for hours every day... That's so easy compared to how hard and expensive and time consuming it is to be a photographer, when you, umm, have to remember to bring your camera and maybe a tripod with you when you leave camp, if you feel like it. Then after the event you can sell the photographs of yourselves and fund your next photo safari in 2011. Genius!

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Post by eyeruh » Thu Jan 28, 2010 7:33 pm

rodiponer wrote:I just don't get it.
That's cause you didn't bother to read the thread but (like so many BM specticipants) you still felt entitled to get on your high-horse. You sure told me!

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Post by rodiponer » Thu Jan 28, 2010 8:25 pm

You're right. It's too easy to get caught up in a single thing that someone says online. I was really responding to Tristan, who seems stuck on seeing his work at Burning Man as a potential business.

I think it's great, admirable, and wonderful that you helped build the temple. But I do not think that should be an entitlement to recoup personal costs for attending the event. Viewing your costs to attend as 'losses' is, to me, a word choice that indicates it wasn't worth it.

I think there is a large difference between funding an art project through image sales and a person funding themselves through image sales. I haven't figured this out, but I think the difference is that the art project is participatory by itself, and the images sales are ancillary to that. By contrast image sales that fund someone taking images, well, that seems more like just taking to me.

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