At last, Canadian photographers own their copyright.

A big win for photographers in Canada: as of November 7th, you now officially own the copyright to all your photographs regardless of whether they were commissioned. The development comes as a result of Canada major copyright reform bill (Bill C-11) taking effect this morning. One of the stated goals of the new copyright law is to, “give photographers the same rights as other creators.”

The Canadian Association of Professional Image Creators (CAPIC) and The Professional Photographers of Canada (PPOC) announced as of November 7th, Canadian photographers officially own the copyright to all of their work whether the photograph is commissioned or not, thanks to the new Copyright law. 

The principle of protecting photographers' ownership rights started 65 years ago by Henri Cartier-Bresson, who founded Magnum with Robert Capa and David Seymour. Magnum assured that a photographer's image belonged to the photographer and not to the commissioner of the work. 

In Canada, all other artists have already owned the copyrights to their work and thanks to this new law, Canadian photographers, albeit the last in the industrialized world, now have all legal rights to their images. 

CAPIC has been working towards this monumental achievement in Canada for more than 20 years through lobbying efforts and could not have achieved this truly important mission without the support of its members, who have contributed financially, morally and offered countless volunteer hours towards this major effort led by CAPIC National Copyright Chair, Andre Cornellier. 

The PPOC were a valuable partner in this achievement as well as the lobbying firm Temple Scott Associates for their work in Ottawa.

''I would like to thank the team that worked so patiently and for so long,'' commented Cornellier. ''Finally we have won a right due to us as artists. Thank you to Canadian photographers across the country for your support and patience and to André Amyot and Brian Boyle of PPOC for your work. It has been worth it.'' 

CAPIC will be providing more information on the direct effects of the law for Canadian photographers in the weeks to come. In the meantime, everyone in the Canadian photographic industry should celebrate and be grateful!
Did you catch the live feed of the Red Bull Stratus jump a few days ago? A brave man named Felix took a weather balloon up to space and then jumped back down to earth. He had 35 cameras with him on his adventure and this Red Bull video gives us a look at them. 
One of the most exhilarating things about Baumgartner’s space jump was the ability to see so many different angles of what was going on, both as photos and video. To ensure that the cameras would work, the Red Bull Stratos team turned to Flightline Films, which has been providing aerial photography services since 1984. The company’s had extensive work in the upper atmosphere, including work with Virgin Galactic to photograph its spacecraft.

All of the cameras had to be tested in extreme cold and heat, as well as near-vacuum conditions. Specialized filters were applied to compensate for the intense sunlight at the edge of space. Some of the cameras had to be placed in pressurized housings filled with nitrogen gas to ensure they’d continue to operate.

In addition to the 9 cameras on Felix’s person and capsule, some of the images of the flight were also captured by helicopter. Airborne Images was in charge of the chopper, which was equipped with a gyroscopically stabilized HD camera that was manufactured by Cineflex.

Stuff like this is always fascinating to me because of the sheer amount of planning required. Check out the video below:

And here is some of the final results, the jump from Felix's point of view:

Yesterday I had the great pleasure of meeting and filming the founding president of Trent University, Thomas Symmons, or Tom as he prefers, for a heritage tribute video that’s being put together for one of his colleagues.

Born in 1929, Tom is also an author and attended University of Toronto (B.A. 1951), Oxford (B.A. 1953, M.A. 1957), and Harvard University.

His old estate-like home nestled in the rolling hills on the outskirts of Peterborough, Ontario was so beautifully decorated and appeared so rich in history that it was hard not to feel immediately welcome from the moment I stepped inside the door. His wife gave us a quick tour of his library and study, both of which included many high-backed chairs, plaques and diplomas on the walls, pictures showing relations to the British Monarchy and even a letter from the Pope - he was very recently knighted by the Pope, even though (he was quick to point out) he isn’t Catholic. He serves as chairman, chair person and/or officer for more organisations than I can count and has also received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal honouring his significant contributions to Canada.

This is a man who is so accomplished and wise that even before he speaks a word, you understand his legacy and influence because it just emanates out of his every pore, and on top of that he’s remarkably humble about it all.

He shared many stories like the story of his father being shot down over France in WWI and meeting a Canadian nurse, who later became Tom’s mother. He recounted stories of having tea with the queen mother and after many cups she would always ask if he wanted a “nip of something else” – which usually meant gin! (Sounds like the queen mother knew how to have a good time! :P) He was even a guest at Charles and Diana’s wedding and has watched “the kids” Prince William and Harry grow up. He reminisced a bit about his relationship with the royal family and finally said, “Prince Charles is a deeply intelligent man.” – a nice comment from someone I feel is quite intelligent himself.

As part of the video interview I was shooting, we asked Tom to sit in one of his royal-esque chairs and read a book by the window overlooking his garden. We picked random books from different piles, put them by his side to let him flip through. As I was shooting, he perked up and said “How time flies! I’ve forgotten I wrote the forward to this novel…” And so there he was, reading his own words in an acclaimed book we chose at random off the shelf, one of hundreds if not thousands of books in his great house.

A still photograph wasn't planned, but I couldn't walk out of this place without one. I asked his permission and he said it wouldn't be a problem. I only had a few minutes with him as time was getting short and we had to shoot other subjects at a different location, so I acted fast – grabbed a flash and threw on a wide angle lens. My goal was to photograph him in what I felt was the most inspiring room in the house – his study – with all the books around him – and awards – over half of which aren’t even in the frame. I wanted to show the overwhelming amount of work this man has done and continues to do, and the “weight of it all” so to speak.

Physically he is clearly aging, but mentally… he’s as sharp as they come. 

It was great to meet you, sir!
Dear fellow 7D users, in case you missed it - the next evolution has arrived!

Firmware Version 2.0.X brings the EOS 7D up to speed with the best technologies Canon has to offer, delivering performance and features befitting the flagship APS-C EOS DSLR. It also keeps the EOS 7D on the cutting edge of technological innovation by adding user-requested innovations developed for Canon's high-end EOS cameras.

This significant upgrade raises the performance on one of the most popular Canon EOS DSLRs ever created.

Click here to download the update from Canon Canada.

The update includes:
  • A higher maximum burst rate for continuous shooting
  • Maximum limit for ISO expanded to 6400
  • Compatibility with the Canon GPS receiver
  • Manual audio level adjustment during video shooting and during review
  • In-camera RAW image processing

Click to enlarge and read the full article as seen in Canadian Musician (March/April issue 2012).
If there's one thing we as artists, specifically photographers, struggle with more than asking for money... I don't know what it is. 

Seems like every artist in the beginning stages of their career comes across the daunting task and begins the inner battle of deciding what they're worth and what to charge for their creative services. 

It's true, vision and creativity is a difficult thing to place a price tag on. How does one even begin to place a dollar figure on something that doesn't even exist yet, with little to no experience behind you to prove you can create it? How can you perform with the weight of money and expected performance on your shoulders? How do you charge friends for something they think should be free? How do you ask money from another starving artist?

It's easy. You just do it. And it doesn't have to be as scary, or as difficult as you think it will be. It also doesn't have to ruin any relationships you've already spent time and effort building. 

Why you need to charge money for your photography services.
Ninety percent of small businesses fail within the first two years. With few exceptions, working for free is the fastest way for freelance photographers to become part of this 90 percent. Photographers like any other business owners need income to survive, and the industry itself as a whole relies on it's own community to stay alive. If all photographers stopped charging money, the community and support system we rely on to find work would collapse. Its a (sad) fact of life that money makes the world go round and the business of photography is no exception.

Charging a fee for your photography establishes value and respect. These are extremely important characteristics of any successful business venture. You can't get caught up worrying about other people's financial situations. Helping out a 'starving artist' for free because you want to be nice isn't accomplishing anything, because guess what? Technically as an amateur photographer you are too! Let's shed some light on this topic in another way. Let's pretend said starving artist waves down a cab and askes the cab to drive him home - 20 blocks away. The guy sits in the car and says Hey driver, listen times are tight and I really need to get home in a hurry. Except I have no money to offer you. What do you think the cabbie is gunna say? Guess what pal, can't help you. Times are tight for everyone - take a hike.

(See 12 Excuses For Shooting for FREE - And Why They're Bogus)

More importantly, imagine 5 years from now when a client you shot free pictures for actually has a budget, let's say $2,500 for a large project requiring two days of shooting - who are they gunna call up? The photographer they used back in the day that gave up his time and talent for free? Or are they going to ask around or go online in search of new professional photographers to work with that cost roughly $2,500? 9 times out of 10, it's the latter. Who would you rather be? The guy who gets the call for free shoots ("networking opportunities") at the local rock club on 90's playback night, or the guy that gets a call once a month from a marketing agency when they can afford you and your rate - let's say, a rate of hundreds or thousands of dollars? I think I know the answer.

Truth is, we've all been there. The excuses for shooting free work are endless. The most common being that its to build a better or more diverse portfolio. But in your initial stages as a photographer you can shoot nature, the city you live in, small concerts, friends and family for free as much as you want to build your portfolio. It's important you understand that when a stranger comes knocking at your door for photography - that is your cue to start building a name and brand for yourself in the industry beyond your comfort zone by charging a fee. It's not your cue to initiate the same freebie/portfolio conversation you've been having with friends and family.

How (much?) to charge for your photography services.
When I was just 16 years old I got to say I was a professional photographer. Why? I shot my first wedding and charged the bride and groom $300. Such a low price that most pros would laugh, but it was something at least. Some people would ask, though, how could I charge anything when I was still so young? The answer is: I had spent countless months building my skill set shooting nature, architecture and portraits for close friends and a family, plus I shot a family wedding and all things considered I was feeling good and prepared to charge for my work. I was confident in my talent and ready to take on something new and outside of my bubble, and I wasn't about to do it for free. 

The question then became, what do I charge? I did some research on other, much more experienced photographers in my area and found that they were charging roughly $1,500 and up for weddings. Great! I knew that if I was significantly below $1,000 any bride and groom would be silly not to sign on the dotted line. Plus, I had nothing to prove - they had already inquired with me for the work - which means they like my website of nature and portraits and believe in my ability to translate that same vision into wedding photography. I didn't need to sell them on me, I needed to sell them on the price. This would become the single most important business skill I ever learned. How to price myself.

There is no one-price-fits-all formula in photography, because pricing almost always depends on the client and requirements of each shoot. But here's some advice to get you started and help you get it right.

  1. Get pricing from other photographers in your area. Ask friends of friends who work in the industry for their rates or pricing advice. If you are brand new to the scene, place your price safely below what the veterans are charging. The safe number is probably somewhere around 30% less. Yah, that might still sound like a lot. Guess what? Photography is a specialized, often expensive service that people pay for every day. Get used to it and stop feeling guilty about it.
  2. Ask the client what their budget is. This is the best thing you can do actually and is my favorite way to go about setting a price. You will avoid charging too much and scaring someone away, you'll also avoid charging too little and selling yourself short. Everyone is happy. If their budget is too low for you, you can try to coach the client into a happy medium between what you had in mind and what they can afford - usually people can afford a bit more than they initially admit, you just have to explain exactly what your service includes to make it worth their while.
  3. Aim to at least cover your expenses. If you can go shoot some pictures and just have enough money to cover your time, travel and a meal that's not so bad when you're just emerging as a photographer. That is ideal and should be your goal. $50 is probably enough gas or train ticket money to get you pretty much anywhere in Ontario and maybe get some McD's along the way. That's a Win/Win scenario: you didn't lose money doing the job, the client who couldn't afford much ended up getting an awesome deal on great photos and you just started a great working relationship. 

Being a photographer is definitely no walk in the park. It takes a lot of hard work, time and effort to get anything remotely like a consistent income flowing your way. It also takes a lot of time, many years in fact, to learn every facet of the business and get comfortable in your own skin - especially when it comes to charging people for your time and creativity. Even if you're the most talented photographer it's possible you'll struggle to make a living - especially at the start. But one thing is for certain - shooting for free won't help you change that fact. Start charging people, even if it's only enough to cover your gas or train ticket, clients don't need to know the why behind your price. Just charge them something so that if nothing else you can start to compensate for your expenses, and one day you'll see yourself staying in the black. What's more is you've helped keep all the photographers around you in business as well, by helping maintain the idea that photography is a service worth paying for and just because every grandma and their fat cat owns a camera doesn't mean everyone can take a good photo.

Ultimately one day making a wonderful living doing what you love will be the fruits of these labors. Just hang in there. And believe in yourself.

Thanks for reading and good luck!

Follow me on Twitter @mattvardy and share your comments or questions. I will happily answer all of them!

Hi real estate agents! I wanted to take a moment and highlight the amazing real estate photography and graphic design services that I can offer you. Did you know? I've worked for some of the most notable names in the business locally and internationally, and continue to accept work on a freelance basis for a number of brokerages around Ontario. 

The skills and knowledge I’ve learned working within this industry since 2006 can be invaluable additions to your marketing plan regardless of whether you are in the luxury home, condo, loft or suburban bungalow home markets – the same recipe for successful sales applies to all.

It starts with great visuals. Let me break it down into simpler terms:

THE ARTWORK? Cutting edge, aw-inspiring, custom-made just for you!
THE ARTIST? Fun, personable and works FAST to meet your goals!
THE PRICE? Low and affordable!

Nothing helps a listing sell faster than proper visuals that inspire and engage your target market.

Contact me today and let's get started!

View more photos / flip through brochure examples / see client list
Hey everyone! A lot of people come across my blog by searching "band wallpapers" apparently, so I thought I'd do something a little special for you wallpaper-hungry folk. 

Below are a series of iPhone (4, 4s, 3gs, 3g) wallpapers featuring the ever-talented artist LIGHTS during the recording process of her latest record Siberia (available now worldwide). 

How to install.
1. Click on the hyperlinks beside the thumbnails below to go to the full image download page. 
2. a. From iPhone: Hold finger on top of screen/image and select "Save Image". Go to photo albums, select desired photo. Hit options button to choose "Use as Wallpaper".
2. b. From Computer: Save image to computer. Email photo to yourself (email address associated with your phone) or transfer photo to iPhone via USB connection. Go to photo albums, select desired photo. Hit options button to choose "Use as Wallpaper".









There's one thing I really enjoy doing, almost as much as photography, and that is tackle a problem and solve it visually... in other words, graphic design.

I'm fortunate to have a steady stream of design jobs on top of my photography to keep me busy. One of the more common things I do month-in-month-out is design posters for events around the city. Most frequently these posters are for my own LiveMusicTO events, but I also get called upon from random clubs and concert venues around the GTA to create engaging visuals that will advertise their event and attract customers.

Step One in the process (pictured above) is always to get in the right mood. Today's design project was for a club in Oshawa, ON and so I started playing electronic dance music to get myself in the right frame of mind for the job.

Below are the design instructions that were sent to me over text messaging.
Now begins the fun part. My wheels start to turn and brainstorm about the words "white out".

Couple obvious things come to mind: The fluid eraser used to make corrections and blizzard conditions in snowy weather. My favorite of the two thoughts was the fluid eraser - what does a fluid eraser do? Well, you spread it over top of words. This lead me to think of how I could reveal, rather than erase, the words on the poster using a brush-like tool in Photoshop. In keeping with the snow/precipitation theme I thought I'd incorporate soft blue hues.
I'm feeling happy at this point with these out-of-the-box ideas. However, as I started to build the rest of the page I began to realise that perhaps this is a little too "indie" for a general dance party event. A little too Nuite Blanche if you will and not enough Party.

Below you can see the gradual evolution of the ideas into the final product. You'll notice I eventually gave up the brush-like effect for something more legible and basic; although I enjoy the simplicity of the first couple designs more, they weren't suitable for this east-of-the-city demographic. I also started toying with the idea of mountains and snow more heavily, to emphasize the winter theme (time of year) as well as adhere to the client's initial request.
Hey friends! I've recently hopped on the Google+ gravy train, that is to say I created a new brand page to share with you in more ways online. You can find me here:

Follow the links to login and click "Add to Circles"!

Don't have a Google+ Account? Click here to signup.

Wondering how to create your own brand page on Google+?  Go here to see how and learn more about G+ pages.