Monthly Archives: October 2010

Dear Esteemed Colleague: THIS IS A STICKUP!


I’d love to say that email like the one below is a rare occurrence in my life lately, but then I’d be a liar.

If you wonder why freelance content producers (i.e. photographers, writers, screenwriters, musicians, etc. ) can be seen hanging out near Dunkin’ Donuts dumpsters these days (hey, don’t knock it, those “day-olds” can be tasty), consider the following exchange!

From: “Chris@T*****************.com

Date: September 30, 2010 8:04:18 AM EDT


Subject: Photo Traveler Contribution Opportunity


Hello there,

We are writing a comprehensive guide on Single Parent Travel and as an influential figure in travel we would like to ask if you would contribute to the guide with 100-200 words. We will publish your advice on the website along with a link back to your site. The guide will also be published as an ebook and if demand is great enough the book will be published in hard copy too, so your tips would appear in the final hard copy published version.

If you have any tips you would like to share, then we would love to hear from you. The guide aims to share with single parents where to visit with their children, what they can do, as well as offering tips and advice in the process. Whether you are a single parent, or have any tips for those travelling alone with children ˆ we welcome any offerings.

T************* is a leading travel site throughout America, with millions of people hitting our site every year.

Look forward to receiving your contribution.

Kind Regards, Chris

Now, the impersonal greeting, and the awful grammar notwithstanding (i.e. “as an influential figure in travel, we would like to ask you….” Really? Who’s influential: you, or me?  It’s a bit hard to tell from that sentence construct), it’s a fishing mission for free content… another “industry leader” crowdsourcing content and then trying to make you feel honored to give it up, while they rake in ad revenue thanks to their “millions of hits.” 

I particularly love the part where they dangle the published book version (which they’ll also sell) as an added incentive to provide free content!  Talk about cojones!  You gotta love it….

Here’s my reply:

From: Bob Krist <>

Date: September 30, 2010 8:13:15 AM EDT

To: chris@T**************.com

Subject: Re: Photo Traveler Contribution Opportunity

Hi Chris: Thanks for your email and the contribution opportunity.

As an influential figure in travel and a professional writer and photographer, I am unable to provide content to you for links and credits (until my bank and supermarket accept same for mortgage and food payments!).

I will make an exception if the T************ staff is also working on this project for only links and credits, but somehow, I think you might be getting paid in US currency to crowdsource free content.

all the best, Bob Krist

Crowdsourcing is all the rage now and the travel journalism business has been decimated by it. Consider the following report from another colleague who recently attended a travel journalism symposium at UCLA.

The first speaker was the former head of a big syndicated news service who now runs a company syndicating travel stories to mags and newspapers. Cost for a subscription for a news outlet to use three stories per week (each with 3 photos supplied by the writer) is….wait for it…$9.00. She admitted that writers don’t get paid and supply the text and photos for free. They do it for credits and the free travel! 

More shocking was the third panel member who was an internet star with his own travel blog, Twitter following, Facebook presence etc. The students really loved him but at the end someone in the audience asked him how he got paid. “Paid?” he replied. “I don’t get paid.” He was shocked someone even asked.

For a long and comprehensive look from an internet luminary at what the future may hold for individual content producers as this trend continues, read artificial-intelligence pioneer Jaron Lanier’s book “You Are Not a Gadget.” 

Spoiler alert: it ain’t pretty.

So, the next time you’re thinking of wanting to go pro in the travel photo and writing biz, think twice…..and,um, are you going to be finishing that donut?


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One-Man Band HDSLR How-to




Dan Chung has been one of the pioneers in the move to HDSLR video for news and features. He covers Asia for The Guardian, and his videos are outstanding.

Recently, he put together an instructional DVD video about the process called “DSLR Video: On Assignment.”  In it, he instructs us on the basics of shooting HDSLR videos, the additional gear, like braces and sliders, that the process involves, and some good solid technique tips.

But what makes this video a standout is how he then takes us on an assignment, and breaks down his process from the scouting to the execution. We see him trying to figure out how to cover a religious festival (Thaipusam) in Malaysia on a day when a million people will be involved in processions, ritual bathing, and self-mutilation (be warned, there are some pretty graphic scenes caught in all their shallow depth of field, HDSLR glory!)

Dan has to make some hard equipment and coverage choices, and to watch a top pro in action going through his process is worth the price of admission (which, alas, is a tad steep at $139.  However, If you think of it as only 89 British pounds, you might feel better!).

So much of what has been written in the way of HDSLR video instruction involves folks shooting with crews on music videos and indy films. This video is for those of us who are one-man bands, and that’s another big plus.

I don’t need instruction on how to work with a focus puller and a best boy. I need to know how to work alone like Dan does, and hopefully, someday, make videos that might look as great as his.

Another thing that shines through is the amount of dedication and sheer physical work it is to carry the gear that is required for this new specialty. I’m not sure I’m up to muling the amount of stuff Dan does (in all fairness, he’s a lot younger).

It’s enough to make you hope that the next rage will be iPhone or Flip or Kodak Zi 8 video….that stuff, I don’t mind carrying.

No matter how you end up shooting your videos, one thing is for sure: DSLR Video: On Assignment is a winner.




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The 2011 Spirit of Place calendar is here


A pallet of my latest Spirit of Place calendar, a yearly promotional mailing I do for clients and donors to the Jonathan Krist Foundation, was delivered yesterday all safe and sound.

The 2011 edition features 14 pictures (that includes a cover and a bonus month!) taken in my travels in the previous year (or so). It’s an eclectic mix of shots, including probably the only two HDR-ish shots (each is made from only one frame, so it’s not true HDR) you’ll ever see from me (it’s not that I don’t like the look, it’s just that, um, I just don’t have that much fun pushing sliders up and down at the computer for hours on end!).

One of the most interesting situations is a lightpainting shot, below, of Carhenge done with a single SB 900 and multiple exposures. You can read about how it was done here.


If you’d like to grab a copy (they make great gifts), head on over to the Jonathan Krist Foundation site, and make a donation of $30, or more, by hitting the “Want to Donate” box in the upper right corner. Then hit the “Contact Us” box to give us your address and bingo! 

You’ll not only be supporting programs to bring music to underserved schools, and scholarships for deserving students, you’ll also be getting a tax deduction (we’ll send a receipt for your taxes).

It’s a win-win situation. And as they say on TV….Offer good while supplies last!


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