Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Ipad 3

There's little doubt that there will be an Ipad 3, and it MAY have 2048X1500 resolution. Even if it doesn't, there likely will be one of that resolution soon. That would put it almost on a par with the wonderful screen of the iphone. As photographers we are going to have to be ready for this. For showing portfolio images this is a non brainer, but it starts to become more of an issue when we need that resolution for ebooks and Ipad versions of Lenswork and optimum display of our images and dealing with people copying that "high res" file.

A little thought though shows that a 2048 pixel file will print optimally at around 7 inches. This barely makes a print (with a generous white border) on 8.5X11 paper. Anyone who would be satisfied with a file this size for printing large wasn't going to pay for a big print anyway.

I have just placed an order with John Wimberley for his new book and am really looking forward to having it. I'm getting the collectors edition which comes with a print (the least I could do after he contributed to my recent book). But what am I to do with the print?

I can certainly frame it and probably will, but wall space is limited, both at home and at work, half our art work isn't on the wall as it is.

If an iPad of this high resolution looks as good as I anticipate it will, we are soon going to see a fundamental change in how images are viewed. How should we charge for a digital file of this size so someone can enjoy our work on their new and improved iPad?

Imagine being able to afford hundreds of fine images and view them on your iPad, able to flag favourites, divide into categories, easily read the text or metadata, then hide it again?

The fundamental block to being published has been the cost of an initial run, and the difficulty in selling enough books to pay for that. Blurb has helped, but as a commercial proposition, the cost of the books with shipping is hardly efficient, and the printing quality not as good as would be seen on the iPad.

Now, anyone can make an e-book. It doesn't have to contain a hundred images. It might just have 15, and cover only a single subject, yet could be incredibly pleasing to the eye.

Even famous photographers often have difficulty getting new books out - and old books go out of print - or the printing isn't optimal - or the time to set up a book is prohibitive when you have to earn a living.

When the cost of a digital portfolio is measured in 10's of dollars almost anyone who enjoys photography can afford to gamble.

I get roughly $3 for each of my books sold. Given the publisher has to set up, print, and promote the book, I don't have issue with this, and there is still something very nice about holding a real book, but if the option is to not enjoy the images at all because the photographer didn't/couldn't make a book, well...

I wonder how much people would be willing to pay for an e-book or digital portfolio (really the same thing other than book implies more images).?

How much would you pay for a single image you especially like?

What if photographs were sold the same way music is. Itunes could sell Ansel Adams, 99 cents for one image. The concept sure has saved the music industry. Could this be the saviour of fine art photographers. In iTunes the price is fixed for a given resolution of sound. Doesn't matter whether you are U2 or Fred Bloggs, the customer pays the same. I have no idea how artists are paid and I dare say it's tiny, but what if there a way to distribute images so that the photographer got 25 cents for each image, and lets further say that there are millions of these high res iPads (or equivalent), and that people got used to buying images like they buy music, is it possible that a really nice image would sell multi thousands of copies and generate more than $100 a year, per great image, per photographer?

There are problems. The puppy images will continue to far outsell fine art work. The number of photographers is so large that there will be an enormous amount of 'ordinary' images, camouflaging the good work. But like with iTunes and Amazon, one will be able to look up recommendations and ratings and not just popularity. There will be even more opportunity to write about photography and blog about great images discovered.

As the music industry has discovered, make it easy enough to access the music you want (and only that music) and a viable market will exist.

Is it time for the 99 cent Edward Weston, or George Barr, or (place your name here)?


Alexander S. Kunz said...

Wow, excellent thinking George. It never dawned on me to even check what my own website looks on a iPad (or other tablet computer) ... ouch. Thanks for the wake-up call! Best from San Diego, Alexander.

TJ said...

Great points here, but, we have to remember that luxury has its laws. I mean, there are already e-frames and people can put pictures on them and hang them around or just look at them, but still people realize (generally) the value of having a print (and even a large one) to decorate and to look at. So, an iPad might not be more than just a tool to view a portfolio and I'd say not very useful in all situations (imagine someone is asking for a print-out to see the quality of paper or inks and how they work with your images for example?). The world of ads is an active one and the press never stops and iPad or any digital tool won't replace it soon I'd say.

Jim said...

FWIW Dewitt Jones (National Geographic photographer & Outdoor Photographer columnist) has a ebook available on Amazon consisting of 50 images that were all made and edited on his iPhone. Price $7.99. They are very nice images BTW. He's already planning on Volume II. I'm already planning on buying Vol.II.

Henkki Zakkinen said...

There will probably be more and more people using the digital devices to look at photographs. And why not? I guess some photographers who can now make a living of selling prints will find this threatening. But a) yes it is a threat if you cannot adapt, but lamenting won't stop anything, and b) it is also a potential new marketing opportunity. Who knows, maybe somebody will buy 100 downloads, then decide one of those would make a nice large print on the living room wall and order that. People will still want their walls decorated, people will still buy prints. But maybe more people will learn to see photography as available art, something they can afford, and not just one print. Quite possibly there will be lots of puppies and pinups selling well, but they will never drown the fine arts. Or put differently: I doubt that the people who go and buy a puppy-shot as screensaver-image would ever consider buying an Ansel Adams (or George Barr, or put your name here ;o)) for the hall. Trust in diversity.

Frank Field said...

I was an early adopter of eBooks, ten to twelve years ago (when the reading device was actually a Palm Pilot - talk about limited screen size and resolution). At the time, I was traveling a lot professionally and the last thing I wanted or was able to do was haul books with me. Yet, I still wanted to be able to relax with a good book on long flights or long trips.

In my opinion, the iPad 2 is already a fabulous device for reading eBooks and I find the screen resolution good enough for looking at fine photography. While I travel less these days, my motivation remains: easy access, portability, space saving, with you more often than not and thus easy to take a 10-minute break with great work.

A growing number of photographers are publishing excellent work in eBooks. Guy Tal and William Neill come immediately to mind. Realizing how tough it is to earn a living at photography these days, I am especially happy to buy an eBook, knowing that most of the price I pay will flow to the photographer and hopefully support his/her further work.

As a consumer, I find that I do have a resistance point when it comes to pricing of eBooks. That is, I do expect to pay distinctly less than I would for a physical book. I am not as likely to buy a novel in eBook form when the distributor is asking 80% to 100% of the price of the physical book. My initial experience is that I find myself with the same resistance to purchasing photography eBooks when the price is in this range.

It is still early in the life cycle of eBooks as a distribution channel for photography. It is going to be interesting to see how this evolves.