I'll admit right off that bat that we were not…
The Apple iPad, which shipped this week, has created a frenzy of
interest amongst consumers and publishers as a neutral content delivery
platform backed by cool design and the Apple marketing engine. We asked a panel of industry professionals about the implications of the device for photography presentation and consumption.
The big question on everyone’s mind: Will the Apple iPad revolutionize the way photos are presented and consumed?
The experts chimed in:
- Jamie Pallot, editorial director at Condé Nast Digital
- Tom Kennedy, former managing editor for multimedia at the Washington Post
- Stella Kramer, multi-award winning photo editor and photography consultant
- David Hobby, photojournalist and publisher of strobist.com
- Deb Pang Davis, web designer and principal creative for cococello
- Farrell Timlake (Adult Content, NSFW), publisher of adult content
As Editorial Director of Condé Nast Digital, Jamie Pallot is responsible for content and user experience across the company’s standalone Web brands, including Style.com, Epicurious.com, Concierge.com and Brides.com. He also oversees the creative development of mobile applications for those sites, and played a key role in shaping the GQ e-reader application. Mr. Pallot came to Condé Nast Digital from Time Inc. Interactive where, as an editorial consultant, he oversaw a redesign of People.com.
Here are the five principal issues which have stuck in my mind as we have worked through the development of an iPad e-reader platform for some of the Condé Nast magazines.
- Photos on the iPad look gorgeous. The device will rekindle (pun intended) readers’ enthusiasm for looking at pictures, simply because the graphics are so rich and immersive.
- The relationship between image and caption takes on a new dimension. Being able to control whether or not a caption is displayed, or have captions shift in sync with images as you move through a slideshow, brings more meaningful – and sometimes playful – integration between visual and textual information.
- Navigation becomes part of the fun. One of the things that makes the iPad so compelling is the intensely tactile interface. The pleasure that a user takes in looking at a picture becomes inseparable from the pleasure he or she takes in swiping, tapping, or using myriad other physical gestures to interact with images.
- Creativity is not limited to the photographer. The designers and engineers who devise new ways of displaying, storing, and interacting with images now have an important seat at the table.
- There will be a greater sense of ownership on the part of the user. Some publishers will allow readers to save pictures from e-magazines to their own libraries, where they can organize them, play with them, even alter them as they wish. There’s a perceived downside here for some photographers, who lose control of their creations, and for the people who manage rights and permissions. More negotiations, more legal issues, more paperwork. That’s the realistic counterpoint to the brilliance of this new device and what it allows us to do.
Tom Kennedy is an internationally-known visual journalist with extensive experience in print and online journalism, including positions as Managing Editor for Multimedia at The Washington Post and Director of Photography for the National Geographic Magazine. He has created, directed, and edited visual journalism projects that have earned Pulitzer Prizes, as well as EMMY, Peabody, and Edward R. Murrow awards.
The launch of the Apple iPad has spurred a frenzy among media companies and individual developers seeking to produce applications that might spur sales.
For me, several questions emerge. Among them are will the iPad contribute to the sustainability of visual journalism as a business and how will it impact the release of visual creativity that then builds a loyal, engaged audience?
I think both questions are germane to professional visual journalists who face increasing competition from amateurs whose skills have been amplified by the digital revolution. The economics of image ubiquity have seemed to favor the amateur of late, while further accelerating the “race to the bottom” in terms of money available within media companies to purchase and use high-quality, unique professional photography. While the top ten percent of photographers in any category may continue to have plenty of work, it is the professionals in the middle who are increasingly at risk.
The iPad offers a powerful appeal to media companies because it allows them to revisit the decision to put content behind “pay-per-view” firewalls: something most media companies eschewed on the Web. It may make sense to reconsider the decision, but I think news media publishers are dreaming unless they also use the iPad platform to alter fundamentally the end products being offered.
I think consumers may well appreciate the iPad interface with its slick ability to enable touchscreen manipulation of images. Flows of imagery can easily be reorganized and adjusted as part of “editorial decision-making” made by the end user. This kind of interactivity may be seen as the harbinger of a new kind of immersive experience with content that creates new fans for photography.
The iPad may also enable new forms of media fusion, at least on the display side, that somehow alter creative possibilities for visually-based storytelling. If that were to come to pass, then it might offer some possibilities for resurgence in the use of photography as well as interesting possibilities for new collaboration between game developers, designers, programmers, and content producers. Anything that enlarges the ecosystem of creative collaboration and that affords new creative possibilities for individual practitioners is something I am in favor of seeing happen.
I see the iPad as sitting in a valley reached by three different paths. One route represents social communication. Another represents the quest for information. A third represents the search for on-demand entertainment. At first blush, the iPad seems to offer an end destination for each path. The question is what does photography contribute to each path and what are consumers willing to pay to make photography a fundamental part of each path’s experience? All photographers have a stake in addressing the questions.”
Stella Kramer is a multi-award winning photo editor who has worked for such major publications as Newsweek, The New York Times, Brill’s Content, People, Entertainment Weekly, and Sports Illustrated. She was part of the New York Times team winning the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News Photography, and served as the photo editor the New York Times “Portraits of Grief,” memorializing those who lost their lives in the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks, which won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service, and a 2002 Infinity Award from the International Center of Photography. Stella now works with photographers to strengthen their creative vision, edit their portfolios and websites, and set marketing plans for their careers.
The iPad is not going to save the world, and it’s certainly not going to save publishing (or journalism for that matter). Right now, all I see is the same old same old. When magazines and newspapers began throwing content onto the Web, it was nothing more than what they were publishing on paper. From discussions I have had and demos I have seen, there is very little that excites me about translating the telling of stories onto the iPad.
I don’t see myself buying an iPad to read The New York Times, or Time magazine, because they are not looking to reinvent their ways of story telling to take advantage of this new technology. Wouldn’t it be amazing if instead of seeing the Times front page on the iPad (like you see it on the newsstand or on their website) what you saw was something else? Maybe one deep story broken a few days in advance, full of long-form journalism, extended images, links to parallel information, all brought together with sound, moving image–whatever to re-imagine how a story can be told.
I would like to see photographers rise to the challenge of re-examining how they tell stories, using this as a jumping off point to re-invent the way they work. Why let the MSM decide what will be on the iPad, and how you will view information? Why not ignore them and create something that is really exciting?
Maybe that means joining with designers, videographers, and anyone with bright new ideas, and putting work on the iPad for everyone to see. Major publishers are not innovators. They jump on the bandwagon when forced to increase the bottom line.
I’m calling out photographers and other creatives to direct the future of story telling for the iPad. And when I see that, then I’ll be buying one.
Based near Baltimore, MD, David Hobby was a staff newspaper photojournalist for 20 years before founding Strobist.com in 2006. He now divides his time between education and project-oriented photography.
As someone who is both a photographer and a web publisher, I am doubly excited about the iPad. I’ll be looking for the UPS man starting early on Saturday morning.
As a publisher, I have been counseling my advertisers to consider moving from Flash display ads to something that can be seen on the iPad, iPod and iPhone — at least until the new HTML5 capabilities come online.
As a photographer, I am excited because I do feel the iPad will push the traditional media into more visually rich presentation, without the tight space constraints or reproduction issues that we see with print today.
I expect that some photographers will be ahead of the curve, driving the way that content is consumed in digital publications. You can’t help but think journalistic multimedia houses such as MediaStorm are chomping at the bit as we approach April 3rd.
As a photographer, I am most eager to see how the iPad works as a display device for portfolios. I know some photographers who have ordered not one, but several iPads for delivery on launch day just for that reason — to be able to ship multiple portfolios at once.
The written word has been king since Gutenberg got us going a few hundred years ago. That is changing quickly, and I think the iPad will speed the transition to media being consumed in a more visual and intuitive way.
Deb Pang Davis is owner and creative principal of Cococello. She helps right-brained entrepreneurs navigate the chaos of building an online brand by helping them make smart decisions about their websites. First, I don’t own an iPad – yet – so I don’t have any hands-on experience with it; however, I’m really excited about it as a user and web designer.
If your website is accessible on an iPad, your website could work even harder for you on this larger, lighter, mobile device.
Given that the iPad doesn’t support Flash-based sites, I’d suggest migrating your site if it depends on Flash – unless you don’t care about iPad users.
What makes the iPad amazing to me is that it sets a high bar for sites to practice Web Standards and thereby increases the potential traffic to your site. The fact that it ships with accessibility features that help people with disabilities consume content, such as Closed Captioning, higher contrast options, Voice Over, Zoom and Mono Audio is to be applauded.
I will be paying more attention to usability because of touch screen behavior: larger clickable areas (links, buttons, etc.), white space and explore the option to view in different layouts. I do wonder about the possibilities of horizontally sliding content.
Viewing standards-based websites can be a rich and beautiful experience. The potential the iPad brings for the next level feels exciting and Apple is proudly promoting iPad-ready websites.
Building and owning a standards-based website is high value at a fundamental level. They are designed as a whole to be more search-engine friendly, structured for accessibility and are more cost-effective to maintain in the long run. The iPad just pushes us to make what’s great about the web a great experience for everyone.
Farrell Timlake is the president and owner of Homegrown Video (NSFW: Adult Content), which Newsweek Magazine declared is the “longest running series in the history of porn”. Homegrown Video has been actively involved in digital media and streaming technology since windows media was still called “netshow” and has consulted on streaming technology as well as having patents pending.
In the short term there will be a few early adopters who will do the minimum to get any content they have onto the device. In the long run this new step in technology will provide industry vets with an opportunity to make their content offerings more interactive – perhaps leveraging the technology’s touch screen capabilities as well as its motion sensing functions to make the adult content experience evolve to another level. In the long term I see this and other devices like it driving the way humans do everything. So the industry will ultimately want to embrace this not only as a souped up video player but also an opportunity to be a part of an ongoing lifestyle addition where things like community, cams, and other interactive services are becoming far more important to keeping a users attention. The iPad will need to keep pace with this or it will be obsolete faster than you can say “Good job, Jobs”
Although the device is revolutionary, it’s not without its drawbacks such as the limited ability to enhance UCG (user generated content) in ways that are currently popular in other available devices. (This is largely because the iPad lacks Flash support, mulit tasking, and an integrated video camera.) In successive generations when these issues are worked out, the iPad and other devices like it should address these problems. Adding those missing features will become a big part of what drives the changes to the industry and its interactions. One thing that will be hindrance for someone dealing with cam chat is dealing with the challenges on the on screen keyboard while interacting with a model.
Whether the iPad will make it easier to publish, distribute and sell content depends largely on how hard Apple makes it to put content directly onto the device. This is something Apple has been difficult about in the past. So in the current form, it would be no different than using your iPhone. Over time I think these devices will tailor the industry offerings to evolve to accommodate users watching and interacting with porn on this level. With Apple’s reluctance to cater to adult content, it will be interesting to see whether this hurts them in the long run the way that VHS won out over Betamax.